App of the Week: 11 Travel Apps to Make Spring Break Stress Free

There are a few new Apps that I have downloaded and started playing with but none that I’m comfortable enough with to write about. So, I read this article the other day and really enjoyed it. I thought I’d share the wealth of knowledge… Enjoy.

By Ashley Macey of BritandCo

With spring break fast approaching, it’s time to stop wasting time looking up pretty destinations on Instagram and start finalizing your travel plans STAT. Whether you’ve decided to finally take the plunge and do Europe on a shoestring budget or are planning a short getaway a little closer to home, we’re totally on board for anything that’ll make travel planning a tad easier. That’s why we’re obsessed with these 11 spring break travel apps that handle everything from flights to pet care.


1). LoungeBuddy: Let’s be honest — spending countless hours in an overcrowded airport during spring break probably isn’t the best way to start a vacation. Luckily, this handy app makes it ridiculously easy to book a swanky lounge for you and your travel companions straight from your smartphone. Go ahead, you deserve it.

Download it Free from Android and iOS


2). DogVacay: While we’d love to take Fido with us on all our epic adventures, sometimes it just isn’t feasible. Instead of leaving your pup in a crammed kennel, DogVacay gives you the option to let your fur-baby stay in a real home with a loving sitter. Heck, you even get daily photo or video updates from your pooch, so you know that they’re a-okay while you’re on vacay.

Download it Free from Android and iOS


3). Little Peanut on the Go: If you and your partner are planning a getaway without the kiddos, this app is definitely a must-download. Not only can you ditch the handwritten emergency contact list for a super easy digital one, but the app also lets you build comprehensive packing lists and easily share care schedules and notes with your caregivers.

Download it Free from Android and iOS


4). Hopper: Looking for a great deal on your spring break flight? This awesome app actually predicts the price of future flights and tells you the best time to buy cheap fares (so you can spend more moola on souvenirs and poolside cocktails, duh).

Download it Free from Android and iOS


5). Detour: Unlike the old data-less days, touring a new city doesn’t have to involve blindly following a random dude in a neon t-shirt. Detour provides immersive audio walks that guide you through some of the most interesting places at home and abroad. Whether you’re adventuring solo or traveling with your gals, it’s a great option to keep in your back pocket (especially for days without many plans!).

Download it Free from Android and iOS


6). Wanderu: If you’re planning on traveling by bus or train on your vacay, you HAVE to check out this must-download app. With deals for more than 2,000 cities across North America, you can pretty much get a ticket just about anywhere… and for as little as a single dollar too.

Download it Free from Android and iOS


7). DuoLingo: Bonjour, hola, hello! No matter where you’re traveling this spring break, Duolingo is a great tool to help you brush up on your foreign language skills before you jet off to an exotic locale.

Download it Free from Android and iOS


8). Splittr: If you’re traveling with your squad, this app is a no-brainer. Instead of keeping receipts in your back pocket or creating a complicated Excel spreadsheet to divvy up your costs, this app lets you easily track and add expenses on-the-go so you always know who still needs to pay up.

Download for $1.99 on iOS


9). Google Trips: By organizing all your essential info automatically from your Gmail account, Google Trips is perfect for the lazy traveler. Not only do you get all of your deets in one easy place, but you can also get activity suggestions based on what’s nearby too (AKA you’ll *always* know the best local pub to grab a drink).

Download it Free from Android and iOS


10). Packing Pro: Last-minute packers, prepare to meet the app of your dreams. For less than a cheeky Starbucks, this app lets you create unlimited packing lists. Whether you just need a sample list to get you started or want an extremely detailed and customizable one, Packing Pro has you covered so you never forget to bring your phone charger ever again.

Download for $2.99 on iOS


11). AFAR Travel Guide: Whether you’re still in the browsing phase of your travel plans or want specific info on your pre-selected destination, this cool travel guide is a great hub for location-specific content. With over 90,000 unique travel experiences and a neat “near me” function for spur-of-the-moment planning, it’s an awesome tool to help plan the vacation of your daydreams.

