Charge Your IPad in Luxury

Strut, a maker of grills and wheels for luxury cars, is seeking to add its touch of refinement to the iPad.The company, based in California, recently introduced the Strut LaunchPort, an elegant charging system for the iPad. A version for the iPad mini is coming.The LaunchPort system includes a pedestal and a sleeve that interact to charge the iPad. After being secured in the plastic sleeve, the iPad attaches to the pedestal by strong magnets. Once there, it starts drawing power automatically through induction technology.A LaunchPort system typically costs about $350. The Strut LaunchPort, however, will set you back $1,500, more than twice the cost of the 64-gigabyte iPad, and it will be sold in boutique jewelry stores and Neiman Marcus. Admittedly, that hefty price tag brings an air of style and sophistication. The pedestal comprises a heavy sphere that rests on a chrome-plated stainless steel ring embossed with Strut’s logo. The sphere can rotate and pivot, allowing multiple viewing angles.The sphere comes in three colors – chrome, white and black – and the sleeve is available in five ready-made finishes like walnut burl, black carbon fiber and leopard print, as well as seven special-order finishes. A mini-USB cable is included for charging when the Strut LaunchPort is not at hand.The striking design of the Strut LaunchPort makes it an easy fit for a corporate office with a plush carpet, oak paneling and a mahogany desk. But I don’t have access to one of those, so I set it up on my coffee table. And there it stayed, because it was too heavy to move. The sleeve is detachable, but it is awkward to hold and does not offer much protection.The Strut LaunchPort offers the appearance of wealth and prestige, which is good, because it is intended for people who like to show off their gadgets. For the rest of us, a 30-pin connector will do just fine.A version of this article appears in print on 06/06/2013, on page B10 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A Charger That Costs Way More Than the iPad.Gadgetwise is a blog about everything related to buying and using tech products. From figuring out which gadget to buy and how to get the best deal on it to configuring it once it’s out of the box, Gadgetwise offers a mix of information, analysis and opinion to help you get the most out of your personal tech. All the regular features on the Gadgetwise blog can now be found on the Personal Tech section front. Thank you for reading.Readmore… FX-Sport VR1 Programmable Personal Trainer Headphones are a smart concept – a pair of headphones with a built-in coach, or virtual competitor. Readmore… Online file storage services like Dropbox let you share files with people who do not have an account with the company.Readmore… Mobile apps may have useful reasons for requesting your location information, while others just want to show you local advertising.Readmore… Amazon’s store for Android apps has a Test Drive feature that lets you see an app in action before you buy or download it.Readmore…FollowAdvertisement

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PAYING the crew for sex, passengers getting caught with cocaine on board and “sh*gger” newcomers working their way through their colleagues and passengers – anything goes while afloat on a cruise ship.According to passengers who were being filmed for a new Channel 4 reality show,the scenes on their boat included a "drug-fuelled orgy" with cocaine being "easier to buy than booze.”Yet such shenanigans are all in a day’s work for anyone who has worked in the cruise ship industry.Four ex-crew members reveal all:Claire Sanders, 27, worked as a hairdresser on cruise ships all over the world for a year when she was 20.Claire says: "Before you board though you are thoroughly checked out for your seaworthiness. The female crew are obliged to undergo pregnancy tests and everyone has to take a drugs test.My hours were 8am to 8pm and it was 100 per cent commission - if I didn’t have any hair to style – I didn’t get paid.We had a lot of solo passengers on the world cruises and when they got lonely they'd chat with the crew.Generally they were the older, retired types, but the bar staff and cleaners would think nothing of having sex with them for cash.They saw it as a way to top up their wages. And they weren't ashamed - everyone talked about it and everyone knew everyone else’s business.I’ve worked on the booze cruises between the UK and Belgium and they are a nightmare:If people aren’t fighting they are taking drugs - we got used to hearing reports of cocaine being found.On one world cruise in between the Cook Islands and Hawaii we were raided by the drug squad and immigration.We were so shocked when the sniffer dogs came on board with immigration and the drug squad. We were even more amazed at the amount of cocaine they found and how many people were kicked off the boat. These were retired pensioners catching some winter sun!I left my job there because I developed dermatitis from having my hands in the water all the time.It eventually cleared up with medication but I was told I’d never get medically cleared to work on a cruise ship again.But despite the drama, it’s a brilliant life below deck. It helped me grow up. I got to see amazing places - and party too."Business owner Tina Molson, 52, from Cleethorpes, worked in an