The Woman behind Thanksgiving

Every year millions around the United States celebrate Thanksgiving on the third Thursday in November. Thanksgiving doesn’t just land at the end of November by chance. At this time in the mid-1800s Thanksgiving was celebrated throughout different times in the fall, depending on when the harvest season ended. Modern day Thanksgiving has a set date, and is all about things that make most holidays special; food, friends and family. We all know the story about the pilgrims and Indians, and what Thanksgiving was about originally. How did it become a national holiday though? Here’s a little background.

Although history gives credit to politicians, there is a little known story about a writer named Sarah Josepha Hale, and how she relentlessly lobbied to turn Thanksgiving into a national holiday. Sarah Hale was a published writer and prominent editor of women’s magazines for most of her life, on top of being a widowed mother of five. Hale spent nearly seventeen years writing letters to U.S. Presidents persuading them that Thanksgiving should be a national holiday, as at the time only George Washington’s birthday and Independence day were celebrated. Hale finally got the attention of President Abraham Lincoln, and folklore suggests it was one of Sarah’s letters that led him to establish Thanksgiving as a federal holiday in 1863. This time frame was right in the middle of the Civil War, and Lincoln stated that the United States would “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving, to unify and attempt to heal the wounds of a nation.”

Peace, Love and Pop Art

Today’s Google Doodle was confusing, a rectangle of abstract pop art spelling out the Google name; looks almost like an Andy Warhol painting. When you click on the doodle it gets even more baffling, as it redirects you to a page with a picture of a nun. But this is where it gets interesting.Turns out that this woman, named Corita Kent, was a nun with the Roman Catholic Church and was also a pop artist throughout the 60’s and 70′s. Her artwork had heavy “peace and love” tones, which were quite popular at the time. She even designed  the post office’s “Love” stamp in the 1980s. When you think of Pop Art, most get the vision of Warhol’s “Factory” and all the drugs and strangeness that surrounded it. So it is surreal to think of a nun having anything to do with that type of art. Kent specialized in silk-screening, and helped establish it as a fine art.

You learn something new everyday.

 

Beats by Apple?

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Looks like Apple may have had an alternate reason for acquiring the “Beats By Dre” empire earlier this year. There were many questions about what Apple was going to do with its new 3 billion dollar toy. Rumors are flying around this week that Beats will be designed directly into the next iPhone’s iOs. While current users of Beats Audio might be stoked on this, it also gets confusing on a few levels. What happens to iTunes? Will they get rid of the “radio” feature in iTunes, and leave Beats for the streaming option, similar to Spotify? Naturally we assume that Beats would be an app you would have to pay for, but can the app be uninstalled? Will there be a choice? Apple has had issues in the past with installing stuff on your iPhone you don’t want, if anyone remembers the U2 album fiasco this past summer. Time will tell if they learned their lesson.

Not-so-Smart Speaker

Amazon released their new smart speakerlast week to little fanfare with limited marketing. The Amazon Echo is considered “smart” because it is interactive, and similar to Siri, it will play music, make lists, appointments and answer random questions. Amazon’s version of marketing this speaker was a full-length, cringe-worthy video of a family’s awkward interaction with the speaker, which they named “Alexa,” although it seems you can pick whichever name you please. The video was almost four minutes long and difficult to sit through. The one thing that the video did not address is how the iPhone in your purse or the Android in your pocket can also tell you the temperature, make you shopping lists and give you random trivia.

Another baffling thing that Amazon did was that they included “invite me” underneath the cost of the speaker. Is an invitation really needed? Why do we need to be invited to buy your product? That’s annoying. Is this speaker that exclusive? It’s a strange concept.

The Echo is being sold for $199 to non-Amazon Prime members; $99 to those who are Prime members. The speaker might do well if they drop the price tag down to $99 for everyone. I can’t imagine why anyone would spend $200 on a speaker when they could spend the same amount on a phone that does so much more. $99 is pretty in-range with other higher-end speakers that are being sold out there.

All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween evening is upon us once again. You might celebrate Halloween by dressing up, taking your kids trick-or-treating, or going to a party and drinking some spirits. Whatever you are into on Halloween, here is some little background on why we celebrate it at all.

Although present day Halloween has become commercialized, and is all about cheap costumes and stale candy, its roots are quite a bit darker. The tradition of Halloween goes back around 2,000 years, dating back to what was called “Gaelic Samhain,” which was an Irish festival celebrating the end of summer and the harvest season. The end of October was a bittersweet time of year for farmers, as it meant that a hard winter was coming. During this celebration, Irish folklore suggests that “All Hallow’s Eve” was created. The date of October 31rst was picked as a pre-curser to “All Saint’s Day,” which occurs on November 1rst. It became the thought that on this day, the souls of the dead could come back to roam around and pay visit to their friends and families. October also comes before winter, where the ground may freeze, and souls may have a harder time making it out of the ground.