Download it Free from Android and iOS


Where are you spending spring break? Tweet at me @theblondebyte16
or @BritandCo

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How to: Automate Twitter To Get Attention and Grow Your Followers

This article has actually changed my workflow. I’ve bounced between several automation tools and hadn’t really loved any of them. After reading this article, I couldn’t wait to give Dvlr.it a try and so far, I’m impressed. Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think. Also, hit me up with your favorite Social Media Automators; if you use one…

By Jeff Bullas http://www.jeffbullas.com

The social web has amplified many truths about humanity.
Some of us will do anything to get noticed and build a brand. This even includes some new dubious tactics such as fake news and alternate truth. They have been used to both divert and attract scrutiny.

The reality is that most people love a bit of attention. It is how we are wired.
Attention seeking can come in many forms and constant posting on Facebook and other social networks has now become part of that routine and habit.
Too much sharing can see us being accused of being a narcissist. The question that it raises….. where does narcissism and a healthy self worth start and stop?
It is a question that I wrote about in the New York Times titled “On the Social Web, Everyone has a Voice, Everyone is Judged”

And your answer maybe different to mine.
5 reasons we share
I have always been intrigued by the power of social media and why we share so much. It was one of the first things I noticed about people’s online social media behaviour nearly 10 years ago. But there is more than one reason we share content on the social web and attention seeking is only one.

In a post on Co-Schedule based on the research from the New York Times Customer Insight Group they reveal the top 5 reasons people share on social media.


the first two on the list resonate with me.


To bring valuable and entertaining content to others
To define ourselves to others

At its simplest level this can be done two ways. By taking the big step of starting a blog and then publishing our opinions and thoughts online or just simply sharing other people’s posts and updates.
Curating content worth sharing is one way to scale your content.

Curating is time consuming
But manual curating is time consuming.
Another reality is that there is a lot of crap content on the web. So constant sifting and sorting is a time sink.
The flip side is that there are some sensational authors, bloggers and creators who publish content worth reading, viewing and sharing. The challenge is that we don’t have much time and spending all day just sharing is not efficient or productive time management.
So here is the thing….you can automate curation on Twitter.
How to automate Twitter content curation
For many years I was using Twitterfeed to automate other top bloggers and influencers new blog posts.
This app automatically shared on Twitter when it detected that their posts had been published. But this simple software tool was closed down last year.
I wrote blog posts on how to do it these included:

The Twitter Tool I Can’t Do Without
10 Smart Tips For Creating, Marketing and Sharing content on Twitter

And guess what?….people included my blog when they set it up. So after a while I noticed was getting 300 instant Twitter shares on auto pilot from my Twitter tribe after publishing a new post.

So I started looking for another tool to replace Twitterfeed. The tool I am now using is Dlvr.it.


So how do you set it up to share great content, attract attention from top bloggers and influencers, be effective and save valuable time?

 

Step 1. Identify your topic ecosystem

One of the biggest challenges as a blogger and content creator is coming up with new topics to write about. It’s also what you need to think about when looking for your sources of reading and inspiration.
So before setting up Dlvr.it you need to identify the topic subject categories that fit into your eco-system of interests.

For me these include:

Digital marketing of any flavour: Social media marketing, content marketing and email marketing
Blogging tips: This includes search engines and conversion strategies to grow traffic and revenue
Innovation: Some topics here include growth hacking that combines the art and science of marketing
Technology: Apps and and artificial intelligence and marketing automation tools
Entrepreneurship – The skills for building a business in a digital world

And a few others that include writing, personal development and publishing.
This can also be a good exercise while identifying your key phrases for search engines. It is really worth sitting down and getting clarity on this. It will drive your SEO strategy and content creation planning.

Step 2: Find trusted bloggers
There are many bloggers who publish regular quality content.
If they publish once a day that is maybe optimal but once a week is fine too.
My aim is to find a few that I know all add value to my followers on Twitter.
Personal brands are my first choice. Corporate blogs can be good but I like that hands on approach and tactical insights that you get from the blogger that shares their insights in a practical manner.

I am sure that most of us have our favourites.
How many should you select? This is completely personal and I have about 15 to 25 bloggers that publish regularly who I share on Twitter.
Step 3: Identify their blog feed (RSS)
This is quite straight forward and just put in the blog URL and Dlvrt.com will pull up the right RSS feed that will trigger the automated sharing of the blog post when a new post is published.
So enter the URL for the blog. In this example I am using Jeff Goin’s Writing blog as an example here.


