Sometimes, we become so engrossed in the world of ones, zeroes, and funny pictures of cats that we forget the distinction between cyberspace and the real world. That means that our civilization has evolved to the point where all it needs to accomplish anything is to sit in front of an illuminated magic box full of wires for hours. Unfortunately, this also means that some elements that don’t belong in meatspace tend to spill over, like odd terms and lingo that only really make sense in the virtual world. Here are six words that I really hope you aren’t using in face-to-face conversation.
Recently, we were asked to adopt a bulldog who just had an eye operation. Long story short, we had prepared everything for her and even given her a name Elle Driver which we thought was really clever, if we do say so ourselves. But then at the last minute, we were told that Elle, our Elle, was going to be adopted by someone else (read: the breeder’s mother). Needless to say, we were very disappointed to the point of vowing to put off our dream of becoming pet owners for a couple of years. Yes, we know that we are being overly dramatic. But then again, you would be too if you have already bought toys, the cutest dog bed, and a mishmash of pet supplies. Anyway, don’t feel too sorry for us. We’re going to be A-Okay–well, at least okay enough to give you a list of the top four apps that you should download if you have the good luck to be a proud pet owner.
Today, it seems like everyone has at least one complaint about his or her travel experiences, be it a flight delay, a luggage mishap or a booking slip-up. When you think about it though, travelers have it so much easier now than others did only decades ago. Here’s a look at this century’s top five innovations in travel so far:
1) Global Positioning System
Though GPS has been around for decades, it was only in the early 2000’s that it began to be used in civilian everyday life. It eases the worries of travelers and their families because they know that their plane or ship is being tracked. And of course, you use it to navigate your way through unfamiliar roads, be it by foot or car. Apps utilize your smartphone’s GPS to locate the restaurant, gas station or convenience store nearest you. With GPS, you don’t need to worry about finding someone to get directions from, and that’s a huge burden removed from any traveler.
2) Self-service check-in – and boarding!
Not only do most airlines have online check-in, which enables you to check-in for your flight via Internet, a lot of them also have self-service check-in kiosks. These handy kiosks allow you to access your flight itinerary, make changes in your seat assignment or bag count and print your boarding pass. After that, you just have to deposit your checked baggage at the drop-off counter, and you’re all set.
There’s also this new technology that further minimizes the need for manpower in airports—the so-called self-boarding stations. First introduced last June 27, 2012 at Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport, these stations permit you to open the automated gates just by scanning your boarding pass. How nifty is that?
3) In-flight Wi-Fi
During long haul flights, some people may be satisfied with toying with the in-flight entertainment system or prefer to sleep the hours away, but you may be one of those who long to check their emails or surf the web. Thanks to in-flight Wi-Fi, you can satisfy your itch for connectivity as long as you’re willing to pay the quite hefty price. The connection isn’t as fast or reliable as it would be on land, but hopefully, in-flight Internet providers will be able to work on that problem in the next couple of years.
4) User-generated content
Imagine planning your itinerary without the help of sites such as Trip Advisor. It has changed the way we plan our travels and has made the idea of venturing out into the unknown less intimidating. Aside from simply providing a database of hotels, restaurants and attractions, it allows users to rate them, leave comments and even post actual photos. You no longer have to worry about hotels posting misleading photos of their rooms or getting reeled into a gimmicky tourist trap that’s the theory, anyway. There’s still the possibility of people leaving fake reviews, but overall, user-generated content websites tend to be more helpful than not. Plus, you can’t beat the free price.
It’s undeniable smartphones have changed the way people live. Nowadays, you don’t just use your phone to make calls; you use it to keep track of the news, send phone system messages and download all kinds of media. It’s especially useful when traveling because all its features and apps ensure that you have your own personal itinerary planner, tour guide, tracking system, documenter and entertainer. It basically allows you to save on the luggage space and many other incidental costs. With the introduction of near-field communication (NFC) chips in new smartphone models, you can even use your phone to pay for your purchases or as an alternative to the standard barcode-based boarding pass. Really, it’s no wonder most people are so dependent on their smartphones.
