6 Free Apps That Make International Traveling Easier


Written by: Rikki Lux


Whether you have an Apple gadget like the iPhone or a Microsoft Windows-powered Android, you know that you can download an app in seconds. If you are planning to travel internationally, take a second to download these useful (and free) apps that will make your trip safer and more enjoyable.


1. XE Currency

This app, from currency site Xe.com, makes it simple to instantly calculate and convert currency from over 180 countries. Create charts to see how far your dollars can take you. Get emails when information is updated and compare present and past rates.

XE Currency iPad App

The Best Currency Converter on the Market


2. Google Translate

With 64 different languages that can be translated, this app is absolutely essential for traveling abroad.  Since the translation is done by software instead of human ears, it won’t be perfect – but translation is constantly improving. The app will make it possible for you to communicate with non-English speakers about necessary information like costs, location, and simple conversation. You can speak into your phone and Google will translate it into the specified language. All languages in the Google database can be translated in every possible combination, so the app can be used by anybody regardless of their native language.

GoogleTranslate for iPhone

Over 60 languages – translated in a snap!


3. TripAdvisor

This travel app has been downloaded over 15 million times because of the easy-to-use layout and large collection of international cities for abroad travelers. Find food, lodging, attractions and more, as well as reviews that can help you make the best choices.

Tripadvisor App

A simple layout begets simple trip planning


4. Wi-Fi Finder

Wi-Fi Finder will locate both free and paid wireless locations in 144 countries. The app is linked to almost 700,000 wireless locations – so no need to wander through a city you don’t know with your cell phone held toward the sky while the locals stare.

WiFi Finder

Find WiFi anywhere, anytime


5. Sutro World

This app will provide you with travel guides for over 375 destinations all over the world. Independently authored, you will get insider information from a local who knows the city you’re visiting like you know your own. You will have offline access to maps, recommendations, photos and user comments. Go online to watch videos and talk to other travelers.

Sutro World App

Local perspectives in a global app


6. Smart Traveler

Downloading the Smart Traveler app would be the smart thing to do before you travel abroad. This app is the official State Department app for U.S. travelers and is frequently updated with travel alerts and warnings, and all U.S. embassy locations are provided. You can enroll in the free Smart Traveler Enrollment program so that the State Department can help you if there is an emergency situation. An Android app will be released in June 2012.

Smart Traveler App

A trusted source for international safety


Ikea’s New ‘Uppleva’ Home Theatre System Hits Stores This Month

Written by: Kristiina Yang

Are you looking to buy a new television set without the hassle of finding the right furniture to put it on? Well, Ikea might have just the solution for you.

Long beloved by the mass consumer for offering affordable and attractive furniture, Swedish company Ikea will now step into the realm of electronics releasing this month its new Uppleva home theatre system.

The Uppleva consists of a “smart” LED television monitor, blue ray player and speaker system (including one moveable, wireless subwoofer), all integrated into standard, stylish Ikea furniture. Further, the set has a built-in system for organizing and hiding the messy cords from sight and from mind.

Uppleva Arrangements

Ikea's new 'Uppleva' home theatre system can be customized to user preferences.

This system is at once a television set and a piece of furniture, Ikea demonstrating its understanding of user needs and creating a new concept that is poised to challenge competitors in both the electronic and furniture industries. Making this deal even more attractive is its price, starting just under $1000.

Like many of Ikea’s other furniture pieces, the Uppleva will come in an assortment of colors, arrangements and sizes, the buyer able to customize the television set to his or her particular needs. The television will also serve various functions, allowing users to watch movies in Blu-ray or DVD format, connect to the Internet through built-in Wi-Fi and listen to music.

Technology bloggers claim that Uppleva and its anticipated success demonstrate the shifting priorities of consumers today, particularly in the realm of electronics. Christina Bonnington for Wired Magazine Online points out that consumers today are less focused on the quality of TV sets, which was once the products’ major selling point. What sets Uppleva apart is its convenience, appearance and low cost, qualities that Ikea can and will capitalize on.

