VIDEO: Vintage Turkish Taxis

Millions of people get around Istanbul each day via dolmuş, a shared taxi. Similar to the colectivo of Latin America or the dollar vans of New York City, a dolmuş is generally a mini-bus or van that follows a fixed route for a fixed price. At the beginning of the route, the bus waits until it is full of passengers (dolmuş means stuffed in Turkish) before departing. You hand your money (theoretically a share of a private taxi’s rate, but usually 2-3 TL) up to the driver, and hop out whenever you get to your destination; there are rarely official bus stops.

The video above may look like it’s from the 1950s, but it’s actually from 1986. As recently as a few decades ago, the dolmuş vehicle of choice wasn’t the large yellow van you see today, but classic American cars from the mid-century and pre-war. Some of the vintage cars were customized with a third bench to stuff in more passengers!

Thanks to Turcopedia for the links and info.

Gadling gear review: Satechi SoundFly View Bluetooth FM transmitter

The Satechi SoundFly ViewOne of the great features of owning a smartphone is that it allows us to carry our entire library of music, not to mention stream live audio or video, anywhere we go. That feature is great for when you get stuck in line at the DMV or are stranded in the waiting room at your doctor’s office, so it seems only natural that smartphone users would want to listen to that music or streaming audio in their car as well. But unless you have a stereo that accepts external input in some fashion, that can be a challenging, and potential expensive proposition. The SoundFly View Bluetooth FM transmitter from Satechi not only accomplishes that feat, but also brings hands-free phone calls to the package as well. Better yet, it manages to do all of that, without breaking the bank.

The SoundFly View is a small, relatively simple device, which is powered by a 5V port in your vehicle. Once plugged in and activated, it is a two step process for getting the SoundFly to wirelessly transmit music or phone calls to your in-car audio system. First, you need to pair it with your cell phone using Bluetooth technology and then you’ll need to find a clear, unused, FM radio channel to accept the transmission. Both processes are fairly straight forward, and easily accomplished, and I had my iPhone sharing music and making phone calls in just a few minutes.

Using an FM transmitter to get music from an mp3 player or smartphone onto your car stereo is not a new concept, although the technology is far from refined. In theory, it should work well, but low-powered FM transmitters can be easily over powered by radio signals, and finding a free channel to use in larger urban areas can be a real challenge at times. Satechi hasn’t completely overcome those issues, but for the most part, the SoundFly’s built in FM transmitter is strong enough to resist outside signals, allowing you to listen to your music, or stream Pandora or Spotify, while driving. To accomplish that, you simply set your radio to an unused channel, then set the SoundFly to transmit on that same channel. Sound quality is surprisingly good, with solid bass and clear vocals, which hasn’t always been the case with similar devices in the past.Once you have the system up and running, the SoundFly’s two-inch display shows artist and track information for the music you’re listening to and operates as a caller-ID for incoming phone calls as well. That screen is solid, and accomplishes what we need, but it is far from remarkable. Satechi has given us the ability to adjust the contrast, and choose from three different background colors, but no one will be wowed by the quality of the LCD display.

As mentioned, aside from streaming audio from our smartphone, the SoundFly also allows us to make hands-free cell phone calls. When paired with your phone, the device downloads your phone book, giving you access to it directly on screen, or if your phone supports voice commands, you can simply tap a button and tell it to dial a contact. While on a call, the incoming audio is transmitted to your car speakers, while a built in mic picks up what is said and sends it to the person on the other end. That mic does a solid job for how small it is, but it will pick-up background noise from time to time, making it a challenge for others to hear what is said. Your mileage will vary of course, but a quieter vehicle helps to keep background noise to a minimum.

Satechi managed to pack in a few extra features to the SoundFly View that help to make it an even better option for drivers. For example, it has built in audio-in and out ports that help to improve sound quality over the wireless technologies that are used and extend its functionality to devices that don’t include Bluetooth at all. It also includes a USB port that can be used to charge your devices while on the go, while an SD-card slot gives you the option to skip the device altogether. A handy remote control is also included, although it is debatable whether or not a remote is needed when the SoundFly can be situated so that it is right at your fingertips.

All in all, this is a very good option for streaming audio and making phone calls in your car. Travelers making long road trips will love all the functionality that Satechi has put into this device, and it makes a great companion for any smartphone. It even works with Siri on the iPhone 4S, giving you the ability to use her services hands-free as well. Considering the SoundFly View is just $79.95, it is also an affordable option for those looking for a way to integrate their phones more fully with their vehicle, without paying hundreds of dollars. With the Spring Break and summer road trip seasons ahead, this device could be a very popular one with travelers hitting the road this year.

