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Hotel Towels Tagged with Traceable Microchips?

201107-b-towels-istockjpgDailyMail Online |  The days of hotel guests helping themselves to towels and robes when they check out could be a thing of the past as high tech gets in to the linen.

One company has come up with a way of adding miniature tags in the expensive materials which were costing hotel managements a fortune to constantly replace.

It has long been assumed, wrongly in most cases, that the smart towelling robes and plush fluffy towels were fair game for guests looking to save some cash at home. But now beware—they may come with an electronic leash as more and more hotels are turning to new radio frequency chips to keep track of their inventory.

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Contest Watch: Thailand Escape, Historic Belfast + Romantic VT

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This month’s Contest Watch has a mixture of innovation and history. Honor the Titanic’s 100th anniversary with a grand trip to Ireland or look to a social-media startup to get you to Thailand. Inspired by past, present, or future, these prizes are guaranteed to get you traveling.

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Travelers Vulnerable to Hacking of Information

Passport Blog, BBC Travel |  Frequent travellers rely on mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices to stay in touch and take care of business on the road, away from the safety and security of their offices. But reliance on these personal devices potentially exposes sensitive corporate or personal information to the world.

In light of the voicemail hacking scandal stewing in the United Kingdom this summer, have you ever wondered how easy it might be for someone to hack in to your mobile phone voice mail?

Turns out it’s frighteningly easy. In many cases, all a perpetrator needs is your mobile phone number and a cheap or free “spoofing” service widely available online. (Just google “caller ID spoofing” to learn specifics.)

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Digital Travel News: Resources for the Road

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1. Innovative book publisher Taschen is going digital with a new series of iPad apps. Among the first up: Yes Is More ($9.99), a comic book-cum-architectural manifesto from the Danish design group BIG.

2. Concerned about health on the road? The iMedjet app (free; iPhone/iPad; Android) stores health records, key contacts, and instructions on what to do in case of different medical emergencies.

3. For an insider’s experience of London, book a room with onefinestay.com (picture, above). The villa-rental agency specializes in posh pads (fancy an ambassador’s residence in Mayfair?) that come with concierge service.

4. Finally, a digital photo frame with a sense of style: the sleek, Android-based DIA Parrot by Nodesign ($500; parrot.com), which uses LCD panels to illuminate and enhance your pictures.

For more of our travel tech picks, see Best Travel Gadgets 2011.

Photo courtesy of onefinestay.com

Test Drive: Orbitz's New iPad App

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I'm sure we've all had the same experience at one time or the other: a spur-of-the-moment road trip cooked up with the intention of letting loose and seeing a bit of the gorgeous country we call home, the thrill of it largely contained in the fact that none of it was planned. And then the inevitable happens. Your eyes start to droop, signs start to blur in and out of focus, and your car starts weaving in its lane slightly. You need to find a place to stay for the night. Problem is, you don't know of any around.

Well, now there's an app for that.

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Top Apps for Your Summer Travels

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Summer is now at full force, which means vacations galore for seemingly countless numbers of people across the country. Even I’m readying myself to briefly part from the T+L offices for a much-needed beachside retreat in Maine. (More to come on that on another day.) With all this travel going on, I wanted to take some time to share a few of my favorite iOS apps that make travel a whole lot easier (and a lot more fun).

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Virgin America Passengers To Test Google Chromebooks In-Flight

TechCrunch |  Google just announced that it is teaming up with Virgin America to allow passengers to “test-fly” the search giant’s new Chromebook computers for free. Virgin passengers will be able to use the computers onboard their flight and at select airport gates from July 1 through September 30, 2011.

As an incentive, flyers who check out a Chromebook will receive a free WiFi session onboard Virgin America.

Virgin says that at airport gates in San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare, Boston and in Dallas-Fort Worth will include Google “Chrome Zone” lounges starting this week, where passengers can learn more about the Chromebook and check one out for their flight. Google is also partnering with the Ace Hotel in New York to offer Chromebooks in hotel guests’ rooms.

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Digital Resources for the Road

Casio Tryx camera

Save time getting photos online with PhotoRocket (free; Windows; Mac; iPhone), a service that uploads pictures to your social sites simultaneously.

The super-lightweight, stylish Zoom Q3HD ($300) captures audio and video in high-def. Plus, with built-in editing software that loads onto your computer via USB, sharing your footage is easy.

The Powermat Power Dual 1850 Rechargeable Backup Battery ($50) features a micro-USB and Apple connector to recharge your devices on the go—no outlet necessary.

It might be compact, but don’t underestimate the Casio Tryx ($250), with features like continuous shooting and Slide Panorama, which allows you to capture a 360-degree scene flawlessly.

Photo courtesy of Casio

Top Discount Food Apps

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Five-course dinners at top restaurants around the country no longer have to be such a costly part of your trip, thanks to an influx of restaurant deals found both online and via mobile apps. The BlackboardEats site offers discounts—such as 30 percent off dinner at Los Angeles’s Mo-Chica or New York’s Matsuri—to anyone who signs up. All you have to do is present the discount code at the restaurant at any time. Every venue is handpicked by a staff of professional restaurant reviewers (many from the now-defunct print version of Gourmet). Sometimes the deals involve mystery dishes that are only available to members, making it more of a food enthusiasts’ club than a coupon service.

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Should You Pay for Wi-Fi? Airports Explore Tiered Service

USA Today |  For years, one of the top if not the top amenity on many road warriors' wish lists has been free Wi-Fi at the airport. Slowly but surely, it's happening.

Take a look at the USATODAY.com Airport Guides, airport websites, and various commercial and user-generated Wi-Fi directories. You'll see there are now hundreds of U.S. airports offering travelers complimentary wireless Internet access.

San Francisco? Free. Orlando? Free. Seattle, St. Louis and San Jose? Free, free, free. Washington's Dulles and National airports? As of April, 2011, free as well.

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