Technology and Gadget News and Reviews

The latest and greatest in the tech world


7 Awesome Classes You Never Thought You Could Take Online

As the internet continues its expansion, more and more people are looking for unique ways to take advantage of it. One of these is in offering strange and unique online classes designed to expand your mind in any number of ways.

If you are interested in learning something completely new, and a little offbeat, check out some of these class offerings.

Introduction to Turntablism

Unless you are already a DJ, or very old, there is a good chance you don’t even know what a turntable is. (That’s okay, old people are still trying to figure out apps.)You see, not so long ago these were needed to listen to music off of these large round, and flat discs. Now Oberlin Experimental College is offering classes in becoming a professional DJ, starting with the lost art of scratching music off of a turntable.

Elvish, The Language Spoken in Lord of the Rings

This is not a joke, if you want to learn how to speak with the elves in their native Sindarin, the University of Wisconsin is offering this is in their class roster. We are not really sure what purpose this would serve, unless there are plans in the works to add more movies to the series.

Circus Arts

Now here is a class where you may actually be able to earn a living. Circus arts covers everything from how to act like a clown (as if you didn’t already know) to how to walk the high wire (as if you would want to). Triton College is offering this class in case your ambition is still to run away from home and join the circus.

Learn to Sing Online

Calling all The Voice hopefuls. You can now learn how to sharpen your singing skills online. Even Adam will be impressed with your vocal talents after finishing your online singing lessons. Just remember to thank your virtual professor when you win your first grammy.

The Anthropology of Magic, Witchcraft and Religion

Now we are calling all Harry Potter buffs. This Moorpark College class explores the world of magic and its applications in our modern society and how it correlates with various religious beliefs. Did you think we were going to say it teaches you how to turn your baby brother into a toad? We would sign up tomorrow.

The Meaning of Life

This one is pretty obvious, but you have to wonder if it ever gets to the point. Offered at the Rhode Island School of Design of all places, we were left wondering when designers became such avid philosophers. The most enlightening thing we’ve ever heard from one is “make it work”.

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UFOs in American Society

This was going to be a list of Six until this class flew over the desk. Temple University allows its students to study the effect of the UFO on American society. I wonder if there is a field trip to area 51.

There is no end to what you can learn online once you know where to look. If you are looking for a career change, or just want some senseless information to clutter your brain then take a look at some online schools and the stores of unique classes they offer.

Have You Ever Thought About How a Sonogram Machine Works?

As lovers of all things tech related, the ultrasound machine has always been intriguing. While other imaging devices like X-rays and MRIs require big equipment, removal of metal objects and lead aprons, the sonogram seems so simple. Yet it performs this amazing task. We looked inside the technology to try and discover exactly how those picture perfect images are created.

What are initial research found was that the ultrasound machine actually uses very simple technology called sonar. Not much different than what has been used for decades to detect objects inside of the ocean. Sound waves are used to measure the distance of an object and then form a picture of it. This is not much different than the way in which a bat navigates through a forest of trees.

There are two main components needed on an ultrasound machine. One is the transducer probe that contains specialized crystals, and the second is the CPU to turn the waves into an image. You are probably familiar with the transducer, this is the handheld device used by the ultrasound technician. The ultrasound technician places that device on a specific part of the body where sound waves are then sent. These waves reflect off of the different tissues. The computer than measures how quickly those waves were reflected back and then with a mathematical equation translates that data into an image.

The third main component of the ultrasound machine is the technician. Having graduated from ultrasound technician school, they are trained to examine the image and look for abnormalities. This is a specialized field which is the reason why an ultrasound technician salary is very competitive in the medical field.

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There are no known risks with ultrasound imaging, and ultrasound technicians are trained to know what level of sound frequency should be used for which areas of the body. Low frequency is needed for deeper objects like the kidneys, while muscles will require a higher frequency. Knowing this critical information is important for the technician in order to produce an image that is readable.

In the medical field there are a few limitations to what the ultrasound machine can do. It has a hard time reading gas, making it an unacceptable means of lung imaging and it cannot penetrate through bone. This is the reason why CTs and MRIs are the preferred method for brain scans. An ultrasound is unable to penetrate the skull.

Today we also learned that ultrasound is useful as a therapeutic tool. Sound waves increase blood flow, which can aid in healing a number of different types of injuries. This has been useful in sports medicine and work related injuries.

