Tips and Tricks for Overseas Business Travel

A few weeks ago I went to the NZALM conference in Wellington and next week I’m off to Bali, so I thought I’d try to gather a few tips and tricks for overseas business travel.

International Roaming

Firstly, when it comes to international roaming and smart phones you have a choice, either disable your data usage, or be prepared for a huge bill when you get home. Prior to the trip I prepaid for a data plan, but on my return I still found that I had an excess data usage bill of $70. On a pay as you go style data plan this actually only equates to less than 5MB of data (cost is $15/MB). Half way through the trip I remembered that my Kindle DX has free internet access through their WhisperNet service so I tried to use this where possible. Now this may not be the best experience for web browsing, but for things like sending and receiving emails, I found it worked a treat. To access Google Mail on a mobile device, navigate http://m.gmail.com and you will get a very text based view of your emails cutting down on a lot of the extras that you just don’t need.

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With the Kindle web browser, there are obvious limitations such as the fact that you only have a black and white screen, you don’t have a mouse so you have to use the 5-way controller and previous and next page to navigate around, but if you are prepared to live with these you’ll save yourself a fortune in roaming data charges.

Most of the Google apps are easily viewable on the Kindle Gmail. Navigate to http://m.google.com and you will be presented with a list of many of the Google apps including Gmail and Google Reader that you can access.

Other great sites that work well on the Kindle are Lonely Planet (http://m.lonelyplanet.com), Yahoo Mail (http://m.yahoo.com) , Facebook (http://touch.facebook.com) and Twitter (http://mobile.twitter.com). There is also a great service which collects some of the most popular links at http://kinstant.com. Be sure to check out the great lightweight Google maps app they have at http://kinstant.com/maps/.

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Power Converters

Fortunately NZ use the same power points and voltage as in Australia, so I didn’t need to take a converter for my previous trip, but for my next trip I’ll need to take a power adapter. One trick I learned was make sure you not only take a power adapter, but also at least a double adapter. Not only will there be times when you need to connect more than one device, but also just in case any fellow travellers you are with forget theirs.

 

So what tips and tricks do you have for overseas business travel? Please add them to the comments below.

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Google Guru

Yesterday I learned of a neat lab that’s available with Google Talk called ‘Google Guru’. It’s essentially a question and answer service that lets you do several types of queries using the Google Talk chat service. To setup the service, you first need to be signed into Google Talk, then add the contact guru@googlelabls.com. Now you can initiate a chat session with the guru and ask questions such as the weather in your location:

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Sports scores:

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Ask simple calculations:

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Or translations:

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I must say though that it is very hit and miss with the results:

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I ran a similar searches in one of the best question and answer services around, Wolfram Alpha which had no problems handling such requests:

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Next I thought I’d throw it some curly questions and see how they compare. Firstly in Google Guru:

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Then in Wolfram Alpha:

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So the Google Guru might be useful for some basic queries and if you are a fan of Google Talk as your IM client, you may find it handy, but it certainly struggles with many of the requests I gave it and the results no where as good as those by other such services.

For more information on the service, go to http://guru.googlelabs.com/