April 10, 2012
Over the years, I have traveled over 1 million miles to nearly 50 countries. Given that I fly so frequently, I am often asked for my suggestions for traveling more comfortably, efficiently, and cheaply. Here is a VERY short list:
- Subscribe to TripIt Pro - TripIt is an awesome website/app that makes life easier for all travelers. When you book a flight, hotel or car, you simply forward your confirmation email to TripIt and it populates your travel plans in one place. The pro version monitors flights and tells you of delays (typically before you hear from the airline). And it notifies you when prices drop. I have saved hundreds of dollars just on this one feature. In fact, I just saved another $150 today.
- Travel with an iPad – Although this is a minor tip, if you bring your iPad instead of a computer, you save time in the security line. You don’t need to remove iPads from your briefcase (except in some countries outside of the United States). I use Carbonite to back up all of my files from my computer in the cloud, so I can access them on my iPad anywhere/any time.
- Use SeatGuru.com – If you fly often and have not used SeatGuru, you are missing out. This website has the configuration of every aircraft on every airline. It tells you which are the best seats and which ones to avoid. If you augment this with my strategy for always getting a good seat on a plane, you will be more comfortable.
- Buy Premium Seating – First class seats are typically overpriced, especially for shorter trips when you can suck it up and be uncomfortable for a couple of hours. But getting extra legroom AND getting priority access through security lines and boarding is worth the money for any flight. Several airlines offer this. United has Economy Plus with Premier Access. JetBlue has Even More Space seating which also gets you through a special line at security and early boarding.
- Use Hotwire and Priceline – I have been using these sites for ages and can get incredible deals on hotels. A few years back (2006) I wrote an article on how to use these sites most effectively to get the best rate. Things have not changed much since then, although there are sites where people share their deals with others helping you find the best rates.
- Take Advantage of Credit Card Offerings – Most people are not aware of the deals you can get with your credit card. Some offer car rental insurance (I pay extra to use AMEX’s $25 flat fee for complete coverage). Other offer freebies like Global Entry (speed through US Customs), airline companion tickets, or airline lounge access (e.g., Priority Pass). And don’t forget to use your AAA card for discounts (Hilton offers great rates with the card).
There are SO many more ways to travel comfortably, efficiently, and cheaply. What other suggestions do you have?
April 7, 2012
When I give speeches, there is always an interactive component, regardless of whether the audience is 10 or 10,000 people.
I like being able to draw, but flip charts do not work well for large groups.
Therefore, I use a pretty cool technological set-up to run my presentations:
- I run my Keynote presentation off of my iPad2. I also use Penultimate app as the drawing application. This combination allows me to show slides but also use my iPad as an electronic whiteboard. I like the elago Stylus for writing. You need either the VGA or HDMI dongle from the Apple store. (NOTE: this set-up will not work properly with the iPad1 because it lacks VGA mirroring)
- Using a bluetooth connection, I control the slides from my iPhone using the “Keynote Remote” app. In addition to letting me walk around the stage, it also let’s me see the next slide on my iPhone before I advance. This allows me to mentally queue up what I will say next.
- If there is a WiFi network, I can use Apple TV (3rd generation) to connect my iPad wirelessly to an HDMI projector. This not only allows me to be cable-free. It allows me to walk into the audience with my iPad and draw while off the stage.
- For smaller venues that don’t have an HDMI connection, I have an HDMI to VGA converter that allows me to hook wirelessly to old school projectors.
I find that with this set-up, I can create an engaging and interactive experience instead of a boring speech.
What other technologies do you use to make your speeches more engaging?
December 21, 2010
2010 was one of the busiest travel years for me. In just the last 4 months I was in an airport 30 times. Some of my trips included two weeks on the road, traveling from Boston to San Diego to Miami to Niagara Falls to San Antonio, TX to Boston. If you map it out, it makes nearly a perfect star. Another two-week trip was from Boston to Paris to Venice, Italy to Chicago to Dayton, OH back to Boston. International business travel in the last two months also included Dublin, Ireland and Oslo, Norway. As I write this I am on a trip back from Amsterdam, my last plane ride for the year.
During these travels I have observed a quite a few interesting things. In this article I have an innovation idea, a question, and an observation.
So let’s start with something humorous. Or at least I found it to be funny…
The picture above is a sign that in my shower in Amsterdam. The sign says, “we kindly request you take your shower in the bathtub.” I felt cheated, because that morning I had planned to shower in the bedroom. Oh well.
But seriously, showers in Europe share something in common: doors that cover less than half of the shower. People in Europe must be more talented than I am, because I have yet to leave a bathroom unflooded.
There is something very innovative in most bathrooms in Europe: dual flush toilets. These are now just coming to the United States. The concept is simple. There are two flush buttons: one button is for for liquid waste that uses very little water while flushing, and a second button uses the usual amount of water for solid waste . This is a great water saving technology.
Speaking of innovation…
Air Travel & Security
The week of Thanksgiving, there was a concern that a group of individuals would disrupt the security lines by refusing to go through the scanners, opting for me more time consuming hand pat down.