While Ikea is not pushing any new limits technologically, the company, as always, attempts to cater to user needs, which is anticipated to give the Uppleva system an edge in the market. The set is anticipated to require some home assembly, as is common with many Ikea products.

This month Uppleva will be released first across several European cities, including its flagship city of Stockholm, Paris and Berlin, and will be available in almost all European stores through autumn 2012. Uppleva’s release in countries outside of Europe, including in the United States, should be expected in spring 2013. For more information, be sure to watch Ikea’s lighthearted Uppleva teaser trailer below:

Maldives Drives Innovation to Stay Afloat

Male, the capitol city of Maldives

A picturesque view of Male, the capitol city of Maldives.

Written by: Nick Mingay

MALDIVES – The small island chain set a goal to offset its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but if the rest of the world does not follow and world carbon emissions fall Maldives could be completely underwater by the end of the century.

The archipelago of 1,190 islands is the lowest elevated county in the world. The average elevation is just one and  a half meters above sea level, leaving it susceptible if the sea levels continue to rise.

Maldives spends approximately 15 percent of its GDP on Diesel fuel to provide power to the inhabitants of the islands. They are beginning to wane from that source of energy though. Wind turbines are starting to be completed on many of the southern islands.

Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives, said he wants to be the example for the rest of the world to try and save his country from going underwater. Although creating clean energy is the only way to save his country, that is not the only reason to do it.

“For us this is an economic issue. It’s a financial issue. We are becoming carbon neutral because it is cheaper than fossil fuels,” Nasheed said.

Moving to cleaner energy is not an easy step to take. It takes investments over long periods of time and possible cuts to other areas of the budget. This may be the biggest reason why other countries have not been as forward about using cleaner energy, the cost is just too high at the moment.

Maldives’ economy thrives on tourism, which has been hit hard because of the state of the economy. It is not easy for the country to delve deep into its pockets for investment in clean energy, but it is necessary. The cost is especially hard for developing countries like Maldives.

“When cities, people and countries  develop, you have to pay a higher price. We’re trying to adjust these prices to very minimal,” Utility Chairman Ahmed Zareer said.

Other hindrances are effecting the construction of certain clean energy projects. The climate is not conducive to solar panels because of the corrosive nature of the salty environment, parts of the island chain receive hardly enough wind for turbines to be effective and there is little land mass for solar panels to have a particularly large impact.

These disadvantages come with the territory of living in paradise. But, they will not stop  Nasheed and the rest of the Maldives from trying anything they can to keep their country afloat.

Fruitz Watches’ Natural Frequency Technology said to Change People’s Lives

Dragon Fruit, Strawberry and Lychee Fruits Watches with Natural Frequencies Inside
Dragon Fruit, Strawberry and Lychee Fruits Watches with Natural Frequencies Inside

Fruitz is a collection of fun and colorful watches that is appealing to people for more than just fun and color.  The new collection of fruits watches, seen on celebrities such as Dakota Fanning and Selena Gomez and identified as a “practical accessory staple” by Parade Magazine, has Natural Frequencies inside. .

Every Fruitz watch contains a Natural Frequency Technology disk, created by Philip Stein. According to a clinical study, people wearing devices with natural frequency technology experienced better sleep than those not wearing devices with the technology.

Natural frequencies exist everywhere. The earth’s natural frequency is 7.83 hz, the key frequency in the natural frequency technology. Frequencies are captured and infused, and embedded into the watch. The idea behind the natural frequency technology disk in each watch is that it provides the wearer with natural frequencies and information.

So, it would appear, that beyond making a fashion statement, a Fruitz watch has immense technological powers.

World Cup gets a DTS Advanced Surround Sound System

Now watch the game as if you're there!

DTS, Inc. is providing new sound for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

DTS, Inc. announced that they will be providing DTS surround sound technology for FIFA’s 2010 World Cup. If you can’t make your way to way to the game, you will definitely be hearing it as though you were. ESPN and other broadcasters will be providing soccer fans in the U.S. and Brazil with DTS Neutral Surround™. That allows the excitement of the game to reach fans in high quality 5.1 surround sound.

