Friday, November 30, 2012

Hoi, Ni Hao, Salam ..might as well bring a dictionary

Did you hear about the man who traveled to every sovereign state in the world without flying? That is 201 countries!  His name is Graham Hughes, a Britain who received the last stamp from South Sudan in his passport on November 26th and earning him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Hughes stated that he used public transportation, taxis and ships to get around. Though he encountered some rough times - spending a couple of spats in jail and having his sister pass away during his travels - he succeeded. He spent nearly four years accomplishing this feat, spending less than $100 USD per week.

With only 18 countries under my belt - and knowing the frustrations that can be faced each time one travels - I am highly impressed by Hughes! He must have taken only the essentials and have placed a lot of trust in people. He would have had to set out a plan of what he would need, where he wanted to go and how he would get there. So while I highly doubt that I will be traveling to every country in the world withouth flying, it is always helpful to make a list of valuable things you should take with you when you leave your homeland:

#1 - Open Mind - not everyone is going to act or think like you. Not everyone will understand your humor or relate to your stories. Do not regard others as being "dumb" or "uncultured". If you happened to grow up in a developed country, your experiences will naturally be different that those who have not.  If someone offers you something, be polite and take it. Always be welcome to meeting new people and encountering a new aspect of their culture.

#2 - Dictionary - you must be able to (somewhat) communicate with the people that you meet. So while I am not saying to take a Pimsleur course if you are going to Azerbaijan or the countryside of Burkina Faso, knowing the basic greetings and most common phrases will always put you in a brighter light with the locals. And will also make your journey from point A to point B a lot less stressful.

#3 - Portable Charger - wouldn't you want to take pictures or keep in contact with those that you left behind from time to time?  With technology getting bigger and devices becoming smaller, you can now have a camera that can fit in your pocket or a "computer" (ie: tablet) that you can hold in your hand.  To make those devices keep up with you, a portable charger is the way to go. The ReStore 9200 is ideal as you can charge it via USB and then throw it in your backpack while you are on the move. You can easily plug your camera, tablet or smartphone to it and it can charge while you are on the train, bus or even boat! Just be sure to keep your eye open for someone with a laptop or computer who can keep the ReStore 9200 with juice flowing through it.  For more help with this, re-read #1.

Of course, this list can go on and on. Everyone is different, so people will have a varying list of essentials to take. However, if you are planning on becoming the next Graham Hughes, just be sure to bring your passport! You won't even make it out of your local airport without it!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Headaches and Holidays: The Joys of Traveling at this Time

"Has anyone else packed your luggage?" says the woman behind the counter checking you in for your flight as hundreds of other passengers stand in line and look on.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year. Walking into the airport, you know there are bound to be long lines, crying children, delays and cancellations. The security check line is going to give you a headache, you cannot find a seat in the Gate waiting area and the man in front of you will not get off his phone even after the flight attendant asked him for the second time! The only thing you can do is hope for the best, but expect the worst. After all, you need to make that journey to see your family and friends.

Packing for a flight can be difficult as you want to ensure you carry enough but don't want to overload yourself. Doing that means you will have to pay more money for an overweight suitcase and who wants to do that?! You should always keep an extra set of clothes in your carry-on luggage just in case the airline misplaces your checked-in suitcase. Just as well, you should not put any of your electronics in your checked luggage. Phones, tablets and cameras should be kept on you or in your carry-on. At this time of the year, camera bags and tablet cases are ideal items to have.

Though all of this does seem like a hassle, do not get stressed: flying is fun! You have the opportunity to get away from your "reality" for a while and engage in conversations with those sitting near you on the plane. You can even catch up on sleep while listening to your tunes. Be sure you have the proper headphones or this plan will go array.

Pretty soon, the plane will touch down and you will hear those words that you were waiting for: "Thank you for flying with us. Have a safe holiday season and we look forward to seeing you again."

Though you may have been delayed and your suitcase may have been damaged, you know you will do it again in a heartbeat as seeing the smile on your loved one's face is priceless!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving and thanks to our friends

Sometimes it's nice to take a pause from life and look around us and analyze just what we've accomplished, what we've accumulated, the friendships we've developed, and everything we might be grateful for. Maybe it's sappy, but enough folks feel the same way enough to make it a national holiday, anyway. So, here's to Thanksgiving, and here's to everyone who has added to our experiences here at from our loyal customers to the great folks at the Google Android Fan site who said such nice things about the GOgroove Pal Bot, we have much to be thankful for.

