Category: Gear

Smart Belt Will Tighten, Loosen, and Track Data

Posted on Jan 16, 2015 by 1 Comment

I think we are living in a world where technology is getting smarter and people who use it learn to think less. Let’s face it, we don’t need to know phone numbers anymore because our phones remember them for us.

This week, I also saw new technology for smart insoles equipped with GPS so you can know where your loved ones are. This is marketed for use with people who have Alzheimer’s and autistic children.

And the latest contraption is a belt that self adjusts. If you eat too much it loosens, and it tracks how active you are. This one is called “Belty,” and it adjusts as you stand or sit.

The company that makes it is based in Paris, France. It’s already won awards for innovation in the wearable category, but the prototype isn’t very attractive. However, the company has already paired up with a top leather manufacturer and now that they’ve made the belt smart, they are working its style.

The Belty “collects data with a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, then syncs wirelessly with a mobile app. This means it can track your waistline over time, keep tabs on your exercise, or check how much you sit and suggest you take a walk if you get too sedentary.”

Manufacturers are already calling the smart belt a luxury product. Personally, I think people who can afford luxury products might want to invest in a personal trainer rather than to rely on a belt to tell them to go take a walk.

But before you take my advice, I confess that I tend to be reluctant to embrace new technology that can snoop on my personal life. This smart belt gives me flashbacks of the computer HAL in 2001 Space Odyssey.

HAL became self-aware and decided what was best for the humans, and they couldn’t deactivate HAL because it knew everything they were doing. If you never saw the movie, let’s just say it didn’t bode well for the humans.

Maybe a better example is the movie Jaws. Remember how people wouldn’t go swimming after that movie came out? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about wearable technology that can track my waist size and how sedentary I am.

What if the technology malfunctions? That could be a whole story in itself, in the horror genre probably, where the government requires us to wear something like this. They could use it like a shock collar (only around our waist) to make sure we’re active enough and not gaining weight.

For now, I think I can handle loosening and tightening my belt. I don’t need a belt to tell me I’m gaining weight, because actually my jeans tell me that. At least for the moment, I choose to be smarter than a belt.

For those who like the idea of a smart belt, the Belty will be available by the end of 2015.

Photo credits: NewsyTech

Link Round-up: Achieving Your Goals, a Movie Review, Cosmetics, and More

Posted on Jan 1, 2015 by 2 Comments

Today’s link round-up has a movie review, tips for achieving your goals, and more.

Muslin and Merlot showed us how to make a book safe.

Thrifty Jinxy reviewed Into the Woods.

A Beautiful Mess shared part three of how to stay motivated to achieve your goals.

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Happiness Is Homemade shared a fun craft to do with the kids—making glittery snowflake sun catchers.

Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons shared a New Year’s cookie clock pop idea.

My Newest Addiction shared some cosmetics shades that match the Pantone color of the year.

Create Craft Love shared a chalkboard calendar printable.

Photo credit: Muslin and Merlot and Happiness Is Homemade

Link Round-up: Glow Bowl, Fluffernutter Pie, Hair How-To, Christmas, and More

Posted on Dec 4, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has a DIY glow bowl, graham cracker houses, a hair how-to, ways to use your smart device for Christmas, and more.

 Homemade Interest showed us how to make banana fluffernutter pie and graham cracker houses.

Chocolate Covered Katie shared a Vitamix giveaway that ties in with the release of her new book.

A Beautiful Mess showed us a natural hair how-to with two strand twists.

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Muslin and Merlot showed us how to make a glow bowl.

Homemaking Hacks gave us clever ways to use a smart device for the holidays.

A Mom’s Take taught us how to make a reindeer out of a towel to use as a Christmas gift.

The DIY Dreamer taught us how to make deer wood slice ornaments.

Photo credit: Homemade Interest and Muslin and Merlot

Roku 2 SX

Posted on Nov 26, 2014 by No Comments

In the past, if you wanted to watch a movie you either had to hit up the nearest video rental store, swing by the closest Redbox or maybe order a DVD online and wait for it to show up and then wait another 6 months, like me, before finding the time to watch it.

Basically, you were so exhausted from the waiting that by the time you got the damn DVD, you were over it.

Then someone invented Roku, the original streaming player. I just got one of these. I love it.

