Technology and Gadget News and Reviews

The latest and greatest in the tech world


How to Make Your Own Beard Balm

Beards have become all the rage, featured in movies, TV and magazine covers. Since these all always look pristine and perfect, we started thinking about what these guys are doing right, that we are doing wrong. What we found during our research is that it is all in the balm.

GeorgeIf you don’t want to have a beard like Grizzly Adams, but rather one that is properly styled, nice to the touch and good to look at, then you are going to have to follow some steps. There is a lot more to beard grooming tips then how to trim it, as you can see by visiting www.optimusbarba.com, just as you need to take care of the hair on top of your head.

Once you have chosen a beard style, and it has started to grow in, you will need to trim it back to keep it from going crazy. This is where those beard grooming tips do come in handy as they will help guide you on the right way to use a trimmer to get the style you want.

Now That Beard Balm Thing

This seems to be the secret behind a beards success, as it magically is able to help hold a beard’s style, condition the whiskers and moisturize the skin underneath. How is this possible? Well we checked out a recipe on line to see what it was made up of to find out.

The ingredients we found were:

  • Shea butter
  • Jojoba oil or sweet almond oil
  • Argan oil
  • Vitamin E
  • Vanilla essential oil – to make it smell nice

But the secret ingredient is beeswax. That’s right, those little buggers are producing an ingredient that helps to keep a beard in perfect condition. It’s texture is perfect for smoothing down the hairs and holding them in place so that even the scraggliest of beards looks great.

The other ingredients work as moisturizers and the essential vitamins your hairs need to stay healthy. Equally important are those that go down to the skin, and keep it moisturized so that dandruff doesn’t form. That’s right, in our studies we found out that dandruff is not exclusive to the head.

So the next time you hear a lady swoon over a beard, think about what you are missing out on and start growing one of your own. It takes time, patience and work, but in the end it will be worth it.

Product Review – The High Tech Air Oil Less Deep Fryer

I completely understand the basic principles behind cooking fried food. Heat up a large amount of a heat conductor – cooking oil – insert food and that heat conducting oil transfers the heat to your food, cooking the inside and perfectly browning the outer portion. You don’t really need to be a computer genius like me to get that concept, although it does help. What I didn’t get, and had to try for myself, was getting that same result without the oil as the conductor.

That is in reference to these newer kitchen appliances called “air fryers”. Even the name was confusing at first and caused me to have to go and check some review sites to find out what that meant. To save you that trouble I will tell you that an air fryer (sometimes referred to as an oil less fryer) uses convection heat technology to get the same cooking effect as deep frying does, without the fat and the mess.

What is Convection Heat?

In terms of cooking, convection usually means the distribution of hot hair using a fan so that the temperature is consistent during the cooking period. This tends to make the cooking vessel hotter, allowing the food inside to cook faster. The heat created can be intense, which is why it does such a good job of quickly sealing food the way a traditional deep fryer will do.

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Traditional deep fryer.

How to Use the Air Fryer

During my experiments with this new kitchen counter appliance I learned a few tricks. First of all, don’t take that oil less part too literally. A cut up potato will taste nothing like a French fry if you just throw it into the air oil less deep fryer. Why? Because it lacks the flavor that cooking oil brings to the table. So invest in a small cooking brush, and apply a light coat of oil to the food before putting it inside of the fryer. Add some spice to that oil to jazz it up. This was another trick I learned. Since I no longer had to care about making oil dirty as spices just flew off into it, I was able to jazz up the food more than normal.

The only downside was with batter fried recipes. It worked, just not close enough to the consistency of an oil fryer for me to get overly excited about it.

Why tech savvy review of this kitchen gadget? Well worth the small investment if you want fried food tasting food without the mess and the extra calories. If that doesn’t bother you, than stick with what you have.

Click here for more techy product reviews.

How To Make Money From Your Online Singing Class

We joked about singing lessons online recently, along with some other off the wall classes. But then it was brought to our attention that while there are not too many Beyonce’s learning to sing online, people who do have success with the class can find other methods besides fame and stardom to make a little cash off of what they have learned.

If your online singing class only goes to show what you’ve always known – that you have a penchant for singing- you have a number of ways to harness that talent and make a decent living long before you become a Grammy nominee.

Sing Songwriters Demos

Many of the world’s biggest musical hits were written by someone who can’t carry a tune. It is just as hard for a talented song writer to get noticed in the biz as it is for a singer like you. You can help each other by getting to show off your vocal talents to original and well written musical lyrics.

The songwriter will pay anywhere from $25 to a $100 for each song , and will take charge of sending the demos off to the right people. To get noticed for these types of gigs, create your own demo and then leave your details at local recording studios.

Throw a Skype Concert

Some people have gone on to small online fame using live Skype concerts. For a small fee viewers can be entertained by your singing right in your own home.

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This is a real thing…Skype Concerts!

Sing for Schools

Grade schools love to have live entertainment stop by for a visit, and many will even pay you a small fee. Make it interesting by interacting with the kids and encouraging participation and before long your singing talents will be sought after.

Sing Ads

Think of the number of jingles that you associate with products. 99.99% of those are not being sung by the likes of Celine Dion. Amateurs like you are making big bucks by getting booked to sing for major ad campaigns. You will need a demo and show up for auditions, but if you have the right vocal chords, this could be a lucrative career opportunity.

Learning to sing online with the help of sites like www.musicaltraininghq.com does not just have to be a fun past time. If you have the talent and don’t mind putting in the effort, you can easily find a way to put your new found skill to work for you.

Beard Trimming Tips? There’s an App for That!

There really is no end to the ideas you can come up with for an app that will appeal to a large number of people. Shopping, cooking, directions, and now even personal hygiene tips can all be accessed right from your iPhone. Have apps gotten out of control, or is there really a segment of the population that needs to know right now, the best way to trim their beard?

Now don’t get us wrong, we love a good app as much as the next guy, but there has to be some point where we cross the line from useful to desperate. It’s cool that you can get coupons right from your phone while you are shopping, but couldn’t it wait ‘til you get home to learn how to best trim your beard?

I posed this question to a friend, thinking that I had come up with the genius thought of the century, and he said “but what if you are at the barber and wanted to see different beard styles first?”  Hhmm… condendrum. The more I tried to throw bad app ideas his way, the more logical his explanations became. Product reviews? Maybe you are in the middle of Walmart and want to know which beard trimmer gets the best customer feedback.

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The truth is you never where or when you are going to have a sudden need, need not want, to access vital information to you. And vital information is different for everyone, which is why apps have become so popular. The trick is in finding that niche, that one area that no one else has considered yet.

That is the key behind the success of an app that gives you tips on how to trim your beard, or reviews on which beard trimmer gives the closest shave. Maybe you are at the barber and thinking about changing from a full beard to something more sleek, or maybe you are at the bar with your buddies and need to clear up a bet about the name of the beard the bartender is sporting. You just never know when the need for info is going to come up.

I know I still dream of that light bulb moment when an idea for an app pops into view. One that no one else has ever considered before, but will be like the aglet (those plastic pieces on the end of your shoelace) where people are slapping their foreheads and cursing because they didn’t think of it first.

So keep up with your app ideas, ‘cause there is still money to be made. I know I was slapping my forehead when I first heard about the beard trimmer apps, but one day soon, I’ll come up with my own.

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.

Click here to learn about other amazing technological advances.

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.

waterpik

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.

Click here for more information on gaming fun.