You may see the description as being a bit strange so you can edit it later. Click on the “Plus (+) button at the bottom right corner. You have now added your first blog.

Step 4. Connect it to Twitter

Now you can use other social networks but I use Twitter most of the time because it is not strangled by algorithms that can hide your sharing.

Click on the Twitter account to connect it and start posting straight away.


Step 5: Add a suffix to the tweet

Now this is simple but important and should not be overlooked. Add the @mention Twitter name of the blog you are sharing.

When they scan their notifications stream they will see that you are sharing their content.

So how does it look after we have arranged the RSS automation and set it up in the platform?

Here is a tweet on my Twitter account that detected that Mark Schaefer had published a new post and includes the all important suffix with via @markwscahefer.


Wrapping it up

Automated curation sharing on Twitter is not complicated and is something I have done for years.
Using tools to increase your productivity and scaling your efforts should be part of your ongoing strategy.
It is a simple tactic but over time it will achieve a few goals.

Add value to your Twitter tribe
Attract more Twitter followers
Save you time. My estimate is about 20-30 hours a month
Alert you to the latest and best content from bloggers that you trust
Invite attention from influencers in your industry niche
Attract more blog and website traffic

So for me it ticks a lot of boxes.
It doesn’t mean that you stop looking for new content to share manually but automated curation of great content from bloggers that you know and trust is effective.

App(s) of the Week: The best iOS apps for keeping track of assignments, due dates, and more

I wanted to throw a bone to all the mom’s out there who struggle with their kids’ homework assignments. It’s one thing to have your own to do list to keep up with but, when you add in your child’s assignments and projects, life can get down right chaotic. I downloaded and tried most of the apps listed in the article below and I have to say, I wish I had something like them when I was in school. Try them out and see for yourself…

by Chance Miller of 9to5Mac @ChanceHMiller


EduTech is a new 9to5Mac weekly series that will focus on technology’s application in education, lower and higher level, both for productivity and enjoyment. If you have suggestions for topics or specific questions you’d like to see answered, feel free to let me know. Catch up on past installments here.

In this week’s installment of EduTech, we’re going to break down the best apps on iOS stay organized, keep track of assignments, and more. Some of these apps are specifically made with education in mind, while others were developed with a broader focus yet still offer benefits to educators and students alike.

This is arguably one of the best applications of technology in education. Keeping track of things like assignments, due dates, and tests used to be a tedious task that required the use of a physical planner to truly stay on top of things. With iOS, however, there are many apps that make it easy to stay on top of your work. Read on for my full list…


The Homework App

 

One of the most popular scheduling apps on iOS is simply called “The Homework App.” Available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, this app features a minimalistic design that offers support for your class schedule, homework schedule, and more.

On the main screen of the app, you see a broad overview of what you have going on, including the number of classes you have that day, the assignments you have due, your schedule, and more. From there, you can dive deeper into the specifics of what you have going on with sub details for assignments, color coding, and more.

The Homework App also offers a widget in Notification Center, as well as an Apple Watch app for on-the-go tracking. There’s also notification support to ensure you never forget a due date.
The Homework App is free on the App Store.

myHomework Student Planner


This app, while still simplistic, offers a few more customization options than The Homework App. On the home screen of the app is a basic overview of all of the homework you have due, while you can filter it by class, priority, and type.

One thing that sets myHomework apart is its support for classes that occur every other day, like in a college environment. While The Homework App does support this, you have to set up each day individually as opposed to telling the app the alternation schedule. myHomework, however, allows you to choose which days a class occurs rather than assuming it occurs every week day.
myHomework Student Planner offers iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch support.


It’s available for free on the App Store.

Class Timetable


Returning to the simplicity over features theme, Class Timetable is an incredibly simple app that allows you to keep track of classes and assignments. The home screen of this app is a simple list of your classes for that day, while a separate Tasks window shows your assignments and when they are do.

Class Timetable is color coded and supports a color coded week view when you rotate your device to landscape view.
While Class Timetable is free, there’s a “Pro” update available via in-app purchase for $0.99. With that upgrade, you get class notifications, timetable export, task reminders, and more.

