Passing Time

Last week I was sampling the delights of New York. I’ve probably been there 30 or 40 times over the last few years but not since 1989 have I spent “time” there, that is, time for me rather than for a company or a project. It’s not the same place as it was then. The WTC is gone of course, there are more, taller, buildings – the Time Warner centre at the SW corner of Central Park for instance, taxi drivers even seem to know the city better than I remember from before. But some things don’t change: New Yorkers (the few that you can discern inbetween all of the European tourists) are the same, and Central Park is as beautiful an oasis as ever.

One thing that let me enjoy the city more like a local though was Vindigo, installed on my Treo (still a 600 but soon to be a 650). This is a proverbial killer app. Tell it your location and it will tell you about restaurants, stores, movie theatres, bars and music clubs within a defined radius of where you are. Vindigo is how I ended up on Friday lunch time listening to Jazz in the restaurant in the church hall of St Barts, it’s how I sampled the best breakfast in the entire world at Norma’s and how I knew which days the Met Museum of Art was closed (Monday) and then the new exhibitions started. It’s also how I managed to get between the pre-dinner bar, the restaurant for dinner and the post-dinner bar. All it needs now, to be perfect, is GPS built into the phone so that it can take your location with no input. Vindigo has data on London as its only European city but it covers the USA far more widely. I have NYC, London and Miami stored in the phone right now.

Vindigo coupled with Robert Parker’s entire wine database are the two apps that make the Treo absolutely indispensable. This latter app has saved me more than a few times from pitching into an over-priced and under-rated bottle of wine in restaurants that should know better. Of course, you have to agree with Parker’s ratings and like his numeric rating system – Jancis doesn’t and nor does Clive Coates – which is fine by me. We could use a similar rating system for government websites; that would sort a few things out.

I could do with the Blackberry code on the Treo to get email as the present app is pretty clunky, but I wouldn’t swap the Treo for a Crackberry. Besides, the ‘berry doesn’t have Mazera which is an excellent way to waste time when you have nothing else to do – I’m pretty sure it will take you at least 7 or 8 solid hours to get through the game and given that you’ll only ever put 5 minutes at a go into it, that should last a fair few weeks. And if you’re nowhere near Halo 2 it’s not an unreasonable substitute.

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