AFTER LOGGING 6700 miles in six days by myself, I reinforced several ideas that I hope to put in place with my family when we travel internationally in coach class.
Screenshot from @topgold's Lumia using 4th & Mayor.
THE FOURSQUARE DATABASE has evolved into a handheld concierge for me while wandering Ireland. It consistently offers tips for outdoors activities.
As a long time user, I have kept updating the 4Sq app on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Each iteration of the app is snappier than the software it replaces and with every month that passes, Foursquare's contextual data becomes more intelligent. This means its lexicon seems to know synonyms for search terms I use.
And in a delightful and perhaps unnerving twist, Foursquare seems to prioritise places nearby based on similar venues I previously designated as pleasant. In my case, I enjoy high quality suggestions for pasta and croissants.
Although I know I am gaming the system, I often use Foursquare to check into places similar to ones located in cities on my travel itinerary. Now when I open the app in new parts of Limerick, Dublin or Galway, my 4Sq handset often suggests perfect plates of pasta surrounded by robust high powered WiFi.
[Screenshot by Bernie Goldbach as part of a social media module taught in the Limerick School of Art & Design.]
I PASS THROUGH County Laois at least twice a month and today I've discovered more about the area than in my previous 15 years in Ireland. I can thank List.ly for part of that.
The List.ly creation shows places recommended by venue managers, community volunteers and heritage experts who operate many of the places I've passed by while driving between Dublin and County Tipperary. My kids would enjoy many of the things I've heard discussed in a County Laois working group and I think the collaborative list elegantly captures these ideas.
I talked about doing this kind of project as I stood under the North Pole today. I'm delighted my plans have unfolded as brilliantly as I had hoped.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches social media for heritage in the Limerick School of Art and Design.]
BACK IN THE EARLY 80S, I occasionally crossed the Atlantic Ocean 10 times every October. This century, I'm crossing once every five years.
I miss the oceanic travel but know I will never enjoy the legroom and service I once got at the pointy end of the aircraft. My bulkhead seat today on a Boeing 777 was as cold as some copilot seats in the Lockheed C-141. But the US Airways crew wasn't as garrulous.
I packed a lot of electronics to entertain me on the journey and realise now that I have to revert to a dedicated MP3 player to ensure I have at least 20% power on my phone after an eight hour stint in my seat.
THERE ARE CUTE buttons you can push on Dublin Airport survey kiosks located at the halfway point of departures to Stateside destinations. There is a reason for placing the things ahead of the preclearance scrum.
The Dublin preclearance procedure for US passengers is thorough and repetitive. The triple-checking probably serves a purpose but it is still relatively easy to circumvent if you pay for a quick queue and sit in a wheelchair. But if you have two pre-teens in tow, the proceedings could become arduous.
I used to fly sensitive cargo into cloaked destinations. In my jaded eye, a lot of what the flying sheep think can prevent terrorism feels like security theatre to me.
[Bernie Goldbach snapped the survey kiosk attached to this post. He has crossed every line of longitude during his 3500 hour flying career.]
I'M SHARING THIS AMERICAN LIFE stories with my Media Writing students by bringing the story of the Brooklyn Archipelago into our Clonmel campus.
Many of our Irish students have seen or flown over Ruffle Bar but I doubt that they have heard the story of Alex and his friends as explained in the accompanying audio clip from This American Life.
The crazy story of friends adrift in Jamaica Bay folds nicely into discussions we're having about the monomyth. It's very easy to map all 17 stages of the hero's journey against the Brooklyn Archipelago story from episode 307 of This American Life.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative multimedia in the Limerick School of Art & Design.]
IN MY PERFECT world, there are NFC chips integral to the text-to-speech and MP3 functions on my Kindle AND NFC on the dashboard of our car so we can hear Kindle read news and audio books to us.
Since Jeff Bezos reads my blog, I hope to see this offered by Christmas 2013.
I TOOK OUR five year old daughter on a half day bus journey that resulted in her bringing a birthday present to her six year old cousin. Along the way, I think she started to enjoy inter-city travel by Bus Eireann.
We have watched the big red buses pass through Cashel through the years and now they are the only long-range travel option transiting the town. Aircoach ceased operations in June 2012 as the State subvention for private operators was dramatically reduced. Because our bus services are cut in half, I cannot use a Cashel Bus stop to get to Dublin for a morning meeting. That limitation has totally eliminated my ability to attend Dublin events that start in the morning.
But there is no morning agenda awaiting Mia so we took the earliest bus from Cashel at 0925 and rolled into Drogheda before 2PM. Along the way, Mia played Hair Salon, sketched in a monster's magazine and talked to me about animals in fields. All things considered, it was a fun trio.
(Sent Yahoo! Mail mail2blog via O2-Ireland service using my Sony Xperia Z.)
I FLATTENED MY over-the-air data allowance after a week in England and that meant poring over brochures for travel information.
I plan to write and talk later about how I switched off the information normally dripping into my phone but for now I'm fascinated how we made our way around with paper brochures and signage. One excursion led to an afternoon with the White Rabbit (in the photo).
The most significant thing for me is the realisation that we culled plans from three sources. The grandparents favoured the brochures. Their grandchildren often had picked up inside information from fellow holiday makers their age out in the meadow. And I preferred sneaking a peek at TripAdvisor, Foursquare and BestOfDorset when I had a WiFi signal.
On the day we found an Adventureland, we also found free access to the aircraft museum across the parking lot. And everyone left happy.
[Sent mail2blog using free WiFi at the Bournemouth Airport.]
I MARK MAJOR events and this week it is young Dylan's progression with big furry animals. He's pictured below and he suddenly wants to meet and greet them.
He was helped along this path by the ambiance of British pubs. Most of the child-friendly places we visit in the south of England also accommodate dogs as well. So where we brought our two youngsters, some locals brought their three dogs. And that sometimes resulted in friendly greetings for all concerned.
The only downside of this new-found confidence is knowing that dog ownership is probably not far behind.
[Sent mail2blog using The Greyhound Inn wifi in Corfe Castle, England.]