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0945 Using Electronics While Traveling

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 945 – Using Electronics While Traveling.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 945. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to ESLPod.com and become a member of ESL Podcast today. Don't wait. Hurry! If you do, you'll be able to download a Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialogue between Justin and Marsha about using electronic equipment while you are traveling. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Justin: Are you nearly packed?

Marsha: Almost. Let’s see, I have wall chargers for my cell phone and other devices, extra memory cards for my camera, and noise-canceling headphones for the airplane.

Justin: Oh, yeah, I forgot to pack my headphones. I’d better dig them out right now.

Marsha: I’ve also packed portable batteries for our devices in case we run out of power en route. I’ve also brought a power strip to use in our hotel room.

Justin: Why?

Marsha: Hotel rooms never have enough outlets.

Justin: That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I should bring one, too. Between the two of us, we have a lot of gadgets to plug in.

Marsha: And I’m bringing some cables in case we want to hook up our devices to the TV.

Justin: Don’t you think that’s overkill?

Marsha: Not at all. How else will we entertain ourselves for an entire week?

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins when Justin asks Marsha, “Are you nearly packed?” “To be packed” (packed) here means to be ready for a trip, to be prepared to go somewhere. We also use the word “packed” when something is very crowded. If there are too many people in a small room, we might say, “It was packed.” Justin asked if Marsha is nearly packed, meaning has she almost completed the task of packing. Marsha says, “Almost. Let's see I have wall chargers for my cell phone and other devices, extra memory cards for my camera, and noise-canceling headphones for the airplane.”

Marsha lists a couple of popular things that you might take with you on a trip. One of them is a “wall charger.” A “wall (wall) charger (charger)” is something you plug into the wall, usually with small holes or a cord that allows you to provide power to a cell phone or some other electronic device, some other electronic piece of equipment. They’re called “wall chargers” because you plug them in, or put them into, what are called “outlets” that are usually found on a wall or in the wall.

An “outlet” (outlet) is a place where electrical wires have been run and connected to, so you can plug in a power cord or a wall charger in order to use some sort of electronic piece of equipment. A “memory card” is a small, flat piece of typically plastic and metal that you put into something like a digital camera, that provides additional digital storage – a place where you can put more digital information, such as a digital photograph.

Marsha is also bringing with her “noise-canceling headphones.” “Headphones” refers to something you wear, usually over the top of your head, that has things that go over your ear so that you can hear music, for example, from an iPod or from a smart phone. When we say the headphones are “noise-canceling,” we mean they have special technology that helps block out noise around you that you probably don't want to hear. “Noise-canceling” means it reduces or tries to eliminate that noise.

Justin says, “Oh yeah, I forgot to pack my headphones. I'd better dig them out right now.” “To dig (dig) something out” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to take something out of a bag or container, especially where there may be a lot of other items that make it a little difficult to find what you are looking for. “To dig something out” means to go into a place here where something is stored and take it out so you can use it.

Marsha says, “I've also packed portable batteries for our devices in case we run out of power en route. I've also brought a power strip to use in our hotel room.” So, Marsha is really prepared here, isn’t she? She’s bringing portable batteries. When we say something is “portable” (portable), we mean it's easy to carry from one place to another. So, these are small batteries. She's taking them because she wants to be prepared in case they “run out of power en route.”

“To run out of” something is to no longer have enough of something, usually because you've used it all up. “We’ve run out of milk” means we no longer have any milk. We did, but then we drank it. So, now we don't have any more. We've run out. “En route” (en route) – two words – is an expression that means “on the way” or “along the way” while you are going from one place to another. Sometimes people will pronounce this term “en” route instead of “on” route. It's not quite as acceptable, but it's becoming more popular and probably is considered acceptable in most circumstances.

Marsha says also that she has brought a power strip to use in their hotel room. A “power strip” (strip) is a long rectangular device that has different outlets – places you can plug in a cord to get power for your electronic device. Power strips sometimes, but not always, are also what is called a “surge protector.” They protect your electronic devices in case there is a sudden “surge” (surge) or increase in power. If you have lightning strike the building where you are, that could cause a power surge that might damage or hurt your electronic equipment. That's one reason why people use power strips – to prevent that from happening.

