Internet access is one of the great benefits of living in the age of high tech, no doubt; but take it from me, it can get pretty expensive. Anyone who spends as much time online as I do will back me up on this list of 10 ways that the internet costs me a ton of money:
- ISP – For starters, just paying for a broadband connection costs me a good chunk of change. For a 6 Mbps DSL connection out here in rural country, I’m paying 80 bucks a month.
- Hardware Upgrades – There’s always some gadget or another that is guaranteed to increase my speed, enhance my gaming experience, make my whites whiter, and my colors more vibrant. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good deal.
- eCommerce – Online shopping is just too convenient. Everything is right there, literally just a click away. Some retail sites offer membership profiles that allow you to make your purchase with a single click of the mouse.
- WiFi -Let’s not forget the price of connectivity on the road. Wireless hotspots at local venues tend to rack up a tab for you if you aren’t careful. I have a frappuccino named after me at the local bistro, thanks to my web surfing proclivity and caffeine addiction.
- Gizmos – On the subject of mobility, it appears that it’s no longer enough to simply surf from my desk. Now I’ve got 4 different devices just to stay connected: laptop, tablet, internet-TV, and smart phone.
- Downloads – MP3′s, streaming video, movies, software, games. There’s no end to the things I can load right onto my computer, and the prices mount up pretty quickly. That is, if you’re doing it legally, as I do.
- Online Poker – Even on the reputable sites, this little hobby can put a man in the poor house faster than a crack addiction. Never mind the Ponzi schemes and illicit sites, where you can really end up getting soaked.
- Nigerian Royalty Fees – Call this one a Stupid Tax if you like. It’s normally assessed on those poor souls, like me, who fail to use an effective spam filter on their email accounts. On the plus side, I’m huge in Africa.
- Identity Theft – Of course, my story doesn’t end with having connections to West African aristocracy. Someone was apparently so envious of my social status in Nigeria that they stole my identity. It wouldn’t be so bad if this didn’t jeopardize the $21,320,000 that Prince Okon has promised would be deposited into my bank account any day now.
- Cookies – I’m not talking about snack foods here, although that’s another cost entirely. No, I mean those adware cookies that merchants use to store your surfing and shopping data, and even sell it to other vendors. That just makes me an easier mark than I already am.
The word “expose” can mean many things. For each definition, there’s a way to apply it the social networking giant Twitter; from deliberate admittance to an accidental slip. The format makes it simple to expose yourself, one hundred and forty characters at a time.
- Self-Promotion – One of the most important things an aspiring artist or businessperson can do is to promote themselves in order to gain exposure. Twitter is among the favorite platforms for branding and reputation building.
- Coming Out – A surefire way of exposing a long-held secret in a large, public way is to come out of the closet via tweet. A well-placed hashtag will insure that your declaration reaches an audience far wider than just those who are following your feed.
- Attaching Your Real Life Name to Your Online Identity – It’s not uncommon for people to cultivate on online persona that’s quite different from their offline identity. Creating a connection between the two personalities is exposing yourself in a big way!
- Accidentally Sharing Risque Photographs – Twilight Saga actor Bronson Pelletier found out the hard way last year that sharing the link to an online photo-hosting site like Photobucket can allow those who follow the link to browse an entire album, if it isn’t protected. Thousands of fans accessed pictures of Pelletier in his underwear before he realized his mistake.
- Make a Confession – We all harbor secrets that we sometimes consider confessing to; doing so on Twitter is making yourself vulnerable in a big way. Exposing a deep secret to the entire world is a major, courageous step.
- Speak Ill of Your Job – Exposing yourself to the ire of an employer is as simple as making derogatory comments about the company you work for or a boss. Many companies have instituted policies against such behavior, making it a terminable offense.
- Share Controversial Opinions – Politics and religion are two of the hot-button topics that can stir up controversy amongst your followers. Exposing your opinions to the world on delicate subjects like these is the work of a moment.
- Follow a Guilty-Pleasure Celebrity – Even the coolest of us have soft spots for movies or musicians that we’d rather not admit to; the simple act of following a celebrity related to the subject can expose you to the guffaws of those who browse your “Following” list.
- Tweeting Under The Influence – There was a time, not so long ago, when drunk dialing was the worst alcohol-induced phone snafu a person could make. With the advent of smartphones, sharing your drunken proclamations with the world from the comfort of a bar stool became a snap.
- Sharing Links To Illegal Downloads – The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act focuses on just such behavior. Under the wording of the bill, one shared link to pirated files could potentially result in penalties to the administrators of Twitter. It would also expose you as a file-sharing user.
The number of airlines offering WiFi service on select planes has grown exponentially, but it certainly hasn’t become an industry standard. For those who spend a significant amount of time in the air, there are definite advantages to a hotspot aircraft; here are ten of the reasons I wish the service was offered on every plane I boarded.
- Making Hotel Reservations – There’s always at least one detail that falls through the cracks during the travel-arrangement process. Realizing that you don’t have a hotel booked at takeoff makes for a nerve-wracking flight, especially during heavy travel season.
- Arranging Car Rental – The ability to arrange car rental in-flight is another huge perk of airline WiFi; like hotel reservations, booking a rental can sometimes fall through the cracks of planning.
- Flight Updates – The ability to check on delayed connecting flight or get real-time flight information online is another great convenience feature in-flight internet access offers.
- Entertainment On Demand – Gone are the days of bad in-flight movies; internet access makes watching video and listening to the online radio station of your choice a snap.
- Working In-Flight – While there are plenty of people who consider their flight time a chance to decompress, being able to work on projects and answer email while en route to a business destination or tie up loose ends before landing in a vacation spot offers serious peace of mind.
- Instant Messaging – Talking to friends and family members on the ground to coordinate airport pickups and make plans really cuts down on itinerary-related confusion.
- Trip Planning – Checking out local restaurants, sightseeing and places of interests around your travel destination before ever touching the ground is a luxury afforded to the lucky few who manage to get a WiFi enabled flight; it’s also one of the reasons I wish all flights had WiFi.
- Long Flights Are Boring – One of the easiest things to do online is to waste time. While this can lead to trouble on the ground, it’s a blessing on those mind-numbing extended flights.
- Social Networking – Though it’s only been a part of daily life for a few years, most of us can barely remember what life was like before Facebook and Twitter. Being cut off from what’s quickly becoming our biggest social outlet for too long can be unsettling, to say the least.
- Weather Updates and Forecasts – Checking the current weather conditions of your destination can be important, especially to track developing storms or weather that could affect your plans. Access to extended forecasts, radar and any potential problems allows for last-minute adjustments.
Most major airlines have plans to introduce WiFi capability to all of their planes by the end of 2012, but there are some indications that it hasn’t reached the expected level of popularity in the test markets. With travelers citing the relatively high cost of access and inconvenience of using a laptop in the close quarters of coach, airlines could potentially opt not to expand their WiFi offerings.