Getting a website created and online in no time with Bluehost

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So you are thinking of creating a website and not sure where to go and how long it will take, I have a quick and easy solution for you with Bluehost, my hosting provider.

These days I think everyone is in the website hosting business and there are many providers you can choose from, but I know Bluehost can can get your website up and online in no time.

Wither you are a techie and like to do everything yourself or someone who just wants to get online and not worry about the details, Bluehost has solutions for you.

So how do you get started…

Before you even go to Bluehost, I would recommend that you do a little pre planning.

Things to think about:

  1. Your domain name. Come up with a list of domain names that you might want to use. I would come up with at least 3 and order them in preferred order. There is always a chance that the name you want is already taken so you want to have your 2nd and 3rd choices ready to go.
  2. Think about the type of site you want to have. This is anything from a blog to a just a e-commerce store. Bluehost has options for any type of site that you want and I believe WordPress can accommodate most types, but if you need a specialized type of site, they have various options for those as well.
  3. Know you budget. Like every hosting site there are a ton of options from the low-end shared hosting to dedicated servers just for you site. You can always start at the shared hosting option and move up the options list to the dedicated server as needed. Also, you can get more for your money using the introductory pricing if you get multiple years of service up front. This is what I did and it has saved me a lot over my initial sign-up period
  4. Think about your content. This mainly comes in for the Basic and Plus shared hosting options as there is a limit on server space. If you site is going to be heavy on images or videos that are stored on your site you may have to go with the Pro shared site option to start as it has unmetered storage space

Knowing these things will help you deciding which of the multitude of services that Bluehost can offer that you will need to start with.

Now that you have done your pre-planned. Lets go through the steps of getting you online and up in running.

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Review of Macphun Intensify CK and a Special Deal.

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Review of Intensify CK from Macphun

I’ll get the basic information out of the way first before getting into my comments and review. First, this is a Mac OS only application. Sorry my Windows followers, but if you are looking for something that does run on Windows, I would check out On1’s Photo 10.5

The Intensify CK System and Software requirements

  • Mac OS 10.9 and above
  • iMac/MacBook Pro/ MacBook Air/Mac Pro/Mac Mini late 2009 or later
  • 4GB RAM and more
  • 512 MB Graphic RAM and more
  • Creative Kit is integrated as plugin with Lightroom 4,5,6 and CC; Photoshop Elements 10-14 (App Store version is not supported due to Apple Sandboxing); Apple Aperture 3.2 or later; Adobe Photoshop CS5, CS6 or CC 2014, СС 2015, СС.
  • Photos extensions support – for 10.11 only

 

Intensify CK Pricing

List price is $59.99 for the standalone application. (Look for a special limited time discount at the end of this review) You can also get it as part of the Creative Kit. There is a version of Intensify in the Mac App store, but it is a scaled down version and does not include the Plug-in support as mentioned above. To get the full features of Intensify CK you need to purchase it direct from Macphun.

Intensify CK feature set.

  • Real-Time Image Processing Engine!
  • Standalone software & Plug-in Support
  • Native 16-bit RAW Processing
  • Social integration: Facebook, Flickr, etc.
  • 68 Professional Presets
  • Advanced Structure and Micro Structure controls
  • Layers & Masking
  • Proprietary Technology for Revealing Details
  • Vignette with Custom Center
  • Proprietary Technology for Pro Contrast
  • Powerful Macro Sharpness
  • Built-in Macphun Print Lab

 

Now on to the review and my comments on Intensify CK

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Review of Becoming An Artist Season 1

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Becoming An Artist Season 1 with Trey Ratcliff of StuckinCustoms.com

Preface

First I must say I do my best to be unbiased in all my reviews, but in this case I must disclose that I’ve been following Trey Ratcliff for years and as such I”m am a big fan so this review might be a little unintentionally biased. I’ve followed him for so long that I seen changes in his website, changes in his photography equipment, and the ever evolving changes and improvements in his photography. I’ve seen him go from a one person show to a multi artist show, to a worldwide show, and now to Facebook live. I’ve seen his business constantly expanding with new and exciting products and adventures. I also had the pleasure of meeting him in person on a photo walk he and the Stuck in Customs crew did last year in Philadelphia and Washington DC. If you want to see what that was like visit tour.treyratcliff.com

That said, let’s get to the review.

