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Archive: 19 January 2008

In-Flight Commentary

Herewith I present the latest in what can only now be called a series of travel-tip posts.  (The first one, published a couple of years back, was about avoiding jet lag, if that’s of interest.)

I recently came upon a way to while away the lonely hours of a long plane flight and thought I’d share.  Two words: commentary track.  More specifically, listening to the commentary track (or tracks) of a movie you’ve already seen and enjoyed.

How is this better than just watching a movie?  Well, because you’ve seen the movie, you don’t really need to watch it: you can just listen to the commentary.  Thus, you can crank your laptop’s screen brightness down to “off”, thus saving some battery power.  Which you’ll need, thanks to the power required to drive the DVD.  If the commenter says, “Ooo, look here at this bit of the screen”, you just pip the brightness up enough to see what’s going on, and then crank it back down after.

Of course you can rip the movie with the commentary audio track to your hard drive to save the battery even more.  Also, if you’re willing to live without visual reference, you can rip the audio track itself and listen on an iPod.  But honestly, how many of us will go to that level of effort?  It’s a lot easier to bring along a single DVD and pop it into the laptop.  I also like this approach because plane flights are one of the few times when I have enough enforced downtime to get through a whole commentary.

Of course, if you’re lucky enough to be on one of the newer planes with grounded power outlets, your power worries are moot.  Still, when you have five or six hours ahead of you, a good commentary track or three is a good way to make the time pass more quickly.

January 2008
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