Archive for September, 2011

The Ultimate Travel Hacking Guide [by Lifehacker]

It’s never been easier to compare travel and accommodation prices using sites like Hipmunk, Kayak, or Google Flights, but a little extra legwork can save hundreds on airfare, hotels, and attractions. Career traveler Matt Kepnes explains his best travel hacking tips just in time for your upcoming travels.

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“Travel Hacking is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days. You see it on many travel websites that seek to explain how to become a travel ninja or ultimate traveler. Travel hackers are the people constantly chasing miles, rewards points, and elite status. They are looking for every possible way to game the system.

Most travel hacking is about using miles and rewards to get free flights or accommodation. True travel hackers accumulate points and status like a badge of honor. Need to take 16 flights in 30 days to get a certain elite mileage status? No problem. Get triple miles on a new route? No problem, I’ll fly it tomorrow. Sign up for this card, fill out this form, or enter this contest to get 5,000 hotel points? Easy. These travelers remind me of that scene in “Up in the Air”, where the main character says, “I don’t do anything if it doesn’t benefit my mileage account.”

However, for me, travel hacking is more than that. It is about bringing costs as close to zero as possible. Since only the die-hards really want to spend hours and hours putting together mileage routes that might get them 100 extra miles or reading the fine print to find a loophole they can exploit, I’ve put together this guide for the casual traveler who still wants to travel cheap, but who might not have the time nor the desire to be a black-belt-level travel ninja.”


Read the full article

From theory to practice: Can an iPad Replace Your Laptop for Business Travel? (Part 2)

Two weeks ago, while packing my stuff for what was originally meant to be a short week of work in Vienna, I had a crazy idea: why wouldn’t I try and take with me my iPad to do the work I regularly do with my laptop? The experiment was not that much risky as I thought I had a clear idea of what I needed from my iPad (but I actually had no idea back then of what were the limits of the iPad…).

Fifteen days laters and over a hundred hours spent working on my iPad 2, I realize that though the iPad is an AMAZING multimedia device which can run revolutionnary apps like Flipboard or Wired Magazine* and perfectly satisfy any user with basic expectations (send/receive emails, listen to music, view/edit pictures, browse the Internet, chill-out playing some games, etc) It clearly lacks some of the basic but crucial functionnalities you can find on a laptop.

- forget about formating when working with Excel-like programs: “copy/paste cells?? What the hell is that?!”. Yep, it seems that the guys at Apples had no idea there are people who still actually use Excel-like documents.

- “Mail” is just as useful to send emails as a plastic toy camera for a 4 years old kid is to take pictures. Ok guys. So you thought that you should make the iPad email client easy to use. And let me tell you that you’ve reached your goal: it’s freaking dead easy! So easy that it eventually misses some of the elementary email features even my windows mobile 2005 smartphone used to have. Like copy/paste contacts in the To/Cc/Bcc box (if you paste more than two contacts, it will appear as one contact. I’ve tried all possible options, and there’s no way to paste a full list of contacts directly in the To/Cc/Bcc box). One other thing: where is the “attachement” icon? Could not find it. “Ah, it’s because it does not exist? Ok… Clever indeed.” So when I want to answer an email and add an attachement to it, I have to go to the document, click on “send by email”, copy/paste all the content of the original email in that one + the email address of the persons who sent it to me, and then click “send”. Wow, that’s easy indeed. Thanks God I’m never working with deadlines…

- typing takes twice as much time as when using a real keyboard: it’s not that the keys are too small, it’s just they sometime don’t print what I type (particularly when I use the space bar. But that may be linked to my european-like hands morphology…). And further than giving some weird results, it already put me in some tricky situations, just like when that friend asked me why the hell the email she received started with “Slut” (while I meant to type “Salut”). I know I could buy the iPad’s wireless keyboard, but what for, as in the end, I’d be carrying the exact same amount of stuff in my backpack as when I’m traveling with my MSI netbook?

- client apps limit my user experience: should it be because I want to watch a video on youtube or browse google maps, I always end up HAVING TO use one of Apple’s built in app (like the map and youtube apps). However, that’s not what I want!! Most Apple’s client apps miss some of the cool and necessary features you get with the original one.

- no flash sucks: Question: What happens when you want to upload photos in bulk from your iPad to your facebook profile? Nothing.
You’ll need for that to use third party (paying) apps or send the image from your email adress (5 attachement max. at a time) and then move them to the appropriate folder. Also it happened that many sites I had to browse were in flash; I know that Apple’s fan suggest that since anyway Adobe Flash may one day be supplanted/replaced by HTML5, all websites should now use that technology. My answer is that when 1.2 billion mobile phones are Flash-capable, 70 percent of online gaming sites run Flash, 98 percent of Internet-enabled desktops use it, 85 percent of top 100 Web sites use Flash, 75 percent of all videos use Flash, including Hulu, Disney and YouTube, 2-3-million-person Flash developers community, 90 percent of creative professionals have Adobe software on their desktops (source Mobile Marketer), maybe then the problem has nothing to do with those who use it, but rather with those who don’t!
It just as if France would say: “hey, the problem is not that French don’t speak english; the real issue is that the world don’t speak french!”. Please Steve, wake up…

- no multitasking with an Alt+Tab like shortcut is quite frustrating when working at the same time with different documents, email client and Safari (like anyone does in a regular day @ work).

