June 22, 2009

Geek Gear For A Roadtrip

Well, as most of you know, I'm getting married this week to my fiance Andrea and we are taking a road trip / honeymoon to Washington DC and Philly. So I wanted to share with you guys some essential gadgets and geek gear that I will be taking along with me to stay connected during the trip. Most of these involve my laptops and staying connected to the Internet and Wi-Fi while we're on the road. So essential #1 is:

The Laptop

This is probably the most obvious essential for any trip. A wi-fi enabled laptop can be used at a hotel, coffee shop, and even in the car on the freeway (more on this in a minute). Most hotels offer free wi-fi on the property with a log in password that they give you when you check in. Also while you're out and about, most coffee shops, airports and some restaurants now even offer free wi-fi to their patrons. Some great businesses offering free wi-fi nation wide are:

Power Inverter

This is an essential survival tool for any geek on the road. A power inverter converts your DC power coming out of your car's battery and electrical system to AC power so you can plug in household devices. Some of the things it allows you to do on the road:

  • use your laptop for an unlimited time
  • recharge your batteries
  • power a small TV and DVD player or gaming system on the go
  • power a small refrigeration device for cold drinks and food on the go
  • plug in lighting for camping or emergencies

Smart Phone

To me this is an essential for the road warrior. The new iPhone 3Gs would be the ideal, but any phone with unlimited Internet access will work. You want to have a backup to get your email or access any emergency contact information that you might need over the net. I personally use the Blackberry Curve 8330. Some essential aps that a road warrior should look into:

  • Google Mobile Ap - available for almost any brand of smart phone out right now. Check all of your Google "stuff" from the road!
  • Viggo - available for Blackberry and HTC. Best RSS and news reader for mobile.
  • Pandora (Mobile) - Pandora is exploding right now. A virtual streaming jukebox for Blackberry, iPhone, PalmPre and WinMo (be sure you have unlimited minutes!)
  • Google Sync - sync your Google calendar and Gmail address book with your phone. Work in the cloud!
  • Facebook Ap - receive and update your status and upload mobile pics from the road... uh yes! essential!
  • Twitterberry (or other Twitter ap) - I would consider this an essential (even though my fiance wouldn't) - tweet from the road, plus upload pics and other Twitter essentials.

Flip Video Camera
(or other sub-compact HD video camera)

This is another essential for on the go video of your trip that can be easily uploaded to YouTube, your blog or web page so you can easily share your trip with family and friends during and after the trip. See my blog GetAFlip for more info.

A Good Book

After being geeky non-stop, take a second to just chill out with a good book, turn a page, stop worrying about where you can connect and just disconnect. Leave the laptop in the hotel room and turn the smart phone off (but keep it in your pocket for emergencies right?)

Spend time with your family / fiance

Especially if its your honeymoon... nuff said ;-)

I'll see you guys after I get back! Thanks for reading.

Photo by Major Clanger / Flickr

June 2, 2009

Riding The Next Google Wave

Last week Google previewed the next step in interactive social media communication called Google Wave. Wave will be a combination of:
  • - cloud document and media sharing
  • - email / threaded email (like Gmail)
  • - instant messaging

But what Wave will add to the mix will be features like:
  • Twitter / social media site search and posting collaboration
  • real time media insertion into blogs and web pages
  • real time typing for all those on a Wave
  • "playback" feature to rewind or forward to see what changes or comments were added in the past.
  • live collaboration wiki style
  • drag and drop files and media into a wave
  • open source API
  • Wave applications like Twave (for integration with Twitter) and other apps being developed later
  • real time spell and grammar checker using the context of the sentence
This could be the first step from just the information age to the interactive information age. It really looks like Google has combined the quasi-real time features of Twitter and Friendfeed with cloud collaboration and added the real time interactivity into it. With many individuals and even families now choosing to leave the "land line" behind and rely on cell phones and their computers for all communication, tools like Wave will become more and more useful and important as we leave old technologies behind.

Old technologies that required us to use multiple steps and to switch between a myriad of different programs are being combined into one with new platforms like Wave. For example:

The old way:
  1. You want to share a picture with your friends
  2. you email you picture as an attachment to your friend
  3. they decide to post the picture on Facebook
  4. your friend Tweets about the picture
  5. another friend emails you asking if they can post the picture to their blog
  6. you email them back telling them its fine...
  7. the picture has to be manually uploaded to the blog and formatted
  8. someone wants to comment on the blog picture but isn't registered with the blog
  9. that someone flame spams your comments because he is the ex-boyfriend of the girl in the picture
  10. etc...
The new way:
  1. You decide to share a picture with your friends
  2. You start a Wave with any friend that has a Google account and post the picture for everyone's approval
  3. You add Twave, Facebook app, and the Bloggy apps to the wave.
  4. people on the Wave comment, delete, or add information in real time
  5. you post the Wave to the Internet (which gets posted to Twitter, FB and your Blog all at the same time in real time.
  6. The other people on the wave can keep the wave moving on by adding more people to the Wave and encouraging more interactivity.
Where we had to use 4 or 5 different tools before (email client, twitter client, FB, FTP or uploader) we now just use Wave to share and collaborate with anyone on the Wave.

The only problem I see with it is that Wave will make the tsunami (pun intended) of information overload that RSS and Twitter have brought to us look a ripple in the pond. Get your surf board waxed up, its gonna be a gnarly ride dude!