I'm back from a two week-long break that took my dad and I across London, Edinburgh and Amsterdam. Aye, the castle that nestled right in the center of the Scottish capital was truly majestic. And I never knew there were over 100 species of tulips until I visited the Keukenhof garden.
Two weeks is a long time away from home, at least for me, so I decided my netbook had to come along for the ride so that the Net is right at the fingertips if I ever needed it during the trip. It's Europe, I figured, there must be hotspots aplenty offering free broadband access.
There were wireless hotspots alright, but none offered free access.
I wasn't exactly itching to check in on work, but it would have been nice to be able to get online to gather more background info on the places I visited, update my Facebook status, IM my family back home so they know where I was, secure good seats for the flight back to Singapore, check out what movies will be screening in-flight...
My trip had included a 4-day road trip covering the Lake District, Liverpool (yes, I confess, I took a picture on Penny Lane), Stratford (wherefore art thou, Shakespeare) and of course, Edinburgh. We had a tour guide, or tour director as they call it in the U.K., who exhibited the one quality I absolutely adore about the English...the dry, sometimes deadpan, British humor.
Stephen's knowledge of U.K. history was astounding, right down to his fascinating narration of the infidelities of past kings, arranged royal marriages...the guy even began reciting an excerpt of William Wordsworth's poem, Daffodils, when our bus drove past a field of "ah, the daffs the daffs", as he affectionately nicknamed the flowers.
Amid the idyllic U.K. landscape, however, I thought it would have been nice if we had the option to pull up the entire Wordsworth poem from the Net whilst our tour bus rolled along, or find out more about the origins of the traditional Scottish dish, haggis--though, we might be less enticed to eat it if we did find out.
Good as he may be, our tour guide can't spout information as quickly or as detailed as the Internet can. While no online site can replace Stephen's splendid delivery of gags and jokes, timed to comedic perfection, it would have been a great value-add if we, as paying tourists, were provided seamless access to the Internet.
Industry watchers have long predicted Net access to become a commodity, freely available to the mainstream population. Isn't it about time that became a reality?
Instead, some companies are choosing to focus their innovation on products and services that, while inventive, are not exactly a value-add. Lingerie maker Triumph, for instance, this week launched an ingeniously-designed bra in Japan that features a built-in clock, which would count down the days to the wearer's deadline for marriage. When she finally receives a wedding proposal, she can stop the clock by inserting an engagement ring into a slot in the bra.
So, what's the equivalent for men? Spandex briefs?