Instravel – A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience from Oliver KMIA on Vimeo.

This is a compilation of Instagram travel images by Oliver KMIA. Note how the music/sound overlays change with geography. Very well done.

Yes, many of the images are cliche or a bit too heavy on the “I’m the center of the world” meme, but all together it works well.

Zoom it out, turn it up!

[via PetaPixel]

City to City

City to City

I was cleaning out a box of old boxes (I love boxes) and found this product box from 1986.

City to City was a travel reference tool that was built with HyperCard and ran on Macintosh Plus computers.

The significance of this is that it was more easily browsed than an atlas or travel book because HyperCard had the capacity to build links connecting different types of information (before the world wide web).

Once the web took off tools like this faded away. But, in its day it was a useful tool for those of us who did a lot of travel (I did a lot of travel for Apple in those days).

I’m posting two images, one of the cover, one of the back. If this history interests you, read the back to see more about what the world looked like before the web, GPSs and iPhones.

City to City

Notes on minimalist travel

Stop packing so much: The minimalist packing list

This piece by James Turner is worth reading just for the fun of it, whether or not you plan to pare down your travel gear to the bare minimum.

I particularly like his section on travel documents and credit cards and logins (how he keeps them all safe on the road).

My friend Jon Moss is a huge fan of Tom Bihn gear so he got hooked on this right away.

I posted this great set of videos on Packing for a trip to Japan a few years back and if you missed them, take a peek, they’re along the same lines.

Hacking Airplanes

I’ve been following and reading Bruce Schneier for many years. He’s one of the most well-researched, articulate, and reasonable technology experts writing about computer and network security around.

I highly recommend reading: Hacking Airplanes. It’s a well reasoned and well written piece on internet vulnerabilities as we become more connected.

Imagine this: A terrorist hacks into a commercial airplane from the ground, takes over the controls from the pilots and flies the plane into the ground. It sounds like the plot of some “Die Hard” reboot, but it’s actually one of the possible scenarios outlined in a new Government Accountability Office report on security vulnerabilities in modern airplanes.

He’s not saying that the above scenario will happen any time soon, or ever, but he is worried that as “the internet of things” grows and our refrigerators, watches, cars, planes, baby monitors and medical equipment become more connected, our vulnerability to cyberattack grows.

Apple is taking Maps in the wrong direction

Apple hopes ‘real-time’ maps will be a Google beater

It won’t.

Simply, Apple is trying to look good without being good. Watching Big Ben and the London Eye turn is a fun party trick but it won’t help you get around London. Click on a London Underground station and you get no information on which lines run through it.

Apple needs to put a lot more energy into deep and accurate metadata in cities rather than eye-candy like this. There are still no subway line listings on subway stops in New York City. That should have been part of Apple Maps from day 1.

Here is a screen shot of Apple Maps around Grand Central Station in New York. Note that Grand Central is listed but not the two MTA subway lines that run under it: The 4, 5, and 6 (green) lines and the Shuttle:


Here is what Apple Maps shows when you click on a subway stop (the only one shown):


If you’re trying to figure out how to get around New York on the subway, Apple Maps is useless.

Here is what Google Maps shows around Grand Central Station when you click on a subway stop:


New York is a major world city. One would think Apple would have this kind of information for the most popular form of transportation but in fact, they don’t. Nothing in London either.

I want Apple to stop putting so much energy into the way things look, a bit more energy into the way things work (or don’t).

The joys of flying

A United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver had to be diverted to Chicago when two passengers had a fight about one of them reclining her seat. Here’s the story as it first appeared: Plane diverted as passengers fight over seat reclining.

First, let me say that I’m in Los Angeles at the moment and early tomorrow morning I’ll board a United Airlines flight to New York. It will no doubt be an interesting flight as the entire flying world has heard about this story. I have an “Economy Plus” seat (more legroom) and bought it at the last minute in what appeared to be a place on the plane devoid of other folks. By tomorrow that may not be the case and I may have to negotiate with my forward and back flying partners.

In all of my online discussions about this today, mostly on the NPR site, it seems that people fall into the same two camps as the two who got tossed off the plane.

1. I bought a seat. That seat reclines. Therefore it is my right to use the seat as it is intended. (#2 believes there is an implied “fuck you” in this opinion).

2. I bought a seat. I’m tall and have to squeeze in. If the person ahead of me reclines it makes it tough for me to get comfortable or put my tray table down. Any person who reclines their seat is an insensitive ass and to make sure it doesn’t happen, I’ll lock the seat ahead of me with the “Knee Defender” just in case (#1 believes there is an implied “fuck you” in this opinion).

In my mind, if both seats are in coach and essentially the same, if these two people could talk to one another and switch places it might solve the problem.

These things happen

I fly quite a bit and I used to fly quite a bit more. And, I’ve flown United Airlines more than any other airline so I’m quite familiar with their equipment on various routes, both in the US and overseas. And, I fly coach, Economy Plus, and when I have the miles I upgrade to business or first class.

