content top

Citymapper: choose your adventure.


“Eben.” My host mother smiled and hugged me. She wore glasses, a beanie, scarf, stripey gloves and boots, her small frame swallowed up in the big coat she wore to shield her from the January cold.

Struggling to find the right word and ending up persisting with one I knew was wrong, I asked my host mom if both she and her husband were from Berlin originally. Yes, they both grew up there, although she was born in Austria.

On that first trip home I tried to pay attention to our three transfers, knowing I would have to come back to the university the following day. I asked my new host parents for help, wrote down their directions on a piece of paper and prayed to God I would figure out the way back. And I made it! It felt pretty good.

Those months in Berlin I spent alot of time on public transportation, and I often used Citymapper to help plan out routes. Although I prefer getting to know the city myself and figuring things out on my own, Citymapper was really helpful when my route involved buses (the bus schedule was more complicated to figure out than the subway) and when I wanted to find the fastest route.

Citymapper is an app that has public transportation info on currently over 30 major cities worldwide and will put together a route for you via public transportation, walking, or cycling. It offers pretty much anything you could need – realtime travel estimates, offline map, online map, and you can set a home or work address to make things go faster when punching in a destination.

Although I wouldn’t recommend using it as a crutch if you really want to get to know a city, it’s an extremely helpful app when visiting new places or when you don’t have time to plan your route. If they don’t have it in your city, you can vote to get them to start working on it! It’s very well put together and I’d recommend it to anyone who needs help regularly planning the fastest routes. Just don’t forget that there’s nothing like the adventure of figuring it out on your own.

Read More

Periscope: Cool or Creepy?

Heard of the app Periscope? It’s pretty ridiculous. Periscope let’s you watch (and make) live streams and interact with people from all over the world. For some reason, I’ve found it’s especially popular with Russian, Turkish and Arabic speakers.. they poppin’ up everywhere on the map.

Periscope says they came up with the idea for their app by asking questions like, “What if you could see through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine? Or watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia?” Once you open the app, you can go to the world map and click to watch any live streams being broadcast from all over the world. It’s pretty cool.

Although it’s a cool idea, a majority of streams aren’t as riveting as that sunrise in a hot air balloon might be. Lots of people just stream videos saying “I’m bored, talk to me.” That’s fine, but I guess they won’t be getting lots of followers. Other periscopers have a large following because they’re fun or interesting to watch. One periscoper called Syria View, run by a news network based in Damscus, has over 2 million followers. It’s always in Arabic, so I don’t understand what’s going on when I watch their streams, but obviously people are interested in what they have to say, because of the civil war in Syria. I have to wonder about this news network though, because there are no other periscopers from Syria. My guess is that that news station has special permission from the government to use the app, because the video viewing and streaming is currently blocked for civilians. Probably some of what that network is saying is at least a little bit biased anyway.

Anyway, that to say, with this cool idea there are pros and cons.

Pro – the possibility of being able to hear what is going on all around the world straight from the people who are there

Con – doesn’t always live up to the ideal, not to mention it might be a little uncanny if you’re the one broadcasting your location and activity to the world.

Read More

Run the place your way 😊 🎶


Is that not a heart warming promo video?

tl;dwatch Eviivo streamlines bookings from multiple sites onto one platform for small hotels and bed & breakfasts so that owners can spend more time on themselves and their guests. They increase bookings overall, create a website for the business, and even offer discounts on products those businesses might need.

A testament to the quality of their work is their own website. I think their promo video, displayed directly on their homepage, does a good job of explaining what their business does. They incorporate client reviews and ratings and their website is laid out nicely.

Eviivo won the 2015 Internet Business Award (IBA) in the Events, Travel & Hospitality category. It makes sense why. They’ve provided a service which really helps small businesses and value is created all around. That is really central to what makes a good business – using new ideas and/or technology to actually creates value that didn’t exist before.

Read More

Book Your Ticket… Then Find Out Where You’re Going

You may have heard of the European Airline Germanwings on the news when one of its airplanes tragically crashed into a mountain in the French Alps last year. Thankfully there’s another, much more positive, reason to be talking about Germanwings.

In the last several years, the Lufthansa subsidiary has come up with a groundbreaking new method to fill empty seats on flights within Europe. Their blind booking gives passengers rock bottom prices on tickets (starting at €33 euro, about $38)  for flights throughout Europe. The catch is this: passengers buy the tickets before finding out their destination. What a fun idea! After selecting their departure location (currently only in Germany and Austria), travelers then select the type of experience they are looking for: Sun & Beach, Party, Gay Friendly, Culture, Metropolis, Shopping, or Nature, Trekking & Hiking. For a small fee, passengers are then allowed to black out specific destinations (maybe they spent a weekend in Paris last month and want to go somewhere new).

I’d say this is a pretty genius way for airlines to increase revenue: those flights will be taking off whether or not every last seat is filled. For travelers this is an exciting and fun way to travel to a new destination… for under $100.

I’m looking into moving to Germany after graduation. If I end up there, I will definitely be trying this out.

Here’s the link the check it out:


Read More

Apps for One Time Events: the Pittsburgh Marathon

Several GCC students ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon events this weekend. There’s an app for that too.

Larger marathons often have an app to go with their events, and the Pittsburgh Marathon is no exception. The app is one place for participants and spectators to go to get all their information – race day info such as corral and parking locations, maps, runner tracking and more. It’s a lot more concise and convenient than scrolling through the website.

pittsburghmarathonappIn my experience, apps like this improve participant and spectator experience. I watched some of my family members and friends run in the Chicago marathon last fall. Their app was very helpful in navigating the city and course. In addition, after signing up to track certain runners, I received notifications when they passed checkpoints along the course, so we could plan where to be to see them. When I used the Pittsburgh app this weekend, I appreciated being able to quickly access information about the expo (event before the marathon at which runners can pick up their bib numbers), corrals, and the course. The app also sends push notifications about new information such as emergency weather updates.

By making an event run more smoothly, apps like this encourage more participants and spectators to come in following years, which helps not only participants but also those putting on the event. When events are run well it creates pressure for other events to improve as well. So when they help events run smoothly, these event apps benefit all parties.


Read More
content top