Becoming an Artist Series 1 is comprised of 15 episodes. Each episode is about 30 mins long and divided into two sections. In the first section of each episode you hear Trey tell personal stories such as a bit of his life history, how he became a photographer in his 30’s, and some of the things that inspire him in his photography and art. I believe he does this to give you a sense of where he’s coming from, how he sees the world, and what affects this has on his photography. There is some dialog just about art in general and how other art can help influence or inspire your photography. He will discuss the picture(s) he is taking at that time, why he choose to take that picture, and some tips about the picture including composition, color, light, and inspiration.

In the second section of each episode you get transported to Trey’s Studio in Queenstown New Zealand, where he will show you his editing techniques on some of the photos he took during the previous section using various tools from PhotoMatix, Lightroom,  Photoshop, and other tools like Autopano Giga for his panorama’s. He shows you basic techniques up to some very advanced techniques.

Episodes have interesting titles like

  • Episode 1 – The Accidental Creation of Me
  • Episode 6 – Writing a Failed Novel
  • Episode 10 – A Reccy to Chernobyl
  • Episode 14 – A Street Fight in Morocco

So you can see this is not your typical tutorial series.

This series was created before Aurora HDR came out, so for this season he doesn’t use his new tool, Aurora HDR Pro, which he co-developed with Macphun software.

In addition to the video series Trey has created a Facebook group “Becoming and Artist – Trey Ratcliff’s Funky Lounge” where you can post your own work and interact with fellow artists.

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StraightTalk wireless review, an alternative to a more expensive plan

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I know this isn’t strictly photography related, but nowadays aren’t we are all using our phones to take pictures and upload them to social media or share with friends and family. So I thought I would write about my experience in switching in an effort to save money. I’m all about the discount and saving as much money as I am photography on a very tight budget.

So this is just my commentary of StraightTalk wireless being a possible alternative to a more expensive plan from the other major wireless companies that are out there. I will not refer to carriers by name in this review as coverage will vary for each carrier in your area. Just note that according to StraightTalk their plans/phones work with the major US wireless carriers.

Specifically, I will be referring to the StraightTalk Bring Your Own Device option as I switched to StraightTalk with iPhones that I already had instead of purchasing new iPhones or one of StraightTalk’s Android options.

For years my family was not on a data plan with the carrier we were with as that was what I could afford. I had looked into switching to my carrier’s data plans but it would almost have doubled what was paying at the time and not something I could afford. I’m always looking at was to trim the budget and had been looking for another option for some time. I found myself picking up the StraightTalk, Net10, and other discount carrier brochures ever now and then and was always consider switching but paying the full cost for a phone was just not an option.

Initially I was hesitant to switch as I’m an Apple ecosystem with my personal devices and as such prefer the iPhone over Android for integration reasons. StraightTalk at the time had not yet supported iPhones on their system, so I stopped looking at them for awhile. StraightTalk had started to support iPhones, but I knew the cost of a new phone was out of my reach and that the carrier I would have been placed on I knew didn’t work well in my area. If you buy a new StraightTalk iPhone or one of their Android phones you will be placed on AT&T or T-Mobile as their phones are GSM system phones and these carriers are the GSM carriers in the US.

Toward the end of last year, I started looking at them again as I had gotten a hold of some used iPhones for a reasonable cost when someone I knew upgraded and saw that StraightTalk offered the Bring Your Own Device (byod) option.

I made sure the iPhones that I got ahold of had been on the carrier that my current phones were on and is my preferred carrier of choice.  It was important to me as I wanted to stay on the same carrier I was on. Although StraightTalk says they do not guarantee which carrier you will be on, from my experience, if the phone you switch to StraightTalk was on a certain carrier that is the carrier you will end up on with StraightTalk.

