Ack! I think my head exploded!

The first day of the second annual BAcon Conference had our blogger brains brimming by day end and day two was not about to let up.

Focus: Tips on writing better. Have our writing be found by more readers. Learn all the techy stuff that is behind the scenes of our printed words. Hone are skills.

Sounds easy, ay? Uh uh. Learning that JetPack is not what George Jetson donned in order to fly to work but rather a WordPress tool with a bazillion options that can change the look and feel of our blog was all great stuff, though I’m sure I saw a brain or two erupt in the conference room.

Having a speaker from Planet Google itself was cool. Google’s Krista Seiden gave us know-how about Google Analytics, at least as the tool exists today. You think the airlines change their programs a lot? Put them up against Google always changing its top-secret algorithms any day. BoardingArea’s own Jeffsetter then gave us even more great stuff to hone our Google Analytics skills. Our brains were smoking’!

On a serious note, attorney Jonathan Tubin addressed the important area of legal issues that bloggers never think about until it is too late. I don’t think you’d be interested to read “Cell Reviews” from our 6’x8’ steel-walled rooms, but I could be wrong.

Affiliate programs were discussed (and we know you love our disclosure). Randy brought in an excellent panel including Adam Allamar, Grieg Santos-Buch, and Jeremy Zafrios to teach us how to be on the up-and-up so that we’re fair-and-square with our readers.

BAcon Las Vegas

Perfect for the afternoon (I used to love sitting around a circle in kindergarten while Mrs. Clair told us stories), we had storytelling by Cindy Reed who offered excellent tips for writing posts that will keep you, Dear Reader, reading to the end. John Hawkins filled our brains more with his amazing know-how o Jetpack for WordPress.

So much learning, so many brains exploding – though all in a good way. Our skills are definitely honed but good!

For those who had enough energy remaining, Randy invited us to attend an evening with him on the 64th floor of the Delano Hotel for adult beverages (just to take care of any remaining brain cells we might have had).  Sponsored by Mlife and Hyatt Gold Passport, this was a fun time to once again spend time with our fellow bloggers and take in amazing views of Las Vegas.

Mix lounge Delano Las Vegas

Seriously, there was a Day 3?  After a bit of brain recovery mode.

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Reporter stopped by TSA agent who didn’t know District of Columbia is in US

Right at my home airport MCO, a resident of the District of Columbia (the seat of our national government) was asked for his passport. Why? The TSA agent did not recognize his Washington D.C. license, and was unaware that it was a place. It’s not the first time the TSA has run in to this problem, but some light is being shed on the subject because it happened to a reporter. The TSA has since confirmed that yes, D.C. driver’s licenses are valid forms of ID.

Fake TSA screener probes passnegers at SFO

In a bizarre situation, a drunk 53 year old San Francisco man allegedly posed as a TSA agent and directed two women to private booths to be pat down. Authorities quickly discovered the ruse and arrested the man, who was on his way to board a flight to Hong Kong.

Consumers, airlines oppose TSA fee hike

In an effort to pay down the deficit, Congress has approved an increase in TSA fee hikes that will bring in billions over the next few years, but both consumers and airlines are not happy about the changes. Those who oppose the increase, which goes into effect next month, say that the government is treating them like a bottomless piggy bank.

Boeing Preps the 787-9 Dreamliner for Farnborough

The Farnborough Air Show is going on this week in England. In a sneak peek of what is to come, Boeing released this video of a Dreamliner being put through it’s paces.

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Left - photo taken with default camera app. Right - photo edited with Snapseed and VSCO Cam. iPhone 5s - Hong Kong

Left – photo taken with default camera app. Right – photo edited with Snapseed and VSCO Cam. iPhone 5s – Hong Kong

The best camera is the one you have with you, and these days most of us carry one with us almost everywhere. Your cell phone can take some great pictures, and they’re getting to the point where they’re challenging traditional point and shoots. Using your phone as your main travel camera also means one less item to pack!

If you like snapping a picture and sharing it with friends, then more power to you. But if you like to tinker, edit, and tweak your images to give them a little pop (or fix a small mistake), you’ll want to open them in a photo editing app. There are thousands of apps out there, so where do you start? Here are our favorite photography apps for travel:

Snapseed

snapseedA great app that has been around for years, this photo editor was so good that Google bought them up and made it free. While Snapseed has some great filters, the real power lies in its standard photo editing capabilities. Adjusting the color temperature, straightening your horizon, and sharpening your images are easy to do. Their auto-correct is (usually) a great start, and you can even adjust selective parts of the image or add a tilt-shift to your landscapes.

Free on iOS & Android

VSCO Cam

vscocamVSCO Cam’s strength lies in its film emulation. If you miss the look and colors of old film stocks (i.e. Kodak, Agfa, Fuji, and Polaroid films), then run your photos through the many filters VSCO Cam offers. You can edit the filter’s intensity, as well as sharpness, grain, vignettes, and fade. You can also selectively edit the hue of the highlights and shadows to create your own look. Post your creation to your favorite social network right from the app, or the VSCO Grid – their own showcase of photographers who use the app.

