Sunday, May 1, 2005

People of Plug-n-Stay

I have always wanted a laptop computer. I should emphasize on the “wanting” part. I really don’t need one, since I have already a small colony of PCs at home and office. With broadband connection, most of the time they are just idling until I needed one of them to check the email and read the news.

The main reason for me to wanting a laptop computer is due to the amount of people I see that have them. They can do their work else where than home or office, for instance, at a coffee shop. Most of the commercials on television and printed ads portrait laptop computers as symbol of freedom, as if we are nomads that needed constant mobility to chase another piece of data pasture along the information super highway.

At the coffee shop I frequent, the owner has installed broadband internet connections, both wired and wireless, and let the customers access them for free. All you needs is a laptop computer configured with a wireless network card, you and your cafe mocha or latte can surf the web together.

I am sure his business revenue has increased significantly since this technological improvement. Especially considering his local competition, Starbucks partnered with T-Mobile, charges customer to access the internet via wireless connection. It did not take long for the “Plug-n-Stay” people sniff out this piece of WiFi real estate.

People with laptop computers have started to appear in herds. At the top of this techno-hierarchy are the people with Apple laptops. They look very cool with the white half eaten apple logo glowing and white wires dangling from their ear pieces to the other gadget companion, the iPods.

One drawback about these laptops is the battery’s capacity. The actual battery time is never equal to the manufacturers’ claim. Depends on the model, usually after two hours of usage, the laptop would start to notify user to plug it into a wall outlet for recharging. Hence, the “AC Plug Scramble”. It is similar to the “Pee Pee Dance”, where a semi-panicking jig is performed by someone that desperately needs to find/use the nearest lavatory. The “AC Plug Scramble” can be easily prevented if the user would arrive early to the coffee house and stake claim to an AC outlet by continuously plug in their electronic gadgets.

Customers with laptops would require larger space for themselves as well as their electronic companions. The coffee house originally designed for fifty-person seating, now has decreased its net seating capacity.

This morning I have witnessed one couple lugged in their two Dell laptops. Initially there was only one single table open, clearly not enough space for two adults with two laptops, and the entourage of carrying cases, power adapters, books and notebooks. Soon as another table cleared, the wife has cleverly dragged the now available table across the coffee house so she can piece it together to their current table. Success! Now both of the have the space needed for doing some actual work? Wrong.

After they have stringed power cables across the walkway to the nearest AC outlet, both the husband and wife started to read Sunday newspaper, completely neglecting their beloved laptops. After half hour or so, both had enough of the so-ever-primitive- printed-newspaper, the wife opened her laptop and started to engage a mad game of Yahoo Crossword Puzzle! The husband cracked open a book titled “Bounds for Canaan”, and proceed to doze off. Yes, he fell asleep!

Two young ladies at an adjacent table asked the people at their neighboring table to “watch their stuff” (Two laptops, backpacks along with textbooks and mobile phones) while they are away. Mind you, these people are complete strangers, yet all of the sudden, just because they are at the same coffee shop at the same time, they are the most trust worthy individuals on the planet.
Two of the most memorable moments I have witnessed in the past are: someone has spilled a large cup of iced cafe latte onto his brand new Sony Vaio. The other one was someone tripped over a power cord that was still connected to a Dell, caused it to smash into the floor and cracked the display screen. Where is that annoying Dell guy when you needed him to yell out: “Dude, your Dell just fell!”

In conclusion, I am still lusting over laptop computers. At the same time, I am glad that I don’t have one. The simple joy of watching someone else’s laptop’s mishap is well worth owning one myself.


  1. and I've always got a sick and twisted urge to get a signal jamming device and mess up their wireless connections...and their cell phones 0:)

  2. It can get heavy lugging them around. The computer sales dudes will say "oh, this is so light at only x lbs!" but then you have to carry all the cords...and add the battery...and if you're smart, buy and add a second battery. plus the carrying case...the weight adds up. and don't these people know what a lap is for? that's why it's called a lap-top. they don't need no freaking tables! sounds like a fun time though, watching all that chaos.

    The only time I'm ever really jealous of people carrying their laptops around is at airports/in planes, watching them enjoying their own movies or playing cool games.

  3. I went from France to Providence, Rhode Island and was so happy to discover I could blog from Starbock early in the morning for a quater of hour while shipping my coffee !

    Made a lot of pics with people relaxing there, reading, etc.

  4. haha, i like this post. It's right on...

    If I'm reading dead-wood, I'd never feel comfortable keeping my laptop open.

  5. laptops in coffee shops are the height of douchebaggery. i'm even starting to see assholes with laptops in restuarants. yes, there **ARE** perhaps some people that need to be on their laptops 24/7, even when they're taking a shit.. say if you're behind the controls of a nuclear missle silo during DEFCON 1. fortunately, none of us are that important.

  6. Many coffee shops are removing wifi now. They discovered that people *GASP* don't drink as much coffee when they are browsing the web or working.

    That combined with the noted 'camping' and decreased customer seating has been a net negative in most coffee houses.