Internet cafés overseas — a link home

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ITN printed a number of letters on the subject of using the Internet while traveling. These appeared in the October ’03 through January ’04 issues. A few more have been received since then with useful information. Here they are.

On a trip to the U.K. in November ’03, in Edinburgh I noticed they had telephone kiosks on the streets with Internet terminals in them.

You just go in, put a pound coin in the slot and you get 15 minutes’ connection time. The response rate isn’t as fast as DSL, and you have to stand up (no heating either), but they are very convenient.

Malcolm Carden
Piedmont, CA

Security considerations are both the best and the worst in regard to using the Internet while traveling.

Instead of taking duplicates of documents with me, I leave a package with my niece including photocopies of credit cards and every ticket, voucher, visa, reservation confirmation, etc. If anything is lost, stolen or destroyed, I can e-mail her to fax me the needed item immediately. Not having to carry and worry about extra copies is a relief.

One serious security breach can occur if you check your bank or credit card accounts on line. Unprincipled people can sometimes access your accounts if the site’s security is not good.

The closest I have come to actual danger from the Internet was while on a trip around the world in March and April ’03. I had warned my friends not to send me any messages or pictures, and I had a new e-mail address to use only for emergencies during the trip. A few days after war was declared in Iraq, I was in Istanbul. There were minor riots all over the place because of the USA’s use of Turkish airfields. Any little thing would set them off.

With emotions so high, an e-mail I received could have started another riot. Luckily, for me, I ran out of time to go to the very busy downtown Internet café. Instead, I checked my mail in the basement of my hotel that night. The first message was so big, it cost $42 to download and I could not shut it off until it finished. It was a large American flag waving, with “Onward Christian Soldiers” blaring out at full volume. The hotel had to unplug the computer to stop it. They were furious at the insult to them but icily polite, realizing that I couldn’t prevent receiving the message.

If you have any dim-bulb friends, do not tell them your e-mail address if there is any possibility you will be in a sensitive area, because the one thing you cannot control is the content of messages you receive.

Kit Stewart
Sequim WA

Yes, it is good to have an Internet-based e-mail account, such as one on Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc., but in case you only have an e-mail account with a local provider, you still can easily access this account from any computer in the world.

Just go to www.mail2web.com and type in your e-mail address, such as JoeSmith@hometown.com, and your password. You now have access to your local e-mail account. This is very useful in case your friends and relatives only know your local e-mail address.

Wolfgang Kutter
Lucerne Valley, CA

My solution to accessing the Internet while traveling is to carry my Palm Pilot around (which I would do anyway) and add a modem (that clips onto the back of it) and a keyboard (that plugs into its connector). These two items weigh about a pound.

There’s a free e-mail program for the Palm Pilot from Eudora.com, which in principle can synchronize with a desktop Mac or PC Eudora mail system. I think there are plenty of other e-mail programs for the Palm Pilot too (such as AOL).

Then I dial in to my worldwide Internet service provider, which has been quite good (available in most countries for a local call). It’s available at www.maglobe.com and there’s no subscription fee. Instead, one just pays in advance for a specified number of units.

With this I can write and send mail from all my e-mail accounts (they’re all standard POP accounts). What I like about it is I can write my notes whenever I want in my hotel room or on the train and also read my e-mail whenever I want. Naturally, the ability to read an e-mail on a tiny screen is limited, but the flexibility is great.

I have a program on the Pilot to keep all my passwords encrypted, and I have a backup data card so, in case of a computer crash of the Pilot (which has happened several times), I will not have lost much of my information. I can also e-mail myself my travel notes so I can get them back into my big computer.

John Mather
Hyattsville, MD

On a recent trip, some people spent more time running around trying to find Internet cafés than they did seeing how people lived or trying to visit with the locals.

When I go on vacation, I do it to get away from fax machines, computers, cell phones, laptop systems, digital cameras, etc. I want to spend my time seeing the sights, looking into store windows and over the countryside.

