The Labor Day Fun Guide

Hopefully most of you have a three day weekend ahead of you, and if you do we have some ideas on some cool stuff to do over the next few days. These things will get you out the door and out of your pajamas. After all , these are the last days of summer, you’ve got to enjoy them while you can!

+ Labor Day is the perfect excuse to gather your friends together, but instead of the traditional barbeque with hotdogs and beer, now’s your chance to switch it up. You can throw a themed cocktail party with hor’durves and pretty plastic cocktail glasses. Make use of some food coloring and go with a red, white and blue theme. Fill your table with mini-meatballs, sandwiches and something simple like a cheese tray. This is a recepe for a guatanteed good time.

+ The beach will likely be overcrowded during the day throughout the weekend, so switch it up and throw a bonfire at night. Many national beaches allow bonfires as long as they are contained in pits. Bring some buckets of fried chicken, and some stuff to make smore’s and make a night of it under the stars.

+ Go hiking. While everyone else is off visiting family, grab a friend and take advantage of some empty trails. If you don’t know of any good places, check out www.localhikes.com for some new places to explore.

+ Go camping. All the best spots in your area are already likely reserved, but that gives you a chance to explore some new spots that you normally would not visit. Vistit http://www.reserveamerica.com/ for a huge list of places to camp in your area. Hopefully you can find your own little gem.

+ Even though it sounds generic; Labor Day is a great shopping day for a reason. There are deals to be had around every corner. But instead of joining the mob scene at the big-name retailers and chains, instead go poke around some mom n’ pop stores. Not only will you beat the crowds, but you will be supporting the underdog and stimilating your local economy. You’re probably going to find some unique stuff at better prices too.

+ Go out for a drink. The long last days of summer usually lead up to some restless nights. If having a libation or two is your thing, call a cab and go out. Pick a new spot that you haven’t tried. Go check out one of those craft cocktail joints that have been springing up like wildfire. Even if you end up with a lampshade on your head, at least you know you had a good time. Afterall, there’s no work in the morning. ♥

 

It’s a Dog’s Life

So we all know about the GoPro and how they are used for extreme sports, riding bikes and skateboarding. This type of “wearable technology” has gained popularity in the last few years, and allows viewers to experience the user’s activities first hand. Now we can see through the wearer’s eyes what it feels like to skydive, to do motocross tricks, and to surf. Now there is a GoPro for the not so extreme: for your dog. Ever wanted to know what a dog’s day is like? Wonder no more. Now you can outfit your pup with a GoPro too.

This dog-experience camera comes with two harnesses. One is designed to be worn on your pets back for over-the-head shots, and the other around the neck for a birds-eye-view. Now you can check in with what your dog has been up to. What do dogs do all day anyway? Chase birds, dig holes, eat food and roll around in the dirt? Now you can see for yourself through the dog’s GoPro. The cool factor gets upped if you have a more adventurous pup that dives into water or knows a lot of tricks.

Naturally these harnesses are marketed for use with dogs, but we are sure that is not the only animal they will work on. They can be strapped to other animals as well, with specifications that are designed for small animals weighing 15 pounds, to larger animals weighing up to 120 pounds. So while your cat might not fit this device, a small chimpanzee certainly can. We will surely start seeing some interesting YouTube videos starring some active pets and other animals. The Dog GoPro harnesses retail at $60.00.

Jenky iPhone Batteries

Apple announced this week that it will replace some jenky iPhone 5 batteries at no cost. These are for the phones that were sold between September 2012 and January 2013. Your phone may be in need of a battery if it needs frequent charging and looses charge quickly. There are several different ways to check if your phone is eligible, but the easiest is to check your serial right from your phone and input the number into Apple’s serial checker. To find the serial go to Settings, then to General, then About, then Serial Number. The serial number is listed on this page. Plug that number into Apple’s serial box, and check to see if your phone is affected. Apple has also stated that they may refund users that had to pay for their own battery replacements previously.

If your iPhone is okayed for replacement, you can just bring your phone down to the nearest Apple store and they will swap it out for you. If you are not eligible for a replacement, but got stuck with a crappy battery, never fear. You can swap it out for the new iPhone 6 in a few months.

Waiting Game

The countdown is on for the release of the iPhone 6; with the great unveil date rumored to be September 9th. As the day gets closer, speculation is growing. There are tons of mockup photos all over the internet of what the new iPhone 6 is going to look like. You can already buy a case for the unreleased iPhone on eBay. Keep your receipt though, in case the chassis rumors are not true. It’s also being said that there was a design flaw that had to be fixed at the last minute. The story goes that the phone was supposed to be about half the size of the iPhone 5s, but that there was a problem with the back lighting. When it was scheduled to be fixed, there was a problem at the assembly plant. There is no word if this might push back the release date. Until then, we have to wait.

