Airplane tickets, broken lamps, and Crazy Glue: David’s Travel Tips

on a planeI’ve been doing a lot of traveling the past 7-8 years, mainly for speaking and consulting engagements. And I have picked up some travel tips along the way, including:

1. The airline doesn’t always provide a room for the night if your flight is delayed, even if they promise they will.

2. Some airports are more comfortable to sleep in than others. (see #1)

3. If you return your rental car in great condition, but then the rental car company wants to charge you for a bunch of damage, your insurance agent can help (apparently one of the airport rental car employees banged up the car after I returned it, and tried to blame it on me. Didn’t work).

4. If you travel internationally, bring along some familiar cold and flue meds. Just in case. (Hat tip to Sarah Houghton for this one).

I have two more things to add to my list of interesting travel tips that I picked up on my trip to Monterey for Internet librarian 2013 (great conference, by the way – I picked up a bunch of useful stuff this year! If you’ve never been, you should think about attending).

What did I learn?

5. You have to communicate with the airline if you miss your flight, or they will automatically cancel your whole round trip ticket.

I booked my Kansas City to Monterey flight pretty early. Then my travel plans changed, and I needed to go to Chicago for a meeting first, and then travel to Monterey from there. And to complicate things further, my family drove me up to Chicago (to see my oldest daughter).

Instead of flying out of Kansas City, I needed to fly out of Chicago … but I already had a round trip ticket from Kansas City to Monterey and back. And of course simply canceling my first ticket included a $200 dollar cancellation fee. Yikes!

So, instead of paying a cancellation fee, I booked a second one-way flight for about $170, and just ignored my first flight, figuring that I’d be a no-show, and everything would be fine for my return trip home, since it was already booked, and I hadn’t canceled anything. $30 bucks saved, right?

Wrong.

On Wednesday night (last night of Internet Librarian), I tried to check-in to my return flight. I opened up my United iPhone app, tried to check in, and received a “this trip is canceled” message. Huh? So I logged into my Expedia account, and found the same thing. Canceled.

Uh oh.

Then I called Expedia’s customer service (after hunting for their phone number – not easy to find), and explained my situation to them. They helped me book a one-way ticket back to Kansas City (my home airport).

Who knew? When I’m traveling and a flight gets delayed, I get all sorts of warnings and reminders on my iPhone. Texts and emails from Expedia and the airline, and alerts from TripIt Pro (an iPhone travel app I use), all warning me of impending doom and plane delays. United even calls me with one of those silly automated “you’ve been delayed” recordings. Multiple times.

But when you don’t show up for your flight? No calls. No texts. No emails. They “helpfully” decide to cancel everything and take all your money anyway.

Lesson learned (three plane tickets later): if your travel plans change, call the airline so they don’t cancel your return flight.

6. When you accidentally break a lamp in a hotel room, the hotel replaces it and they don’t charge you.

This was a first for me. I knocked a lamp off the table in my hotel room. The lightbulb shattered, and the fish tail statue on the fancy lamp broke in two.

Well, that’s embarrassing.

It’s especially embarrassing if, say, you sheepishly decide to prop up the broken fish tail statue on the lamp so that it looks “normal,” and hope the cleaning staff won’t notice.

It’s even more embarrassing if you decide to visit Walgreens to buy some Crazy Glue to “fix” the lamp, then get back to your room and discover that the hotel has already replaced it. Thankfully, the hotel didn’t charge me for that (’cause, you know, I’m gonna need that extra money to pay for those three plane tickets).

Lesson learned: when you break a lamp, the hotel finds out anyway and replaces it. No questions asked, no extra charges given. At least at the Monterey Marriott. Your mileage may vary. Probably a good thing to just report it to the front desk.

Do you have any weird or useful travel tips you’ve picked up along the way? Share them in the comments!

Community Engagement: Tools & Tips

Rudy Leon and I gave a pre conference workshop at Internet Librarian 2014 on Community Engagement. The session went well! Attendees wanted our slides and outline, so here it is.

Introductions: we started things off by asking about each person’s communities their library interacts with – who they are and how they are already working on engaging with those communities.

Next, we discussed the communities Rudy and I work with. I have a public library background, so I went over all the physical and digital communities my library focuses on. Rudy’s background is in academic libraries, so she talked about subject liaisons to faculty and students, and the different types of communities in Reno and in a university setting.