I had obtained and iPhone 4 and and iPhone 5.  The switch with the iPhone 5 went very smoothly and was the first phone I switched to StraightTalk. Being the cautious person I am for this switch I did not initial transfer my existing cell number to the iPhone 5 on StraightTalk but elected to get a new number.  I purchased the StraightTalk byod Activation kit from Wal-Mart which has the network access code, Sim cards for various types of phones, and the initial 1 month of service. You can the byod activation kit direct from StraightTalk at a lower cost as they will only send you the Sim for your particular phone. The price of the kit will vary online and in Wal-Mart, but the plan was the $45/month for unlimited data of which the first 5gb of data is at LTE (high speed), then you are dropped to 2G speeds, but the important note is that it is unlimited data, granted some at slower speeds. This was a major concern to me as I had a daughter on the plan and I had the concern that a limited plan would not be enough and I would be stuck with overage charges on an already expensive plan.

I followed the instructions in the StraightTalk byod kit which had me go to the website, check that my iPhone 5 was compatible and then walked me through a series of steps where I had to enter the network access code and the plan code. And easy as that, I was a StraightTalk customer. First thing I did was go into the phone settings to see which carrier I was placed on and confirmed that it was the carrier I expected and that the phone had previously been on. After trying out the phone for a few weeks with the new phone number it was time to jump all the way and transfer an existing number to the phone.

I logged into my account and followed their instructions on how to transfer my existing StraightTalk and the instructions will vary depending upon which carrier you are coming from.  For mine, they needed my account info, contact info, and for some reason the password to my account. Not sure why they needed this so I created a temp password for them, then changed it as soon as the phone was switch. If you want to switch your phone number when you activate the phone, they will walk you through the steps when you activate your phone.

Now when it came to switching the iPhone 4 I had a bit more trouble and encounter some of the issues which I’ve read in other reviews.

I verified that the phone was compatible on their website and with the chat tech support folks, but since I didn’t have a network access code yet I had to call customer service to buy one (I could have gone and purchased one at Wal-Mart, but I needed to activate the phone that night as my daughter was taking back to school with her the next morning). This is where I had my only issue with StraightTalk so far.

I had already verified that the phone was compatible on their website and with the chat tech support, but when I called customer service, after talking all my phone info and contact info I was promptly told it was not compatible and was hung up on. So I verified it was compatible on the website and again with chat tech support and call customer service back again. I had also done a little research on the StraightTalk website and found a page mentioning you could use an iPhone 4 CDMA phone with there server and that was the type of iPhone 4  I had. I called customer service and give the phone’s IMEI #, my contact info and such and again at the end was told it was not compatible. This is where I remembered the page I had found on their site that had said the iPhone 4 CDMA phone was compatible, but to use the MEID number instead.  So I told the customer service agent to try that number and guess what, it was now compatible.

SO…. if you have an iPhone 4 phone give them the MEID number instead of the IMEI number even if they ask for the IMEI number and save you the hassle. You need to do this on the website as well when registering the phone. It is pretty much the same number except the IMEI number has one extra digit at the end.

I continued to the process to buy a network access code and they took info to set up the account. At this point I had been on the phone with the customer service agent for 40 minutes or so as I found I had to keep repeating information an even resorted to the D as  in Delta method for spelling things and have them repeat it back to me. Since I had called late at night it was getting close to midnight at this time and that is when their customer service hours end. I had just purchased my network access code and was about to activate the phone when customer service agent very quickly said, I’ve been on the phone for xx minutes, I need to transfer you to my supervisor, but he is not available and was promptly hung up on right at midnight.

I was able to login into my account on the website and complete the activation and send the phone along with my daughter.

My recommendations/comments

  • If you are not the type of person who is comfortable with doing all the interaction with a company via their website, this may not be the company for you they are setup for you to use the website for everything.
  • If you need tech support, use the Chat Tech support on the website as I found this staff to be very knowledgeable and helpful. I will never call customer service again unless I absolutely have to. I’m pretty sure the customer service phone folks were not US based and that results in some communication issues.
  • If you can, contact the chat tech support during a week day as they seem to be very short staffed on the weekends and you may be waiting and hour or 2 for someone to respond and then only have a few minutes to notice they have responded and start your query or you will have to start over again. They will disconnect you if you do not respond within 3 minutes of the agent starting their chat.
  • As with all wireless services, the base price is not the total price. But for my experience the $45 plan is just shy of $50 with my states taxes and fees for wireless services, so just keep that in mind when you are comparing pricing.
  • You do have to get the plan renewed each month as it is a month to month plan, but you do have the option for auto renewal of which I’ve done and my card was charged the day before my plan was about to expire and renewed it for the next month.