- but where are shortcuts like Ctrl+f, Ctrl+y o Ctrl+z? Google search anthropologist Dan Russell says that 90 percent of people in a study he conducted, don’t know how to use CTRL/Command + F to find a word in a document or web page. Well, if you don’t give them a chance to, for sure they won’t use it.

- other flaws of the iPad vs a laptop/netbook have been extensively covered by different publications, such as Silicon or by some dedicated websites like ipadvslaptop. And maybe, in order to fully enjoy form their iPad experience, people will just need to forget what they learned when using a laptop and get simply used to new procedures and habits.

To summarize, using an iPad instead of a laptop to do some “advanced” work stuff (but not much more than the tasks I described above) is a little bit like doing a removal with a mini-cooper instead of using a regular moving van: yes it’s cool, compact, glossy, speedy, fashion and has a lot of features, but in the end it does not really help you with what you really need now: an efficient way to process large amount of things in a little time.

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But I’ll tell you what: a friend of mine told me once I was crazy to continue using Photofilte instead of Photoshop to do some proper advanced image editing. Photofiltre OBVIOUSLY lacks many crucial features Photoshops has. But It’s just that I got used to it, and in the end I managed to find a way around to somehow replace Photoshop’s features. And if I managed to do that with a piece of software, there’s probably no reason why I should give up doing the same with this iPad. So stay tuned for more adventure about “me, myself, I and my iPad”.

*Two years ago, Microsoft presented in a video, its “vision of the future”. Among the many innovations showcased in this video, the e-newspaper was to me one of the most impressive; not only because of the folding e-paper technology, but because of the friendliness of the interface and the great user experience we’d get from it. To me, Flipboard and Wired Magazine fall very close to delivering the same experience.

** Post typedusinganiPad. Lease excus, the missingtypo.

Survey Report: “What Users Want From Mobile”

Complaining about non-mobile friendly websites? Worry no more, you are not alone… And that means that your cry might soon be heard, together with millions of others.

A 2011 survey of 4,014 global mobile web users found that consumers have high expectations for mobile website and application performance. Ultimately, 71% stated they expect websites to load as quickly, almost as quickly or faster on their mobile phone compared to the computer they use at home – up from 58% in 2009.

The survey “What Users Want From Mobile” also revealed how unsatisfactory mobile web and application experiences can negatively shape a consumer’s opinion of an organization.
In the survey:
–> 57 percent of mobile web users had a problem in the past year when accessing a website and 47 percent had a problem accessing an app on their phone;
–> 46 percent of mobile web users are unlikely to return to a website that they had trouble accessing from their phone and 57 percent are unlikely to recommend the site;
–> And 34 percent said they’d likely visit a competitor’s mobile website instead.

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Source: Compuware

From theory to practice: Can an iPad Replace Your Laptop for Business Travel?

That is a good question. Some say yes, and some say yes/no. Most agree to say that it depends on what kind of professional you are, in which industry you work, and what are your needs when it comes to productivity (wow, what a surprise… I would have never figured that out on my own).

In my case (as a “veteran” nomad worker), that’s exactly what I’m going to figure out during a week, starting today. Even though I’m quite tempted to take my netbook with me as a back-up in case the iPad is not up to my expectations (and to prevent being stuck in Vienna with nothing to do but writing down “to do lists” of all the “must-do” things I could “not-do” with my iPad), I’ll fully play the game.
I guess I will (just in case…) take a USB drive with all my favorite apps on it, bookmarks and settings. But I’m not even sure where I could get a laptop to use it anyway…

My expected tasks for the next five days might include:

  • Email checking (I guess that will be no issue with the iPad’s email client)
  • Document editing (PlainText shall be enough when offline, but I’ll definitely stay in the “Cloud” whenever possible – like by using Google Doc every time I need to create a Word/Excel-like document. As for Pdf documents, I’ll try Stanza for iPad)
  • Access documents stored in the cloud (no prob: dropbox for iPad)
  • Basic image editing (screen captures, create mock-ups, crop, resize, etc)
  • twalaba‘s platform testing and debugging on Safari
  • Stay in touch with the “outer world” thanks to Skype for iPad
  • Unexpected urgent-must-do tasks…

By judging to this list of regular day-to-day to-do tasks, the use of my iPad will tightly be connected to the “Cloud”. When you have a 16 Gb iPad2, having all your documents dematerialized and available online, is a real relief. You save a bunch of storage (I’d rather keep for iTunes…) and you know that wherever you are, and whatever happens, all documents you created are “safe”.

As for where to get an internet connection, Vienna, as major cities in Europe, is a perfectly “connected” city: you will get a free WiFi connection almost anywhere (Cafés, restaurants, Starbucks, MacDonald, etc). In my case, I don’t worry to much about whether I’ll get an internet connection or not: wherever I’ll stay, I will be able to connect my iPad2 to the cloud through my Nokia N900 + Joiku Spot’s app. I just must not forget to pack a few extra batteries for my Nokia phone as turning a smartphone into a secured Wifi hotspot, drains batteries quite fast. As for the autonomy of the iPad, I don’t worry too much: apparently, an intensive use of the iPad (while connected to the Internet) should leave me enough time to complete a full day at work before having to worry to look somewhere for a plug. Let’s now see how it behaves in the wilderness of the city…

… while I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I won’t bump into too much “Flash” during my journey.