For a real adventure
When I was a kid, I thought one of the most dashing and romantic things in the world would be to go to a crowded airport, a duffel bag slung over one shoulder, and breathlessly announce to the ticket agent, “I want one ticket on the next plane out of here,” and then go wherever the path took me. As an adult in a pre-9/11 world, I still thought the same thing.
In a world grown smaller and smaller through countless online travel sites, each with detailed reviews of locales and the best options for everything once there, the sense of adventure feels a little lost.
Until now, maybe.
Jubel is a startup travel site that offers what its competitors do not: the ability to create a true bespoke adventure travel experience, where as much or as little as you desire is kept as a surprise.
How it works
When planning your trip with Jubel, one begins by telling the site a little bit about what you have in mind. Jubel focuses on alternative travel experiences, ones off the beaten and over-traveled path.
Jubel’s research team has done extensive research on these out-of-the way locations to prevent the traveler from being dependent upon second-rate or incomplete information.
Their local networks of trusted locations allow you to have a rich experience that’s uniquely yours, as they tailor the trip to your specific survey responses. The site advertises that travelers can start with a trip idea “vague as ‘a completely blind journey somewhere in the world,’ or they can be more specific, for those travelers who know what might be of more interest to them, for example, again from Jubel’s website, “a culturally rich Indonesian experience.”
Users select the theme for their adventure (called a path on Jubel’s site), and identify destinations (along with a preferred budget for travel) along the way that would be of potential interest through a detailed, yet uncumbersome, survey.
For those who get analysis paralysis of all of the great places to go and see on a trip, Jubel provides an inspirations page with more information about preferred sites. They also allow users to contact agents directly for support in finding that perfect destination or activity before the trip is completely planned, as well as at any point during the trip to address questions or unanticipated needs that may arise during the trip.
Fully comprehensive price points
Once you’ve provided Jubel with the necessary information about what places and types of experiences you’re interested in, they do the rest! They design a trip, totally custom-made for you, without any prior commitment.
For some other sites, who promise low fares to surprise destinations, you’re taking a bit of a gamble. You pay upfront and only then are told of the dates, times, or destinations. Not so with Jubal. You only proceed with payment and finalization of trip plans once you’re satisfied with the destination and the price point. The pricing is comprehensive to boot: you’re quoted a proposal that takes into account flights, hotel, and any additional transportation needs once you’re there.
Keep it a surprise (or not)
Once you’re on the road, you can keep your next stops a secret from yourself, or cheat ahead by peeking early, whatever suits your comfort level. Jubel takes care of both ends of the traveler spectrum by sending the Jubel Pack to you after payment. These sealed envelopes provide you with the next local destination for your adventure, along with recommendations handpicked for you based on the survey information you provided and their deep knowledge of what’s worth seeing. You’re completely in charge here; the pace of your trip is (somewhat) up to you and how quickly you wish to proceed through the Jubal Pack.
Adventure and magic
The site advertises that being surprised along the path is an inherently valuable part of the journey. For some travelers, who prefer to have complete charge of their destinations and itineraries in advance, planning with Jubel, even with the ability to open all of the envelopes directly on receipt of the Jubel Pack, may seem a bit overwhelming. For those of us who want to experience adventure as a part of the magic of travel, it might be just the trip we’ve been waiting for. Take their survey to see what kind of adventure they can plan for you.
Google set to release new AI-operated meeting room kit… and it’s pretty baller
(TECH NEWS) Google’s newest toy is designed to “put people first” by alleviating video and audio issues for conference room meetings.
Remote meetings can be the worst sometimes. The awful video and audio quality are frustrating when you’re trying to hear important details for an upcoming project. Even with the fastest internet connection, this doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to clearly hear or see anyone who’s in the office. But Google is re-imagining conference rooms with their new video conferencing hardware.
Yesterday, the company introduced Google Meet Series One. In partnership with Lenovo, this meeting room kit is made exclusively for Google Meet and is poised to be the hardware that “puts people first.”
The Series One has several components that make it stand out. First is the “Smart Audio Bar,” powered by eight beam-forming microphones. Using Google Edge TPUs, the soundbar can deliver TrueVoice®, the company’s “proprietary, multi-channel noise cancellation technology.” It removes distracting sounds, like annoying finger and foot-tapping noises, so everyone’s voices are crystal clear from anywhere in the room.
The hardware also has 4K smart cameras that allow for high-resolution video and digital PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) effects. Processed with Google AI, the device knows to automatically zoom in and out so all of the meetings’ participants are framed in the camera. With an i7 processor and Google Edge TPUs, the system is built to “handle the taxing demands of video conferencing along with running the latest in Google AI as efficiently and reliably as possible.”