Justin asks Marsha why she brought the power strip, and notice – Marsha doesn't mention anything about protecting their equipment. She doesn't mention anything about using the power strip as a surge protector. She instead says, “Hotel rooms never have enough outlets.” She wants the power strip so she can plug more things in because the hotel rooms don't usually have very many outlets in the wall where you can plug things in.

Justin says, “That's true. I hadn't thought of that.” Justin didn't think about that idea. Clearly, Justin is not the smart one here in this marriage. Justin says, “I hadn't thought of that. Maybe I should bring one too. Between the two of us, we have a lot of gadgets to plug in.” A “gadget” (gadget) is another word for a small electronic device. An iPhone or mobile phone or a digital music player – these could all be called gadgets. “To plug in” means to connect a cord, an electrical cord, between your electronic device and the outlet so that you can get power to the device.

Marsha says, “And I'm bringing some cables in case we want to hook up our devices to the TV.” A “cable” (cable) is an electric wire, typically covered in plastic, that's used to connect to electronic devices. If you have an external hard drive for your computer, you would connect it to your main computer with a cable. If you have a television set and a DVD player, you will connect the TV to the DVD player with a cable. Marsha is bringing some cables “in case we want to hook up our devices to the TV.” “To hook up” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning here to connect – to link or connect one thing to another.

Justin says, “Don't you think that's overkill?” The word “overkill” (overkill) means too much of something, more than what is necessary for a given situation. If the temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it's probably overkill to wear a big heavy winter coat. It's just not that cold out. That's more than what you need to keep warm. It's overkill. Justin thinks it's overkill for Marsha to bring all of these different things with her on the trip.

Marsha doesn't agree. She says, “Not at all. How else will we entertain ourselves for an entire week?” We imagine that Justin and Marsha are going on vacation. Normally vacations are times where you get away from some of your electronic devices, but some people, like Justin and Marsha, want to bring everything with them so they will be connected all the time.

Now let's listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Justin: Are you nearly packed?

Marsha: Almost. Let’s see, I have wall chargers for my cell phone and other devices, extra memory cards for my camera, and noise-canceling headphones for the airplane.

Justin: Oh, yeah, I forgot to pack my headphones. I’d better dig them out right now.

Marsha: I’ve also packed portable batteries for our devices in case we run out of power en route. I’ve also brought a power strip to use in our hotel room.

Justin: Why?

Marsha: Hotel rooms never have enough outlets.

Justin: That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I should bring one, too. Between the two of us, we have a lot of gadgets to plug in.

Marsha: And I’m bringing some cables in case we want to hook up our devices to the TV.

Justin: Don’t you think that’s overkill?

Marsha: Not at all. How else will we entertain ourselves for an entire week?

[end of dialogue]

We’ll never run out of interesting dialogues as long as we have our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
packed – ready for a trip, with all the things one will need placed in a suitcase or other bag

* How long did it take you get packed for the trip?

wall charger – a device that connects to an outlet (see below) in the wall, usually with three metal pieces that fit into small holes of the same size, used to transfer power to the battery in a larger device

* I can’t find the car charger for my cell phone, but at least I still have this wall charger.

device – a tool or small machine that does something in particular, especially referring to electronic devices

* Hank is trying to create a device that will brush and floss teeth automatically, leaving the user’s hands free for other things.

memory card – a small, flat piece of plastic and metal that is inserted into a digital camera, cell phone, or other electronic device to store digital information

* If the memory card is full, just transfer the files to your computer, and then you’ll be able to take more pictures.

noise-canceling – blocking out the surrounding noise by producing a small, uninteresting noise

* Lynn always flies with noise-canceling headphones, because otherwise she becomes too distracted by the noise of the airplane and cannot fall asleep.

headphones – a device worn over one’s head, with pieces that go into one’s ears or cover one’s ears, connected by a cable and sometimes a piece of plastic that goes over one’s head, used to listen to music or other recordings without disturbing other people

* Some runners use special headphones so that they can listen to music without having the headphones fall out of their ears as they move around.

to dig (something) out – to pull something out of a bag or containers, especially when there are a lot of items and it may be a little bit difficult to find what one is looking for

* With so many things in her purse, she had a hard time digging out her keys.

