Monthly Archives: August 2012

My first El Salvador earthquakes

Last week there was a quake here in San Salvador. Ironically, I was sitting at the dining table at my guest house, working on a Mac there when the all-too familiar shaking started. Sitting at a Mac just like I was during most of the shakes I have felt in Los Angeles for the past many years. Seriously, over 5 months of not sitting at a Mac and here I was – same combo. So here I was relaxing and doing some casual work, when the ground shook. Not rocked. Shook. Sharper than what I felt most in LA. In LA I lived 2 floors up, too high to exit through a window, and always wondered if it was best to stay inside or go out. Here, I was in a single home, but up some stairs. And immediately outside are major electric wires. I wasn’t sure of the building […]

Weekend in Guatemala

When I got on my bus from Guatemala City to San Salvador, I never expected to do the reverse drive to Guatemala City and return by the same route again. But I did, when my friend Frida decided to do the trip in her car. Another friend arranged for a CouchSurfing host who lived in a very modern, tall apartment building with a reception desk and a beautiful view. This was a very different experience than my previous visits into the city. I will post the photos of this view when I find them. I didn’t get to take my photos of me leaving Guatemala and entering El Salvador the first time across because passengers were not permitted to get off the Tica bus. So this timne, at least I got a photo as our car crossed the bridge borders. (Of course, I don’t photograph customs offices.)

Website consulting in Guatemala City

I spent this Shabbat in Guatemala City with some friends. It gave me the opportunity to meet several great people. Some invited me to their homes and it is so tempting because i like the people and the places. However, each is in a place I have already been. Great invitations for the next time I come there. But for now I need to keep moving south. It was pretty funny to have left Guatemala and traveled south, then back to Guatemala and back down again. Anyway… One on my many conversations led me to spend some time Saturday night reviewing someone’s business website and teaching them what they need to do to improve their site. It felt great to be back using that familiar expertise. From explaining the flaws of the existing site, to teaching them web site and web page structure, to giving them user interface advice, to […]

Camera Considerations – card & cable

If you’re taking a camera traveling, be sure to consider the media card format when you purchase that camera! Also consider its cable connection. And the charger. For example, I had to deal with an Olympus camera that uses xD-Picture Card rather than the very common SD card — and a proprietary connector. The photos were important to me, but there was no way to get them out of the camera without the person carrying the cable or having the correct card reader myself. I love Olympus, but this format ruled out their cameras for me. Another big issue is the camera’s charger. Big being the issue. Why most cameras require you carry a separate charging unit, which takes up critical bag space, is beyond me. See if you can find a camera that charges via USB. Sadly, they are not common yet. So next, go for a compact charging […]

Awaiting stuff

Today I am on pins and needles wanting to pick up stuff from a friend who was in the states recently. My amazing friend Mark Hartman express mailed disks across the country for me to help me create a new bootable external disk on my traveling-with-me Western Digital My Passport drive. (Wow, until I looked at that Western Digital page I hadn’t even realized this drive is smaller than my passport.) I also have a box of small, reliable Radtech stuff coming, including a new iPhone battery, and a couple of other small things from other compaies as well – to help me rebuild what was stolen when I started this trip. And maybe some Tootsie Rolls from Mark! Tomorrow seems a l-o-n-g way away.

My 1st Spanish movie

Today, Sunday Aug 19, I joined Salvadorian friends seeing MiniEspias, aka Spy Kids 4 – in Spanish. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do, but I followed the film pretty well. There were a few conversations where I didn’t know any of the words, but in most of the dialog I understood at least half the words and in a film like that, that was enough. Pretty cool.

Phoning home’s a blast

Today I was told a package arrived at my old address for me, so I called my friend, a former neighbor, to ask her to take it for me. I wish I had a recording of this call. I said, “Hi Ruth, it’s Deb.” The response was 100% dead silence. I could hear the pause, visualize her brain working as she tried to put things together, to assimilate the realization of this being the voice of a person with whom she is used to only infrequent emails. It was so great to talk to her. I have been enjoying good old-fashioned style phone calls for a couple of weeks now, ever since I installed Vonage Mobile app on my iPhone. It requires good wi-fi so I won’t always be able to use it, which makes these calls even more of a treat. Two weeks ago I sat on the beautiful […]

Ruth’s Chris El Salvador 1

On my second day in San Salvador, my friend took me to the World Trade Center and Torre Futura to enjoy the breeze, the views, and the ambiance. I noticed the familiar wording, “Ruth’s Chris” on a new looking building and was impressed that the steakhouse I know to be excellent fine dining in Beverly Hills and the West San Fernando Valley, was here in San Salvador. For all of the weeks I have been staying here, I have watched it. Yesterday I noticed people enjoying the patio so I tried the front doors — and staff was there. Starting Monday, August 20, 2012, the folks of San Salvador have a new fine dining option for a perfect steak or, as I am told, great seafood. [Update: as of July 2016 or before now, this location has closed.] Personally, I go there for the USDA, grass fed Prime steak — perfectly flame […]

iPad/iPhone: Disable in-app purchases for travel

Are you visiting small villages around the world and having fun letting the local kids play with your iPad (or iPhone)? This can be a lot of fun – for you as well as the kids. But it is all too easy for your hard-earned money to be accidentally spent via in-app purchases. Especially when the kids don’t know your native language to understand the notice that asks if they are sure they want to make the purchase. You can alleviate this concern by turning off in-app purchases. It is easy enough to turn the feature back on when you want to make a purchase. I just turned mine back on to buy Spanish lessons — and not bothering to turn the feature back off, I almost made an accidental purchase because my fingers were sweaty and I am tired. How to: Launch Settings and choose General, then select Restrictions. […]

