Tech gadgets for the flashpacker

For want of a better word, I guess I could be termed a flashpacker. Cutting costs here and there is awesome, but a few nice things along the way be it a more comfy bed or hot water is always nice. That and the fact I seem to always cart off with me what seems an enormous amount of cables and gadgets.

This trip happening in a week and a bit isn’t that much different to the last few in terms of gadgets I’m taking, but I am throwing a few more into the mix. The Eee PC and Skype has saved me in the past and this time round I’ll be relying on it plus a bunch of other gadgets to get me through the trip and help me keep in touch, pay bills, navigate roads, backup photos etc.

So in a nutshell… I think the gadget count is going to be something like as follows:

  • Eee PC – surf the net, skype, email, blog etc
  • Panasonic Lumix FZ35 – not quite an SLR but awesome zoom… and rather large!
  • Canon IXUS – smaller point and click for when I don’t want to lug the Lumix around
  • iPod – music, also a backup for my photos and any trip notes
  • iPhone – mainly for keeping in touch via SMS
  • Garmin eTrex – don’t want to get lost on a trail, maybe some geocaching too?
  • Kodak PlaySport – take some video of the car drives and places visited so I can show my mum

Between now and next weekend I’m also going to try and sort out my user accounts for various things so I can keep pics and hopefully videos coming through to the site whilst away…

Cost conscious travel planning

So I thought it’s about time I dedicate a blog to travel planning with cost consciousness in mind. About to set of on my second trip to the USA – this time for a significantly longer period of time – there are a couple of tips and tricks one can use to help keep the costs down.

Flights
Keep and eye on cheap fares. One can save hundreds of dollars buying fares when they’re on sale. Also I find that often with the international flights it’s cheaper buying them months in advance. For my upcoming trip and my trip to SE Asia last year I saved hundreds of dollars having my flights booked approx 6 months in advance.

For point to point tickets use an aggregator site to get a high level overview of the cheapest flights and times, then go to the individual airline sites to confirm the price and book. Booking direct via the airline, you often can avoid any extra charges the aggregator may apply. If time isn’t a factor, sometimes choosing that flight 1 hour earlier (or later) can make a difference, particularly if your trip consists of lots of point to point flights as it all adds up.

Accommodation
This is always a killer in travel costs, as it puts quite a bump into the budget. There’s obviously a wide range in price, quality and style of accommodation so one needs to make a decision on what they are happy with, what they are willing to pay and go out and do some hunting. Research will help in getting your best value for money here. There’s often lots of discounts from codes to early reservation discounts. Also don’t discount cheaper alternatives, sometimes they are just as awesome as the more expensive choice but perfectly fine. Make sure to do you research though, as sometimes things are cheap for a reason.

Discounts
Use them when and where you can. There are stacks of websites on the net offering deals and codes for all kinds of things from Broadway shows, hotel bookings to dining. It does require you to check the sites periodically, but this is a easy way to save heaps of money.

It might sound all a bit extreme, but the savings you make do add up to be quite a bit. Especially when travelling through places such as the USA and Europe. Of course one could do all the above even cheaper by backpacking but sometimes you want to just mix things up and have a bit of everything. In which case eventually add up.

Easy REST service development with Spring 3

So I’ve had the opportunity of late to dabble with Spring 3. From what I had seen before I wasn’t totally sold on the move to annotated controllers but after having used it for a few months I think I’m pretty much a convert to the new approach.

One of the major advantages to this new style is that it makes it dead easy to create RESTful web services. You basically define your controller class and annotate your methods the methods you wish to expose as a REST call with the @RequestMapping annotation. With this annotation you can supply some additional attributes such as the URI pattern you wish to match and what HTTP method applies to the service,

Combined with added support for JSON such as MappingJacksonJsonView and the Jackson JSON libraries one can very quickly whip up a fairly robust REST service.

As a good starting resource the SpringSource blog has a good rundown: http://blog.springsource.com/2009/03/08/rest-in-spring-3-mvc/