5 Top Tools for Tech & Travel

I am currently in Shepparton, Victoria, eagerly awaiting the start of the Slide2Learn conference tomorrow morning.

During my trip, I have been thinking about how much I rely on technology for my travel plans, and how much of a challenge it would be for me to go somewhere without it.

Here is a list of the technology I used to get from my door to the hotel in Shepparton.

1. My trusty iPhone – this is fast becoming my most crucial piece of technology. I seldom go anywhere without it. It is so much more than just a phone, with apps like these:

tripit
I used the fabulous (and free) Tripit to input all my travel arrangements – from flights, to rental cars and hotel confirmations. I didn’t print the majority of these documents.¬†Generally speaking, I just held up the phone to show the relevant information. Easy as pie.

dropbox

Dropbox stored my passport details, entrance tickets to the conference, and other information that is essential to have close at hand, no matter where you are.

pocket first aid
Pocket First Aid & CPR
has my medical insurance details, should any tragic circumstances ensue (I have my fingers crossed they won’t!), as well as first aid information that might help in an emergency.

Angry Birds & Sudoku – my current diversions, are entertainment in my pocket.

IMG_0443

hipstaHipstamatic helps me create moody, artistic photographs that I can share with friends and family (reaching a level of sophistication well beyond the realms of my normal creativity!) – the photo to the right was taken using Hipstamatic, and is the view from the Olivehouse Restaurant, where I had a delicious lunch today.

Just Light Flashlight – my torch in the night

xe
XE Currency
– calculating exchange rates at the touch of a button is always a useful tool when overseas.

Facebook & Tweetdeck for keeping in touch with friends and family, near and far.

2. GPS – Without which, I would have quite literally, been lost. Traveling in an unfamiliar location is tricky at the best of times, and using the sat-nav to get to my destination took all of the worry out of my drive from Melbourne to Shepparton.

3. My iPod Touch – by no means a superfluous piece of technology when one already has an iPhone! I consider myself pretty handy with technology these days, yet for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to make the radio in my rental car go. I needed to make sure I didn’t run out of battery on my phone, and a 2 hour trip goes by ever-so-slowly without a little music to sing to… cue the iPod Touch! It sat happily on the dash, belting out my Glee favourites as we moseyed along the Victorian countryside.

4. My (aging) Macbook Pro – Although I realise this is beginning to sound like an advertisement for all things Apple, it was not my intention! The fact of the matter is they make good products! What the Macbook Pro lacks in portability, it makes up for in ease of use – particularly for blogging on the go. It is always quick and easy to connect to wireless networks too.

skype5. Skype – It would be remiss of me not to mention Skype as a travel tool, as I use it so frequently. I said goodnight to my kids tonight, saw the artwork my daughter had made, chatted to my husband, and made my son laugh. All for free (internet connection notwithstanding).

Technology I made use of at Changi Airport included a DIY immigration, where your thumb is scanned and matched against records in your Green Card. At the Melbourne end, NZ and Australian passport holders could use a fast track service in which you scan your passport (provided it has a microchip in it) and beat the queues at immigration. Thumbs up to these 2 leading airports!

Of course Bump is going to be useful tomorrow – especially at a conference about mobile learning!

I am sure I have forgotten some crucial tools here. What are your tech travel must-haves? I am keen to expand my repertoire…!

Ghost of technology past

For some reason, thoughts of old computers have been running around in my head the last few days, so I thought it best to just jot my memories down so I could get some sleep! That’s the plan, anyway…

From as far back as I can remember, we’ve always been a technology-filled household. This is partly due to my parents both being teachers and having access to new technology at their schools which they brought home, but I would also attribute it to Dad’s love of gadgets. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on the situation), I have home videos of our family from the time I was about 5. Few people my age have the opportunity of seeing themselves at that age (photos aside). As it turns out, I was am rather bossy (oldest child syndrome), or at least I seem to be in the selection of videos my youngest sister keeps playing…

Fast forward a few years, and I can remember our first home computer: an Apple 2e, green and black screen, complete with floppy disks for saving. Do you remember those? I was 9 or 10 years old.

Photo Credit: Luigi Rosa

Photo Credit: Harshad Sharma

My sisters and I thought this was the best thing ever. Until we upgraded to the Atari Computer (not those things you plugged into the TV). The Atari was (get this) FULL COLOUR! It had a black and red joystick just like the one in this magnificent picture below:

Photo Credit: Blakespot

On the Atari, my younger sister became the master of games. This was fine by me, as we often teamed up to play: she would take the controls; I would be tactician. My favourite games of those times were Black Lamp and the Summer Olympics. Ahh, good times. The Atari worked the the all new disks, which were not floppy at all, but hard and much, much smaller.

Photo Credit: psd

From then on, it was a succession of different PCs which all just merge into one really. They didn’t make as strong an impression as those first two, as the improvements made were minor in comparison with going from green screen to full colour, from floppy disks to the harder variety.

As a teacher of ICT, I now find it amusing that the kids I teach today have never used, much less seen the floppy disks that provide the icon to ‘save’. Even though the technology has moved on through the use of CDs, to thumb drives and now even online storage, Microsoft still clings to the historical image of the floppy disk. I love it.

The latest addition to our technology-loving household is an Asus Eee PC for our live-in helper, Raquel. So far it’s working out beautifully for her, and I hope it continues to do so. I confess to being a tiny bit jealous of it, and certainly would like one for myself. Still, our Macbook Pro is still going strong, so I shall have to be content with that for a while.

I feel pretty confident with computer technology, but am being left behind on mobile phone tech. I’d love an iPhone, but the only service provider currently in Singapore is for Starhub, and we can’t get reception with Starhub in our apartment! No doubt that will change soon enough (or we may indeed move apartment!), so it’s next on my list of things to buy. I’ll mention it to Santa – after all, I’ve been a pretty good girl this year…