What goes in the bag...

Packing for the next trip (for work - so exciting, not), I'm reminded that I was going to write about tips for travel packing. They're really not hacks per se, and nothing is truly original - perhaps just little tweaks on stuff.

To start off though, we have these:

Rule 1: Gotta use it more than 50% of the trip

Case in point that I personally struggle with: My tablet. I still struggle to leave this one at home, because I argue that it'd be used on the plane for backup entertainment and for the rest of the trip for blogging and Netflix... but so many times I found in-flight entertainment adequate and I never stay awake long enough for the blog or Netflix. As a general rule though it's been helpful to cull the excess shirts, trousers, etc.

Rule 2: Gotta be comfortable and worn/used on the average day

By "average day", I mean any day not spent travelling (what are you wearing today?). This one is really important - so it means we try hard not to buy anything specifically for travelling... other than the obvious e.g. luggages, travel chargers (note very important: ALWAYS bring a travel charger when travelling). When it comes to clothes and outerwear (...and innerwear) we always go with what's in the wardrobe - because that's probably what we're most comfortable in... and cuts all the unnecessary shopping.

Rule 3: Gotta visually match anything with everything

This is I think the most useful tip. Our trick is to go with blues and whites - I take it one step further and lay everything out in a square (sorta like Instagram squares) which guarantees that everything matches. The idea is to have the most number of shirts-trousers-dress-accessories-shoes combinations with the least number of actual things in the bag.

So... currently in the bag I have this:

And these are notable...

1. Travel charger: I've said it before. Never leave the base during a full day of photography and Google Mapping without a good, reliable travel charger. We each have a Samsung capable of charging our phones over from flat thrice.

2. Compact wallet: I've discovered the best wallets to travel are very compact ones that fit cash, coins and cards. I have one from Trenery that is no longer sold - but when the zipper starts to give in to age I've got my eyes on the Bellroy Card Pocket.

3. Watch: One thing I hardly wear is a watch - but when travelling, my Timex Expedition is something I never leave without. Time is everything when on the move, and a watch is sometimes more reliable than having to check the phone - All. The. Time.

4. Day carry: A recent addition is our Rains waterproof tote bag. Large enough to fit our shopping, lightweight enough to fold into our pocket when not in use. This bag is a lifesaver in travels where rain is almost certain.

5. Shoes: I've packed two pairs for a short week-long trip involving casuals and formals. The most annoying thing to pack are shoes, and ideally shoes should be swapped out each day (for hygiene). So here's my tip: buy shoes a size larger, fit insoles, and bring spare insoles to swap each day. I use Neat Feet Work Force insoles in most of my shoes.

introducing photoscan by google photos

I'm really loving Google's ad team of late - getting very on-point, fun, and relevant. Anyway, I'm really excited with the new PhotoScan by Google Photos, which to put it simply, is:
phone camera + computational photography = perfect old photo scanner.

It is no secret that I'm a huge believer of computational photography, and I'm surprised it's taken this long for a feature such as this to be folded into the core of a prime time (i.e., Google Photos) app.

Check out the spot for PhotoScan. I'll be busy telling my dad to ditch his scanner.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEyDt0DNjWU?wmode=opaque]
(p.s. for those who are curious, the music used in the ad is Chiddy Bang's Ray Charles.)

Instagram: Your move, Snapchat.

Instagram basically dropped 'da bomb on Snapchat yesterday, announcing to the world its new feature "Stories" - which in every way is Snapchat without its faces filters and intentionally bad interface.

Being the #forevercynic, Instagram's game is completely transparent, I think.

How to stop haemorrhaging users to Snapchat and address the issues plaguing its model and pushing users there - diminishing authenticity, immediacy, locality? Its answer appears so bold it was previously unimaginable. Whereas platforms innovate stay relevant, Instagram's answer seems to be to reinnovate, and provide users... basically Snapchat. Except with a better user interface.

Instagram's strategy appears then to be deviously simple - if my users are using my platform as a springboard to Snapchat (count the number of "Find me on Snapchat" posts), why not offer the same features whilst I still have the advantage of having the greater reach and larger member base? The worse case scenario is users post the same thing on both platforms (you can upload saved photos and videos). And overtime, as the other platform becomes irrelevant, users will abandon it.

The primary/secondary feed currently feels hastily implemented, and the app is still rather buggy. It will be rather interesting to see how this pans out... So I guess, it's on to Snapchat to make their next move.