Then we gave some tips on discovering communities by using listening techniques. I focused on digital listening techniques, and Rudy introduced the idea of listening as iterative behavior: hear, respond, implement, close the loop. Then she gave some examples of doing that in Reno.

After that, we gave some tips from our own experience on developing strategies to build relationships with communities. I focused on digital communities, and Rudy focused on connecting with academics.

Finally, I gave a couple of quick tips on measuring success with engagement, and we had a great Q&A time full of pretty active discussion.

Fun time!

Notes on an iPad – IAWriter or Byword?

ALA 2013 is coming up in a few days, and I want all you iPad note-takers to be prepared! For the last year or so, when I take notes on my iPad, I’ve been using iA Writer, and it works great. But I’m not really fond of the font. And I’m apparently the only one like that – iA Writer’s “beautiful design” gets mentioned a lot. But it’s not my favorite.

So… I tried another app. Byword, to be exact. Here’s what I found.

iA Writer and Byword are pretty similar. They are both popular writing apps for iOS devices. Both sync to iCloud and Dropbox if needed. Both have handy keyboard extension bars for easy-to-access keystrokes (like colons, commas, etc).

And Byword gives me a choice of fonts – so my problem was solved with Byword. Yippie!

One big difference between Byword and iA Writer is the keyboard. Both have a keyboard extension bar, but iA Writer’s works better for me. iA Writer has punctuation shortcuts that I actually use, like dashes, colons, semicolons, and apostrophes.

Byword’s keyboard extension bar includes a LOT of cool functionality. It actually has three rotating bars, and even shows word count, which is very useful. The 2nd and 3rd bars have some punctuation, but  … well, not what I need. No dashes, colons, or semicolons. And it includes a bunch of shortcuts that I’d never really use – things like brackets and the star key.

The deciding factor for me?

The iA Writer keyboard seems to work better for me. On Byword, the keyboard looks pretty much the same as iA Writer, but it seems like the software behind the keyboard isn’t picking stuff up the same way iA Writer does. With Byword, I get missed keystrokes, misspellings, and a bunch of weird auto-corrects.

With iA Writer, the keyboard … just works. The only errors I get are from me and my fingers.

So – after testing, it looks like the only thing I don’t like on iA Writer is the font … and you know what? I can live with the font. I’m sticking to iA Writer for now.

For more info, here are some other articles comparing iA Writer and Byword:

Tablet users – what do you use when you type on your tablet?

Ebooks in Libraries – #BEA2013

Before I give you my two cents on this particular session, here are links to two articles that describe the session pretty well:

Panelists included:

  • Ginger Clark, Moderator – Literary Agent, Curtis Brown LTD
  • Jack Perry, Owner, 38enso Inc.
  • Maureen Sullivan, President, American Library Association (ALA)
  • Paul Aiken, Executive Director, Authors Guild
  • Steve Potash, President and CEO, Overdrive
  • Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster

I have to admit – I didn’t really take notes for this session (but probably should have). Mostly, I just sat, listening in amazement as someone on the publisher side of things would say something silly, and then Mareen and Steve would correct that person. Then during Q&A time, the moderator would blow off questions by answering them herself, then quickly moving on to another question. It was that kind of session.

The thing that got to me the most was this: Carolyn Reidy, CEO of a huge publishing house, sounded like someone who was attempting to talk knowledgeably about ebooks in libraries … but hadn’t ever actually used a library card to download an ebook (which was kinda funny, since she was sitting right next to Steve Potash of Overdrive).

At one point, Carolyn basically said the danger of ebooks in libraries is that a customer can sit at home and download every book they ever wanted … huh? She and Paul Aiken seemed to think that’s how the library ebook check-out process works.

That’s simply wrong, of course. Steve and Maureen corrected them. As did a few people in the audience.

Carolyn also said that her publishing house was doing the ebook pilot project because … no research has ever been done about ebooks in libraries. Again, huh? Someone please introduce Carolyn to Pew Internet and their major research project on … um … ebooks in libraries. And of course, Steve mentioned that he has 10 years of data (Overdrive’s been in the ebook business for at least that long).

I heard a similar thing at last year’s Book Expo conference, too. Executives at more than one major publishing house think libraries give ebooks away to anyone who wants them, willy-nilly, and we let them keep the ebooks forever.

And … these people aren’t stupid – they are running large, successful publishing houses.

So – here’s my question. Where is the disconnect, and how can we fix this?

Argh.

ebook photo by shiftstigma