I once came up with a saying that was halfway clever, and it goes like this: “The difference between an adventure and a tragedy is the ending.”
For years now I’ve traveled with #socmed and have used it to “enhance” my travel, kind of like RuggedMaxxII. But now that I’m traveling #socmed-free there won’t be any more Yelp-checking and TravelAdvisor-checking and Strava scouting and Facebag-friend hunting to get the inside dope.
When I touch down in Austria tomorrow, I’ll instead be armed with this amazingly innovative wayfinder called a m-app. It is an app made of paper (?!?) that folds up so you can put it in your pocket just like an iPhone, except it doesn’t need a charger. You don’t have to provide the app developer with your credit card info, your SSN, or even be exposed to in-app advertisements. It’s super environmentally friendly, being made only of laminated carbon, and it doesn’t have any other metals in it or things that are hard to degrade.
The EULA for my m-app is really simple, too, and consists of a © mark and one line that says “All rights reserved.” You don’t have to sign the EULA before booting up the m-app, and your purchase doesn’t register you for those intrusive automatic updates. In fact, I don’t think it can be updated except through an add-on called an “edition.” Navigation is very straightforward. Instead of pinching with your fingers and swiping and scrolling, you simply point your eyes at the area of the m-app that you’re interested in, and that’s pretty much it, you’re there. It’s very intuitive. However, I haven’t figured out if there’s a way to increase or reduce the font size. Powering down the m-app is also a cinch. You fold it twice and it automatically shuts down. Downside: It doesn’t work at all in the dark unless you apply an external lighting source.
The m-app has a lot of built-in data/privacy protection features. For example, if someone steals it, they can’t use it to access your bank account. Also, there is no data portability for the m-app. Any notes or comments that you have written on it cannot be copied or pasted or hacked by viruses, phishing, or Trojan horses. It maintains this awesome level of total security without even requiring a login or password. Believe it or not, you can open the m-app and use it in plain view at a Starbucks and it is impervious to people lurking on the free wi-fi trying to steal all your data. The wi-fi isn’t compatible with the m-app, for some reason. Pickpockets, however, can steal it pretty easily, although, as I said, it won’t give them access to anything except maybe your scribbled attempts to convert meters to yards.
The last time I was in Vienna I was at the mercy of #socmed and spent a lot of time stumbling around, lost and annoyed. This time I’ll be at the mercy of my m-app, still stumbling around but not cursing about all the data I’m burning or wondering when my m-app battery is going to die or praying for a cafe that has free wireless.
It’s going to be fun to learn the city and its environs with nothing but my bike and my m-app. It might even be an adventure. I’ll keep you posted.
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