We certainly hope all of you who may be looking over these words find yourselves in the cheeriest of company come this Thursday, however you may celebrate it. We hope that you will take a moment and reflect on those things that have added just a little bit extra this last revolution around the Sun and maybe even tell those folks who make your life a little brighter just how much they mean to you. And most of all, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving holiday this year, from the bottom of our hearts of all the staff here at Accessory Genie. Thank you all.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: The Year's Biggest Shopping Days

Did you notice stores selling Christmas ornaments as soon as Labor Day weekend was over?  Seems like every year the holidays start creeping up sooner and sooner.  It used to be that October 1st you saw stores putting up their Halloween Decorations, November 1st changed to Thanksgiving and the Friday after Thanksgiving everywhere turned into a winter wonderland.  Retailers gave you the courtesy to enjoy one holiday at a time.  But now we start worrying about Christmas in September, which clouds the festivities in between with panic.  This panic in turn makes the holidays fly-by in a blur which we barely manage to recover from. 

Black Friday is the culmination of that panic.  Every year you see  news stories about customers camping out in the wee hours to be the first ones in the big box store to get the best deal.  In the worst case scenarios you hear about actual stampedes and even acts of violence happening in major retail stores.  Retailers took note and started opening at 4 and 5 am, some even open at midnight so you can squeeze in a nice after turkey nap before you go.  At some point enough people decided to avoid possible bodily harm and check for deals online.  From this was born Cyber Monday.  The term was coined in 2005, after researchers noticed that the Monday after Thanksgiving Day 2004 was one of the largest online shopping days that year.  Since then, more and more consumers have taken to making their purchases online by taking advantage of special Cyber Monday exclusive deals.  Accessory Genie will be offering some Cyber Monday electronics deals of their own, including free standard shipping, so make sure to check back.

If you're a traditionalist and must join the frenzied crowds on Black Friday then consult this checklist in preparation:
  1. Wear comfortable shoes for the 3 hour wait in line at the register.  Better yet, wear some steel-toe boots to prevent injuries from errant shopping cart wheels.
  2. Layer.  The temperatures are dipping and the hours of midnight through 5 a.m are especially chilly so dress warm but remember that once inside that big box store temperatures will soar as a result of so many frantic shoppers darting about.
  3. Make sure to stay hydrated.  Drink plenty of water, especially if you spent the morning drinking hot coffee to stay warm.  But be prepared for Disneyland-like lines at the bathrooms.
  4. Map out your shopping territory based on the multitude of flyers you have received in the mail so you can run straight for that 60" flat screen.
  5. Bring a buddy so they can run ahead to get the items you want, because by the time you get through the shopping cart traffic jam they'll likely be out of stock.
Now, here's a checklist to help you prepare for Cyber Monday:
  1. Bookmark your favorite deal sites or store pages for quick access to product offers.
  2. If you're getting several email newsletters, save your favorite ones in an email folder so you can easily go back to them.
  3. Kick up your feet and start shopping
But proceed with caution.  According to studies, since Cyber Monday, 2011, about 22% of employers had to fire an employee due to non-work related internet use. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

How to Stay Connected During and After a Disaster

On Monday half of the continental United States was affected by one of the largest storms in U.S. history.  Superstorm Sandy caused mass devastation across the Eastern seaboard, with New Jersey and New York suffering the most damage and loss of life.  The unprecedented storm and its aftermath remind us of the importance of emergency preparedness.  When the power goes out you lose the ability to light and heat your home, cook food, filter water and communicate.  In a situation like this cellphones, smart phones and laptops can become your only way to stay connected, especially if you have to evacuate.  Unfortunately these items become nothing more than paper weights if they lose their charge. 

In the event of a disaster, natural or otherwise, having a portable source of back-up power will be necessary to keep your electronic devices charged and operating.  One option is a solar charger and back-up battery pack like the ReVIVE Solar ReStore XL+.  This charger can be charged weeks in advance and will hold its charge to be used as needed.  You can keep the charger mounted in a window year round or charge via USB before the power goes down.  Once charged, the ReStore XL+ can charge seven smart phones or 3 tablets to full capacity.  It also has a built-in LED flashlight that can light in full beam or S.O.S mode for up to 50 consecutive hours and a carabiner so it can be attached to a backpack.  Another option is the ReVIVE Trans4m, which is a compact, pocket sized, versatile charger that can charge a smart phone from a 9V battery, AA batteries, unfold to charge from a DC outlet or an AC outlet.  Either of these are portable, durable, compact options that will become necessary items in an emergency kit.

In the aftermath of Sandy, those impacted are now confronted with the daunting task of rebuilding their lives and for many their homes.  If you would like to help the victims of Sandy, you can donate to the Red Cross here.  Remember that thousands of homes have been lost and millions are still without power and they all need our help.