HDMI: Save your Loot

Q:

What HDMI cable do I need? I just purchased a new Samsung TV. What HDMI cable should I buy for it? There’s so many out there to choose from. Does bandwidth matter? Some sell for $10, others for $70. Does more money equal a better cable?

A:

Any high-speed HDMI cable will work as well as any other HDMI cable on the market. If you purchase a more expensive cable, what you are paying with is the cable’s marketing; which is the packaging and advertising. Cheaper cables will produce the same images as more expensive HDMI cables. Most of the HDMI cables that are on the market today are high-speed, but just be careful to double check. Also be wary of any cable that states the “1.4” or “4K” specification, as those are connection specifications, not cable specs. So those labels have more to do with the hardware of the cable, not the picture it produces. Any HDMI 2.0 will work just fine.

Now take the fifty bucks you saved and go buy yourself something pretty.

Beauty 2.0

There was a big buzz at this year’s CES tradeshow when Panasonic debuted their new hair dryer, The Nanoe, back in January. Although Panasonic makes many hair dryers, along with curling irons and rollers too, this was a first for the company in the way of spotlighting a beauty tool at one of the biggest technology trade-shows of the year. This means that beauty products are being pushed into the world of high-tech, and are starting to be taken seriously for once. Beauty is a billion dollar industry in the U.S., but is overlooked in the world of tech. Looks like the times are a-changin. There’s a bunch of new stuff in the world of super-techie beauty.

The Nanoe is manufactured by taking moisture from the air and putting it back into the user’s hair. This works by taking naturally occurring ions and breaking them down into smaller particles that are then combined with water molecules. The company claims that this dryer is perfect for people that have damaged or compromised hair, as it infuses hair with 1000 times more moisture than other ion dryers that are currently on the market. This in turn minimizes frizz, heat damage and split ends. The hair dryer is a little on the pricey side, usually running from about $130-150.00. Like the saying goes however, “time is money” and if it really saves time in the end, the extra cash might be worth it. Panasonic liked this idea so much they added a hair straightener is to the line for around the same price.

Some other neat innovations that came out in the beauty world this year include affordable lasers that treat acne, remove hair and can erase wrinkles in your skin. Now instead of going to a clinic for these services, you can do them yourself right in your own home.

In the same tech vain, there are a few noteworthy beauty apps out there that are popular right now. There is an app called Plum Perfect that allows you to take a photo of yourself, and then input the look you are going for. Want smoky eyes with a nude lip but aren’t sure what colors work best? The app will take care of you. It lines up what products would look best with your complexion and facial structure. It even gives you an explanation of why certain products will work for you, so that you will be better informed on what looks best when you are out on your own.

A San Francisco-based company called Stylebee has an app that offers a service where a make-up artist or hairstylist will come directly to your home for a set fee. You can even pay a manicurist to come out and do your nails. A lot of women avoid the beauty salon because of the social aspect. This is also huge for women that have children and are either stuck at home or short on time. This app has all the makings of becoming the wave of the future.

There are a bunch of new apps that allow you to play around with new looks, all from the comfort of your smartphone. You can try out new hair colors and styles, new make-up looks and even virtual clothes. Most of these apps are free or cost about a dollar; quite a bit cheaper than a personal shopper.

All A-Twitter about Bots

Twitter announced this week that around 23 million of their users are bots, not actual humans. That’s a whole lot of fake profiles. Which brings up a question that a lot of folks have; what exactly is a bot? We hear of them taking over apps, and invading websites, but there’s still some confusion on what they are. For starters, “bot” is short for “internet robot” and the short definition is “a software application that has the ability to take over and run automated tasks through the internet.” So bots start out good. They can do things like patrol websites and do helpful things like check product reviews for profanity, count negative reviews that need attention etc, all at a much faster rate than a human. Bots are only considered bad when they are used for what’s considered “malicious purposes,” meaning that they are taking over an application for a destructive reason. They are mostly used for creating false profiles on social media websites, trying to entice a user to click on a link that will direct you to either a porn site or some other shady fraudulent site. There are even particularly evil spambots that are able to crack passwords, and once they gain access, can really turn into a headache. This is where they gain control over your accounts and start spamming all of your contacts.

The issue with bots having such a large presence on websites like Twitter is that they are giving a misrepresentation of how many users a site actually has. This affects advertisers mostly, as they are paying a fee to reach a certain amount of users. They do not account for how many profiles are actually bots. In the case of Twitter, 23 million fake profiles rounds out to about 9% of their active accounts. The company says that number might be on the low end, so the percentage is most likely larger. The only option is to be extra suspicious of any direct mail that you receive, and to think twice before clicking on any sketchy links. Twitter will undoubtedly be putting in overtime to try and clean up some of their bot profiles, but in the meantime there are some guidelines to follow if you don’t want to get spammed. First and foremost, don’t follow everyone back who follows you, even if it is the polite thing to do in the world of social media. Be wary of accounts that follow a lot of profiles, but don’t have many followers. Also be suspicious of any profile that has a lot of typos. Having a few is normal, but when words are continuously misspelled, chances are that it’s a spambot. These bots know that sex sells, so most of their profile pictures are of attractive women. That pretty picture can burn you in the end, so keep your eyes open and your mouse to yourself.

