Adventures & Learning Articles

SignNow & iTranslate: Two useful apps when traveling


Sign­Now is an app for the web or your smart­phone which allows you to anno­tate and add to pdf doc­u­ments as well as sign and date them with your very own elec­tron­ic sig­na­ture.  Super easy to use and very sta­ble.

We were faced with hav­ing to sign and send a num­ber of legal doc­u­ments while we were in Spain with no ready access to a print­er, not to men­tion the has­sle of mail­ing a hard copy of the doc­u­ments all over the world.  After a search on-line we found Sign­Now, a free app for the iPhone or oth­er smart phone.  Its is super easy to use and very straight­for­ward to append your (or mul­ti­ple )signature(s) or add text to a pdf.  When com­plet­ed the app lets you email a copy of the signed doc­u­ment to the recip­i­ent.  Easy as that.

The folks we have dealt with recent­ly were over­joyed to have an elec­tron­ic ver­sion of the doc­u­ments, as were we to have saved timer and mon­ey as well as have an archived signed copy of the doc­u­ments in our files.


 iTrans­late is a must have app if you are trav­el­ing to a coun­try that does not speak your lan­guage. We used it exten­sive­ly in Spain (even to do some of our lan­guage class home­work!).  Real­ly fast to use in the moment when you need to know a word, like beer, in a for­eign lan­guage.  It even speaks the word for you if you want to under­stand the pro­nun­ci­a­tion.

The only pro­vi­so in using this app is that you will need wi-fi or a local cell sig­nal to use it.  Not always pos­si­ble when on a short­er hol­i­day.

Adventures & Learning Articles

Beating the mobile phone providers when traveling

****Note: I wrote this some time ago and for­got to post it! Hope­ful­ly it will prove use­ful****

We want­ed to retain our US mobile num­bers on a pre­paid phone with no con­tract while we are out of the Unit­ed States.

All providers researched can­cel your phone num­ber after a very short time of non-use, such as when we will be in Europe. T‑Mobile have a pre-paid plan for 1 year but you have to pay $100 to get the 1 year plan, then if you don’t use it dur­ing this time they can­cel your num­ber any­way!

After a bit of fur­ther research and a tip from the staff at the T‑Mobile store, we opt­ed to use Google Voice for our needs. (Tip: staff at this par­tic­u­lar store are the most help­ful and effi­cient I have ever come across from a mobile phone oper­a­tor any­where. So if you live in the Phoenix area please give them a vis­it, they are great—ask for Cedrick Hil­lik­er, the store man­ag­er).

Basi­cal­ly Google voice is an Inter­net phone ser­vice that allows you to “port” (trans­fer) your mobile num­ber to them. Once the num­ber is port­ed to Google Voice it nev­er expires even with­out use! Per­fect for our needs.

The process to make this hap­pen is at first glance quite com­pli­cat­ed & intim­i­dat­ing. But once you get the process down it makes sense and is in real­i­ty quite sim­ple. The steps involved are:

1. Go to your local mobile provider and get a new pre-paid line and num­ber for your phone. This will come with a new sim card. Tip: Try to do this towards the end of your cur­rent billing cycle so there are min­i­mal addi­tion­al costs when you acti­vate the new line.
2. Go to the Google Voice home page and cre­ate an account log in. This is usu­al­ly your Google cre­den­tials if you have pre­vi­ous­ly set up a Google account, but if you don’t have a Google log-in it’ll ask you to cre­ate one here.
3. You’ll be asked if you want a new num­ber or to port your mobile num­ber. Choose the lat­ter “port my mobile num­ber”.
4. You’re then asked for your mobile num­ber and account details (note for T‑Mobile the account num­ber is 1 fol­lowed by your mobile phone num­ber). You’ll also be asked for your T‑Mobile account PIN which you should have set up when you pur­chased the orig­i­nal pre­paid plan.
5. After agree­ing with a few warn­ings about what you are about to do, Google then calls your mobile to ver­i­fy it, and when you respond you’re all set and the port­ing process begins. For us the process took around the adver­tised 24 hours-although typ­i­cal­ly Rita’s took about half the time to com­plete the process! (Note: Google charges $20 to port the num­ber to them that has to be paid with Google Wal­let).
6. When the port­ing process had begun I swapped out the SIM in our phones for the new num­ber and our mobile ser­vice was unin­ter­rupt­ed, albeit tem­porar­i­ly on a new num­ber.
7. Google emails you when the port is com­plete. Once you receive this email con­fir­ma­tion, log into Google Voice and set up your new mobile num­ber as a for­ward­ing num­ber on your account. Then all calls to your old mobile (now your Google Voice num­ber) will ring on your new mobile num­ber. Neat!
That’s about all there is to set­ting it up.

On the iPhone it’s best to down­load the free Google Voice app and use it for call­ing out on your phone to ensure the recip­i­ent sees the cor­rect caller id. Addi­tion­al­ly tex­ting is a lit­tle weird and you some­times use the Google app and some­times iMes­sage.

Leaving the US

On leav­ing the US we allowed these new T‑Mobile num­bers to sim­ply expire (and no pay­ments required) since we will have no use for them when over­seas. Our Google Voice num­ber will con­tin­ue in exis­tence and when we return to the US we can obtain a new SIM card and num­ber to acti­vate our mobiles again.
While over­seas our Google Voice num­ber will also ring on our home line (with Von­age) and any voice mails will be cap­tured there.
In the mean­time when we reached Spain we bought a local pay-as-you-go SIM card (Voda­fone) for €20 per month and enjoy the entire local call­ing ben­e­fits just like home, with 1.5Mb of data, unlim­it­ed texts and voice.
So far the Span­ish phone works great and we’ll be get­ting anoth­er SIM card when we reach the UK this week­end (May 31) for Joanne’s fit­ness show.


This is def­i­nite­ly the way to go with the mobile phones. Total flex­i­bil­i­ty in the coun­try you are vis­it­ing, the only down­side being the ini­tial cost of the unlocked iPhone.


MacBook Air

Been work­ing on my McBook Air for a cou­ple of hours at a Star­bucks in Scotts­dale and this has been the first real test of the bat­tery. Hap­py to report that the bat­tery is still at 71% after some intense graph­ics and web work. Things are so dif­fer­ent from the bad old days!