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The eBook Reader for Any Trip - The Kobo Aura Edition 2

You know those long airport layovers, uneventful train rides, and halfway around the globe flights? Yes, those. Do you ever feel like your time is worth more than a tune on repeat?

I know I do, and that's precisely why I have been looking for an eBook reader to take with me on my journeys. Something that is steady, has a good battery life and is still affordable. Because no matter how romantic paper books are, they are not practical to pack in my carry-on. And I'm all about packing light. No compromises there.

The Kobo Aura Edition 2 is the latest e-reader to hit the market, and it is exactly what I was looking for.


I will start maybe with the most important part, the software. The Kobo Aura Edition 2 has a heavily dynamic home screen that I like. If you create a new bookshelf, buy an eBook or start reading a newspaper, a new entry will be automatically created on the home screen. This enables users to be able to quickly jump into the last few things they have done, which saves time. Underneath every eBook title you can get a sense of your reading progression via a numerical value, represented as percentages.

When are set your device up for the first time and log into your Kobo account it automatically fetches all of the books you have purchased from Kobo in the past and also setups any customized shelves you have on prior devices. If a firmware update is available, the e-reader will periodically sync for new content and download it. You can also manually click the sync button from the settings menu.

The main home screen has a few simple navigation options. You can check out your reading statistics, such as how long it takes you to read an average title. There are also some awards and achievements you can earn using the e-reader. I found this funny. I will see if I can earn any.

The Kobo Aura Edition 2 reads a wide array of formats including, EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR and many text-based formats. It does have EPUB 3 support to render the complex Japanese characters and Manga. Amazing! So many formats.

There are 11 different fonts to choose from and over 40 sizes that you can customize with a slider bar. When you are reading a book, you have a number of options you can employ. Aside from font and customization options, you can long-press on a word and get an instant definition of it. If you speak another language, you can look the word up in Japanese, Italian, German, Dutch, and many more.

When long-pressing a word, you get an anchor that will allow you to select a single word, sentence, or entire paragraph. You can then highlight it or add a note, or look up the word in Google or Wikipedia. I don't usually share quotes online, but maybe now I will start to. With my new Kobo I can share a specific quote or word via Facebook.


The Kobo Aura Edition 2 has a very clean design. The back is made of textured rubber with an embedded Kobo logo on the right. The texture makes it easier to grip. The power button is a small rectangular one on the back. It's a matter of preference, but although it's the only device I own with the power button in the back, I have to say the placement feels natural to me and I like it.

On the bottom, there is a single Micro USB connector that is used to charge and transfer data to your device. On the front there is a simple status indicator and the light blinks when it is booting up or running out of power.

The Kobo Aura Edition 2 features a six-inch E-Ink Carta display with a resolution of 1024 X 768 and 212 PPI. There is 4 GB of internal memory but unfortunately, it comes with no option to enhance it via an SD card. I don't really mind that, as for my needs I think a 4 GB memory is sufficient. That's more books than I can read on any trip.

The Kobo Aura Edition 2 has wireless internet access and allows you to shop for e-books right on the device and you can also use the internet browser to visit your favorite website. I still like my internet surfing in color, but its great to have the option.

The battery life is supposed to be two months. I guess it all depends on how much of a heavy user you are. Sometimes during my travels I have lots of time for reading, sometimes very little. But not having to reach so often for the charger is already a blessing.

I understand that Kobo has refined their entire lighting system. The Kobo Aura Edition 2 has a great front-lit display and you do not have the bluish hues that plague other e-readers on the market, but a beautiful warm light that does not strain the eyes.


If you are looking for an affordable e-reader then the Aura Edition 2 can be the right choice for you. The Kobo Aura Edition 2 is a great six-inch e-reader, well designed, with an excellent front-lit display that is warm and easy on the eyes.

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The Longest Journey with Jabra Halo Smart

While traveling by train or plane, I like to listen to audiobooks. On the plane, I like to rest my eyes while on the train I usually let myself mesmerized by the passing scenery. For this, I like a good set of wireless headphones. However for long journeys, you don't just need a good pair of headphones, but one with great battery life as well.

For some time, that was not so easy to come by. I am not talking about some wireless headphones that you have to charge every 4 hours. I was looking for a set that would last a 15 hours flight on one charge. This is why I find that Jabra Halo Smart with its 17 hours continuous battery life is a game changer.