Now that it is all said and done I now have 2 iPhones with unlimited data (granted some at a lower speed), voice, and text for a less that I was paying for just unlimited voice and text with my previous carrier.  I’ve had no issues with my StraightTalk service as both phones are still on my previous carrier’s system.

You can find out all the details and make the switch on their website

http://www.straighttalkbyop.com/

#Straighttalk #Straighttalkbyod #CellPhone #wireless #Savings

Review of Nowvel

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My Review of Nowvel and a few tips of an iOS app for printing photo books on your iOS devices such as a iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Through a recent promotion I was introduced to a iOS application that will take your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch photos, Facebook photos, or Instagram photos and create a 20 page photo book with up to 100 photos.

This is my review and experience with that product.

The product is currently only for iOS devices running version 8.0 or later.

I’ve used it on an iPhone and on an iPad.  I’ve found it easier to use on the iPad just because things are larger and my eyesight is not what it use to be. It behaves the same on both devices. On both devices it is only in portrait view, which I can see on the iPhone, but I wish it would do landscape on the iPad.

Initially I found the app a little hard to use. Like a lot of apps these days there is no manual. Granted the younger generation that are use to mobile apps might would have picked it up a little faster than I. Once I figured the basics of adding, ordering, and editing photos I found the program very easy to use.

When you open the app you are sent to the Choose your Album of the Create a New Book menu.

IMG_0150

You can either choose one of their automatically created albums on the Album ideas tab or choose All photos or Tagged Photos tabs to start creating a custom book from your photos.

  • Albums Ideas – If you select one of the albums that were created by Nowvel it will take you to the images that they selected for this album and put you on the “Our Picks* tab that shows the pictures the app has picked for the book. You can select the photos from this list or choose one of the other tabs of “Just Faces” or  “All Photos”.
  • All Photos – You can select an album from your device, Facebook, or Instagram as the starting point for your new book. (Note you will see your iCloud Shared albums here, but do not use the those albums as a source as you either see no pictures available or it may show that most are too low of quality to print. There is a solution if these albums contain the photos you want to use and I give the steps below)
  • Tagged Photos – Shows photos that are tagged on your social media sites

Now how do you use photos that are in one of your shared iCloud albums and use it in Nowvel. Here are the steps I took

  1. Open the Photos app on your device
  2. Select the shared album that has the photo you want to use and open it to see the photos in the album
  3. Click “Select” at the top and tap each image out of this album you want to use. If you want to use them all, choose “Select All” at the top
  4. When you are done selecting the images, click the “Share” icon on the top left
  5. Click “Save Image” to have the selected images saved to the local devices camera roll.
  6. Open Nowvel if not already open and on the Choose Your Album page (on the Create a New Book section)
  7. Select the All Photos tab at the bottom and choose your Camera Roll Album
  8. You can now select the images you just saved to create your new Nowvel photo Book

If you have photos on your computer or took some with another device that you want to get into your Nowvel book and you are not using the iCloud Photo Library, just create a shared album in Photos on your computer and that shared album should show up on your device. Then use the method above to import them into your camera roll so you can use them in Nowvel. If you have enough iCloud storage and have the iCloud Photo Library turned on for all your devices then the creating of a shared library is not necessary as all your photos will already be on your device as part of that service. In my case, I do not have the iCloud Photo Library turned on as I have way more photos than my storage limit.

Once you select your images they are placed in your photo book in what I believe is chronological order by date/time and a layout is chosen for each page and you will be shown the current cover for your book. The number of images placed on each page will depend upon how many you selected, but you do need to have at least 20 photos selected before it will let you create your new book. Don’t panic if you don’t like the cover layout or any page layout as you can easily edit the book, just click the Edit Book on the top right.

