NAVIGON is no more!

Curious thing when I was checking my NAVIGON app last week, there was a message that I sort of just clicked through but it bothered me so I checked the website, to my surprise Garmin decided to kill all their iOS navigation apps. I have had NAVIGON on my phone since the days of the 3GS and it used to be my go to app for navigation in my car. Apparently I’m allowed to use it for another 2 years until there will be no more map updates. That’s kind of sad but it’s expected since in the age of unlimited data, you only need Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Waze.

I remember the software being a crazy price. I think I paid $79.00 for all of North America. Truthfully it was one of my better purchases due to all the travel I do for work. At the time maps kinda sucked on the iPhone and NAVIGON was more accurate. Over the years I got frustrated with the software due to its interface and lack of search capability. In recent years I’ve relied on 3 apps for navigation and with the final death of NAVIGON I’ll be able to reclaim about 100mb of space on my phone and a tile space.

I’ll admit that having an offline map is useful but Google has this and I have another app called Ulmon that does offline maps. It doesn’t really do turn by turn but I won’t get lost either which is the main point. For it’s time, NAVIGON was freaking awesome and prevented me from getting lost most of the time. Before I had unlimited data it was useful to have he map preloaded on the phone so I wouldn’t use up my data plan. I just might keep the software on my phone for the next two years mainly because I paid for it so I might as well use it if the need arises. By then I should be ready to upgrade my iPhone 7 to something else.


Netflix on Chromecast is a terrible experience


I have 2 Chromecasts, one for my home and one for work.  The second one I won while at a conference so I decided to make it the travel one.  I’ve never had good luck streaming Netflix to Chromecast while traveling for work and I thought for the longest time it was the Chromecasts fault or the fault of the network at the hotel.  I’ve mostly dispelled that by trying to use Netflix with my Chromecast at home where I know the network connection is reliable and the TV is supported and doesn’t have any funky software on it because it is MY TV after all.

I was trying to stream Jessica Jones from my iPad Mini 2 and for some reason it would just choke and not stream or load for the longest time.  I tried using my Apple TV 3 and it streamed the content like a champ with no problems at all.  This leads me to believe either that the Netflix app is poorly written for casting to a Chromecast or the Chromecast itself isn’t capable of handling Netflix streams.

I’ve started to take my older Apple TV 2 with me on my trips since some of the places I stay have HDMI ports that let me hook it up so I can watch Netflix and also stream local content from my iPhone or my iPad. I still take the Chromecast with me but its only used if I don’t feel like packing my Apple TV (it takes up way more room and is kind of heavy).

YouTube seems to be streaming just fine on my Chromecast but maybe its because the hardware and software are both made by Google so they ensured that it would work correctly and more than 50% of the time.  I know I’ve unplugged the Chromecast out of frustration more than once during a hotel stay and just resorted to using my iPad to watch my videos.  That habit might actually push me to getting a newer iPad (hopefully they’ll come out with an iPad Air 3 that can use the Pencil) and that might be my next tablet upgrade although I am still quite happy with my Mini 2.

I’m not going to worry too much about not being able to watch content on the big screen in my hotel if Chromecast doesn’t work, I’ll always have my iPhone or my iPad to fall back on and frankly the app on the iPad for Netflix is pretty good so I actually watch Netflix on my iPad more than I do on my TV even at home and especially not on a computer since the interface isn’t the best.  I guess Netflix really is more for mobile than for home viewing.

Bose vs. Beats: FIGHT!

Let me preface this by saying I’m in now way an audiophile of any kind, I’m just a road weary traveler looking for headphones that fit my current lifestyle.  With that said, I am now the owner of the Bose QC25 and the Beats Wireless Studio headphones.  In reality these were replacements of my Audio Technica headphones that I had before.  I also just happened to get the Beats since I needed to burn off some useless miles.

I bought the Bose QC25’s last year and so far they’ve served me quite well.  I like how it takes a single AAA battery to activate the noise canceling and that I can use it without the noise canceling if I don’t want to.  It also folds up pretty nice in the case.  The Bose uses a cord thats inserted into my iPhone or iPad depending on the device that I’m using and I can actually take calls on it.  Compared to the Audio Technica’s, the Bose was way better in terms of sound and for noise canceling.  I mean come on its a Bose!  I did run into trouble a couple of months ago when one of the ear cups wouldn’t transmit any sound and I had to warranty replace them.  While overall pretty painless, that meant the headphones lasted less than a year before they broke. The replacements work just fine and I get another year of support so if they break again I can just replace them.

I haven’t done a lot with the Beats headphones yet.  I have been able to pair them with my iPhone 6 just fine and when you turn them on it pairs fast and the noise canceling is on by default.  I don’t know if you can turn off the noise canceling part but the sound quality out of these suckers is pretty awesome.  Granted I haven’t used them on a plane which is the real test of these bad boys but I’ll get a chance to do that this next week.  The Beats came with more cords, one for charging and one for using it with my iPhone so I can talk on the phone with it, I think there is a third one that I haven’t figured out what that one does yet.  I have yet to read the instructions for it.  I do know that I can control the volume and at least advance tracks forward by just pressing the button on the side.  Thats pretty bad ass in my book.  It doesn’t fold as flat as the Bose but thats a small thing since they’re practically the same when I shove them in my backpack.

I’ll see which one I keep in my work bag long term after the test this week going up to NY for work.  I keep my headphones on almost the entire trip so it sucks a lot of juice.  I think the only downside is that I would need to charge the headphones every so often instead of just replacing the battery but thats a small thing really and it saves the environment since I’m not burning through batteries.

