While I was living in Japan last fall, I bought a Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 digital camera, which is still the most advanced -- not to mention only -- consumer 3D camera on the market.
When I first started traveling, I carried a Moleskine notebook in my pocket. I thought I was pretty hip, and it was really useful: you should always have a notebook and pen handy. But then I started to sweat, and the Moleskine wore out really quickly. The finishing blow was when I walked up Mount Fuji; never mind that the notebook was in a plastic bag, the rain turned it to pulp.
Yesterday, AT&T Wireless announced that they will purchase T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom. This is another step in the wrong direction for the American mobile market. The reasons, however, are probably fairly subtle to the average American cell phone user -- so here's a breakdown of the issues, starting with the basics.
Yes, you should bring guidebooks with you. More specifically, you should bring Lonely Planet country guidebooks with you, and supplement them with the fantastic resources available for free at Wikivoyage. But don't buy the paper copies; they weigh a lot, and you're only going to be using a few pages at a time.
I'm busy with a project this week, so here's another gem from Volume I of Mark Twain's autobiography. He claims to have helped several people to find jobs, simply by telling them to show up and work for free. It's a great idea, so long as nobody else copies it...
Global ATM networks are probably the most revolutionary travel invention since the jet engine. Yet it's often difficult to know the best way to take advantage of this system: Which network should you have? Which banks charge outrageous fees, and which actually refund ATM fees? There's an enormous amount of variance. Many financial institutions do everything they can to stop you finding out about fees, figuring that will stop you from making an educated decision. It goes without saying, however, that ATM withdrawals will give you the best possible exchange rate, and you should exchange cash or travelers' checks as little as possible.
I've been spending a lot of time with Mark Twain lately, reading the recently-released first volume of his massive (and hitherto unpublished) autobiography. Twain spent much of his life traveling the world, for leisure, health, and financial reasons. Here he is, trying to convince an old friend from Scotland to come visit America:
"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes." -- Dennis Ritchie
Nokia's recent alliance with Microsoft exposed an unpleasant truth: Nokia software developers have failed to deliver on the promise of their phones' hardware capabilities. Here's a good example of that; luckily, there's a happy ending here. Since this took me a long time to debug, I hope this helps someone else save some time.
Wherever I was in the world (aside from North Korea), I had a local cell phone number. They're usually pretty easy to get, so long as you have an unlocked GSM phone. But I wanted to make sure that there was a single number where my friends and family could contact me. I wanted to make sure that I didn't lose my old cell phone number in the US, either.