Review: This case for my Surface Go is wicked heavy but wicked good

One of the biggest problems surrounding my use of expensive electronics is that my lifestyle isn't kind to fragile things. While we're in transit between campsites, our RV rocks, bumps and heaves. Sometimes, no matter how securely I've stowed my gear, shit happens. Shit happening cost me $600 for a new MacBook display last summer. When I'm not in the RV, the gear I use for work gets chucked in a backpack. One of my laptops was destroyed falling off the back of a motorcycle. Another got fried in Costa Rica by the heat. These experiences have driven me to become a little bit more paranoid about protecting my gear over the years. Sometimes, protecting my kit means making compromises. Slapping on a $70 UAG Metropolis case for the Microsoft Surface Go feels like one of those.

Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Metropolis. UAG makes rock solid cases and their beefy-looking design aesthetic agrees with my sense of style. The case, available in three different colors, is primarily made from rubberized plastic. Without the Surface Go in it, the case is semi-rigid, which makes it easy to slip on to the tablet. Once it's sheathing your Surface, however, the Metropolis is pretty difficult to remove. That's gotta be worth some bonus points: I've used cases, in the past that came off all too easily when the object they were meant to be protecting got dropped.

The corners of the case boast extra padding that'll hopefully help to protect against a cracked display if I ever suffer a case of the butterfingers. Read the rest

New Vietnamese bridge appears held aloft by a giant hand

Over the summer, a spectacular golden bridge opened to the public near Da Nang. In addition to a great view from Vietnam's Ba Na Hills, the Cầu Vàng bridge appears to be supported by a colossal hand. Read the rest

Video tour of the "coolest district in Prague"

Honest Guide made this 3-minute video about Vinohrady, "possibly the coolest district in Prague." It mainly focuses on restaurants and coffee shops, which look enticing. Read the rest

Let me tell you about living my life on the road

In passing, I've talked about the fact that my wife and I are full-time nomads. Lemme expand on that.

A few years back, we bought a 21-year-old RV with the intention of living in it while my wife completed her degree in Vancouver, Canada. Typically, winters in Vancouver are mild by comparison to the rest of the country. The climate is similar to what you see in Seattle. Not so while we were there. It dropped to below freezing for weeks at a time. Snow, a largely unknown commodity in British Columbia's lower mainland, hung around for months. We were cold. We blew through hundreds of dollars worth of propane trying to stay warm.

We were poor.

Shortly before we were to make the drive over the mountains, I was informed that, after five years of service to a site that I had built, my services were no longer needed. It shattered me emotionally and financially. I was sent scrambling to find enough work, piecemeal, to make end's meet. There was cash coming in barely enough to keep afloat. Staying in a campground in the lower mainland costs around $800 per month. We couldn't foot the bill. We made do. Weekly, we would sneak into a local university sports complex for a shower. On one occasion, we had to decide between buying food or propane for heat. We chose food. This ended up costing us $1200, money that could have kept us going for months, to replace our hot water tank as it iced up and cracked in the cold. Read the rest

Review: Microsoft's Surface Go is almost everything I want in a travel computer

Every year, I wait for Apple to announce mouse support for the iPad. Every year, I am left unfulfilled. Apple's nailed the apps that I need to do my job on the go, but the lack of a mouse for interacting with text slows my workflow way the hell down. Tapping on my tablet's display and dragging words around is a poor substitute. As such, I'm constantly searching for a tablet that can give me what I need. Read the rest

TSA + CBP test new facial recognition tech & computed tomography scanners at LAX

A new facial recognition technology screening system will soon be used on some travelers who pass through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Read the rest

If you are anywhere near Tokyo you must go to teamLab's Borderless exhibition

When we were in Tokyo earlier this month I went with my family along with David and his kid to teamLab's Borderless interactive exhibition at the Mori Building digital Art Museum in Tokyo. To say we were blown away is almost an understatement. The 10,000 square meter space has about a dozen very large experiential spaces, each of which would have been worth the price of admission. The different spaces combined light, sound, and 3D design to create pocket universes that either stunned people into blissed out silence or made them run around gleefully. I wasn't expecting it to be as magical as it was.

teamLab, the creator of the exhibit, was founded in 2001, and it describes itself as "an art collective, an interdisciplinary group of ultratechnologists whose collaborative practice seeks to navigate the confluence of art, science, technology, design and the natural world." They succeeded with Borderless!