You have 20 cover designs to choose from at the time of this writing and they seem to be adding more all the time. Most have some customizable text boxes on the front and back covers along with varying number of photos to be shown depending upon the layout chosen.

For each page you can Shuffle Collage to change the way the image or images are laid out on the page. You can easily add and remove images from a page, rearrange where they are located,  and add text to the page. Just tap the image to edit it or remove it. Any removed image will be put down in a little bar at the bottom of the page so it is available to put back or be placed on another page. Tap, hold and drag an image to move it to a different panel on the collage. Each image can be edited by cropping it to fit the collage panel, or enhanced the image a little, or have a filter applied to the image, or any combination there of. To add text to the page, click the Add Text button at the bottom, type your text, and click done. The text will be placed in the middle of the page. You can now change the color from White to Black, Change the Alignment, or change the font. Tapping each button will cycle through the options for that button, just like the Shuffle Collage does for the images.

I will note that if you add an image, remove an image, or Shuffle the Collage you will need to check any image that you had adjusted the cropping for as it would have been reset and you will have to redo your crop setting.

Once you have the layouts done, you can reorder the page order if you wish. When you are done editing, just click done in the top left or View My Photobook at the bottom.

Now you are ready to order your book. Just click Buy Book at the bottom of the page to get to the in-app ordering page where you will see your coin balance applied, choose the number of books you want ordered, select if this is a gift, enter shipping information, and enter payment information.

You can also Share your Photobook with Facebook, Twitter, Email, iMessage, or other service. You have the option to have your book featured on Nowvel’s Inspiration Gallery and make it available for others to buy. If they do, you earn a $1 coin for ever purchase.

The Nowvel Menu

You can reach the main menu of the program by clicking the menu button of three horizontal bars on the tops left

The menu consists of the following options

Home , Create a New Book, My Photobooks, Inspiration Gallery, My Orders, Invite Friends, Like Nowvel? Rate Us!, About the Product, and Settings.
Whats in each section of the menu

Home – Here you can quickly see your coin total and have access to the basic menu options of Create a book, View my books, and see their inspiration Gallery

Create a New Book – Here you will see

  • Nowvel’s list of Album Ideas that were automatically created based upon your photos. So far it looks like they have done a pretty good job on my photos of grouping them by event or time period.
  • All Photos is where you can select up to 100 photos for your custom book from your device albums (does show your iCloud Shared Albums here, but as I mentioned above you only want to select photos from the Camera Roll or Albums created on your iOS device), Facebook, or Instagram.
  • Tagged photos from Facebook, or Instagram.

My Photobooks

  • Photo books you have created or selected from the Album Ideas list.
  • A “Nowvel for Dummies” which describe the features of their books

Inspiration Gallery

  • Where you can see Featured Books created by other Nowvel users

My Orders

  • Any order you have placed will show here along with the Order Date, Order Number, and Status.
  • You can also Track a Package (Once your book has shipped) and Re-order a Book the book easily from this page.

Invite Friends

  • Here you can invite friends from Facebook or Twitter and email or SMS a Friend.
  • Your friend will get $5 off their first book and for each book they buy, you receive a $5 credit.

Like Nowvel? Rate Us!

  • Takes you to the App Store so you can leave a review or rate the app

About the Product

  • A brief description of their product

Settings

  • You can enter any Coin Codes you receive here to have the coins added to this device.
  • Shows what services you have connected for sources of your photos, Camera Roll, Facebook, or Instagram.
  • Shows if you have enabled Notifications
  • A Contact option that automatically creates an email to their support address that will show your devices unique code. This is how they know you and this code is different for each device, hence each device being treated as a different account.
  • The privacy and terms of use.
  • And icons to follow Nowvel on various social media sites.

Coins – What are they and how do you get them and use them.

Coins are a way of paying for all or part of your Photo Book. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on how many you may earn. You can view your balance on the Home page.

You can earn coins by doing various tasks such as connecting Nowvel to your Facebook and Instagram accounts, Inviting friends to use Nowvel, and you may receive notifications on other ways to earn more coins.

