Author Archives: Klaava

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If you have always wanted to stay a night at a library, now it is possible in Wales

2017-01-06

There is an atmosphere of utmost safety and eternal truth in old libraries. They are like small and simple worlds inside the big and complex world we live in. On top of that, old libraries often are beautiful. So, who wouldn’t like to stay a night in a library where comfortable beds are waiting for tired book lovers. Gladstone’s Library in Wales invites guests to stay a night among books, but in bed.
Gladstone's Library, books
Gladstone’s Library is both a real library and a real hotel all in the same building.
Gladstone's Library building
There are 26 rooms for guests to choose from. Guestrooms include Wi-Fi, free coffee, vintage radios, and views to the Welsh countryside, but for book lovers the real treat is access to the library. 250,000 printed items are available until 10 pm (doors are closed to the public at 5 pm).
Gladstone LIbrary, hotel room
Room prices start at £63 a night, and they include free breakfast in the cafe Food For Thought. Guestrooms don’t have TVs – perhaps you want to spend every precious minute with books.

The nearest town to the library is Chester. In order to get there, you can drive or take a train that stops in Chester.

The library has been named after the former Prime Minister of UK William Gladstone. He was a book lover who collected more than 30,000 of them during his lifetime. He lived in Hawarden Castle in Wales when he retired. The library was built after he died in 1898.
Gladstone Library, social room

reading char at Gladstone Library
Images by Gladstone’s Library.

This is why book publishers want details about potential authors’ blog and social media footprint

2016-12-17

If you already have had an opportunity to talk to a book publisher or an agent about your terrific book concept, you may have been asked about your blog and social media presence. For you, they don’t necessarily have anything to do with your aspirations as a writer. Maybe you don’t even have a blog and your social media is mostly about watching cat videos on Facebook. Here is the thing: when a publisher is estimating the size of the market for your book concept, the audience you are able to reach yourself can be a significant factor.
man thinking what to write on aptop
Let’s take an example. You have been living and working in Berlin, the capital of Germany, for a year. You have learned so much about the culture, country and people that you are planning to write a cultural guide to other foreigners who intend to move to Germany. If you have a travel blog where you discuss about the country, the city, the language and the way Germans behave, you probably have an audience. Your blog or other social media contribution is also a quick way for publishers and agents to browse how and what topics you write about. If, on the other hand, you have only updated your Facebook page that your family and friends read during the year, it really doesn’t count as an audience.

Without going into details of blogging, tweeting, instagramming or whatever will be the next big thing in social media, the key thing is: how many people you can reach on your own?

Many experts in the publishing business call this the Author Platform. For an extensive explanation on the Author Platform (also known as the Writer’s or Marketing Platform) and how to build one for yourself, read this article at Writer’s Digest.

The Platform concept is particularly useful for nonfiction writers. Publishers and naturally readers expect that the writer knows what he or she is talking about. The writer must be an authority of the topic of the book. This doesn’t mean that he or she should be a world-renowned expert, but should have the credibility so that the audience can trust the information in the book. Experienced, professional writers can write just about anything, but they have plenty of techniques and contacts for verifying the information they write.

If we use the cultural guide to Germany as an example, living and working for a year in Berlin gives enough experiences to write a book, but probably means that the guidebook won’t dive very deep into the local culture. If the aspiring author writes the manuscript in Berlin, it may take another year, and the authority only grows.

So, these two key things are the reasons why publishers and agents are interested in writers’ footprint (both in the real world and on the Internet):

1. Audience
2. Authority

When we discuss about writing and book publishing, we easily neglect an important factor that impacts both the publishing decision and the whole book project. Especially nonfiction books are not only about text, but also about photos, schemas, tables, drawings, and today also (thanks to ebooks) about animations and videos. If you can shoot decent photos or videos, draw pictures or put together smart data tables, it is a big advantage for you.
photographer taking a photo in flower field
If you have a plan for a nonfiction book, and are looking for an ebook publisher, read this as well.

Are travel coloring books the ultimate relaxation option on the road?

2016-12-01

There are times during every traveler’s journey when it would be smart to switch off brains from constant planning ahead, working, or worrying about what can go wrong. Some (printed) book publisher believe they have a cure for traveler’s anxiety: the travel coloring book. Coloring books for adults were recently popular, but now, it is possible to find a coloring book for your special interest, such as travel.
travel coloring books, cover images
The theory is that since the world inside a travel coloring book is already organized and static, the tourist can manage the world drawn on the pages of the book by coloring it the way he or she wants. It is supposed to take your thoughts away from anything that may burden your mind and from everything around you.

