Getting Dopplr and Tripit to Play Together

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been using Dopplr and TripIt a lot recently as I’ve been travelling more. Although TripIt is far more featureful, I know more people on Dopplr and so keeping it up-to-date is useful as it increases the chance of serendipitous coincidences. They are competitors, but I like them both.

So far it’s been a pain to enter information into Dopplr manually, but they announced today that it can now watch iCal calendars and create trips accordingly. I’ve added my iCal feed from TripIt and it seems to work well so far. They are minor niggles. For example, it gets confused if you have multiple destinations in your trip as TripIt doesn’t really allow for this concept. Also, not all trips involve advance booking, so I don’t bother adding them to TripIt - they’ll need to be entered into Dopplr manually. Nevertheless, it should cut down on the amount of data entry.

Focus on Imaging and the 400D

I went to the Focus on Imaging show at the NEC at the weekend. The show itself was a little disappointing, obviously oriented more around trade sales than the end-consumer, and was marred a little by poor organisation from the NEC resulting in large queues, a car-park merry-go-round, and so on. But nevertheless, there were some interesting stalls - Canon and Nikon having the largest and most impressive, with some substantial Canon L-series lenses on display.

I availed myself of the special show pricing (and suffered the robust crowds) to buy a Canon 400D body, plus the lens I’ve been trying to get hold of - the Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. The lens is cheap, but allegedly better optically than its poor non-image-stabilised cousin that is shipped by default with many Canon bodies. At some point, I’ll invest in something better.

I had a (35mm) SLR some time ago, but sold it when I started using my digital compact more. I’ve been missing the flexibility of an SLR, though, and the appeal of higher ISO (the heroin of digital photography?) was too much. I’ll give it its first proper crack at the whip at the weekend, no doubt.

Excellent Service from TripIt

As I’ve starting travelling a lot recently, I’ve been making reasonably heavy use of both Dopplr and the less well-known TripIt. The idea behind Dopplr is simple: tell it which cities you’re travelling to and it will share that information with your other Dopplr contacts, notifying you when you’re in the same place. You can also syndicate your travel plans - I have mine published on Facebook and available as a feed via Google Calendar.

TripIt, although it has similar facilities for maintaining a list of travelling contacts, originates from a slightly different and more ambitious idea. Essentially, you email TripIt confirmation emails for hotels, airlines, car rental, etc. - and it parses them and automatically organises them into trips with information-rich itineraries, including weather, maps, city guides, etc. You can print those out, but (more usefully) you can again syndicate them into tools such as Google Calendar via iCal. This way, I end up with details about all my flights, hotels, and so on in my calendar automatically.

TripIt’s not perfect - I’ve found a few bugs - and TripIt doesn’t support every single travel agent (for example, it doesn’t support the one we use within IBM - at least not directly). But the TripIt team are very responsive to feedback - I notified them about a Hertz reservation email this afternoon that wasn’t recognised. They’ve already fixed the bug and the information has appeared in my TripIt account. I’m not sure how they plan to monetise their service (although that’s still not clear with Dopplr either), but I am likely to stay a regular user for the foreseeable future.

(Honourable mention for another useful travel website goes to Kayak, which has the most flexible and useful flight search interface I’ve found).

Juno

Sonic Youth sucks, they're just noise — Juno

Juno is the kind of movie that reminds you why being alive (oh yeah, and watching films) is a good thing. From the Sunny D-guzzling opening to the bittersweet ending, it definitely delivers the laughs as the reviews promised. They’ve pinched a few of the cast from Arrested Development, a quality American sit-com, and it shows in the delivery. Ellen Page is also strong in the title role as Juno herself. None of the cast speak like real human beings, but that doesn’t seem to matter too much - as long as you’re at or around the level of political correctness of Jeremy Clarkson, you’ll love it.

Go watch it, it’s funny.

RIAS Home Insurance Need Some Data Washing

Hmm. Got this letter through the door the other day:

Dear Ms Ferrier [sic], **Born before 1958! Your age could save you money on your home insurance.** Let's face it, you are bombarded with messages promising you cheaper insurance... [etc. etc.]

Quite entertaining that they managed to get both my sex and my age (quite significantly) wrong. I don’t think they’ll be getting my business.

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