The exhibit closes on September 30, and many of the days are already sold out. You can buy tickets here.

Read the rest

TSA racially profiles Muslim woman, makes her show her bloody sanitary towel

Harvard grad student Zainab Merchant is detained and invasively searched every time she flies; she's tried extensively to end this harassment, applying for Global Entry and Precheck, writing to her members of Congress, and trying to run through the DHS's Redress procedure. Read the rest

Overtourism: the plague affecting the world's most interesting places

Venice banned cruise ships, Mount Everest has traffic jams, and now even tourists are saying places like Amsterdam have too many tourists. It's all part of a problem dubbed overtourism. Read the rest

Watch this fun photography tour of Hong Kong's neon signs

Hong Kong's famed neons signs are slowly fading, replaced by other kinds of signage. Hong Kong Instgrammer Edward KB leads this whirlwind neon tour of some of the best remaining spots. Read the rest

This travel videographer made an incredible short video of his month in Seoul

Brandon Li captures the dazzling excitement and beauty of Seoul and its environs in seven minutes. The transitions and camera work are stunning. He shot two terabytes of data and spent three months, off and on, editing it.

He also made a director's commentary version of the video, which you can see here:

Read the rest

TripMode 2 helps me keep my tethered data usage under control

Unless I'm in a cafe, hotel or staying at someone's home I connect to the internet over a tethered connection to my smartphone. I've got an unlimited data plan--but only the first five gigabytes of information that I send or receive is at LTE speeds. After that, things turn slow as molasses flowing uphill in January. To try and keep my data useage under control and, thus, my speeds higher for as long as possible, I use an application called TripMode 2. It's available for MacOS and Windows ten and, priced at eight bucks, it's ridiculously inexpensive to purchase a copy.

Once installed, TripMode is stupid easy to use. Activate the app, locate it in your Menu Bar (MacOS) and click it to get at its drop-down menu. There you'll see every piece of software on your computer that's begging for access to the interwebz. If you're not using the apps you see on the list, de-select the check mark next to it. Boom, they're cut off from using your tethered device's data. You'll note that at the bottom of the list, you can see how much data you've used since you started your session, during the course of a day, month or year. If you're on a plan with limited data, having that information is pure gold.

Best of all, when you're not using it, TripMode 2 can easy be shut off. It's easily up there with Scrivener, ProtonMail Bridge and Adobe Lightroom as one of the most important bits of software that I use on a regular basis. Read the rest

Canada increases biometric monitoring of foreign nationals

If you’re from just about anywhere in the world, with the exception of the United States, beginning this week you'll find that visiting Canada will feel a whole lot more invasive. Moving forward, it will be necessary for all foreign nationals to provide Canadian Immigration officials with their fingerprints and photographs, if they're applying for a visitor's visa, work permit, want to attend a Canadian university, or if they wish to apply for a work permit or status as a permanent resident.

From The Daily Hive:

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told Daily Hive that “new regulations will support the expansion of biometric collection to all applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa who are applying abroad for a temporary resident visa, work permit, study permit, or permanent residence.”

The spokesperson noted that IRCC currently collects biometrics from “in-Canada refugee claimants, overseas refugee resettlement applicants, individuals ordered removed from Canada, and individuals from 30 foreign nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.”

