Tag Archive | "review"

REVIEW of Travel Sites: Hipmunk, SeatGuru, Kayak and Apple’s Secret iTravel App

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REVIEW of Travel Sites: Hipmunk, SeatGuru, Kayak and Apple’s Secret iTravel App

For my day job, I work in the aerospace industry. In fact, I work with in-flight entertainment. So I tend to come across a lot of travel sites dealing with the passenger experience (from booking to in-flight). There are a few great sites out there that are beginning to gain some traction but you still may not have heard of them.

In this post, I’ve decided to part with some of my wisdom and share the secret. Also, please share any travel sites that you find useful in the comments. Thanks!



Hipmunk was started by Adam Goldstein and Steve Huffman (of reddit.com fame). The idea is simple. They believe that searching online for flights and hotels is a cumbersome process, in large part due to the interface and design of popular travel sites. So they set out to build something that makes searching, browsing and filtering search results easier. The result is Hipmunk.com. The site uses Orbitz links to actually book the tickets. So Hipmunk just helps you find what you are looking for faster.

Here’s what I like:

  • Tabbed Searches – Meaning you can run multiple searches at once using tabs. No more opening multiple tabs in the browser or multiple browser windows (does anyone still do that anyways?).
  • Multiple and Non-standard Sorting Options – They have standard options for sorting like “Price”, but they also have options such as Duration, Departure, Arrival and Agony. The Agony sorting option takes into account various factors and sorts by the amount of agony a given flight inflicts.
  • Very Fast – Finding a flight that fit my pretend itinerary really was quite fast and easy.

What I don’t like:

  • Transaction Happens Off-site – The transaction is actually completed on another site like Delta.com. I didn’t like having to leave Hipmunk and complete my purchase on another site. This is a plus though if you typically like to use sites like Orbitz or Expedia to research and then buy direct from the airline.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Ever wonder whether or not you’ll have in-flight entertainment? Or if the seat you are reserving is a good or bad seat? If so, then SeatGuru, by TripAdvisor is about to be your best friend. To find out what your plane will be like, all you need is an airline name and flight number. You can also look-up the entire fleet information by airline.

What I like about it:

  • Very Detailed Information – The color-coded graphic is loaded with great information about the plane and which seats are good and which are bad.
  • Info on In-flight Amenities – Quickly see what’s offered: Internet, food, power to the seat, entertainment, etc. Also, you can find information about how much the amenities cost.

What I don’t like:

  • Not Always Accurate – I’ve found that the information is not always 100% correct.
  • Flight Not in System – I have also found that my flight number or information about my flight is sometimes not in the system. If I know the type of aircraft, then I can still look it up, but that is cumbersome and very manual.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



Think of Kayak as the guy that knows everything about everybody else. Sites like Orbitz and Travelocity rely on partnership agreements with airlines in order to sell tickets. Kayak searches 100s of travel sites at one time, which increases your odds of finding the flight you want at the price you want.

Interesting side note, co-founders of Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia actually started Kayak.com in 2004.

What I like:

  • Smartphone App – I love my smartphone and I love companies that make it easy to use my smartphone for everything. There is an app for iPhones, Android devices, BlackBerries, J2ME enabled devices, and the iPad.

The bad:

  • Choose Your Booking Site – This would be a plus if it actually worked. I never had the option to choose which site to book my flight on despite Kayak’s claims that you have the choice.
  • Lots of Advertisements – The site is riddled with advertisements, to the point of excess. Although the ads are not directly in my path, I found them distracting (which I believe is the point).
  • Transaction Happens Off-site – Though, Kayak does this much worse than Hipmunk. At least Hipmunk passed my flight information to the airline’s website and I didn’t have to do much other than confirm and pay. With Kayak, I had to start my search all over again on the airline’s site.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Apple's iTravel App

Apple’s Secret iTravel App

With the ease of searching and tracking patent submissions, nothing is a secret for very long in today’s world. Apparently, Apple filed a patent in 2010 with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and has made several subsequent updates to the patent as the product has evolved. Apple’s goal? To revolutionize the airline ticket buying and check-in experience. Though some of the features are already being implemented by airlines such as Qantas.

