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I’ve been traveling the world for 6 months, and these are the apps I can’t live without – Strategy – Pulselive.co.ke

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  • As Business Insider’s International Correspondent, I’ve spent the last six months traveling through Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Greece, Israel, and Russia, among other places.
  • I use a ton of different apps to make travel as efficient and seamless as possible. I decided it would be fun to reveal my most-used apps and why I use them.
  • Among the apps I use all the time: WhatsApp, Adobe Lightroom CC, CouchSurfing, Triposo, The Culture Trip, GooglePhotos, and many, many more.

As Business Insider’s International Correspondent, I’ve spent the last six months traveling through Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Greece, Israel, and Russia, among other places.

Traveling for a living is a fun, exhilarating, and, quite frankly, exhausting experience. But the best way to make it more fun and less exhausting is to have a digital toolkit (i.e. smartphone) loaded up with every app I need to get things done as efficiently as possible.

When I get off a plane, I want to know how much money to take out of the ATM, how to hail a cab, where the best hole-in-the-wall restaurant is for dinner, and how to say “I’d like to order 10 of those, please.”

With 12 countries checked off on the trip so far — and who knows how many to go — I decided it was time to reveal my most-used apps. They aren’t all revelations (who hasn’t heard of GoogleMaps?), but I can guarantee there’s at least one in there you haven’t thought of yet.

Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for your next trip abroad:

1. WhatsApp — Free


play

1. WhatsApp — Free

(iTunes)

By far, my most used app. So long as you are outside of China, WhatsApp is likely the most common messaging for Americans and everyone else.

Download WhatsApp here »

2. Facebook Messenger — Free


2. Facebook Messenger — Freeplay

2. Facebook Messenger — Free

(Shutterstock)

Like everyone else these days, I hate using Facebook, but a huge part of my social network is there. In addition, Facebook is the app that just about every person you meet also has. Thankfully, Messenger is an aesthetically pleasing and pared-down messaging app that lets you tap into that network without having to be bombarded with your high school ex’s political arguments.

Download Facebook Messenger here »

3. Telegram — Free


3. Telegram — Freeplay

3. Telegram — Free

(Carl Court/Getty Images)

Telegram has turned into my go-to for talking to sources in countries where the government might be watching what you say (cough China, Russia cough).

Download Telegram here »

4. Google Maps — Free


4. Google Maps — Freeplay

4. Google Maps — Free

(Avery Hartmans/Business Insider)

I’m sure I’m not the first person to recommend using Google Maps to get around literally everywhere (except China), but the feature I find the most useful while traveling is the ability to download offline maps for places I’m in. That way, I can still navigate without blowing up my data bill.

Download Google Maps here »

5. Waze — Free


5. Waze — Freeplay

5. Waze — Free

(Waze)

I can’t tell you how many traffic jams social-navigation app Waze has gotten me out of. Turning every phone using the app into an information-generating node is just plain genius. I’ve found that it often has more accurate directions in other countries than Google.

Download Waze here »

6. My Currency Converter — Free


6. My Currency Converter — Freeplay

6. My Currency Converter — Free

(Screenshot/Harrison Jacobs)

As I move from country to country, I am constantly using different currencies. It’s hard to keep track of what’s worth what. My Currency Converter & Rates is a simple offline exchange app that, while not so up-to-date that I would recommend Forex traders use it, it’s just fine for the average traveler.

Download My Currency Converter & Rates here»

7. Google Translate — Free


7. Google Translate — Freeplay

7. Google Translate — Free

(Google)

Yes, Google Translate can teach you how to say Nǐ hǎo, but did you know that you can download entire languages for offline translation or hold it up to signs or menus for instant translation?

Download Google Translate here»

8. Triposo — Free


8. Triposo — Freeplay

8. Triposo — Free

(Triposo)

If I want to get a quick feel for what’s happening or what to do in a new city, I immediately download the Triposo travel guide. While it’s never the most extensive guide, it gives you the basics in an easy, attractive package. And it works offline.