Ultrasound technology has been around for over a hundred years, but was not used medically until the 1940’s. Today, the medical field would be seemingly lost if not for this innovative technology.

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Product Review: The High Tech Water Flosser

Taking care of your teeth has become something of an obsession, with dozens of products now flooding the shelves. How important and beneficial are they all? We took a look at the water flosser, particularly the Waterpik (Ultra and Aquarius) to see how it compared to regular flossing.

Flossing is one of those things that we know we should do, we just always forget. Yet it can more important than brushing your teeth is. The spaces in between teeth are especially vulnerable when it comes to decay, making it very important to keep them clean. At least that is what the dentist told us.

So What’s the problem with Waxed Floss?

Waxed floss is a ball of very fine string that has been coated with anti-cavity properties. The premise is you pull that string between your teeth, and it removes food particles. When you think about all of teeth in your mouth that’s like an hour project. This is probably the reason why most people don’t even bother.

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Another problem with wax flossing is that those food particles are just getting passed around. You are not flushing them out, you are simply moving them. Most likely to a new spot where they can cause a cavity.

The High Tech Water Flosser

If you have ever gone to the dentist, you know that your teeth feel 100% cleaner when you leave. One of the reasons for this is the high pressure water he shoots at your teeth. This is the same premise behind the water flosser.

When looking at residential water flossers look for those that have a number of settings. If you have sensitive teeth or gums, it may take them a while to get used to it. Also look for a small nozzle that is going to give a stream of water small enough to get between your teeth.

According to www.waterflosserhq.com, using the water flosser was easier than the dental floss. Just fill the reservoir with warm water, choose the pressure setting and place the nozzle inside of your mouth. With your lips closed, start at the back of your mouth and begin directing the stream of water at your teeth. Let that water flow out from the corner of your mouth and resist the urge to swish it around. This will cause any particles to just take residence somewhere else.

Overall, the water flosser is by far the better product for your teeth. Of all the new dental gizmos and gadgets this one we would definitely recommend.

Essential Oil Apps in Review: What are the Benefits?

I am a big fan of apps and have one for every possible mobile need. So it surprised me the other day when out shopping with my sister that she had to ask me if I knew which essential oil scent was good for relaxation. Do they have an app for that? Had I finally found the elusive app free sector that I could market to? One quick google search from my phone showed me that yes, there are apps for that, and that my sister needed a lavender scented essential oil if she wanted to relax in her tub.

What Did Those Apps Have?

Compared with things like food shopping or finding a movie, there were not too many essential oil apps. I picked four to look at and found the following similarities:

  • Scents: All of them had extensive listings of popular scents and some of the more elusive. The difference was in the descriptions. There was only two that stood out as giving very good descriptions of what the scent could be used to treat and the scent.
  • Diffusion methods: Each of the apps I looked at talked about the methods you can use to diffuse scent. Some were basic, listing candles and sticks only, but one in particular was very detailed and even gave details on things like scented oil diffuser necklaces. I think I may get one of those for my sister for Christmas. I found the most information over at www.scentsationoil.com actually.
  • Different applications: All of the sites mentioned infusing lotions and oils to apply essential oils directly to the skin. There was one who took it further and gave detailed directions on creating a perfume by combining essential oils. A lot of this information was complicated and there fore well researched, as dilutions and dilution methods were detailed as well as ways to extract the essential oils from plants.

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There is a lot more to essential oils then aromatherapy. One of the apps showed details on how you could create your own essential oils using flowers and herbs from your garden. This could be helpful to people looking to start their own small essential oil making business.

I was admittedly disappointed that I had not finally stumbled on the unknown app, but did get to learn a lot about these types of apps and essential oils. If this is a passion of yours, my recommendation would be to go for the one that gives details on how to make your own. All of the others contain the same basic details, but that one stood out as going the extra mile to provide valuable information.

Exciting New Apps For the Hiking and Camping Types – Even Better Than a Compass!

apps hundres of apps on screen_1When you’re planning a day of hiking or spending the weekend camping, consider some of these new amazing apps.  With an iPhone in your pocket a weekend spent in the great outdoors is nothing like it was when you were a kid. Go grab your camping tent and sleeping bag and see what the world of apps has in store for you.

