Unfashionable Runway

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IMAGE: FLICKR, KARTOGRAFIA

The last thing airline pilots want when they land their aircrafts in Paro Airport, Bhutan, is technology. They insist on doing it by eyesight. No one wants to rely on anything mechanical/technical that can breakdown just when they need it most.

News reporters who visited the area said the airport is about a mile and a half above sea level and is very difficult and dangerous because of the 18,000-foot peaks surrounding it.

Carmen Roberts, a BBC reporter, actually interviewed a pilot during one of the landings just to see what it’s like. Watch the video here. You can be sure, I will never take this flight. Will this flight be on your bucket list?

Facebook Founder Speaks Chinese


This may have been all over the mainstream press the other day, but I just wanted to point out that I find it pretty amazing that a successful person like Mark Zuckerberg just keeps accomplishing new challenges all the time. If I were him, I would probably be sitting on a lounge chair on some beach somewhere, watching the world go by.

The Facebook founder surprised a audience of students at Tsinghua University in Beijing earlier this week by speaking to them in Mandarin Chinese. The video above captures that moment.

His first words were, “I’m very glad to be in Beijing. I love this city. My Chinese is really a mess, but I study using Chinese every day.”

Nevertheless, he still managed to speak for a half hour on what Facebook is doing in China. I wonder what Zuckerberg’s true motivation was to learn a very difficult language. He’s married to a Chinese woman, Priscilla Chan, who was there to guide him all the way. Or, will there be some major growth spurts for Facebook in the Chinese market. We are just seeing the first signs now. Maybe, we all should be learning the language.

Mini Drones Will Play A Big Role In The Military

I wanted to show you one of the smallest drones you will ever see. It’s still in the development stage. I’m fascinated that we live in an era where we have UAV’s, unmanned aerial vehicles, for both recreation and government purposes.

CyPhy Works, a technology company from Danvers, MA, is making these tiny drones for the military. They have been designed so U.S. soldiers can carry them around in their uniform’s pockets. Called the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer, the drone weighs 80 grams and can fly for two hours. It transmits HD-quality video. The Pocket Flyer has been designed to be used for search and rescue. It will help find people in collapsed buildings or areas of devastation.

The video will show you exactly how it works. It’s so interesting. Just think about it, one day, we all might own a mini UAV for all kinds of purposes. I want to be among the first.

Apple Pay, A New Secure Way To Use Your Credit Card


If you are interested in keeping your credit card secure during transactions, you definitely should consider the new Apple Pay. I really had very little interest in the entire concept until I learned that your bank is the only one who sees the transaction if you use Apple Pay.

Google Wallet also offers this feature, but for some reason this payment system never caught on. I predict that Apple Pay could bring a renewed interest in Google Wallet. I hope so. Like you, I would like to see all those retail breaches we hear about, go away. Apple Pay and Google Wallet can cure it all. At least, that’s what the experts say.

Oh, one more piece of good news. If you use Apple Pay, you don’t have to worry about stolen credit cards. No one can buy anything without your fingerprint verification. Another security reassurance is the iCloud. All you have to do now is put your phone into the lost mode.

Apple Pay is very easy to use. Watch the above video. Hold your iPhone near the card reader with your thumb resting on the home button. David Pogue, the resident tech genius at Yahoo, actually used Apple Pay a number of times.

He explained, “The phone wakes, beeps, vibrates, and shows a picture of your credit card (minus the number). That means you’re done. You’ve paid. You can leave.” He said the whole process doesn’t even take two seconds.

I hope iPhone 6 or 6 Plus users start using Apple Pay soon. I also hope Apple extends Apple Pay to other iPhone models. I’m going to try it. All I have to do is open the Passbook app and use the credit card I have on file. I can also change my credit card by typing in the new card number and expiration. Apple Pay also gives me the option of taking a picture of my new card instead of typing out the info. That may be too progressive for me. Security codes must be typed in.

Read Pogue’s explanation on Yahoo for further details. He goes into great detail on the entire Apple Pay concept.

I Now Own The iPhone 6 Plus

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I am writing my blog post on the iPhone 6 Plus. I don’t know much about it yet, but I can tell you that just after a few hours of owning it, I love it. It’s the perfect size.

I can probably give you a better review of the unit later down the road, but I did want to tell you that size-wise, it’s perfect. I had no idea that this size, 5.5-inches, was the perfect solution for eye and hand strain. I always used the standard size iPhone for both reading and writing. It was really too small for either task, but I made do. In my opinion, the iPad mini was too heavy to use in bed or on the couch. I used to own the regular size iPad and that was way too cumbersome.

I loved my iPad mini for a year before I lost it. I knew that I was going to upgrade from my iPhone 4S to the 6 Plus, so I didn’t replace the mini iPad. I wanted to see if I could get away using the new 5.5-inch for all of my activities. It didn’t take more than five minutes to realize that I now have the best of both worlds.

That Sucks

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IMG_1581-0.JPG Family and friends are always asking me for gift ideas. This is a great one for anyone who loves music. The Divoom Airbeat 10 is a suction cup, portable Bluetooth speaker and speakerphone.

