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3 ways to enjoy your vacation with your Mac

It's time to toss the kids into the back of the family truckster and drive to the shore, acquire a debilitating sunburn on the first day and pay $19 for a hamburger and a soda (not to mention the $100 you spent on gas in the first 24 hours). Summer vacation ... I'm lovin' it!

We hope you brought your Apple goodies. Aside from providing a much-needed geek-out at the end of the day, your Mac can actually make your vacation more enjoyable. And nothing says "That week we spent at Clearwater Beach" like the sand you can't extract from your iPhone's headphone jack.

Read on for our Mac vacation tips!
1. Photos

You can't go on vacation without a camera. What better way to preserve the precious memory of the police officer who arrested Jr. for mooning tourists on the boardwalk? Your Mac brings it together. However, it goes beyond simple iPhoto Events. Here are a few tips to make everything even more fun.

Make a "Life Poster"


In 2005, Mike Matas got iPhoto users all excited with his Life Poster hack. Essentially, it was a trick of sorts that produced a poster-sized print of nearly 100 photos. I made one of our daughter's first year with us and it hangs in my office to this day.

Since then, Zykloid Software has released Posterino, which lets you produce Life Posters easily. A framed montage of your trip will be a great keepsake, gift for your host, etc.

Transfer photos to your Mac at home

During the lulls in your vacation, you studiously tagged, keyworded and otherwise categorized your photos. Back at home, you'll want to transfer everything to your desktop Mac, with all of that data intact. A simple drag-and-drop won't do it.

Grab iPhoto Library Manager from Fat Cat Software. First, connect the two Macs so iPhoto Library Manager can access both libraries (they both must be the same version). Then you can simply copy events or albums and keep the keywords, titles and comments intact.

Share with family and friends


You didn't bring the whole family, did you? Keep Aunt Shirley and Uncle Joe up-to-date with .Mac Galleries (soon to be MobileMe Galleries) iWeb sites and more. Best of all, you can give them the ability to download photos right to their own computers.

Keep Shootin'


If you've got a 5G iPod, you might want to pick up the iPod Camera Connector. This little doohickey will let you upload photos from your camera's memory card to your iPod and let you fill it up all over again. Once you're back at the hotel, just connect the iPod to your Mac. iPhoto will launch and treat it like a digital camera.

2. Traveling

iPhone / iPod touch maps

A year ago I traveled to Buffalo, New York. Before I left, I added relevant bookmarks to the Google Maps application on my iPhone, like my hotel, local coffee shop, car rental place and points of interest. That way, I didn't have to waste time fiddling around after I arrived.

Sure, you can use the iPhone's locator button (or GPS if you're leaving next week), but I've found that to be hit-or-miss.

You can also use iPhoneTravel, a web-based iPhone application that lets you search for hotels, flights, rental cars, and cruises right from your phone.

Foreign plugs


If you're traveling abroad, you probably know that their wall sockets don't play nicely with our products. Pick up an Apple World Travel Kit and you'll be covered.

Fly the wired skies

Stay juiced with the Magsafe Airline Adapter and watch your DVDs to the very end.

An iPhone or iPod packed with kids' shows from the iTunes Store will keep toddlers occupied during a long plane ride. Just remember to put your iPhone in Airplane Mode should you choose to use it while in the air, or you could get arrested.

3. Stay in touch


Perhaps you've left someone behind (intentionally, not "Home Alone" style). Here are a couple ways to stay in touch.

iChat video calls

Nothing says "I miss you" like a pixelated, jumpy video chat from a hotel's Wi-Fi network. Seriously, though, I recently had to spend a few days out-of-town and the nightly video chats with my kids were priceless. We got to talk face-to-face and I was able to see all of the things they were doing while I was gone. Barring that, try....

Quick videos in iWeb

Fire up your video camera and shoot a quick, 30-second video of yourself talking to loved ones at home. Edit it quickly with iMovie and publish to an iWeb site. Then, send a link to let everyone know it's ready. It's fast, simple and lets everyone at home know that they're on your mind.

Now you're all set for an enjoyable vacation with your favorite traveling companion ... your Mac.

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