Disney’s No Selfie Stick Ban

selfiestickPlanning  a trip to any Disney park (California, Orlando, Paris, Hong Kong) this summer? Did you buy a  “selfie stick”(a popular extendable rod that attach to cellphones and cameras to allow users to take photos of themselves from a distance of about 3 feet) ? You might want to leave that selfie stick at home. Beginning Tuesday, Disney parks are banning the use of selfie sticks.

Disney goers must go through a bag check as they enter any Disney park. Those attempting to bring a selfie stick inside will be given a choice  of turning it in and picking it up later, or returning it to a car or hotel room.

Why has the happiest place on Earth ban the use of selfie sticks? It isn’t because they do not want you to take photos or only take photos in certain spots. It is because certain park goers decided it would be a good idea to use the selfie sticks while on rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Californa Screamin’. Recently the Disney’s California Adventure had to shut down the California Screamin’  high-speed roller coaster after a passenger pulled out a selfie stick mid ride. A very big safety risk to both the guests and Disney staff. It may seem like an overreaction but better to overreact than have someone impaled by a stick in the middle of a ride.

5 Essential Travel Apps

Traveling is meant to be fun. Unfortunately, stress takes the fun out of traveling. Here are five apps that help you make the most out of your travel.

1.    Tripit is your personal travel assistant. Once you book your airline ticket, hotel, car rental or even restaurant reservations online forward the confirmation email to plans@tripit.com. In a matter of seconds, Tripit creates your travel itinerary including maps, so all of your travel information is easily accessible in one place. The Pro version alerts you to possible ticket refunds for price drops, travel delays, and many other features. Available for Android and iOS smartphones. For more information visit: www.tripit.com. Standard version: Free. Pro version: 49.95 per year.

2.  Waze, a community-based free mapping and directions application helps you get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time. The mapping app avoids heavy traffic in real time with the help of other Waze users who report traffic, accidents, construction and police traps. Available for Android and iOS smartphones.

3.  Hopper assists travelers select the lowest airfare available from your home airport to any destination. Travelers with flexible dates can use Hopper’s color-coded calendar to spot the cheapest dates to fly. Not sure if you are ready to purchase your ticket? The Hopper includes a “Watch a Flight,” feature that sends a push notification when the price of a given route has reached its lowest price point.  Available for iOS. An Android version of the app is coming soon.

4. PackPoint produces the perfect packing list for any trip based on the number of days, activities and other factors.  The app creates an individualized packing list based on your answers to questions regarding your trip such as do you plan to hike or run? Is this trip for business?  PackPoint even looks up the weather so that users won’t forget a jacket or an umbrella.  For more information visit: www.packpnt.com. Standard version: Free. Pro version: $1.99.

5.  Postagram: You have taken that perfect selfie in front of the Seattle Space Needle. You want to send it as a physical postcard to your friends and family who still check their mailboxes for something other than junk mail. Upload your favorite vacation photo to Postagram, type in a greeting, and Postagram will print out the card and send it through snail mail for 99 cents in the U.S. and $1.99 worldwide.

Travel Tip: The Hotel Remote Control

Most travelers never give the remote control in their hotel room a second thought. We turn on the TV without giving it a second thought. After all, how harmful can a remote control be to our health? Studies have shown that the remote control is one of the top three dirtiest things in our hotel rooms that can lead to illness. Here are five ways to combat the germs.

1. Bring an extra ziplock bag. Place the remote control in the zip lock bag. The remote will still work, and the plastic bag will protect you from whatever germs are on the remote control. Most hotels have a recycling bin. At the end of your stay, recycle it in the bin.

2. Bring Clorox disinfectant wipes. The disinfectant wipes will work on your remote control and any other surfaces you want to keep clean. Be sure to clean the light switches by the bed.

3. Use the STAYConnect Mobile App by Lodgenet. Most major chain hotels use the Lodgenet entertainment system for their TVs. Download the STAYConnect Mobile app, find the code on the TV’s main menu. Your smartphone is now your hotel remote control.

4. Bring your device. You already travel with a smartphone and a tablet. Add a Chromecast, Amazon FireTV stick or Roku device so you can watch Netflix, Hulu and others. They are compact and easy to set up.

