Travel Tech

Travel info alert: could WordPress be the next Tumblr?

Posted on May 21, 2013 | Comments Off on Travel info alert: could WordPress be the next Tumblr?

Yahoo and Tumblr

Yahoo and Tumblr. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The tech world has seen a lot of major acquisitions, but WordPress stands out because of its open, yet profitable platform

Giant media and internet companies keep scooping up social-media services: among others, MySpace went to News Corp, YouTube to Google, Instagram to Facebook, and now Tumblr to Yahoo. For the young founders and their investors, the trajectory in each case has been 1) create a proprietary platform; 2) lure gazillions of users; 3) sell for huge amounts of money to a profitable enterprise that will figure out how to monetize all those users.

Now consider a 20-something entrepreneur named Matt Mullenweg. Like the founders of so many other important platforms, he has been coding most of his life. In the decade of its existence, his bloggingsoftware, WordPress, has become an essential part of the internet, powering about 20% of all websites. If the media and internet giants were bidding on Automattic, the parent company of and a variety of ancillary products, I’m betting they’d wave checks in therange of the $1.1bn or so that Yahoo is said to be paying for Tumblr.

Here’s the thing, though. WordPress isn’t like the other products I just mentioned, and Mullenweg, who told me late last year he has no intention of selling out, is a different kind of founder. I consider WordPress to be the most important platform around because it is a) open and b) controlled by a young man and team whose hearts and minds, from my perspective, are precisely in the right place at the right time. I admire them enormously.

It’s not that Mullenweg is against making money. In fact, he and Automattic make a lot of it (though he doesn’t say how much) via, which offers free, hosted blogs and a variety of for-pay services, including major corporate and media customers such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and CNN. The revenues are enough that the company has sunk “tens of millions” of dollars into WordPress development, to improve it and support its millions of users, individual and corporate.

That’s, the commercial arm of Mullenweg’s operations. But more important, in the long run, is, which offers the software for free, open-source. This means anyone can download it at no charge, modify it at will and use it on his or her own server. I’m among the countless people who have done that, and I’ve come to rely on it for several blogs I maintain. (I also have several blogs, such as a place for some classroom work).

The WordPress community is enormous in part because, like other major open-source projects, it has become the center of an ecosystem. There are tens of thousands of extensions available for WordPress – software add-ons that do everything from curb comment spam to create online stores to you name it, plus vast numbers of “themes” that give users flexiblity in how the site will look and feel for the user. Automattic has created a few of the plug-ins, but third-party developers have done the vast majority. Some are free to use, like the core software, while others come with a charge.

Contrast this with all of the other major for-profit platform operations, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al. To a greater or lesser degree, they allow developers to create applications to run on or alongside their platforms, but they are absolutely in control. The third-party developers and their products live essentially at the whim of the platform owners, and so does the content that we (you and I) put into their computers. We get convenience in return, but we need to always keep in mind who’s running things. With sites, we are in control.

As Mullenweg told my students last year:

“I think it’s really important for the independent web to have a platform, and to the extent that WordPress can serve that role, I think it’s a great privilege and responsibility. We don’t all want to be running on Twitter and Facebook and (LinkedIn) profile pages and being sold to the highest bidder, essentially, over and over again, a thousand times, every time someone loads a page. I mean, we can do better than that.

So I’ve always tried to orient Automattic’s business model to not be advertising, where your users are the product that you’re selling to someone else, but to be subscriptions, which I feel is a lot more honest, because your users are the people who are also funding it. So you’re naturally more aligned with their interest.”

Control, he told us, mattered even more than a business model that didn’t make users the product:

“We still need this platform for longer forms of self expression, and a place that people can have their own domain on the web, that really belongs to them, that they have complete control of it, all the way down to the software, the actual code executing on the server someplace in the cloud. You should be able to control every single line of that. And that’s the beauty of open source.”

A founder, he says, has two crucial roles: hiring and creating a company culture. And the tenets by which he operates have taken voice in a company creed. The most recent iteration is this:

I will never stop learning. I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me. I know there’s no such thing as a status quo. I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything. I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company. I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.

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Melatonin helps jet lag

Posted on May 20, 2013 | Comments Off on Melatonin helps jet lag

Jet lag. Young woman leaning on luggage on trolley, yawning

Jet lag can really take the edge off an exciting long-haul holiday, or exacerbate the post-break blues. But remedies are at hand

The Guardian

Jet lag is worse if you are sleep-deprived before you travel or get dehydrated on the flight by drinking alcohol. Photograph: Clarissa Leahy/Getty Images

It can take five days to feel normal again after a long-haul flight. What with daytime sleepiness, nightly insomnia, loss of appetite, clouded thinking and poor co-ordination, this can seem like a long time. It’s worse if you are sleep-deprived before you travel, cross more than four timezones, get dehydrated on the flight by drinking alcohol or if you are travelling east, which we find harder to tolerate than going west as the body clock copes better with being asked to stay up longer.

