Meet Jon

Jon is one of the founders of Triposo and just like the others he's well traveled. He's not just backpacked across most of Europe and Asia, but he has also been roaming the planet for six months with his wife a little baby. 

One of Jon's favorite spots:
The Annapurna massif in Nepal (picture by the Triposo Adventurers)

Which place do you call home?
I was born in Malmö, Sweden but I only lived there for the first 4 years of my life. Since then I've lived in various parts of Sweden, the UK and Australia. Now I’m living in Berlin where our HQ is.

How did you catch the travel bug?
My parents were part of radical political movement and travelled around a lot connecting with various factions. They also moved to wherever the movement needed them, so travelling has always been a natural part of my life. Staying in the same place for too long makes me restless.

What's the most interesting trip you've taken.
My first son was born in Australia in April last year. He is two weeks older than Triposo. We wanted to get closer to our parents so we decided to move back to Europe but we couldn't decide on exactly which city to live in. So we got rid of all our stuff in Australia, packed two bags and travelled around Europe for 6 months with a 6-month baby in tow. Finally we decided Berlin was the place to settle down in. It certainly was a different type of travelling to what we did before we had kids :-)

What's your favorite spot?
The Annapurna massif in Nepal had some mind blowing vistas. I trekked around it for 3 weeks ten years ago.

Where do you dream of travelling to?
There's so much left to see! I haven't done the Inca trail in Peru yet but Machu Picchu looks amazing in pictures. Love to do that.

Travel advice you've learned along the way?
Trust most people that you meet! There are bad seeds out there out to get to the content of your wallet but if you distrust everyone you miss out on amazing conversations and experiences.

What do you always take when on the road?
Earplugs and and an eye mask. With these I can sleep absolutely anywhere: airplanes, snoring dorms, partying hostels or noisy trains.

What do you collect when you travel?
Mostly memories. :-) Nah, lately I've started buying kitchy little souvenirs from each place I visit.

Tripgeist 2013

Last year we wrote a blog post predicting which travel destinations would be trending in 2012 based on our algorithms. It's December again so it won't come as a surprise that we have a fresh list for you with the top places to go in the coming year.

The way we've compiled the Tripgeist Chart for 2013 is pretty much the same as before - our algorithms predict the popularity of travel destinations. We compared the scores from last year with this year's result and we have Tripgeist: the travel trends for the new year.

Tripgeist

1. Germany - Jasmund National Park (+55%)


Jasmund National Park is one of the most romantic spots on the German Baltic coast.  With white cliffs over 150 meters high, a fairytale forest and secluded beaches, travelers are also just minutes away from the posh beach town of Binz.

2. Greece - Antiparos (+49%)


The Greek need a break in 2013.  If you need a break too, pay a visit to beautiful Antiparos, our 2013 runner up. Antiparos іs well-recognized fоr іts relaxed, authentic atmosphere. Іt has beaches оn аll sides аnd offers а nice alternative tо the more crowded аnd hectic islands nearby. It's also known fоr іts excellent wind conditions fоr wind- аnd kite-surfing.

3. Puerto Rico - Vieques (+48%)


Fоr sixty years the majority оf Vieques wаs closed off by the US Navy and the island remained almost entirely undeveloped by tourism. Thіs lack оf development іs nоw the key attraction. Vieques іs a sleepy, unspoiled island with rural "old world" charm аnd pristine deserted beaches which іs rapidly becoming а popular destination.

4. Thailand - Ko Tao (+39%)


Ko Tao іs less developed thаn Ko Samui аnd Ko Pha Ngan, but is becoming increasingly popular because of its inexpensive scuba diving certification. We're also seeing more and more families who fіrst visited the island ten years ago and аre nоw returning wіth theіr families.

5. Sri Lanka - Sigiriya (+38%)


Sri Lanka has emerged from its 26-year-long civil war and is reclaiming its place as one of the most exciting tourist destinations. Sigiriya is famous for its ancient fortress that was built in the 5th century AD. The оnly wаy іntо the city іs through the giant lion's jaw, so don't forget to pack your courage when you come here. 

6. USA - Pittsburg (+38%)


Pittsburgh remains the East Coast's well-kept secret. Though not built up by reputation, the city's unique combination of bridges, steep hills, and broad rivers make it one of the most naturally scenic cities in the country. Cheap food and beer are aplenty in this true sports town where the locals are amazingly friendly.

7. Wales - Tenby (+34%)


Tenby іs аn exceptionally busy UK holiday resort іn the summer. The relatively unspoiled beaches аnd historic town walls make it a treat for any traveler. Why don't you treat yourself to Tenby in 2013?