You can use your coin balance to cover the cost of the book, but shipping is not covered by your coin balance. For example on my recent order of one book the total cost was $25 for the book including shipping. I had a coin balance of more than 20 coins so  the $20 cost of the book was covered by my coin balance and I only had to paid for the shipping of $5.

The Printed Book

I ordered my first book on the 22nd and it arrived on the 26th. So 4 days from time of order to arrival I think is pretty quick and it was sent via USPS so you can track the shipment along the way.

Here are some photos to show the book I received.

 

IMG_3814

The book showing the cover. 4×8 inches in size

IMG_3815

The outside of the printed book showing cover, back cover, and spine

IMG_3817

Showing the pages and binding

After getting the printed book I realized it is not quite what you see is what you get on the view shown in the Nowvel app. This is not a problem that is isolated to the Nowvel app but a lot of the photo printed book. That being you lose part of your image on the outer edges when you have photos on the edge.

Below I show the full page and close up views of a page from my Nowvel book that shows how much is clipped from photos that are on the edge of the book. My best estimate is about 1/8 of an inch. [post review note: this was spelled out in their faq file and it is indeed 1/8 of inch]

IMG_0154

Page as shown in the Nowvel app on the iPad

IMG_3813

Page show as printed in the book

Close up of edge

Close up of the top left edge of the photo as shown in the Nowvel app on the iPad

Close up of printed edge

Close up of the top left edge of the photo showing where things were cut off in the printed book

 

Despite the edge cut off that I didn’t take in account for on a few images and not following my own advise with one image not being center, which were all my fault. I love how the book turned out and will be getting more.

Negatives I see at the moment.

Each device is treated as its own account and as such the coins you earn/enter and the books that you create are only on the device you earned/entered the coins on or created the book on . They are not transferable from one device to another at this time.

One BIG problem I had with the when I deleted Nowvel. If you delete the app from you device for whatever reason you will LOSE all of your coins. When you reinstall the app you will be back to the initial balance of $0. Luckily I still had my promotional notice and was able to have Nowvel support credit my device for the deleted coins.

Since the coins you earn are per device and each device is treated as its own account when you go to order a book you can only use the amount of coin credits you have on that device. It does not matter how many coins you have in total across all your devices. For example, if you have an iPhone with 4 coins and an iPad with 20 and you buy your book on your iPhone you can only use the 4 coin credit from your iPhone even though you had enough coins on your iPad to pay for the entire book.

The program crashed for me when I tried to add an address from my address book for the shipping address during ordering on the iPad. Seems to work on the iPhone, but it didn’t let me select which address of the multiple address I have listed, such as work and home, and it put in the first address listed in my contact card which happen to be my work address. So I’d say there are a few bugs still to be worked out, but I was able to add my address manually with out any issue.

In summary

I do think this is a great app. Once you get the hang of it is very easy to use.

The printed books are have a good solid feel to them and the photos look great on the thick paper pages.

I would recommend you decided which iOS device you are going to use with this app and then stick with just that device. For most folks I think this would be your iPhone anyway since that is the iOS device most use to take their photos. This way you have access to all of your coins when you go to buy your book. You will also have access to all of your custom created books.

I’ve contacted support a few times for some of my issues and they have been very helpful and I’ve gotten responses and resolution within a day in most.

This syncing of books and coins is something that I”m hoping they have in the plans for the future to make it more usable on multiple devices.

If the iPhone is your camera, then I would say this is definitely an app for you.

I would also recommend reviewing their FAQ at http://nowvel.com/faq.html as it gives a fair amount of information about the app.

If you are ready to make the jump, I can help you out a little with a $5 gift towards your first book. Just click on the image below.

nowvel

Click the above image to save $5 on your book

#Nowvel #Photobook #Review #Discount

Ace Rental Auckland Airport, New Zealand Review

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First I have to say this one is a little overdue as I thought I had already posted this, but had not. So forgive the lateness.

After extensive online searching for the best price on a rental vehicle on my trip to New Zealand last May, I settled on renting from Ace Rental, Airport branch.

We booked very early in that I booked the People mover (Van for those in the US) back in Oct when our trip wasn’t until the following May and got the best rate out of all the rental agencies I could find for Auckland.

