Saturday, October 13, 2012

Technology RULES!

Hi all,

This feels like it's a self serving post for me, since I'm a person who makes their livelihood by "making things go" with technology.  Even still - it's worth talking about.  Technology makes everything awesome, and I'm not just talking about computers.

Here are some things that I used today that made my life a kabillion times easier:

Google Maps


Cell Phone


Smartphone Apps

Social Networking

Online Voting


Anything else that makes you feel like you'd be all curled up without?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Airplanes are Awesome (if I could remember this stuff)

Hi all,

Airplanes are truly awesome - they get us from Point A to Point B in a matter of hours instead of days.  Sure, flying is expensive, but so is the alternative sometimes.

Once upon a time, I learned all of these tips through either the wisdom of others, or my mistakes.  I've done more driving than flying lately, so I forgot nearly all of these, so I thought I'd write them on the blogosphere for next time.

If you're flying, airports are your biggest challenge, and where you might end up spending a few extra hours for weather, or sinkholes, or other awesome events that make planes late.

Here are musts to have in your carry-on bag, preferably near the top, but you can only do what you can, right?:

1- Charger for entertainment - Whether you entertain yourself with a laptop, an iPod, a BlackBerry, a Kindle, whatever it is, bring a charger.  Playing a video is an enormous drain on battery life, just to keep a screen alive, and heaven forbid you're using a physical media like DVD or Blu-Ray - spinning the drive will suck the battery drier than most deserts.  A nice physical book is a fantastic backup, but it can be a little bit bulky.

2 - Your wallet, keys, and cellphone - Huh? Won't I need those in my pockets or purses? Yes, but if you're a pocket wallet, keys and/or phone person, and you need to go through security, SURPRISE! You have to put them all in a bin, and then take them back and re-arrange.  I don't know about everyone else, but when there's someone in front of me to get their stuff back from security, and they have to put it back into 15 different pockets, holding everyone else up, I get a tiny bit annoyed.  It saves you time going into securtiy too, because you don't have to go into those 15 pockets to get the stuff out.

3 - Earbud headphones - This is for those of you who get sucked into screens (myself included), but they're a must for us.  No matter how much I want to avoid the in-flight entertainment, those screens are just so pretty, that I eventually succumb to their wily charms.  Even if I manage to last through take-off without plugging in, my neighbour ends up watching something amazing, so instead of reading lips and watching over shoulders, I'll pop in my headphones and watch in my own pod.  Most airlines are cool with all types of headphones for the middle of the flight if there isn't any turbulence, but those earbud headphones let you enjoy the awesomeness during takeoff, landing, taxiing, the whole she-bang.

4 - Collapsible travel pillow- Awesome for quick airport naps (remember to set an alarm somehow), back support or nap support on the plane itself. The ones they sell in the airport themselves are complete rip-offs, but they've got a captive audience of people who sit around doing nothing...

5 - A light sweater (also near top) - Planes and airports alike do not follow weather patterns, and often like to crank the air conditioning. Being cool is cool.  Being cold sucks.

These 5 things being said, it's a good idea to keep your carry-on luggage pretty light, especially if you want to grab a meal or something.  This is one of the reasons I will always check a bag rather than cart it around. I know, it's faster since you don't have to wait, and it's more secure since the airline doesn't have to lose your luggage, but it's hassle at security to go through your toiletries  and you have to hire a pack mule to go to Tim Horton's. To each their own.

Seating deserves its own bullet as there are a few mistakes I've made:

1 - The front row of an aircraft might have extra leg room, and you will be the first off the plane if you've got your carry-on luggage. That's a big if, because if the airline keeps their stuff in the cabin, it's often up at the front so the staff can do the safety dance and show you how to wear an oxygen mask.  To prepare for this eventuality, I recommend carrying numbers 1-3 in a jacket, which will also be your pillow and sweater, and you can put it in your lap.

2 - The emergency exit has awesome leg room, but some airlines will charge extra for the privilege of stretching out your tootsies.

3 - The last row of a plane is often built for tiny people without elbows. Sure, it might not be a priority to get off the flight first, but after sitting jammed into that tiny space for awhile, those priorities change FAST.

4 - This might be common sense, but if you're a person who might have to go to the bathroom, or is a brave soul who travels with children, pick an aisle seat. If you're gonna hold it until the airport anyway, pick a window. Please.

Some other airport tips:

1 - Wear slip-on shoes for ease of getting through security.  Quick off, quick on.

2 - If you're bringing a laptop, have it out already before you get to the station, or pack it in checked baggage if it isn't your entertainment.

3 - Wear a watch, or find a seat facing a clock - this keeps me "in time" so I don't lose track, either missing stuff, or thinking it's been FOREVER when it's really only been 5 minutes.

4 - Online checkins rule, and should be done as soon as you can. That way you get access to the prime seats (first row or emergency exits for legroom), and if the airline decides there aren't enough people, or the plane is broken, they can let you know before you show up at the airport.