How we did Kayak, Expedia and Hipmunk in 1991 – the Sony DATA Discman

In 2012, finding the price of a flight is something I could probably ask my five year old to help with – she’ll probably go for my phone and find the Kayak or Hipmunk app icon and tap away. It wouldn’t even surprise me if she managed to get close to the results I was looking for.

In 1991, things were different; Airfare came from your travel agent, and you did not have to concern yourself with anything technical. In fact, chances are, your travel agent wouldn’t let you anywhere near their cherished green-screen terminal.

The business traveler had different needs, and for them there was the OAG guide (Official Airline Guide), a large book with the times and prices of almost every flight in the world. In 1991, OAG released their book on a CD-ROM (and delivered the required equipment with it since nobody back then owned a CD-ROM drive).

For the real hardcore users, a version was also released on the Sony DATA Discman, pictured here on the left. Think of this contraption as a very early Amazon Kindle. The unit read data off small CD’s in a cartridge, and was the worlds first portable electronic flight guide.

With this in hand, you could call yourself the ultimate frequent flier – and probably find airfare quicker than the local travel agent. OAG CD’s for Sony came in the mail every three months, keeping your data up to date with the latest flight times and prices. Sony discontinued the DATA Discman in the late 90’s as the technology moved on to PDA’s.

Daily gear deal: Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi + 3G + free $25 gift card

Looking for a gift for Mothers Day, or just something to pamper yourself with? Amazon is selling the newest version of their popular eBook reader for $189.99, and throws in a free $25 Amazon gift card.

This Kindle is equipped with worldwide 3G support as well as Wi-Fi, so you’ll be able to update your book collection anywhere in the world.

To get the free gift card, you will have to add both the Kindle and the $25 card to your cart – there is no way to do this after you hit “buy”. Before you click “add to cart”, you’ll see the free $25 card listed under the “add accessories” header.

Once both items are in your cart, you’ll get two separate shipments – one with the Kindle and one with your gift card.

The product purchase page is here, which is also where you can learn more about the Kindle and its available books.

Amazon Kindle book deal: “Let’s Go Europe 2011” for $0

amazon kindle free student travel bookIf you have an Amazon Kindle, or access to a device with the Kindle reader app, then you’ll want to head on over to Amazon to purchase this free student travel guide for Europe. The book usually retails for $22, but is currently down to $0.00.

From the book description:

From Portugal to the Ukraine, from Norway down to Greece, Europe is a lot to take on. Luckily, the student adventurers behind Let’s Go Europe 2011 know that any traveler can handle it – with a little help.

Whether whipping through London, Barcelona, and Prague in five days or spending a leisurely year abroad, travelers get all the info they need from Let’s Go. Their wit and irreverence can brighten even the drabbest Renaissance museum – if travelers didn’t take their advice to skip it. From German beer halls to Roman ruins, Let’s Go Europe 2011 is the ticket to adventure.

You’ll find the product page here, along with purchase links. And remember, you do not need a physical Amazon Kindle to read Kindle books – readers are available for almost any desktop and mobile platform.

Perfect for Amazon Kindle users – free 25 language phrasebook

If you are one of the millions of happy users of an Amazon Kindle, then you may want to point your Kindle towards this free 25 language phrasebook.

In the book, you get a massive amount of phases, general language information, pronunciation tips and more. The guide covers the following languages:

German, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Croatian, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Malay, and Thai

Navigating the guide a little tricky, but the price more than makes up for that. To download this free book, search for “Kindle 25 language” on your device or click on this link to order and have delivered to your Kindle.

Of course, if you don’t own a physical Kindle, you can still download Amazon Kindle content to your desktop or laptop, the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Blackberry or an Android device.

(Via: Flyertalk)

Visiting the Brontë sisters in Yorkshire

People say literary genius is a rare thing, something seen only once in a thousand or a million people. Maybe so, but the Brontës had three (and maybe five) literary geniuses in the same family.

From their father’s parsonage in Haworth, Yorkshire, in northern England, the three Brontë sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne produced some of the most popular books in the English language. Works like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are still read more than 150 years after they were published. They’ve survived the test of time. The ebook edition of Wuthering Heights is currently ranked number 457 at Amazon’s Kindle store, and number 5 in the fiction classics category. Their work has been made into numerous movies and another version of Jane Eyre is coming out next year.

The sisters also prompted literary tourism to Haworth. It started not long after they died and has steadily grown ever since. While everyone comes to Haworth to see the Brontë home and related sights, they also enjoy a beautiful and well-preserved nineteenth century village full of shops and fine restaurants.

Now I have to be honest here and admit that until I went on this trip I had never read a Brontë novel. They were the classics I never got assigned in school and I figured I’d get around to whenever. Before I left for Yorkshire I read Jane Eyre and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The rich prose and sedate pacing definitely belong to the nineteenth century, but the smartass, independent female protagonist belongs to the modern world.

Much of Haworth remains as the Brontës knew it. The Brontë Parsonage Museum preserves their home and tells their story. House museums are tricky to do well. Despite being a museum junkie, some historic homes bore me to death. This one, however, gripped my attention. Besides the usual stuff like the desks they wrote at and the sofas they sat on (and Emily may have died on), there are the little details that make it stick in your memory. In the nursery where they spent their childhood faint pencil drawings can be seen on the wall. While it’s impossible to say if these literary giants doodled these when they were small, it makes you wonder.

There’s also the story of Branwell Brontë. Who? Yeah, that was always his problem. He was their brother, a failed artist and struggling writer living in the shadow of his superstar sisters. He fell into a downward spiral of alcoholism and opium addiction before dying at 31. The above painting of his sisters is Branwell’s work. He originally included himself in the portrait, then unsuccessfully erased himself. He doodled constantly, illustrating letters he sent to friends. One at the museum shows himself in two images. The first is labeled “Paradise” shows him drunk off his ass and shouting, “I am the lord of the manor!” The other is labeled “Purgatory” and shows him hunched over an opium pipe.

%Gallery-104264%The museum also tells the story of their father Patrick, the local pastor who was also a published author. Many a young woman’s ambitions were crushed in those days by domineering fathers who wanted them to get married and get pregnant. Patrick Brontë was progressive enough not to feel threatened by his daughters’ talent and encouraged them in their careers.

Beyond the Brontë parsonage you can see traces of their life everywhere. Patrick Brontë’s church stands nearby and houses the family’s memorial chapel. The pub where Branwell got drunk is just a short stagger away from the apothecary where he bought his opium. The Black Bull Inn still serves up fine Yorkshire ales, but the apothecary shop stopped carrying opiates when they started requiring a prescription. Otherwise it’s a good replica of an early apothecary and still sells traditional cures.

Haworth’s main street is down a steep hill lined with little shops. You can find delicious local cheeses and preserves, a couple of fine tearooms, some excellent secondhand bookshops, and more gift shops than you can shake a copy of Wuthering Heights at. Several historic inns offer beers and beds. At the train station a traditional steam railway offers rides.

But Haworth isn’t all tea and scones and twee little shops. There’s a dark side to the town’s history, full of ghosts, death, and despair. On my second day I discovered I was all too close to the supernatural. . .

This is the first of my new series Exploring Yorkshire: ghosts, castles, and literature in England’s north.

Coming up next: Three nights in a haunted hotel room!


This trip was sponsored by
VisitEngland and Welcome to Yorkshire.

[Photo courtesy user Mr. Absurd via Wikimedia Commons]