Category Archives: Travel

Tech Gift Ideas for Dads & Grads

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cobra. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’m not the best driver in the world, but I’m also not the worst. I’m okay with calling myself an average driver with average needs.

I stick to the posted speed limit, I yield to pedestrians, and I stay within the lines (not just in driving, but in coloring books as well).

There are certain features I wish my car carried with it – not the least of which is a warning light that would illuminate whenever I was about to obey the law and incite a fellow driver’s road rage. They’re probably working on that in a lab indirectly somewhere right now (along with edible turn signals since drivers don’t seem to use them for anything else).

Heading out with the family? Heading back to school? Dads (and grads) could use better tools to further enhance our driving experiences, but we’re not necessarily the kind who will pull over and ask for directions. Sometimes, you have to gift us with technology before we will accept it into our lives.

I was sent an Escort Max 360 radar detector, and my immediate thought was: “I’ve never felt like I needed one before, so how will this tool actually help me as a driving dad?” Then I saw the “Posted Speed Limit Data” feature and got very excited. Yes, this device knows the posted speed limit in your location and will warn you (unlike your car) when you’re going over.

IMG 7031

I’ve wanted something like that for the longest time, and I can’t tell you (as someone who respects the law) how genuinely excited I was to see this. Yes, it’s a system with dual front & rear detection, arrow indicators to point out the source of a radar, GPS-powered for rejecting false alerts, and lightning-fast data detection – but all of that intelligence means nothing if you’re playing fast and loose with the rules.

Yes, I’m a stickler – but that’s what keeps me (and others) safe on the road.

I also like planning ahead, so my trunk has a tiny kit with all sorts of emergency accessories in it. As soon as I saw the Cobra JumPack – Tiny but Mighty, I knew it would be a permanent part of my prevention pack. With it, you can not just rapid-charge your favorite mobile devices, but actually jump start your car multiple times (on a single JumPack charge). And it has a little LED flashlight built-in!

Okay, the smallest things often get me the most excited. Does your portable battery pack have an LED flashlight built-in? Didn’t think so. Oh, and it also comes with jumper cables – without any worry about needing another vehicle to help you start moving again.

IMG 7025

You don’t need to wait for a specific occasion to gift a dad or grad the right tech tools – they may not know that these experiences exist, so why wait another day to enable them to become a better-prepared driver?

I wouldn’t recommend waiting too much longer – because they probably needed these tech tools last week at some point.

Visit Sponsors Site

How the iBOT Wheelchair Mobility Device Improves Lives

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Michael Kaplan, a fellow geek and owner of the iBOT by Independence Technology (a division of Johnson & Johnson).

The iBOT is an extremely versatile and stable wheelchair that can actually stand on two wheels. In 2006, the iBOT retailed for $26,100 with a required prescription. New models are no longer being manufactured and support is expected to end in 2014.

While its name might give you the impression that it’s the next big Apple product, the iBOT was actually developed by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. While they both share a common trait allowing humans to travel on two wheels, this is where their similarities end.

Unlike the Segway, the iBOT doesn’t entirely trust in its operator. Its prime directive is to stay under the center of gravity of the person using it. The result is a stable, safer product that focuses on keeping the user upright, no matter what. This upright position allows the operator to stand over 6 feet tall in some cases, and by doing so allows them to function without many of the burdens typically associated with being in a wheelchair.

The iBOT also features a stair-climbing mode that allows it the user to “walk” up and down standard stairs, breaking down barriers previously associated with being in a wheelchair. It does this by rotating the wheels in a manor much like a rack and pinion.

Another advantage to this design is its ability to operate in various terrains including gravel, sand, and water up to 3″ deep.

Unfortunately, the $26,100 price tag kept this incredible invention from really taking off. Despite having the backing of much larger companies (including Johnson & Johnson), the iBOT was discontinued in 2009 after just a few years. This isn’t to say that this innovation won’t find itself in widespread use in the future. Every day, technologies that were once considered too expensive are emerging as viable consumer products as the costs involved with manufacturing these products continue to decline.

Do You Need a Laptop With You While on Vacation?

