The Department of Homeland Security has a team that watches out for cyber fraud. It’s called the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or NCCIC.
And recently, the NCCIC sent out a warning to hotels to be on guard for bad guys who go into hotel business centers and upload a piece of malware into computers that tracks every keystroke anyone makes on those machines.
This is software you’ll never see, not some external contraption like a bad guy’s card reader on an ATM. The software sends to the thief every one of your keystrokes, so if you go into your bank account, someone can get your user name and password. Or passwords.
If you go to your airline’s web site to print out a boarding pass and are asked to sign in, capturing that information would allow a cyber thief to go into your frequent flyer account and issue him or herself award tickets.
In short, don’t do anything on a hotel computer you wouldn’t want a crook to see.
That’s just one of the downsides of technology, right along with annoying folks on trains or busses having loud and long conversations on their cell phones. And phone rings that go off in movie theaters of symphony halls.
But the most annoying incidence of a hotel offering a high-tech service happened to me on the Hawaiian island of Lanai where I was staying by myself at a luxury hotel on business. That hotel is now managed by Four Seasons, but it wasn’t then.
I received an angry call from the woman in DC whom I loved. She wanted to know the name of the woman with whom was I sharing a room. I wasn’t there with any woman, but my girlfriend had called my room earlier when I was out and heard this message: “If you’d like to leave a message for Mr. and Mrs. Maxa . . .”
You can see the problem. Thank you very much, front-desk people. It took some convincing, but Susan didn’t break up with me. Well, at least not then.
We all know from traveling that $100 in one place doesn’t buy the same good stuff (or dinner or a hotel room night) as it will in another place. But you might be surprised at which states cost the most.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis developed a uniform measure to estimate average price levels in each state for household consumption including rental costs, so this is NOT a side-by-side comparison of common travel costs. But because the average price of similar goods are higher in California or New York than in, say South Dakota, the same amount of money will generally buy you less in higher-priced states.
So according to the Tax Foundation you’ll get the equivalent of $115.74 for your $100 in Mississippi. But you might be surprised to learn where your $100 buys the least stuff. It’s our nation’s capital, Washington, DC, where $100 is only worth $84.60. That means is if you live in Mississippi and are considering a job in DC, you should demand a 37% raise just to stay even.
I suspect if only a basket of travel costs were considered, New York would come in the highest. Here’s a link to a map of all the states states and what $100 is “worth.”
Stop me if you heard this, but according to authorities, a ten-year employee at HSBC (that’s the Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Co.) in Malaysia and her husband looted via electronic transfer about $38,000 from the bank accounts of four people.
But these weren’t any ordinary people. They were victims of Malaysian flight 370. And the unauthorized withdrawals were made after the plane went missing.
Now, I think there has to be a special place in hell for people who would do this kind of thing. Except when I listen to the world news and hear about religious zealots beheading reporters in the Middle East and of rebels in Africa kidnapping small armies of school girls, I have to think that hell had better be expanding to hold all the new folks eventually coming its way.
The two, aforementioned bank employees—husband and wife–pleaded not guilty, but I have high hopes a trial will flush out the truth. And if found guilty, the couple will face decades in prison.
No tears shed on my part.
The Park Hyatt occupies the first 25 floors in a sleek, new, 90-story skyscraper across the street from Carnegie Hall. And the hotel cost, on a per-room basis, $1.8 million to build. That sets a record for Manhattan hotel construction.
I stopped in for a visit recently, and it’s one cool hotel, no question. Art-filled hallways . A Champagne bar (pictured) and lovely dining room. Discrete but polished appointments at every turn.
Room rates might drop as low as $795 a night during a slow weekend, but its room rate puts it up there in the stratosphere with the Four Seasons just down the street and the Mandarin Oriental and St. Regis, also located in midtown Manhattan.
And what can you expect for that price? Absolute luxury, from beddings to bathroom amenities to impeccable service the moment you step onto the sidewalk in front of the hotel.
Will the new Park Hyatt make money? Probably, eventually. Until then, it’s a great calling card for the brand worldwide. And a nice place to spend the night if you can afford it.