In all of this travel I’ve experienced the argument that happened here from both sides: I’ve had the person ahead of me recline in such a way that I could not eat the food on my fold down tray (maybe a blessing), and I’ve had the person behind me poke his knees into the back of my un-inclined seat and make it uncomfortable to sit for any length of time.

Here’s the thing: if someone is sitting behind me who has long legs and is scrunched in, all he or she has to do is politely ask that I not recline my seat. This has happened to me and I’m always happy to oblige.

In the case that just happened though, the person in the back seat who didn’t want the seat in front to recline used a device called The Knee Defender to lock the seat in front in such a way that reclining is impossible. I wasn’t there so I don’t know if he first asked the woman ahead of him to not recline before resorting to this, but to do this preemptively is not only against United regulations (the flight attendant asked him to remove the device), it’s rude.

No, it doesn’t justify having water thrown at you but if someone did this to me without asking me to not recline first, I’d be annoyed and would call the flight attendant to remedy the situation, even if I never intended to recline my seat.

Other similar scenarios that happen regularly

There are many other scenarios that are tough on travelers and require delicacy.

How about when the person behind you puts a heavy “laptop” on the tray table and pounds it and doesn’t bother to put the laptop on his/her lap when told it’s bothering you. That person is infringing on your space without actually violating it spacially but it’s a violation none the less.

Or, how about the person who doesn’t know the difference between open air and over the ear headphones and blasts his/her music such that you can hear every bass beat. Another violation of space without a physical issue.

Or, and this seems trivial but at times its not, how about negotiating the arm rest with your row mate. That can get tricky if one of you is insensitive. Again, civility rules the day here.

Or, and this is a very delicate situation, how about times when you sit next to someone who’s extremely overweight and needs to put the armrest up between both of you and in doing so, is pressed up against you the entire flight. This is a violation of space and if the flight is of any length it can be rough.

This last scenario happened to me on a very long flight (on Northwest Airlines) and when I got up to use the bathroom I asked a flight attendant who noticed what was happening if I could be reseated or the other person could be reseated. She looked at me like I was an insensitive ass and told me no and that was that.

Years later it happened again on a cross country flight on United and I was reseated and the heavy person got two seats. I’m not saying that person ought to have to pay for two seats, but I ought to be able to sit in mine without being crushed.

In the scenario that happened the other day, one might say the person in back ought to be able to sit in his seat without being crushed by the reclining seat ahead of him, but it’s not quite parallel. Seats recline. It’s how they’re built. What happens in planes is a social balancing act that passengers have to work out civilly. Many times when the person ahead of you puts their seat back and you put yours back it cascades all the way to the back of the plane. I’m not defending reclining here, but seats don’t come with built in civility, they do come with built in reclinability.

Planning ahead

Another thread in various discussions is that it’s all the airlines’ fault; they’re milking every penny out of these flights and they’ve squished the coach seats closer and closer. I think that’s true but knowing this and knowing one has various physical “issues” one needs to plan ahead so one doesn’t suffer.

For example, I can’t make it across the US without peeing at least once, sometimes numerous times, depending on how much water I take in, and I like to drink plenty on long flights. Knowing this, I will not book a long flight unless I can get an aisle seat. Period. I do this because, especially in coach, it’s impossible to get out from a window seat without the entire row getting out. I don’t want to be uncomfortable, and I don’t want to bother my seat mates any more than is necessary. This is something I do for myself, and to make it easier to fly with other people. At times it costs me some extra money to do this because sometimes the only aisle seats available are in Economy Plus. it’s worth it for me.

One might also say, I like window seats and I have the right to pee when I want and everyone needs to get out of my way when I want to pee. There’s a point where personal freedom bumps into civility.

If I was tall enough so that flying in coach on United was an issue, I’d work hard to get an exit row seat (much more legroom). On many United flights, exit row seats are in Economy Plus and so, cost a bit more. But, it’s the kind of thing that frequent travelers do all the time; we try to make the trip as smooth as possible, for ourselves and for our fellow passengers.

Had the two people in this scenario talked a bit and maybe switched places, it’s possible that they’d have both made it to Denver on that flight.

Tomorrow should be interesting.

Gary on Metro North

Gary on Metro North

On the way to New York on Metro North. My good friend Gary Sharp came out to visit us in Connecticut from the southern Oregon coast over Thanksgiving as he has for many years. It’s always a delight to see him; he and I go back thirty years. 30 years! Gad, we’re old.

One of the many things that happens when he visits is we both take a lot more pictures which of course is a good thing. Each of us in our own way can get stuck in a photographic rut; it’s not that we’re not shooting, we are, but we need stimulation, another influence that nudges us in a slightly different direction.

Gary is a gentle but authoritative influence on me; he’s got much more photographic experience than I do and a great eye for color and composition and even though I can seem headstrong at times, his gravitational energy pulls me out of my comfortable orbit. A trip to New York with Gary is a blast. Hell, a train ride with Gary is a blast.

In short, we had a great time together and I’m looking forward to his next visit this coming summer.