Traveling with Technology

These days many people travel with their laptops, iPad, iPhone, cameras, and other electronics. Sometimes this is great to have. Other times it complicates. There are all sorts of insights, discussions, puzzles, and tips here or coming to this section.

Carry light, give light

I think that we who live in cities, be it on any continent in any city, tend to not realize that there ARE places in the world where there is NO electricity and people do not have light — other than that of the sun. And we who live in cities have so much light in the sky at night that we don’t even realize… how very dark the night really is. Those who live in non-electrified places can wake with the sun and go to sleep with the sun — but there are still issues such as: going to the bathroom before bed or in the middle of the night a mother needing to get up in the night to feed an infant a parent needing to tend to a child a person needing to work until dark and then find his/her way home boats needing to cross a lake or ocean or […]

3% international fee on credit card purchases — not!

This post is for American travelers who plan to use an American credit card while traveling outside of the United States.

It’s great to be able to travel with a minimum of cash in your pocket but did you know that when you use your credit card outside of the United States, you may incur a 3% fee on top of your actual charge?

Scosche – Best card reader for travel & all

Every traveler should carry a light, well-made USB card reader that handles multiple formats. Why? Because you are bound to want some of the photos someone takes of you or for you and that person may or may not ever get around to sending them to you. Granted, you still need to get to a computer in order to upload those  photos, but at least you’ll be prepared. Because you may need to copy data from a computer somewhere and this will let you copy that data onto one of your camera’s memory cards, something you’re likely to have while traveling. The Scosche USB 2.0 Card Reader is THE find among card readers! It weighs virtually nothing so its a no-brainer to carry with you daily as I did throughout my trip, and continue to do. It’s compact and the USB connector and cable are protected within the unit so it packs well. […]

iStabilizer great photo taking tool for smartphones

iStabilizer smartphone mount for photography – Terrific for travel

While in Panama City talking about the Panama Canal with a terrific guy/terrific photographer named Joshua Flannigan, Josh showed me the time-lapse video he created of a few ships locking down in the Miraflores lock. I loved it — and loved the device in which he held his iPhone to shoot them. Josh traveled with a brilliant device — a light-weight, tiny $20 device called the iStabilizer Mount, which simply held his iPhone (or most other smartphones) in place and screws onto any standard tripod.  I actually loved Josh’s photos and canal enthusiam so much that I brought him out on a Panama Canal tugboat and we got lots of great photos and time-lapse videos. Now that I am back in the states, I have the iStabilizer Flex™ — the same Mount but with a detachable, incredibly light-weight flexible-legged tripod. The  iStabilizer Flex legs are well padded so they won’t scratch anything and […]

A personal cell phone charger shelf

I saw it so often — and each time the sight bothered me, being just short of sending chills down my spine… The sight of cell phones sitting on the floor as they charged. On the FLOOR where they might be stepped on, or a backpack could easily land having slide off of a tired backpacker. The sight of a cell phone sitting on a bathroom counter to charge — right by  a water facet, or by the soap dish hands reach for so often, on a counter that gets wet at the hands of the various others using that counter. Yes, even iPhones were left charging in such manners.

Traveling with music… I didn’t and…

I am listening to Peter Cetera, a voice and music that I have loved far longer than I knew, because for years I didn’t know he was the voice of Chicago that I was so enamored by. It is so nice to have my music again. I actually made a conscious decision to not bring my favorite music on my trip. I had a nice, small iPod Nano that would have been easy to bring.  I was bringing an iPhone and MacBook Air. But on the latter two I wanted to keep the limited space available for work files, photos and videos. And I made my friend take my Nano so she could have music to walk to. My thought was that while traveling I preferred to be exposed to local music and sounds. I knew I would be doing a LOT of walking — and I sure did! — and […]

My travel SteriPen will now help a child have safe water

The morning before I left the good people of the tiny village of Pueblo Nuevo, I used my SteriPEN UV light water purifier one last time as I purified one more bottle of water for my trip back to Panama City.

I got good use out of this SteriPEN but as I go back to Los Angeles, where I am lucky enough to have healthy, safe water, emergencies aside, I know my trusty SteriPEN can be put to much better use here. It will now be used to purify water for the newest baby in the village.

