Tag Archives: Wisconsin

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Anti-Freeze

Winter has slammed into most of the United States, bringing with it the inevitable bouts of bad weather and hazardous travel. Just look at the massive ice-related highway pile-ups we’ve seen already this season in New York state, Michigan, Oregon — and even closer to home just this past weekend in the Philadelphia area due to a flash-freeze on the roads.

If you have a preferred weather or traffic app on your phone, this is the season to fire up those notifications because Mother Nature has a way of throwing a hissy fit and disrupting your plans. If there’s a storm on the way, a highway closed or a train line suspended, odds are you’d like to know about it ahead of time, right? Most specialized apps can be configured to push out alerts to warn you of impending events, so have them ping you when something’s up. Most major mobile platforms — Android, iOS and Windows Phone — let you configure notifications so you can turn them on and when you want.

IMG_3768On the weather side, apps include AccuWeather and Weather Undeground for most platforms, DarkSky or NOAA Weather Radar for iOS and dozens of others. Seriously, there are a ton of weather apps for every kind of phone out there and your mobile platform of choice may have even included one. Don’t have a smartphone? The National Weather Service’s mobile site and sign-up page for third-party email and SMS text alert services can keep you in the loop.

As for traffic and transit, popular cross-platform apps like Inrix and Waze are good sources of highway and road information. If you do have to be out driving in bad weather, make sure you have an emergency kit in the trunk. The professional winter states of Wisconsin and Minnesota have especially good advice on this topic, and you can buy pre-made collections, like the AAA’s own Severe Weather Travel Kit. If you don’t have one already, it’s a good idea to get a car charger for your phone  — just in case.

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Weather emergencies can seriously affect mass-transit systems as well, and some more than others. (Seriously, have you ever tried to get around the DC Metro during a snow storm?) If you’re riding the rails, the iTrans app for iOS is available for several cities and offers service alerts. There’s also the Transit app for Android and iOS. If you’re a New Yorker, the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority has a whole page of mobile apps for various phone platforms to check out.

Other information sources, like Google Now (if it has your commute in its list of info cards) and Twitter’s emergency alerts can also be useful. And don’t forget, if you’re trying to fly out for a nice vacation in a warm place, get your airline’s app and sign up for alerts that may affect your flight.

It’s winter and in much of the country, that means the roads are a giant asphalt Slushee out there, so let’s be careful. In fact, let’s just stay home and watch some more Agent Carter.

PTJ 82: Food, Cheer, and Song

Sincerest apologies to the great Federico Fellini but we here at Pop Tech Jam believe life is a combination of magic … and a White Castle Crave Case®. If you have a hankering for some regional food classics that you just can’t find in your town, J.D. harnesses the power of the Internet and shows you how to get those comfort food favorites delivered right to your door.  All the talk of food has Pedro’s stomach grumbling but he was able to fight off the hunger pangs long enough to explain what Social Engineering is and how we can all be affected by it.  In the news the F.C.C. plans on introducing a new net neutrality policy; Apple loses their appeal in an attempt to ditch a  government appointed e-book monitor; Anti-malware company Kaspersky Labs claims to have discovered a global cyber-espionage  organization; Google leases more space from NASA; and Lego considers  a new building set based the BBC’s Sherlock TV show.

Thought for Food

Just as hearing a particular song on the radio, tasting certain foods can automatically whisk us back in time — just think of Proust and his madeleine. Little French cookies aside, what if our memories hinge on something that’s harder to get, like a dish served at a specific restaurant or some sort of regional cuisine that’s far removed from your current location?

Now, if you live if a larger city, maybe you can find reasonable facsimiles of the foods you grew up with. But what if you don’t, or the local approximations don’t measure up? That’s where the Internet comes in. If you haven’t looked lately, more and more famed regional restaurants have gotten on board with online shops and apps. It may cost a bit more to get the home delivery from across the country, but you can get another helping of those childhood food memories.

For example:

  • Did you grow up in the Windy City and now find yourself missing the region’s distinctive pizza? Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s East both deliver deep dish by mail. You can also get Carson’s BBQ ribs, Maxwell Street Polish Sausage, Portillo’s Italian Beef at the Tastes of Chicago site.
  • The Decatur Dairy ships serious Wisconsin cheese all over the country.
  • If you hail from the City of Brotherly Love and miss your Tastykakes, Sweetzel’s Spiced Wafers and Philly Soft Pretzels, visit the Pennsylvania General Store.
  • Craving the fine produce and natural foods from California? Check out Market Hall, where they also import the famed French tea, Mariage Frères.
  • Hankering for some Texas Hill Country barbecue? The Salt Lick in Driftwood is just one of the many places you can go to order a rack for UPS delivery.
  • Need an authentic New Orleans king cake for your office Mardi Gras party on March 4th (which is just a few weeks away), Gambino’s is just one of the many local bakeries that will FedEx you a king cake, beads and doubloons so that your good times may roll.
  • Amazon even links up with specialty food importers so you can get overseas favorites like Jammie Dodgers sent your way.

Many fine old American roadside eateries are also getting into the online delivery business. Yes, you can get Stuckey’s pecan logs on the Internet these days. Like most chains, the Stuckey’s site has a store locator feature you can use to find the nearest franchise, just in case you’re feeling nostalgic enough for a roadtrip.

wafflebunnyAnd if you’re heading out on the highway, hit up your App Store to see if your favorite establishment has figured out the mobile game yet. Just for starters, Waffle House has its own app for iOS and Android, as do many beloved chains like In-and-Out Burger (also with iOS and Android offerings) and White Castle, which even has a Windows Phone app to go with its iOS and Android offerings. In addition to locating the nearest store to your current location, you can peruse the menu and even check in on social media.

And if you are hitting the road to relieve a childhood food memory, be sure to order up some classic candy from your era from sites like Old Time Candy or the Candy Warehouse. Proust had his madeleines and yo, you can have your Squirrel Nut Zippers.