Weinstein888, a member of the LockerGnome community, asked, “How do I convince my parents to let me take my laptop to Europe?” This is a good question, and one that begs an even larger discussion of whether or not you really need a laptop with you while on vacation.

First, I would have to side with the parents on this one. While you’re in Europe, enjoy the sights and sounds of a new continent. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people, and a chance to really enjoy something away from the keyboard. Trust me, the regret of spending your time in Europe glued to a keyboard and monitor instead of taking in what that amazing part of the world has to offer will stick with you for a very long time.

Plus, do you really want to lug this thing around Europe? A laptop, even if it is small and lightweight, can become a giant hinderance when traveling. Lugging this thing around will quickly become a bigger problem than it’s worth. A mobile device such as a smartphone or iPod Touch, will be much more manageable and cause you less heartache during your journey.

Another thing to keep in mind when bringing plug-in electronics overseas is the difference in how things are powered. Wall plugs in the United States are different than the ones you might find overseas. Unless you have the right adapters and/or power converters, these plugs will either not connect or could actually damage your laptop. This means you’ll be lugging around an additional piece of equipment just to be able to plug it in.

With mobile devices being as powerful as they are today, the need for bringing a full-fledged laptop with you when traveling is dwindling. Battery life, portability, and extras like convenient on-board cameras are all big advantages that you won’t find with a laptop.

All-in-all, nothing digital can ever truly replace the experience you can have by letting yourself enjoy the environment around you. Europe is an amazing place, and can be an experience that you will probably cherish for the rest of your life.

Tom Bihn Carry-On Luggage for Travel


Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

Traveling is fun – and also a pain in the ass. You know I’m right. Packing is the worst. If you only want to take a carry-on bag (to save on those baggage fees!), you’re stuck figuring out how to possibly fit everything you’ll need into one small bag. You need to have your personal hygiene items, your clothing and all of your various geeky items in one tiny little duffel. Jake is a minimalist when it comes to traveling, but he’s found what he feels is the perfect bag.

The Tom Bihn product line is not only well constructed, it’s also made right here in Seattle. They make it easy to cram as much as possible into the smallest space available. In this video, Jake is using the Tri-Star, which looks like the perfect solution for my traveling needs.

On the front-right of this pack is a curved zipper pocket. If you unzip it partially, it can easily hold your boarding passes. Unzip it all the way and you can stick your water bottle or soda pop into it.

On the left side of the bag, you’ll find three more zippered pockets. These are awesomely designed, folks. The top one is the same length as the bag itself and can easily hold a book or even a Kindle. The middle one is about half that length, and works well to store your laptop charger or phone accessories. The smallest of the three is still large enough to keep your wallet and sunglasses safe.

You can add Packing Cubes to any of the bags offered in this line. These will help keep different items separate from each other, and make all of your stuff easier to find when you’re on the road. The Freudian Slip features eleven compartments to keep files and small items organized within your main luggage.

The Tri-Star is not only durable, it also comes with several different carry methods. You can use it as a backpack, a cross-shoulder strap or even a normal over-the-shoulder strap concoction. Jake has been using these particular bags since 2006, and reports that he has never had any issues with wear and tear. They stand the test of time while saving you space. That, my friends, is what the perfect carry-on should be doing.

Top Ten Free Travel Apps for Smartphones

This is a guest post written by Christian Arno.

Whether you have a smartphone or not, the chances are you’ve at least heard of them. With Web connectivity and a myriad of software created especially, smartphones are the perfect portable PC for business people across the world. And their built-in support for a multitude of media formats makes them perfect for consumers too.

There’s more to smartphones besides their built-in systems. Applications are what makes them special. Easy to download and install, there’s a smartphone app for just about everything you could ever dream of.

If you’re a bit of a nomad at heart and have a penchant for foreign travel, you’re probably sick of carrying extra luggage such as maps, dictionaries and travel guides. And that’s where smartphone travel apps can come to the rescue.

It doesn’t matter if you have a Blackberry, HTC, iPhone, Samsung or other smartphone on the market, chances are you’ll find what you need on the Web.

Some apps are free, while others can cost up to $15. If you’re not a big spender, don’t worry – many free smartphone apps are just as good.

Here are the top ten free smartphone travel apps you can’t do without.