Now, here’s the creepy part. Canada will be sharing the data they collect on each person entering the country with the Migration Five/Five Country Conference: The United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. For those keeping track at home, these same nations also comprise the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, which, as Edward Snowden was kind enough to warn us about back in 2013, has been spying on one another’s citizens as a way of circumventing laws that keep Five Eyes member countries from spying on their own people. Read the rest

Qatar Airways's new business class seats are too nice to do actual business in

When I'm flying somewhere for work, I'm often willing to pay for an upgrade to business-class. It's not that I'm am opulent fop who deserves the best--I mean, I live in a motorhome--it's that I can't afford to lose two days of work while I'm on assignment. There;s just not enough space, with the width of my shoulders and my need to work on a laptop, to be productive when I'm seated in coach. If someone puts down their tray table? Game over: I'm stuck listening to music and fretting over the work I should be doing for the duration of my flight. Admittedly, on international flights, having the lay-flat bed that comes with a business class ticket is amazing. Arriving well rested and ready to rock is the best.

But I don't think I can get behind all the fancy that comes with a business class seat on Qatar Airways. I'd just be too frigging comfy to be productive:

That you can turn two of these business class suites together to make a double bed or combine four into a meeting room is absolutely insane. Honestly, I can't think of any business, with the exception of giving people the business, where I could afford or justify this level of luxury. Read the rest

Worst upgrade ever: there are bed bugs on airplanes now.

Air travel sucks. It’s always cramped. One person, per plane, is paid to bring a tuna and onion sandwich on board so that its odor can be pushed through the air re-circulation system (FAA Regulations, yo), and there’s never enough booze in those wee bottles to make a proper drink from. But hey, at least you don’t have to worry about bed bugs!

Oh.

From Fox 5 NY:

Passengers on flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to India are complaining about bed bug infested seats.

In one case this week a family complained their infant was covered in bites and bleeding by the time the 17-hour flight landed in Mumbia.

Pravin Tonsekar tweeted Air India photos of his seat with apparent bed bugs on them.

Air India replied with a comment that it is: "Sorry to hear this. Sharing the details with our maintenance team for corrective measures in this regard."

Another passenger tweeted to the airline that his family flew out of Newark on July 18 and his wife and three children were covered in bed in bites all over their body.  He asked, "Is this what we paid $10,000 for???"

Actually, no. You paid for a seat, in-flight meals, fuel, airport taxes, and a place to stash your luggage. The bugs were a freebie.

A quick Duck Duck Go search revealed that this wasn’t the first airborne bed bug encounter that’s found its way into the news. In 2017, a Canadian family got eaten up by the little buggers during a nine-hour flight on a British Airways flight from Vancouver to London. Read the rest

The Montague Paratrooper Pro is the best damn bike I've ever owned

When you live full-time in a motorhome, no matter how big it is, there’s not a lot of room for extras. In order to have enough space to be comfortable, its necessary to strip your belongings down to the essentials. A library full of books gives way to e-readers and tablets. Full-sized anything? You’re gonna want to swap it out for a compact model or, better still, a version of it designed to collapse down to a smaller size to store when its not in use. My Montague Paratrooper Pro mountain bike does that. I love it.

Bike designer David Montague put together the original Paratrooper folding mountain bike for the U.S. Military. It was designed to accompany parachutists out the door of a flying airplane and, once on the ground, be used to get the soldier riding it to an objective far more rapidly than if the approach were made on foot. I’d known about these bikes for years. I was obsessed with them. Moving into an RV gave me an excuse to finally get one: it’s a full-sized bike that collapses down small enough that I can stow it in one of our rig’s basement compartments, out of site and out of mind.

The bike I ride, the Paratrooper Pro, comes with a few bells and whistles that the original Montague Paratrooper lacks. It’s front forks can be locked for riding on pavement in the city, or unlocked for a smooth, suspension-aided ride down trails and dirt roads. It’s got 27 gears to the OG Paratrooper’s 24. Read the rest

Vintage British travel posters improved with added fantasy monsters

Chet Phillips (creator of the Monster Zen book, the Steampunk Monkey Coloring Book and the Steampunk Monkey Cigarette Cards) sends us his Fantasy Travel Poster Series, "Paying tribute to vintage railway posters, this series re-imagines landscapes with fantasy elements such as giants, dragons, trolls and more." Read the rest

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