iPhone Traveler pt. 7: iPhone as clock, camera and navigator

The iPhone makes for a useful and reliable alarm clock, camera and navigation device. And you thought it was just for Twitter! Today I’ll describe apps and accessories to make your iPhone the ultimate travel alarm clock, point-and-shoot camera and in-car navigator. Unless you just enjoy folding those huge maps. Then you’re on your own.

iPhone As Alarm Clock

Your iPhone lets you create multiple repeating alarms, smart alarms that are aware of the day and more. Plus, your iPhone notices when you change time zones and adjusts itself accordingly. It’s super handy. Let’s get started.

Automatic Time Zone Detection

Before we create an alarm, let’s enable automatic time zone detection. Once turned on, your iPhone will “notice” where it is and adjust its clock accordingly. That way, you don’t have to do it manually (though, if you want to, that’s an option, too). Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General, then Date and Time.
  3. Move the Set Automatically slider to the On position.

That’s it. Now your iPhone will adjust for time zone changes on its own.

Continue reading →

Weekend Gear: There’s a frood who really knows where his pocket square is

rhettpocketMy grandfather carried a pocket square every day. This wasn’t the handkerchief that many people his age used to have (read: he did not blow his nose into it), but an honest-to-goodness pocket square. I remember watching him use it all the time:

  • Cleaning off wet eye glasses
  • Wiping dirt off of a garden spade
  • Clearing condensation off of a foggy windshield

The great Douglas Adams saw how useful such an item was (in his case, a towel):

“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V…More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag [1. strag: non-hitch hiker] discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc…What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

A pocket square won’t protect you from the harsh elements of Jaglan Beta, but I’d argue that it’s nearly as useful. I have two, one of which is on me almost all of the time.

New York to Nashville


Danielle Romero makes fantastic pocket squares that aren’t the least bit stodgy or old-man-ish, and sells them through her business, New York to Nashville She writes:

“Most of our pieces began as a vintage item or reclaimed fabric that still had a story to tell. We wanted to hear that story, and we know you do too. This means that the pocket squares, cufflinks, and earrings are LIMITED RUN often just enough for 4 sets. I handcraft each one to reflect charm and beauty of all things Americana.”

I’ve got the “Rhett Butler” (pictured above). It’s about 10″x10″ and I love it. Great for cleaning off that iPhone screen. Cotton.



Izola strives to offer “functional everyday staples” with a vintage, nostalgic aesthetic. I bought this “Peace and Prosperity” handkerchief (above) and I love it.  It’s big at 14″x14″ and made of natural cotton. It’s getting softer and better-looking with each wash.

There you have it, traveler! A bit of handy weekend travel gear that’s a bit nostalgic (miss you, granddad), great-looking and supremely useful.

Pebble ships ‘less than 500’ units today


As promised, the Kickstarter-funded Pebble Watch will start shipping units to backers today. Unfortunately, it won’t even come close to meeting the 68,000 outstanding orders:

“We weren’t able to get as many units to our fulfillment centre as we expected (held up by documentation at the airport). Less than 500 units are going out today, with more expected to ship soon.”

Wow. The device missed its original shipping date last September. Additionally, the iOS app is also held up, which means advanced features like watchface and OS updates won’t work*. I hope this thing is good, as it’s been a long wait.

*Update: the iPhone app is now available.

My concern with Kickstarter

Shawn Blanc has posted a review of The Hidden Radio, A Bluetooth speaker he backed on Kickstarter about  a year ago. It’s brutal.

“The device is little more than a giant volume knob with a speaker inside, and yet, ironically, it’s the most difficult-to-use volume knob in my home.”


“Perhaps the most maddening shortcoming of all is the Hidden Radio’s irrational desire to power off.

This can happen when you least expect it, and usually when you least desire it. My Hidden Radio powers itself down after about 60 seconds of inactivity. And so, if I pause the music on my iPad in order to take a phone call or have a conversation, I have to turn the Hidden Radio off and back on before resuming music playback.

What’s worse, on Saturday evening the Hidden Radio refused to play music for longer than 15 minutes at a time.”


“At best it sounds a bit like a cheap boombox. At worst it sounds like a muffled, cheap boombox.”

Shawn’s buying advice:

“If you’re going to spend $150 or $190 on a Bluetooth speaker, get the Jawbone Jambox.”

This is why I hesitate to back gadgets on Kickstarter. To do so is an act of pure faith. You’re committing to buy before a single review has been written, or before even one real-world customer has had a chance to try said gadget. I’m sure that many fantastic items get backed every day. But Shawn’s experience only solidifies my position on Kickstarter: buy after the product ships.

Incidentally, I’ve been using a Tivoli iPAL for many years. No Bluetooth and only a single speaker, but it’s a workhorse and I love it.

GroovBoard lap desk for iPad

Big thanks to GroovBoard for sponsoring the site this week. The GroovBoard is a lap desk and stand that turns your iPad into the perfect couch computer. Make yourself comfortable and get some writing done with a real keyboard while the GroovBoard holds your iPad at the perfect angle.

Like to pull up your knees and get really snuggly but still want to use your iPad comfortably? No problem. Want to just relax and read an ebook without having to hold the iPad in your hand? Check. No matter if you want to use your iPad to write, read, draw, paint, make music, play games or watch movies, the GroovBoard will hold on to your iPad, Apple Wireless Keyboard and stylus, so you don’t have to.

Each GroovBoard is beautifully hand-crafted from a selection of fine hardwoods. Models currently come in ash, apple (of course), cherry, plum, oak and walnut and fit a wide variety of interior design styles. Because gadget accessories should also be an accessory for your home.

Special launch offer from July 30 through August 5: Save $10 on all GroovBoard models!