Maybe that is exactly why many travelers have their music collection on a smartphone or on an iPod with them and they listen to their favorite artists when they want some distance to the world around. Some travelers, surprisingly, read books, whereas others watch movies, or sip gin and tonics.

There are many ways to relax on the road apart from coloring books. Yet, it is an interesting trend. Whoever was the mastermind that thought of producing coloring books for adults must be congratulated. Creating a new trend is once-in-a-lifetime event.

If you want to color Paris or San Francisco on your flight across the Atlantic or the American continent, it is possible (Amazon). Or perhaps you would like recolor 30 World Heritage Sites in your favorite colors? Kobo bookstore markets ebooks that contain drawings that you can print out and then recolor.

The New York Times discovered that some upmarket hotels give guests coloring books and crayons as they check in. There was a time when it was cool to have the morning’s newspaper delivered behind your hotel room door in the morning, and a time when Wi-Fi was new. Now, it is books.

What about ebooks? Are there any coloring ebooks that you could use on your Kindle ereader or on the iPad tablet? Not really. While it is possible to produce an ebook application or Apple iAuthor book that lets you change colors of objects on the screen, these types of interactive multimedia ebooks are very expensive to create. Travel guidebooks that feature reliable and useful information on your destination can be viewed here.

If the coloring book trend continues after 2016, we may see a few ebook coloring books in the market. Otherwise, it is the old, proven paper, ink and crayon technology that dominates the coloring book business.

Do marketers’ travel slogans really attract tourists to visit a country?

2016-11-23

Probably every country in the world, apart from closed societies like North Korea or disorganized regions like Somalia, has a state-powered marketing organization whose responsibility is to attract more tourists to the country. Nothing wrong with that, tourism is one of the largest industries in the world today, and some countries rely their national budgets on tourism. You may have met people from these marketing organizations at travel fairs where the marketers have been keen to offer a brochure or a plastic bag with a slogan on it. That slogan is supposed to make their country attractive for potential visitors.

Family Break Finder has published a marvelous map that shows all the slogans the world’s tourism organizations are using at the moment. The slogans tend to change after a few years, but this is how the world of travel marketing slogans looks right now.

Among the best slogans is Norway’s “Powered by nature” that really nails the essence of touring in Norway’s magnificent landscape. Among the worst is Australia’s “There’s NOTHING like Australia” (if you have nothing to say, it doesn’t get any better by shouting). India’s slogan “Incredible India” is so true just now that it makes you wonder did they really mean it (trains don’t travel along rail tracks in India anymore, and people are desperate because they can’t get cash from banks).
tourism slogans by family break finderSource: Family Break Finder.

