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Kate Russell’s Tech Traveller

Kate Russell’s Tech Traveller

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Technology reporter Kate Russell is a pro at finding the best websites and apps to recommend to viewers of BBC Click (and us!). Check out her site Mywebdaily.com or tweet her @katerussell

Securing your smartphone
There are few worse feelings than suddenly realising you’ve lost your smartphone. After discovering it’s gone, check you haven’t left it somewhere silly, like under the seat of the rental car. Alternatively ensure you never lose it again with one of these ideas…

For iPhone and iPad users, register free online at iCloud and use the ‘Find’ feature to show your device on a map. If it’s close by, ask it to make a loud noise. If not, remotely lock it, or — worst-case scenario — wipe the memory completely clean to keep your data safe. Similar services are open to Windows Phone 7 owners. WP7 handsets can be registered at www.windowsphone.com, where you can use the ‘Find My Phone’ feature.

For BlackBerry, you’ll need to have installed the free ‘Blackberry Protect’ app before your loss. Android users can use one of two third-party apps: ‘Where’s My Droid’ or ‘Lookout’. The free versions give you the essential services, but you’ll need a premium upgrade with ‘Lookout’ to wipe your phone remotely. However, if you do lose your smartphone, be sure to call your mobile phone service provider immediately to block it, and report it to the police before claiming on your insurance.

Online traveller – Forward thinking

Want to know what to expect before you go on a trip? This trio of sites will help you to plan ahead without relying on guesswork

1. airlikes.com
The TripAdvisor of the air travel world, Airlikes.com gives members access to news, information and peer-reviews of more than 1,400 airlines and 4,000 airports in the database. You can join this thriving online community free of charge, and there’s a mobile version for you to post your opinions on as you travel — a great way to pass the time and let off steam if you’re stuck at the airport waiting for a delayed flight.

2. seebeforeyoudie.net
This community website is a great place to read and post stories about the most spectacular must-see places around the world. With short descriptions, a photograph, plus user comments and rankings, it’s the perfect place to get a feel of a potential destination before you go. There are free smartphone apps for exploring on the go and there’s no need to register or provide any personal details either.

3. worldtaximeter.com
For those who are often frustrated at arriving in a strange city and not having the right cash for a taxi to the hotel, then Worldtaximeter.com is your new friend. This service calculates how much you can expect to pay for journeys, including supplements for luggage, airport access, and estimated waiting time in 50 cities, from Aberdeen to Zurich. It also has a mobile version for your smartphone.

We love…

duolingo.com Learning languages for free at Duolingo.com is not only fun, it serves a socially-useful purpose by translating pages on the internet for millions of users. To put this in to perspective, if one million people used Duolingo.com to learn Spanish they could translate the English Wikipedia in 80 hours.

Four of the best locator apps 

Never lose your friends and family again with this ultra-private location app. You simply send your contacts a request when you want to know where they are. All formats. Free.

Read and reply to SMS messages and listen to voicemail remotely on your computer. Let the app access your Google account, then receive pop-up alerts of messages. Android. Free.

Wi-Fi Finder
Track more than 650,000 hotspots in 144 countries. The map displays free and paid locations, plus you can download the offline database to search using minimal data. iPhone. Free.

Flashlight: 2 for 1
Turns your camera’s flash into a powerful beam of torchlight, ideal for late-night returns to the campsite and finding your hotel keys at the bottom of your bag. Blackberry. Free.


Published in the May/June 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)