Booking online we easy and convenient. The only confusion I had been when I got the confirmation it showed as “Tourism Enterprises Ltd trading as “Ace Rental Cars””.

When we arrived in Auckland we called the Airport branch from their courtesy phone at the airport and they arrived in their shuttle van with a trailer for our luggage within 10 mins.

At the branch, the staff were friendly and got us squared away with the paperwork rather quickly. We did opt for the full insurance which I think made the paperwork go much quicker.

Now here is where I had the only problems.

After getting the paperwork done, they walked us out to check out the vehicle and walked up to a car, this was not what we had reserved as we had reserved a People mover (Van for those in the US)

I showed them my booking receipt and they apologized and we walked back in while they got the People mover ready.  We went out and checked out the vehicle, put our luggage in and drove off.  This vehicle had a problem right from the start in that at about 50K it had a horrible engine noise and no acceleration and then the check engine light came on.  We immediately took it back and after waiting another 10-15 minutes they got us another People mover for us and we drove off into the city without issues this time.

We were very happy with this vehicle and had no issues with it while on our trip. At the time of our booking, they offered AA (AAA for those in the US) roadside assistance, if you needed it, but we did not, so I cannot speak to that. But most Auto Associations have very good service.

I would recommend getting the full insurance, as many roads outside of the city have loose stone and can easily chip the windshield, which did happened in our case. That and you do not have to deal with the large hold on you card (what they call Excess and Bond)

When we returned the People mover it only took a few minutes to check the vehicle in and the shuttle to take us to the departure terminal was already there, so we when right off to the terminal.

Despite the minor problems, I would still recommend this company due to the value for the service.  The next closest competitor was at least $300 more and that was a similar service to Ace.  If you went with the name brand agencies I would have spent over $1000 more.

Also, these are late-model vehicles with higher mileage than you would find at a name brand agency, but that is how they keep their costs down. Since they are late-model vehicles, the might get lower gas mileage/kilometers that a newer vehicle, but I in our case the gas consumption was about the same as a newer model and thus didn’t justify paying the higher rental fee. The vehicles all seemed well cleaned and in good shape as I checked out several of the cars while we were waiting for People mover to become ready.

I would take a copy of your rental confirmation with you and do one thing that I didn’t, call or email the branch you are renting from the day before just to confirm your reservation. This way they should have the right vehicle ready for you when you arrive.

A People Mover rented from the Auckland Airport Ace Rental

A People Mover rented from the Auckland Airport Ace Rental

Entrance to Ace Rental on Manu Tapu Drive

Entrance to Ace Rental on Manu Tapu Drive, just a few Kilometers from the Airport.

Looking for an App to help you pack, then I’ve got just what you need

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Until this upcoming trip, I have only been traveling fairly close to home so I didn’t sweat it too much on what I packed. If I missed something, I always knew I could find it at a local Walmart.

This time I’m traveling internationally, so I started hunting for apps that could help with my trip.

I was looking for an app that could keep track of the items I had in each bag just so I didn’t forget anything when repacking them, how much each item weighed so I had a sense of how much my bags weighed since Airlines charge overage fees, and could create lists not only for me, but for my fellow travelers.

After looking around the App Store at free and paid packing list applications I finally decided on a paid application.

I ended up with Packing Pro by quinnscape.com

Packing LIst Pro
Buy in the App Store

 

 

This app meets my need and more.

I’m still exploring all the features, but so far one of its features I think has saved me.  It has an Expert Assistance feature that asked a few questions and helped generate a list of possible items for me to take from its Master Catalog list of packing items.  I used this to generate not only my list, but my daughters, who will be joining me on this trip.  Not being female, I do not think of all the possible things that they may need to take with them, this program helped me give them a starting list of things to consider packing, of which many I would never have thought of.

It even gives lists of things that you may need to do before you even start packing.

This is just one of its many features, I would recommend it to anyone. Before you buy this modestly priced app, visit their website as they have a much more detail description.

As of this writing, this is an IOS only App and is $2.99 as of this posting for the pro version, which I think is a steal for this app.