Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Top 7 Travel Apps

Travel can be be great fun to plan and partake. Check out these great travel apps.

I begin my travel plans with the flight/hotel/auto scheduling app called KAYAK. I have tried many and this one has been the easiest to use for me. KAYAK provides an easy to use screen and the ability to quickly change things like dates of travel, number of stops you will tolerate as well as specific airlines or hotel chains. I really like KAYAK's weekly price check feature. Give it the parameters you like and you can get a weekly e-mail with the latest price. A terrific time and money saver. KAYAK is FREE and available for iPhone/iPad/Android. It has an easy to use web site as well at

Unfortunately KAYAK does NOT include fares for Southwest Airlines. In fact, Southwest isn't found on virtually any travel site. No worries as there is an iPhone*/Android app for Southwest. Easy enough to use. It has a sleek, no nonsense set of screens and easy to follow. This apps is FREE too.

Of late I have become fascinated with train travel and have now taken two AMTRAK trips and just loved them. There is an iPhone* AMTRAK app which is FREE. It is Easy to search and book tickets too. I love looking at my planned trip but on the day I am in instead of the day of travel, to see if the train is ever late/early at departure and, more importantly, time of arrival. I have been pleasantly surprised that a train might be very late a few stations before mine but makes up the time by the time it gets to me. Interesting. If you haven't been on an AMTRAK trip, please consider it. Although it is a more expensive mode of travel, the fun is the time spent on the train, not just arriving at the destination.

Once I book travel, I use Tripit (iPhone/iPad/Android) to store my itineraries. This way I always have my travel information, confirmation numbers, gates, etc, right on my phone. There is also a nice Tripit web site at Tripit is FREE as well.

An interesting app is FlightTrack (iPhone/iPad/Android). This handy little app provides updates of departure or arrival time changes, including gates. I always check FlightTrack the day of departure as well as when I land at a connection airport. Right at landing, I turn on my phone and check FlightTrack to see if my connecting departure is late. I also see the arrival and departure gates to prepare myself for a potential walk or, if gates are close, prepare for an easy snack or rest. FlightTrack is FREE but there is a Pro version with more features. I have been quite happy with the FREE version.

Once I arrive at my destination (in the US anyway) I use Yelp to find local attractions and food sites. It's FREE and very easy to use. See my previous post on using Yelp.

And lastly, when preparing for trips or local adventures, I use a service called Travelzoo. Travelzoo has a web site at as well as FREE apps for iPhone* and Android. I even get weekly deals on local fare as well as farther away destinations. Quite a nice app indeed.

A friend of mine, Joe, gave me a site and app called Smart Traveler put out by the US State Department. I have not used this app as of yet but. Joe said, when you put in your international travel intention, it will provide alerts to potential problems for your destination country. Another app I am looking at is Seat Guru.

Please send your favorite travel apps and sites. I would love to check them out and possibly update this list with your recommendation.

* iPhone apps will still work on an iPad but not optimized for the iPad's terrific screen.

NOTE: Apps mentioned are those that work well for me considering my vision disability. I need larger text.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apps My Grandsons Like to Play

Interesting enough, kids can pick up an iPad and start using it right away. It seems like the two fit hand and glove. Two of my grand sons (ages 5 and 6, soon to be 7) love to play on my iPad. It's now one of the first things they say when they come over..."Grandpa, can we play the iPad?" I say sure and they are thoroughly immersed for a good 30 minutes.

Here are some of the apps they love.

Garage Band

They seem to go to GarageBand first. This iPad app is a bit expensive at $9.99 but they just love it. GarageBand allows one to choose an instrument like piano, drums, guitar or violin and play single notes or strum chords. What gives them the giggles is the ability to record their voice and then hit notes and listen to their voice go higher or lower depending on which note they touch. I giggle too.

BalloonDarts (FREE) is another fun app. It is the throw a dart at the rising balloon and get it to pop. Some hand eye coordination but they get it just fine.

The last one I have is Spell Animals (FREE). Just spell the animal they see and have some fun. They loose interesting in this one fast but they keep playing.

So the next time your iPad and grand kids are together, let them give the iPad a try.

And for a bit of humor.....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

iPad and iPhone's Secret User Guide

The iPad/iPhone User Guide seems to be a secret because virtually everyone I speak to these days didm't remember seeing one when they opened the box.

Note: this a repeat from an earlier post but appears worth repeating.

Yes, Apple makes great products and their User Guides for those products are well written. However, did you find it in the box? Most consumer electronics don't have much of a paper user guide these days because they take up paper and cost. They typically include the guide on a CD or some electronic form. Apple is no different.

The iPad/iPhone Users Guides are found as a Favorite in Safari, Apple's internet browser. Go to Safari, select Bookmarks and go to the very bottom. The User Guide is well written (no techno speak), well illustrated and easy to read (large font and clear pictures).

You can also get the iPad/iPhone User Guides from iTunes. Choose Help (far right on the menu bar) and select your desired User Guide. Clicking the user guide link will open a PDF of the User Guide for safe keeping or printing as you desire.

Apple has terrific User Guides but not easily found.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Keyboards for iPads?

Using a keyboard with an iPad is a very personal thing.

For some people they're looking for the iPad to replace a laptop. For me, this just isn't so. The iPad replaces my laptop for about 80 to 90% of the things I do. My wife has now uses her iPad in place of her laptop for about 90% of the things she does in her real estate business. She loves the Zaggfolio because it is a case and keyboard combination but mostly because it comes in a variety of colors including purple.

I don't use an external keyboard much at all when I use my iPad. However, when I do use a keyboard and external keyboard wireless keyboard that is a little bit wider or larger than the width of the iPad. My wife on the other hand uses a keyboard 100% of the time with her iPad. My wife uses a ZaggFolio case with an included keyboard ($100). I use a Logitech Tablet Keyboard ($70).

James Kendrick, a professional blogger, has written articles about many iPad, tablet, keyboards.

All of these keyboards are wireless, that is to say there are no connecting wires which is very convenient. However, these keyboards require batteries or must be charged. A recent keyboard from Logitech charges from indoor light. Now this is my ideas of convenience.

My grandson, Jordan, recommend I write this article and I'm glad he did.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Use Albums to Organize Photos on Your iPad

With its very large screen, the iPad is fabulous for viewing photos.

A method to keep your photos organized is by using the Albums feature.

Albums on the iPad are just like photo albums of old except there are no burdensome books to lug around or store.

To show vacation photos for instance, create an album for each trip. Then move the appropriate vacation photos to their corresponding album. When showing, choose your album then touch the first photo to begin.