We’re only thirteen years into the twenty-first century, and we’ve already seen amazing innovations in travel and technology. It’ll be exciting to see what will happen in the years to come.
Several weeks ago, basketball and footwear royalty Michael Jordan celebrated his 50th birthday in Houston during the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) annual All-Star Weekend. Yes, the man we know as His Airness is that old. Wasn’t it just yesterday when he entertained us with his gravity-defying, buzzer-beating, tongue-wagging, Gatorade-chugging presence? Celebrities, athletes and entertainers alike came in droves at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts to party with the icon many consider to be the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) and to witness the official release of his latest sneaker, the Air Jordan XX8.
Almost 10 years after his last game, it seems MJ still hasn’t left the building because he is still the benchmark for superstars in the NBA and remains ever present in the sneaker game with his line of Air Jordans. The former North Carolina and Chicago Bulls star put Nike on the map 29 years ago and transformed the swoosh brand into the world’s top supplier of athletic shoes and apparel. Elite athletes like Jordan inspire designers to create the most advanced footwear that will help them perform better in their respective sports. Here are some of the most sophisticated shoes produced:
Nike Vapor Laser Talon
Have you been watching the National Football League’s (NFL) Scouting Combine? If you have, then you’ve probably noticed some of the hopefuls rocking new yellow cleats from Nike, the Vapor Laser Talon. Weighing just 5.6 ounces, these cleats were made using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), a technology which uses high-powered lasers to selectively fuse small materials into a desired solid shape. SLS technology allows Nike to make cleats faster while reducing the overall weight. In a sport where speed is supreme, the new 3D printed plate is designed to help NFL players accelerate faster on the field, increasing their chances of getting the block or a sack. It is also possible for SLS to be used to develop new running and soccer shoes, so that is something to watch out for in the future.
In 1985, the first Air Jordan was banned by NBA Commissioner David Stern because it didn’t conform to the league’s "dress code." In 2010, 25 years after MJ’s first signature kicks were outlawed (the ban was subsequently lifted, allowing His Airness to claim his throne as king of the sneaker game), the NBA imposed a ban on Concept 1, a basketball shoe created by Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL), which claims that it can increase a player’s vertical leap by three inches or more. The ban on the shoe essentially confirms that it works. Concept 1 looks like a regular basketball shoe, but a closer look at the forefoot reveals the patented Load N’ Launch technology. It’s a metal spring embedded inside plastic designed to capture the maximum amount of energy that you generate when you exert pressure on the forefoot, and releasing the energy when you jump to increase your vertical leap. Tests conducted by APL show that 11 out of 12 participants instantly jumped higher when they used Concept 1, which somehow justifies its $300 price tag.
The Air Jordan XX8
The Jordan Brand has consistently produced some of the most revolutionary basketball sneakers in history. The first Air Jordan ushered in a new era in basketball shoes in terms of aesthetic appeal and performance. The Air Jordan XX8, the lightest and most tested Jordan sneaker to date, raised some eyebrows with its unconventional design for a basketball shoe because it looks more like a boot. Why a shoe that’s almost eight inches taller than most basketball shoes? "With the ongoing evolution of the game shoe, I encouraged our entire function to push the boundary when it comes to design, technology and performance," says co-designer Tinker Hatfield. The XX8 pushes the performance limits of a basketball shoe, providing maximum responsiveness, support and traction. At $250, most people would probably think twice before calling Nike’s business phone number to inquire about the shoe, but the Jordan brand says those who cop a pair will not be disappointed.
At home, I use a Windows 7 laptop. At work, I use a Windows 7 desktop PC. In between (and by "in between" I mean when traveling, commuting, or hanging out elsewhere), I have my Android smartphone. You can say that wherever I set camp somewhere, I have a computer with me. No, I’m not a gadget freak; it’s just that my profession as writer just calls for it. So even if I don’t like it, I need to have a computer with me most of the time.