Audubon Birds Pro

For the bird watcher with a list, this app will help you find them all. It comes with the current AOU Checklist of North American Birds and covers more than 821 species. The app even includes detailed descriptions and photographs in case you are not sure. The unique sounds of different birds are also included to help you identify songs and calls. Migratory maps and updated sightings help to pinpoint which birds may be entering your path. Audobon also makes other outdoorsy apps to help identify everything from bugs to trees.

Project Noah

This is a free app that lets you document all of your sightings while out hiking. There is a share option to connect with others who are using the same app. What makes this one unique is that you can take and upload your own pics and tag them for submission. If you want to add some excitement to your hike there’s also a “Field Missions” section where you are asked to find data for a certain project. If you do go on a mission, make sure to carry a compass in your backpacking backpack. These could take you far into the wilderness.

SAS Survival Guide

SAA is a regiment of the British Army known as The Special Air Service. Their app gives you survival tips for being in the wilderness.  If you are new to hiking and looking for something that could save your life, this is the app for you. This app combines over 400 pages of text with survival videos, photos, and a crash course in morse code. There is also a compass device, unique first aid tips for the wilderness, and a quiz to make sure you got all that down. This is a well designed chock full of top quality useful information.  Whether you are hiking or camping this app will definitely come in handy.

Camp Finder

This is a complete list of over 17,000 campgrounds and RV parks across the U.S.  With a number of filters you can find the perfect spot to pitch your camping tent, at a site that has all of the amenities you want. The app gives detailed and up to date information, photos, and reviews for each campsite that it contains. It is even connected with Google Maps making finding your destination easy. All you need is your sleeping bag and tent along with this app to be well on the way to a campsite you and your family will love.

Even though it is relatively new technology, there will be a day when living without apps would seem impossible. As new ones like these and other outdoor related apps become more widely available, you are going to see a resurgence of interest in enjoying the outdoors.

Top Games For the Wii that Never Got Old

Despite its flaws, the Wii was revolutionary in gaming products. While other systems were busy isolating their players, Wii was busy working on getting people to play together in very interesting ways. The technology was ahead of its time at the time, and there are still plenty of games around that will never grow old or boring.

Lost in Shadow

Jumping from your own shadow is not nearly as fun as trying to jump on to the shadow of a moving platform. This half puzzle half adventure game had us all on the edge of our seats.

Rabbids Go Home

This was like getting to create your own cartoon. The graphics are amazing, and very nickelodeon-ish (think Rugrats) and made the whole premise of running around rampant trying to fill up a shopping cart with junk very addictive.

Wii Fit

Who ever thought that exercise could be fun? Nintendo did and created a whole new generation of kids who actually started getting healthier by playing video games. Xbox doesn’t do that.

Kirby: Return to Dream Land

Four-play mode will never be the same after the Kirby days. The animation is superb, the game play innovative and it encouraged kids to play as a team. This brought back vivid memories of the first Super Mario Bros days.

Mario Party 9

Speaking of the video game icon, Mario Party 9 took our hero on a series of quests to win small tiny stars alongside friends. Same great beat, same great graphics in a more interactive setting to play.

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Klonoa

Don’t let the bright colors fool you. Klonoa has the same dark theme as it did with the Play Station, just with better graphics. Simplistic in its play, this remains a good game for the amateur video gamer.

Matthew’s Bow Hunting

There is a classic The Big Bang Theory Episode of the dweebs playing this game. Sheldon of course has to take it to the limit by pulling his pretend recurve bow and taking aim at the screen. Even stopping to pull another recurve bow arrow out from his imaginary bag on the back. That’s how into this game you get, even in the comfort of your own living room.

Disney Guilty Party

This was a real life mystery that had to be solved fast through a series of mini games that gave you clues. This game was great for teaching kids how to work together alongside their favorite Disney characters.

Animal Crossing: City Folk

Long before the days of Farmville and Cityville, Wii had combined the two into a game that allowed you to bring to life your own little town. What made this even more special was that it was the first game to incorporate voice chat.

Video games come and go, but the great ones never die. Shoot, I still remember saving Zelda on the Nintendo 64. Take out some of the classics you haven’t played in while and remember a time when video games were whimsical and fun.

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What in the World is a Bluetooth?

Bluetooth-Windows-Phone-TransferBluetooth technology is one of those things that has been around for a while, yet many people still don’t realize its many applications. In fact, the average person thinks that Bluetooth is only a device that can be used to make hands free calls from your cell phone. This is true, but there are dozens more ways in which this amazing technology can make your life easier.

