Category Archives: Internet

The world’s 10 best travel apps



Follow the path of thousands of international flights on slick, zoomable maps, with detailed information on departure gates, delays and (heaven forbid) cancellations. Great for those anticipating the arrival of loved ones, or particularly nerdy train-spotters looking to up their game.


An intuitive app offering weather reports for well over two million geographical locations, feeding in everything from cloud formations and atmospheric pressure to wind speed and humidity, all in enough detail to leave Michael Fish clammy-palmed with excitement. It’s also accurate to the point of clairvoyance, so if you’re travelling to Berlin and it predicts rain, pack your best umbrella.


Stripping away the glossy magnificence ladled on by just about every online travel agency out there, this is the place to find brutally honest reviews of hotels, restaurants, attractions and more. The user-base is notoriously hard to please, so be warned that you’ll most likely find exclamation mark strewn rants next to your favourite spots. Still, on the flip side, touch down in a strange city with nowhere to stay and you’ll only ever be a few prods away from the warts-and-all opinions of travellers just like you.

Wi-Fi Finder

With data roaming charges still laughably high, knowing where to find a decent wi-fi hotspot is essential if you’re to keep the twitterati up to date with details of your latest sojourn. No need to charge through the city waving your handset around like a fly-swatter, though – simply fire up this handy app and follow directions to your nearest source of wireless internet. Best of all, the offline mode means you can download maps before you go, thereby dodging a massive bill.


Anyone who’s ever accidentally downloaded a large email while on holiday will attest to the ridiculousness of data roaming charges, and though there’s no indication from the networks that they’re working on putting things right, there are measures you can take to avoid an end-of-month sting. Once installed, this app drastically reduces the amount of data required to perform everyday tasks, such as retrieving email and posting to Facebook. We’re not entirely sure how it manages such a feat – we just know that it works and we’re not about to complain.


Currently in a phase of invite-only beta (have a sniff around forums for a free invite) this is Google’s experimental take on a massive, crowd-sourced travel guide. As tech mash-ups go, it’s fairly straightforward: users leave recommendations for things to do in their city, which visitors can then add to a to-do list and check off as they go. Given the app’s youth, content is fairly sparse outside of the US at the moment, but should you find yourself on a business trip to Chicago with a couple of hours to kill, it’s a reliable

Google Goggles

Stumbled across an important looking building? Want to know more but fear striking up conversation with the locals? Fire up this bad boy, direct your phone’s camera lens at the source of your befuddlement and – as long as what you’re pointing at is famous enough – it’ll return relevant Wikipedia articles filling you in with everything you need to know. After a slow start, recent updates have seen the app’s recognition mechanic and database become really rather impressive, meaning that if it draws a blank, it’s probably just a nice-looking car park.


Though it shot to fame as a social networking tool, this location-based app has become a godsend for curious travellers. The way it works is simple – fire up the app when you arrive at any given place (everything from restaurants to churches are listed) and you’ll see a list of tips from those who’ve been before you (‘try the cheeseburger’, ‘arrive by 9am for a good pew’, etc.). Check in regularly enough and you’ll claim virtual mayorship of that particular venue, with some venues even offering perks (a free pint, discounts, and so on) when you claim the crown.

Time Out city guides

Our apologies for the somewhat self-important trumpet-blowing, but we just couldn’t let you go without a little cheeky reminder about our own fleet of painstakingly researched, expertly written travel apps. There are editions for more than 20 of the world’s biggest cities, each stuffed with comprehensive insights into the finest restaurants, bars, shows and exhibitions on Earth. Best of all, each and every one of these indispensible digital marvels is absolutely free. What can we say – we’ve got big hearts.

Better Translator Pro

The best-rated translation app on Android, and for good reason. More than 50 languages are supported in text-to-text mode, while an impressive 11 work with the app’s voice recognition function. As for accuracy, it’s plugged in to both Google and Bing’s translation services, meaning results are very rarely nonsensical. Don’t expect to be bantering the night away with the natives or anything, but it ought to at least mean the end of ineptly miming ‘ou est la gare?’

IFTTT to add a new channel for the Revolv smart home hub

Adding to it’s steadily-growing list of connected home devices, the popular web-based automation service If This Then That (IFTTT) is reportedly on the cusp of releasing a new channel for the Revolv smart home hub — a move that will greatly expand the possibilities of both Revolv and IFTTT.

