Department of State says travel is cool now... if you can find somewhere to go

Good news everybody! After close to five months, the U.S. Department of State has rescinded its "Do Not Travel Advisory". The Level four travel warning, which was pushed out last March, warned Americans to stay the hell within their borders because the rest of the world was waaaaaaay too full of COVID-19 for anyone to risk travelling abroad. Now, it's totally cool with them for folks to leave the United States, if they want to.

From the U.S. Department of State:

On August 6, in close coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of State lifted the Global Level 4 Health Advisory.  The Global Advisory, initially put in place on March 19, 2020, advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.

With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions.  This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country.  We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.

Awesome... provided where you want to wander is on the list of nations interested in seeing Americans within their borders. Right now, the said list is pretty limited. However, many of the locales willing to allow U.S. Read the rest

Your passports are full of tech

In close to a decade of work as a full-time journalist, I can't recall a single instance where I referenced my work for one outlet at another. There's a few reasons for this.

First, outside of an occasional mention of something I've written on Twitter, self promotion's always felt awkward and kind of gross to me.  When I'm not online, I live a quiet, nomadic life. I don't like a ton of bother and my Imposter Syndrome assures me that I'm not worth it. Second, the moment my work's approved by an editor for publication, I cease to consider it mine. As a freelancer, I'm employed on a pay-for-work basis.  I don't own the words I write for Macworld or USA Today. They do. I take pride in the work I do, but most of the companies I work for have talented social media specialists that do a better job at getting the word out about something that I penned than I ever could. So, I leave it to them.

That said, I wrote something that I thought was much more interesting than the work I typically get asked for by joints aside from Boing Boing. So, here I am, sharing it with you.

Earlier this month, I interviewed officials from the Department of State and an ethical hacker for AFAR Magazine to get the skinny on what the hell's actually on a passport's RFID chip, who can read it and whether it's being read is anything we need to be worried about. Read the rest