Becoming a casual flyer

Having flown a decent amount of times I can say i’m not only a frequent flyer, but also became a casual flyer. It amazes me how people queue up 30 minutes before boarding starts and are struggling at the security lines just to be called back to the conveyor belt again to take off their belt for instance.

Like most things in life, you’ll get experienced in something by doing it a lot. But these tips will give you a head start:

Relax, nowadays flying with a low-fare airline isn’t much more troubling than taking the train, just make sure you arrive 1hr before departure and you’ll be fine. Don’t follow the insecure bulk of non-casual flyers but stick to your own plan.

Carry-on luggage only! Make sure you have a bag that doesn’t exceed carrier restrictions. If you want to bring jeans & shorts, wear the jeans when travelling, this saves space in your luggage, and it’t always a bit chilly up in the air, the same goes for a sweater/jacket.
Pack travel size toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo, and shaving foam. To be found at your local drugstore. Before leaving your home, put all liquids in a zip-lock bag inside your toilet bag and put your toilet bag on top of your luggage, to be easily presented at the security check. Do the same for your laptop, since it has to be scanned separately.

Airport security:
Have your boarding pass and passport within reach, so they can be presented swiftly when asked.

When lining up for security, put your wallet, watch, keys, phone, jewelry and belt in your coat or carry-on bag. This will keep all your personal belongings together and enables you to just drop your bag, coat and liquids on the belt and proceed.

At the boarding area, avoid waiting in line, instead, find a seat from where you can see the line to the boarding area. And stand up when the last people are having their boarding pass checked. Should you stand in line because everybody else is doing it? I’d rather relax a bit more and look around. The same goes for the queue to the gate.

Plane Seats:
Since low-fare carriers don’t assign seats to passengers, you have to choose a seat when entering the plane. The best seats are at the over-wing emergency exits, with more legroom so you can stretch your legs. Seats near the lavatories might be uncomfortable due to the smell and waiting people. You’ll experience a bit more noise behind the wings, since the jet-engines are in front of you. When you get the opportunity to choose the seat at booking or checking in, make sure you had a look at to pick the best seat. This websites lists almost all planes from all regular airlines.

In your seat:
Pay attention when the crew is giving instructions. Being conscious about safety procedures allows you to relax a bit more when in flight.
Don’t forget that it’s not allowed to use your phone/ipod/notebook/tablet/e-reader after the cabin door is closed until you’re high above the clouds. Having an old-fashioned book or magazine at hand might be convenient. In-flight magazines can be quite entertaining. When the fasten seat belt lights go out you can switch to gadget-relying entertainment.

Exiting the plane.
After the fasten seat belts lights dim at the destination, it takes a while for the cabin crew to extend the built-in stairs and disarm the slides/open the door. There is no need to stand up in the isle when nobody is moving anyway. Just sit down and relax until the people in front of you are almost gone, get your bag and proceed to the exit. Do a quick wallet/phone/passport check while walking. Proceed through the terminal and enjoy the view of people waiting for their luggage..

If you have any additions to this, drop a line in the comment field.

Convert your VPS/Dedicated server into an always-on workstation

There are many ways to get your work done while on the road. E-mail/Calendar/Files can be accessed by numerous online applications. But nothing beats having your own desktop available online wherever your are. Since there aren’t many of these solutions available online the best way to go is converting your Windows Virtual Private Server or Dedicated server to a fully-configured windows desktop. Since these servers are configured to be used as some kind of server, we need to make some configuration settings before we can use it as a desktop.

Step 1, The base server:
The first step is to acquire a windows server 2008 dedicated server, for rent from € 40,- per month. Make sure it is Server 2008 Standard or above, preferably R2, which will give you a windows 7 experience.

Step 2, enabling desktop experience.
Desktop will provide you with windows 7 components and features like: Windows Media Player – Desktop themes – Video for Windows (AVI support) – Windows Defender – Disk Cleanup – Snipping Tool and some more

  1. Login to your server using remote desktop.
  2. Open Server Manager: click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and click Server Manager.
  3. In the Features Summary section, click Add features.
  4. Select the Desktop Experience check box, and then click Next.
  5. Complete the wizard by clicking Install.
  6. click ‘features’ and click ‘add features’. Check the ‘desktop experience’ box and click next and finish. After this is installed you are able to
  7. Click start, and enter services.msc in the ‘find’ area and press enter
  8. Change the properties of the ‘Themes’ and ‘Windows Audio’ service to automatic and start both services.
  9. Follow these instructions to enable sound over RDP in server 2008 R2

Please note that to be able to enable the windows 7 theme you have to log in localy first. In an rdp session the themes will be greyed out.


Step 3, let your server know it’s a desktop.
To make sure your applications will get priority over background processes, we need to switch the processor scheduling from background to programs.

  1. Click Start, right click on Computer and select Properties.
  2. click Advanced system settings on the left side of the screen.
  3. In the Performance section click Settings.
  4. Click on the tab Advanced, select Programs
  5. Click on the tab Data Execution Prevention, select  Turn on DEP for essential Windows programs and services only
  6. click OK twice.


Step 4, enable file indexing.
For your outlook to work properly, and to be able to search files and documents quickly you should enable the indexing service.

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Server Manager.
  2. In the console tree of Server Manager, right-click Roles, and then click Add Roles.
  3. In the Add Roles Wizard, click Next.
  4. On the Select Server Roles page, click to select the File Services check box, and then click Next. On the File Services page, click Next.
  5. On the Select Roles Services page, click to select the Indexing Service check box under Windows Server 2003 File Services, and then click Next.
  6. On the Confirm Installation Selections page, click Install.
  7. Follow the instructions in the Add Roles Wizard to complete the

Please note that you manually have to add your document folders to be indexed. You can do this by right-clicking the specific folder, selecting properties and ticking “allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties” on the properties screen.

Step 5, disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Confiuration.
By default, Internet explorer enhanced security configuration will prevent you to browse normaly by blocking almost all websites.

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Server Manager.
  2. Under the Server Summary click Configure IE ESC.
  3. A dialog box appears, select Off under administrators or users depending on your user type.
  4. Click OK and close the server manager.
  5. Restart your browser if necessary.

Step 6, install your applications.
You are now free to install your own applications like Microsoft/Open Office, (voice)chat applications, developer tools, photo-edit tools, alternate browser etc.

Step 7, organise file sync with your mobile devices and home/office desktop
To be able to access all your documents and files i currently use Dropbox, this makes sure i can work with the same documents when i’m not logged in to my remote workstation. Sign up for a free 2GB account here.

Feel free to point out more tips, tricks and tools in the comment field below.