DTS, Inc. is a digital technology company dedicated to delivering the ultimate entertainment experience and a pioneer in multi-channel audio. You can find DTS technology in home theatre, car audio, PC/gaming console products, DVD players, TV’s, digital media players, set-top boxes and surround music software. You most likely have heard of DTS technology recently, seeing as it is a mandatory audio format in the Blu-ray Disc standard there as in every device capable of playing Blu-ray discs.

DTS surround sound technology will be an integral part of the broadcast productions at the 2010 World Cup,” says Geir Skaaden, VP, North American Licensing Operations, DTS, Inc. The FIFA 2010 World Cup will be broadcasted with this technology from beginning to end, June 11th to July 11th to be exact. DTS also plans to grow with the demand for high quality entertainment. As consumers continue to strive for the latest in audio and visual technology, they will continue to develop it. 

Cutting Straight to the Point?

The worst spill in U.S. history

A view of BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

The latest “solution” to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill doesn’t seem to be as promising as most had hoped. BP’s idea was to use giant shears to slice off a piece of the pipe and then place a cap on it in hopes to stop the gushing spill has come face-to-face with a problem. After 6 weeks of failed efforts to stop the spill, this marks yet another frustrating delay.

Originally they were using a diamond-tipped saw, but under tremendous undersea pressure the saw became stuck in the pipe about halfway through the job. BP used the shears to cut off the remaining pipe left. Unfortunately the cut was irregular and now placing the cap will be challenging. Even with a clean cut, slicing away a section of the 20 inch wide riser could remove kinks in the pipe and temporarily increase the flow of oil… as much as 20%. The worst oil spill in U.S. history doesn’t seem to have any promising solutions and it is weighing heavily on everyone involved, including citizens.

The cap is said to be over the spill and will be placed Thursday afternoon. It won’t be on perfectly as they originally had hoped for, so it is unknown how much oil BP can siphon to the surface. August is the next step. Then BP will be placing two relief wells meant to plug the reservoir for good. This might have been a low probability accident, but it is catastrophic. BP acknowledges that. They seemed deeply apologetic about the hurt they have caused, especially to the wildlife that has been affected. Even if recognition isn’t good enough, some are temporarily satisfied they are taking responsibility and saying the criticism is “fair”.

Many hope this will be a solution

"cap project" - BP's latest attempts on slowing the oil spill until a permanent solution in August

In the end, this spill is costly to BP. This cap project will cost them around $360 million. Not to mention the $990 million they have spent on clean up, grants to Gulf Coast states and money to people and companies that have claimed to be hurt by the spill. We will not know if the large amounts of money spent on this project alone will have much of a positive effect until the cap is placed and observed. No money can reverse the effects the U.S. has suffered from this spill, but hopefully this temporary cap project can hold the spill until the relief wells are in place.

The Apple of Technology’s Eye

Which will YOU choose?

Apple vs Microsoft - At home or on the go.

It is hard to believe that the most important and popular technology is no longer something that is plugged into (and even mounted on) the wall or sitting on your desk. The oldest generation, the great-grandparents and grandparents, still remember when the television was first invented. My parents generation can remember when that television turned from black and white to color. The twenty-some generation will say they can remember when flat screen was the only screen to have, more thin the better, maybe even 3D or LED, with blu-ray of course. Not only that, but which technology company is putting out the latest handheld device and which is creating the best and fastest software. And that is exactly what it has came down to between Apple and Microsoft.

For about two decades, Microsoft has been the number one name in the technology market. With popular items such as the Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft has managed to dominate the relationship people have with their computers. This was reflected in their stock market capitalization. Although recently Wall Street has released it’s new top spot holder, Apple. Wednesday, May 26th will be a day that Apple is sure to never forget. At the close of the stock trading session, Apple’s capitalization was at a very impressive $222 billion! While Microsoft hung back in Apple’s shadow at an unusual number two, closing at $219 billion. There is no guarantee that Apple will remain on top, but the facts show that their products are what’s in and what’s hot.