The tradition of trick or treating became commercialized in the U.S. after WWII. This is when Halloween became less about spirits, and became more about spooky costumes and candy. However which way you look at it, Halloween is the one day a year that we can make light of one of our biggest fears: death. We can stick fake tombstones in our front yards, hang bats and skulls and it’s the one time of year that it is acceptable to do this. This is also a time that we can celebrate loved ones who have passed on. It’s comforting to think that there is still a time of year where they might come visit us. Just as long as it’s a friendly visit!

Stand-Up Employees

Standing work desks have been all the rage for the last few years, helping to  beat the age-old “secretary spread” issue that has plagued office workers everywhere. Sitting around all day contributes to a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to adverse health effects and obesity. Here at CableWholesale, our sales guy Jesse decided to try out a standing desk, and even built it himself. Below is his journey, and a step-by-step process to get your desk in standing position.

stand up desk

“Many of us, myself included, are chained to both a computer and phone for eight hours a day. If you haven’t heard yet about the many health benefits that come with using a standing desk, a recent article from The Smithsonian could literally save your life. By utilizing a standing desk, you will not only help to avoid the many health problems discussed in the article, it can also provide many health benefits such as: improving your mood, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, increased productivity and reducing back pain caused from poor posture. Click here to read the Smithsonian article.

So now that the guys at SmithsonianMag.com have explained why sitting for prolonged periods can be harmful to your health, I’ll tell you how I built my own standing desk set-up, and how you can do the same. Here is the step-by-step process.

I was lucky enough to have an old monitor and keyboard laying around at home from a previous obsolete computer that I recently replaced.

I also pulled several needed parts from our warehouse:
41H1-27602 (SVGA Splitter) – To split the video signal from the computer to two monitors.
10H1-20203 (SVGA Extension) – To connect the computer to the splitter.
UC-451G (USB to PS/2 Y-Adapter) – To connect old PS/2 keyboard and mouse to the computer.
10U2-02106E (USB Extension) – To make sure I would have the distance needed to properly position my keyboard and mouse on the standing desk.

The next thing I did was unscrew the right portion of my desk from the hinges so that they could be raised to just below my elbows in a comfortable standing position. This allowed for about 1.5″ of slack so when the table was screwed back on top of the hinges, my forearms could rest on top, perpendicular to my body.

After that I positioned my keyboard and mouse to a comfortable position. I then placed the monitor in a location were my eyes could rest at a slight downward angle.

Next I plugged my PS/2 keyboard and mouse into our UC-451G, and plugged the USB end into our extension cable 10U2-02106E. I then plugged the extension cable into the computer, which automatically recognized the two new devices.

I unplugged the active monitor from the computer, and then using our SVGA extension cable 10H1-20203, I connected the splitter 41H1-27602 to the computer and connected the original and my old monitor from home to the splitter.

Lastly, I set the display settings to recognize dual monitors. Now I am working full-time with the best of both worlds.”

Here is the completed set-up:

http://files.cablewholesale.com/mailimages/weekly/cs_2014-10-28_image2.jpg

 

Chatty Cathy

Remember AOL chat rooms in the early 90s? Well, they are no longer a thing of the past thanks to Facebook’s new brainchild being launched last week, which they aptly named Rooms. This Facebook app will allow users to create a themed room about any subject under the sun. You can then invite people to join your chat room and start yakking with strangers about different subjects. This app is a much flashier throwback than its 90s predecessor, considering it has more color options than green and all.

Facebook says that they released this app in hopes of connecting users in different ways. In this case, users have the option to remain anonymous by picking random user names that aren’t tied to their Facebook account. However, there is always a concern when letting people loose on the interwebs with no personal accountability. “Trolling” is a term used for individuals who hang out online and harass others virtually. This can be classified as abusive contents, insults or just being aggravating in general. In an environment where you can say whatever you want, things can get dicey. As of now, Facebook states that chat rooms are invite only. But that wouldn’t seem to help the issue if users choose to stay anonymous. How do you know who to invite? Facebook also says that they will have moderators removing abusive content. For culpable users, the option of being anonymous allows you to create an alternate persona, without fear of being judged. If used responsibly this could be a really cool thing.

Booze-Be-Gone

There are plenty of apps out there nowadays designed to help fix your life. Calorie counters, fitness trackers and even apps to keep your budget on the straight and narrow. One of the biggest app trends lately is in the same vein of fixing your life, but just a little more serious. Sobriety tracker apps have quadrupled in the past year; following a sober trend that people have been conforming to recently. People are quitting drinking for a variety of different reasons; to lose weight, to gain clarity or just for better overall health in general. Whatever the reason, If you have adapted a sober lifestyle, an app is a cool idea to help track your accomplishments. There’s so many to pick through, we narrowed down a list and picked a few that had good reviews and ratings. These apps will track how many days you’ve been sober, starting from the date and time of your last drink.