Class Timetable is available on the App Store and supports iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

My Study Life


My personal favorite planning app is My Study Life. In my testing, I’ve found this one to be the most feature-rich apps available, while also offering a simplistic and easy to navigate design.

One of my favorite features is the “Tomorrow” preview at the bottom of the app’s home screen. This preview shows how many classes you have on the next day, the tasks you have due, and if you have any exams. My Study Life is also smart about handling exam and class interferences, alerting you of the conflict and allowing you to add revision tasks.
You can view your upcoming tasks and classes with month and week views, as well as detailed daily views with building numbers, times, and more.

My Study Life is available on the App Store for free, but there’s no iPad or Apple Watch app at this point.

Fantastical


While this app wasn’t developed with education specifically in mind, it’s still one of the best planning apps available. Available on both iOS and macOS, Fantastical is a beautiful calendar app with cross-platform syncing, Apple Watch support, and iMessage integration.

We’ve covered Fantastical extensively in the past and I continue to recommend it. You can import from other calendar services, sync between your various devices, and much more.
As for education-specific purposes, you can enter assignment due dates, exam dates, meetings, and more.

Fantastical 2 is available for $2.99 on iOS and $49.99 on macOS.

OmniFocus

Another app that wasn’t developed with education specifically in mind, but yet still is one of the best apps for assignment tracking and remembering test dates. OmniFocus is task management app that allows you to enter in a task, assign a due date, and receive notification reminders to complete that task.

The app centers around being easy to use and allowing you to get things done as efficiently as possible. For each day, you’ll see a number that represents the number of tasks that you have due that day.

The app is also location-aware, meaning you can assign a location to specific task and be reminded of it when you approach that location.

OmniFocus is available for iOS, Apple Watch, and iPad on the App Store, while there’s also a macOS app.


Other to-do apps


To-do apps are a great way to remember tasks you have to complete. While OmniFocus is my personal favorite, there are a variety of other options, some of which are free, available on the App Store.

For education, to-do apps are relatively simple and work best for remembering assignments and exam dates rather than class meeting times. For many students, however, assignment and date tracking is the central need.

Below are some additional recommendations for to-do list applications:
Remember The Milk
Wunderlist
Any.do
Google Keep
Todoist
Clear
• Apple’s Reminders app

Wrap up
Those are just some of the apps that make it incredibly easy to keep track of assignments, classes, tests, and more. Everyone has their own methodology for tracking such dates and it’s really up to you to find the best app that fits your needs.
If you have any additional recommendations for organizing your school work and schedule, let us know down in the comments or you can tweet directly to @9to5Mac

How to: Create Instagram Lead Ads

This is a topic I recently started investigating for myself and thought this article brilliantly breaks down what could be a very convoluted process. It’s “live or die” by Social Media these days and articles like this one, make it easier to “live.”

By Deirdre Kelly of Social Media Examiner

Do you advertise on Instagram?

Want more leads?
Instagram lead ads let you collect valuable contact information from potential customers without pushing them off of the platform.
In this article, you’ll discover how to set up lead ads on Instagram.

#1: Choose the Lead Generation Objective
To get started with lead ads, create a new ad campaign and select Lead Generation as the objective.

 

#2: Define Your Audience
Next, continue to ad set level to define your audience targeting. If you have existing lead/customer data, always use a lookalike audience. Upload your customer list to use as the source audience to build your lookalike audience.

Using your customer list as the source audience will give you better results than simply using existing leads from previous marketing efforts, which include people who have yet to drive any real value for your business. People who’ve actually spent money with your business (rather than just signaled interest) provide much stronger data for Facebook to work with.

It’s even better if your customer base is large enough to segment out a portion of higher-value customers (e.g., repeat purchasers, high-spend purchasers, premium subscribers, etc.) to use as your lookalike source. Remember, though, Facebook recommends using a source audience of at least 1,000 users for best results.
Always exclude existing leads so you’re not wasting impressions and ad dollars. By continuously retargeting the same users, you can stimulate negative feedback, which will deflate your relevance score and hurt your CPMs (cost per thousand impressions).

Facebook now lets you create an audience of users who successfully opened and submitted a lead form, so you can dynamically exclude incoming leads. With all other leads, you’ll have to manually upload data to Facebook before excluding people.