Download Triposo here»

9. Culture Trip — Free


9. Culture Trip — Freeplay

9. Culture Trip — Free

(The Culture Trip)

When I want to dig a bit deeper into a destination or have a more specific question (like which museum is better), Culture Trip has me covered. You have to do a bit of sifting — the content is only as good as the local creator — but more often than not, it’s led me to the hole-in-the-wall bar I didn’t know I was looking for.

Dowload Culture Trip here»

10. FourSquare — Free


10. FourSquare — Freeplay

10. FourSquare — Free

(Avery Hartmans/Business Insider)

You probably stopped using FourSquare in 2013 after your roommate took over your mayorship of the corner bodega, but I suggest you look again. So long as you are in a city that has an active community, I have found FourSquare to have far more accurate reviews and better recommendations than TripAdvisor, Yelp, or anything else.

Download FourSquare here»

11. Google Drive — Free


11. Google Drive — Freeplay

11. Google Drive — Free

(Nopparat Khokthong / Shutterstock.com)

This a no-brainer. Where else are you going to store your photocopy of your passport?

Download Google Drive here»

12. Google Photos — Free


12. Google Photos — Freeplay

12. Google Photos — Free

(Google)

I know I’m starting to sound like a Google junkie here, but Google Photos has saved my butt on more than a few occasions. I have it set to automatically backup my phone. When I fill it up, the app will let me delete everything already backed up with a few clicks.

Download Google Photos here»

13. Manual —$3.99


13. Manual —$3.99play

13. Manual —$3.99

(Screenshot/Harrison Jacobs)

The iPhone camera app is great most of the time (particularly if you’ve got Portrait Mode), but like all auto cameras, it’s only as smart as computer behind it. Manual lets you dig into the settings and change shutter speed, white balance, and everything else you need to get that perfect shot of fireworks.

Download Manual here»

14. Sony PlayMemories + FujiFilm Cam Remote — Free


14. Sony PlayMemories + FujiFilm Cam Remote — Freeplay

14. Sony PlayMemories + FujiFilm Cam Remote — Free

(Sony)

I travel with both a Fuji X-T2 and a Sony RX100 V. One of my favorite features of both cameras is the ability to transfer photos directly to my phone using their apps (for Instagram, duh). Fuji’s app also has the ability to use your phone as a remote, which is great for setting up self-portraits or night shots.

Download Sony PlayMemories here» and Fujifilm Cam Remote here»

15. Lightroom CC — Freemium


15. Lightroom CC — Freemiumplay

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15. Lightroom CC — Freemium

(Lightroom CC)

I use Adobe Lightroom on my desktop to do all my photo editing for stories. The iPhone app is a slightly pared down version that is still extremely powerful for a mobile photo-editing app. In fact, I kind of enjoy editing on it more than my laptop. The features, and the options, are endless.

Download Adobe Lightroom CC here»

16. Instagram — Free


16. Instagram — Freeplay

16. Instagram — Free

(Bon Appetit/Shutterstock)

After holding out for years, I have turned into an Instagram addict. No social network has proved more conducive to me sharing both my photos and my half-baked witticisms and memes. Twitter used to do it for me, but it’s not a great photo-sharing app and, these days, it’s just plain exhausting.

Download Instagram here»

18. Uber + Grab — Free


18. Uber + Grab — Freeplay

18. Uber + Grab — Free

(shutterstock/MikeDotta)

It might surprise you to learn that Uber isn’t used everywhere. China uses Didi Chuxing, Indonesia uses Go-Jek, and so on. But, at the end of the day, Uber and Singapore-based GrabTaxi are the two apps I always keep on my phone as they appear to be used in more places than any of the more local apps.

Download Uber here»

20. LonelyPlanet Guides — Free


20. LonelyPlanet Guides — Freeplay

20. LonelyPlanet Guides — Free

(Lonely Planet Guides)

I used to read LonelyPlanet travel guides for fun when I was a kid (I was a fun kid, I know). But their free app gives a great overview of most places so that I can sound like a seasoned tour guide to my girlfriend when we walk through Masada in Israel.

