Visitors to Jungle Island at Miami zoo may be surprised at the interest shown by the orangutans to their iPads and tablets. This is due to a new project taking place in Miami and many other zoos across the world to introduce iPad technology to these intelligent apes.
The 'Apps for Apes' program is the brainchild of Richard Zimmerman, who runs 'Orangutan Outreach' for Jungle Island in Miami and other zoos. The aim of his conservation organisation is to raise awareness of the plight of these amazing creatures, whose very existence is threatened by the deforestation of their rainforest habitat for the ever expanding palm oil plantations. Without intervention, it is estimated that extinction could be a possibility within as little as three years. As well as his awareness campaigns, Richard has raised more than a million dollars already from his expanding, non-profit organisation.
With many iPads being donated by the public, the project is designed to stimulate the minds of the orangutans. Like their human cousins, some show no interest when presented with these gadgets, but the majority, with their natural curiosity and intelligence, actively embrace the technology.
The tuition is given through the bars of their enclosure, simply because their inquisitive brains would likely result in them dismantling the iPads - something that no warranty in the world is likely to cover!
While it may be some time before these great apes can download the Jungle Book to keep their offspring amused, staff are amazed at how adaptable they are with the touchscreen technology, whether it be musical instrument apps like piano or drums, drawing, painting or intellectual games. One app, used primarily to teach autistic children, allows the keepers to communicate with the apes by asking them to identify particular objects by pointing to them on the screen. The hope is that this app can eventually be adapted to a form of visual menu, where the orangutans can actually choose their own food by selecting it on the screen. There are also plans to show them images and videos of other orangutans in the future, even providing a link to their counterparts in other zoos around the world who are also involved with the program.
The true ability of these magnificent creatures to pick up technology is still unknown, but who knows, in the not too distant future, it may not just be the birds that are tweeting in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra!
Last Updated (Wednesday, 19 June 2013 16:43)
Twenty years ago, when I first started travelling around the world, I never dreamed that I would write an article called The Top Five Travel Apps for Android Phone Users. Back then, private email was still something of a novelty, and when I travelled around Australia for the first time, I was still picking up "poste restante" letters. (Perhaps I should write something about that one day!). It is only in the last five years or so that smartphones have really come into their own, and whilst some people may prefer Apple products, there are far more Android phone users. As well as being an essential companion in everyday modern life, they have also become incredibly useful for anyone looking to travel around the world, and below are the top five travel apps for Android phone users.
Google Maps - Long gone are the days of standing on a strange street in a foreign country with a badly designed tourist map in one hand, trying to work out where the local attractions are! Google maps is possibly one of the most used, useful, and underrated apps available for Android users today. Not only is the ability to zoom in and out on the map a godsend, but there are also a wealth of other features that most users may not even be aware of. One of those is the "Lattitude" feature, which enables connected people to see each others positions on a map. This is amazingly useful for anyone looking to meet up with friends or contacts in a city one is a visitor too. The "Local" feature is also excellent news for anyone looking to find places to eat, sleep or visit. All in all, Google maps is one of the most impressive travel apps for Android phone users, and on occasion, it's hard to remember back to those days when it was not available.
Skype - It would be fair to say that Skype has revolutionised communications for people all around the world. First released in 2003, its evolution and then migration onto Android smartphones was inevitable. At its basic level, it allows people with an internet connection to communicate with each other by calling, video calling or messaging all for free. There are also various bolt on options available which offer other interesting possibilities, and the one that I use, is a subscription based service that lets me call landlines for free in the country of my choice. It costs about 20 pounds a year (don't quote me on that!), and I have chosen the UK to be the country that I can call into for free. This means that when I am travelling, I am able to call people on their landlines in the UK and it doesn't cost me a penny. I can't say just how much money this has saved me over the years - In some of the most expensive countries, I have paid nearly a pound a minute to dial home!
