5 Ways to Easily Communicate on the Road

5 Ways to Easily Communicate on the Road

Staying connected is a top priority for today’s traveler. Thankfully, a wide range of high-tech devices andservices now provide countlessways to keep up with friends, family and coworkers wherever you go. Looking to effortlessly stay in touch with the gang back home or office from any location? From cloud computing solutions to cutting-edge hospitality and lodging services, following are five ways to practically guarantee maintaining seamless communication anytime, anywhere:

Put Your Head in the Clouds – Cloud computing services like Google Docs, Zoho, OneDrive and Dropbox let you easily store and share files, photos, documents, and spreadsheets online, so your desktop travels wherever you do. Using these tools, accessible from Web browsers, apps and even desktop folders, you can synchronize all your data across tablets, smartphones and computers.Coworkers can even collaborate on projects in real-time. Dozens of providers (even more include Amazon, Box, Hightail, etc.) make it easy to stay in touch, team up on shared efforts or transport files and folders full of music, movies and more to any destination.

Get Connected – If you’re a modern professional or parent, or simply want more face-to-face time with your friends and family, free videoconferencing services like Skype, Tango and ooVoo are a must. Make voice and video calls from mobile or stationary devices with an Internet connection so you can tuck in your kids or take calls with key clients from hundreds of miles away. Instant messaging programs such as WhatsApp (see: its free international text messaging services), Trillian and Kik also put contacts and comrades just a tap away. With these, you can easilysend and receive text messages or share photos, videos and more multimedia goodies from a variety of popular portable devices.

Stay Smart – Many hotel brandsoffer wireless Internet connections at significant cost and variable speeds. Others such as Hyatt Place (already notable for its design with the 24/7 traveler in mind and roomyrooms) offer greater convenience and comfort by providing free dependable Wi-Filocation-wide along with USB charging ports.When booking a room, don’t just choose based on location. Look for lodging choices such as these which offer ample power plugs, generous work spaces, and complimentary wireless connectivity.That way, it’s easy to make video or voice calls, visit your Inbox and access social apps and networks.

Use Go-Go Gadgets – Mobile devices make the perfect portable communications solution, but battery life seldom lasts the entire day. Save yourself from sprinting for a power outlet by grabbing recharger cases for your favorite device, which can provide a quick energy refill to go, such as those made my Mophie, PowerSkin and Powermat. If you’re a high-speed cellular customer, virtually every carrier offers mobile wireless hotspot options that can help you stay connected day-round as well. These handy gizmos, which sync up to 3G and 4G LTE networks, make it possible to connect several devices (tablets, laptops, digital cameras, etc.) to the Internet and enjoy mobile connectivity to go.

Bring the World to You – A variety of helpful blogging services such as TravelPod, Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress make it possible to create your own travelogue or running diary, and post updates, photos and videos from every stop on your itinerary. Popular social networks such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter also provide a quick and easy way to share updates from every stopover, or even in some cases post up videos or entire photo galleries’ worth of vacation snapshots. You can not only keep others up to date with your travels, but also create a greater sense of connection by helping them see the world through your eyes.

Just as important as knowing the best ways to communicate is taking the time to disconnect. Explore the area you’re visiting using advice from friends in the area, local blogs and newspapers or asking your hotel for their favorite suggestions. You’re bound to discover a something new to share the next time you connect. 

This post was sponsored by Hyatt Place as part of its Seamless Travel Series. The opinions are my own and based on my experience.

Behind the App: Top Software Tools

Behind the App: Top Software Tools

At the recent Casual Connect show in San Francisco, we were excited to see video game makers offering a variety of products with broad appeal that even the most inexperienced and casual of app users could enjoy.  Surprisingly, the way in which they attack this problem – making games more intuitive and approachable – requires some unexpectedly complex technology and tricks that most users will never get to see.

While there are more than a few services, products and apps the average smartphone, social network or tablet PC user might be familiar with on display at Casual Connect, (such as life-sized Candy Crush Saga pieces walking around to promote King’s meg-ahit app) much of what was present at the show in San Francisco are behind-the-scenes services that help track users, integrate ads and maximize revenues for game makers.  That’s great in the majority of cases if you’re a developer who’s created an app, but of considerably less interest if you’re not a professional software maker. However, there are always some fun exceptions to the rule.

Following are six behind-the-scenes app services which quietly work hard to make players’ lives more fun and enjoyable. You may not recognize their names, but you can be glad these products are around, because they make the everyday experieneces we enjoy playing our favorite applications that much better.