All in all, these are two pretty different products but they’ll serve the same purpose for my travels.  I can’t wait to test the Beats this week so I can finally pick a winner.  Technically the loser won’t be traveling with me but it will probably be used at home instead so I don’t have to unpack my primary headphones or I’ll give them to my wife so she can use them for when we travel as a family.

Apple TV wins over Chromecast for hotel rooms

I’ve been traveling with both a Chromecast and an Apple TV for a while now and I have to say that in my opinion the Apple TV is winning over the Chromecast.  I don’t have a fancy setup like having a Plex Server at home to stream stuff but I do have Netflix and I can airplay from different websites which is a big plus in my opinion.  Hotel networks are notoriously slow so while most of the time the Chromecast works ok, it sometimes stutters or doesn’t engage at all when trying to use Netflix.

I actually ha that problem 3 weeks ago when I was trying to use my Chromecast at the HIlton Garden Inn.  I finally was able to find a way to get my travel router working and I was trying to get Netflix to work.  It would just constantly say “Casting” on my Netflix app but nothing woould ever happen on the TV.  I tried using YouTube which was just fine but it doesn’t have the stuff I want to play which is on Netlfix.  The following week I brought my Apple TV and I’ve been bringing it ever since.

I think it all comes down to personal preference and even though there is more stuff to bring for the Apple TV it just works better.  I use my iPad or my iPhone as the remote but I have a regular remote as a backup whih helps things along if I can’t get the other devices to work.  The fact that I can Airplay my local content is a huge plus, I have lots of movies that I’ve bought or otherwise gotten that I want to play while I’m away from home.  In that way the Chromecast is limited that I have to stream everything from another service and it has to be a supported service by Chromecast.  It might be different if I had a Plex Server where I could stream from my house or something but I have a 128GB iPad so I can carry locally a lot of content.

This will be one of my new requirements when I travel, I need to have a hotel room that has a TV that can support my Apple TV and my travel router.  This way when there is nothing to wath on TV (which happens a lot), at least I can be entertained by things that I want to watch.

Two Weeks of Travel Left for 2014

It’s almost the end of 2014 and I am only two weeks away from being able to stay home for the rest of 2014. I’m looking forward to spending more time at home with the family and to open some of the Christmas presents waiting under the tree.

I’ve gotten my Platinum status with American, my Platinum status with SPG, my Diamond status with Hilton, and Presidents Circle with Hertz. That should take care of my status for 2015 while I travel. I’ll have to do a lot of travel once again for 2015 to keep my status but with my current client load that shouldn’t be a huge problem. I’m still considering if I should hold on to my Hilton status or if I should just completely switch over to SPG in the future.

The holidays should be fun filled and maybe I’ll actually get to drive my car around. I already have some time at Disney planned which should be fun, the difference being is that I’ll be at an actual Disney hotel rather than my customary Hilton. The wife and I did this primarily so that our daughter could enjoy seeing the animals from our room. Also it was a way for us to stay on the property and be closer to the attractions and also be able to enjoy just the stuff the hotel has to offer. Unfortunately Disney does not have a rewards program for hotel stays or partners with any of the major ones (they kind of do, the Swan and Dolphin are considered Sheratons) but those hotels are really blah when you consider how cool the real Disney hotels are.

I guess traveling to Orlando is a little different than my normal stuff. It will be with my family for one and on the other hand I’ll be driving instead of flying. I guess when I first started this post I really meant two weeks of work travel left for 2014, road trips weren’t included. Either way, I’m going to be glad to get off of planes for a while with all its cramped seats and recycled air. Only 3 more flights and then sweet freedom!

The case of the spraying water bottle

Ok this will be a short blog post but it was too funny not to recount. This past Monday, me and the family were returning home from New York to go back to Florida free celebrating my 9th wedding anniversary with my wife and daughter and attending our friends EPIC wedding in which my daughter was a flower girl. My daughter loves her juice so we bought some at the airport (I know, cardinal sin for a frequent traveler, never pay airport prices for anything but she was thirsty). We dumped the juice in her drink bottle from Camelback that has a straw so that it doesn’t spill easily. We boarded the plane and were seated and off we were. My daughter wanted some juice so my wife brought out her water bottle and opened the straw piece. Unbeknown to me and the wife, the bottle became pressurized and when my wife opened the straw it shot out a decent amount of juice into the cabin. I wasn’t able to take a pic of the after math but needless to say there was a lot of juice that was on the ceiling of the plane. I personally got a decent amount of spray and had some in my hair. Kind of embarrassing but it was also pretty funny to see the red juice on the ceiling of the plane. The flight attendants were very nice about it and helped us clean it up.

So for you parents, do not use your own drink bottles on planes filled with juice, embarrassment will ensue and a mess will be made although it will be funny.

Avoided the Deep Freeze!

This week I was supposed to up to Chicago for work but some strange thing happened with the weather and this crazy deep freeze set in. Now I’ve been in the cold (I worked in Minneapolis for a winter once) but man this one took the cake! I checked the forecast and there was a high of -11 on Monday when I was supposed to fly out. I got a notice that my flight was canceled and I tried to get another flight out but everything was booked until Thursday so I’m glad I didn’t have to go.

I definitely don’t have the winter clothing to survive -11 weather with windchills of up to -40. I don’t think I had this kind of clothing when I loved in Connecticut. I think the airlines did the right thing by canceling most of the flights to Chicago. I probably would have gone a step further to close down flight ops because it’s kind of cruel to expect the ground crew to work when it’s that cold outside.

The winter storm should be gone and things will be normal by next week. The storm even slightly affected me here in South Florida because I had to switch the A/C off and put on the heat for a day. Of course I put the A/C back on, I live in Florida after all! I hope that’s the last time this year a deep freeze like that comes around. I certainly don’t want I be stuck in Chicago of another deep freeze comes around.