Tag Archives: Washington

PTJ 118: Get Off Our Lawn, Google

J.D. will help you get to your destination by plane, train or automobile as she runs down some useful travel apps just in time for the power eating U.S. holiday known as Thanksgiving.

El Kaiser finally gets an invitation to Google Inbox and…let’s just say things don’t go smoothly.

In the news the European Space Agency is still on comet duty;  AT&T gets called out by the FCC; the Federal Trade Commission has settles a score with TRUSTe; the US State Department gets hacked;  New York City plans to convert payphones into spiffy hotspots; Facebook continues spinning off features of its service; Disney partners with Walmart’s Vudu streaming service; and Google and Stanford University work on software that uses artificial intelligence to create descriptive photo captions.

Oh, and KaiserNet is finally active… MUAH HA HA HA!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

If Thanksgiving is next week, you can bet your sweet bippy it’s time for the Pop Tech Jam roundup of sites and services to make your journey home for the holidays slightly less tense. Whether you’re going air, rail or highway, here are some apps to consider ahead of Big Food Thursday.

Planes
Navigating flight schedules, airport delays and other joys of modern domestic air travel this season? You can get mobile boarding passes and other tools from your airline’s app (and text alerts  if anything affects your flight), but a good all-around air-travel app can help you track other flights besides your own. There are plenty to choose from — including Flight Aware, FlightTrack or FlightStats — for Android and iOS, and FlightAware also works on Windows Phone and Windows 8. The Flight Update line of travelware works for iOS devices. The Kayak mobile app, which can book flights, as well as track them, is also available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Trains
If your journey home involves a locomotive of some kind, you have plenty of programs to handle schedules, travel alerts and often, tickets. The national rail company, Amtrak, has its own app, as do the major rail lines for the New York City area — including the Metropolitan Transit Authority (for the NYC subway and bus system), Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road.

If you’re sticking along the Northeast corridor, New Jersey Transit has an app for mobile tickets and information. If you’re in the Philly area, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has apps for Android and iOS. Farther north, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has apps and an online trip planner for those in the Boston area; Washington’s Metro has a similar site. The transit systems for Chicago and San Francisco have mobile options listed on their respective sites. Want an app or mobile site that can handle different mass-transit systems? Try and the Embark or HopStop.

Automobiles
There’s nothing like the hell of holiday traffic, but with the right app, you may be able to get a heads-up before you get stuck in a maddening mass of highway congestion (or as many call it, I-95). Several popular apps use real-time crowd-sourcing along with other data to map out the road ahead, so check out Inrix, Waze or Beat the Traffic if you want to see what’s between you and your destination. For another angle, there’s Traffic Cam Viewer for Android or iOS, which taps into Internet-connected highway cameras for a bird’s-eye view of the road. And if you’ve got a long trip with a few stops along the way for bio-breaks and leg-stretching, apps like Road Ninja and iExit tell you want to expect at the end of each interstate off-ramp you pass.

On the road — but not doing the driving yourself? Check your local bus line for mobile offerings. Nationally, Greyhound, Trailways, the Bolt Bus and MegaBus have schedules, service advisories and other info online.

These are just a few of the hundreds of travel-related apps out there. Odds are, you may already have one or more if them loaded up on your device to help ease some of the uncertainly of travel. You don’t need that extra stress — after all, you’ll probably get enough of that from the family once you get there.

Safe travels.

A Night at the Museum

Love museums, but don’t have the time or money to travel? Or are you planning a trip to one and want to get the lay of the land before you plunge in? To the Web! While they don’t replace the feeling of seeing a work of fine art or an historical object up close, museum sites can tell you more than just the current exhibitions and the visiting hours. Many have educational sections that highlight works in the collection so you can see and learn from the comfort of the Internet. In many cases, you can also find an official mobile app to help guide your way around the collections when you do get there. (The museums mentioned below are just a sampling of what’s out there, but museums in major cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Toyko await as well, so fire up your search engine.)

Art & Design
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a jam-packed Web site, where you can browse highlights from its holdings or search for specific items. The MetMedia section of the museum’s site hosts videos, audio podcasts, interactive quizzes and a kids section. The MetShare page has links to the Met’s various social media and mobile efforts, including its contributions to YouTube, Flickr, iTunes U, plus its Twitter and FourSquare feeds. If you use the Google Goggles app on your iPhone or Android handset when you visit the museum in person, you can take a picture of an object and have the app recognize it and taker you to a page of information about it on the Museum’s Web site. The Met has created specific apps for special exhibitions, like its Guitar Heroes show a few years back or its standing Arms & Armor collection.

The Web site for The Museum of Modern Art here in New York has a collection-search feature, a dedicated online collection with objects that may not even be on regular view in the physical galleries and, (as shown below), mobile apps for iOS and Android. If you visit in person, there’s also free WiFi inside the museum itself.

MOMA

The Art Institute of Chicago has a nicely designed site you can use to search the 54,000 items in the museum’s collection, a multimedia finder, several iOS and Android apps and a feature that lets you make your own collection out of its holdings.

You can also take an online tour of the Louvre, the famous art museum in Paris and home of the Mona Lisa, shown below. The museum has a free iPad app as well.

MONA

If you like design, check out the site for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, which has videos and other information about its collections. The V&A has assorted iOS and Android apps devoted to specific art and design topics as well. (Also in London: The Design Museum, with its own free iPad app.)

History
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, which claims to be the world’s largest museum and research complex with 19 separate museums, a national zoo and 137 million artifacts in its holdings has a one-stop search page where you can comb through 8.1 million catalog of digital records, the Smithsonian libraries, its archives and even Smithsonian Folkways, the record label that specializes American music. The Smithsonian Institution is all over most forms of social media, has its own virtual world and has apps for iOS and Android, along with a mobile Website for other phone platforms.

buckfountainThe Library of Congress site has its own digital collections, where you can see digitalized images of things like early baseball cards, examine archived newspapers and hear more than 10,000 old 78rpm discs from 1900 to 1925 that were converted to MP3 as part of the National Jukebox Project. In the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog area, you can see and download digital copies of about a million images in the Library’s picture archive, including the poster for Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain from the WPA collection that’s shown here. As for mobile apps, you can get the daily Congressional Record or a virtual tour of the Library of Congress for iPhone or iPad, and interactive book of Aesop’s Fables for Android or iOS.

Across the pond, The British Library, which also rounds up the knowledge of the world, has many wonderful online galleries, including a Magna Carta section where you can see the Great Charter (shown below) up close. The site even offers a highlights slideshow tour and various virtual exhibitions. The Library has a handful of inexpensive mobile apps for Android and IOS devices that highlight some of the gems in its collections.

magna

The British Museum, also in London, has blogs and videos that highlight parts of its extensive collection, and you can even search the museum’s database and check out the Rosetta Stone and other well-known historical objects. You can find apps for special exhibits, like the Android and iOS app for its Pompeii and Herculaneum show; these costs about $3 or $4. There’s also an learning section for kids and an online shop with a place to order prints of artwork in the Museum.

In fact, most museum sites include a link to their online stores, so as in the real world, you can leave through the gift shop and pick up a few souvenirs.