Endless Summer

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There’s less than a month of summer left, so it’s time to fit in the rest of those all-day music festivals and camping trips. Or in most cases, both. We have put together a checklist of stuff to bring with you to make sure you have a good time with limited regrets.
1. SPF. This should be #1 on the list whenever you are going to spend a prolonged amount of time in the sun, but it is the often the most overlooked. In the event you forget it, there’s a cool new bracelet called the SunFriend Personal UV Monitor. Just wear this on your wrist and you will know when your skin is about to be overexposed, and it’s time to find some shade. The bracelet runs for about $50, but is worth its weight in gold when you don’t have to deal with sunburn when you get home.
2. A battery backup will make you the envy of all your friends. These things are truly invaluable at any outdoor event. You can use it to charge up your camera, and even more importantly, your phone. This will prevent you from getting stuck in line for a wall charger; now you won’t have to miss out on anything.
3. If you are going camping, remember to bring a Bluetooth speaker. Camping is no fun without music. Most of the wireless speakers on the shelves today go for under $50 and have an awesome sound quality. They will connect right away to your phone, and you can charge them up with your battery backup. Now you can keep the party going until late into the night.
4. A travel charging cable might be a good idea too. A shorter version that will fit into your bag easily, and that way if it gets lost you still have your old trusty one at home. Keeping your phone charged is super important when you are at a festival, as it’s easy to lose your friends, and without a phone there is not guarantee you will be getting a ride home. To avoid sleeping in a field, make sure your phone stays juiced.
5. A 360-Degree Lantern will light up your campsite in all directions, and can stay lit on a single charge for up to 12 hours. You can manipulate it to exactly where you need it to go, and it is super bright.
6. For the girls, waterproof mascara is the only route to take. Remember to throw some in your bag; if you forget you are running a huge risk of spending the day looking like a raccoon. It’s not a good look.
7. A cooler will save you a ton of money. Pack as much food and drinks that you can to avoid spending all of your money on overpriced beer and festival grub. They have fancy stainless steel coolers out now that will keep everything cold for longer. It’s worth the investment; trust that you will make your cash back on this one.
8. A jug of anti-bacterial gel. Without access to soap and water this will literally be a lifesaver. Bring enough so you can share the wealth with your friends, and at the same time win instant popularity points with strangers. Same goes for baby-wipes. These are essential when camping out without easy access to showers.
9. An indestructible phone case will save the day when you accidentally drop your phone in the dirt or mud for the thirtieth time. There are a few good brands out there, but LifeProof has made a name for itself this summer in the area of phone protection and is highly recommended.
10. Above all, remember to have fun! The last days of summer can really fly by; enjoy them while they are still here. If you remember all of your essentials you should get through a few days roughing the outdoors just fine.

Playing With Your Food

Cool new app alert! A new app called “Rise” is being talked about as the next best thing in the world of diet and exercise apps. The outline is pretty simple and easy. Just take a picture of the meals you consume, and send them through the app to dieticians that will offer helpful feedback on whether the food you’re eating is helping or hindering your weight-loss attempts. One of the biggest draw to this app is that it allows dieters to be in touch with their diet coach daily, instead of the traditional once-a-week.

Most people are busy taking pictures of their meals and uploading them to Facebook and Instagram just to make their friends green with food envy. This should make it easy for the users of the Rise app to adjust and take pictures of their food for more productive reasons.

This app will probably work especially well with people who are visual learners. Instead of tracking calories or the amount of carbohydrates that are being consumed within the day, you are getting actual feedback from a diet coach on what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. This might help take some of the guesswork out of dieting. Anything helps! The app is available now for iPhone and Android.

HelloWorld

Cool new app alert! There are a few ways to digitally track your friend’s (and even your enemies) nowadays, but this new app named “HelloWorld” is designated just for check-ins, and looks pretty cool. For starters, it is solely designed for posting updates regarding your whereabouts, and lets you add pictures to enhance the update. For example, if you are in New York, and close to the Statue of Liberty, you can use the Statue’s photo and check in there. Friends will be able to see this, and can see if anyone is nearby in case you want to meet up. On a less exciting level, you can also do this at your local coffee shop or bar.

Similar to “Snapchat” posts will disappear after 24 hours, so you don’t have the worry of stalkers checking your past location check-ins. Also, the app doesn’t give the direct address to where you are, just a vague location, so security concerns should be limited. The app is available for Android now.