Make your iPhone more secure

Are you traveling with an iPhone? If so, make it as secure as possible. Those things, like all small electronics, can disappear in a moment — and I do mean moment, not minute. First, click this link to Apple’s tech note on how to secure your iPhone, called iOS: Understanding data protection. KnowledgeBase article HT4175. This way, at least if your iPhone disappears your data won’t be in other people’s hands. Also, make sure you turn on Find My iPhone – and KEEP IT ON! It does require Location Services so you might be tempted to turn it off. Don’t. Read the link I just gave you, then follow that article to Apple’s article called iCloud: Set up Find My iPhone. The direct link for US phones is this.

Love my Blue Mic Snowflake – on my iPad

Recently, again needing to record a Computer Talk Radio segment, but not live with Ben as I typically do, I again searched for a recording app I could love. Apple’s Voice Memos app is unusable without a Mac or PC. Happily, I found Recorder Plus — and I love it. Now I can record, email a segment up to 7mb or use wi-fi to transfer larger segments to a Mac or PC and email it from there. So could I have a great mic again? Yes! I attached the Apple USB adapter in my iPad and connected my beloved Blue Mic Snowflake, a cardioid condenser mic. I fully expected the same old failure message that every USB device has disappointingly generated on the iPad — but this time I was thrilled to see that I could actually use the Snowflake on the iPad! (Recorder Plus simply saw and automatically used the […]

WhatsApp for free international texting!

WhatsApp can become your main messaging service, enabling you to send and receive text message — and now voice messages — between your friends no matter which country they are in, or which country their devices phone number is in — with NO SMS fees, no texting fees, no call fees and no international call fees.

I miss(ed) Dove soap

If you haven’t used Dove, you simply won’t understand this post. But someday you might… Dove has been my body and face soap of choice since I was 16 and the dermatologist who treated my (second degree) burned face and hands recommended it. I’m not one to recommend you pack a year’s worth of your favorite soap. I had two bars of Dove left when I packed so, happily, I was able to fit them into my backpack/suitcase. After that, I knew I would simply use what I can find. I’d done that before, each time I’d traveled. The thing is, despite claims, no other soap in the US or elsewhere, is a creamy, soft, and residue-less as Dove. So when I ran out I missed Dove. I found some in Walmart in San Salvador. They were the smaller sized bars, but the price wasn’t too horrible. However, they didn’t […]

Easier travel between USA & Brazil coming?

I am happy to have just read an article entitled: “Visa Waiver for Brazilians May Become a Reality” written by Joel Stewart at The National Law Review and posted there on Friday, August 10, 2012. This isn’t happening yet. They US and Brazil simply agreed to set up “…a working group to study the possibility…” But I am a huge advocate of travel so I am happy to see something that opens the doors for people, particularly of two stable and respectable countries, to get to know one another better. I understand the issues of international travel. Sometimes we Americans focus on the issues of people overstaying their visas, working when they are not supposed to. But the flipside of that is the great number of legitimate tourists that want to come, see the USA and spend their money there. I have been following the issue for a year as […]

12 Reasons I wish I had invisibleSHIELD on my iPhone

Yup… there are at least 12 Reasons here why I wish I had a Zagg invisibleSHIELD on my iPhone Count ’em. There are at least 12 cracks in this mission-critical glass of my sole travel iPhone. Every one of them would have been avoided if only I’d had Zagg’s military grade invisibleSHIELD covering that screen when it fell — and when my hiking boot fell right behind and on top of it… as the face hit the bare cement floor. If I’d only taken the time to get a Zagg invisibleSHIELD for this phone before I’d left on my trip. I knew better. I have known the invisibleSHIELD since it first came out. I’ve seen how it protects a device from a bag of nails and from so many other tests. I KNEW my trip would be hard on my electronics — especially the iPhone.

Deborah Shadovitz and her Scosche goBAT II

Scosche’s excellent travel battery

As I left the USA for my extended trip, I looked at many batteries to choose the most versatile battery that would give me benefit for its weight. Although I questioned the wisdom of carrying the Scosche goBAT II, an untested last-minute acquisition, it was so promising that I took it along. This was one of my best decisions. The Scosche goBAT II – an external 5000mAh ion battery with two USB ports – comes along with me nearly everywhere I go. It has proven to be on of my most indispensable tools.