5. You are on vacation. Don’t watch TV, decompress, read a book, get out and explore.

Mophie Powerstation Pro Charger vs. MyCharge All Terrain Charger

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer in the United States. For many of us that means being outdoors hiking, camping, going to the beach, lake or river. Of course, we want to bring our smartphones and tablets along to capture all of the fun and memories. We have protected our electronics against the elements with our favorite Otterbox or Lifeproof cases. However, most have not thought about having a rugged portable charger for those quick charge situations.

 

Mophie Powerstation Pro Charger MSRP $99.95

The Mophie Powerstation Pro has an aluminum exterior with a rubberized frame to protect against impact, water, and dust with an IP rating of IP-65. The 6000 mAh internal battery at 2.1 amps provides two complete charges to an iPhone 6 Plus or provide a charge to a tablet. The Powerstation Pro weighs in just short of 13 ounces. The micro USB used to charge the Powerstation Pro and the full sized USB are protected by a rubber seal that can be difficult to open. However, this is needed to keep the seal intact.

Pros:

Large battery capacity perfect for charging multiple devices or 1 device multiple times. The Powerstation Pro is perfect for a weekend hiking or camping trip where you will not be able to find an electrical outlet for a day or two.

Cons:

The Powerstation Pro cannot withstand being submerged in water. Activities like kayaking or other watersports that have the possibility of submerging the battery pack in water are not advised. The rubber seals used to access the USB connectors are difficult to open.

 

MyCharge All Terrain Portable Charger MSRP $39.99

The MyCharge All Terrain Portable charger has a ruggedized rubber exterior with an IP rating of IP-68. The 3000 mAh internal battery at 2.1 amps provides one complete charge of an iPhone 6 Plus and weighs in at 3.5 ounces. The micro USB used to charge the battery pack and full sized USB are protected by a single flip-top rubber seal that opens easily.

Pros:

The IP-68 rating makes the MyCharge All Terrain charger a perfect choice for situations where water submersion is likely. It is light-weight and can easily fit in your pocket.

Cons:

The My Charge All Terrain only provides a single full charge to a smartphone and will not provide a full charge to a tablet.

Bottom line:

Both Chargers are great choices depending on what you plan to do. The Mophie Powerstation Pro is great for charging multiple devices or the same device a couple of times. The MyCharge All Terrain is perfect for those day trips and situations where the battery pack could be submerged in water. Either way you cannot go wrong.

What is IPX or IP Rating?!

Recently I was at a technology press event in San Francisco filled with consumer electronics, speakers, headphones, activity monitors, smart watches and so forth. I was interested in a few products a particular company had displayed and asked the representative if they knew what the IPX rating was on the product. They responded they did not know what IPX rating was. The comment is not an uncommon one. After all the acronym “IP” could stand for Intellectual Property or Internet Protocol. The average consumer probably does not know what IPX is, or what it stands for, but they should. The primary reason you should know what IPX ratings are is because terms like “Water-Resistant” and “Waterproof” are marketing terms that do not have any standards.

IP is an acronym, and depending on whom you ask it can stand for either International Protection Rating, Immersion Protection or Ingress Protection. These standards defined in the international standard IEC 60529 classifies the degree of protection a product has over solids and liquids. For example, a cell phone case could have an IP rating of IP68. The first number 6 refers to the solid protection, in this particular case, level 6 which is dust tight. The second digit is the products protection rating from liquids. In this example, level 8 means it can be the product can be continuously immersed in water beyond one meter.
In some cases, manufacturers will use an X instead of a number such as IPX9. Consumers may assume that the X mean that the product is not protected. In fact that is not the case, it simply means the product tested for liquids and not solids because the liquid test offers a higher level of protection.

If you are interested in the complete IP codes, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code

Garmin Goes Strapless!

Forerunner225
Garmin Forerunner225

Garmin has finally given users something they have been asking for heart rate without using a heart rate strap. On Tuesday, Garmin introduced the Garmin Forerunner 225 with an optical heart-rate sensor like that used by FitBit Charge HR, Microsoft Health Band, and the Apple Watch. The Forerunner 225 can measure pace, distance and heart rate while running, along with tracking steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and your sleep at night.

The Forerunner 225 will be available for $300 in the US in second quarter of this year.