Albania – Go your own way!
Algeria – Tourism for everybody
Andorra – The Pyrenean Country
Antigua and Barbuda – The beach is just the beginning
Argentina – Beats to your rhythm
Armenia – Visit Armenia, It is Beautiful
Australia – There’s NOTHING like Australia
Austria – Arrive and revive
Bahamas – Life Is Grand
Bahrain – Ours. Yours. Bahrain
Bangladesh – Beautiful Bangladesh
Barbados – Brilliant Barbados
Belarus – Hospitality Beyond Borders
Belgium – The place to be
Belize – Mother Nature’s Best-Kept Secret
Bhutan – Happiness is a place
Bolivia – Bolivia awaits you
Bosnia and Herzegovina – The heart of SE Europe
Botswana – Our pride, your destination
Brazil – Brasil – sensational!
Brunei Darussalam – A kingdom of unexpected treasures
Bulgaria – A discovery to share
Burundi – Beautiful Burundi
Cabo Verde – No stress
Cambodia – Kingdom of wonder
Cameroon – All of Africa in one country
Canada – Keep exploring
Chad – Oasis of the Sahel
Chile – All are welcome
China – China Like Never Before
Colombia – Colombia is magical realism
Costa Rica – Essential Costa Rica
Croatia – Full of life
Cuba – Autentica Cuba
Cyprus – Cyprus in your heart
Czech Republic – Land of stories
Denmark – Happiest place on Earth!
Djibouti – Djibeauty
Dominica – The nature island
Dominican Republic – Dominican Republic has it all
Ecuador – All you need is Equador
Egypt – Where it all begins
El Salvador – The 45 Minute Country
Estonia – Epic Estonia
Ethiopia Land of origins
Fiji – Where Happiness Finds You
Finland – I wish I was in Finland
France – Rendez vous en France
Gambia – The smiling coast of Africa
Georgia – For the best moments of your life
Germany – Simply inspiring
Greece – All Time Classic
Grenada – Pure Grenada
Guatemala – Heart of the Mayan World
Guyana – South America Undiscovered
Haiti – Experience It!
Honduras – Everything is here
Hungary – Think Hungary more than expected
Iceland – Inspired by Iceland
India – Incredible !ndia
Indonesia – Wonderful Indonesia
Iran – You Are Invited
Iraq – The Other Iraq (Kurdistan)
Ireland – Jump into Ireland
Israel – Land of Creation
Italy – Made in Italy
Jamaica – Get All Right
Japan – Endless discovery
Jordan – Yes, it’s Jordan
Kazakhstan – The land of wonders
Kenya – Magical Kenya
Kiribati – For travellers
Kyrgyzstan – Oasis on the Great Silk Road
Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) – Simply Beautiful
Latvia – Best enjoyed slowly
Lebanon – Live Love Lebanon
Lesotho – The Kingdom In The Sky
Liechtenstein – Experience princely moments
Lithuania – See it! Feel it! Love it!
Luxembourg – Live your unexpected Luxembourg
Macedonia – Macedonia Timeless
Madagascar – A genuine island, a world apart
Malawi – The warm heart of Africa
Malaysia – Truly Asia
Maldives – The sunny side of life
Malta – Truly Mediterranean
Mauritius – It’s a pleasure
Mexico – Live It to Believe It
Micronesia (Federated States of) – Experience the warmth
Monaco – Easy going Monaco
Mongolia – Go Nomadic
Montenegro – Wild Beauty
Morocco – Much Mor
Mozambique – Come to where it all started
Myanmar – Let the journey begin
Namibia – Endless horizons
Nepal – Once is not enough
Netherlands – The original cool
New Zealand – 100% Pure
Nicaragua – Unica. Original!
Nigeria – Good people, great nation
Norway – Powered by nature
Oman – Beauty has an address
Palau – Pristine Paradise Palau
Panama – Panama Surprises
Papua New Guinea – A million different journeys
Paraguay – You have to feel it!
Peru – Land of the Incas
Philippines – It’s more fun in the Philippines
Poland – Move your imagination
Portugal – Europe’s West Coast
Qatar – Where dreams come to life
Republic of Korea (South Korea) – Imagine your Korea
Republic of Moldova – Discover the routes of life
Romania – Explore the Carpathian garden
Russian Federation – Reveal your own Russia
Rwanda – Remarkable Rwanda
Saint Kitts and Nevis – Follow your heart
Saint Lucia – Simply beautiful
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Discover SVG
Samoa – Beautiful Samoa
San Marino – San Marino For All
Saudi Arabia – Experience to discover
Serbia – My Serbia
Seychelles – Another world
Sierra Leone – The freedom to explore
Singapore – Your Singapore
Slovakia – Travel in Slovakia – Good idea
Slovenia – I feel SLOVEnia
Solomon Islands – Seek the unexplored
South Africa – Inspiring new ways
Spain – #spainindetail
Sri Lanka – Wonder of Asia
Suriname – A Colorful Experience… Exotic beyond words
Swaziland – A royal experience
Switzerland – Get natural
Syrian Arab Republic – Always Beautiful
Tajikistan – Feel the friendship
Thailand – Amazing Thailand. It begins with the people
Timor-Leste – Being first has its rewards
Tonga – The true South Pacific
Trinidad and Tobago – The true Caribbean
Tunisia – I feel like Tunisia
Turkey -Be our guest
Tuvalu – Timeless Tuvalu
Uganda – You’re welcome
Ukraine – It’s all about U
United Arab Emirates – Discover all that’s possible
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Home of amazing moments
United Republic of Tanzania – The land of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and the Serengeti
United States of America – All within your reach
Uruguay – Uruguay natural
Uzbekistan – Naturally Irresistible!
Vanuatu – Discover what matters
Venezuela – Venezuela is your destination!
Vietnam – Timeless charm
Zambia – Let’s explore
Zimbabwe – A world of wonders

How to artfully cheat on Airbnb

2016-10-27

Would you buy a second hand car from an individual without seeing the vehicle and test driving it? Probably not. Would you pay for a hotel room without seeing it? Yes, because a business is running the hotel and there are rules and laws it has to follow – not to mention that it probably wants positive customer reviews as well.