Some of the features include:

  • Paperless ticketing and check-in
  • Book your hotel, rental car, etc as well
  • The airline can offer you upgrades right before the flight
  • Information, such as where to get food, available to you at the airport
  • RFID or Near Field Communications check-in and baggage self check-in
  • Interfaces with aircraft’s in-flight entertainment system
  • And the list continues…

To read more about the app and see images from the patent, check out an article on Australian Business Traveller.

Rating: 5 out of 5 on the concept

For more tips and commentary on financial planning, saving money and just life in general, follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter.

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REVIEW: Get Financially Naked by Thakor and Kedar

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REVIEW: Get Financially Naked by Thakor and Kedar

Guys, do you remember that feeling you had about 50 pages into Twilight? That sudden realization that you were reading a chick book? Long before 40 year old women were passing out in theaters over Taylor Lautner, I decided to see what the Twilight rage was all about. I was thinking Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Instead I found myself reading Ann Brashares’ The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Get Financially NakedThat’s pretty much how I felt about 10 pages into Get Financially Naked. It’s a chick book! The two female authors are writing specifically TO women. It felt slightly awkward at times due to the sensation that I had stepped into Jane Austen’s world and Mr. Darcy was no where to be found. Or like that time my wife made me do prenatal yoga (I don’t want to talk about it).

What I liked about Get Financially Naked

Though, I do need to give the authors, Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, some credit. The book was straightforward and certainly applicable to men as well. Here are a few highlights.

  1. It’s really a workbook. What really impressed me was that Thakor and Kedar asked you to complete written exercises within the pages of the book. Meaning, if you completed the tasks, you would have a clearer picture of your financial situation, attitudes towards money management, and a plan of action.
  2. It’s in plain English. Meaning, if you are not already financially literate, then don’t worry. You are not going to have to worry about calculating the alpha or beta for a mutual fund.
  3. It addresses your fundamental attitudes. The reason the book is titled Get Financially Naked is because it is about digging in, finding what your attitudes, where those attitudes came from, and how spouses can talk about money topics and get stuff done. Think of this book as a how-to guide for baring your financial soul. Changing a behavior is easier when you know the root source. Here’s a quote from the book that illustrates this point.

“Your current financial beliefs are like a series of short recordings in your head that influence your every interaction with money – for better or for worse.”

What I did not like about Get Financially Naked

In case you missed my satirical comments above – it’s a chick book! So if you are a female, then this is actually a big plus. But if you have a Y chromosome like me, then be prepared. A couple of other thoughts.

  1. I prefer a bit more depth. So I’m about to contradict myself. I prefer a book with a bit more technical detail and how-to info. So although plain English is good, if you like a little Greek in the mix, then this may not be the right book for you.
  2. Not enough commentary from the author’s husbands. Throughout the book, the authors’ offer personal commentary. Occasionally, they add a comment from their husbands. For a book about relationships, I feel that it lacks a balanced commentary. Understanding the attitudes that men have can greatly help women (the target audience).
  3. More of the same. If you’ve been involved in financial planning or reading books from authors such as Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey, then you’ve heard most of what’s written in this book. Though referring to point #1 of the reasons I like this book, Thakor and Kedar have more of a workbook approach than other authors.

Honey, we need to talk…

Honestly, where is this relationship going? When will we buy a house? Should we buy a house? What are we going to teach the kids? Authors Thakor and Kedar resonate well with many Americans by asking, “When did talking about money become more intimate than sex?” As couples, we need to learn to be more open and Get Financially Naked can be a great starting point for open and earnest discussion in your relationship. So if you are a woman looking for financial advice, especially as it relates to your husband, then I recommend this book.

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Why Hubspot fails at social marketing [update]

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Why Hubspot fails at social marketing [update]

I had an interesting experience with Hubspot about a week ago which leaves me a bit disenchanted with them as a result.

Hubspot FailsI completed the HubSpot Inbound Marketing University last summer, which I do recommend and have recommended to many friends and colleagues. After completing the course, I joined Hubspot’s LinkedIn group for alumni of the course.

On March 12, Hubspot posted a call for video testimonials of the course. I emailed the contact saying that I would create a video and gave a short three paragraph testimonial.

