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3 iPhone Apps That Will Make Your Summer Vacation More Enjoyable

Venturing out on a summer getaway? Summer is a great time to pack your bags and escape your mundane everyday life for something more adventurous.

Planning your excursion can sometimes be a stressful experience. These three mobile apps can help you find fun and interesting things to do, stay within your budget, and even include pets in the excitement.

LocalScope

LocalScope is an iPhone app that scours the web for information and presents it all to you in a neat, convenient fashion. For just $2.99, you can easily search for local food, museums, hotels, gas stations, coffee shops, shopping centers, and anything else that may pique your interest.

After searching, you’ll be presented with nearly every bit of information you need – pictures and reviews to restaurant menus, contact information, and even maps.

What makes LocalScope unique is that it pulls information from all your favorite websites, and some you may not have even heard of, including Google Maps, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Foursquare, Twitter, Wikipedia, and Garmin.

You’ll also be able to navigate to your destination of choice from within the app. Once you’ve enjoyed your local attraction, you can easily post reviews and pictures and share your experience with your friends from within LocalScope.

Trail Wallet

When you’re relaxing on vacation, it’s easy to spend more money than you planned. That’s why Trail Wallet is here to help.

Once you set your daily budget for either your trip or the whole month, Trail Wallet lets you enter in all your purchases and define tags and categories to help you organize them. You’re allowed 25 items per trip in the free version; after that you must pay $4.99 to unlock unlimited items.

You can create your own tags and categories, and then use them to narrow your search results to make finding what you’re looking for easier.

Trail Wallet boasts a very intuitive interface, making it easy for you to navigate your purchases and get an overview of your trip expenses. It is a joy to use, with several themes and interactive avatars to choose from. You can view very detailed charts of your spending data, with plenty of filtering options so you only see what you want to see.

If you happen to be visiting another country, Trail Wallet will even automatically convert your money to the local exchange rate of over 200 countries.

Power users can also export trip data from the app into their favorite accounting software.

BringFido

If you’re like most pet owners, you want to take your furry friend everywhere you go. With BringFido, you can easily find pet-friendly hotels, outdoor restaurants, parks, and beaches near you. Most entries contain detailed photos and reviews, which you can also submit yourself.

BringFido includes a built-in map, displaying nearby pet-friendly attractions and how to get to them. You can then contact the destination you’re interested in with the information provided in the app.

Booking pet-friendly hotel rooms through BringFido is incredibly convenient. You can enter the size of your pets and how many you have, then be given detailed pricing and booking for your desired destination. However, it is worth noting that some users have complained about the reliability of booking within the app, but regardless, it is a great start to your hotel search.

If you don’t have an iPhone, BringFido also offers a website with all the convenience of the free app.

I’d love to see and hear about your summer excursions. Email me your stories and photos at christian@calibre-cs.com.

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These Two Apps Made Getting Around D.C. A Breeze

The painfully sore blisters on my pinky toes remind me I need to buy a good pair of walking shoes before my next excursion.

Many of you know I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure tickets to attend the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. No matter your political stance, the privilege of watching American history in the making live, in-person, and up-close is something I’ll never forget.

Although my friend and I rented an apartment only a mile from the White House, we walked thousands of steps as we explored our nation’s capital for the first time.

Two apps on my iPhone quickly became our best friend for our five-day adventure: Uber and Google Maps.

We flew into Washington-Dulles International Airport on Thursday. Since Washington doesn’t have mass transit fully finished to that airport, Uber provided the fastest and most direct way to get to our apartment.

As a new Uber user, I secured a $15 off coupon for my first ride.

We used Uber several times throughout our stay, including once when my poor feet hurt so bad that I absolutely couldn’t walk another block.

The Uber app is super-easy to use. It automatically detects your current location and asks where you would like to go. You’re then given several Uber vehicle options, depending on what’s available in your area.

