Heads up for Mac people

Summer, travel and security
With the proliferation of portable electronic devices like iPads and smartphones, many of us are now carrying around vital personal information that we'd hate to have fall into the wrong hands.  A few simple suggestions for protecting yourself:
  1. ALWAYS password-protect your portable devices so that IF they vanish, you're not giving a thief easy access to your data. The peace of mind is more than worth the minor inconvenience.
  2. Turn on Find My iPhone/iPad or its equivalent (there's something similar for most devices) and know how to use it.
  3. Label your devices with a contact phone number so they are easy to return.
  4. Use a cloud-storage system like iCloud or gmail so that you don't lose all your information if you jump into the pool with your phone.
  5. Unplug your devices when storms approach.
  6. Wear sunscreen. (But don't spray it near your electronics).

Minimize hideous aiport lines (eventually)

Those of you who took our Travel Tech workshop know about Global Entry, the US Customs program that makes re-entering the U.S. a breeze.  I've finally had a chance to use both Global Entry for international travel and TSA Pre, the linked domestic equivalent program. Quick thoughts:

  1. If you travel by air regularly, especially internationally, sign up now. The interview process is quick, although you have to go to JFK.
  2. TSA Pre does not guarantee that you skip some of the security procedures, but it's still usually faster where it is available, and it's rolling out all over the country.
  3. Be sure to enter your Global Entry number on your frequent flyer profile with any participating airline so it can be printed automatically on your boarding pass.

Heads Up: Shopping Online Takes a Twist

My grandmother had a saleslady at the local Saks who would call when an appealing dress arrived. Imagine having that kind of personalized service as you hunt for sentient help in stores these days. Of course what we have instead, for better or worse, is online shopping.

What you need to know is that online retailers are increasingly exploiting their knowledge of our buying habits. There are positive aspects to this customization--"customers who bought this also bought" has helped me discover more than one new author--but there's a downside too, like Orbitz sending Mac users to higher priced hotels.

That may seem outrageous, but it's not really new; it's just the digital equivalent of tradesmen who quote higher prices when they hear a fancy address. Increasingly, what you see when you shop online depends on what they think will sell best to you.

Cell Phone Space Race

I've been living with the Samsung Galaxy S III for about a week now, and I LOVE it, although as expected I miss the physical keyboard.  Analysts predict that Samsung will sell TEN MILLION of them by July; this is the phone for Apple's next iPhone to beat.

  • Pro: It's a fast, elegant, do-it-all phone with a gorgeous screen, surprisingly good battery life, a user-replaceable battery (so you can carry a spare), and expandable storage for music and photos. Having Menu and Back buttons in addition to the single Home button on an iPhone makes it much more efficient to get around the options. Integration with Google services (gmail, Google calendar, etc.) is seamless.
  • Con: The downside of any Android phone is that you have to be willing to spend a little time setting it up the way you want it, and there's no Genius Bar for help. (Theoretically you should be able to get help from your cell service provider, but good luck with that).  It's not quite as intuitive as the iPhone, and the voice command does not work as well as Siri. It's also reportedly somewhat less secure than iOS. But once you get the hang of it, it makes iOS feel clunky by comparison.