Apple has managed to rise to tech stardom with just one letter, I. The iPod, iPad, iTouch and iPhones are the reasons Apple has become the world’s most valuable technology company. They are also the prime example of the shift from desktop computing to mobile computing. If you work on the go, you most likely have Apple to thank for that possibility. They also have capitalized on the music industry, not just with the gadgets, but the popular software iTunes.

Still, Microsoft remains a compelling, confident, profitable company in the tech world. Their windows software runs on 9 out of every 10 computers and more than 500 million people use the Microsoft Office suite software daily.

No one can predict the future, but Apple seems to be leading the way.

Seattle adds Facebook to it’s Résumé

Sign-up for Facebook

Facebook is known worldwide and takes only a few minutes and an email address to sign-up!

Seattle has particularly strong information technology and a higher percentage of college graduates than any other major American city, with approximately 53.8% of residents aged 25 and older holding a bachelor degree or higher. I think it’s safe to say that Facebook made a pretty good move opening a new engineering office to the great city of Seattle. The talent that the area has proven to produce could only keep Facebook at the top of the social networking phenomenon, where it seems to be comfortably sitting followed by Myspace (who coincidentally have an office in Seattle already).

It might just seem like a new office, but this marks the first engineering office for Facebook in the U.S. besides the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. Vice President of Engineering at Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, is use to recruiting engineers from the emerald city to join the social networking site in Palo Alto, California. Now his excitement is finding those to fill out the new spot. Move-in date for their Northwest location is looking to be July although no office location has been chosen. They are looking for space to fit roughly 30 employees and have yet to decide where to be in the big city. A cozy spot on the eastside in the BelRed (Bellevue/Redmond) area near their partner Microsoft is an option or also in the heart of the city near technology giants such as Amazon.

Facebookis not the only one to benefit. This will potentially give a few engineering and tech geniuses the opportunity to work for a great company. Maybe Facebook will like Seattle so much they add an even bigger office in the future! After all it is known as one of our nation’s top software engineering hubs. Seattle is the birth place for much of today’s technology master minds and it’s great to see more companies taking advantage of the young tech junkies, eager for work at a well respected and fast on the move company.


HTC Earns 31st Spot in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2010

HTC smartphones

HTC's Smartphones Helped Earn Them The 31st Spot in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2010

Have you ever heard of HTC? You might have, you might have not. One thing is for sure: you will. HTC is one of the companies to keep a look out for in 2010. Most recently known for their Droid phones with Verizon Wireless, HTC is starting to put out operating systems, apps and features on their smartphones that are being compared to the almighty iPhone. But HTC is not new to the mobile technology market. Co-founder and chairman Cher Wang started the company 13 years ago, hoping to one day create a phone that acts in place of your computer. Which, in 2010, I think it is safe to say she has come pretty close to doing just that. If you ask her, it’s just the beginning.

Hearing that it is just the beginning is exciting news. This year, HTC earned the 31st Spot in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2010. A spot that they are thrilled to be at, but are excited to beat out next year. The Taiwanese Google-phone maker focuses on the individual when creating new designs and interfaces. They concentrate on what seems to be important to most people using smartphones today, i.e. email and social networking. Whenever a company is doing what’s best for their customers and their likes/dislikes and at the same time offering only the best in that market, it creates a recipe for success for everyone involved.

Wondering why you are just now hearing about this company? HTC had quietly taken a backseat with it’s brand for much of it’s first years in the business, content to build phones for other brands and not put their own logo on the phone. It wasn’t until friends Andy Rubin (Google’s director of mobile platforms) and Peter Chou (HTC’s CEO) came together for a collaboration that would change both companies for the better. Their combined effort in software and hardware lead to the creation of the successful Android platform and the first Google phone, of now many.

With that being said, don’t plan on HTC going anywhere, anytime soon.