Why airport gates are so damn far apart

I mean, it’s fascinating, but it doesn’t make me loath sprinting to make my connecting flight any less.

 

Image via Wikipedia Read the rest

EFF and ACLU triumph as federal judge rules that warrantless, suspicionless device searches at the border are illegal

Back in 2017, EFF, ACLU and ACLU of Massachusetts sued the US government on behalf of 11 travelers whose devices had been subjected to warrantless, suspicionless searches by Customs and Border Protection at the US border. Read the rest

Inflatable lumbar back support that makes travel a lot easier

I do not like to travel without my McKenzie AirBack.

The self-inflating McKenzie AirBack makes travel a lot more comfortable. This pillow allows me to move around the globe without awful backpain.

I have long felt the massive amounts of flying about the globe I did in my late-20s and 30s heavily contributed to the terrible problems I have with my lowerback. Bad seats, bad posture and absolutely no clue that the things I was doing would later hobble me. Decent lumbar support would have made the travel much less destructive.

The McKenzie AirBack is made of great materials, lasts until I lose and is the best shape I've found for a lumber travel pillow. The taper of the McKenzie's hourglass shape seems to wedge well into mosts seats. The pillow doesn't move about.

I fidget. Other pillows will squirt out of place as I move about. The AirBack stays where I need it.

The Original McKenzie® Self-Inflating AirBack Lumbar Support via Amazon Read the rest

Airbnb's easily gamed reputation system and poor customer service allow scammers to thrive

Vice's Allie Conti got scammed by an Airbnb host who promised her a really nice place, then made up a story about its toilets being clogged and shifted her to a derelict, filthy wreck of a house. When she tried to get her money back, she discovered that Airbnb had no effective systems for following up on the kind of scam she'd encountered, so she began digging. Read the rest

Japanese robot hotel chain ignored repeated warnings that its in-room “bed-facing” robots could be turned into spy devices

Japan's Henn na Hotel chain, owned by the HIS Group, uses "bed-facing Tapia robots" in its rooms; these robots turn out to be incredibly insecure: you can update them by pairing with them using a NFC sensor at the backs of their heads. The robots do not check the new code for cryptographic signatures, meaning that malicious actors can install any code they want. Read the rest

Onetravel sucks at dark patterns

Security research Ophir Harpaz was trying to book a flight using Onetravel; as she browsed available itineraries, she couldn't help but notice a prominent warning that "39 people are looking at this flight" (this is a cheap gimmick, one of the many "dark patterns" that once lured naive internet users to making rash decisions, but whose efficacy has since regressed to the mean). Read the rest

This #vanlife is not all it is cracked up to be

Oh, the joys of #vanlife!

I was checking up on my Vanagon yesterday and noticed the coolant was low. Missing coolant is very bad in a Vanagon for many, many reasons.

I looked for a leak.

I could not find a leak. It was possible the car had just burped an air bubble and swallowed a cup or two of coolant from the reserve. I was not in a panic.

View this post on Instagram

Via my sister

A post shared by Jason Weisberger (@jlw) on Jul 25, 2017 at 4:09pm PDT

I also knew my power steering belt was looking really ragged. I decided to call the local shop I've been working with and see if they could swap the belt and pressure test the system today.

They said bring the bus in at 7am.

I drove the 10-15 miles to my mechanic with no problems at all. I had given myself an extra hour in the event something terrible went wrong with the cooling system, or the v-belt decided to trash my day on the way to being replaced.

It is a Vanagon, these things happen.

I got to the shop uneventfully. I love my bus. I take good care of it.

See, things work out!

I decided to park about 3 blocks away and get a cup of pretty terrible coffee from a Starbucks.

Starbucks had terrible coffee.

I, and Pretzel my faithful Cavalier King Charles companion, returned to the van. I turned the key in the ignition. Read the rest

Disneyland: A visit to Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar

Plus a look at some of its swell merch.

Hey hey, I'm fresh back from a short two-day excursion to Disneyland. I have a bunch of stuff to share with you but I'm going to start with my visit to Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, that little cocktail oasis behind the pool at the Disneyland Hotel. And, if you haven't been, it really is small. Read the rest

Aeropress has made a travel version that fits inside of its own mug

I travel a lot and wherever I go, I bring an Aeropress, because life is too short for shitty coffee. Read the rest

Thomas Cook travel collapsed and stranded 150,000 passengers, but still had millions for the execs who tanked it

Thomas Cook is one of the oldest travel agencies in the world, operating their own flights, ships, hotels, etc, whose founders effectively invented modern tourism (listen to this excellent Stuff You Missed in History Class episode for the fascinating and fraught tale of how that happened) but a consolidation in the travel industry combined with private equity chicanery that loaded the company up with $2.1b in debt in order to pay out investors drove the company to its knees, and, last week, it finally died. Read the rest

Man arrested for buying plane ticket just to walk his wife to the gate

The Singapore Police Force arrested a man at Changi airport for buying a plane ticket just to walk his wife to the gate and say goodbye. He apparently had no intention of flying anywhere. It does sound like a lovely airport to visit but I hope he purchased a fully-refundable ticket. From CNN:

Anyone accessing the gate-side areas at Changi without intending to fly can be prosecuted under Singapore's Infrastructure Protection Act and fined up to S$20,000 (US$14,300) or imprisoned for up to two years. Thirty three people have been arrested under the legislation in the first eight months of 2019...

