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OCTOBER 31, 2008    More below:  TRAIN VIEWS

iPhone tricks

I had to have a cell phone on my recent train trip to the West Coast and back, and for a variety of reasons an iPhone was my only choice. Neither ATT nor Apple made the purchase easy, but eventually—with three whole days to spare—I got the phone. It proved to be immensely valuable...and fun.

One of the most fun and useful features of the iPhone is its built-in GPS mapping ability. I came to rely on my phone as I navigated unfamiliar cities and fought LA freeway traffic. Most of the time I didn't use the paper maps people gave or drew for me but trusted Google Maps on my phone instead.

This video shows the most entertaining thing: you can watch yourself as you travel. You get a bird's eye view, especially if you use the "Satellite" view as you see in the video.

On the other hand, when I was trying to figure out if I was walking in the right direction in Milwaukee, the traditional "Map" view made it easier for me to identify street names.

Late one night in Berkeley my little buddy here reassured me that the bus was going towards my motel and not away from it.

Here, fishy fishy fishy

In this first video you see some koi swimming in a pond in Portland's Japanese Garden. OK, just mildly interesting, I know. But this video is here so you can compare it with the next one, koi swimming in a pond on my iPhone.


Here are my digital koi in their pond. Pretty cool, no?

What you don't see here is how you can change the number of fish, add or subtract lily pads on the water, and listen to birds, insects or wind in your little koi kingdom.

By the way, I used the same audio for both video clips. Is it from the Japanese Garden or the iPhone? The answer is at the bottom* of this page.

Koi Pond was created by The Blimp Pilots and is a steal at 99 cents.

[ Using iPhone weather app to stay in touch with friends and memories: Travel via iPhone ]

See America from the train

One of the best things about train travel is that you really do see the country. No matter how many times you fly over it you'll never get a true sense of the mind-boggling expanse of the United States. On the train you can sip a cold beer or glass of brandy while you're enjoying the view. If you've got the time, in my book there's no more civilized way to travel.

From Cleveland to LA you start in urban backyards and as the hours roll by so do plains with farmhouses farther and farther apart, changing to low hills and finally desert. Heading north from LA you get great ocean views, then strangely enough desert for a bit in Oregon, but soon gorgeous forests, rivers and mountains that stretch across the top of the U.S. Going through much of Montana and North Dakota is night time, and when you get to Wisconsin and Minnesota it begins to look a lot like Ohio farmland again. You know you're close to home.

I've added/updated videos:

*The sound on both koi videos is from the iPhone.

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