I was somewhat anxious to see the reply specifically because of one statement that I had made in my email. I wanted to hear what Hubspot had to say.

To my surprise, I received a templated reply with instructions on how to make and submit the video with a deadline of March 16 (only a few days). Not only did the issue I raised to Hubspot go unanswered, but I’m fairly certain that Hubspot didn’t read past the first line of my email after seeing that I was willing to make a video.

Confirming my suspicions of a copy and paste response (which is a big annoyance when I take the time to ask specific questions or raise specific issues), I saw that the exact content of the reply email was later posted in the same LinkedIn group.

I understand that Hubspot employees are busy

But guess what…so am I.

I was willing to take time out of my day to help, only to find my willingness to connect shut down. I’m not angry, just disappointed.

This experience has helped me understand one simple lesson. For Hubspot, inbound marketing is about making money and finding new clients, not about connecting with individuals and building a community. I normally wouldn’t care since the goal of business is to make money, but Hubspot is a vocal proponent of connecting with potential leads.

Until now, I’ve been a potential lead.

I think I’ll remove myself from that list for the time being.

UPDATE: I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding with Rebecca from Hubspot through email ;) about my experience and am happy to say that she has quickly and handily addressed my concerns. I look forward to a continuing relationship with Hubspot.

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Review of writing a Will on LegalZoom

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Review of writing a Will on LegalZoom

LegalZoom LogoMy wife and I hand wrote Wills several years ago before we had any children or assets for that matter. With the birth of our second girl two weeks ago, we decided that it was definitely time to update our Wills. We decided to try LegalZoom.com this time to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. There are three packages available, shown below. The big difference between the packages is whether or not you believe you’ll need to make revisions in the next 30 days or over the next year. Also, the Premium package gets it to you faster. We selected the Standard option.

LegalZoom Pricing

What I liked

  1. Straightforward questionnaire – You simply fill out a questionnaire, review your answers, and then make your purchase. Meaning, you can complete the whole process before making the purchase decision. You will have to setup an account though.
  2. Helpful information – On several of the questions, I wasn’t real sure how to answer. LegalZoom offers additional information via a Help button on every question. Also, you can see on several questions how other people responded. If you find yourself completely confused, you can call a 1-800 number.
  3. Free revisions for 30 days – Apparently I married myself, at least according to my Will. I entered my name when I should have entered my wife’s name on one field in the questionnaire making me my own executor. Luckily, the cheapest option allows for free revisions for the first 30 days.
  4. Advanced clauses and provisions – As I was taking the questionnaire, I had the option to include certain clauses and make provisions that I had never heard of, which I greatly appreciated. For example, I included a clause that says my executor isn’t liable if they make an honest mistake. I also setup a provision that gives my wife the option to setup a Credit Shelter Trust if she so chooses. If my wife and I died in a common disaster, then I have a provision for a Testamentary Trust that manages everything left to my girls until they graduate from a four year college or turn 25 (you set the restrictions).

What I didn’t like

  1. Lost my information – If you don’t have time to finish the questionnaire, then you can save it and return later. Great feature, but it lost some of my work multiple times. Usually it was just some names, which wasn’t a big deal. But I had written several paragraphs that outlined specific instructions to my heirs that was lost and had to be rewritten. I was a bit frustrated.
  2. Hard to pick up where I left off – When returning to complete my Will via My Account, I found that clicking “Finish Your Order” didn’t return me to where I had left off but rather returned me to page one of the questionnaire and I had to advance myself through the questionnaire to where I had left off. Though, I found that if I navigated to the homepage first and clicked the link to complete my Will, it usually took me to the right spot. Very odd and annoying.


We paid $69 for the first Will and $59 for the second one (total $130.95). I’m glad that we used LegalZoom. We spent far less than we would have spent with a lawyer, but I still have the peace of mind that it was prepared correctly and according to my state’s laws. Also, the process was simple and quick. So what you’re really paying for is time and peace of mind. If you don’t already have a Will or need to revise yours, DO IT! Don’t leave loved ones with a mess if you die, it’s just rude. I liked and recommend LegalZoom, but whether you use them or not, get your Will in place.

Posted in Estate Planning, FeaturedComments (10)

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