Thanksgiving Present


Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
It's Thanksgiving and many people are off to see their family. For all those traveling across the country we've got a present. The new version of the Triposo iOS app just hit the Appstore and we've added 5,000 US towns to our app.  Claymont, Delaware, Nachitoches, Louisiana and Meridian, Mississippi - here we come!

Meet Douwe!

The people who work at Triposo all love travel. But there's only one person in our team who has been to over 100 countries and that's Douwe, one of the founders of the company. He's the guy on the left, with the funny hat on the picture below (I'm the guy on the right).


So let's ask the guy who's been to a hundred countries a few questions!

Where have you lived? Where do you call 'home'?

I grew up in the Netherlands. I lived in Switzerland, India, Australia, Germany and depending on where you draw the line between visit and living, the United States. Berlin is feeling more and more like home.

How did you catch the travel bug?
Probably infected at birth. Our parents took us everywhere: driving up and down to Turkey with a caravan right through a bunch of communist countries was their idea of a perfect summer holiday. So it seemed perfectly natural to look at how to go to India by bus after I left high school.

What is the most interesting journey you've made?
Crossing the Sahel from Senegal to Freetown in West Africa on the back of trucks in the rainy season is certainly up there.

What is your favorite beach?
Tafatafa Beach in Samoa. Nice and far away from, well, everything.

Where do you dream of travelling to?
Ethiopia is currently on top of my list.

Travel advice you've been given/learned along the way?
It's always better to go then not to. Don't let people tell you you can't go to India unless you spend 3 months there. Three days in a strange country is better than three days at home.

What do you always take when on the road?
A passport, an ATM card and a phone with Triposo on it is all you need

The Sitges Hackathon (2)

We've just published the second project we did during our hackathon in Sitges. In this case it's just a little fun thing. We compiled a couple of lists of exciting things you can do during your travels and made a very simple interface to indicate what you've done and share it with your friends. We call it diddat. We had a lot of fun compiling a list of the most horrible things to eat or the most phallic buildings. We hope you have just as much fun.


Check it out here.

A new look for the travel logs

Your travel log just got revamped, and it's got a nice fresh look that's more in line with the rest of the site. We really love the new header which gives you a cool overview of where you went.


The overview page of recent travel logs also looks a lot more inspiring. Just looking at all the places people travel to using our guides and the pictures they take makes you want to take a plane and go there yourself.



Meet the Tripsers!


Jen Grasso

Jen runs everything at the Triposo HQ in Berlin. She grew up between New York and Boston but has called Berlin home for 8 years. 


What do you do at Triposo?
I'm the Office Manager - I do everything the boys don't!

Where do you call 'home'?
I left the States as soon as I finished college and spent the next few years traveling around pretending to be an artist until I eventually made Berlin my home.  

How did you get the travel bug?
Growing up in suburban America where everything is the same day in and day out can make one a bit stir crazy.  I traveled to Europe as a teenager which  opened a whole new set of doors.  I left for New York as soon as I could and never looked back.  


Where do you dream of travelling to?
I'd like to see the Northern Lights and the midnight sun, get Indian food in India and Dim Sum in China, but a small tropical island wouldn't be bad place to start. 

Memorable trip?
The most relaxing was my tour of the bath houses in Budapest. 

Travel advice you've been given/learned along the way?

Talking louder and slower in a foreign language doesn't mean people will understand you any better.

What do you always take when on the road?

Band-Aids. I'm a bit of a klutz so I try to have at least a couple on hand for when I inevitably hurt myself.   

What do you collect when you travel?

The tackiest thing I can find.  And how to say "Cheers" in different languages.  I'm up to 12 or 13 now!

Meet the Tripsers!


Dmitry Koval

Our team is growing fast - last week Dmitry joined the team from Kiev, starting with the fun of a team Jamboree in Spain!

How was it to spend your first week of a new job at a villa in Spain with the team?!
It was a fantastic way to start! We brainstormed and discussed product ideas during the day, had beers in the evening and exchanged visions about the best travel guide on the planet. The guys are awesome to work with and to hangout with too!

What do you actually do as a Software Engineer for Triposo?

I download a bit of Internet, hash it, crunch it, shake it, add some salt, pepper and beer to make the best travel guide!

Where do you call 'home'?
I was born and raised in the industrial city of Donetsk in Ukraine. There are two big things about Donetsk - coal mines and football. And perhaps beer. For the last seven years I lived in Kiev, it’s a fantastic city with a lot of history and all the old bits of architecture that I love. Now I’m living in Berlin to work at our Berlin office. I call home a place where I come back in the evening and discuss the day with my wife :)


How did you get the travel bug?
I think it started with my father was taking me on trekking trips in the Caucasus Mountains several times a year. I just got hooked to seeing new places and having new experiences.

Memorable journey?
Road trips in the Indian countryside and trekking in the Caucasus Mountains in the early 90s, when a lot of men had machine guns hanging over the shoulders!