When Changi's new Jewel terminal opened in April, it made headlines around the globe for its 40-meter waterfall (the world's largest indoor one), a 14,000-square-meter Canopy Park, complete with a suspension bridge, topiary and mazes, and one of Asia's largest indoor gardens with 3,000 trees and 60,000 shrubs.

Read the rest

My Life on the Road: Accidental Rocket Sighting

In April, my wife and I returned from a few months in Mexico, to Texas. We were planning on hanging around until the end of the month before driving back up to Canada. On a particularly hot day, we thought it'd be nice to take our pooch to the beach so that she could cool off. Landlocked as we were, in Mission, we opted to drive east, to the coast. We considered South Padre Island, but seeing the traffic thicken the closer we got, we opted out at the last minute. Instead, on the advice of a fella we met while pulled over for a few licks of an ice cream, we set our Garmin to direct us to Boca Chica. The beach was beautiful, we were told, and no one cares if your dog plays the goof, provided she doesn't bother anyone else.

We were sold.

It wasn't a long drive, but it was a damn flat one. When we arrive in south Texas each year, I'm always thrilled to see the scrub brush, flatlands and palm trees. It's a completely alien world compared to what I grew up with in Canada. By the time we're getting ready to head north, I long for mountains. As the miles down the lone road to Boca Chica clicked by, I starting to whine that I knew what would be around the next corner... it would be flat and dry, with just a hint of dust, just as with the last corner we'd whipped around. Read the rest

Turning to Android to fill in missing Mac OS apps in Windows 10

Around this time last year, I picked up a Surface Go. It's been a great piece of hardware. While it might not be the most powerful Windows PC going, it's got more than enough guts to power me through a day of writing, editing and photo tweaking in situations where hauling along my laptop isn't desirable. Better still is the fact that, at the end of the day, it's an absolute beast for consuming comic books and RSS feeds with. My only complaint is that most of my workflow is made possible by rocking a system driving Mac OS. While the situation has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years, a number of apps that I rely upon to get shit done aren't available as a desktop app outside Mac OS. Day One, a journaling app that I use to record my PTSD symptoms and travelogues is a big one. OmniFocus, a GTD project management app is another. Up until now, I've been getting by by using the iOS versions of these apps on my iPhone when I'm on the road with my Windows 10 machine. It's less than ideal. Happily, I think I can put a pin in this workaround, now. Today, I sorted out a more desirable workaround: Using Android apps in Bluestacks 4 inside of Windows 10.

The last time I took Bluestacks for a spin was a few years back. It was intriguing, but still too buggy and slow to be of much use to me. Read the rest

US to require air travelers to show 'gold star' at airports in order to fly

Starting next year you won't be able to board a plane without REAL ID.

Kickstarting a clever, tiny wireless mouse/presentation controller designed for tight spaces

I am addicted to Thinkpads in large part because of the trackpoint (AKA "The Nipple") -- the little wiggly joystickbetween the G, H and B keys that allows me to control fine mouse-movements without bending my hand into the RSI-inducing trackpad position; between that and the amazing, best-in-class warranties, I am a committed Thinkpad user, to the point that I actually bought and returned three different systems this year because (between the new Intel chipset and the new Nvidia cards), I couldn't get any flavor of GNU/Linux to run on them (many thanks to Canonical for eventually getting me running on a Thinkpad extreme). Read the rest

My Life on the Road — Staying Still

I've been back in Canada since May and I am certain I am losing my mind. It's a certainty that takes hold of me, every year.

We come home because we have to. As Canadians, we can only stay in the Untied States for a maximum of six months at a time. This past year, we stayed just shy of five months in the United States and, another two, down in Mexico. We drove back across the Canadian border with a few days left to spare. This dates-in-da-States wiggle room is important as I sometimes have to head south for work. I'd rather not get into dutch with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Being back in Canada for half the year is , a must if we want to hold on to our sweet-ass socialized medical care (which we totally do.) and for my wife to return to work. While she's a certified dive instructor, she also loves the land-locked gig she works for half of the year. We also come home because we want to. I have few friends and work remotely. Disappointment and distrust have left me happy in the small company of my partner, our pooch and a few well-chosen friends that I seldom see. My missus? Not so much. Community is important to her. Her sister's family—now my family—means the world to her. Reacquainting herself with her people, each year, brings her a happiness that I try hard to understand. I love to see her light up around her friends. Read the rest

Tank vs Car

Here's what happens when a tank T-bones a car at speed. SPOILER: it is what you likely expect to happen. Read the rest

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