Organization

Travel apps

I recently returned from Los Angeles, to Connecticut by plane. The routing was LAX to JFK. I was chatting with my friend Gary the morning I left and he wanted my flight number so he could track the flight (UAL 431).

I gave him the flight number and he searched and found the free FlightView app, downloaded it, installed it, and liked it. I noticed it has Apple’s iAds on the bottom of its screens and I’d pay the $0.99 to get the version sans-ads. For $3.99 there’s FlightView elite that notifies you of boarding times with push notifications as well as gives you maps and driving directions to airports on your trip. A competing app is FlightTrack which has a FlightTrack Pro version as well.

These apps go well beyond flight tracking and are general purpose travel apps that allow the storage of many of the details of a trip in a convenient form with those details updated automatically if times change. This got me thinking, why don’t I use an app like this?

Flight Tracker widget

I’ve been using both the OSX Dashboard widget Flight Tracker to check flight status but it doesn’t allow any trip information to be stored. So, I use Simplenote to keep track of this kind of stuff but my process is crude by comparison: I enter all the information and it’s not connected to anything; if flight times change I get notified by United via email and have to edit my travel list by hand. My guess is using an app for travel will make this process easier. Both of these apps can pull travel information right out of a confirmation email you get from an airline (in theory).

This is great stuff, I’m looking forward to messing with one or more of these on my next trip to LA in June.

Fantastical

If you use a calendar on your Macintosh you should try out Fantastical. It’s a small application that sits in the menubar and pulls information from iCal, Entourage, Outlook, Google or Yahoo calendars. I’m really loving it, one of the best applications I’ve found in a while, right up there with Reeder and Sparrow for simple, clean UI.

It looks great, works great and you can try it for free until the end of May and buy it until the end of May for $14.99. Note, it’s available both through the flexbits site and through the Mac App Store.

I may never open iCal again but if I do, I’ll probably do it through Fantastical.

Everyday stuff

Everyday stuff

I decided to do a "pocket dump" of things I carry daily.

For every "thing" you see here there are numerous others that I bought and tried and put in a drawer because I don’t like them. I have a bunch of watches, a bunch of wallets, numerous pocket knives, numerous things to hold my keys, many pocket notebooks and hundreds of pens. Actually, I only have one cell phone.

I see that the watch is a few minutes off, I’d better go reset it.

LL Bean Self-Illuminating Field Watch
This is the highest-end watch I’ve ever bought or owned and I love it. The regular LL Bean field watch is similar but after a while it loses its glow in the dark. This watch stays lit forever so on long night flights or in a dark room you can see what time it is. Worth the extra money to have this feature to me. It’s a bit on the heavy side but it’s built to last and no doubt LL Bean will stand behind it with their no questions asked warranty.

County Comm A&P Keyring
This simple 6″ cable keyring with male and female connector is incredible. No more keys and rings getting tangled up in your pocket. It’s flexible and it’s easy to take apart to get keys off. I love this thing and I guess that makes me an uber geek. Browse County Comm’s site, no doubt you’ll find some geeky tools you like.

Nite Ize S-Biner
The little carabiner clip on the keyring allows me to hook it to a belt loop or to my pack but isn’t nearly as big as a full-size carabiner (which I have plenty of as an ex-climber).

Streamlight Nano flashlight
This flashlight lights the walk between our garage and house at night as well as the front door so I can find the keyhole to open it. In other words, this small light packs an LED punch. However, it has a fatal flaw: you turn it on and off by twisting it’s body and that’s also how batteries are loaded. After a while it can come apart in your pocket spewing batteries and the LED end into pocket or worse, floor. I have a few of them and will use them up before switching to another type.

iPhone 3G
We only recently got cell coverage out here in rural Connecticut where we live and I don’t travel for a living anymore, so, we’re late to having cell phones. As a Mac guy (from 1984) I wasn’t going to get anything but an iPhone and I’m glad I did. I love the thing and while we still don’t have great coverage out here, I’m finding it useful when I occasional travel and on hikes.

The small notebook/journal is a simple blank book covered with katizomi-she stencil-dyed paper that I love. Each time I return to Hiromi Paper I buy more of them because I love the patterns.

Victorinox Swiss Army Bantam Alox pocket knife
I have a lot of pocket knives, I’ve been collecting them for close to twenty years and some of them are expensive, handmade numbers that are beautiful. However, this little knife will cut things and open a beer bottle and tighten a screw and its so thin I hardly know it’s in my pocket. I use it more than all of my other fancy knives put together.

Uni-ball Vision Elite Stick Bold Point Roller Ball Pen
Being dysgraphic I can’t write with a fine point pen. I need a pen that let’s a lot of ink flow to mask the unsteadiness of my crappy handwriting. This one’s one of the best I’ve found and the ink dries fast enough so that being a lefty, I don’t smear it all that much.

The handkerchief was my late father’s. He died in 2000 and I started carrying his handkerchiefs then. They’re built to last and my guess is I’ll die with them intact.

Eagle Creek Wallet
Eagle Creek doesn’t make my wallet anymore and I’m glad I bought a few of them which should last me a while. I like their designs, and they stand behind their packs, luggage and accessories.

None of this stuff is very fancy or high end but it has served me well for many years. My guess is the object in this picture that’s worth the most money is the rainbow colored Apple keychain fob that I’ve had since the early 1980′s.