The social network goes skiing

Before he downloaded an iPhone app called Cyclemeter two months ago, Donald McNeill had only a vague idea of where he’d skied on any given day.

But after he hit the slopes of Killington, Vt., for a few early-season runs last weekend, he knew exactly where he’d been — right down to the minute.

“I could track the number of runs, vertical feet, and how long I’d been skiing,” said McNeill, a retired sales manager who lives in Bridgewater Corners, Vt. “The app also accesses Facebook and Twitter, where it updates your status as you reach certain intervals.”

As the 2010 ski season starts, developers and resorts are releasing a flurry of new applications for skiers and snowboarders. They include everything from high-profile contenders like Vail Resorts’ EpicMix, to less flashy initiatives, such as Newry, Me.-based Sunday River’s new Facebook application, Sunday River Patches.
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Don’t tape my junk: Travelers catch surveillance fever

Don’t touch my junk became a protest anthem against intrusive airport security screenings, thanks to John Tyner’s now-famous pre-Thanksgiving encounter with TSA agents in San Diego.

But the incident is part of a little-noticed trend among travelers: The confrontation was videotaped not just by airport security cameras, but also by the would-be passenger.

Tyner, an Oceanside, Calif., software developer, recorded his interaction with TSA screeners on his cell phone and posted the clips to his website, and the incident went viral within a few short hours.

Travelers may be one of the most monitored groups of Americans. Whether it’s cameras in airports, hotels or train stations, software that tracks your activity when you book online, or applications that record your customer-service calls for “quality assurance purposes,” you can be assured that someone is watching when you’re away.

And now, travelers are watching back.
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Driving home for the holidays? You’ll get there — eventually

There’s good news and bad news for motorists this holiday season.

America’s roads have never been safer, statistics show. But, depending where you live, they may never be slower.

“The big new trend this year is the construction,” said Carol White, co-author of “Live Your Road Trip Dream.” “With all the TARP funds rolling out on highway projects, last summer was a mess, and I think it is going to continue into the winter months in areas where weather permits.”

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal government has spent $27 billion for highway and bridge construction in the last two years.
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Disney turns to guests to promote theme parks

In one video, a little boy dances during a parade at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. In another, a young girl dressed as a princess embraces her father. And in a third, two women explore Cinderella Castle.

All are part of Disney’s new campaign called Let the Memories Begin — a promotion that relies on what the company refers to as “guest-generated” content.

“Let the Memories Begin is about real guests making real memories in our parks,” said Leslie Ferraro, executive vice president of global marketing for Disney Destinations.

“Disney guests have always loved sharing their vacation memories with us and each other. New technologies like YouTube and Facebook have made it easier and faster for our guests to share their memories, for Disney Parks to spotlight those memories on a larger scale, and for us to reinforce to our guests how important we think their memories are.”

Disney isn’t alone.

The travel industry — which for years considered videos as byproducts of a happy vacation, if not liabilities that occasionally found their way on to the Internet — has also had a change of heart.
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How safe is a cruise?

The debut of two brand-new new cruise ships — Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth earlier this fall and Royal Caribbean’s massive 16-deck Allure of the Seas in December — coincides with the beginning of “wave period,” a time of year when most people book their cruise vacations.

But talk of cruises inevitably raises the subject of cruise safety. A few weeks ago, a 79-year-old British man disappeared from a cruise ship in the English Channel. He’s only the latest in a list of passengers who either vanished or fell overboard.

The cruise industry contends a trip on the high seas is safer than a drive to the airport and a stay at a hotel. But just how safe is it?
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