It's that time again: scouring online travel sites for a good deal in fares and room tariffs; dusting the old parka or windcheater, hauling out the backpack or wheeler luggage for your annual summer holiday. Here are some technology tools to ensure a safe and satisfied vacation.
Safe surfing on public Wi-Fi
These days you can find free WiFi in airports, railway stations, malls and hotel lobbies. But don’t assume that a public Wi-Fi network is secure simply because it has a password. If your laptop or tablet is open in a public area, make sure no “shoulder surfers” are watching what you type. Don't visit sites that require a log-in with username and password. Save visiting such sites until you’re on a secure, private network.
And always use a Virtual Private Network. VPNs create a network-within-a-network to keep everything you do on public Wi-Fi, private. It creates a secure tunnel for your device instead of relaying all of your traffic to a public router. These days VPN can be had for free.
Last week, Opera launched a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, with a built-in VPN service. When enabled, the VPN will hide users' physical location and will make it hard to track their behaviour on the Web. The browser VPN is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log any activity data. Opera for Android is a free download on Google Play.
Jumbo power source
Smartphones are power-hungry creatures. Few come with batteries that last a working day -- what with all the heavy YouTubing and Whatsapping we do. This can be a problem if you are of those off-grid guys whose holiday is away from the beaten track. Thankfully power banks are rising to meet the new demands.
I have been trying out the Turbo 20000, the first such device from Indian consumer electronics brand, Tagg and as the name suggests, it stores 20,000 mAh (taking some 10 hours to charge), which should power your phone for days.
There are two outputs, each of 2.4 amp. A self-lit indicator shows how much backup remains -- useful at night in the outdoors. In other ways too -- like its rugged metallic shell, the Tag 20000 will appeal to backpackers and outdoor types. Not the lightest at 370 grams -- but worth its weight at the asking price of Rs 2499.
Talk to your earphones!
I'm guessing when Zebronics named their recent wireless earphones, 'Zeb Journey', they had in mind a typical user, trekking the wild side, the device slung around the neck, listening to music, reaching an unfamiliar pathway, speaking to Siri or Google to ask for fresh map guidance, then proceeding confidently up the next hill.
The Voice Assistant support alone will make Zeb Journey a 'must have' on your next outdoors holiday. A choice of silicon earbuds means at least one will fit snugly in your ears. The multipurpose button on the neckband is convenient for one-handed operation. And a built-in rechargeable battery ensures you can keep talking or listening at least for 12 hours.
Lightweight( 36 grams) and splash proof, it costs Rs 1259 and has young -n-restless written all over it.