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Big Apple Unpeeled 8th October - 8th November 2010

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Using Google City Tours for New York City

I discovered Google City Tours the other day and got quite excited about the possibilities!

You just put in your location, with the option of adding in dates as well. Great!

Hmm. Well, perhaps not so great. I lost patience with it very quickly.....

My first search under 'Manhattan' delivered a walk around and through central park with an approximate length of time along each part of the route, and with the option of removing some of the choices.

Okay, not bad for the first try. I could do that on one of my days in NYC. But upon refreshing the screen to find another selection I was disappointed to find the same map presented to me. I guess in some ways I shouldn't have been surprised as I used the same search term, but in a city the size of Manhattan, I would have thought that it would be churning out 'tour' after tour covering the width and length of the city.

So, I went a bit more general with my next search term, 'New York City'. Ah now it was covering a bit more ground, with a walk lasting approximately 4.5 hours starting at the centre of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Okay, time to get a bit more specific on my next search, 'Financial District, Manhattan'.

Well, this walk does include the financial district, but also takes me quite a way away from it too. Hmmm.....

As I mentioned, you can put in how many days you are staying in the area, but the maximum number of days is 5. I clicked on day 2 for Financial District. Now this is more like it. Much closer to the area. Things are looking up!

Until....Day 3. Where Google City Tours had run out of suggestions altogether.

So, my initial excitement about Google's City Tours waned very quickly. It just isn't good enough. Lack of choice. Restriction on days. And although you can put in exact dates, the information doesn't seem to change. For example, I would have liked up to date events and seasonal suggestions included. I don't really know how they pull the information together, but overall it was a disappointing experience.
I think I'll stick to planning my own walks, maybe selecting one from a guide book, or more likely just go where the wind blow me! :)

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The quickest way I know to make connections in New York City

Hands up who loves twitter!

I love twitter so much I even organised a twitter flash mob!

And I'm intending to make the most out of this wonderful social media tool when I am in New York City.

For the past couple of months I've started to follow tweeters in NYC. There's quite a mixture of organisations, things to do, as well as fellow photographers and social media peeps and people who have piqued my interest.

I've started exchanging tweets, getting to know people, and have even been invited to a couple of nights out!

And although I am putting a lot of planning into the Big Apple Unpeeled, I want to leave room for spontaniety.

One of the apps I use on my iPhone is a twitter client called Twitterrific. It meets all my tweeting needs when I am on the move.

However, there is one feature that I haven't tapped into yet; the Nearby feature.

No matter where you are, if you tap on Nearby, it will show you a list of tweeters within your vicinity and what they are saying.

So, I'm gonna see who and what is going on around me. If something or someone interests me, then I'm just going to say 'Hi' and see what happens! Perhaps I'll make a new friend, perhaps not. Maybe I'll end up somewhere interesting maybe not. But I'm going to give it a try and of course I'll be reporting back here!

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Monday, 16 August 2010

My handy little pocket computer

During the next few weeks, I'll be chatting about some of the tech I am taking with me to New York.

First up! My iPhone.

I sometimes wonder how I managed without it. I purchased my iPhone earlier this year and I haven't looked back.

This is going to be an essential tool in my Big Apple Unpeeled adventure. It will be by my side pretty much at all times and it will be very useful for giving up to the minute reports, photographs and videos. It's handily got everything I need.

Some of the benefits of an iPhone for my trip:

  • Pocket Sized
  • Easy to use
  • Internet browsing
  • Maps - Handy if I get lost!
  • Camera & video including live video streaming applications
  • Email access
  • Built in wifi
  • Dictaphone - Handy for making memos on the move
  • Great apps! Twitter, flickr, youtube, weather, blogging, what's on, news.....
  • Oh, and it makes phone calls and sends texts!

What more could you ask for? Well, the only thing I can see being a bit of a problem is it's battery life. For average day to day use I have to charge my phone once a day. With heavier use in New York I can see me running out of power before the end of the day.

This is something I am going to have to look into - to see if there is a mobile charger of sorts that can help extend the battery life. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. And if you think there are any apps that would be essential to the Big Apple Unpeeled trip, give me a shout! :)

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Travelling Solo, but I won't be alone

I will be travelling solo in New York City, however, I don't plan on being alone.

Thanks to all the social media tools we have available I will still have my friends and followers with me on the journey - virtually at least.

Given the speed of communication we now have access to through the internet, there is no reason not to be able to keep in touch. As well as sharing my Big Apple adventure, my friends and followers can comment and quickly interact making it more of a participatory experience.

Contrast this to about 8 years ago when I first got online. I bought my first computer with the aim of using it to plan a 2 month solo trip around the USA. Researching my trip I found that not every venue or hotel had a website. I made many long distant calls to the U.S. I didn't book my multiple flights (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Orland, New York) online, but went into a travel agents. Scanning my old guidebooks now, there is a distinct lack of website addresses attached to the 'must see' and 'don't miss' recommendations.

I think a few people may have been blogging 8 years ago, but the word hadn't registered on my radar. Facebook hadn't been invented. Or Youtube. And certainly not twitter. My main avenues of keeping in touch with a few friends and family then was by postcard/letters, the occasional email when I could find an internet cafe and the odd long distance phone call. As for photographs, I had my old film camera and waited patiently until I got home to develop my pictures.

That two month trip was amazing and I loved every minute of it. But there was something missing. I'd see these incredible sights, have experiences I wanted to share, have the odd moment of doubt, take part in an amazing event, but there was no one there I could immediately turn to and say, "Hey! Did you see that?!" There was a delay between the experience and being able to share it.

NOW? Wow!

We have every means available to keep connected and share sights and sounds. Broadband, Wifi, laptops, net books, mobile phones that can have us online in seconds. We are embracing, sharing, consuming media like never before and with free live video streaming we can broadcast our news within seconds.

My two month trip was a good practice run, but this time around things are going to be so much different, and I'll have my friends, family and followers viturally by my side.

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Welcome to the Big Apple Unpeeled!


A very warm welcome to the Big Apple Unpeeled blog.

Exactly one month ago I spontaneously booked my flights to New York City. Even though I have been planning this trip for some time, I wasn't quite sure when it would happen, but last month the opportunity presented itself and now it's all go, go, go!

I have chosen to stay in New York for a whole month. Though I am already wondering if this will be long enough given all the things I would like to do!

Immersing myself in the city, my aim is to bring you a 'pips n all' view of the Big Apple. This will be a participatory event too - throughout my trip I will be asking you 'Where would you like to visit today?'

Using social media tools such as this blog, youtube, twitter, flickr, bambuser, qik, and facebook, I will be bringing you photography, interviews and reviews of the Big Apple.

Take a moment to read more about the Big Apple Unpeeled. As a way of an introduction you can read a bit more about me, and there is even a press release, and sponsorship opportunities.

Don't forget to signed up the Big Apple Unpeeled blog too! :)

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