Jet lag is caused by disrupting your circadian rhythm, the internal body clock that regulates sleep and waking. This clock is a tiny group of cells in the brain: the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus. It’s controlled by light and dark and the hormone melatonin, which is produced when it gets dark and controls our body temperature while we sleep.

Melatonin can be made synthetically and in America is available as a herbal remedy over the counter. In the UK it is classified as a medicineand is only available to people over 55 with insomnia. But would it help jet lag? Or should you try sleeping tablets to get to sleep and stimulants such as coffee to keep awake?

The solution

A systematic review of research by the Cochrane Collaboration revealed that melatonin can be taken to reduce jet lag when crossing two or more timezones. Between 0.5mg to 5 mg of melatonin, taken daily at bedtime, helped people to get to sleep faster and better (particularly for the higher dose), as well as reduce sleepiness during daytime.

Melatonin works better the more timezones are crossed and for travelling east more than west. However it is not safe for everyone and people with epilepsy or on warfarin should not take it. There is some evidence to suggest that if you travel west, but are only staying for a couple of days, it is best to stick to your home timezone to reduce jet lag, otherwise you should adopt the local time as soon as possible.

If you are travelling east, it helps to stay in the dark for at least three hours after arriving to try to reset the circadian rhythm. If going west, get out in the daylight.

Sleeping tablets are often used to get back into a waking and sleeping cycle but the evidence is not clear that they work. Caffeine reduces sleepiness but makes it harder to fall asleep at night. And the really bad news is that research suggests it doesn’t even help to sleep on the plane, unless you’re flying when you’d usually be asleep.

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Bose noise cancelling headphones – indulge your ears

Posted on Mar 30, 2013 | Comments Off on Bose noise cancelling headphones – indulge your ears

Bose noise cancelling headphones


Any frequent traveller knows the benefit of a good pair of headphones on a long haul flight. The Bose Noise cancelling headphones QC3 are my luxury indulgence for travelling.

Bose proprietary Acoustic Noise Cancelling and audio headphone technologies work together so you hear less unwanted noise, and more of your music. A quieter listening experience, combined with Bose quality sound, reveals nuances in your music you never noticed before. And even when you’re not listening to audio, you can still use the headphones to fade ambient noise—with the flick of a switch. An oasis of quiet on your hectic journey.

They have a comfortable fit and their fold-flat earcups and included case make them great travelling companions. Dual rechargeable batteries give you excellent range even on the longest haul flights. They also come with a standard and dual pin adapter for connection to the standard in seat AV system.

Bose Site


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Travel Tech – Mobile Data Hotspot

Posted on Mar 20, 2013 | Comments Off on Travel Tech – Mobile Data Hotspot


A new device offering an affordable mobile data hotspot for global roaming is something to consider for your next trip. There is no doubts that Smartphones, tablets and laptops have all make travel easier and more enjoyable.  But all of those gadgets depend upon an Internet connection to be useful and at times it can be a real challenge to find such a connection and at an affordable rates while travelling to avoid Bill Shock on return home. Mobile Internet services that works internationally can turn into a very expensive exercise.

Enter Globalgig, a mobile Internet provider that is working to take the complexity and high costs out of the equation. The service launched last fall, giving users flat pricing – without monthly contracts – for mobile Internet that works in three countries – the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. By mixing reliable 3G cellular service with affordable data tiers, Globalgig has quickly become a solid choice for the connected international traveler.

Globalgig is announcing expanding the service in more countries and aggressive new price points that will make it an even more attractive option for globetrotters. By partnering with wireless carriers in Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Hong Kong, customers can now stay connected while traveling to each of those destinations in addition to the original three countries.

Monthly fees now start at just $17 for 1GB of data, while other options include 2GB for $25, 5GB for $45 and 10GB for $80. Additionally, users can now choose to either buy the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for $119 or get it free by signing an 18-month contract.

Globalgig Site

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Tokyo Skytree

Posted on Mar 14, 2013 | Comments Off on Tokyo Skytree



Tokyo Skytree is a broadcasting tower , restaurant, and observation tower in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan. It became the tallest structure in Japan in 2010 and reached its full height of 634.0 metres (2,080 ft) in March 2011, making it the tallest tower in the world, displacing the Canton Tower, and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa (829.8 m/2,722 ft).

One of its main purposes is to relay television and radio broadcast signals; Tokyo’s current facility, Tokyo Tower with a height of 333 m (1,093 ft), no longer gives complete digital terrestrial television broadcasting coverage because it is surrounded by many high-rise buildings. The project was completed on 29 February 2012, with the tower opening to the public on 22 May 2012

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Power Travel

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 | Comments Off on Power Travel



We all have them, drawers full of adaptors, cables, and dongles.  As road warriors we have collected over the years every possible combination of power plug to suit our increasing number of essential travel devices.  If you travel with a digital camera, mobile phone, laptop, iPod, E-reader or tablet device, you have noticed a growing combination of electronic attachments that takes up time and space in your luggage.