The meeting kit has Google grade security built-in, so the system automatically updates over-the-air. The system also works seamlessly with Google services and apps we already use. Its touch control display is powered by a single ethernet cable. From the admin controls, you can manage meeting lists and control room settings. Powered by assistant voice commands, their touch controller provides a “touchless touchability”; if you want to, you can join a meeting just by saying, “Hey Google, join the meeting.”
These new meeting kits are easy to install and are versatile. They can be configured to fit small, medium, and large-sized rooms. “Expanding kits for larger rooms can be done with just an ethernet cable and the tappable Mic Pod, which expands microphone reach and allows for mute/unmute control.”
According to the Google Meet Series One introductory video, the meeting room kits are “beautifully and thoughtfully designed to make video meetings approachable and immersive so everyone gets a seat at the table.”
Currently, there is no release date set for Google Meet Series One. However, pre-orders will soon be available in the US, Canada, Finland, France, Norway, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium.
One creepy way law enforcement might have your private data
(TECH NEWS) Wait, geofences do what? Law enforcement can pull your private data if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
By now, it’s pretty common knowledge that our smartphones are tracking us, but what you might not be aware of is just how much law enforcement is taking advantage of our private data. Now, the good news is that some places have gotten wise to this breach of privacy and are banning certain tactics. The bad news is: If you were ever in the vicinity of a recent crime scene, it’s quite possible your privacy has already been invaded.
How are law enforcement doing this? Well, it starts with a geofence.
At its core, a geofence is a virtual border around a real geographic location. This can serve many purposes, from creating marketing opportunities for targeted ads to tracking shipping packages. In the case of law enforcement, though, geofences are often used in something called a geofence warrant.
Traditionally, warrants identify a subject first, then retrieve their electronic records. A geofence warrant, on the other hand, identifies a time and place and pulls electronic data from that area. If you’re thinking “hey, that sounds sketchy,” you are–forgive the pun–completely warranted.
With a geofence, law enforcement can dig through your private data, not because they have proof you were involved in a crime, but because you happened to be nearby.
This practice, though relatively new, is on the rise: Google reported a 15-fold increase in geofence warrant requests between 2017 and 2018. As well as invading privacy, these warrants have led to false arrests and can be used against peaceful protesters. Not to mention, in many cases, geofence warrants can be extremely easy to acquire. One report in Minnesota found judges signed off on these cases in under 4 minutes.
Thankfully, there have been signs of people pushing back against the use of geofence warrants. In fact, there have been multiple federal court rulings that find the practice in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” including your electronic data.
If you’re still worried about your privacy, there are ways to keep your electronic data on lock. For example, turn off your location services when you’re traveling, and avoid connecting to open Wi-Fi networks. You can also work to limit location sharing with apps and websites.
Incoming! Amazon drones will be dropping off packages soon (we hope)
(TECH NEWS) The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Amazon for drone delivery service, but when will the drones actually take flight?
Amazon has finally received the stamp of approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to deliver packages by drones. This pivotal step brings the online retailer closer to their promise of delivering packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.
In 2013, during CBS’s “60 Minutes” interview, Amazon CEO and Founder, Jeff Bezos, said drones would be delivering customers’ packages within five years. Although the estimate is a couple of years off, it seems like that day might be right around the corner.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the day when little floating presents are sailing through the sky (Animal Crossing balloons, anyone?). Despite our excitement to see our latest Amazon impulse purchase land on our doorstep, it isn’t going to happen overnight.
The Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate Amazon obtained for its fleet of Prime Air drones will allow the company to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) “to carry the property of another for compensation beyond visual line of sight.” Although the FAA certification is allowing Amazon to begin test trials, Bloomberg reports that the retail giant still has “regulatory and technical hurdles” to overcome.
In addition, the FAA has yet to set regulations that will “serve as a framework to expand drone flights over crowds, a building block necessary for deliveries.” Amazon hasn’t said when and where it will start testing the delivery service either.
David Carbon, Amazon Vice President who oversees Prime Air, made this statement: “This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world.”
This approval is definitely a step forward, but Amazon has been working on the drone delivery service for years. Early last year, the giant retailer revealed they would start offering one-day shipping. They have followed through on this, at least. And during a Las Vegas Conference in June 2019, they revealed their “fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes.” But it still doesn’t answer when we can expect to see whizzing drones overhead.
I’m not sure when Amazon will fulfill their last promise. But it is getting closer. What I do know is that I look forward to the Amazon drones taking flight. I can’t wait to place my orders knowing that I will get that last-minute present I ordered just in time.
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