I just noticed that the latest OS update to Amazon Fire TV Stick enables something called “Captive Portal Wi-Fi”. In actual human-being language, this means the device will now let you use your hotel’s wireless network – even if it has one of those pop-ups which make you type in your name and room number to gain access.

This is great news as it addresses what has been my main obstacle to enjoying the Fire TV Stick on the road. I’ve had to jump through a number of extra steps to make it work at every hotel I’ve stayed at which, as you might imagine, dulled the joys of having a small, cheap, easy-to-use media streaming device that plugs into an open HDMI port. Combine that with another new addition to Amazon Fire TV – HBO GO – and you’ve got the perfect alternative to bad hotel cable and overpriced Video-on-Demand.

If you don’t already have a Fire TV Stick, you can actually get one for free until early June! New streaming service Sling TV is offering a promotion code for a free Fire TV Stick (or USD$50 off of the more full-featured Fire TV) with a new three month subscription.

Throughout Southeast Asia, it’s time for Buddhist New Year–arguably the region’s most important celebration.

902697_10151491715118463_945129724_oCalled “Songkran” here in Thailand, the festivals of neighboring Laos (“Pii Mai”), Myanmar (“Thingyan”), and Cambodia (“Chaul Chnam Thmey”) have their own variations. One aspect is essentially the same, however: A nationwide water fight which lasts for days.

The water offers symbolic cleansing: A washing away of regrets and bad acts and a fresh start for the year ahead. I think it’s a beautiful idea, and I’ll do my best to remember that as I dart furtively between destinations over the next few days, hoping that my electronics aren’t subjected to an early cleansing from my life by some well-meaning merrymaker.

Amidst all the splashing, though, it’s important to remember that Songkran is a spiritual holiday and the local Buddhist temples are at its core. Even in this era of rapid cultural change and urbanization within Southeast Asia, New Year ceremonies at temples still draw the faithful.

These “wats” (as they’re known throughout the region) often feel inseparable from neighborhoods which have grown up around them. They seem woven into the tapestry of daily life, creating a way of being which–without making a fuss about it–effortlessly combines the modern and the ancient. It’s one of my favorite aspects of Southeast Asian culture and, based on what I see on Instagram, a favorite for many travelers as well.

Share Your Photos of Southeast Asian Temples

File Apr 12, 9 44 36 PM
Let’s celebrate the New Year together! Share your own images of Southeast Asian temples and temple life on Instagram with a hashtag of #ShotsOfWats. I’ll repost your best photos all week long.

To see the collection as it grows, visit the “Shots of Wats” website.1

  1. Yes, I made a special website just for all your shots of wats. Why not… []

Thoughts about our travels and the items which we carry with us

‘UNPACKED’ is Traveler Tech’s new, open-ended series of thoughts about our travels and the items which we carry with us. Hopefully, these features will blend the practical with the philosophical–while also fitting completely under the seat in front of you. Welcome aboard!

My first instinct was that I didn’t want to assemble another collection of packing tips: I have already read an interminable number of “You can stuff items into the empty spaces of your shoes!” articles and, I expect, so have you.

Instead, I thought we’d all be better served by diving a little deeper. I want to explore concepts which might help you discover your own better ways of filling up a bag. Frankly, I hate when people proclaim that there’s a “right way” to travel. Let’s try to be more honest and humble than that. We should acknowledge that no two people travel in exactly the same way and, in fact, no two trips are the same.

Or, to paraphrase the Ancient Greeks – “No person ever packs the same bag twice”.


Let’s start things off with a look at “baggage”, both literal and emotional.
[Read more…]

The personal data of approximately 190,000 JAL Mileage Bank customers was accessed by an unauthorized intruder, the company reported earlier this week. Early indications are that their system was compromised by a malware infection–something which has affected many online retailers around the world.

According to JAL’s announcement, there is no indication that passwords and credit card numbers have been stolen and their mileage program continues to remain operational with members reportedly able to redeem their JMB miles for awards as usual.

Though the airline promises to notify customers affected by the breech and says that it has “taking all possible countermeasures”, there has been no word if the airline will compensate or indemnify members for any damages caused by the unauthorized disclosures.

Two of my favorite online pals made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse…

This article originally appeared at Veritrope.com

A quick note:

Busy times here at Veritrope HQ, but two of my favorite online pals made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse: To appear on their wonderful podcast, Generational, and talk about travel with them.

Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess are my kind of people – keen observers of how technology fits into our everyday lives and gracious about sharing their knowledge with their readers and followers. I think you can tell we had a lot of fun talking before, during, and after the recording… and I hope you enjoy “hanging out with us” as well.

You can listen here or get it via iTunes. While you do, I’ll be working on a way to lure those guys to some of the places that I know they love so we can meet up again soon.