Playphone – There’s probably an 83% chance that you’ve used PlayPhone’s service, and you may not even realize it.  That’s because the company now provides mobile app download solution for that percentage of the North American carriers’ mobile and smartphone products. Playphone designs app stores and the delivery platform for you to search and receive recommendations directly from your phone carriers.  With partnerships with AT&T, Verizon and the newly announced Sprint, the service they provide unwittingly touches the vast majority of app downloaders by providing the method for accessing content.

http://www.playphone.com/

Arkadium – Every month, millions of Americans play crosswords on newspaper websites, AARP.com, cable network pages and more.  But the LA Times, Discovery Network and dozens of more of these websites aren’t creating these games themselves.  A company named Arkadium creates, curates and manages the “Games” page of many of the country’s most popular site, and does so behind the scenes.  They’ve got hundreds of titles they rotate on these pages, but Sudoku and Crossword Puzzles are two of their most popular. 

http://www.arkadium.com/

Lootsie – While many are familiar with the concept of virtual achievements to help engage player interest in games, platforms like Lootsie are emerging which are translating in-app activities into real-life rewards.  Instead of working hard to earn virtual currency that is realistically worthless, Lootsie negotiaties with major brands to provide real-life benefits, such as Starbucks or Best Buy, and works across a number of different games.

https://www.lootsie.com/

PaeDae – Pronounced “PAY-day,” this service takes offering real-life rewards even further by allowing users to enter sweepstakes and giveaways without detracting from the in-game experience.  They work with advertising agencies and game developers to make any advertising fun, instead of obtrusive, and only collect users e-mail addresses instead of pages of “lead-generating” personal information. For example, in the wildly popular “Car Town” Facebook game, PaeDae integrates a giveaway with Jack in the Box that to the user seems just like another fun part of the game, with real world benefits.

http://paedae.com/

Tango – While many may be familiar with a business who provided face-to-face chat functionality before FaceTime stole its thunder, the company still has hundreds of millions of users of their chat client and has begun expanding their reach into the app market.  In addition to simple-to-play games that are contained within their chat client, they’re seamlessly integrating with other app publishers the ability to track, challenge and interact with your Tango friends in games like Candy Block Breaker and Jetpack Jinx.

http://www.tango.me/

FreeMyApps – If you download a lot of apps, you may want to consider getting them through FreeMyApps.  The company provides “points” for getting these through their service, and these points can be redeemed for iTunes credits.  The service is especially useful for kids who may have an iPod touch or an old iPhone who don’t have any money in their iTunes account as a way to earn credits that can be used to purchase a handful of paid apps. WEBSITE

http://www.freemyapps.com/

Top 10 Home Gadgets for 2013

26 February, 2013 Life No comments
Top 10 Home Gadgets for 2013

Technology is playing a constantly-growing role in our lives. We can adjust our house’s temperature from miles away. We can charge our electronics with the aid of the sun. Rooms can even sense when people are absent, and dim the lights accordingly. What comes next? Possibly state-of-the-art playrooms that project a virtual veldt complete with parent-eating lions. No need to worry about that just yet, though. In fact, you should relax and enjoy the savings and convenience that modern household tech can offer you. 

Here are the 10 best home gadgets for 2013. 

MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer – 3D printers generate perfect replicas of objects. Sounds like something out of science fiction, but it’s completely real—and the technology is coming home at a rapid pace. The MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer can “print” copies of objects utilizing a sturdy bioplastic. 

Voltaic Solar Charger Kits – Voltaic’s solar charging kits are available as portable adapters, panels, and even as backpacks. Each one utilizes the sun to charge up a multitude of electronic devices. 

Maestro Occupancy Sensing Switch – Remember The Clapper, the device that turned lights on and off with audio cues? This works in much the same way, sans clap. Maestro’s Occupancy Sensing Switch uses sensors to turn on and dim the lights according to whether or not people are in the room. 

Fujitsu Lifebook 2013 – All-in-one devices are convenient, but the Lifebook 2013 goes above and beyond the call of duty. It’s a laptop, a camera, a phone, and a tablet. All of its parts buddy-up together for easy travel and storage. 

Raspberry Pi – Computers are vital components of our lives, and the Raspberry Pi ensures that everyone gets access to one regardless of income level. This simple credit card-sized board plugs into a TV and a keyboard and is capable of performing many of the same tasks as a full-sized PC. 

Google Glasses / Project Glass – Project Glass admittedly looks silly on the face of a human being, but these glasses allow you to surf the Internet hands-free via voice commands.    

Basis Band – The Basis Band is a must-have for fitness enthusiasts, or anyone who just wants to know their fitness problem areas. The band reads heart rate, blood flow, heat dissipation and sleep cycles, and then pushes you go beyond your previous limits. 

iPhone 5S – We’re almost certain to see the iPhone 5S before 2013 is done. Summer or Fall are popular estimates, and rumored features include improved durability and wireless charging. 

Lockitron – Lockitron should see release in 2013 thanks to a successful Kickstarter. This handy device lets you lock and secure your home from anywhere with a simple application. No more driving backwards back up your street to ensure that you locked the door before you left the house. 

SmartThings – SmartThings lets you monitor, secure, and control your house through your smartphone. You can also keep tabs on the comings and goings of your family. The device’s first pre-orders will ship in Spring 2013, so if you haven’t pre-ordered, do so.