on board duty free shop from 2002-2010.Tina says: "I worked at sea for eight years for two different cruise lines - one catered for younger passengers and the other for older clientele.Working on a cruise ship is a promiscuous lifestyle. Most crew memberswere jumping into bed with one another.The real action is below deck where staff hooked up all the time.There was often fancy dress parties in the crew bar, usually hosted by us 'shoppies.' We would decorate the crew bar and everyone would make costumes out of anything they could get their hands on.When anyone left with a member of the opposite sex everyone shouted, “Taxi!” as a joke to make sure everyone knew they'd pulled.It’s a lonely lifestyle and everyone was on the lookout for someone.The higher the rank, the better the cabin - so most girls wanted an officer regardless of their looks or marital status.Many of the officers had wife and kids back home - but no one seemed to care. The married men on board often led double lives.Travelling the world on a ship you get used to different nationalities. When the Australians were on board the cruise was lively with late night drinking and dancing. They like their booze!We had to work extra hard on the last day of the cruise - we’d be in the shop until the early hours,getting their booze orders ready to take off the ship. They would clear the shop of alcohol.It's not unusual for a Chinese passenger to walk into the shop and walk out with five designer handbags worth $4000 each.All cruise lines have sent their ships to China because they spend so much money.The passengers travel with large groups of family members. When one buys a bag all the family want one too.Rumour has it that the artificial plants outside the restaurant had to be removed.Some passengers would urinate on them. “No Spitting” signs also had to be placed on the bins around the ship.One passenger punched me on the bum as I was going up a flight of stairs. She didn't know where the restaurant was and decided that was the best way to get my attention. I was speechless.Many of the older passengers go on cruise ships for months because it's cheaper for them than living at home - and some even go to sea to die.There was often a death on board. On one ship we had a shop store room next to the freezer room where the bodies were stored. We called it the 'coffin locker'."James Harris, 47, from Somerset worked as a cruise ship photographer in the US for five years.James says:"My official job title was Photographer. But when you first start on ships at the bottom of the photo crew you’re called 'shagger' - because that’s what the young staff did!The hedonistic lifestyle and days in the sun meant the newbies would shag their way around the crew and passengers!It was a given that married crew would get with one another.Lots of officers would move their mistresses into their cabin for the season. But they'dhave to move out sharpish when the wives and children came aboard for holiday. It was seedy but common.As the cruise photographer I got to see people at their worst. One passenger was constantly on my case complaining that my photos made him look fat and asking me to retake them for him.I got my own back though. He ordered the Louis XIII brandy. The bottle cost over a thousand bucks and a glass was $180. The bar tender and I swapped it for a cheaper version when he wasn't looking.It was immensely satisfying watching him quaff his cheap brandy knowing that we’d been necking the real stuff for the entire cruise at his expense.Once the wine waiter and I were in the cellar when we were caught in a hurricane. All of the stainless steel cabinets opened and most - but not all - of the bottles smashed.As it was a luxury ship the breakages amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nobody could figure out exactly what was destroyed so they just wrote off the entire stock.We were able to stock up the crew wine supplies and were getting p*ssed on $500-a-bottle wines for weeks afterwards!It is tiring though. You work 80-hour weeks with no days off for the entire contract. But every night was party night. The crew bars are so much more fun that the passenger ones.It was a good job: no rent to pay, no food costs and no tax either. I never had any money though it always went on partying!"Hayley Jane, 38, from Luton, was a cruise hostess between 2009-2013Hayley says:"Crew parties were the best part of working on the ships, but security could be a nightmare when sneaking back to your cabin afterwards.They’re around 24/7 to breathalyse crew and catch us out. If you got caught p****d and over the limit – and many did – it was standard to be removed wherever the next port was.It happened to someone on the Panama Canal. God knows how they got home - I was just lucky enough to never get caught!Alcohol is everywhere - you hear the horror stories of people having drunk too much and running around the ship naked at stupid o’clock in the morning.We're all in close living quarters next to each other, so relationships do happen. The crew do sleep with the passengers - which is a no-no - but it happens.I’ve heard of staff having competitions to bed as many of the passengers as possible. I suppose that’s the equivalent to the mile high club.While I do miss it, I wouldn’t go back. My life has moved on."
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