Please have your papers ready. Passport, visa, customs form, medical coverage, service provider roaming agreement.
I wrote the first draft of this column from Madeira where I was attending a conference. I couldn't get on to the Internet because, irony of ironies, this was a technology conference: the 300 attendees had so overwhelmed the hotel's meager Internet that it became useless. Three hundred attendees probably meant 500 -800 IP devices, counting laptop computers, phones and all the demonstration machines, often requiring multiple IP addresses. Why not use our smartphones? We dared not. Exorbitant roaming fees imposed by the service providers struck fear into the hearts (and bank accounts) of foreign attendees. Without access to data, what was left for my smartphone to do? Almost nothing. Smart phone became stupid phone. Without a network connection, the most useful technology available in the phone was the backlit screen which meant that my smartphone was reduced to a flashlight.