Would you pay in advance for accommodation published on Airbnb that is provided by an individual? Many travelers say yes, but we hesitate. Here is why.
airbnb screen shot
This is a story that recently happened to a writer who works with us. She was traveling, and exploring southern Europe when she needed a place to stay for a week. She had (and still has) a perfect visitor record at Airbnb. She wanted a whole apartment to herself where she could rest and write. So, she searched for a quiet, peaceful place near the sea.

She discovered a place she liked: a tastefully furnished, parties forbidden in the apartment because the neighborhood is so peaceful and quiet – perfect. According to the information on Airbnb, it was located near a fishing village that was only a short walk away from the apartment.

The problems started with the address. The owner of the apartment had given an address that couldn’t be found. An email was quickly sent out, and the landlord emailed another address (in another town) that was fairly easy to find. The real address wasn’t near the fishing village or the sea.

The arrival was a shock for her. The apartment was located in a barrio, in a neighborhood where people hang out on the streets in front of the houses. Broken windows in worn-out cars. Lots of dogs and cats running around free. Litter and feces on the pavements. Constant barking of dogs, people shouting at one another and car engines revving between buildings created the atmosphere for the barrio.

It was late, she had already paid for the accommodation, there was little else she could do, so she decided to stay. Inside in the apartment it was as advertised, at least.

Next morning, she wanted to take a walk by the sea. Smartphone navigator showed the shortest way – the only way – to the fishing village. A long way to walk, but she intended to take a taxi back. It was a narrow, busy road. She started walking, but soon realized the road was too dangerous because of heavy traffic.

The moment she stepped on the pavement outside the apartment she had to fend herself from dogs and stand the looks of boldly staring residents. There was no common language, only the message that she doesn’t belong there.

So, in order to quiet down the constant unrest outside and the creeping feeling of unsafeness, she listened to her iPod for one week, wrote a lot and swore she wouldn’t rent anything without seeing it first.

Now, she has a new problem. She has to be able to check a potential apartment before booking. She has lost her trust in virtual apartments. On Airbnb, it is not possible the review a real apartment before booking. The service strips phone numbers and other information that allow setting up a meeting between parties. She has to find another way of discovering and booking rentals. For now, she is contacting local real estate agents in a destination where she is going next.

How did the Airbnb host do it? The first trick was to advertise a fishing village as the location for the property, even though the real location was in a nearby inland town. Having a car would have been the only possible way to make the trip from the apartment to the beach. The second trick was to advertise it as a peaceful, calm place. Naturally, people have different opinions on what is noise and what is quiet, but for some reason, the noise level declined considerably every time the police made their daily visit in the barrio.

Is the landlord still getting away with it on Airbnb? Yes. Airbnb or the apartment owner haven’t changed a word in the property description. She wrote a polite and truthful review about the apartment but it didn’t have an effect on the description. At close inspection, there seems to be other reviews at Airbnb that mention exactly the same problems as the writer experienced.

Why didn’t she read all the reviews before booking? There are a few reviews that mention the same problems, but she trusted the property description and having read a couple of reviews, she thought everything was fine. She had stayed in other Airbnb places before this without concerns or major problems.

Since Airbnb is the business that publishes the information on properties, it is responsible for the accuracy of the information. Plain and simple. The host, of course, may disagree and refer to positive reviews that mention nothing about incorrect information or potential unsafety of the neighborhood. Ultimately, Airbnb has to decide who to trust and what is correct. If paying customers stop trusting Airbnb, that’s it. Game over.

If Airbnb neglects these kind of cases, it is only a matter of time before something really nasty happens to a customer, or customers get fed up, and the corporation’s business model will be under scrutiny.

For ages, real estate agents have acted as brokers between people who need short-term or long-term accommodation and people who own houses and apartments. The agents are successful only if the landlords and the renters trust the agent. If something is not right, the agent has to act. In every country, laws regulate how the business works, and what the responsibilities of the parties are.

