Browsing Tag


A Quick Jaunt to Abu Dhabi

In my last post I told you about my whirlwind trip to the United Arab Emirates. I stayed in Dubai for four nights, courtesy of Qualcomm, and spent a few days exploring the area without a smartphone to support the #WorldWithoutSnapdragon/#WorldWithoutSmartphones campaign. (Read more about the campaign here.) We spent half a day in Abu Dhabi, which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. We mainly went to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE, but we had a couple of other adventures along the way. Our voyage to Abu Dhabi, which is roughly similar to a voyage between Johannesburg and Pretoria, posed the greatest challenge in our WorldWithoutSmartphones. We had initially planned to take the metro to Dubai’s bus station, catch a bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, then catch a local taxi to the mosque. But we weren’t able to check the train and bus schedules (no Google, obvi) and we wound up missing the bus to Abu Dhabi while we waited in line to buy our tickets. We were short on time so rather than waiting for the next bus, we hired a cab straight to the mosque and kept the same […]

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Discovering Hidden Dubai, Without a Smartphone

I’ve just returned from a five-day trip to the United Arab Emirates. That sentence has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Look, it’s Heather on a train in Dubai. I’m not sure how to begin to explain this trip. Let me start from the top. I was invited to the UAE by a company called Qualcomm, to participate in a blogger/Instagrammer campaign promoting Qualcomm’s products. Before this invitation, I knew Qualcomm only as the title sponsor of Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. But it turns out that in addition to sponsoring a football stadium, Qualcomm is one of the oldest and most innovative wireless technology companies in the world. Among many other things, Qualcomm developed the first GPS for mobile phones, it invented airplane mode (for some reason this really impresses me), and it was the first company to develop apps for use in smartphones. For the purposes of this campaign, the most important fact is that Qualcomm produces chipsets: the tiny machines inside smartphones that make smartphones smart. (I dare you to say that five-times-fast.) Qualcomm’s “Snapdragon” chipsets are inside many of the world’s most popular smartphones. If you’re a techie person then you probably understand what I’m talking about. If you’re an […]

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Weekend Instablog

I got an iPad. (Thanks, Mom.) I realize I’m behind the curve on this iPad thing. It took me a while to understand the point. What do I need with a weird in-between machine that is neither phone nor laptop? Or so I initially thought. But I get it now. I won’t try to explain it here. If you have an iPad, you already know. If you don’t have an iPad, well…I’m sorry but you won’t understand until you’re lucky enough to get one. I’ve only had the iPad about a week and I’ve hardly scratched the surface of its usefulness, nor its ability to waste my time. I have much to learn yet, but one of my biggest iPad discoveries so far (on both the usefulness and time-wasting fronts) is Instagram. I installed Instagram on my iPad three days ago and have been obsessed with it ever since.

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Wi-Fi Revolution

I didn’t give much thought to internet access when I lived in the United States. American broadband internet is cheap and easy to get. Just about every home has it. And as far as I know, internet in the United States is always unlimited. I had never heard of a “data cap” before moving to South Africa. I didn’t think of internet use as “data”, and didn’t realize it could be “capped”. But in South Africa, most internet plans come with a data cap. You pay for a certain number of gigs (gigabytes) of data per month, and when those gigs run out, you pay more. The more YouTube videos you watch, the more photos you download, the more skype calls you make, the more gigs you use.

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