we have liftoff

lift offFinally. Technology became my friend again today. At least for the time being. I’ll be slow-rolling multiples posts over the next week or so to get caught up on the backlog. Hopefully you’ll agree a little binge viewing beats them coming at you in one fell swoop. If you’re a subscriber, you’ll get them via email as they’re published; if you’re not, just remember to scroll down and go back in time. And thanks for hanging in there, everyone – I can’t wait to get you up to date with my hike along the Inka Trail. But first … it’s back to Mexico.


slug meets bug (or, the iphone update rocks)



video: zen & the art of oysters


in the (hyper) loop


Entrepreneur Elon Musk is about to publish an “alpha design” for Hyperloop, an entirely new form of public transportation that is faster than the bullet train and potentially self-powering. Details are slim, but it’s clear that Musk (as always) has lofty ambitions. In the past he has described it as a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table,” although that says little of the underlying technology. In an interview last year, Musk described Hyperloop as the fifth major tent pole for modern transportation, placing it on a pedestal beside planes, trains, boats and automobiles. “This system I have in mind, how would you like something that can never crash, is immune to weather, it goes three or four times faster than the bullet train… it goes an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do,” he said. “You would go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes.” He later added that it was possible for Hyperloop to be self-powered using solar energy; it would therefore generate more power than it consumed in day-to-day use. Hyperloop sounds like a too-good-to-be-true scenario. But Musk’s track record with Tesla and SpaceX shows him perfectly capable of delivering on ideas which many people think are unfeasible. Musk added on Twitter that he would be looking for “critical feedback” and “improvements” for the initial design once it’s released to the world next month. Hyperloop might still shrouded in mystery, but it won’t be much longer before we know a lot more about Musk’s intentions. Planes, trains, automobiles: take notice.


live blog: this way to olympos

Named after the mainland mountain home of the gods of ancient Greece, Olympos is the most well-known village on Karpathos. A splash of white against an austere background, the rustic beauty of the place and its unique traditions have remained intact, turning the village into a defacto folklore museum. Despite the vagaries of progress and technology, its architecture has not changed much in decades and the people still dress in the traditional island style. (even the local dialect retains many archaic phrases and forms) How do they keep this balance? That I can tell you in one word.


why sopa should be stopped

apple, unveiled

Apple’s flagship 5th Avenue store finally emerged from its reconstructive shell yesterday morning. The iconic glass entrance to the subterranean shop got itself something of a modernist facelift. Where once there were 90 interlocking panes of glass there’s now just 15. It’s the Apple ethos distilled: spare, simple, and oh so elegant.


rick steves: virtual tour guide

For the past few years, Rick Steves’ Audio Walking Tours of Europe have been a big hit on iTunes, racking up more than 4 million downloads. And podcasts of his Travel with Rick Steves radio show have reached an even wider audience online than the one broadcast over the airwaves. Rick Steves’ Audio Europe, a smart new app designed for iPhone, iPad, or Android, organizes all of this free content so you can easily access information that relates to your individual travel plans. Unlike most travel apps on the market, it also works offline. So once you’ve downloaded a selection of files, they’re saved on the device and an internet connection is no longer needed – saving you the cost of pricey European data charges or the hassle of finding a good WiFi connection. Handy PDF maps that complement the app’s audio tours can be also viewed on the device or printed from a computer beforehand.

At the heart of the app is Steves’ series of 25 self-guided audio tours through some of Europe’s most important museums, sights and historic walks, plus 200 tracks of travel tips and cultural insights from his radio shows. The simple and intuitive interface is unique because you can download and play not only audio files but also guided audio tours segmented by chapters with photos. It all sinks in more deeply and fluidly with Rick’s voice keeping your eyes focused on the surrounding sights, too, instead of buried in the crook of a guidebook. Best of all, it comes in the trustworthy voice of everyone’s favorite public television travel geek.  And it’s free.


iPad wars

Is the iPad really going to save the publishing world?  According to Wooden Horse, as of this week it hadn’t:

“While USA Today and New York Times claimed downloads in the three hundred thousands, and Wall Street Journal a hundred thousand less, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when readers have to pony up real money (WSJ is free to current subscribers and the other two totally free.)

Lucia Moses at mediaweek.com reports that magazine publishers Time Inc. and Rodale aren’t talking – but let’s hear it for the geeks: Bonnier’s Popular Science announced they had 22,000 downloads of its April issue.  At $4.99 a click, total sales would be nearly $110,000.

But the iPad wars are heating up.  There are a long string of tablet gadgets either already here or coming, including Hewlett-Packard’s Palm-based “Hurricane,” the Dell “Looking Glass” and a likely “companion” device from BlackBerry.

And Google seems to be out to break Apple’s stranglehold on download sales — Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated are already onboard.  According to Media Memo, SI Editor Terry McDonell showed off a digital version of the magazine at Google’s I/O developer conference this week.  Readers would purchase this one from a Google app store, not the Apple iTunes.  “It’s potentially a big deal,” writes Peter Kafka at Media Memo.  “It opens up a much wider audience for the company’s publications, since they should work on any device that supports Google’s Chrome browser.  Just as important, it gives Time Inc another vendor to work with, one that might be willing to grant it concessions Apple won’t – like control over subscriber information, perhaps.”


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