#3: Select Your Ad Placement
Under Placements, select the Automatic Placements option, because that only includes the Facebook news feed and Instagram anyway. Audience network and all other Facebook placements are ineligible.

 

Although lead ads were originally rolled out just for mobile, Facebook realized that advertisers face all of the same obstacles on desktop too. Users are impatient, and making the process easier (by letting users submit their info in just a few taps) benefits both parties regardless of device. By selecting auto placement, your ads will be delivered on both desktop and mobile.

#4: Set Your Bid
In your bidding, make sure you optimize for leads vs. link clicks. Link clicks may result in a higher click-through rate but you should always optimize for what your true goal is, which is simply leads in this case.

#5: Choose an Ad Format
Now you’re ready to move to the ad level. The front end of the ad unit is the standard format for regular ads, with the same creative options available.

A carousel ad that highlights the benefits of your service or product features/use cases can work nicely here. Incorporating testimonials and reviews is also a good idea. Although video works well, a slideshow can be an easier, cheaper alternative and Facebook provides simple tools for creating one.

#6: Create Your Lead Form
It’s finally time to create your lead form! You should be thinking quality over quantity here.

To make sure your leads are qualified, always use a context card. The context card appears after users click on the ad and before they submit their information. This is where you lay out the benefits of submitting the form to your prospects. You can choose a paragraph or bullet point format for this card.

The following example uses bullet points to relay the main selling points to potential leads.


Keep questions to a minimum; less is more in this case. The user information fields, which consist of primary contact info along with some basic demographic and work information, will pre-fill with users’ personal details as long as they’ve included them in their Facebook profile. This makes it easy for users to submit this information.
However, be careful not to include fields that aren’t necessary, because users might be reluctant to hand over too much personal information this early in the relationship.

You can add up to three custom questions, but use these sparingly. If possible, ask multiple choice questions rather than open-ended questions. The more convenient the process, the more conversions you’ll achieve.


If you’re collecting customer information, you should already have a written privacy policy. Hopefully, it’s posted on your website so you can provide a link to your privacy policy. This is a required field for creating the lead form.
Lastly, you can add a link to your website that users will see on the thank-you page along with a View Website call-to-action.

 

Conclusion

As Facebook’s mobile ad inventory skyrockets, the platform is determined to make it easier for advertisers to generate value from mobile users. Introducing Instagram placement for lead ads is the latest example of this.
To get the most out of the leads you generate, make sure you follow up with them in a timely fashion. If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place, you can set up your leads to sync automatically, so you can follow up as quickly as possible when the leads are most valuable. Manually downloading leads can result in a long lag between receiving a lead and following up with a prospect.
Facebook already supports many of the most popular CRM systems like Salesforce, MailChimp, and Zapier. You can find more information on the available integrations here. If you don’t see yours listed, it might take some work by your developer to set up lead syncing through the Facebook API. Alternatively, you could use a middleman integration like LeadsBridge.

Weekly RoundUp -2/17

 

Here are my favorite tech stories from the week. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

Apple Will Fight ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation
This story, to me, is ridiculous. Why any lay person would want to take apart and fix their own iPhone is beyond me. I’ve been trained to do so and believe me, it f*cking sucks. Let the professionals handle it, I beg you.


Apple debuts ‘Planet of the Apps’ trailer for new Apple Music series
If this is the best in the way of orginial content Apple has to offer, Netflix has nothing to worry about.

Tech boards in dire need of women’s touch
I’m going to file this one under “Duh!”. I’ve been saying this for years…

Why Facebook could be where you find your next tech job
Watch out, Linkedin. Facebook is coming for ya.

How Ashton Kutcher is building tech to fight child sex traffickers
You may not like him as an actor, but you have to respect him as a man. Well done, Mr. Kutcher.

Cyber steers clear of tech vs. Trump feud

This could get ugly.

Tech groups gear up for FISA surveillance fight
I have a feeling the fear of bad hombre’s will eventually win out.

The Female Governors’ Summit aims to get more girls into tech

Yay! More of this, please!

7 Free Apps to Help You Stay Informed in 2017

Cecily Strong summed up our current situation in the US beautifully this weekend when she said, “I want one day without a CNN Alert that scares the hell out of me!” Whatever your political allegiances are, I think we can all agree we need more accountability from our representatives on the hill. After reading this article from Brit&Co., I downloaded everyone of them and tried them out. And you know what? They’re all really fantastic and now, I’m using them everyday. If nothing else, it makes our representatives more accessible to us; like they should be.