Anytime you use your computer, cell phone, tablet or other electronic device you are going to need a way that allows them to communicate with one another. This is usually done with a bunch of cables and wires that connect the devices together to allow information to pass from one to the other. With Bluetooth technology those wires are eliminated and the information is passed seemingly without effort from one device to the other.

Instead of wires, or even infrared signals, Bluetooth uses radio frequency to communicate between devices. This allows it to connect with up to eight devices at a time, with very little strain on the battery. As this technology continues to grow and improve, you will find that your cell phone will begin to automatically communicate with other devices, like your home desk top, making every day tasks simpler for you to perform.

The most common use of this amazing technology is of course through your cell phone. Bluetooth first became a household name when the devices first hit the market in the form of head gear that could communicate directly with your cell phone. This allowed drivers to talk freely on their phones without it interfering with their driving capabilities. That technology quickly expanded, and today can even buy a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet. This provides motorcyclists the safety of  a motorcycle helmet combined with a device that can allow them to easily communicate with other riders, or even call home.

With phones that contain Bluetooth technology, you can have them communicate freely with one another. The technology is so advanced that you can even send photos from one phone to another without having to use any type of wires or even messaging services.

You may think that with the number of devices now available that use Bluetooth they would start to interfere with one another. Imagine what would happen on a crowded subway if this were true. Instead, they take advantage of the large number of radio frequencies available, switching often to avoid crossing paths with other devices. This ensures that they don’t interfere with other devices, such as cordless phones and baby monitors.

As this is a wireless system, a person should be concerned about security with their Bluetooth enabled devices and wary of using them to send any sensitive material. All devices are equipped with security measures that will force the user to consciously have to accept files and information that is being sent from an unknown device or user. This protects your system from potential hacking and gives you the security you want to protect any personal or sensitive data you may be storing.

Over the next decade you are going to see more and more uses applied with Bluetooth, until one day you may be able to control your entire world from your cell phone. This is a refined technology whose full range of possible applications has barely been explored.

Hi-tech Fences for Dogs

Are you looking for the best solution when it comes to keeping your pet at a certain area of your home and at the same time allowing it to roam? If you haven’t installed physical fences on your yard yet and you want to set up a containment system for your pet dog, then one of the best options you may look into are wireless dog fences. Start off by reading EVERYTHING at www.K9FenceReviews.com, they have great info there.

The first thing that may come into your mind is what type of technology makes these wireless dog fences a good option when it comes to keeping your pet safe and setting up a barrier for those places where you cannot allow your pet to roam to.

These wireless dog fences are invisible barriers which enables the pet owner to set a specific range or diameter where the pet can roam without having to encounter safety issues. The technology behind this wireless fence works like a sensor where your pet will be able to roam at a certain range but when it reaches the boundary, your dog will receive a mild shock to remind it to stay where it is supposed to be.

When it comes to configuring these invisible fences you will have to look for the best location where you can place the transmitter depending on the boundaries you want to set for your pet. After setting up the transmitter, it is also essential for you to put the system to test. The transmitter comes with a collar which will be placed on your pet and this is where it receives the signal. You can put the collar on training mode while training your pet to get used to the boundaries.

It is essential to train your pets with this kind of equipment so they can be reminded about the boundaries and so you can keep them safe from harm. Since there is a corrective action with the use of transmitted signals to the pet’s collar, your pet can easily comply with boundaries you set for its safety.

These wireless fences have been tested to work in any particular type of yard or open area where your pets can roam. This minimizes issues with regards to animal cruelty when it comes to using other types of barriers emitting electric shock. Through these wireless dog fences, you can make sure that your dogs are safe from harm even when you are not around.

Brighter And Lighter Than Ever Before!

An industry which has seen tremendous change in the past few years is the flashlight industry. In just a couple of decades, technology has changed so much that a flashlight today can sometimes hardly resemble a flashlight of the past. The introduction of LED lights have made flashlights lighter, brighter and more dependable especially for professionals using them in the field.

nowin8I remember when I was growing up, we had a flashlight in the garage which I literally needed to hands to carry at the time. It was clunky, heavy and required batteries which I am sure are still sitting in landfills somewhere polluting the environment.  Now obviously for a family who needed a flashlight for the odd time the power went out, it wasn’t much of a problem but for people who use flashlights everyday as tools, clunky flashlight just won’t do.

