Archive for category travel

Lake Merritt, Oakland – Resources For New Residents


Lake Merritt

Arial view of the Lake Merritt, Oakland area

Moving to a new area is always a bit scary and involves a lot of work to get settled.  What things are there to do?  What restaurants are nearby?  What sorts of community involvement are available?  I went through this exercise after moving to the Lake Merritt area of Oakland, a very nice area that has lots of diverse things to see and do.  I found it useful to spend time searching Google about my new neighborhood and making link list of useful resources.  If you’re new to any area, I recommend doing the same and if you’re new to this area , here’s my list of resource links I hope are useful.

(P.S.  Lake Merritt is not actually a freshwater lake, it’s a natural salt water tidal lagoon connected to the Oakland / Alameda Estuary)



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The Nearly Forgotten Baltimore Skywalks

And now for a non-tech diversion:  I recently discovered a little used yet interesting section of downtown Baltimore- a series of skywalks and skybridges crisscrossing many blocks and leading through hotels, office buildings, and parks.  It’s actually possible to use these walkways and go from Harborplace at the Inner Harbor up to the convention center and finally Charles Plaza several blocks away over the loud and constant traffic.  It’s peaceful, fun, and slowly disappearing as Baltimore has over the years been demolishing these bridges.   I took some pictures with my iPhone  and wrote up a summary.  You can find the article in the “Misc” section of this blog or by clicking: The Nearly Forgotten Baltimore Skywalks

Teching Across the Country

Portable technology can make traveling much more effective, efficient, and enjoyable than anything possible just a couple years ago.  Smartphones, 3G cellular, wi-fi networks, and web services are revolutionizing how we plan and execute personal travel.  After reading my experiences, comment below on your thoughts or experiences using technology while traveling.

travelHere’s some products and internet services we used during a recent week long trip to California.

  • Apple iPhone:   We all know what an incredibly useful  “portable brain” the iPhone is.  The goal was to use it exclusively for logistics and looking up information on the go.  From trip itineraries to directions to neighborhood data it worked…pretty good.  The biggest problem was getting a reliable 3G signal in the Bay Area, and AT+T was spotty at best.  Fortunately, there were plenty of wi-fi options available.
  • TripIt (  This company has an amazing free service- simply forward your travel itineraries to the website as you receive them and it parses them into a customized, time sorted list for you to refer to with tons of useful information and related links added.  The smartphone application is particularly useful because you can refer to it anywhere and update it easily.  This has replaced pages of printed itinaries and sticky notes.
  • Handbrake ( This PC application allows you to easily convert video to various formats, including the iPhone.  This in conjunction with iTunes content provided hours of video diversions.  Watching video on the iPhone still isn’t perfect (some sort of holder would be nice)- but the ability to have travel notes and entertainment in one portable package is appealing.
  • Audible audio books ( I listened so several Audible books on the iPhone while traveling and found it a fun experience to lay back and just let the words flow into my brain, erasing hours of boredom.
  • MotionX GPS for iPhone (  This iPhone application provides voice turn by turn directions for a couple dollars per month.  We used it to navigate all around Northern California.  It worked well but lacked live traffic information.
  • Yelp ( This is a community based, location aware review site in which members  submit reviews for any business or attraction.  You can look up nearby restaurants and such on your iPhone and read useful reviews and tips for the businesses and get directions.  Fantastic!  We used it all the time to find restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, hotels, and bars which looked interesting.
  • Weather Channel iPhone (  We used this app to track incoming rain fronts in California to help plan our activities.  On the way home we tracked a large snowstorm to help prepare for the trip home.
  • Google Maps (traffic view  The Google maps traffic view was very useful planning trips around the bay area.  Unfortunately due to the poor 3G coverage, we also had to refer to regular AAA paper maps for some navigation!
  • (  This is a location aware real estate app (available on the iPhone).  As we walked around various neighborhoods, Zillow was useful to compare house values and houses for sale based on our location.
  • ( We used the mobile enabled website to check into our flight and get a coveted “A” zone boarding pass.

One thing which technology didn’t help- the tangled mess of cords needed to charge our cell phones and laptops 🙂  I look forward to really good wireless charging stations just now coming onto the market.

Which websites and applications do you find useful while traveling?  Comment below and share your thoughts.