I’m sitting in the airport and quite literally surrounded by laptop users. The guy to my left is on a Dell with WinXP and the Classic UI. The sisters across from me are in matching outfits and dye-jobs, but one has a MacBook and the other has a Dell with Vista. Both are typing furiously into MySpace.

The man behind them has a Gateway with XP and the Luna UI and is browing a message board with a heavy black and red theme. He keeps signing into AOL, the fat client, to check his email. His wife has an HP, also with XP and Luna, and is playing Bejeweled. The guy across from her is watching a video on his iPhone while his very bored daughter slumps forlornly across the back of her seat. A man and his son are sitting on the floor playing with a Sony Vaio that looks several years old. A teenager is showing his mother how to charge her iPhone with the USB terminals. The two guys behind me are playing with their BlackBerry and LG iPhoneClone.

Like ripples in a pond, beyond that circle of laptops is a circle of book-readers. (Sitting in the laptop chairs, no less!) I can’t tell the titles of what they are reading, but one has what is clearly a mass-market hardcover. The woman next to him (but obviously not with him) has a trade paperback with garish colors on a sky blue background — hip-chick-lit, I presume. The girl behind her has a Little Mermaid coloring book. The young boy across from them has a Simpsons comic book. His mom has a People magazine. I don’t see anyone with a pocket-sized paperback.

When I open Banshee, it picks up 4 instances of iTunes running with Bonjour and telling the world where they are. All of them have their full names shared out, which strikes me as a horribly bad thing to do in an airport — several social engineering hacks come to mind. Bluetooth picks up 2 computers and 3 phones.

Me? I’m on my IBM ThinkPad with Ubuntu. I have my iPod Shuffle plugged in and charging on the armrest next to me.

Have a good holiday, and remember to stop and look around once and a while.

By Rick Osborne

I am a web geek who has been doing this sort of thing entirely too long. I rant, I muse, I whine. That is, I am not at all atypical for my breed.