My apologies for missing last month’s meeting and not making arrangements to have someone cover for me. It was on my list of things to do before I went on vacation but, when I returned from my trip, I discovered I hadn’t sent an email to let people know.
It was a very hot summer night tonight but cool inside. There were three iPads and three iTunes $25 gift cards in the raffle. The odds were good as we had a small crowd tonight. Ken was showing some Tesla information on the screen as we waited, a map for a trip to Salem, Oregon, with the charging stations located. He had a few suitcases and other travel gear at the front table as props for his talk tonight on travel and tech. He was also showing some of his photos from his travels including Yellowstone and Yosemite.
There was not much in Apple news except for the rumors of a 16” MacBook Pro and, as it is every year, new iPhone expected in September. We had one new member tonight — Bev — who had seen the topic tonight on the website and joined as a member at the meeting. Welcome, Bev.
In Tech Q & A, a member had a Apple Time Capsule (the tall one) that was making a lot of fan noise and they were asking if it was time to replace it. Ken suggested getting a new external drive (on the way home) and starting a Time Machine backup with it. That way, if it was an impending failure of the hard drive in the Time Capsule, there would be a backup. The tall Time Capsule is a router that contains a hard drive. If the hard drive fails, it could still continue to be used as a router. A hint from Ken: If you do need to replace a router on your home network, give the new one the same name and password as your old one; your devices should continue to work without problems.
A member asked about the uninstall program that was on on her computer as part of a Quicken update to fully cleanup the previous version of Quicken. Usually just deleting a program gets rid of most of the program, but some companies like Microsoft install bits and pieces in a variety of places on your computer. Uninstall programs can delete those bits and pieces but typically you will not need one. (Ed note: Big companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Quicken include uninstall apps to give users a clean switch and/or delete of software and save themselves lots of customer trouble contacts. Use of these is highly recommended.)
There is a MacBook Pro 15” recall for possible battery failure. You can check here https://support.apple.com/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall to see if your computer is affected.
Apple will be releasing a new operating system for iPhones (iOS 13) and the iPad version of it sometime in September. The new macOS Catalina (10.15) may be out around the same time. Ken, as usual, is cautious about installing a new operating system when it first comes out. Apple does the best it can to discover any bugs but it can take millions of people using the system to discover some. One thing that will happen with the new macOS is that any programs you have that are 32 bit will no longer work. You can check what programs you may have that will be affected by this by going to the Apple menu > About this Mac > System Reports > Applications and then click on the header of the last column (64 bit Intel) to sort the list of programs. If it says No for the program, it will not work with the new operating system Catalina. (Ed note: The free app Go64 does a complete check and contains links to all of the app’s websites; download it from https://www.stclairsoft.com/Go64/).
Ken showed a hardware/app combination that will do a six lead EKG. The product is from Alivecor (https://www.alivecor.com) which made one of the first devices to do an EKG using your iPhone. They now will be making a device the Kardia Mobile 6L (https://www.alivecor.com/kardiamobile6l/ ) for $149 that will do a six lead EKG using their small hardware and their app on your iPhone. A few years ago, Ken had the older version of the device and was able, when he woke up at 5:30 AM with his heart beating quickly, to determine the he might have A-Fib. After packing up all the necessary supplies, iPhone chargers, etc. he drove himself to Urgent Care who sent him to the hospital. When they came to do a full EKG, Ken showed them the Kardia device and had several of the nurses tell him that they know someone who could use it. They did confirm Ken’s A-Fib and watched over him until he “converted” (stopped having symptoms). Ken still carries his Kardia with him and has had other friends using it get similar warnings. The Apple Watch series 4 can do a single lead EKG and can give you similar warnings. Both the Apple watch and the Kardia device save records to the iPhone so your doctor can study them to see how things developed.
In the volunteer raffle (called the Dick Warner volunteer raffle by Ken; Dick has won almost every other month), Carol Becker won the $25 iTunes gift card.