Where do you dream of travelling to?
Besides the Moon, on the shortlist I have Tibet, more Greek Islands, Kenya and Kamchatka. Speaking of dreaming, of course the North pole/South pole.

Travel advice you've been given/learned along the way?
If anything goes wrong - it’s even more interesting! Irritations are short, memories are forever.

What do you always take when on the road?
My big and heavy Canon DSLR, a couple of lenses, a bunch of memory cards, chargers and all that stuff. But there’s one thing that is always with me no matter what and it is my pocket moleskine with the pen. It has dents and scratches from all the places its been to with me.

What do you collect when you travel?
Essentially all the things that make a place unique. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not and people may call the police :)

The Sitges Hackathon

The Hackathon is a traditional element of our Jamborees, so we did one in Sitges last week. Since our team has grown considerably we had different teams of people all working on a cool project. The purpose of the hackathon is to do a project and finish it in one day, but we always see that it takes a bit of time to publish what we've done. But now the results of the first project are in.

Douwe spend one day on comparing how similar languages are:
We've had phrasebooks in the Triposo apps for a long while now, based on the content from Wikitravel. So I went ahead and wrote a script to extract from those Wikitravel pages for each language the phonetic version of the words one to nine. I then calculated the similarity between all language pairs by calculating some sort of edit distance between the corresponding pairs of words.
Given the very straightforward approach used and the fact that all of this was done in just one day, the results are quite amazing. This is the image Douwe produced that shows how similar languages are:


Read the whole story on Douwe's blog

Triposo 2.0


The 2.0 version of our App has just hit the Appstore worldwide. We're so excited about it and about all the new features that we can't wait to hear from you guys traveling out there what you think. Let's look at the three most important ones:

The iPad

We've loved the iPad and iPad users have loved our app from the start. The iPad is such a great device for a travel guide. It may not be the device that you carry around when you hit the streets, but it's close to perfect for reading in the airplane or getting some inspiration in your hotel. So when we were redesigning the iPad app it was this behaviour we had in mind. You use the iPad to get inspired about the place you are visiting, but also to read about the history or the architecture, and you bookmark all your personal discoveries. These are synced to your phone so when you visit the town you won't have trouble finding then.


Your bookmarks

The bookmarking functionality has been very popular from day one - and with the way the new iPad works we expect it to become even more popular from now on. But if you are somewhere deep in our guides it took quite a few taps to go back to the bookmark page. So we changed that. From now on, they are just one tap away. Tap left bottom corner and you will see all your bookmarks.




The travel log

We know how important it is to keep track of what you do when you travel. So far the only thing you could do in our app was keep track of the places you visited. It's a great feature and it's a hassle free way to create a great looking travel log even when you are offline, but we think we can do better. So what we did is make it easier. We made it easier to add the pictures you take to your travel log directly from the first screen of the app. We made it easier to do checkins, we made it easier to add little notes. And we made it easier to edit what you added before. Finally, we made it much easier to see your complete travel log. Both on iPad and iPhone it's now its own mini-app within the Triposo app and everything you want to do, you can do it right there.




And then there's the countless little improvements we've made we can't mention in this post or it would be our longest blog post ever - just download our app and enjoy. You can find it here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/triposo/id467053028?mt=8

The Sitges Jamboree

We believe you need to keep on traveling yourself to make a travel app. You just can’t do it in an office. So one of the things we do on a regular basis is organize Jamborees: get togethers for the team in an exciting place. The past year we’ve been in Amsterdam, Berlin and Morocco and and now we are in Sitges, just south of Barcelona for a week.



The whole team in a big house, code all day, brainstorm all night about the next release (codename Aubergine) and do some traveling ourselves to experience first hand what the problems are that need fixing. To give some idea of how these experiences make our app better, let's go back to the beginning of the year.

During our January Jamboree we had the whole team in an old Riad in Marrakech to work on a new release. In the weekend we were going on a day trip to Essaouira and we were looking for the place where the grand-taxi’s leave. And we can’t find it in our own app.We had been building our travel app with great suggestions for sightseeing and eating out and testing it in places we knew well. And we had forgotten what it felt like to be in strange city where no-one speaks English and everything’s broken. What it felt like to be really lost. That same night we started coding and added a new section to the app. Maps with practical places: bus stations, pharmacies, police stations. The kind of things you just need when you're lost.

Meet the Tripsers


Ionut Bizau

This week we also want to introduce you to the newest member of our team, Ionut, who grew up in Transylvania but has joined us in Berlin from Beijing (on his way to Phnom Penh)! Ionut is known for his epic bike trips across Asia as well as his lethal homemade schnapps.