SkyMall Monday: Personal Electronic Transporter

For the first time ever, I’m writing SkyMall Monday while onboard a plane. As I type this, I’m approximately 37,000 feet above a spotted layer a clouds providing an obstructed view of various Caribbean islands. Typically, I craft these posts from SkyMall Monday headquarters in New York using the SkyMall website. This week, however, I am thrilled to be getting back to the basics and enjoying the SkyMall catalog in its natural habitat. Perusing SkyMall aboard a plane gives me goosebumps as I carefully devour page after page of inventions birthed by necessity’s slutty sister, laziness. It’s sloth that guides so many of our modern decisions. We microwave meals because cooking is a bothersome chore. We trust Wikipedia and Google to immediately deliver information – no matter how inaccurate – because actual research is tedious. We wear Velcro shoes because laces are complicated. We’re all seeking protection from the ceaseless attack of effort. So, while I’m reclined (yes, I recline my seat) sevent miles above Earth reading the SkyMall catalog, all I can think about is how I can make my life less taxing once I land. I’m crippled by thoughts of trudging through the airport, walking to the grocery store tomorrow to restock my kitchen, hiking to the bathroom to avoid wetting my bed. My feet ache as the journeys play out in my mind. Surely there must be a way to avoid such labor. Then, on page 25 of the Summer 2010 edition of the SkyMall catalog, the end of those death marches presents itself. No longer must I force one leg in front of the other. There but by the grace of laziness goes the Electric Personal Transporter.The Electric Personal Transporter is everything the modern man of leisure needs. It’s electric, so it’s free from the environmental guilt that comes from gasoline-powered vehicles. It’s personal, which relieves the rider from the exhaustion bred by conversation with a co-passenger. Lastly, as a transporter, it does all the moving for you. It’s the most perfect invention since bacon wrapped bacon.

Think that the human body is perfectly designed for an ambulatory lifestyle? Well, ambulances are ambulatory and I don’t want to find myself being transported in the back of one of those. Think about that while you read the product description that I have to actually type out because I can’t copy-and-paste from the paper catalog resting on the tray table next to me:

This is the four-wheeled electric personal vehicle that provides effortless, smooth 12-14 mph transport on paved paths, driveways, or sidewalks for quick, easy errands or leisurely rides through the park.

Unlike the two-wheeled Segway, the Electric Personal Transporter comes with a basket to securely carry your Twinkies, Baconaisse and Double Downs with ease. With the ability to carry riders “up to 350 lbs. for up to 20 miles,” you can even ride to the Pizza Hut that’s just a little farther away but stuffs their crusts fuller than the one closer to your house. Score!

Necessity gets all the credit, but laziness has birthed litters of inventions that have revolutionized the way we live. Life is so hard that even recreation is tough. When relaxation becomes stressful, SkyMall provides the epidural so that laziness can pop out a beautiful baby Electric Personal Transporter.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Calculate your fuel cost – Road trip tip

An essential ingredient for any road trip is fuel. While you know the cost of your accommodations, you may not always know how much gas will cost for the length of your road trip.

There are websites to help you determine that cost, however. For example, AAA‘s Fuel Cost Calculator allows you to calculate the fuel cost of your trip. Using drop-down menus, you select your starting city, destination and vehicle. The calculator determines mileage, gallons of fuel used and total fuel cost. Not all cities and destinations are listed, but you can get a general idea.

At, you can search for the best gas prices in each city or region you’re traveling through. Site visitors report what they paid for fuel at individual gas stations. You’ll learn the lowest and highest prices reported in the past 36 hours. Armed with this information, you can budget your fantastic road trip.

[Photo: Flickr | Borderfilms (Doug)]

Blog it or Facebook it or Tweet it or … – Road trip tip

Let friends and family share in your road trip adventure by posting details along the way via your blog, Facebook, Twitter or other social media site. People at home are curious about your adventures, and seeing your update may trigger a memory or suggestion they have to improve your trip.

With a smartphone such as the Apple iPhone, Motorola Droid or Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, it’s a snap to post a status update of your trip or take and upload a photo or video of a roadside attraction. Smartphone Facebook apps and apps such as Bloglive make it easy to upload your content.

Of course, don’t do any of this while driving. Wait until you’re stopped, or have a passenger do the posting.