Bill Goss
Los Altos, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

ITN printed a number of letters on the subject of using the Internet while traveling. These appeared in the October ’03 through January ’04 issues. A few more have been received since then with useful information. Here they are.

On a trip to the U.K. in November ’03, in Edinburgh I noticed they had telephone kiosks on the streets with Internet terminals in them.

You just go in, put a pound coin in the slot and you get 15 minutes’ connection time. The response rate isn’t as fast as DSL, and you have to stand up (no heating either), but they are very convenient.

Malcolm Carden
Piedmont, CA

Security considerations are both the best and the worst in regard to using the Internet while traveling.

Instead of taking duplicates of documents with me, I leave a package with my niece including photocopies of credit cards and every ticket, voucher, visa, reservation confirmation, etc. If anything is lost, stolen or destroyed, I can e-mail her to fax me the needed item immediately. Not having to carry and worry about extra copies is a relief.

One serious security breach can occur if you check your bank or credit card accounts on line. Unprincipled people can sometimes access your accounts if the site’s security is not good.

The closest I have come to actual danger from the Internet was while on a trip around the world in March and April ’03. I had warned my friends not to send me any messages or pictures, and I had a new e-mail address to use only for emergencies during the trip. A few days after war was declared in Iraq, I was in Istanbul. There were minor riots all over the place because of the USA’s use of Turkish airfields. Any little thing would set them off.

With emotions so high, an e-mail I received could have started another riot. Luckily, for me, I ran out of time to go to the very busy downtown Internet café. Instead, I checked my mail in the basement of my hotel that night. The first message was so big, it cost $42 to download and I could not shut it off until it finished. It was a large American flag waving, with “Onward Christian Soldiers” blaring out at full volume. The hotel had to unplug the computer to stop it. They were furious at the insult to them but icily polite, realizing that I couldn’t prevent receiving the message.

If you have any dim-bulb friends, do not tell them your e-mail address if there is any possibility you will be in a sensitive area, because the one thing you cannot control is the content of messages you receive.

Kit Stewart
Sequim WA

Yes, it is good to have an Internet-based e-mail account, such as one on Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc., but in case you only have an e-mail account with a local provider, you still can easily access this account from any computer in the world.

Just go to www.mail2web.com and type in your e-mail address, such as JoeSmith@hometown.com, and your password. You now have access to your local e-mail account. This is very useful in case your friends and relatives only know your local e-mail address.

Wolfgang Kutter
Lucerne Valley, CA

My solution to accessing the Internet while traveling is to carry my Palm Pilot around (which I would do anyway) and add a modem (that clips onto the back of it) and a keyboard (that plugs into its connector). These two items weigh about a pound.

There’s a free e-mail program for the Palm Pilot from Eudora.com, which in principle can synchronize with a desktop Mac or PC Eudora mail system. I think there are plenty of other e-mail programs for the Palm Pilot too (such as AOL).

Then I dial in to my worldwide Internet service provider, which has been quite good (available in most countries for a local call). It’s available at www.maglobe.com and there’s no subscription fee. Instead, one just pays in advance for a specified number of units.

With this I can write and send mail from all my e-mail accounts (they’re all standard POP accounts). What I like about it is I can write my notes whenever I want in my hotel room or on the train and also read my e-mail whenever I want. Naturally, the ability to read an e-mail on a tiny screen is limited, but the flexibility is great.

I have a program on the Pilot to keep all my passwords encrypted, and I have a backup data card so, in case of a computer crash of the Pilot (which has happened several times), I will not have lost much of my information. I can also e-mail myself my travel notes so I can get them back into my big computer.

John Mather
Hyattsville, MD

On a recent trip, some people spent more time running around trying to find Internet cafés than they did seeing how people lived or trying to visit with the locals.

When I go on vacation, I do it to get away from fax machines, computers, cell phones, laptop systems, digital cameras, etc. I want to spend my time seeing the sights, looking into store windows and over the countryside.

Bill Goss
Los Altos, CA