Sharing economy is here, and we welcome everything it enables, but corporations have to carefully take every aspect of the new business model into consideration.

A small, easy-to-use drone for serious selfie-photographers

2016-10-15

Selfie-sticks are surprisingly popular, even though they let you take photos from a very limited angle, and that’s why selfie-stick photos tend to look the same. We don’t expect to see as many selfie sticks at tourist destinations next peak season anymore as we have seen this year. Ambitious selfie photographers may move on to selfie drones because now, it looks like there is a drone product that everyone can use without having to spend days in learning how to fly one.
yuneec breeze selfie drone
Yuneec Breeze is roughly the size of a thick book, but it is much lighter than a book (the heaviest component is the battery). It is meant to be small and light so that it is easy to take along in a bag or packbag. A smartphone or tablet (Android and Apple) is required in order to tell the drone what it has to do.

Before the drone takes off, you have to choose the flying mode:

Pilot: This gives the most control over the drone. You can fly the drone manually by controlling it in the Breeze Cam app.
Selfie: Distance, altitude, and position sliders let you adjust the position of the drone in relation to yourself.
Orbit: The Orbit mode lets you instruct the Breeze to circle around you or another object.
Journey: The camera pitch determines the angle the drone will fly at, and you can adjust how far it goes.
Follow Me: First, you have to manually fly the drone to a position where you want it. Activate Follow Me, and the drone will keep its distance and position and follow you.

If the drone detects any problems with communication between itself and the device that is controlling it, it will return home (the place where it took off). And it is always possible to push return home button in the app.

The list price for the Yuneec Breeze is USD 499. The company lists retailers for the product on the web page here.

Le Monde tested the Breeze, and they were happy about:
– the image quality
– ease of use
– flight stability
– compact size.
Le Monde didn’t like:
– weak light indicators.
– image quality in some video modes.
– short flight time (battery lasts 12 minutes).

Here you can view sample video clips captured by Terry Dunn:

Yuneec Breeze key features and specifications

Flying modes: selfie, pilot, follow-me, journey, orbit.
Dimensions: 196 x 196 x 65 mm
Weight: 385 g.
Battery: 1150 mAh LiPo.
Flight time: up to 12 minutes.
Max flying height: 80 meters.
Max horizontal speed: 5 m/s (restricted by software)
Max climbing speed: 1 m/s
Wifi.
Android and Apple iOS apps for controlling the drone.
Camera:
– 0°C – 40°C working temperature.
– 13 Megapixel CMOS sensor.
– 4K and 1080p video capture.
– 4160 x 3120 pixels (13 MP) still images.
– FOV 117°
– 1/30 – 1/8000s shutter speed
– White balance: auto, sunny, sunrise, sunset, cloudy, tungsten light, glowing, disabled

On this video Bo Lorentzen shows you the features of the Yuneec Breeze and how to fly it:

Five new Unesco World Heritage sites located in Europe

2016-10-12

If a destination has been granted the honor of being included in the Unesco World Heritage List, it usually means that the site worth visiting and exploring. Recently, we were traveling in central Spain, and on a chilly morning we arrived in a town called Avila. We hadn’t done any research because we intended to drive through the town. There was, however, something interesting on top of the hill in the town center. Closer inspection revealed that a large ancient town was located inside a kilometers/miles long stone wall. A magnificent travel destination, and a Unesco World Heritage site since 1985.
avila, spain. a walled city
In 2016, five new sites in Europe were granted the title World Heritage Site by Unesco. They are:

Antequera Dolmens Site (Spain) – in Malaga region.
Archaeological Site of Ani (Turkey) – a medieval city on the Armenian border.
Archaeological Site of Philippi (Greece) – in north-eastern Greece.
Gorham’s Cave Complex (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – the site is in Gibraltar.
Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – 28 sites located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, western Serbia, western Montenegro and central and southern Croatia.

