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Friday, March 27, 2009

Why You Should Travel Now

Last year’s travel buzzword was “staycation,” an idea that promoted the benefits of thinking local instead of plunking down a credit card for a luxurious vacation getaway. As the economy has taken even more of a nosedive, travel-shy consumers can now benefit from the deep discounts being offered by resorts and airlines, discounts so deep that you just might be tempted to pack your bags.

We talked with Barbara Messing, the Vice President of Travel Ticker, a division of Hotwire that tracks the best insider travel deals, including special limited-time offers, small hotels you wouldn’t normally find online and exotic locations. Messing publishes her own weekly picks of the best deals in the “Barbara’s Best” section of the site-and sees this as one of the best times to book a vacation.

“The silver lining of this economic downturn is that there have never been better travel bargains. These are truly the best deals I’ve ever seen,” Messing says. “It’s a pretty amazing time to travel if you can put down your credit card now. You’ll get more value than ever.”

(David Holland)

Here are some reasons why you should travel now:

Even luxury resorts are offering deep discounts. That’s right: You don’t have to stay in a cheap motel to get a good bargain. For the first time in recent memory, you can stay at the hottest properties in town without having to pay premium prices. “This is one of the most interesting trends we’re seeing: Luxurious, aspirational properties, like the plush new, four and a half-star Intercontinental in San Francisco, which has a fantastic spa or the Biltmore, which is a classic Phoenix resort, are offering great prices,” Messing says. “The Biltmore, for instance, is about 45% off, and we’re actually seeing this during peak season, not in the middle of the summer when you wouldn’t want to go to Arizona.”

(Chris Seufert)

Two favorite destinations-Hawaii and Vegas-are at all-time low prices. “All of Hawaii is basically on sale; all of the hotels are discounting heavily,” Messing notes, due to reduced flights to the always popular destination. Makes sense. They’d rather offer rock-bottom prices than have empty rooms. “In Vegas, there’s the combination of an incredible hotel building boom with reduced business travel, so it’s like a red tag sale of four- and five-star properties on the strip like the Wynn, the the Palazzo, and Palm Place.”


All-inclusives are a great deal for the budget-conscious traveler and families. By going with an all-inclusive package, you pay one price up front for everything, so there are no surprises. “There are a ton of deals at all-inclusive resorts, especially at the new hotels along the Mexican Riviera, which would rather offer deep discounts than have empty rooms,” Messing says. “Resort pricing on food and beverage can be higher than you might expect, so this way, you can just enjoy that margarita without worrying about the $15 price tag.”


The deal can do all the talking. Instead of setting your heart on one particular destination, decide what kind of vacation you’d like and then explore the deals out there. “It’s such a great time to travel that I’d recommend letting the deal be the inspiration. For instance, if you want a beach vacation, be open to the Caribbean and Mexico and just look for the best deal.”

Even local vacations can be a good getaway. “A lot of four- and five-star hotels in big cities are empty on the weekends,” Messing says. “You can save on airfare by finding a great deal and driving there.” Now might be the ideal time for the weekend in the city you’ve dreamed about. You’ll probably have enough money left over for a meal in a restaurant and a show.

The news is not all good. The larger airlines have tightened up on baggage restrictions and they’ve passed those costs on to the customer. But here’s one last tip. If at all possible, try to get everything into a carry-on. If you just can’t bear to leave certain items behind, try to avoid baggage fees altogether. “Look for flights on airlines like Virgin America, Alaska and Southwest, which don’t charge you to check a bag,” Messing explains.

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10 operating systems the world left behind

AmigaOS, CP/M, OS/2, DOS -- which OS do you miss the most? Today we want to honor a handful of the most memorable operating systems and interfaces that have graced our desktops over the years. Some of them lasted for years. Some of them had remarkably short lives but inspired trends that we are benefiting from to this day.

read more | digg story

Pot Saved My Life, Mr. President

Today, in the historic first online town hall, President Obama fielded questions from nearly a hundred thousand people online. One of the most popular questions, and indeed, one of the most popular questions in any forum that lets people vote on what matters to them, was about whether legalizing marijuana would help improve the economy and job creation.

Chuckling, the President said: "I don't know what this says about the online audience, but [laughing] this was a fairly popular question, we want to make sure it was answered. The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy."

I've never smoked pot in my life, indeed I've never smoked anything at all. Despite that, a couple years ago, I needed a double lung transplant. My lungs were scarred beyond repair due to side effects from radiation treatments I'd had nearly a decade earlier in my two battles with cancer.

I lost a lot of weight in this process, to the point where it was life-threatening. My lung doctor suggested "marinol," the synthetic (and legal) version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. I laughed at him, and asked "Was this going to make me stupid? I don't want to be a pothead!" He said one of his patients put on 40 pounds with it. I didn't have any other option.

It worked. Marinol allowed me to put on enough weight to get me out of the danger zone until we figured out the underlying problem was a bleeding ulcer in my stomach, a reaction to one of the anti-rejection drugs I was taking for the transplant.

Pot saved my life. It's a miracle drug, even the crappy non-organic kind made in a lab.

The President will be asked this question again, and maybe next time he won't laugh at us.

UPDATE: Here's the video:

Today, in the historic first online town hall, President Obama fielded questions from nearly a hundred thousand people online. One of the most popular questions, and indeed, one of the most popular q...
Today, in the historic first online town hall, President Obama fielded questions from nearly a hundred thousand people online. One of the most popular questions, and indeed, one of the most popular q...

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The Apple iPhone: Your New Medical Buddy March 23

by VirtualTest

Picture this: you are away on business, but your doctor only gave you the go-ahead with the condition that you need to monitor your blood pressure or your blood sugar levels and keep your doctor informed about your status at regular intervals. Sounds cumbersome? It may not be soon.

Apple logoApple’s announcement last week of a new operating system for the iPhone – iPhone OS 3.0 – comes with new capabilities and applications that will make these activities a breeze for iPhone users. Aside from being your mobile business assistant, the iPhone may also become your medical assistant in the near future.

Two of the more interesting applications are for blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring. A blood-pressure cuff can be plugged into the iPhone connector, and an application will then take care of delivering the controls needed for inflating the cuff and measuring a person’s blood pressure. If you think that’s amazing, the iPhone OS 3.0 will take this one step further, by having the ability to send the results to the person’s attending physician using 3G technology. This way, the doctor can perform remote real-time monitoring of a person’s medical status and make changes to medication as soon as it is needed.

The other application is for testing blood sugar levels. The application can tie a blood glucose test to an iPhone. The connection will enable a diabetic iPhone user to download the results where it can be read as a graph.

The iPhone will also have the ability to connect the user to real-time information which will help determine whether there is a need to adjust insulin or medicine intake, as well as to other iPhone users or community of experts who can provide feedback and input on how to manage diabetes.

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