Every time I visit ebay’s website I click My eBay at the top right looking for the log in link. One of these days maybe I’ll remember it’s on the left, but would it be such a bad thing to add it to the My eBay menu too?  I mean, this menu is showing me all the things I can do on my account, except log in?  <scratches head>

Bad eBay signin 2015-11-13 Read more

I recently needed to contact an ebay seller with a photo, illustrating a problem with an item I purchased. When I uploaded the photo this popup appeared, and I really liked the plain language letting me know other people might be looking at it. This serves both to give me a chance to censor any photo that might show private things like me, my kids, home, etc. –  and also as a general reminder to people that the internet isn’t private and we need to be mindful.

I wish there were more little notes like these when we post stuff in places we assume to be private.

Ebay good warning message

As a freelancer in the tech field, I maintain an active profile on Dice.com so recruiters can find me.  I am not a regular Dice user, only logging in once every few weeks or months when I am actively looking for work or to periodically update my listed skills, profile details or uploaded resume file (via my laptop).

Whenever I return after some time away I have to re-discover how to access my profiles. Only when I start to have trouble do I remember there is something tricky about the site- but I still have to go through the frustration and pain of figuring it out all over again.  I’d be interested to know if other users have this problem.

Thought I’d quickly break down my problem and offer some suggestions to Dice.

Here is my experience Read more

This is just a quick post to share the excitement of my first 3D printout from Shapeways. This was just an experiment to try the process of digitizing a clay sculpture and getting the print.  I’m not quite happy with the results and am still learning, so once I feel more comfortable about that I’ll go into detail of the process in another post. The material is plastic, btw.

face front  face side

Here it is next to the clay original:

2 faces front

Screenshot_2015-03-25-21-54-36Upon arrival at the airport in Delhi I bought a Vodaphone SIM card for my Galaxy S4. It came with 300 rupees talk/sms credit and 300 rupees of data… the phone and sms worked but I never did get the data to work.  If you go to India and buy a local SIM, get Airtel. That seems to be the only network that has data.

My travel partner had T Mobile with free worldwide data and it picked up the Airtel networks. They were weak, but they helped us navigate around without much trouble.

Wifi in India seems to be where it’s at.  Hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and cafes have good wifi, and it’s free with your purchase of a chai.  So I was able to upload pictures, use my travel apps, check my email, US voicemail and sms at points throughout the day.

My mobile app tips

I wound up with a dozen travel apps throughout the trip, but most were installed then soon deleted. There were really only a handful that proved useful throughout the trip.

  • Google Voice
    I set this up before leaving the US. I turned my phone number into a Google voice number so all voicemail and sms messages sent to my US number would be stored on Google. I was able to easily check via my Google account from my wifi connected phone, or any computer.

xe convert

  • xe currency
    I had this currency converter at the ready whenever we were out and about.  I liked it better than other apps because it was so simple, no extra crap. It could switch conversion from rupees to dollars with one tap. (I was converting an IT worker’s annual salary here.)
  • Google Docs
    With the “Keep on device” feature I was able to access and edit our itinerary, expense sheet and all my travel notes no matter where we were.
  • TripAdvisor
    This is my first trip abroad where we based almost all our accommodation choices on TripAdvisor. And having it on my phone was helpful in making some last minute decisions.
    My one frustration point was since I was wifi dependent, TA couldn’t help when I was walking around looking for places to eat.
    It would have been great to be able to store info and a map snapshot in the mobile app for offline use, like with Google Docs. Even when I looked something up while in a wifi hotspot, it didn’t remain cached. So if I couldn’t find the restaurant from memory, or my badly drawn map, I was out of luck.
  • Booking.com
    This app was pretty good, notifying me of upcoming reservations, prompting me to write reviews at the end of a stay, and it had pretty good search capability when I was trying to find hotels on the fly. I found accommodations on here that I didn’t see on TripAdvisor – though this is about their participants, not the app. Similarly, Booking.com doesn’t have as many reviewers or photos as TripAdvisor.
  • Agoda
    Good website with great hotel deals but the mobile app is meh.  I tried to make one change to a reservation through the app and it seemed to forget. Apparently, it just sends an email to the proprietor and that’s it.  I was billed for a night I wasn’t there and had to get in touch with customer service to resolve. I think this might be the case for their desktop site too.
  • Picasa
    I didn’t bring a camera on this trip, just my phone. Just in case something happened to it- like if it was stolen, or I dropped it off the camel and he stepped on it, or it fell in the Ganges- I periodically uploaded all my pictures to Picasa. I don’t like Picasa for sharing, but since it’s part of my Android’s system it was just easy backup option.

Local travel apps that weren’t so helpful

  • MakeMyTrip
    This is an Indian travel website that offers tons of deals and coupons on hotels and flights, but their mobile app totally failed. Our flight was changed the night before and this app never reflected the change, even with manual refreshes, and we were stuck at the airport paying for a new flight. You do get a coupon just for installing, which might be the only reason to install it.
  • Ola cabs
    Registering for this local competitor to Uber was a shit-show.  It created an infinite registration loop that seemed to spontaneously resolve itself, only to discover I needed an Indian credit card to use the service 🙁
  • Indigo
    This local airline’s desktop site barely worked, and the mobile app was even less helpful. When we made a change to our itinerary it didn’t update on the mobile device.  I quickly uninstalled this one.

While traveling in India we took government buses to get around the southwestern state of Kerala. The buses are uncomfortable, and pretty bare bones- imagine a US school bus with bars on the windows instead of glass, and instead of a mechanical lever to open and close the door, they have a rope.

Each bus has a driver in front and conductor in back. The conductor communicates with the driver via a bell located on the ceiling above the driver. A string runs the length of the bus to the back. The conductor pulls the string once to stop and let people on or off, twice when it’s ok to go. The conductor also acts as the driver’s eyes in the back ringing the bell continuously to back up.

I was impressed with this system. The driver was able to backup into very tight spaces with no problem.

India bus bell

From my journal:

Sketchbook bus


There are 4,300 car parking spaces at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.  When we first arrived in India and were in the parking garage I saw red and green lights above all the spaces.  This was the first time I’d ever seen a Parking Guidance Systems (PGS), and when I looked it up I discovered it works pretty similarly to how I imagined.

I found a manufacturer on Alibaba that describes the system thusly:

The system guides the driver from the roads around the facility, through the process of selecting which parking area to use, to the floor with available parking, then to the aisle with the available parking, and finally to the empty parking space.

Essentially there’s a digital display board at the entrance indicating where there are available spots, then there are led displays throughout the garage enumerating the number of open spaces in a given direction. Each space in the garage has an led above it indicating green for open, red for occupied, and blue for available disabled parking.

We should totally have these.Parking Guidance System 1

Parking Guidance System 2