There is a simple solution to this problem. It is a concept I wrote about in my first book, “24/7 Innovation,” called “process pipelining.”
In a nutshell, process pipelining involves segmenting tasks based on complexity. This wildly simple and efficient concept reduced average queuing times by 90% at an insurance company. The same could be done at airports. If you want to be patted down, you go into a separate line. This way you don’t hold up the masses that are happy to go the more efficient route.
I always say, “Design to handle the exception, not or for the exception.”
And now for the question…
To save my clients money, I always fly economy. When no one is sitting in the next seat, it can be quite comfortable.
But when you have someone next to you, what is the armrest protocol?
Maybe I am too nice, but I find that 90% of the time, the person next to me hogs the entire armrest, often spilling into my space, bumping me throughout the flight.
I often thought it would be cool for there to be a thin “wall” that could be pulled up from the armrest that would clearly delineate boundaries. But if you want to see a solution that someone designed, check out the picture to the left and read the WSJ article.
But given that new airplane armrest don’t yet exist, Wired magazine had a funny solution to this problem, which involves a strategy for claiming the armrest.
What is your armrest strategy? What are some of the innovative, humorous or frustrating things you have observed during your travels?
Happy Holidays and happy travels.
June 15, 2009
I’ve been using a BlackBerry for many years now. It has always annoyed me that it takes 15 minutes for emails to arrive when using a pop3 email account. Today I figured out a way to get all emails on my BB instantaneously, even when using a pop3 account and not using a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. And it was so simple.
All T-Mobile BlackBerrys come with one dedicated BB email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Emails sent to this address arrive immediately on the phone. I assume other carriers have a similar email account.
Instead of having my BlackBerry retrieve emails from my pop3 accounts, I now have my pop3 accounts send a copy of every email to my tmo.blackberry.net account. As far as I can tell, everything functions exactly the same as before…except now the emails arrive instantaneously.
Although I believe there are more sophisticated ways of doing this (e.g., using IMAP instead of pop3), I found this to be a very simple solution.
I thought I kicked the CrackBerry addiction, but I guess some habits are hard to break.
If you have other BlackBerry tips, please share them.
October 23, 2006
In running my business, I use a number of cool technologies — technologies to play audio and video on my websites, for blogging, for desktop productivity, and more. Today’s blog entry is a list of my favorites — many of which are free. Please leave comments with your favorite technologies (no spam, thank you). You can download this list as a pdf by clicking here.
WEB – This blog uses all three
1. WordPress.com blogging or WordPress.org for download (I use the download version)
2. Aweber for autoresponder, newsletters, webforms and more ($20/month or less and very powerful)
3. 1and1 for hosting – relatively cheap and reliable. Inexpensive domain registration. Free newsletter and website builder software, plus much more
VIDEO AND AUDIO
4. Windows Media Encoder – Converts various video formats to WMV format. Free from Microsoft.com
5. RIVA FLV Encoder – Software that converts video (except WMV) to FLV (flash)
6. Web Audio Plus – converts MP3 and WAV files to flash audio with buttons for website. Free from CNET.com. This was used to create the audio message above.
7. Flowplayer – Software for playing flash videos on your website
8. Audacity – Audio editing software
9. Windows Movie Maker – Simple video editing that comes with Windows XP
10. Total Recorder – Records streaming audio, microphone input, line-in input, as well as CDs and DVDs. Extremely useful! (highcriteria.com)
11. Yasa Video Converter – Converts videos to any format. Useful if converting unprotected DVDs (VOB) to editable video.
12. DBPowerAMP Music Converter – useful for converting from one audio format to another (e.g., from WAV to MP3) — $14 from DBpoweramp.com
13. Dazzle analog to digital video converter – allows easy transfer of VHS to computer for editing or DVD creation
14. Xilisoft DVD ripper – converts copyright protected DVDs to MPEG files – xilisoft.com ($35)
15. Radio Shack Phone Recorder Controller (Model: 17-855) allows you to record phone conversations on your computer or on any recording device. $27
16. PRLeads.com – inexpensive PR opportunities from journalists who want to interview experts
17. PRWeb – cheap and free press release posting which landed hundreds of newspapers hits
18. The National Publicity Summit – Landed the Oprah article here (nationalpublicitysummit.com)
19. Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing – pay per click web advertising
20. SharpReader – Free RSS software for aggregating feeds from blogs and news (sharpreader.net)
21. Skype – speak to friends around the world for free
22. Download Accelerator Plus – useful for quickly downloading lots of files from websites – free from speedbit.com
23. LookOut email search engine for Outlook (free from http://tinyurl.com/46shl).
24. Google Desktop – Free desktop searching engine
25. Trillian – Instant Messenger integrator that is free
26. pdf995.com for free software to convert any document into a pdf file
27. Datadepositbox.com – remote back-up of data. Recently saved me when my hard drive crashed
28. instantpublisher.com for easy book publishing directly from Word documents
29. BlackBerry Pearl (8100) from T-Mobile (just got it and LOVE it)
30. istockphoto.com for inexpensive images
31. speakeasy.net/speedtest for testing your download speeds