Gotta get GoGo internet when I get going

Funny how things go…. Yesterday I was in a remote village in Panama where there is no Panama-supplied electricity. After a day with my adorable 9 year old guide, as this trip is coming to an end for me, I gave him my flashlights — including the great little GoGo light I was given at an event. Today, as I make plans to arrive home, and as a client called with more work, I realized I want to get GoGo in-the-air Internet service for my flight home. UPDATE: I just spoke to GoGo Customer Care on their toll free like (via my MagicJack iPhone app) and asked them: “what if I have a problem or question while I am actually on the airplane? I won’t be able to phone.” The response impressed me: While in the air, you can chat with Customer Care even if you do not have a […]

Traveller cash emergency, my Vonage saved the day

Talking with a friend about calling technology, I was reminded of a calling lesson I hadn’t thought to share here. In early December, I was hanging out in the sitting area of Bambu Hostel in David, a fellow traveller approached me and asked if he might borrow my iPhone. He was having problems with his bank card and his bank needed to call his bank as soon as possible. Happily, I was able to help. I had three calling options installed: Skype Vonage Mobile app MagicJack Vonage Mobile was the instrument that saved me when I needed to call my own banks. It even lets me call the US for free (for now).I knew MagicJack could call the US as well. However, this guy needed to call Europe. I don’t recall where he was from. Maybe Sweden, Denmark or Germany. The issue was simply that I had never used these […]

Walking, movie & my radio show

At 11am today, just as the heat of the day was building, my friend Gary Smith and I went walking. We walked the entire Cinta Costera, stopped at the Seafood Market for cold drinks, then continued through the streets and scenic views of Casca Viejo and San Filipe. As the sun went down we thought we would take a Metrobus but we just walked instead. It was easier to walk as the sun went down. We stopped for shaved ice along the way. Gary’s first. As we walked home, we decided to go see a movie. We did something I have never done before. We walked up to the ticket counter and asked what the next film was that was playing in English. It was 7pm and The Impossible was on at 7:30, so that’s what we saw. At $9 or so in LA, I would likely not choose to […]

Story of a traveling Sim Card

Having an unlocked phone enables you to buy a sim card in each country and have a local number and local phone service. In Panama City I met the bright, personable, amd trustworthy Karol. Karol was headed up to Costa Rica so I gave her my CR sim card. Service with CR’s ICE is so inexpensive that I had plenty of service left on the card and it might come in handy for her. I insisted she take it. A few weeks later she returned — with stories of how that sim helped make her trip a great one. This is Karol’s short version of her story, which she called a butterfly effect.

Thefts by USA, TSA

On Monday, December 10, 2012, reported about a TSA agent leving JFK International Airport with iPads he stole from passenger luggage. The story is “TSA agent caught red-handed with stolen iPads.” Regarding action against the employee, the story says: Transportation Security Administration spokesman David Castelveter told ABC News that the TSA has “taken the steps to begin processing [Henry] for termination.” “TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace,” said Castelveter in a statement. What I do not understand is why the TSA does not have a simple rule: You steal, you lose your job! Granted, the USA is a country where we stupidly are not permitted to say something negative if asked to give a job reference, so a second rule is needed: You steal, you lose your job and the theft becomes a criminal record! It is […]

Track your own luggage when you fly

Every traveler knows that when you flying, the is always the possibility that your luggage won’t make the same journey as you. A new personal luggage tracking device is about to make the scene and provide us with an option to know where our bag is when it flies. It is called the Trakdot Luggage Tracker. I have not seen the Trakdot Luggage tracker in person yet or had the opportunity to try it yet so I cannot offer a review of it here yet. However, I feel it worth bringing to your attention for now. UPDATE 2017: They never sent this and dropped all communication so I have no idea if it ever came into being.

