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Garmin’s Head-Up Display – how cool is this!

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Garmin HUD – Image courtesy of Garmin.com

Garmin recently launched their Heads-Up Display (HUD) to be available in August (at least in the US ).  The inner geek cannot wait to get this.  It seems very reasonable at €129.oo for what it offers.  It is hugely practical and so much better than trying to look at the phone or other device for directions.  I have seen some head-up displays in high-end cars (unfortunately not mine) but this stand alone device makes so much sense!  Its independent of the car, can be updated easily (or at least the app on the iPhone can) with latest maps updates, improvements etc.

I wonder if there is any thought to linking it to your phone in other ways like having it show who is calling you, call duration, etc. especially for when active but not specifically being used for directions.  What else could it be used to display? I have already started putting a few euro aside for it!.  Looking forward to seeing it in the flesh and putting it through its paces.  Expect another more in-depth blog post ;-)

The Moleskine Reporter Bag – The perfect travel companion

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Many of us carry some form of a bag to work. Over the years I have tried many a different type and packed them with everything I needed to get through a day. Newspaper, books, magazines, laptop, charger, notepad, pens, passport, wallet, documents and the list goes on. Even with only carrying the essentials one can see that the bag might weigh you down. However, as tech has improved and as more content is available online and electronically that list of items has shrunk year on year to enable me to move to a bag with what I believe is the perfect size, at least for now (and of course for me)!

From the above pic you can see some of what I carry on a daily basis:

  • iPad and Logitech keyboard (which replace my laptop, newspaper, book, magazine)
  • Evernote Moleskine Notebook and pens
  • Battery to charge my iPad and iPhone if I run short on power (prefer a battery compared with carrying chargers and needing to look for sockets!)
  • Passport
  • Other items often thrown in include wallet, iPhone and sometimes lunch or the odd book that is not available on Kindle.

I normally spend about 3 hours travelling daily. That entails a mix of transport types – car, train, bus and finally a little walk on foot. A few days a month depending on where I am working those travel times may be 8-10 hours. There are many like me and many that travel more. Thus the smaller and lighter the bag the easier the journey, if only a little. The Moleskine bag firstly is water repellant which is very important considering the value of the electronic, water sensitive, items inside. It is very light. It has a rigid base that both protects contents and allows it to stand even when empty which facilitates very easy loading of items into it. It has a zipped pocket inside. The strap is long enough to go across the body. The bag is small enough to fit comfortably at your feet on train or plane which I prefer to overhead. Also while small and neat, if I really need to, it comfortably fits a laptop (granted of the smaller types and up to 13″). The middle pic below is of a 13″ MacBook Air that fits snuggly with lots of room for charger, notebook, etc.

So while the bag is not exactly a tech item it does help facilitate my tech life! For what it offers and the quality of the product I think its excellent value for money. Anyone out there considering reducing the weight and size of what they drag around daily should take a look at this bag (and the tech ;-) I highly recommend it!

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The need for more power and the recharging dilemma.

How frustrating is it just when you have to take a call you notice you have 1% left and no plug or charger around.  Yes every so often days don’t go to plan and that full charge the previous night didn’t get time to complete or you are out of the office using the iPhone all day and by 4pm it’s on 3% and you are still a few hours from home.  What are your options?

With the iPhone 3GS I bought one of those battery covers as the battery life was terrible.  Flicked a switch on the bottom and it started charging my iPhone and it was good for another few hours.  However I like the size, weight and shape of the 4S too much to compromise it with a big batter cover.  That combined with the fact I use my iPad so much meant I really wanted a solution that could work for both.  So off I went for a search.

After a bit of reading I decided on the Proporta USB TurboCharger.  It has a capacity of 7000 mAh which when translated means it has enough power to recharge a device a few times.  It has connectors for most devices so whether its my iPad or my kids Nintendo DS this will work.  It has an LED display that will show you how much power is left and at just 175 grams I can throw it in my bag and not even know it’s there.  It comes with 2 little extendable cables, a car charger (not shown above as it’s in my car), plug and little velvet case. Most days it just sits in my bag but those days when there is excessive travel involved or its jut been a busy day on the device this has come to the rescue.  It even has 2 charging ports if you really want need to charge 2 items at the same time. So if you sometimes find the need for more power then this little device is a very handy one to have sitting in your bag.

An app that means I don’t hate Dublin Bus! Real-time bus times!

I have thrown my fair share of colourful language at Dublin Bus over the years. Standing waiting 20, 30, 40 or 50 mins for buses that are supposed to be every 10 mins. Not knowing if I had just missed one and have an hour of waiting or if there is one just around the corner. The frustration and annoyance on time lost and trains missed on many an evening has often been enough to ruin an otherwise good day.

The Dublin Bus free app has gone a long way to eliminate all that. It doesn’t guarantee the buses will be every 10 mins but unlike the train table it’s not a static list of expected times it’s a list in real-time when your next bus will be at your stop. No more waiting and time-wasting. I can check the app in the office. Leg it out the door if a bus is a few minutes down the road or hang on and get some more work done if its 30 or 40 mins away. A more efficient use of my time. I am not getting frustrated with Dublin Bus, and I am missing a lot less trains. The buses are not running any more frequently, the traffic is not any better, it’s simply that I have real-time info to hand that helps me use my time better and lets me know when I can get a bus.

I have added the 2 stops I use every day to favourites in the app and thus can jump in and out to check whenever I need. The app does so much more that I havent even explored as I haven’t had the need such as planning a route, searching for nearby stops based on GPS, searching for stops based on address, bus info based on route or stop number.

I don’t need the latest shiniest phone. I can get it on the current models and there is a version for Android (or coming in November I believe). This is surely what mobile tech and apps are all about. Simple, practical real-time info that actually helps improve our everyday lives if even just a little bit. It’s very simple but for me it has been very very effective. So for this Dublin Bus I say thank you!