portable battery – a small, lightweight battery that can be carried around easily, often used together with other portable batteries so that one battery can be replace with another to make a device continue to work even when one cannot charge the device

* We won’t be able to charge the laptop computer all day, so be sure to bring a few portable batteries.

to run out of – to not have enough of something because the items have already been used

* We’ve run out of milk and can’t make pancakes for breakfast.

en route – on the way; along the way

* We’re going to see some beautiful scenery en route to Utah.

power strip – surge protector; a long, rectangular device with many outlets (holes for electronics to attach to for charging)

* Let’s put a power strip in the garage so we can connect all the Christmas lights.

outlet – a place on a wall with small holes, where one can connect an electronic device to get electricity to it

* The stereo is plugged into an outlet behind the couch.

gadget – an electronic device or small tool that does something interesting and clever, especially something that was invented recently

* When going through airport security, it’s important to take all gadgets out of your pockets and place them through the x-ray scanner.

to plug in – to connect an electric device to the supply of electricity in the wall

* You only have 4% power remaining on your cell phone. Do you want me to plug it in for you?

cable – an electric wire covered with plastic, used to connect devices to each other or to a source of electricity

* This black cable is for the keyboard, and this grey one is for the mouse.

to hook up – to connect

* Was it hard to learn how to hook up your camper to water and electricity at the campsite?

overkill – too much of something; an extreme

* Justin cooked enough food for 40 people, but it was just a small dinner with a few friends. It was overkill!

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these things plug into an outlet?
a) Memory cards.
b) Portable batteries.
c) Power strips.

2. Why did Marsh pack a power strip?
a) Because the hotel might not have enough electricity.
b) Because the hotel uses a different voltage.
c) Because the hotel doesn’t have enough outlets.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
outlet

The word “outlet,” in this podcast, means a place on a wall with small holes, where one can connect an electronic device to get electricity to it: “How many outlets are in each bedroom?” When talking about a lake, an “outlet” is where water leaves the lake, going into a stream or river: “The outlet from this lake leads to some beautiful waterfalls.” An “outlet” can also be a way to get rid of strong feelings: “For Hal, running is an outlet for all the stress of his work and family life.” Finally, when talking about a store, an “outlet” is a store that sells things from a particular brand less expensively than they are normally sold: “Let’s go to the outlet malls to get some new shoes.”

to hook up

In this podcast, the phrase “to hook up” means to connect two or more things: “Can you help me hook up the TV and the DVD player?” The phrase “to hook (something) onto (something)” means to hang something from something else: “Just hook the worm onto the line, and then you’ll be ready to go fishing.” The phrase “to hook (someone) up with (something)” means to get something for another person, especially when that thing is difficult to get: “Could you hook me up with tickets for the concert tomorrow night?” Or, “Jason hooked me up with front-row tickets for the championship game!”

Culture Note
Traveling with Electronics

People are traveling with more “electronics” (electronic devices) than ever before. Most of the devices are expensive, and some contain “irreplaceable” (cannot be found again if lost) information, such as photographs, or “sensitive” (not wanting to be shared with other people) and “confidential” (not to be shared with other people) information, such as business documents. Therefore, travelers must be extremely careful to keep their electronics “safe” (not damaged or stolen) during their trips.

One of the best ways to keep electronics and data safe is simply to limit the number of devices while traveling, and to make sure they contain only the “necessary” (required) information. Don’t travel with a “laptop” (portable notebook computer) that contains all of a company’s files. Instead, take a “memory stick” (portable file storage) that contains only the files you need. Also, make sure that all devices and files are “password-protected” (requiring that a specific word or phrase be typed in before something can be used).

Travelers should avoid using “Wi-Fi hotspots” (shared Internet connections that are accessed without wires or cables) and should always make sure that their internet connections are “encrypted” (with information sent in codes so that it is difficult for others to read). They should also avoid using public computers, which could have “malware” (software that does bad things, like copying data unknowingly or harming computers) or other problems.

Finally, travelers should never leave electronics or “proprietary” (owned by one company or individual and should not be shared with others) data “unattended” (far from the person who owns it). For example, these items shouldn’t be left in a hotel room or a rental car, where they can be stolen easily.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c