What do you do at Triposo?
I use alien technology and some bits of sorcery to build awesome travel guides. I’m also the chief carpentry advisor.


Where do you call 'home'? Where have you lived?
I’m currently a nomad. Home is wherever I am at the moment, but I will probably spend my time commuting between Phnom Penh and Berlin. The place I would most likely call “home” if asked is Beijing, where I spent a non-negligible part of my life.

How did you get the travel bug?
Probably when I first traveled to Germany alone. I was 12 years old and I went by bus from my hometown in Romania. This was before the Schengen Agreement, so there were lots of borders to cross. I don't really know how I managed to cross so many borders at that age without being accompanied by a parent.

Memorable journey?
Biking the ~2000km from Lijiang (Yunnan province, China) to Vientiane (Laos) was probably the most amazing.

Where do you dream of travelling to?
Turkey, Middle East, Central Asia and biking on the Tibetan plateau (West Sichuan, Qinghai).

What's the best travel advice you were given?
Enjoy the ride.

What do you always take when on the road?
Aeropress, GPS recorder, passport, cash and common sense.

What do you collect from your travels?
Experiences, memories, friends, bank notes and Chinese train tickets.


www.twitter.com/ibz
www.ibz.me

Triposo Adventurers



We're excited to announce that a week from now two travelers will take a plane from Barcelona and fly to a far off land to start an exciting adventure. A world trip that we are proud to sponsor.

Viola and Pascal will travel the world and during their trip they will organize events for travelers. Events where travelers will brainstorm about what really should be in the travel app of the future. The Triposo Adventurers (as we call them) will also invite the people they meet to help add places to our app that should be in there. And of course, they will keep a travel log of everything they do.

Their first stop will be Nepal - where they'll go after that is not sure, but it will surely be an exciting destination.


You can become their Facebook friends and get their updates on your timeline: http://www.facebook.com/TriposoAdventurers

And of course you can see their travel log here: http://www.triposo.com/logs/TriposoAdventurers/

And... we won!

We're really proud to announce that we won the 2012 global app of the year contest of the WYSTC. A big thanks to the jury! 

We're landing!

After one year of working as a completely distributed team, we're landing in Berlin. We've found a really nice place in the heart of Kreuzberg where we will have our HQ - it will be a place to work, to hangout, to brainstorm and to sleep for those coming to HQ from afar.

Beach huts being built in Berlin HQ

We will stay distributed, and our engineers will continue to work from a number of different places, but it feels great to have a place that we can call home.

Let's sync!

There's a new version of our app in the Appstore. There's loads of new stuff, like maps with subway stations and atms, but we think that the feature you'll like best is that you can sync your bookmarks between devices. 


To sync you all you need to do is sign in with your Facebook account in the app. Once that's done, you can use your iPad in the plane and plan some things you don't want to miss. When you hit the town you get out your iPhone and you're sure to find them back easily. 

As an extra service you can also find all your synced bookmarks on our website. Again, all you need to do is sign in with your Facebook account. In the next release you will be able to sync on Android as well. 

Good news for our Android fans


A couple of weeks ago we launched a new iOS app. We dubbed it a self starter and we made a nice little video explaining the new features. Features that were not in the Android app and that might have made our Android fans a little jealous. Today we launch the new Android app. The good news is that it has some features you will not find in iOS - and that might iOS users a little jealous.
  • Long tap on the map
    Long tap on the map and find places close to the point you have chosen or add a point of interest that's missing from our guide in a very easy way.
  • Practical information
    We added a lot of practical information to the new Android app: maps with subway stations, supermarkets, banks, pharmacies. All very useful and first on Android. 
  • More travelpedia
    We have always had a lot of background information but we've taken it a few levels deeper. When you visit a museum of art, we now give you easy access to in depth information about the works of art, the artists and the art streams. It's all just one tap away, and we believe it will make your trip more interesting if you have a chance to read.
  • Read to me
    We realize that all of this background information is great, but sometimes you don't feel like reading it all. That's why we have the new read-to-me feature. Put in your head phones and close your eyes... 
We believe that that's how it should be. Sometimes we launch things first on iOS and sometimes on Android. And there are platform specific things that will only exist in one platform and not in the other.

We're hiring!

We just put up a jobs section on our site, because we're looking for talented engineers to join our team.
We’re looking for engineers that share our passion for travel and who believe in our mission: to make the best travel guide. If that description fits you, we’re sure you will be excited by what we offer.
We will not repeat the whole job ad in this blog post. You can find it here. Have a look at it and if you want to be part of our adventure, drop us a line.

The new Triposo App: It's a self starter!

We're proud to announce that the new Triposo App for iOS is in the Appstore! It's better than ever before, and it’s quite different from other travel guide apps. The main distinguishing feature is that it’s a self starter: a travel guide that actively suggests travelers where to go next.