Until now going completely wireless used to mean sacrificing both battery life and weight, due to the need to duplicate much of the electronics in each ear. There’s also the issue of what to do with them when not in use. Jabra’s solution is to just wear the things around your neck the whole flight or train journey. This way you are not going to loose them.

After all, with a listed battery life of 17 hours, it’s not like you’re going to spend much time sitting around, waiting for the battery to top off. The company even built magnets into the sides of the collar, so the earbuds don’t have to dangle from your sides.


Of course, with the roaming prices going down, I find myself using more and more my mobile abroad. So, I am also looking for good quality in this regard too. It so happens that Jabra's strong suit is exactly that - making and taking calls.

As advertised, the call quality is solid. One of the best I’ve experience on a headset, and certainly crystal clear, and it did a decent job helping mask some of the wind noise when I received a phone call up on a cathedral tower. I could hear my friend on the line very clearly. And she had not complained she couldn't hear me, indicating the onboard microphone is very adequate.

Incoming calls are signaled with beeps and you can switch from listening to your music/podcast/audiobook to talking on the phone by clicking one button on the headset.

There are four buttons on-board. The one on the left mutes calls and loads your smartphone’s on-board voice assistant, while the trio on the right handle power and volume/track advance.

After I dipped one of my earbuds in my orange juice on one early morning, before taking an early train, I discovered what Jabra means when it says the Halo Smart is “built for life.” I was pleased that the headset continued to function well. These earbuds aren’t delicate pearls that need to be sealed in a case when you transport them either – I just throw them in my backpack alongside my laptop and my tablet, confident they’ll survive and be ready to play music when I need it.

Now to the small magical details.

First of all, it can connect to multiple devices at the same time. That means I can listen to the audio from my laptop, and still answer an incoming call on my mobile with the headset seamlessly. Plus, you don’t have to fiddle with your Bluetooth settings on your devices to connect and disconnect the Halo Smart – it just connects and starts working.

The headset has the buttons you’d expect – play/pause and volume controls, plus a button that provides quick access to Siri on my iPhone, or Google Now on my HTC. This is a nice convenience since it lets me make a call or send a text hands-free.

There are magnets on the headphones and at two locations on the band that sits on your neck. So instead of just dangling, the headphones can either stick together or to the band. The band itself is adjustable so it will comfortably fit around your neck.

And to top all this, Jabra offers an app that you can use alongside this headset. Jabra Assist will read out your calendar notifications and email on Android, locate your device if you lose track of it, and display your battery life. Pretty cool.


I can use Jabra Halo Smart headset in many different situations, blogging on my computer in a coffee shop, or connected to my smartphone while I’m on the go. The long battery life, reliable connection to my devices, and durable build quality put it over the top as a premium headset for me, a set of wireless headphone that I can rely on during my travels.
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9th of October Marks The Day Of The Valencian Community

The 9th of October marks the Day of the Valencian Community and therefore it is a bank holiday and a very good excuse for a historical street party. Solemn and leisure events are held throughout the day. But 9th of October is also Dia de San Dionisio - the Lovers Day in Valencia - celebrated with delicious marzipan fruits.

The history of the fiesta
After over 5 centuries of Islamic rule, Valencia was finally reconquered by the Christian army of King Jaime I in 1238. In a very generous gesture King Jaime I established the Valencian Kingdom as an autonomous region, with its own governing bodies and courts. It was on 9th of October 1238 that King Jaime's army entered the gates of Valencia, a week after it was surrendered by its Moorish defenders. This was the birth of the Valencian Community as we know it, and a source of great pride for Valencians today.

The fiesta
The celebrations start one week ahead. On the eve of the 8th of October a 45mins to 1h Pyrotechnical festival is held in the old course of the River Turia in the city of Valencia. On the 9th of October various events take place, like the descendance of the Valencian flag from the main balcony of the Valencia City Hall, a civic procession, the religious act of Te Deum, the performance of the Hymn of the Region of Valencia and a floral offering made in front of the equestrian statue of Jaime I that closes with a mascletà.