For the uninitiated, IFTTT allows you to connect physical devices (things like lights, your phone, or even your car) to digital services like email, social media, and various other webapps. It also lets you connect physical devices to other physical devices via the Internet, so you can do nifty things like automatically turn on a lamp when your WeMo motion detector senses movement, or have your connected air conditioner flip on when you open a door.

Revolv performs a similar function. The hub boasts seven different radios under its hood and can therefore understand practically every major home automation protocol in the biz. This makes it possible for users to link otherwise incompatible smart devices together (a Z-Wave light bulb and a Bluetooth door lock, for example) and control them all from one centralized location.

Therefore, while IFTTT’s new Revolv channel is technically just for one device, it will presumably act as a gateway for hundreds of different gizmos that aren’t directly supported by IFTTT. In other words, although IFTTT doesn’t have a dedicated Sonos channel, you’ll be able to use the Revolv channel to link your Sonos speakers to, say, your Facebook account or favorite RSS feed. This new channel will essentially fling the doors of possibility wide open for both platforms.

Revolv tells us the IFTTT integration is set to go live before the end of the month.

Ice Bucket Challenge stirs controversy in China


The “Ice Bucket Challenge” ─ meant to raise funds for research into a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ─ has come to China, only to raise controversy.

Lei Jun, founder of fast-growing smartphone maker Beijing Xiaomi Technology, said Monday on his Weibo microblogging account that he had accepted a “nomination” for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, becoming one of the first Chinese nationals to have a bucket of ice water poured onto his head to raise awareness of the disease.

The challenge involves a participant choosing between dousing themselves with ice water and making a small donation to the ALS Association or else opting out of the water and making a larger donation instead.

Lei announced Sunday that he would perform the challenge the next day and invited the public to offer suggestions of whom he should nominate to be the next three participants.

But Lei’s move was apparently preempted by Peter Yijia Liu, founder of handset maker Oneplus Tech, who said he had initiated his own ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, uploading a video on Weibo of him pouring a bucket of ice water onto his head. Liu nominated three other participants from the Internet industry, including Zhou Hongyi, chairman of 360 Technology.

But both Lei and Liu came in for criticism on social media, as some commentators accused the pair of indulging in a marketing exercise rather than trying to help find a cure for ALS.

Some said Liu’s dumping water on his head was merely “for his own amusement.”

Likewise, Victor Koo ─ founder of the YouTube-like website ─ performed a toned-down version of the challenge by pouring two cups of water on his head at the opening ceremony of a local video festival. This too drew criticism, with some calling the move a meaningless gesture as Koo mentioned ALS in subsequent posting on Weibo but failed to explain what it was.

A report Tuesday in the Beijing Times newspaper offered some mild criticism of the stunts. It quoted yet another industry executive ─ iiMedia Research Group Chief Executive Zhang Yi ─ as saying: “Charity is a long-term and continuous thing. Just keep your mind on it. There is no need to hype it up.”

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge lends positive attention to serious disease


Lou Gehrig  would have gotten a great laugh at all the ‘ice bucket challenge’ and attention that took his life. The New York Yankee legend became a popular figure head for ALS after being diagnosed with the disease in 1941, just shy of 38 years old. Describing himself as the ‘luckiest man alive’ after being diagnosed with ALS, Gehrig gave his remaining years, post voluntary retirement, to bring awareness to ALS. Many people do not realize the seriousness and need to draw attention to this debilitating neurological disease and the much needed help to find a cure for the over 5,000 plus victims diagnosed annually in the U.S.

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a motor neuron disease, neurodegenerative disease

A=No. Myo = Muscle. Trophic = Nourishment

When a ‘muscle’ has no nourishment, it atrophies or wastes away. The progression and process of ALS slowly debilitates the connection between the brain and spinal cord, which work cohesively to communicate to the ‘voluntary muscles’ throughout the body. As ALS progresses, the muscle communication declines eventually resulting in paralysis. Muscle ‘atrophy’ and become smaller, weaker as the nutrition to the muscles declines.

“The body has many kinds of nerves. There are those involved in the process of thinking, memory, and of detecting sensations (such as hot/cold, sharp/dull), and others for vision, hearing, and other bodily functions. The nerves that are affected when you have ALS are the motor neurons that provide voluntary movements and muscle power. Examples of voluntary movements are your making the effort to reach for the phone or step off a curb; these actions are controlled by the muscles in the arms and legs.