Traditionally, a travel guide just waits until you start looking up what to do. This one is different. Open the new Triposo app and it will actively suggest you where to go now. And they are clever suggestions. We look at your location, the time of day, the weather and opening hours to present you with some great options. So, yes, you can expect us to come up with a good coffee place nearby when you need a shot of caffeine.

We started experimenting with suggestions in December last year.
What's really exciting, is that the app also registers the direction you are looking in, so when you are going in the direction of an interesting place it will highlight that place. It may sound like one of those complicated Augmented Reality apps, but this one is easy to use, and doesn't require you to look through your phone.

We think that's the real magic: the new app manages to do clever things without making the app difficult to understand or hard to use - and without losing or hiding the great functionality that has made the app popular.

Here is a movie that shows how the new features work.



The movie also highlights some other new features, like the travel dashboard. Essential things like weather forecast, currency converter and useful phrasebook are just one tap away.

So there's a lot of new stuff in there and yes, we're pretty darn proud of it. So give it a spin and tell us how we can make it even better! We love to hear your feedback.

Get the app!

One year of Triposo Inc

It's been a year since we started Triposo. An amazing year, in which we laid the foundations of what we believe will be the best travel guide ever. In order to make the guide travelers need, we need to travel ourselves. 

So we have set up our company in a way that makes travel part of our process. For one, we don't all live in the same place. We're in three different countries most of the time. That gives us a different perspective. Secondly, we travel and work while we travel. Douwe coded in a beach house in Goa for a month, Jon worked from a bunch of places in Spain, Les was in Osaka for almost a month. Finally, we do Jamborees. We take the team to an exciting place where we design, drink, code, travel, code, travel and drink.

Here's a little around the world in five locations.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam was the location of our first Jamboree. We got together in a really nice house on a stately canal in Amsterdam and coded like it was 1999. And we got a lot of work done. We made vector maps work on iOS and Android and made our first version of the Triposo world guide: one app in which you can download travel guides for any destination in the world. Well two apps, actually. The world guide for iOS and for Android.


Goa

In November Douwe headed for Goa to code from there during one month. He was ahead of the team by 4.5 hours, so by the time we did our daily 11:00 AM Standup meeting using Google Hangouts, Douwe always had something new to demo us - and every day he would have more of a tan. Among the things developed in Goa are the way we show small cities in our guides, the way we show background information like history, art, culture and the phrasebooks. 


Marrakech

In January 2012 we had a Jamboree in Marrakech, a very inspiring city in Morocco, Africa. We were coding on the rooftop and as the sun set over the Red City and the Muezzin started singing we pressed the launch button for our Travel log website

Berlin

Then we rented a stately Jugendstil house in Prenzlauer Berg, with 12 foot high ceilings. We haven't launched what we built there, but soon, really soon now, it will hit the Appstore, and it will be just as awesome as Berlin.


Osaka

Our UX designer Les spent a part of March and most of April in Osaka. At the end of his working day he would present his designs and ideas in a Google Hangout to the rest of the team, who were just starting up. The results of Les' fantastic trip to Japan, will be available in the next next release. Because that's what happens when a designers gets inspired. They come up with loads of ideas that take quite a while to implement.


So how do we do it?

We believe that it is essential to keep on traveling. Because only when you are traveling with just your phone and our app you find out where we fall short of our own expectations - and where we exceed them. Only when you travel with just your phone and our app you get the inspiration needed to make a travel guide that is the better than anything that's out there.

And the great things is that in 2012 you can travel and be very productive at the same time - more productive than you would be if you were all in the same office all of the time. 

There is a bunch of amazing tools we use to pull this off. We mentioned the 11:00 AM Google Hangout already. It's amazingly efficient way of presenting what you've done in the past 24 hours. The screen sharing feature is awesome (even though you can't have two people sharing a screen at the same time).  Pivotal Tracker is also a great tool (it's pretty useful if you are in the same building too). We prefer it to Basecamp - even though we must admit this looks a bit better.

Even with all the great tools for team cooperation, we do miss Google Wave a bit... 

Catch of the day: Chester

We've been busy all day updating our algorithms. Just comparing scores of towns all over the world, we stumble upon many exciting destinations we'd love to visit. My catch of the day is Chester. Just 40 minutes from Liverpool, you find one of the best preserved walled cities of England. One of the highlights of the town are the Chester Rows:
Chester Rows consist of covered walkways at the first floor behind which are entrances to shops and other premises. At street level is another set of shops and other premises, many of which are entered by going down a few steps. The Rows, found in each of the four main streets of the city of Chester, Cheshire, England, are unique; nothing precisely similar exists anywhere else in the world.

 

That made me happy. Nothing quite like it in the world and just 40 minutes from Liverpool. 