It is a real challenge to reduce this to something more manageable. There are all sorts of universal plugs, kits, USB hubs that try help you solve your travel power dilemmas.

One of my favourite tricks is to pack a small power board or double adaptor, which allows you to reduce the number of country specific plug adaptors required and can assist in charging multiple devices at once.  Also carrying a powered USB hub can take some of the complexity out of recharging phones, iPods, cameras and tablets , reducing the need to carry multiple AC adaptors for each device.  Most of our digital devices these days can be powered by USB cable rather than direct AC,  this is a great compact alternative but can take more time to fully charge your devices.

It is also handy to know what plug combination is required at your destination, here is a great reference site that I use to keep track of the many power plug versions around the world.


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Pocket knives allowed back on US flights but check your size

Posted on Mar 8, 2013 | Comments Off on Pocket knives allowed back on US flights but check your size

Swiss Army Knife

Passengers will be allowed to take pocket knives on US commercial flights from next month. TSA will allow knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6cm or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width, however the standard Swiss Army pocket knife has a 7cm main blade so will still be prohibited in the air.

In a dramatic turnaround the US Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) advised that travellers will be allowed to carry folding pocket knives onto US passenger aircraft for the first time since September 2001. The TSA, which is in charge of airport security in the US, is making the changes to conform with international standards, agency chief John Pistole told a conference in New York.

A TSA statement said: “Through TSA’s layered approach to security, and to align more closely with International Civil Aviation Organization standards, effective April 25, 2013 TSA will allow knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6cm or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width, novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs as part of their carry-on baggage. This is part of an overall Risk-Based Security approach, which allows Transportation Security Officers to better focus their efforts on finding higher threat items such as explosives.”

These changes will come into effect from April 25th, 2013

TSA Blog Link


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Inflight Tech

Posted on Mar 6, 2013 | Comments Off on Inflight Tech


Qantas has announced expansion of its inflight entertainment experience with iPads to be introduced to flights from Sydney to Hawaii as part of a refresh of its Boeing 767s.

Every seat will have an iPad with Q Steaming using onboard Wifi to stream entertainment direct to the tablets.

“Q Steaming has been extremely popular with Qantas customers on the domestic network and we are pleased to offer it to our customers travelling to Honolulu,” said Alison Webster, executive manager of international customer experience.

Passengers will have access to more than 200 hours of movies, TV programs and music is streamed to the iPads with a greater choice to follow to match that of the full in-flight entertainment system.

Qantas said it is also looking to add games, travel and business related apps and digital newspapers and magazines.

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Luggage Tracker- Cool Travel Tech

Posted on Mar 5, 2013 | Comments Off on Luggage Tracker- Cool Travel Tech

Luggage Tracker

Find + Track your lost luggage

If you are a frequent traveller lost luggage is almost an unavoidable hazard at some stage in your travel history.  In North America alone over 28 million pieces of luggage were lost last year.  There is now even a reality TV show, Baggage Battles where punters get rich off of traveller misfortune from unclaimed luggage.

A elegantly simple new product Trackdot gives frequent travellers a greater sense of security and control for just under $50 + activation and annual subscription @ $21. The palm-sized plastic device slips discreetly into your suitcase and updates the owner on its location via an app, SMS, email or the Trakdot website.  Trakdot relies on a quad-band GSM chip and triangulation, which allows it to last up to two weeks on a fresh pair of AA batteries ( included).

Yes it is FCC and FAA certified, when you fly Trakdot knows and goes to sleep. Upon arriving at your destination, Trakdot wakes up and reports its new location. Like Apples handy find my iPhone utility, you can track your lost bag via the an IOS or Android App or via the Trackdot website where you can set up customised text and email notifications or pin location via Google Maps.


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Cool Travel Tech

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 | Comments Off on Cool Travel Tech

Emergency + Travel Phone

SpareOne low cost Travel+ Emergency Phone

Cool Travel Tech

Most of us have had some sort of bad experience with mobile phone bill shock while travelling. There are many tips to avoid this by using free wifi zones, Skype, etc.  But sometimes you just want to make a local call and not pay the frieght in both directions across the globe.  This can be acheived by purchasing a local or prepaid global sim card.  However even this can get complex if your handset is locked to one carrier at home, not to mention  full size sims vs micro and mini sims.  One innovative company may have found the perfect inexpensive solution.

The folk at SpareOne have come up with an even simpler idea, a low cost basic phone for voice calls while you travel for under $100 that works on a single AA battery, and includes a flashlight.  It takes both regular and micro sims, so easy to buy a sim on the road.  Also ideal for trips where your expensive smart phone may not live through the dust, heat and moisture of the adventure.

It comes in two different GSM frequencies for use throughout the world: 1) 850/1900 MHZ   2) 900/1800 MHZ.  It works just about anywhere with the usual exceptions of Japan, and Korea who have their own GSM standards, and the Arctic and Antarctica regions.

It even allows you to make emergency calls without an active sim in place. Definitely worth throwing into your backpack for your next travel experience off the beaten path.

SpareOne emergency + Travel phone video

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