The heart and the digestive system are also made of muscle but a different kind, and their movements are not under voluntary control. When your heart beats or a meal is digested, it all happens automatically. Therefore, the heart and digestive system are not involved in ALS. Breathing also may seem to be involuntary. Remember, though, while you cannot stop your heart, you can hold your breath – so be aware that ALS may eventually have an impact on breathing.

The heart and lungs are referred to as ‘involuntary muscles’, thus the reason why they can continue to function with ALS.

What causes ALS?

Chromosome 21 – There is a possible genetic link in defect of chromosome 21, where the condition reoccurs in 20% of families and 2% overall.

Environmental exposure may be linked to ALS

Many factors may be attributed to ALS

What treatment is available for ALS?

Currently, the FDA has approved ‘Riluzole’ to treat ALS, delaying the progression of the disease. Devices and therapy are also used to help treat ALS.

To learn more about ALS visit ALSA’s website at

To take the ‘ice bucket challenge’ fill a bucket with icy, cold water, get a friend (or enemy who needs to get you back….) and have another friend/family member record you taking the challenge. Send out your recorded ice bucket challenge to all your friends via social media and challenge them (or call out individual names) to take the challenge, too! It’s ‘clean’ fun for a good cause!

China blocks Line, Kakao Talk to counter terrorism, S. Korea reports


Since the first day of July, the messaging apps started to have disrupted services which have caught the attention of the ICT, Ministry of Science, and Future Planning in Seoul.

Kakao Talk and Line are just two of the popular apps in Asian markets such as China and India. Kakao Talk is operated by the South Korean based Kakao Corp whereas Line is under a Japanese subsidiary of Naver, South Korea’s biggest portal.

The reason behind the issue is now being investigated. China explained that some foreign messaging apps had been blocked, believing that the apps are used as channels for circulating terrorism-related information. These would include planning the attacks or spreading some details on how to make bombs. Apart from the apps, terrorists would also use video websites for their channels.

Lee Jin-Gyu, director of the Internet Policy unit, told reporters that “The ministry will continue negotiations with Chinese authorities so that users’ inconveniences be resolved at the earliest possible date.” He added that apart from Kakao Talk and Line, other foreign messaging services were also affected such as Vower, TalkBox, and Didi.

China itself has a main messaging app which, interestingly, is spared from suffering disrupted services. Dubbed as Weixin which is the sibling of WeChat, the service still operates normally even though it can also be a channel that can be used by terrorists to exchange information. However, Chinese internet company Tencent works round the clock to clean up messages and save itself from getting into trouble with the Chinese government.

A spokeswoman at Kakao Corp said that service disruptions continued while a spokesman at Naver Corp said he had been notified of the blockage. Both have declined to give further comments.

China is known as one of those countries that places tight control over the Internet. The government occasionally schedules its internet blocks as soon as it notices any signs of dissent or challenges to the Communist Party. It has already blocked access to several websites that include Twitter and YouTube using a blocking system known as the “Great Firewall.” The government tightens its restrictions on certain dates which are believed to be sensitive.

KakaoTalk and Line aren’t the only affected online services that have a disabled access to Chinese users. Currently, Yahoo’s Flickr and Microsoft’s OneDrive are inaccessible as well. On the other hand, Viber, which is another popular mobile messenger, seemed to be running normally.

LeTV teams up with domestic production houses


Online video streaming website LeTV announced partnerships with several domestic production houses and TV presenters in an effort to beef up video content and attract more viewers.

Taiwanese TV anchor and producer Jacky Wu joined a number of TV variety show producers who will be providing exclusive programs for LeTV in the next few years.

LeTV Chief Operating Officer Gao Fei said at a media briefing yesterday that it will focus more on short videos that are easier for viewers to watch on the go.

Demand for short video clips is picking up due to higher mobile data connection speeds and the popularity of smartphones and mobile devices.

It will also provide self-produced variety shows.

Last year, LeTV unveiled its first TV set, following other Internet companies into the hardware market.

China’s online video sites are expanding into producing their own content as they are no longer satisfied with just being a distribution channel for TV series and movies.

E-commerce giant Alibaba Group last month completed the takeover of Hong Kong-listed film production company ChinaVision Media.