The new travel log

We just changed the layout of the travel log site. We liked the old one, but we like the new one better.
So here it is, the new and improved layout of the travel log:


Want to see it in action? Have a look at my travel log.

What's new (beside the good looks):
  • We magically divide all the check ins you do in the app into trips. So if you visit Marrakech, Casablanca and Rabat in one week, it will be a Morocco trip. If you visit just Marrakech (like me) it will be known as the Marrakech trip.
  • You can decide wether you want to make your travel log public or only visible to friends.
  • Click on the small image and see a light box with the fill size image.
More exciting things coming up, so stay tuned!

Hákarl and more exciting food!

Have you ever tried Hákarl, the rotten shark of Iceland? Chef Anthony Bourdain, who has travelled extensively throughout the world sampling local cuisine has described hákarl as "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing" he has ever eaten.

Still, the people of Iceland think it's a delicacy and most travelers to Iceland like to try it out to see for themselves if it's really as bad as people say it is.

Image: Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons
Eating rotten shark in Iceland, drinking Snake Wine in Laos or having Balut eggs for breakfast in the Philippines is just one of those things that makes travel such a great experience.

We're busy adding exciting food experiences to our guides and we're taking the algorithmic approach, as you would expect from us. So for each country we automatically compile a list of dishes and we rank them algorithmically. We're still tweaking things a little, but things are looking pretty good already.

Currently, in Iceland Hákarl has the number two position in our ranking - number one is Þorramatur which includes half a head of a sheep so that seems just as exciting. The Balut eggs top the charts in Vietnam. And these delicious caterpillars have the top spot in Zimbabwe...

1.6 coming up!

During the Jamboree we spent a lot of time on making a new version of our App and we've just uploaded it to the Appstore. We'll launch the new version for Android soon as well, so in a week or so the whole world can enjoy Triposo 1.6. As always there are lots of small improvements, fresher content and better suggestions to name just two, but also a few bigger ones. Since you are probably most interested in those let's have a look at them.

A new button!
When you open up the guide of a destination you are actually in, you will find a new button. Whoa! Click it and you get an overview of all the places around you ordered by distance.



What's interesting to notice is that this list contains both points of interest we have detailed information on, as well as places that we don't know very well.



When you hit on a place we don't have a good description for, you can immediately add you own content to it. The next step in many cases will be to check in. Our checkin functionality works offline and check ins can be published to Facebook (but it's not necessary). Check ins also show up on your travel log.

Add places
Now that you can give your fellow travelers the low down on all the places around you, you probably want to add a few places no one has ever heard of as well. The good news is: you can! There is a plus button (another new button!) which opens a little wizard.



We review all the things you add, and where possible we try to feed them back into the appropriate sources to help out great open content projects like Wikitravel, OpenStreetMap or ChefMoz.

Your travel log
Finally, we've launched the travel log website. All the check ins you do in the app, end up here on our website - even the checkins you did with the old version. We present all your checkins on the map, and you can navigate them easily.



A Twisted World

When I was fourteen I got this book about Life after Man. It's about how 50 million years after humanity goes, life has evolved into all kinds of new wonderful forms. But what really got my interest were the maps. The continents had moved. So I tried to write a program to simulate the movement of continents. What I quickly realized, is that it can't be done. Not on a mercator projection.

The mercator projection is one of many attempts to get a globe on a map and a rather bad one when it comes to representing the actual size of continents. Africa seems just a tat bigger than Greenland, Spitsbergen seems about the size of Indonesia. You have to wonder whether on some level we think less of Africa because it seems smaller (or for that matter we think less of continents on the lower half).

Last summer we decided to replace our tile based mapping system with a vector based one. But for compatibility reasons we still are sticking with Mercator. The vector maps are great for our travel guides, but they also gave us the tools to show the world in Mercator projection with Europe and North America in the middle. It looks something like this:

Greenland in the middle - looks a lot smaller than Africa now


So during our recent Jamboree in Marrakech in this strange, exciting environment Vincent and me set out to create an interactive tool to make it possible to explore the universe of Mercator projected maps. As weird as they are, they're all equally correct in representing our planet as a bitmap. It took quite a bit of beer and math (we had to divide the work, Vincent doesn't drink), but here it is, powered by processing.js.

Some examples of the twisted maps you can make with our interactive tool:

Asia as the south pole

An ozzie centric world


Africa on the North Pole
I guess you are curious to try out to see if you can create even weirder looking maps. So go and check our labs section and see our twisted maps. 

The Jamboree Party!

Last night we had our Jamboree Party and it was good fun!

