Eric Dawson, an Apple Computer salesman from Marlborough, Connecticut said he was standing completely idle and cut off even though he had all the latest gadgets imaginable.

   

"Luckily, I'm a people person so I'm just enjoying talking to everyone stuck ere," Dawson said, outside New York's Grand Central Station.

   

Networks down

 

"I have a Bluetooth wireless connection in my cell phone. I can sync to my laptop to get Internet access. But I can't even make a phone call. I can't text message," Dawson said in using the latest high-tech language.

   

Stranded commuters dialled and redialled without success to reach friends or loved ones on their mobile phones. Only hours after the blackout began did calls begin to be connected with any frequency.

   

Sprint PCS said its phone networks were up and running, although customers such as Dawson said they could not make calls. Other wireless carriers such as Cingular Wireless and Nextel Communications Inc were reporting some problems in the blacked-out areas.

   

Dawson may have been frustrated, but ironically he's been capitalizing in the last few days on another big problem--the Microsoft Internet worm. As a salesman for Apple computers, he's benefited because the worm attacks only Windows computers, a selling point for his own products.   

 

"I have a Bluetooth wireless connection in my cell phone. I can sync to my laptop to get Internet access. But I can't even make a phone call."

-- Eric Dawson, Apple Computer salesman

Without power, commuter trains and airports were shut down. Stranded workers outside Penn Station in New York found themselves fighting over pay phones, as overloaded telephone networks rendered some wireless phones temporarily useless.

   

Others walked into dark buildings near Grand Central, blindly, looking for pay phones rather than stand in lines out on the street. People stumbled through darkened hallways using the screens of their iPod digital music players and Treo computer phones as flashlights.

   

Some found relief in sitting and watching news reports being streamed on the Internet, as television broadcasts were not available in many areas.

   

But sometimes the best solutions are the low-tech ones.

   

A mournful trumpeter soothed a resigned crowd of thousands of commuters outside Grand Central Station with the patriotic tune "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."