The best flashlight EVER – survived a Holocaust concentration camp

When I visited my friend Danny in San Salvador and told him about my cherished and much-appreciated Energizer Solar 3 LED Flashlight solar/windup flashlight, he showed me what I believe is THE BEST flashlight and one of THE BEST pieces of technology EVER invented and manufactured. In this sadly disposable world, we can all learn from this well-created piece of technology. The flashlight Danny holds here was his grandfather’s. His grandfather was able to have it with him when imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp and he managed to hold on to it. This amazing piece of technology, manufactured in Holland by Philips, provided much cherished light to his grandfather and those held along with him. It works simply by pressing the lever — and it still works! In fact, I believe it still has the original light bulb! Looking up the model on the web, I see several stories […]

Claro prepaid in Panamá

For mobile Phone service in Panamá, you have 4 choices. All if these mobile phone service providers are private commercial, as in Honduras and El Salvador, not as in Costa Rica which also has ICE (ee-see). Each charges 8 US-cents a minute to talk to another cell phone and .99 per day or $5 per 10 days for data. Seeking advice from several people in David, as to which Panama mobile service provider was best or better I was told by all that each provider was the same and none had more subscribers or better service or better rates. I went with Claro for my mobile phone. (And have found most people I know have other service.)

Friends in common – travel style

Today I went walking along the Panama City coastline and skyline with 3 friends. Stopping to take a group photo, we picked up another traveler, Miranda. A few minutes later, each was finding himself on my Facebook. (I had a cellular data connection to make it easier for some of us to meet up.) So Miranda finds herself to invite herself to friend me and says “We have a friend in common.” I ask who. She checks. It is my friend Carola, with whom I remain in touch. We never would have realized this. Pretty cool.

Updated my Twitter profile

Until today I forgot that it can be fun to change the photos that represent me various places. My photo of my giant backpack (which I should post here if I can find it) was fun but today I decided that my Twitter profile should more reflect the reality of my life these days. Here it is:

Texting while bicycling

Today as I took a walk in a side street of a small city in Panama, a guy on a bicycle rode by at a decent speed. I looked over to him as he approached and traveled past. He was sitting perfectly erect, holding a smart phone and texting. And riding a perfectly straight line down the middle of the street.

The first Mac I couldn’t make more efficient

After years and years of helping people make their Macintosh computers more efficient, I finally came across one that I couldn’t set up for more efficiency. I met a new Mac user who has a beautiful MacBook Pro. When I hit Command-N to start a new browser window on his Mac and see his default settings, he asked how I did that. So now he knows about keyboard shortcuts and how to learn them. But… I was not able to set his Finder settings and customize his menus. His Mac is in Japanese. and my Spanish isn’t good enough to explain where he needs to go and what he needs to do. OK, truth is, given time, I would be able to recall menus or change the language and set it up for him. But that just wouldn’t be appropriate while he needed to do his work. He is another […]

MagicJack provides US phone while traveling abroad

I have been enjoying calling the US for business and to speak with friends once in a while via Vonage Mobile app, but that communication was one-way unless the other person had the app too, and had my registered phone number in his address book. Now people can call me again right from their own phones — because I finally got around to setting up MagicJack. Funny thing… To test my MagicJack phone (on my iPhone) I dialed my mom’s home number. I have been calling here for months via Vonage so I dialed just like I am used to: 001 (the US country code) and then her area code and phone number. But the call did not go through. I only got a message that I had reached the MagicJack test center and my call was successful. And then I learned — with MagicJack I am not calling from […]

Elaborate theft scam on a bus

Here’s a theft that every backpacker or bus-taking traveler should know about. This robbery took place on a bus in South America. However, the location is moot; this theft could easily happen anywhere. The items stolen could have been anything as well. As my friend describes: A gang of three or four persons were involved. It happend on the bus at night and they worked as a team to distract me. They even played acting roles, fake bus employees, passangers. They had the routine down. It was a switch-a-rooo trick. They switched his daypack for a stand-in pack. I post this because the more scams for theft that every backpacker knows about, the less chances such a theft, such a con, such a robbery, will happen to you. If you read about this robbery, con, theft, scam here, please tell your traveling friends. Get the word out that this kind […]

Turning off iPad so often was a bad idea – no backup

Oops, my iPad hasn’t been backed up since October 7th. Since then, I have been turning it off when not in use, and every night, due to lack of electrical outlets — and that means it doesn’t back up automatically. I have 1.8GBs of audio files for my radio show that are not on iCloud, which means that in event of a system failure (I refuse to put the t word out there), they would not be restored to my Recorder Plus recording app. (I did back them up manually to my own person professional cloud backup as soon as possible though.) But more than that extra iCloud restoration convenience, my contacts and calendar events are not being saved and exchanged with my online info or iPhone. In fact, that lack of ultra-convenient exchange is what Maude’s me realize my lack of backup long before iCloud alerted me. You KNOW […]