Share your vacation in real-time
Sharing a special moment of your vacation with loved ones back home has never been easier.
Thanks to a growing number of free blog, photo-sharing, and social networking websites, such as Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, YouTube, and Where are You Now? (WAYN), friends and family no longer have to wait until you get home to hear about your vacation. The tips in this article will help you learn how to share pictures and stories while you are still on the road.
Choose a social networking or photo-sharing site
Whether you’re looking for a place to share photos or to publish a more in-depth blog, you’ll find that most social networking sites are free and easy to use. Sites range from photo-sharing websites, offering you a place to upload your photos only—without a way to add stories or receive comments—to fully developed blogging opportunities.
Software download that helps you organize, edit, and share your photos
You can control permissions
After you choose the site you want to work with, you’ll have to create a user account for that site before you can begin sharing your adventures.
Get to know the site before you go
After you select the social networking site you’ll use, spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the features and how they work so that you don’t spend precious vacation time figuring out how to upload a photo or share a story. Because these "sharing sites" are so user-friendly, you don't need to be a computer whiz to use them.
Pack along the right technology
A digital camera or camera phone
A computer (either your own laptop, or a computer located in a hotel, library, cyber café, cruise ship—the options are increasing, daily)
A media card reader, if your laptop doesn't have one
For travel outside of North America, a power adapter for recharging your mobile phone or laptop
You might also want to pack a battery charger if you use rechargeable batteries.
If you prefer to pack light, as I did on a motorcycle trip through Europe, some sites accept text and photo posts from mobile phones. Before you leave on your trip, do some research on your site of choice and find out exactly how this feature works so you aren’t stuck hunting for instructions while on the road.
A Wi-Fi phone is helpful for easy access to the web when you can't get to an Internet café. I had a camera phone with Wi-Fi capability that allowed me to access the Internet anywhere I could find a wireless signal. During my trip to Europe, I even found free Wi-Fi hotspots at inexpensive hostels. Read this article to learn how to connect your smartphone to your laptop using Bluetooth and turn your Windows Mobile phone into a wireless modem.
Photo-editing on the fly
If you want to modify images, you can choose from a wide range of photo-editing software. Windows Live Photo Gallery is a free download that is available as part of Windows Live Essentials. Its Auto Adjust feature can automatically lighten and sharpen a too-dark photograph with just one click. You can also fix red eye, crop photos, and change color photos to beautiful black and whites—with just a few clicks of your mouse. Other photo editing options are available in Microsoft Office. Our article, Simple fixes for your digital photos, is a good place to learn a couple of easy fixes that can be done quickly.
You can also use online photo-editing services at sites like Phixr, GIFworks, or Picnik to make quick changes. The Microsoft Professional Photography site is an excellent source for additional information.
Microsoft Research has been working on some cutting-edge editing software that takes your photography to the next level. Microsoft Photosynth transforms regular digital photos into three-dimensional, 360-degree experiences that change the way you experience and share photos. Photo collages celebrate important events and themes, and Microsoft AutoCollage lets you create a unique memento to print or e–mail to your family and friends.
Where to find wireless access
Web access is available most everywhere these days. Most hotels and cruise ships offer wireless services that allow you to access the Internet from a laptop in your room. If you don't want to pack your laptop, many provide Internet facilities with computers. When searching for hotels, you might want to put a priority on whether a hotel offers a wireless Internet connection.
Free Wi-Fi is available at many cafés and some restaurants, including many Starbucks and McDonald's locations. If your laptop has a wireless card, just click your wireless icon and ask for a display of available wireless networks. You can also find a directory of free Wi-Fi locations on the Wi-Fi FreeSpot website. While Wi-Fi hotspots provide a valuable service, it's important to keep security in mind when you access any Wi-Fi network. Wireless networks range from paid services, such as T-Mobile or Boingo, to free connections at your local coffee shop or library, but they all have one thing in common—they're all open networks that are vulnerable to security breaches. And that means it's up to you to protect the data on your PC. Get 7 tips for working securely from wireless hotspots.
On my motorcycle trip, I favored full-out Internet facilities, which provided computers and even webcams. Full-size keyboards are definitely more comfortable than mobile phone keyboards. Sites like EasyInternetCafé provide links to Internet cafes in several cities in Europe and the United States. Simply search for your city and get a map and contact info for the closest café.
Technology has helped make travel a shared experience. Not only can you send email to family members back home—you can show them what you're up to at any given moment and where you're off to next. For many people, it adds a new and exciting dimension to travel.
Article written by Liz Metcalfe and adapted from an original piece from Microsoft Home Magazine.
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