This is a guest post from Emma Best at Laptopical.com, a guide to the latest laptops and best gadgets.
As a road warrior, you take travel to a whole new level. Moving from location to location, you eat, sleep, and breath the land around you; there are places to go and things to see, and the goal is to get there as smoothly as possible.
In the day of modern technology, it’s only logical to use your computer to your advantage. Whether you carry a tiny pocket computer or tote around your full-sized laptop, these programs will make your daily activities easier and your trips more enjoyable.
1. Weather Exchange Network
Weather has a major effect on your daily activities, as well as your travel. Staying up to date at all time is necessary, as weather can change in an instant, and you need to know just when that happens. For that purpose, the Weather Exchange Network program from Ambient Weather is perfect. This free program provides a detailed weather forecast for any location you input, as well as information on the current weather. When minimized, a small temperature icon is displayed in the taskbar.
2. Google Earth
Google Earth is like a compass, a map, and the entire world on your computer. You can search for specific directions, distances, alternative routes, view the landscape, and even look at user-submitted photos and videos. The perfect tool for browsing any part of the world in an instant.
Of course, Google Earth requires an Internet connection. Does this mean you won’t be able to pull over and check out a map of your location? Of course not. Increase the size of your system’s cache and then browse the location you’re going to be passing through while you’re still connected to the Internet. All those images will be in your cache, and you’ll be able to view them offline late. When you get to the next wifi hotspot, you can repeat. Another option is taking screenshots for later viewing.
If you stay in hotels, finding the best deals is imperative. This is where a hotel price aggregate comes in handy, combing several different sources and comparing prices to offer you the best deal possible.
Farecast will search for hotels in the area you wish to stay and compare them to the average price for the hotel/area, as well as comparing them to other hotels in the general vicinity.
4. MyPhone Book
When you have access to the Internet, finding a phone number is as simple as typing the name store name into Google. Other times, however, it can be impossible. For that reason, a digital ‘phonebook’ is ideal, allow you to enter all the relevant data for various locations before you set out.
MyPhone Book is a small, free program that allows you to add personal contact info, phone number, address, email, web page, and company name, and then add it to your personal directory for easy access.
This incredible little script will make it easy to upload photos from your trip. Whether you’re covering a convention and don’t have time to upload all your photos individually, or you simply hate wasting precious time, this script will make your life easier.
Simply install Python on your computer and download this script. Point it to a folder where you will dump your photos and set it up on your Flickr account. It will regularly check the folder and upload any new pictures added directly to your Flickr account.
6. Mozilla Sunbird
Perhaps the easiest way to keep track of important dates, as well as specific times and locations to be is a highly-interactive calendar. Mozilla’s Sunbird is a free cross-platform calendar that features rich, allowing you to affix notes and alerts to each date, coordinate your calendar with different colors, export, and more.
7. Easy Wifi Radar
Lets say you’re driving down the street, and suddenly realize that you have to get on the Internet for whatever reason. Normally, you’d have to stop at every parking lot, open your computer and refresh your wifi manager in hopes of a hotspot. With Wifi Radar, however, you can simply open your laptop and start the program. It will constantly scan for open hotspots and automatically connect to the first open network it can access.
When traveling, it’s always best to leave your sensitive data at home if possible. Setting up a VPN connection with your home or office system and accessing data via that method is a safer, easier method than toting an external hard drive. OpenVPN is an open source VPN program that is free to download and has a simple installer for Windows systems, as well as binaries for Linux.
If you’re traveling with a laptop, it’s wise to assumeÂ someone will try to steal it at some point. In the event of that happening, it’s wise to have your most important files encrypted so that unauthorized users cannot access them. With TrueCrypt, you can encrypt your most important files with the Blowfish or AES-128 encryption, which are all but impossible to crack.
Easy GPS is a free GPS program with a simple interface and expected features. Perfect for those times you need to hookup the GPS receiver and get a bearing on your location, Easy GPS will display data on topo, aerial, and even scanned maps.