I spent a good part of the afternoon walking around on the Jemaa el-Fnaa asking travelers to join us for our party to share their ideas of what the ideal travel guides should be like. Even though I sometimes felt like I was a Moroccan tout trying to lure people to come and eat at my restaurant, it was actually very interesting. Just talking to these travelers, explaining what we were doing and asking what they used as a guide book was like a mini field research.

Each and every one of them had bought books (Lonely Planet, Guide du Routard were the most popular). Most of the them had not considered the option of downloading a travel guide to their phone because they were not aware that there were guides for places like Morocco. "I know there are guides for London, but I didn't know they would exist for Morocco," one person said. When I showed what our app was like and what they could do with it, everybody said it would be useful for their trip (but maybe they were just being polite). They mentioned offline maps, restaurant reviews and price indications for transport as things they particularly liked in a travel app. One person had searched for offline maps in the App store but had not been able to find one for Morocco.
And yes, yes, yes, one traveler had actually used Triposo for her trip (and liked it!)

Then finally we had our party!

The Triposo team at the start of the party


Even though it had started to rain and the restaurant was a bit of a walk from the square, some of the travelers we had invited actually showed up. So we did a little travel quiz and gave away Triposo t-shirts to the winners as well as the losers.

The contestants in round one of the quiz

Jamboree Party

We're throwing a little party in Marrakech to celebrate the fact that we're having such a good time here.
If you happen to be in the neighborhood, drop by. The party starts Thursday at 20:00 hours and we'll keep you posted on where it is.

First launch from Marrakech

It's official: the first Triposo product launched from a rooftop terrace in Marrakech is here. Just watch us launching it - Jon, the second from the left, is pressing the launch-button.


Just minutes ago we published the website where you can see all the places where you checked in with our app from the rooftop of the Riad. You can see the checkins I did here: http://checkin.triposo.com/c/richardosinga

Even though the website is working, you need the new version of our App which isn't available to the public yet for your checkins to show up on the site. Luckily, we set it up in a way so that it will work automatically once you update to the new app - even the links from Facebook that now land on a place holder page will be working automatically.

Our office

During the Jamboree our office is located in Riad Linda, an old Riad in the Medina of Marrakech. To get there you go into the souks from the Cafe the France follow the Dabachi street until you pass the mosque. There you take a turn right and end up in a very narrow street. When you smell a lot of cat pee you take another left and end the very end of an alley that's so narrow we need to walk in line there is a small door.

As an office, it's about as cool as they get. We sit around a large table in the patio, which is completely filled with cables, laptops.




There's one draw back, however...




Yup, that's a bird shit on a Mac Book Air

First night in Marrakech

Marrakech is famous for many things. The daily spectacle of the main square. The beautiful backdrop with the snowcapped Atlas mountains. The hard haggling salesmen of the medina. But not for its bars. And last night we happened to be looking for one to have a few beers, so with our Triposo apps in our hands we hit the town.
Attribution Some rights reserved by Wrote
Our guides lists only a handful places to have a drink in Marrakech. So we decided to go for the Maimounia, the famous hotel where Winston Churchill used to down his highball. Off course Winston wasn't wearing tennis shoes and we didn't know about the dress code of not wearing tennis shoes... On our way to the next place we stumbled upon Marmara (not in our guide) - we went down to the basement to have a beer. The Karaoke fun had just started. We're sorry to report that we took part in the singing: Douwe and Richard did their own personal version of Jaques Brel's classic Le Port d'Amsterdam.

The last place we went to was Narwama. It's certainly a nice place, with a sort of a fire fountain in the middle, but the beer is on the expensive side there (our guide did warn us here though, but the adjective slightly wasn't totally justified we feel). So we headed back to our Riad, where luckily we had a whole tray of beer waiting for us.

Our take away from our first night out is that adding places (bars) to our guide would be cool functionality to build during this Jamboree. We'll be scouring the streets of Marrakech for better places to have a beer at night and if we find any that are not in our guide (like the Karaoke place) and that deserve to be in (unlike the Karaoke place).


Ducks and pigs and chickens call: Jamboree!

... and the Jamboree is taking us to Marrakesh!

We'll be brainstorming, mocking stuff up, designing and coding long hours in this amazing city, just a few blocks away from the main square, where the bears dance, story tellers of all stripes whisper their ghost stories and orange juice sellers make fresh juice for just a dime or two. Just imagine us on the rooftop terrace of our Riad, laptops on our lap, where they belong), a cup of sweet Moroccan mint tee at arms' length. If this doesn't inspire us to build great stuff, than what will?




Facebook Places and their coordinates

To make our travel guides we crawl a number of sources for travel information. The next step is to match the points of interest from these different sources on each other. This is quite complicated. OpenStreetMap may call the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art "SF MOMA" and wikitravel may call it "SFMOMA" - our job is to find out if they are talking about the same thing. We do this both for open content sources as well as copyrighted sources, such as Lonely Planet - but for these last sources we don't use the actual content of course, we just use them for reference.