Free with in-app purchases on iOS & Android Read More…

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Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across my desk this week. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook page or send them my way on Twitter.

Piling On the Luxury

With spending on both business and international travel expected to increase in 2014, airlines are looking to cater to their highest paying customers at the front of the plane. The New York Times gives a comprehensive rundown on the ways airlines all over the world are trying to bring luxury to the skies.

Airlines offering fewer flights, fewer seats

While airlines are focusing on their higher end passengers, medium and small sized airports are feeling a little left out. A watchdog group has found that seats and flights across the board, and especially in smaller communities, are getting cut back. Reasons go from rising fuel costs to pilot shortages for regional airlines.

The Instagram Travel Hashtag That’s Worrying the Airlines

Want to get a glimpse of what it’s like working for an airline? The Instagram hashtag #crewlife finds flight attendants and pilots posting photos of what it’s like off-duty. While a quick search brings up acceptable and safe for work photos, I’m wondering how long it’ll take until someone gets fired for not following company guidelines. Read More…

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TSAInstagramPreCheck

Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across my desk this week. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook page or send them my way on Twitter.

TSA Pre✓ Now Includes Air Canada

I follow the TSA on Instagram to see the weird items people try to sneak through security, but they post news worthy updates, as well. Air Canada passengers are now eligible for Pre✓, becoming the first international carrier included in the service. Pre✓ is already offered at 115 airports nationwide, with more than 40 of those offering expedited screening to Air Canada passengers.

World’s First Smartwatch Boarding Pass

Printing boarding passes is out. Using your smartphone as a boarding pass is so 2013. airberlin’s iPhone app now let’s you connect with your Pebble, allowing you to board a plane with your watch. Pebble connects with your phone via BlueTooth, and can now display a barcode for your next airberlin flight.

Reebok gets into the adventure tour business

If you’re looking to be a little more active on your next vacation, Reebok may have the outing for you. The shoe company has teamed up with Austin Adventures to offer their first packaged vacations. Destinations include Utah, Costa Rica, and Montana.

AT&T to Offer In-Flight Wi-Fi in Challenge to Gogo

Gogo has long been the major provider of in-flight wifi, but AT&T is looking to enter the market. “Ma Bell” is also looking to offer the first 4G service in the air, using skyward pointing antennas on the ground rather than satellites. Service is expected to start in late 2015.

How Black Boxes Work

If you listen to podcasts, you have probably heard about Stuff You Should Know. I’ve been playing podcast catchup and just got to their episode on how black boxes work and it’s filled with interesting tidbits. The subject matter is a bit morbid, but if you’ve ever wanted to know what goes on with a flight data recorder, give it a listen.

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Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across my desk this week. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook page or send them my way on Twitter.

SkyMallRockI write for SkyMall

Ever wonder what’s going through the mind of a SkyMall writer? How do write for the sometimes odd, always interesting products featured in your back seat pocket? I write for SkyMall is run by one of those writers, letting you know how products like Confusing Chimp Statue and Alcoholic’s Wine Glass come to be.

IAH design plans unveiled: Terminal D to be replaced by new international terminal

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport is getting a little facelift. Tentatively scheduled to start in 2017, Terminal D will be demolished and replaced with the new Mickey Leland International Terminal. Construction should take five years to complete.

Airport security scrutinized after stowaway incident

After a 15-year-old managed to sneak in to a plane’s wheel well and score a free trip to Hawaii, airports across the country and taking a second look at their security. Members of Congress are asking questions and trying to ensure that another similar incident cannot happen again.

Airlines cash in on unused tickets, change fees

Plans have a habit of changing, and airlines and making a lot of money off of your cancellation fees. How much? $2.5 billion in 2012 alone. This also doesn’t take in to account how much they make off of unused tickets.

Sky High Weddings

Is there a wedding in your future? You may just want to head to Dubai and say your I-do’s almost 700 feet above the Arabian Gulf. What an extraordinary way to say Hello to a new life … and sa Goodbye to a whole lot of money.

Taking It to the Streets

Yours truly is coming out of the skies next week and hitting the pavement. I will be walking 39 miles (yes, walking!) in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. If you’re in the Washington, DC area, come cheer on the thousands who will be hiking though the streets. No air miles for all of this walking (an air mile for every step would be awesome!) though the worthiness of the cause makes up for it.

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Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across my desk this week. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook page or send them my way on Twitter.

The road to happy: New travel study reveals 4 ways to boost happiness

What make’s a great vacation? A new study tries to narrow down what aspects of a trip bring the most joy, and they found 4 common traits. If you minimize stress, plan ahead, make a local connection, and go far from home, they say it leads to the happiest of vacations.

Airbnb Is in Advanced Talks to Raise Funds at a $10 Billion Valuation

Airbnb is looking to raise a little bit of money … just $10 million. If they do reach their goal, it would make them one of the world’s largest startups, and make them more valuable than Wyndham and Hyatt.