9th of October is also the Feast of Sant Dionís, the local San Valentine's Day
The 9th of October is also the Feast of Sant Dionís, traditionally considered the patron saint of those in love, for which reason it is the custom on this day to give the gift of the Mocadorà, a knotted silk handkerchief filled with home-cooked marzipan sweets made by Valencian confectioners. These sweets consist of the traditional cakes known as Piruleta i Tronador - small bars of marzipan, made with equal parts of almond and sugar filled with yolk - together with small pieces of marzipan in the shape of all types of fruit and items of food. If you're like me and adore marzipan you'll be happy to know that well ahead this very special day the patisseries of Valencia are ablaze with the most delicious array of colored marzipan nibbles.

The Procession of the entrance of Christians & Moors
At 5pm on the 9th of October, a three hours long procession of Christians and Moors takes the city’s streets, starting at the Glorieta park and ending in front of the City Hall. This procession is very colorful, pompous and the peak of the celebration. Various groups of Valencians dressed up in beautiful costumes of either Moors or Christians parade through Valencia's centre in a spectacular show with dance and music. The photos are from yesterday's procession.

They play...

They dance...

Some even have fancy decorated carriages...

And some come on horseback...

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AwardWallet is the Go-To Service for Tracking Points and Miles

There was a time when luxury travel was reserved for only the wealthiest travelers, those with the money to pay thousands of dollars for first-class airline tickets and luxury hotels.

But with the rise of rewards and loyalty programs, using rewards points and airline miles to fund travel is becoming more mainstream every year. As its popularity increases, so does the need for reliable tools to monitor loyalty programs and track your hard-earned points and miles.

Which is why I depend on AwardWallet.

AwardWallet is the #1 points and miles tracking service on the planet, tracking over 650 loyalty and rewards programs. It displays points balances and account information in a secure and easy to digest format, including any elite status held with the program, expiry dates on points and miles, as well as other relevant account data.

In addition to tracking points and miles, AwardWallet securely stores all of your rewards program account details such as passwords and usernames, giving you one-click access to every program from a secure online interface. No more trying to remember dozens of different account numbers and passwords!

Using AwardWallet to Track Your Points and Miles

AwardWallet has both iOS and Android apps for mobile users, and you can access the secure web app through your favorite browser on a computer. The service is easy to use. Simply sign up for a free account, search for the loyalty program you want to track, input the username and password you use to access the account on the program's website, and AwardWallet syncs your points balance and account information, displaying it in a concise and ordered display.

AwardWallet automatically monitors your account balances, tracking changes and sending alerts when points or miles post to your account and notifying you when points are due to expire. The ability to sign into tracked loyalty programs directly from the AwardWallet interface, with one-click, is a real user-friendly feature that saves a surprising amount of time.

If you’re looking for advice on how best to use points and miles to achieve your travel goals, AwardWallet also operates a fantastic blog full of tips, tricks, and educational resources to help you leveraging loyalty programs for free travel and luxury experiences. It’s a great place to learn about the different rewards programs available, how to fast-track your way to elite status (in some cases, without taking a single flight or spending even one night in a hotel), and keep abreast of promotions and travel deals.

AwardWallet Can Organize and Display Travel Itineraries Too

Monitoring your loyalty accounts isn’t the only way you’ll find AwardWallet useful. The ‘Trips' tab at the top of the page holds your travel itineraries, displaying upcoming flights and hotel bookings in chronological order including flight numbers, booking confirmations, and departure/destination information.

Click on the booking to expand it and show departure/arrival times, contact details for the airline, and a map showing flight path and airport codes.

Select ‘Create Travel Plan’ above the booking and you can build a timeline for specific trips, dragging reservations into place and adding other activities.

Travel plans are imported by selecting the loyalty program in question or entering the confirmation number on the booking. Alternatively, email reservations directly to and the AwardWallet team will enter the details for you.

The mobile app will also alert you in real-time to flight updates and itinerary/seat changes for most major airlines.

Are My Account Details Safe?

Yes, with industry leading end-to-end encryption, your account information is safe. AwardWallet regularly participates in bounty programs where hackers are paid to highlight security flaws in AwardWallet’s security. Users can also choose to store account passwords locally on their computer for added security.


If you're a rewards or loyalty program member, AwardWallet should be on your radar. It tracks credit card points, frequent flyer miles, hotel points, car rental programs and hundreds more, alerting you to any activity in your account and notifying you before points and miles are due to expire.