BlackBerry

  • WorldMate – This application identifies your flight, hotel, and car rental confirmation emails on your BlackBerry and creates a single itinerary with all the details synched to your BlackBerry. Once you begin your journey, WorldMate guides you through all the stages of the trip.
  • XE Currency – A must have BlackBerry application if you’re not good with numbers. XE Currency can convert more than 180 currencies with up-to-minute rates, provided you’re in an open Wi-Fi zone. Or, you can take the hit on your roaming charges. If you update it just before you leave on your trip, XE Currency has the latest rates gathered to help you even if there’s no internet connection, and the chances are the rates won’t change to much throughout the course of your trip.
  • TripCase – Winner of the ‘Best Travel Application’ in June 2009, TripCase offers flight updates, displays car rental services and restaurants around you (with pictures and prices). If you’re in an Internet zone, TripCase can connect with hundreds of travel websites to create the best itinerary.

HTC

  • Next2Me – This HTC app saves you looking like a tourist cliché and you don’t have to ask ‘where the post office is’. Using GPS, Next2Me offers everything you need to know about your surroundings. It provides a list with restaurants, movie theaters, ATM’s, gas stations and more. Besides pictures, reviews and other info, Next2Me offers phone numbers of restaurants and hotels so you can call ahead and make a reservation.
  • Trip Journal – Winner of Google’s Mobile Travel Application Award, Trip Journal allows you to make your own travel guide. Documenting every part of your trip, pictures, videos and notes of what you visit, routes you take as waypoints, Trip Journal can be shared with others, for a similar exciting vacation.

iPhone

  • Yelp! – Yelp! has an impressive collection of reviews and information on restaurants, bars, and clubs from all over the world. Besides pictures, contact info and working hours, Yelp! also provides the best way of reaching your place of choice.
  • World Customs & Cultures – This iPhone app can save you a lot of trouble when visiting a foreign country for the first time. It has a comprehensive list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ on most countries in the world. Don’t know if it’s impolite eating in the park? Check WCC’s database for all the local knowledge you’ll ever need.
  • Skype – A must have app if you don’t like spending all your hard earned cash on international calls. If you’re in a Wi-Fi zone you can chat or ‘instant message’ with friends back home without spending a penny.

Samsung Apps

  • Anti Mosquito Plus Sonic Insect Repeller – This application from Vanilla Breeze does pretty much what it says in the description. It’s an anti mosquito app that emits an insect-repelling sonic frequency that will keep you free of mosquito bites and any nasty diseases.
  • Talking Phrasebook – Packed with more than 500 professionally translated words and phrases, Talking Phrasebook might just be your best friend when you’re abroad. Each phrasebook provides both text and audio translations recorded by a native voice-over artist to help you get to grips with the local lingo and sounding like a local in no time!

Even though trips around the world are meant to be relaxing and fun, sometimes things don’t go your way. With a smartphone and some travel apps you can save time, money and keep yourself from having to carry a suitcase full of books and other paraphernalia.

Christian Arno is founder of Lingo24, a global language services provider that specializes in technical and creative translations across all industries, as well as translating websites of all sizes and scope. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 today has 150 full-time employees and a turnover of $8m.

Google Chrome Brings You Free Gogo Wi-Fi During Holiday Flights

Happy holidays from Google Chrome! The team behind the browser says that they love “innovations that make our lives on the web and in the browser better” so much that they are going to give all of us free Internet access at 30,000 feet this holiday season! These people truly feel that the innovations they work so hard to bring to the table would be nothing unless people are able to connect to the web – and they’re right, of course. Why would you need a browser if you cannot connect to the intertubes of information?

From November 20th, 2010 until January 2, 2011, Google Chrome is teaming up with several airlines to give you free Internet access on enabled flights. These carriers include AirTran, Delta and Virgin America. This may seem like a small gesture to many – but it’s a large one if you ask me. Keeping you connected to your family, friends and even co-workers (or boss!) when you’re traveling home for the long holiday weekends can be crucial for most of us. Heck, it can even mean the difference between being stuck in the office and being allowed to go home for turkey or presents.

To get more information, be sure to visit freeholidaywifi.com, and give a little thanks to Chrome by checking out their latest browser version if you haven’t already.