Chicago airports ranked at bottom for arrivals, departures

Ouch! My hometown of Chicagoland was no place to be this winter for traveling through their airports. Read More…

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NoteTakingApps

Do your to-do’s always pop into your head when you’ve got paper/pen in hand or a tablet at your fingertips? Yeah, right! They pop up at the most inconvenient times, then you stress about remembering them later. You most likely have a to-do list for work, a to-do list for your household, and a to-do list for you. You probably even have a to-do list to go through your to-do list! And you want every list accessible to you at all times. How do I know? Because I’m right there with you!

To help manage the to-do’s, reduce your stress, and put a bit of sanity back in your life, here are some great note taking apps that sync up your mind with your lists, no matter where you are.

Evernote

Evernote

Evernote has been the industry standard for note taking apps for years.

Personally, I’ve been using Evernote for a while and have found it to be the best note taking application/service for me. Keeping track of everything I have going on at work and at home is easy with Evernote, and the ability to email or text to-do’s to Evernote make it great for clearing out both the mind and mailbox. I have notebooks set up for all areas of my life. Evernote syncs across my phone, tablet, and desktop app with ease. Their free service is great, but you can also spend a few dollars for premium which includes larger uploads, offline editing, smarter searching and more.

Available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Mac, & Windows. Read More…

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Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across my desk this week. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook page or send them my way on Twitter.

IndiaPassport

Passport app by MEA is the new hot cake at the Apple app store

India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has released a new app for both iOS and Android that easies passport applications. Rather than wait in long lines at the local office, passport applications can now be handled on your smartphone. And when you leave the country, the app can help you find and get in contact with India consulates or posts in your area. Sound like a great app and I hope that the U.S. State Department is paying attention.

The Unhip, Unexpected Joys of Cruising

In Mark Bittman’s essay for The New York Times, cruising sheds it’s musty stereotypes. By slowing down and taking advantage of your hotel-on-water, a simple change of mindset could lure younger passengers to the high seas.

Legislating peace and quiet on planes

Our favorite bill currently in the House of Representatives just passed committee. The bill would ban all cell phone calls in the air. Yes, they aren’t currently allowed, but with the FAA restricting cell phone usage on planes, this bill wants to solve a problem before it arises.

Who travels with a stolen passport?

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has left us with more questions than answers. CNN takes a look at why someone would travel with a stolen passport and how they could get through security at an airport.

The Dubai Mall is the new residence of 155 million year-old Dinosaur

I visited the Dubai Mall and thought that mall had everything. Little did I know then that it was just missing a dinosaur! The 24.4 meter long Diplodocus is now on permanent display.

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Ever have that nagging feeling that you may have forgotten something important, when it’s too late to go back home to check? Even us seasoned travelers sometimes get to the airport and realize we left something important behind. Rather than having to buy a new toothbrush, phone charger or what-have-you at your destination, it would be a lot easier if you just brought these things with you in the first place!

This reminds me of the time I arrived at my destination and had forgotten to put my clothes in my suitcase. Had everything but clothes! I’ve never done that again!

Luckily, there is a way to avoid leaving important items behind and curb forgetfulness – a packing list. (#1 item on my list: Remember clothes!) Packing lists take just a little bit of time but could save you a heap of trouble. You could do it the old fashioned way with pen and paper, but Packing List Apps are readily available for your phone or tablet.

Here are a few ideas and apps to make sure you never forget to pack something on your trip again.

Packing Pro Read More…

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Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across our desk this week. If you’ve got any suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook wall, or send them my way on Twitter.

The 25 Most Influential Business Travel Executives Of 2013

Every year Business Travel News runs down a list of the most influential business travel executives, and 2013′s list has more newcomers that ever before. See the movers and shakers of the business travel world that helped shape 2013 in to one of busiest years ever.

Beyond rocking chairs: Airports race to upgrade

Framed around the $1 expansion to the Charlotte Douglas airport, this article take a look at the amenities and extras that airports are building out to cater to their passengers. From Yoga studios to new pedestrian tunnels, a lot of thought goes in to airport renovations.

Travel trends that entrepreneurs need to know to keep costs down

Looking ahead in 2014, although airfares are expected to stay flat, car rentals and hotel rates are looking to slightly increase. Financial Post offers a few tips for the entrepreneurs to keep their travel costs down in the upcoming months.

The surprising spending habits of people stuck in airports

From the $5.15 we spend on food and beverage to the $3.31 we spend at newsstands (on average), Joe Brancatelli examines trends in consumer spending at airports.

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

For paleo-followers and others wanting to keep up a healthy lifestyle while traveling, these tips from Chris Kresser, author of Your Personal Paleo Code, can help.

Model 777 made out of manilla folders

The amount of detail going in to this 1:60 scale replica of an Air India Model 777-300ER made out of manilla folders is impressive! I can’t wait to see the model when it’s complete.

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