You can stick this speaker on any flat surface. You can also mount the Airbeat 10 on a bike as well. It can withstand water splashes so its perfect for the pool, beach or shower.

With a built-in rechargeable battery pack, the Airbeat 10 allows up to six hours of playback time off from a single charge.

Available in Sky Blue, Passion Red, Pearl White or Smart Black, the Airbeat 10 is available for $29.90 on Amazon.

I’m Taking A Commercial Break

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I promise that I will return to what’s new in the world of technology tomorrow. I know that I have focused my attention on many of my Moroccan experiences and other recent activities.

I want to divert from the world of technology one more time so I can congratulate my good friends, Chuck Steffan and Ron Abel, on their upcoming Broadway Show, Hazel, a musical maid in America. We went to their reading today which received a roaring standing ovation from the Broadway community.

I think the reason that most people truly enjoyed the musical so much was because it took place in much simpler times. There was no internet, no cell calls, no apps, and no mobile devices to clutter our brains. It was a time when children used their imagination during playtime and mommies were just starting to understand the role of a wife who also wanted to be a working woman. It was magical to watch that period in life reappear.

There is no question in my mind that the Broadway audience is going to go wild for the star of the show, Klea Blackhurst. She has appeared in a number of Broadway shows, but the role of Hazel was made with her in mind. She will enthrall audiences year after year.

Ron wrote the music, Chuck wrote the lyrics, Lissa Levin, wrote the book, and Lucie Arnaz directed the reading. Lucie is in Pippin at the current time as well.

It takes a long time to bring a show to Broadway but count on me for house seats for when
Hazel does.

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Chuck, Lucie and Ron

Morocco’s Favorite Pastime: Shooffing

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There is one word our SmarTours’ group learned from our Moroccan guide, Khalid, that could possibly become as popular as hashtag. It’s called shooffing. Don’t confuse it with the Yiddish word for sleep, schluffing.

Shooffing is very popular among the men of Morocco. When men shooff, they are usually sitting in a sidewalk cafĂ©, drinking coffee or tea for hours, staring at everyone and everything that passes by. It’s a type of gawking.

The streets of Morocco are lined with men shooffing. You wonder if these guys ever work. We were told that they shooff more hours than they do actually earn money.

Women rarely shooff. They are busy working and taking care of the household. When they do meet up with other women, it usually takes place in the privacy of someone’s home or at a special event. Men like to gather in public places and shooff together. They almost put themselves in a hypnotic state during their shooffing periods. Most of the time, the men are not even talking to each other. They would rather use the time to be in their own worlds.

Shooffing is such a great word. I want to copyright it and turn it into the next hashtag in terms of popularity. It should be pretty easy to do through social media.

I would appreciate any helpful hints how to do that. I need to get a viral spin going and then somehow commercialize the name. Sounds easy but it really needs some magic potion to get people to spread the word. That’s where Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter come in. We just need to work the system.

Seniors Become More Addicted To Electronic Devices

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Our group visiting Volubilis, a partially excavated Roman city in Morocco. This is no ordinary bunch of seniors. We have an urologist, an out-of-print book dealer, a criminal lawyer, a fashion consultant, a school teacher, a professor of organic chemistry, a pharmacy owner, a real estate agent, a dentist, and a one guy who might be in the CIA.

I remember when many of my friends complained that their children and grandchildren spent too much time fixated on computers and electronic games. That was then. I am now convinced that seniors are rapidly becoming totally dependent on electronic devices as well.

I just have spent 12 days with the same 35 seniors who love their digital cameras, iPads, smartphones, and Kindles/Nooks just as much as the under 50-crowd. The minute we all get on the bus to travel from city to city, out come the gadgets. Everyone is either reading, listening to music or playing electronic games.

What surprised me the most is how many of my travel mates play games on a consistent basis. Many of them have ongoing Sudoku, Candy Crush, Words With Friends, and Solitaire games in-play at all times.

Very few sit idle. They have to exercise their minds as much as possible.

The photo above is Volubilis, a partly excavated Roman city in Morocco situated between Fes and Rabat. Built in a fertile agricultural area, it was developed during the 3rd century BC

Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed for being a well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire.

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If My Parents Could See Me Now

I have been playing the senior citizen card for so long now that I am almost enjoying being 66 (not really). I use my age to get in front of a long line at the Apple store and now I discovered it really works when you are traveling around the world. Most younger people really want to be helpful. If they don’t, I tell them I am a senior (not that they can’t see that for themselves) and usually get my way.

Such is the case when we went on a camel ride 500-feet up the sand dunes in the Sahara Desert to see the sunset. The camel guides were so caring and attentive, that it made it easy for us to accomplish this challenge. Getting on and off a camel is cumbersome but they told us how to do it and what to expect. Most of the folks on our tour (the majority over 60) really enjoyed this once-in-a lifetime opportunity.

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Eliot and Lois on board

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At this point, I’m still in disbelief that I’m in the Sahara Desert on a camel

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I didn’t take my hands off the reins. The guide must have taken this picture

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We made it 500-feet up. All we needed was wine and cheese.

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We got what we came for.