As LED technology became more efficient, flashlight producers began harnessing the potential of LED lights and actually began working to making the lights more and more efficient. For professions requiring a tactical flashlight, LED lights are the only choice as there is no bulb to break in the case that your tactical flashlight is thrown around or damaged in any ways. Plus, LED lights are alot brighter than traditional bulbs and more energy efficient. A high quality tactical flashlight can illuminate over 1000 lumens which can be classified as a spotlight in a lot of cases. The fact that you can temporarily blind someone from a pretty good distance away with a flashlight that fits in the palm of your hand is pretty darn cool.

One of the other awesome features of tactical flashlights in particular is their robustness in regards to being damaged. In the past, military professionals would have complaints about the durability of a tactical flashlight as the bulbs would often break while they were stored in a pack or the shell would crack if it was dropped. Being in the field without a light when the enemy is nearby is not where you want to be.

Tactical flashlights have also become a lot lighter as military professionals are already required to carry so much gear. Ammunitions, razor-sharp tactical knives among other things and a big clunky flashlight just won’t jive for today’s military professional. Today, tactical flashlights are made of aerospace aluminum which goes through a special anodization process to ensure it is both as lightweight and as strong as possible.

Obviously technology will continue to improve and flashlights will continue to get lighter, brighter and more efficient. I imagine we’ll all have the power of a spotlight built into our phones before we know it.

 

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Meat Thermometer Technology

To become a barbecue master, you need to take the guess work out of your cooking. You could have food instincts that are akin to Gordon Ramsay‘s, Jamie Oliver’s and Wolfgang Puck’s combined, but you ain’t going to know the inside temperature of your large piece of meat without a meat thermometer. Because sticking your finger inside certainly won’t work (ouch).

So if you take cooking on your quality smoker from the Barbecue Smoker Guide seriously, you are going to need one of these bad boys.

Seeing as there are tons of the devices on the market, I will narrow your search down by recommending the top 3 best wireless models at the end of this article. So if you’ve got the Best Electric Smoker, don’t consider cooking something on it until you pick one up.

Before that, here’s some general advice on thermometers in general.

What to look for

“Don’t buy a crappy thermometer. Buy the best and you’ll only cry once.” Greg Rempe of the BBQCentral Radio show once said. And he is right. Like with everything, buy something that is cheap and you will likely pay the price sooner or later. Buy something quality that is reliable and it will pay you back over time.

Durability

Therefore, the first and most important aspect to look for is durability. These little babies are going to be exposed to a large helping of grease, extremes of temperature and multiple barbecue sessions. So you don’t want it malfunctioning at the slightest knock.

Speed and accuracy

Another important aspect when choosing your thermometer is the speed and accuracy of it. Accuracy is obviously important as you obviously need an accurate reading on your food temperature. And there can be a small difference between raw and rare-cooked food if you like your food that way, so making sure your device has a reading that is bang on the money is vital.

You need the speed because to plunge the probe into your cooking food, you are often sticking your arm in a hot oven. So you don’t want a model that takes so long to read the temp that your arm starts cooking in the oven in the process.

Thickness

To plunge the probe into thick pieces of meat, you are going to want a stainless-steel model that is also thick enough to not buckle under the force. So don’t buy skinny, plastic models or they can snap off it plunged into thick pieces of cooking meat.

Here are the top 3 wireless thermometers on the market today, considering price and performance:

Taylor Digital Thermometer

This little gem is battery operated via a simple on/off switch. You also won’t have any problem probing your big bits of meat with this thermometer as it features a four-foot long stainless-steel probe. The probe is connected to the monitor via a special cable that is long and durable enough so that you can close the oven door with the probe inside and read the temp without heat blazing over your face from an open oven door. Pretty handy. The temperature range is 30 to 395F.

CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate

With the ProAccurate the monitor is attached to the probe itself so won’t be able to read temperatures while not opening the door. Well you could try and leave the device inside and read the monitor through the oven glass…actually don’t. You won’t need to actually as one of the selling points of this one is it delivers temperature readings in 3-6 seconds. Most thermometers take around 1 minute.

This pocket-sized gadget is also shatterproof and waterproof and thin enough to probe thin cuts of meat, fish or poultry.

Pyrex Digital Probe Oven Thermometer

Like a combination of the two above, this battery-operated thermometer with oven-safe probe keeps track of internal temperature in fahrenheit and celsius degrees. It also has a Timer alarm for when your food is ready.