Read Sony ebook on iPhone

Do you want to download or re-download a Sony book onto your iPhone or iPad. I wanted to. Only there isn’t a Sony eBook reader app for iPad or iPhone. On the Mac, the reader was Adobe Reader. On the iPad though, I found that my Sony eBook opened up in OverDrive – “OverDrive Media Console.” OverDrive is a free app I got to “take” books out of my public library systems. On the iPad, I went to my Sony books page, looked at my account, and clicked the listing for my purchased book. I have to check back to elaborate on the steps here, but I was able to see and read my book by launching OverDrive. I have not figured out why yet, but when I look on the Sony site from my iPhone, the book is not listed and I cannot download it. It appears that the […]

Easy travel with USB

If you’re traveling with electronic devices, it is easy to become loaded down with all of the device-associated plugs and if traveling internationally, adapters. My solution for this with-electronics year of travel, was in short, USB. If a device didn’t charge via USB, it didn’t come with me. (The exception had to be my computer and camera, but now you can more easily find cameras that charge via USB.) And to further facilitate my charging, I simply always carried, and will continue to carry, RadTech’s ACpower Ultra-Compact Dual-USB Charger. The wise people at RadTech built this to be intelligent, efficient, and lean. It is a traveler’s dream. I’ll share more details later. Gotta go enjoy El Salvador now. OK, it’s later…. In fact, it’s a year later and my two RadTech hi-power ACpower chargers are still with me, doing their jobs. First, I LOVE RADTECH. This is a private company. The […]

LifeProof iPhone Waterproof Case at Radtech

One of my biggest regrets about traveling with an older iPhone is that I can’t have this case on my phone. Imagine being able to walk in the rain (it is rainy season in Central America), talk in the rain, jump into the waterfalls, bring my phone into the shower if I am staying in a shared room…. all without a single thought about putting my iPhone into a waterproof bag. I was just looking at the website of one of my favorite companies, Radtech, to select some more of their iPhone/iPad cables and their ACpower Ultra-Compact Dual-USB Charger… and… I noticed Radtech now sells the LifeProof Waterproof Case for iPhone! I love this case! It is no bulkier than the regular bumpers and is waterproof, dirtproof, snowproof and shockproof. When I first saw this case, I actually asked them to talk to Radtech about selling it, and I also […]

Photo editing software for the Mac

Traveling without my Mac, unable to activate the copy of Adobe Creative Suite that was on my (now-lost anyway) clone, I was left without photo editing software. When I arrive at a location that has a Mac, but doesn’t have Photoshop, I am in need of photo editing software in order to do some of my work. (And because I want nice-looking photos at the top of this page.) The solution? The greatest find! Pixelmator — by  Pixelmator Team Ltd. For anyone, this is a fabulous find. It does much of what Photoshop does, but costs only $29.99 as I write this. When I am able to get my hands on the right OS X install disk and rebuilt my bootable clone, I hope, and expect, that I will be able to purchase this excellent software once and be allowed to use it from my clone on any Mac that I boot […]

Write a letter

When I traveled in the days before the internet, I mailed letters to my friends. One of those friends, and my father, both saved my letters and gave them to me upon my return. Even though you are keeping a journal, writing a blog, calling home via VOIP and Skype, etc, I strongly recommend that you — that every traveler — sit down and pen a letter home to a family member or friend. Hand-written letters are priceless memories.

Sending mail from Honduras

A native resident of Honduras, a businessman, and I were discussing postal systems the other day. He told me the mail from Honduras does, indeed, arrive well to the United States. He said, however, that he finds it necessary to to use registered mail for accountability. This is about 50 cents extra. Of course for us travelers, it is only 50 cents. For a Honduran, that’s a fairly steep extra fee. I am unsure of whether there are various levels of accountability choices as we have in the US. But I do know the loss of sending a beloved item home and having them never arrive. Anyway, now you know you can sent stuff from Honduras.

Power outage in San Salvador

Last night’s rain and lightening storm brought more than the usual light storm beauty. Around 10pm it brought an extra loud pop and with it, darkness for some seconds, followed by another pop and some hours of darkness. I unplugged the house Mac, made sure any PCs here were unplugged. The owner opted to leave the wifi routers plugged in. (I also unplugged my TV and AC.) Around midnight the other women here and I went to bed. I wondered if the power would come on in the morning and If the routers would be back to normal. At 3:30am I had my answer when my roommate turned on the light. I am impressed with the electrical infrastructure here that withstands the rainy season so well.

A restaurant to skip in Juayua, El Salvador

A friend of mine who spent a week in Juayua El Salvador, just told me about a very disappointing $10 meal she had at R & R restaurant. It was recommended by Lonely Planet, but Lonely Planet once again missed the mark. Pehaps they are no longer updating their books or didn’t have a direct experience, or perhaps the restaurant has changed a lot. My friend relates this: She was the only person in the restaurant. The $10 for the mushroom chicken was a pretty steep price, a western price. Admittedly, she doesn’t speak Spanish, so that she struggled to order is understandable. She was very disappointed in the meal, but that was because she didn’t expect the very strong taste of an unexpected local herb. But the next day, buying shrimp at the town’s market, it turned out she was buying from R & R’s owner. The woman asked […]