Kayak love

Not the canoe boat thing. No, I’m talking about the website and especially the app.

Kayak isn’t new. Even I have been using it for years. I don’t travel overseas often, but when I do, it’s indispensable and thus, it remains one of my favourite apps.

You can use it to book cheap flights and hotels, but then travelstart is probably the best local option for that. You can use it to track flights, but you’d probably want to go down the flightradar24 route for that.

So why Kayak? Because its biggest strength is that it is particularly brilliant at compiling your itinerary, and it has a genius way of doing it. Each time you get a confirmation email from your airline, your car hire place, your ferry, your hotel or your train company (or whatever), simply forward it to kayak and they put everything together in a handy little virtual pack for you.
You can see the bare bones of this at a glance (flight numbers, times etc) and then with a single click, you can get the detail (seat numbers etc). It even stores the original email for you to refer back to if you need to.
Oh – and you can share the itinerary, either as a read-only or a collaborative editable file.

So simple. So brilliant.

One last thing – a really nice touch on the latest update is the app background changing to a photo of your destination. Suddenly, I’ve got Tinsley Viaduct and those infamous cooling towers on my phone and it’s piquing my excitement to head to the frozen North.

I used Wumdrop and it worked very well

Not a sponsored post. Not even a “please will you let people know how it went for you if it went well for you” post.
Just to tell you that I used Wumdrop yesterday and it worked very well.

I’d describe Wumdrop as a short-range courier service based in Cape Town, shipping things all over the CBD and surrounding suburbs. They’d describe themselves as:

…an on demand courier service that lets you send anything to anyone over small distances in a small amount of time, for small money via mobile app, website, or ecommerce checkout.

I wasn’t far off, was I?

I don’t actually need to ship things all over the CBD very often, but yesterday, at short notice, I did. I could have driven in, but it was already 3.15, I had many things to do in the lab, and I didn’t want to sit in the infamous Cape Town traffic.
I’d be quite happy to pay someone else to do it for me though. Suffer, little children.

I signed up, logged in and booked the shipment online. It wasn’t difficult. Within about 45 minutes, Justin had arrived, bringing with him a friendly smile, a can-do attitude and loads of hair. He took the package from me and delivered it to the address in the CBD as I requested. I was kept informed via SMS the whole time.

Simples.

This shipment would have cost me the princely sum of R47, but I got it for free under their introductory “Swagtober” offer [nomenclature requires attention].
As I say, I don’t have to ship things around the CBD very often, but you might need to, and if you do, Wumdrop seem to be the go to service for that.

Wumdrop.com

Oh, and also, they’re launching in Sandton soon and Stellies soon after that.

Waze’s World Cup nods

I’m a regular Wazer these days and I’m finding it more and more useful as more and more people join up. Not so much for the rush hour traffic, but it’s proven its worth on journeys back from Agulhas and also for avoiding those unexpected delays caused by stuff like roadworks and accidents.

Anyway, for no apparent reason other than the sheer joy of the World Cup, Waze has given us a couple of nice little touches this week:

image          image

Firstly, the Ready to go? screen now comes with striking Brazilian gold and green colouring and a football to boot (pun intended). And then there’s the option to change your Waze icon to show your support for your chosen team. This seemed to work well for a couple of days – I even saw a Ecuador fan on the Main Road in Kenilworth – but now many of the icons seem to have been replaced with giant footballs.
I’m not sure why this has happened, but it is quite cool to see a multitude of 1980-style footballs making their way around Cape Town.

If you want to join in the fun (and avoid the traffic) download Waze free from Google Play Store.

Google Calendar for 2014 World Cup Fixtures

Here’s a really easy way of getting all the fixtures for Brazil 2014 into your Google Calendar – get someone else to do it for you! Fortunately, there are nice people out there who have put the whole tournament into Google Calendar format and so all you have to do is to go to the site in question and click one little button.

As per TheAtlantic.com:

  • If you use Google, go to this site, then hit the little button in the lower right hand corner. It shows up on your calendar, but you can toggle it on and off in the left pane of Google Calendar.
  • If you use the iPhone Calendar app, download this .ics file, then click on it. It’ll bring up a dialog box asking where you want to put all the events. You probably want to add the games to their own new calendar.

DON’T WORRY if the times seem wrong (for example, that top link initially displays them in BST (London) time).
When you import them into your calendar, they will magically transmogrify into your local time zone (or whatever time zone you choose to have your calendar set for).

If you’re on Android, can I once again recommend FotMob for all your World Cup and further football enjoyment? It’s getting better and better and better.

Happy footballing!

Swiftkey now free

SwiftKey is a fast, intuitive way to input text onto your smartphone and, for me, just pips Swype when learning what I want to say and how I want to say it.
However, the one issue with SwiftKey has always been that while it’s good, it’s also not free. Sure, it’s only $4, but given that there are decent alternatives out there, gratis, it’s some indication of its power and usability that people go out (or stay home – this is online stuff, after all) and choose buy it.

But from now on, SwiftKey is going to be free.
Why? Because (according to its inventors):

We’ve come an incredibly long way these past six years, from two university friends with an ambitious idea, to becoming the global best-selling app on Google Play the past two years running. We founded SwiftKey to make it easier for everyone to create and communicate on their mobile devices, and as a company we’re working hard to reach that goal.

This is why today we are making SwiftKey free. We believe this change is the best way to achieve our global vision for SwiftKey, as we can now reach many more people around the world without price as a barrier.

Alternatively, of course, it could be that:

…in SwiftKey’s case, it [could] help it in going head-to-head with similar, free technology that Apple will soon offer to iPhone users.

But I think it’s more likely that they just want the people of the world to talk to one another, right?

All of us who have previously paid for the app got this email:

To say thanks for your support as a paid SwiftKey user, we’re giving you a ‘Premier Pack’ of 10 new premium themes worth $4.99 for free! 

Yeah, whatevs, themes-schmemes, but it’s a decent gesture, I guess. Note that I was happy to pay $4 just to be able to use the app, so I’m not really put out by this.

SwiftKey is cool, and now it’s free, so go and get it on Play Store.