Alec and I often used UberPOOL. You’re given a guaranteed, low-cost fare because you’re sharing the ride with one or two other people going the same way you are. Our average was about $3.50 for the both of us each time we used UberPOOL.

Within moments, an available Uber driver accepts your request and heads to pick you up. The app shows your driver’s first name, a description of their vehicle and the license plate number. Often times, the driver calls your cell phone as they near your location so they can watch for you.

Because of the massive crowds using public transit, Uber made navigating long distances throughout the capital convenient.

When Alec and I chose to explore the sights and landmarks of D.C. on foot, the Google Maps app gave us the turn-by-turn directions needed to make sure we didn’t get lost. It also told us how long it would take to reach our destinations.

I used Google Maps as we explored the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, and the Washington Monument on the cool, misty, foggy Saturday night.

On Sunday, the Google Maps app helped us time our rides on the Washington Metro trains to visit Arlington National Cemetry, the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, the Pentagon, and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

I encourage you to make these two apps an important part of your next road trip or vacation. They’ll make life a lot easier!

Oh – be sure to take a portable battery charger. These apps run in the background on your phone and can quickly drain the battery.

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Use Tech To Help You Get Fit in 2017

New year, new me.

Christian, my director of service operations, and I committed to regularly exercising in 2017. Our always full schedules pose a challenge, but I’m proud to say we’ve faithfully hit the gym as scheduled the first two weeks of the year.

So have many others who made similar resolutions.

If you’re like me, sometimes it’s extremely easy to give up on your fitness resolution once you get off track. Maybe an illness or schedule conflict causes you to miss some sessions. Maybe you get bored with your exercise routine.

Technology can be your ally to help you maintain and achieve your fitness goals.

The Ultimate Fitness App

Knowing what exercises to do, how to properly execute them, and keeping track of your progress can overwhelm you quickly.

I’ve found the Fitness Buddy app by Azumio to be one of the best to take care of all this. Its database contains over 1700 exercise moves – complete with step-by-step photos and videos. Some exercises can be done in the comfort of your own home, while others utilize gym equipment.

Fitness Buddy provides an easy-to-use log to track your exercise sets, as well as important body measurements – all showing your improvement over time.

The premium paid version, which I don’t use yet, offers several advanced features.

Work Out for Charity

Helping others often motivates us to continue when we feel like giving up.

The free Charity Miles app lets you earn money for one of 37 charities every time you run, walk or bicycle. Charities include St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Wounded Warrior Project, Feeding America, Autism Speaks, and Stand Up to Cancer.

Corporate sponsors donate a few cents for every mile you complete.

Why not give back while getting in shape?

Wearable Fitness Tracker

Dozens of fitness trackers crowd the marketplace. They all count your steps and monitor your sleeping patterns.

New wearable technology offers you more advanced, more useful and more practical features to make working out more fun and more beneficial.

Although I don’t own a pair, probably the best multi-function fitness tracker I’ve seen reviewed is the Jabra Sport Coach Special Edition.

These wireless earbuds not only provide quality sound from your iPhone or MP3 player, but also include an automatic rep counting mode that tracks your sit-ups, press-ups and lunges. The included app to install on your mobile device offer slick music integration and is packed with a lot of workouts.

Have you decided to “get fit” in 2017? I’d love to hear your fitness goals and what technology you’re using to help you achieve them. Send me an email.

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Stop Spreading Falsehoods!

 

It’s that time of year again.

Where the leaves change to multicolored bright, beautiful hues.

Where the cool, crisp air of early mornings slaps you awake as you walk to your car.

Where the dreaded sinus and allergies cause nagging headaches, runny noses, scratchy throats and annoying coughing spells.

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed last Sunday night, I thought I’d finally discovered the Holy Grail remedy to alleviate future coughing spells.

One of my friends shared the following image with one of her family members who must be suffering from this common discomfort.

Urban Legend

Pineapple juice sounds much tastier than Robitussin. If it can also fight infections and bacteria, this sounds like THE antidote to keep stocked up on this winter.