An important element in the matching process, is the location. Different sources give different locations for the same pont of interest, of course, but they shouldn't be radically different if they're really talking about the same place.

If we look at how far the coordinates from a sources for its points of interest are from the coordinates of OpenStreetMap we get the following overview:

SourceAverage distance to OSM
TripAdvisor65.8 meters
Facebook43.8 meters
Lonely Planet51.6 meters
Frommer's75.7 meters

As we see the distance is smallest for Facebook - which means the coordinates of Facebook places are more like the ones found in the OpenStreetMap than in any of the other sources. So we thought let's have a look how many points of interest have a distance that's under 1 meter. In other words: which percentages of all points of interest have the same coordinates. We don't need a table for this. The answer is 15% of all Facebook points of interest have almost exactly the same coordinates as the OpenStreetMap. For other sources this is under 1%. Wow. You can hardly call this a coincidence.

Foto CC by Roger and Renate Rossing


For a moment there we thought that Facebook was copying OpenStreetMap coordinates (which is allowed) without crediting the OpenStreetMap (which is not allowed). But before making any (wild) accusations we dug a bit deeper. We looked at how much the coordinates matched in different countries. And it seemed that most of the difference we saw between Facebook and the others was explained by one country: the United States. In the US alone a whopping 37% of the coordinates of Facebook were exactly the same as the ones found on the OpenStreetMap.

If Facebook had really been using OpenStreetMap to seed their Places database with good coordinates, why had they only done it for the US? There had to be a better explanation. And there is. Unlike any of the other sources OpenStreetMap actually shows where coordinates come from (they don't make them up either). We checked some ten points of interest that had exactly the same coordinates and found all of them had one single source: GNIS So both OpenStreetMap and Facebook use GNIS for their location database.

And GNIS is free to use, for all, without the need to mention where it's from. It also explains why every single church in the US is on Facebook Places - it's not just because Americans like to check in every Sunday morning.

Tripgeist 2012

Wouldn't you like to know which destinations were trending in 2011? What are the new places to visit?
We've got a nice clever algorithm that helps us find out.

Wikipedia publishes its logfiles, so anyone who's interested can see exactly how often a specific wikipedia page has been viewed. I'm not sure how many people use this possibility, but we sure love it. It's a rich source of data. One of the things that we can do with it is compare this year's results with last year's and find out what's trending. We call it Travel Zeitgeist.

The set up of Travel Zeitgeist is simple enough: for each location in our database we divide the number of pageviews of the Wikipedia article this year by the last year's number. If a location has significantly more visitors this year, it's trending.The results of this simple approach shows that places like Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Tunisia, Fukushima Prefecture have all received abou 10 times more visitors on their wikipedia article than last year. But in each of these cases this was due to events that took place in 2011, and not a trend.

So what we do is filter out the top three months. This means that a sudden spike in interest due to a natural disaster, a popular uprising or a brave rescue operation doesn't impact our data. This gets us the following list over trending travel destinations for 2011.

Tripgeist

1. Budva (+764%)

Some rights reserved by OliBac "Happy New Year!"


Budva is our champion. This little known beach resort in little known Montenegro has everything it takes to be a top travel destination: an old walled town with Venetian monuments dating back to the 9th centruy, sandy beaches and a great climate. How come we never heard about it before?

2. Dunbar (+434%)
Some rights reserved by photojenni

Dunbar, John Muir's place of birth, has got a nice crumbling castle, a picturesque harbor and
Of course we're not in the Mediterranean but in Scotland. Even though it's the part of Scotland that has more sunshine and sees less rain than any other part of Scotland.

3. Fire Island (+311%)

Some rights reserved by dawnzy58

Fire Island, just south of Long Island, has been popular with Broadway actors since the 1920s, the gay and lesbian community since the 1970s - but the islands popularity doesn't stop there. Maybe it's the crisis that more and more New Yorkers take the ferry in stead of the plane to find amazing beaches.

4. Huangshan (+301%)
Some rights reserved by B_cool


Over 1000 classical Chinese poems have been written about the mountain scenery of beautiful Huangshan and just one Wikipedia article. With the Chinese tourist industry booming like all of China, you have to hurry here if you want to get here before the crowds.

5. Kochi (+ 295%)
Some rights reserved by Fermin Jose

It's not just China that's booming. India is doing quite okay as well. And Kochi is a favorite travel destination of Indians and international travelers alike. A rich cultural heritage, with a mixture of Portuguese, Dutch, English, Chinese, Jewish and Indian influences and some of the best beaches of Kerala make Kochi a great place to hang out.

That's our top 5 of the 2011 Travel Zeitgeist. We'll compile a new list next year.