7 Free Apps to Help You Stay Informed in 2017

Ashley Macey via Brit+Co
From social justice pages disappearing from the White House website to an irksome immigration ban, the first month of Donald J Trump’s presidency has definitely sparked controversy. That’s why staying informed on the latest happenings in Washington is so important… especially with fake news sites gaining popularity on the daily. So to help our activist-minded ladies out, we’re rounding-up seven completely free apps to download that’ll help you stay informed and politically active in 2017.


1. Countable: If you want to see what your representatives are up to when they’re in Washington, this app is a must-download. Not only do you get daily notifications about upcoming votes and short non-partisan summaries of news and legislation, but the app even allows you to send video messages and written replies straight to your reps too.

Free to Download for Android and iOS


2. Voices: Working with specific advocacy groups, Voices is an app that allows you to easily tweet, call or email your elected officials with a single tap (AKA it’s perfect for the late-night Twitter addict).

Free to Download on Android and iOS


3. VoteSpotter: Because your elected officials vote on hundreds of bills every year, it can be hella frustrating trying to keep track of important votes on TOP of your already stressful day job. That’s what makes this app so cool — it allows users to easily track how their representatives voted on a particular issue and give their decision a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Free to Download on Android and iOS


4. iCitizen: While staying informed yourself is one thing, learning the political pulse of your surrounding area is also a smart move. iCitizen connects you with your IRL community using polls on issues you actually care about. After the polls close, they send the results to your elected officials too.

Free to Download on Android and iOS


5. Politico: Although there are a lot of political fake news websites around, experts agree that Politico is not one of them. Praised for their in-depth coverage of politics and policy development, it’s a great place to start whether you’re just getting into politics or you’re a seasoned political veteran.

Free to Download on Android and iOS


6. Involvd: Getting involved in politics can seem daunting for first-time voters and political newbies. But this handy app makes sharing your brilliant ideas on policy easy. Not only can you view the stances of elected officials on key issues, but you can share your own solutions and see how they stack up in the community as well.

Free to Download on Android and iOS


7. NYTimes: Although DJT has furiously tweeted about the inaccuracy and “fake news” reporting done by the New York Times, it’s hard to argue with their long-standing and award-winning coverage of US politics. Just make sure that whatever news source you use, you do some fact-checking yourself and compare at least two sources on any given story (we know it’s a lot of work, but it’s better than tweeting about a story that ends up being untrue!).

Free to Download on Android and iOS
What about you? What Apps Are you using to stay informed this year? Let us know in the comments below!
Or Tweet @BritandCo they’d love to hear from you too!

How to use Google Calendar’s Smart Meeting Scheduler

 

Ladies,

Like many of you, I live and die by my Calendar. If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening! Luckily for users like us, developers are starting to build in features to make recording Calendar events easier and much more fluid. Take Google Calendar’s Smart Meeting Scheduler, for instance. Intelligent tools to recognize meeting locations and time zones that will prevent confusion in the long run. It won’t be long before other Calendar makers will implement these tool into their programs, making them the norm; not the exception.

BY FREIA LOBO via Mashable

Scheduling meetings on Google Calendar is now a whole lot easier.

A recent update to Google Calendar implemented one of the better features of the iOS and Android apps — intelligent suggestions for meeting times, so you no longer have to worry to make sure the rooms and times work well for everyone – the calendar takes care of it for you.

Room Suggestions

When you create a meeting, Google Calendar automatically suggests meeting rooms based on the information provided by your organization. Room suggestions are also now based on attendee’s previously used rooms.

Attendee Time Zones


It can be tricky creating an event with attendees in multiple timezones. The Find a Time feature already allows you to view multiple calendars side by side so you can find a time that works for everyone, but the update now includes the timezones for the host and attendees.

 

The suggestions factor in the times when all attendees usually have meetings, to make sure that the time is suitable to everyone. If no times work, the Calendar looks at other conflicting meetings that might easily be moved. Now you can make sure you don’t schedule an 11 p.m. meeting for your coworkers in Asia again!