But like many of these images plastered all over Facebook and incessantly forwarded through email, it’s simply a myth.

My friend, like most others who use social media, fell victim to propagating falsehoods without recognizing the tell-tale signs of an urban legend or doing appropriate research.

It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when I see factually inaccurate or completely false information spread like wildfire across Facebook, email and other social platforms. Whether it is a home “remedy” for an ailment or political facts taken out of context, it drives me crazy.

How can you identify an urban legend, myth or factually inaccurate statement?

First, it sounds too good to be true.

In the image above, it says “pineapple juice is 500% more effective.” Large numbers usually indicate an exaggeration.

You’ve got to be skeptical.

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, hear on the radio, watch on TV, or otherwise.

Second, its source cannot be identified.

No reliable source of the information about the pineapple juice is provided in the picture, so that should at minimum prompt the question – Who verified this information?

Another friend posted on Facebook yesterday a myth about a virus spreading that targets Android phones. His post, which he had copied and pasted, said “and I heard this on a local radio station.”

Truth was, he didn’t hear it on the radio. And whomever he copied it from hadn’t either. No radio station was ever identified on which the “news” had been announced.

If a source is provided, evaluate its reliability and verify it.

What can you do to stop spreading falsehoods on the Internet?

Stop! Research! Then Post!

It’s all too easy to read something intriguing then click the Share button on Facebook or the Forward button in our email and blast it to everyone you know.

Ask yourself questions about what you read:
• Does this sound too good to be true?
• Do the numbers make sense?
• Where did this information come from?
• Can it be verified?
• Is it a trustworthy source?
• Is it taken out of context?

Do your homework by spending a few minutes researching trustworthy resources on the Internet.

Snopes.com is an excellent site that debunks many of the urban legends and myths seen online. Its team of writers thoroughly digs into the sources and facts of commonly shared posts, emails, and pictures and provides a summary supporting or disproving it.

Once you’ve taken a few minutes to check the facts and determined it’s truthful and useful to others, then and ONLY THEN feel free to share with your friends and family. Otherwise, keep on scrolling!

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Use the Web to Plan Your Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation

Summertime!  It’s the perfect season for making a getaway from the daily hustle and bustle of life.

The Internet is a great resource for planning a short weekend road trip or a full-scale family vacation.  With gas prices once again nearing record highs, the web can help you find creative ways to save money on your upcoming travels.

All major airlines and hotels have websites that allow you to plan an entire trip – everything from travel to accommodations to daily excursions.  But these sites may not offer you the best value or variety.

For adventurous vacationers who like to explore various parts of the country (or world), Groupon Getaways serves up unique weekend travel deals at huge discounts.  For example, a recent search found a two-night stay for two-adults at the Palms Place at the Palms in Las Vegas for only $169.  Another offer was for a 4-night stay for four at the Blue Ridge Village Resort for $259.  Groupon’s deals change frequently and do come with some limitations, but it may be worth checking out.  (Visit www.groupon.com/getaways.)

The State of Indiana offers a searchable trip planner for those who like to stay close to home.  You can search the type of activities you enjoy, such as family fun, outdoor recreation and sports, romantic retreats, and art and cultural.  Then you can choose where in the state you would like to explore.  (Visit http://www.in.gov/visitindiana/tripplanner/trips.aspx.)

Google is also your friend when it comes to choosing a getaway or vacation.  If you’re thinking of visiting a certain city or area, type in “visit yourdestination name” (such as visit Nashville TN).  You’ll discover many websites that provide visitor guides, nearby attractions, upcoming events and festivals, as well as hotels and restaurants.

Another good search term to use in Google is “things to do near (city and state)”.  Again, you will find many websites filled with information on activities and events to enjoy near a specific destination.

We would love to hear from YOU as you travel this summer.  Please feel free to email us pictures and descriptions of places you’ve visited and activities you’ve done.  We may share them in a future column or in our monthly e-newsletter.  Our email address is info@calibre-cs.com.

Happy trails!