In my mind, there is no better option out there for tracking rewards points and securely monitoring account activity.
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Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Headphones are the Ultimate Workout Companion and Heart Rate Monitor

It is cool to have fitness bands that monitor your fitness sessions. But you know what it's also cool? To have a wireless set of headphones that doubles as a workout companion. Enter the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Headphones.

Besides playing music from your phone, the Pulse has sensors that measure your heart rate, and the companion app on your iPhone integrates that with your other workout data. Many fitness tracker bands and sports watches come with a heart rate monitor, but Jabra puts the heart rate sensor in a place that is not only convenient but also gives you very reliable readings: on the earbuds. They are ulta-small and ulta-portable, easy to pack in your bag when you travel. Amazing!


Jabra's earbuds are extremely comfortable and sturdy. They never fell out of my ears. The earbuds come with tips that are available in several sizes, so you can use the one that fits best in your ears, and they also have a plastic wrapping called an earwing, which helps them stay in place even better. I found that not needing a cord to connect the headset to my phone made this headset even easier to use during a workout.

The heart sensor is the one that caught my attention in the first place. It is in one of the earbuds, and it reads your pulse from your earlobe, just like conventional earlobe-clip heart rate monitors. I found that having the sensor on the earbuds was an excellent design concept.

The headset communicates with your phone via Bluetooth, and sends the heart rate information to the Jabra Sport Life app. The app also pulls in data from your phone about your movements during a workout session, such as the distance you ran, your speed and your pace.

The app is quite simple, and makes it is easy for you to navigate between starting a session, reviewing your past workouts or exploring the other tracking options it offers. You can choose the source from which you want to play music, from another app, or from your phone's library. I could even listen to my audiobook, though I don't think many people would do that during running sessions.


The headset connected to the phone very quickly every time, and it always took just a few seconds for the headset to detect and show my heart rate. After a full charge, the headset's battery lasts for 5 hours of full work. So, for example, if you work out for 1 hour every day, you would need to charge the device every four or five days. The device comes with a USB cable, and you can charge it by connecting it to a computer or using your phone's charger.

A Ton of Information

Knowing your heart rate can be useful when you exercise because it will help you know whether you are working too hard or not hard enough. Any exercise is beneficial for general health, but when people exercise in their target heart zone, they gain the greatest benefits and improve their heart's health by pushing it hard enough to get stronger. A person's target heart rate zone and maximum heart rate are calculated using a formula that includes that person's age.

The Jabra Sport Life app shows your heart rate in real-time, and uses it to calculate whether you are in your target zone. The app tells you what zone of exercise intensity you are in — ranging from light, to intense or maximum.


There are a number of tests in the app that you can do to find your fitness level. To personalize your training zones, you can take the resting heart rate test. This test essentially measures your heart rate at rest when you're sitting calmly, which can reflect how fit you are. A resting heart rate is usually between 60 to 100 beats per minute, but people who are physically very fit may have a resting heart rate lower than 60 bpm. I wish I could say mine is lower than 60 bpm.

In the Rockport test, you can find an estimation of your VO2 max, which is the maximum rate of oxygen your body consumes during exercise and reflects your endurance. To actually measure your VO2 max you would need to go to a lab, but there are ways to estimate a person's VO2 max without actually measuring it. In Jabra's test you are asked to walk at a fast but comfortable pace for a mile, while the device is keeping track of your heart rate. You can take the test every few weeks to see your progress.

There's also a third test, known as the orthostatic heart rate test, which determines whether you are overtraining. This test measures the difference between your heart rate when you are in a supine position and in a standing position.

All these tests can be done without any device at all because you can always measure your heart rate yourself by counting your pulse. But obviously, it is much easier if an app does it for you.

Other things that the app tracks are similar to what other fitness gadgets track, such as the distance you've covered in a run or walk, your speed and your pace, including both the maximum and average of these factors during a session. It also estimates how many calories you've burned. As I said - a ton of information.


I enjoyed working out with a wireless headset, and being able to track my heart rate and integrate that with other data gathered by the app. Knowing your heart rate can bring interesting and valuable information about the intensity of your workout.

I also appreciated that the app was not too sophisticated. In a way, it is minimalistic, including only the data points that matter the most.

For a runner, cyclist or anyone who does a sport regularly and wants to improve, the Jabra Sport Pulse is worth getting it.

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