Netflix may have pioneered the flicks-by-mail/no-late-fees model, but it's too good of an idea to limit to just movies. Enter Simply Audiobooks, which offers a huge array of titles by authors ranging from James Patterson and John Grisham to Henry James and Friedrich Nietzsche. If the U.S. mail is too slow for you, many titles are offered by download. Plans start at $12 per month for one book at a time and include free shipping (both ways). www.simplyaudiobooks.com
Sure, it'd be great to dine at the hottest spots in New York, Los Angeles, and any other city, but - regretful sigh - who has time to wait weeks for reservations? Especially if you're only in town for a night or two. Don't despair: Now you can crash the line with PrimeTime Tables, a new status broker. You pick the posh eatery; they pull the strings and land your table.www.primetimetables.com
They charge $35 for reservations made 48 hours or more in advance, $40 for reservations made 24 hours before, and $45 for a same-day table reserved before noon (payable through PayPal or by e-check). Not exclusive enough? Opt for the $450/year premium plan and pay nothing for same-day reservations.
Don't Leave Home Without It
When a massive snowstorm closed Denver International Airport last December, the only people smiling may have been the lucky few who had bought travel-insurance policies - which can cover trip cancellation and interruption, medical bills, accidental death, and other contingencies.
While it's probably not needed for short domestic flights, trip insurance makes plenty of sense for international travel and long, complex itineraries. A few tips from experts: Use a reputable company that has offices around the world and 24/7 service; remember that most preexisting conditions won't be covered; and don't pay more than 10 percent of the trip's cost for a policy.
Info abounds on the Internet, so start by browsing the websites of Seven Corners, the Berkely Group, InsureMyTrip, and World Nomads, where you'll find clear explanations and quick price quotes. www.sevencorners.com, www.berkely.com, www.insuremytrip.com, www.worldnomads.com
You, the Guidebook
Long before PDAs and laptops, creative types like Van Gogh, Hemingway, and Picasso mused and sketched in notebooks made by Moleskine (say mole-a-skeen-a), a family-owned company that closed in the 1980s but was revived in 1998.
The latest too-cool Moleskine product is the City Notebook. Billed as “the first guidebook you write yourself,” each notebook contains city layout and subway maps, a street index, a tabbed organizer, and, of course, plenty of blank pages for capturing those moments of inspiration great cities bring. Books for Berlin, London, Madrid, New York, and others are available, with more on the way. www.moleskineus.com
There are gadgets, and then there are useful gadgets — like NewSoft’s WMS 100 Image, a wireless adapter that easily links a Wi-Fi–enabled laptop to a projector, thus ridding you of that unsightly rat’s nest of wires. Its zippy frame-transfer rate and one-to-many capability allow for easy sharing and transmission of content from laptops anywhere in the conference area. $280, www.newsoftinc.com