Download LonelyPlanet Guides»

21. CouchSurfing — Free


21. CouchSurfing — Freeplay

21. CouchSurfing — Free

(Harrison Jacobs/Screenshot)

A lot of people use Couchsurfing for free lodging. I don’t. But I do love the community. When I get to a new city, I check the event calendar for meetups or, if I’m bored, open up the “hangouts” feature to meet up with locals. If you want to make new friends in a strange city, it’s never been easier.

Download CouchSurfing here»

Read more about how CouchSurfing led me to have a wild night in Tokyo last year »

22. Airbnb — Free


22. Airbnb — Freeplay

22. Airbnb — Free

(Airbnb)

Despite my recently published misgivings about Airbnb, it’s still my most-used booking app while traveling. If you’ve got a tight budget, Airbnb is probably the best bang for your buck outside of a hostel.

Download Airbnb here»

23. Booking.com — Free


23. Booking.com — Freeplay

23. Booking.com — Free

(Andrey Solovev/Shutterstock)

Booking.com is creeping up in my usage, however. They’ve got tons of apartment listings on their app now, perks for heavy users (like me), and a dead-simple, attractive interface.

Download Booking.com here»

24. HotelTonight — Free


24. HotelTonight — Freeplay

24. HotelTonight — Free

(HotelTonight)

I use HotelTonight when I need a break from the barebones places I usually book on Airbnb and Booking. The app is best when you are booking only a day or two in advance. You can usually find great deals on very expensive hotels if you like flying by the seat of your pants, as they say.

Download HotelTonight here»

24. Mobile Passport — Free


24. Mobile Passport — Freeplay

24. Mobile Passport — Free

(Flickr/Mike McCune)

I will never understand why anyone traveling outside of the US doesn’t have this app downloaded. Officially authorized by US Customs and Border Protection, the app lets you upload your passport and fill out forms on your phone so you can skip to the front of the customs line.

Download Mobile Passport here»

26. PriorityPass — Free


26. PriorityPass — Freeplay

26. PriorityPass — Free

(David Slotnick/Business Insider)

The app is free, but you’ll need a PriorityPass membership. I got mine as a perk through my Chase Sapphire Reserved credit card. It’s been a life saver. While the US lounges are nothing special, the international lounges have made airports a joy. Free food and alcohol, showers, and a clean, peaceful place to relax before a flight.

Download Priority Pass here»

27. Skyscanner — Free


27. Skyscanner — Freeplay

27. Skyscanner — Free

(Screenshot/Harrison Jacobs)

Still my favorite travel booking app for one feature and one feature only: Everywhere. The app lets you leave the arrival point as “Everywhere,” showing you the cheapest flights from your point of departure. The source of a dozen impromptu vacations.

Download Skyscanner here»

Read more about how I use Skyscanner to get dirt cheap flights here »

28. Trip.com — Free


28. Trip.com — Freeplay

28. Trip.com — Free

(Screenshot/Trip.com)

I got hooked onto using Trip.com while in China. It’s owned by Chinese company CTrip and, while that company’s website is janky, Trip.com’s app interface is super smooth. I always check here for deals on flights and hotels.

Download Trip.com here»

31. YouNeedABudget – $6.99/month


31. YouNeedABudget – $6.99/monthplay

31. YouNeedABudget – $6.99/month

(Screenshot/YNAB)

You’ve probably tried Mint, used it for a while, and now do your budgets on a napkin. Okay, that was me. YNAB, as users call it, is the most comprehensive budgeting app I’ve encountered. It helps you account for where you want your dollars to go, not just where they’ve already gone. And you’re paying money for it, so they don’t sell your data to the Internet, unlike Mint.

Download YouNeedABudget here»

32. WikiLoc — Freemium


32. WikiLoc — Freemiumplay

32. WikiLoc — Freemium

(WikiLoc)

This is a must-have for hikers and outdoorsmen. People track, upload, and review their hikes. You can follow their trails if you want so you don’t get lost, but I prefer to use it to get a feel for the difficulty level and natural splendor on different hikes. I usually only have time in a place for one or two hikes. It helps me pick wisely.

Download WikiLoc here»



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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