Antequera Dolmens by Feli Garcia

In other parts of the world, the new (nominated in 2016) World Heritage Sites are:

Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites (Antigua and Barbuda)
Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) at Nalanda, Bihar (India)
Archipiélago de Revillagigedo (Mexico)
Ennedi Massif: Natural and Cultural Landscape (Chad)
Hubei Shennongjia (China)
Khangchendzonga National Park (India)
Lut Desert (Iran (Islamic Republic of))
Mistaken Point (Canada)
Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Micronesia (Federated States of))
Pampulha Modern Ensemble (Brazil)
Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park (Sudan)
The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities (Iraq)
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (Argentina)
The Persian Qanat (Iran (Islamic Republic of))
Western Tien-Shan (Kazakhstan) *
Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape (China)

To be included on the Unesco World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. The ten criteria are:

1) to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
2) to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
3) to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
4) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
5) to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
6) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance;
7) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
8) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
9) to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
10) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Unlimited streaming of ebooks, magazines, music and movies from Cstream in France

2016-10-08

We are used to getting our daily dose of television from broadcast networks, music from radio or Spotify, and books from a bookstore. Since media has become digital and is conveniently available on the Internet, content could be made available to us from one source. It is convenient and easy because we only need to login once and that’s it – movies, music, books and magazines are are right there on our tablet, smartphone and computer screen.

The first services that bundle many types of media into one package have been launched this year (2016). Cstream and Playster are the pioneers in bundling different types of digital media streaming services into one package.
cstream, product
The recently opened Cstream is a French service whose product selection consists of French content. The books, music and movies may originally come from Great Britain, Germany, U.S., or anywhere else, but these are the French versions of those products. Cstream offers ebooks, magazines, movies and music. The price per month is 9.99 euros. It is very aggressive price level compared to Playster or to services that provide single content type only, like Kindle Unlimited or Spotify.

Playster was launched before Cstream, and it has rapidly expanded outside its home market the U.S. to other countries. In Europe, where available, Playster is priced at 25.95 euros per month for a bundle of music, movies, ebooks and games. The price slightly varies depending on the country where the subscriber is located.

Book subscription services, such as 24 Symbols, Bookmate, Kindle Unlimited, or Scribd charge about 10 dollars or euros per month for ebooks only. Kindle Unlimited includes audiobooks as well. Scribd has capped the number of books available per month in specific genres.

Cstream is the best deal at the moment for French speaking digital media consumers. The product selection is not as generous as in single-media services, but should cover most people’s needs: 50 000 books, 30 magazines, millions of songs, 300 movies and 1000 shows for children.

Cstream can be accessed from a Windows PC, Mac, Android device, or Apple device.

Via Actualitté.
cstream, devices

Packing light for a trip is easier said than done – here are a few good tips

2016-10-04

Packing the right gear for a beach vacation or for skiing weekend on the mountains is very easy. You know exactly how the weather and the environment will be. The only question really is how many party outfits you want to pack in your suitcase.

If you are planning a weekend in London or Prague in the winter or spring, you have to be prepared for any kind of weather. Even tougher packing choices has to be made if you are going to tour, say, France in the spring or Sweden in the autumn.

Fortunately, experienced travellers from Splendid Asia have collected a number of good tips for packing for any trip like a pro.

Packing clothes, electronics and other things for a week or two week vacation is one thing but packing for one or two year trip as a digital nomad is completely something else. Assuming a nomad is flying between places where he or she stays for a few months at a time, everything has to fit in to two or three suitcases. If anyone has tips for packing for a nomad life, we would love to hear them.

pack light like a pro, infographic
Infographic by Splendid Asia.

Where travellers want to go and where they really end up in are two different things

2016-09-26

What we dream of doing and what we actually end up doing are often two different things in real life. Yet, dreaming and planning towards a goal is valuable because it may make us strive for something. This applies to travel as well: the travel destinations that people are most interested in are not the same as the destinations where they decide to travel.
Dubrovnik, Croatia. Port by Maarten Elings.
Top 10 countries where people across the world are interested in as a travel destination:

1. Croatia
2. Greece
3. Turkey
4. Thailand
5. Spain
6. Italy
7. Cuba
8. Portugal
9. Malta
10. United States

The top ten list was produced by Teflsearch that crunched the numbers of travel related Google searches for a whole year (July 2015 – July 2016). They used Google search data to analyse keywords people used in their online queries in 80 countries.

This is probably a good method to reveal what people are dreaming of when they start planning a vacation all the way to the moment when they have decided the destination. People are likely to use search engines in all stages of their vacation planning to find information about sights, activities and accommodation. Once the destination is locked, many travelers also download a travel guide that gives them accurate, reliable information on the chosen destination.