Ken started his talk with a quote from Ibn Battuta “Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns your into a storyteller.” This was one of many travel quotes Ken showed tonight. One of his favorites is the key to living a long life is to always have three trips planned; you will stick around to complete that third trip. Ken also had one of his quotes “You can’t go forward by looking over your shoulder.”
Travel hints from Ken experience:
Flights: Google Flights (https://www.google.com/flights?hl=en#flt=/m/07bcn..2019-08-09*./m/07bcn.2019-08-13;c:USD;e:1;ls:1w;sd:0;t:h ) is the best place Ken has found to research flights and booking. Most airlines are listed (They list Southwest but don’t book flights with them). You can check one way flights, round trip flights or multi stop flights on the site. When searching, your can list up to seven airports. There is an explore destination feature which will let you check fares to various cites using a map once you have entered a departure airport. Fun if you are just looking for somewhere new to explore. It can also tell when a cheaper flight might be available if you are flexible on your dates. Ken has all his reservations go to his Google email address so he can always find the details if he needs them.
Mail Delivery: Ken has signed up for “Informed Delivery” from the US Postal Service. This sends an email with images of the mail that you will be receiving. Good to check to see if a bit has arrived while you were gone. You can also put a hold on your mail online once you have signed up.
TSA: Both TSA Pre and Global Entry got rave reviews from the members tonight. Both programs make you a trusted traveler. You enter your ID number with the airlines and they will mark your ticket with Pre. TSA Pre costs $85 for five years and you can do the sign up process in Sacramento. When available, it gets you through domestic security faster without having to take off shoes or getting out your quart bag of liquid items. Global Entry got an even better response from those members that have it. It cost $100 for five years, and gives you TSA Pre. The appointment process for this area is in San Francisco and the lead time is about six months. It allows you, when returning from an international flight, to go to the Global Entry area where you use your passport and finger prints to fill out the customs form and get a receipt you just show to the agents to leave rather than waiting in line. It once saved Ken an hour and a half in Vancouver (which has US sovereign territory in the airport so you can clear customs there). They have a program where, if you have completed all the pre-appointment paperwork, you can do the interview when you return to the US on your flight home.
Passport: You can get a passport at some locations in the Sacramento/Roseville area. Ken suggested getting a passport card when you get your passport. They can be used for cruises and other travel and you can leave them at a hotel if the hotel needs to have your passport. Ken always has a photo of his passport and drivers license on his phone in case they get lost or stolen, along with a PDF copy of his itinerary in the Books app.
Travel Insurance: It is usually cheaper to buy travel insurance for a year than do it per trip. Ken has links to travel insurance sites he has used and noted that you should study what is covered before selecting a plan. He currently gets his travel insurance through his Chase Sapphire Card. The card has a fee of $450/year but they refund the first $300 when you charge for travel on it and you can save the cost of travel insurance in addition to that.
Getting Cash: Ken suggested getting a Schwab checking account with a debit card. You can use it to get cash at an ATM and Schwab will waive any ATM fees and they have no transaction fees. When getting cash, get the native currency. Typically, you will save on exchange fees. This holds true for purchases with your credit card.
Seating on the Plane: Check out or get the Seat Guru app. You enter your flight information and it will show you the seating arrangement and indicate which are the better or worse seats. Ken preference is a window seat at the back of the plane. People will tend to fill up the middle seats towards the front before they fill the seats in the back and Ken often ends up with an empty seat next to him.
Housing: Ken is the president of a local ski club and was looking for housing for 20 plus people. Using Home Away or VBRO, he was able to find multi-million dollar homes for rent where they were going for about $150/night for each person. AirBNB can locate rooms in someone’s house if that is all you need.