To start with, there are quite few apps are designed for the beginner looking to get sober. Some go with the non-traditional approach. The Control Alcohol app ($4.99) and is the brainchild of a British hypnotist Darren Marks, and gives you the steps to be able to hypnotize yourself into sobriety. The app also offers techniques on how to relax and stay calm through the beginning stages of getting sober. One of the side effects when you first quit drinking is sleeplessness. If that’s a problem you are experiencing, White Noise Lite (free) will help you fall asleep to the soothing sounds of nature which can help your brain relax and allow you to get some rest.

There are a few apps for those who haven’t quit drinking altogether, but who are considering it. These apps are designed for the folks who tend to overindulge and might have trouble remembering how much they drink when they go out. DrinkControl ($2.99) allows you to track how much you have had to drink, and how much you are spending at the bar. Seeing how much you actually spend on alcohol in a month is enough to sober anyone up. This app has suggested limits built-in and help shed light on how much alcohol you actually consuming. There’s also the Drinking Buddy app (.99 cents) which can help you determine your blood alcohol level for the night, which is important if you are trying to drive home after a few drinks. It will also track your drinking patterns so that you are aware when you are hitting the bottle most, which can help you figure out what is triggering your alcohol craving.

Most of the apps available on iOs and Android are for the alcoholic that’s already in a 12-step program, and the majority of these apps have references to Alcoholics Anonymous. The most popular is One Day at a Time ($1.99), which is a portable version of AA’s “Big Book” and gives you inspiring quotes and verses to read throughout your day. There’s also the iPromises Recovery Companion app (free) that will help you manage your schedule once you enter AA. It will find you meetings, find you sponsors and give you words of encouragement at different intervals. There’s even an app designed specifically for women, Woman’s Way ($9.99) which is the ladies’ guide to AA and is focused on getting sober from a female’s perspective.

Most of these apps will track how many days you’ve been sober, starting from the date and time of your last drink. Just having an app on your phone that reminds you of your goal is a helpful in itself. Cheers to new beginnings.

 

 

The Newest Creep-Away App

A new app has hit the streets of Seattle this past month, and it’s stirring up some interest among the city’s female population. The new hype is called Siren and what’s different about this dating app is that it gives women more control over who they seek out as a love interest. The app is very involved, making men answer questionnaires and video challenges in hopes of being picked by a potential suitor-ette. Once a woman picks a man who they are interested in, they can then initiate a conversation. After that they can choose whether or not to send a photo of themselves. Men’s photos and information are displayed from the get-go however.
Will this app become the next big thing? It’s doubtful. Unfortunately, when they designed this app they may have not taken into account what a shallow world we live in. When you find yourself interested in another person, you typically are attracted to them physically first. The Pheromone theory and all that. The reason that apps like Tinder and Match.com are so successful is that you can see if you will find your potential date attractive. Humans are hardwired to judge potential mates by their physical attractiveness, initially anyway. That’s just science. As always, there’s an exception to that rule. However, there’s also the idea of talking to someone for weeks, putting effort into getting to know someone and then finding out that they are someone you won’t be physically compatible with.

The app has been only released on a small scale thus far, only in Seattle and only on iOS.

 

Hello, Ello

By now you surely have heard all the buzz about Ello. Lately the newest social media site has been the main topic of the interwebs, and everyone seems to have their own predictions about its fate.

Whenever a new social media site is introduced, the same question arises: “but will it replace Facebook?” And the answer usually is, “probably not.” There are a few reasons why this is true.

The biggest draw to Ello is that they do not use advertisers, which in turn means they do not sell your information to advertisers. In a world where people get thousands of ads shoved in their faces daily, this is an attractive feature.

Ello is “invite only” meaning that you need to be invited by a current member in order to join and create a profile. For some reason this is an attractive feature to people. I guess it makes some people feel accepted into some sort of club. This tactic was used by Google + a few years back. Although Google + is still around, it never got anywhere near being as popular as Facebook.

One thing that is surprising about Ello is that it was launched while still incomplete. They list about ten things being worked on currently. One would think that they would implement these fixes before launching their site. People are also surprised that a mobile version of the site is not available as of yet.

Ello has picked a black and white minimalist format that looks clean and uncluttered. Your connection’s profiles are little circles, and they are separated into two categories, “friends” for the people you know personally, and “noise” for the people you don’t. The site looks modern and fresh, and navigation is user-friendly.

One of the most worrisome insights is that it seems like Ello might become a bit of a hipster haven. For example, their “learn more about us” page is listed under “WTF.” The irony is lost on some. The “favored user profiles” are littered with pictures of guys with gentleman haircuts, and a bunch of them are wearing 3D glasses. It’s still a little early to tell though.

If you want to join Ello, go to their homepage and “request an invite.” The site will comb through your email and see if any of your contacts are active members. If not, you gotta wait till someone you know joins. Until then, remember that patience is a virtue. :)