Although the most visited country in the world, France, is not on the top ten list at the moment (probably because of recent attacks in Paris and Nice), the majority of countries still are European. Turkey’s unstable situation may mean that the country drops considerably as a travel destination next time we review the top 10 list, and we expect United Kingdom to rise on the list.
bangkok, river boat tour, temple
The reality differs from dreams and plans. Here are the top 20 travel destinations in the world according to Mastercard:

1 Bangkok
2 London
3 Paris
4 Dubai
5 New York
6 Singapore
7 Kuala Lumpur
8 Istanbul
9 Tokyo
10 Seoul
11 Hong Kong
12 Barcelona
13 Amsterdam
14 Milan
15 Taipei
16 Rome
17 Osaka
18 Vienna
19 Shanghai
20 Prague

Business travel is included in the list, but it makes up around 9-19% of visitors in most of these destinations. In Paris, Tokyo, Milan and Shanghai, the ratio of business travelers is higher, from 20 to 54% in Shanghai.

The big news of the Mastercard 2016 list was that Bangkok topped the list as the most visited destination in the world, dropping London to second.

Instead of tiny islands and white beaches of Greece or sights and beaches of Croatia, the most popular destinations in real life are well-known major cities where probably every traveler wants to go at least once in their lives. Many cities in the top 20 also are favourite destinations for digital nomads.

Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet is so attractively priced that who needs a Kindle Oasis?

2016-09-14

It is kind of funny that Amazon has introduced an reader (Kindle Oasis) that has a greyscale six-inch display and costs more than $250, and at the same the company markets Fire tablets with color screens that let you do more and cost less than Kindle ereaders. The Fire HD 8 tablet comes with pretty high resolution 8-inch color display, costs $90, lets you install apps, and consult Alexa. Which one to choose: an ereader or tablet?
amazon fire hd 8, girl reading
The size increase from six inches (typical ereader size) or seven inches (typical small tablet size) to a tablet or ereader with eight-inch screen gives you more than you might expect. That is one of the reasons the Kobo Aura One has been favorably reviewed: people simply like its larger 7.8-inch display.

If you read a lot of ebooks (more than a book a week), an ereader is a better choice. An ereader is also better choice if you are easily distracted away from a book you are supposed to read.

Tablet is a good choice for ebook lovers who read and view books with images, tables and charts. This is where color display and larger screen really help to present and absorb information.
amazon fire hd 8, 3 tablet colors
The highlights of the Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet are that it has a 8-inch color display in 1280×800 resolution (pretty good), it has a microSD memory card slot for extra storage space (you will need it), and it is priced at $90. It will also be integrated with Alexa system, so that you can speak your commands and Alexa will speak to you as well.

Here is Amazon’s introduction video to the Fire HD 8 tablet with Alexa:

Amazon Fire HD 8 key features and specifications

– 8-inch touch screen; 1280 x 800 resolution at 189 ppi.
– HD video playback, with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and advanced polarizing filter.
– Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.0 x 0.4 inches (214 mm x 128 mm x 9.2 mm)
– Weight 12.0 ounces (341 grams).
– Quad-Core: 1.3 GHz CPU.
– 1.5 GB of RAM
– 16 GB (11.1 GB available to user) or 32 GB (25.3 GB available to user) of internal storage.
– microSD card for more storage (card not included).
– Battery Life: up to 12 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music.
– Wi-Fi for connecting to public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the dual-band 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
– File formats: Kindle (AZW), KF8, TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible Enhanced format (AAX), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, PCM/WAVE, OGG, WAV, M4V, MP4, AAC LC/LTP, HE-AACv1, HE-AACv2, MKV, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, HTML5, CSS3, 3GP, VP8 (WEBM)
– 2.0 megapixel camera at the back, 640×320 pixel camera on front panel.
– Location-based services via Wi-Fi
– Colors: Black, Magenta, Blue, Tangerine
– External volume controls.
– USB 2.0 port with micro-B connector.
– Bluetooth (A2DP compatible for stereo headphones)
– 3.5mm stereo jack for audio.
– Speaker.
– Microphone.
– Screen Reader, Explore by Touch, and Screen Magnifier, enabling access to the vast majority of Fire tablet features.
– Adjustable font sizes/color, and built-in Oxford dictionary.
– USB 2.0 cable, 5W power adapter, and Quick Start Guide included in the product box.