Travel Gear: First up was the Osprey Meridian — a wheeled suitcase which comes with back pack straps built in(https://www.osprey.com/us/en/product/meridian-75l-28-MERIDN28_563.html). It also has a detachable small pack that you can use as your carry on bag. IKEA has a suitcase that folds flat so you can pack it and have something for the extras you pick up while traveling. When selecting a back pack for travel Ken suggested getting one with water bottle pockets on the sides. Ken has a ScottieVest vest( https://www.scottevest.com ) that he travels with. Almost all of his devices and travel documents go into the zippered pockets and he just puts it in a bin when he goes through security.
For rainy places or in case of rain, he has a Terra Hiker Rain Poncho (available on Amazon) which he carries that is lightweight, folds up and is big enough to fit over his backpack. He keeps one in his car as well as his suitcase. A lightweight travel umbrella is handy for rain or shade. There was a fabric belt with plastic buckle that you don’t have to take off when going through TSA. His has a pocket on the inside that he can put money in. Collapsible water bottles are handy; you can fill them once you pass security and avoid the $5 water bottles. Ken showed us several protective covers for his iPhone including a waterproof case. He often hangs the phone around his neck with strap. The waterproof case has a float on the handle just in case it slips out when being used. Neck pouches are handy for things like ski passes that need to be visible but are awkward to hold on to. A whistle is a good thing to carry, if you get lost or left behind it is easy to hear even in crowded areas.
Odds and Ends: To avoid some health problems, Ken suggested keeping you nose moist with with a saline gel (Ayr) is one brand or with vaseline. Sanitizing wipes are good to have to clean surfaces like the seat tray. Ken keeps his pills in a pill organizer which is either in a ziplock bag or wrap with plastic wrap to ensure the pills don’t get scattered.
T-Mobile has the best plans for international travel. Your phone will work in large number of countries, your data is covered and calls are only $0.26 if not free.
Ken suggested taking along a walking stick or two. As we get older, our balance and reflexes aren’t what they used to be and falling can really put a damper on your travel. The walking stick gives you a reference to indicate if you are losing you balance and a brace when needed. Ken uses adjustable ones, shorter when going up hill longer when coming down. His can be used to support a camera also. He carries a Job Gorilla pod (https://joby.com/us-en/gorillapod-flexible-camera-tripods/ ) travel tripod which is adjustable to support a camera on a wide variety of objects.
Entertainment: Netflix and Amazon Prime let you download movies or shows to watch on your iPad or iPhone when you travel. Taking along a battery that can charge your iPad/iPhone on a long flight is a good idea. Having a travel charger (Ken likes the Anker brand) and an outlet adapter for the countries you are visiting for your devices is vital. Ken carries a small extension cord as outlet can be difficult to reach at times.
Rental Cars: Always take pictures before and after the rental period. Many credit cards offer primary insurance for rental cars. Uber is international and Ken has found that, in many places, the app will indicate whether drivers are English speaking.
GyPsy Guide: On road trips, Ken highly recommended GyPsy Guide ( https://gypsyguide.com ) which gives you audio tours of places especially National Parks. Ken had discovers some small turnouts with good photo ops in Yosemite using the app that he did not know about even after going to the park for many years. It uses you GPS to determine where you are and will alert you if it has some information to share. It uses a bluetooth connection to use your car speakers. It downloads the audio tours so no cellular connection is required.
Google Translate: Able to translate printed signs into English and can translate what you say into many languages. It has a conversation mode so you can converse with a non-English speaker if required. It can download language so it will work if you don’t have a cellular connection.
Ken has a PDF of the presentation tonight and a clickable PDF of links to the items in the presentation. You can find them on KenSpencer.com under the travel tab (http://kenspencer.com )
It was now time for the raffle. The iTune gift cards went quickly as we were running a little late (Ken won one but he was not pulling out the tickets so it was OK). The first two iPads went to Randy who is one of our ace ticket distributors at the meeting and the last iPad went to Carol who won the volunteer raffle tonight. A good night to be a volunteer. I look forward to seeing you at the next meeting and invite someone to check us out. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.