Evernote - Evernote may not immediately spring to mind as a travel app, but it has a wide range of uses that can all be utilised by travellers. Evernote is specifically designed for note taking and archiving (I have actually written this article on Evernote!), but there are also many other features, which when used to their fullest, help make Evernote an essential travel companion. Examples of how to use it include keeping a diary, taking photos of receipts which can then be "read" by the system, being able to upload photos, keeping important notes, passwords and photocopies in one place and much more. At first, I didn't really understand just what Evernote had to offer, but after spending some time with it, I find it to be invaluable.
Google Translate - Love them or loathe them, Google have some excellent apps, and Translate is the perfect example of this. Its really useful for people travelling through a country where they don't know the language, and can be used to translate menus, work out greetings, or find words that are on the tip of the tongue bu are just out of reach. In my opinion, it works well with short phrases, but trying to translate sentences of any length will result in some classic comedy moments!
Games - Whether you are into different variations of solitaire, arcade games or strategy games, there are any number of game apps that Android users can choose from. Personally, I prefer card games and chess from those available on Android, and they can be the perfect distraction during a wait at the airport, long bus ride or campsite at night. Not all travelling is fun and excitement - Some of it can involve quite boring bits in between, and game apps for Android smartphones can really help to keep a traveller sane!
Last Updated (Wednesday, 12 June 2013 19:44)
As I am currently saving for my next cycling expedition around the world, I am keeping track of how much I spend each month in order to see where I might be able to cut down on outgoings. We all think that we know where our monthly pay check goes, but in reality, most of the time we are fooling ourselves! By keeping a daily record of how much is spent and what on, I hope to be able to stop some of my worst spending habits, and save a little bit more for the around the world trip, At the same time though, I don't want to become a hermit! I like going out, love drinking, and have to keep myself occupied! Below then, is a spreadsheet of my day to day spend during the month of May 2013.
Now, the first thing that I take from this, is that I certainly spent more than last month, and there were a number of days where I didn't prepare my own food and instead had takeaways. This soon starts to add up, and the stupid thing is, that every ten pounds wasted on takeaway food is ten pounds that would last me an entire day cycling around the world. The next noticeable thing, is that there were a few days and nights out. I am not going to worry about this so much at this stage though, and I certainly would not have swapped going to Twickenham to watch the rugby, going to a days cricket in Northampton, attending an exclusive bloggers Acer Iconia A1 product launch in London and several others nights out for anything! I had a good time in May, and June promises to hold much more of the same!
Where does this leave me in terms of saving for my next around the world cycling trip? Actually, it leaves me sitting pretty good. When i was in Argentina on my last trip, I made a plan of how much I would like to save, and how I would go about it. At the moment, I am quite comfortably exceeding that target in terms of saving, and I hope that it continues. I also made a schedule of when I would purchase certain pieces of gear and equipment for the next cycling expedition, and again, I am spot on target with that also. All in all then, things are looking great, and and I am well on track for a proposed departure of either December 2014 or May 2015 depending on how I want to go about things.
Here's to June 2013 - Have a great month!
Last Updated (Friday, 31 May 2013 19:32)
The Top 50 Travel Subjects
This is a page in development. As the keen observer may notice, none of these subjects link anywhere yet, and there is not 50 of them either! However, it is something I will be working on over the course of time as part of a long term strategy for the website. I would like to turn it more into a travel information site, and it seems these subjects would be a good place to start. this page will eventually be on the front. I will keep the travelogue going of course, but i feel that i will get more page views if I write and optimise around the travel subjects below.
Last Updated (Saturday, 14 July 2012 21:46)
Submit your Travel Blog
Submit your travel blog here! If you have a travel blog, then create some more exposure for it, gain visitors, and have a link back from my travel blog to yours!!
To submit your travel blog, simply leave a comment in the box below, writing a brief description of your blog, and of course leaving the web address back to it. To really make the back link count, write your travel blogs title as the “author name”.
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Book a hostel online
Concerned with arriving in a strange city at an unfavourable time ? By booking a hostel online, you know your bed is reserved, leaving you hassle free.
Last Updated (Saturday, 03 April 2010 01:28)