Millions of people use Roku to choose what they want to watch instantly. Whether you’re in to exploring over 700 channels and hundreds of thousands of movies and shows, delving into what really interests you, or just stumbling across something new, Roku makes it happen easily, instantly and affordably.

Movie night will never be the same.

We have used the Apple TV in the past and loved it and we have also used the WD live, which we also loved, but the Roku is compact, easy to use and is a great addition to our collection.

It takes it to the next level because it’s like cable television, Netflix, Hulu, a gaming system and your computer all bundled together in one small package that’s the size of a hockey puck.

The top-of-the-line Roku 2 XS, the one I own, delivers the best experience in 1080p HD streaming to your TV plus motion-based gaming for an extra dose of great entertainment.

Product Features

600+ channels and growing. Movies and TV shows from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, VUDU and HBO GO, plus live sports, music, news, international, and more, up to 1080p HD.

Game-ready remote. Motion control for playing games and full version of Angry Birds.

One-stop search. Find your favorite movies and TV shows all from one place—no matter if they’re on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video or Hulu Plus.

Free iOS and Android app. Use it like a remote. Browse and add new channels. Even stream your music and photos from your phone or tablet to your TV.

More connectivity options. Includes Ethernet for wired connection and USB for playing music, photos and videos.

The easiest setup. Works with virtually any TV, includes built-in wireless and sets up in minutes.

Roku is the smallest streaming player . It is the size of a hockey puck, streams silently and uses less power than a night-light.

More and more streaming choices

With over 600 entertainment channels and counting, Roku 2 has something for virtually everyone, including:

  • Over 150,000 movies and TV shows at your fingertips from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, VUDU and more
  • Unlimited music from Pandora, MOG, Rid and Live365.
  • Live sports packages.
  • Photo and video sharing via Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa.
  • The top news sources, including MSNBC, Fox News, and WSJ

Roku 2 also brings games to your TV:

  • Enhanced Bluetooth remote features sensors to support motion-based game play, as well as game-ready buttons to support furious button action.
  • Available games include the Angry Birds series, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Storm in a Teacup.
  • Includes a FREE full version of the Angry Birds game! You can play Angry Birds on a device that is actually large enough for you to see what you are doing. I’ve been using it in our media room. Those birds are as big as I am and I love it. My scores have went through the roof.
  • Built-in MicroSD slot makes it easy to add additional storage for hundreds more games in the future.

Photo Source: Roku

Link Round-up: Superheroes, Churro Bites, Date Ideas, and More

Posted on Oct 16, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has date night ideas, churro bites, a cute Superman and Batman craft, and more.

About Family Crafts showed us how to make duct tape bracelets.

A writer at Mind Body Green shared how she found the clarity to leave her unhappy marriage.

Tone It Up shared fun date night ideas you can do with your significant other or girlfriends.

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Muslin and Merlot showed us how to style two scarves at once.

Living Well Spending Less kicked off a challenge—31 day to a clutter-free life.

Around My Family Table taught us how to make churro bites.

Crafts by Amanda shared some comic book craft ideas.

Photo credit: About Family Crafts and Muslin and Merlot

How Much of Your Shopping Do You Do Online?

Posted on Sep 19, 2014 by 4 Comments

Are any of you old enough to remember catalog shopping? I can remember the Sears Christmas catalog coming in the mail somewhere in late September or early October. It always signaled to me that Santa was on his way.

There was something about lying on the floor in front of the crackling fire and studying each page intently, carefully circling each thing that I hoped Santa would consider putting under my tree. That probably took up several hours a week for weeks on end.

After Christmas that collection of wonder was added to the shelf with the magazines that I could cut pictures out of for my various projects.

Well, now you can access almost any kind of store with a few taps on the keyboard. As long as you have a credit or debit card you can buy what you need and have it in your hands within just a few days without ever leaving the house.

It used to be that I had to drive forty miles to a bakery supply to buy things like non-diastatic malt powder for bagel making and other artisan breads. Now I can just go straight to my favorite baking site and max my cards out. Clothes, shoes, books, and even groceries are available 24/7.

It’s crazy. I’d never have to leave my house. In fact, I am just so lucky that I have a family because if I was alone, with working at home, the ability to shop and pay bills online, and my introverted personality I would never leave my bedroom. I have even grocery shopped online and had it delivered when one of our local stores provided that service.

Do you like shopping online? More importantly, do you think it saves you time?

photo credit: StormKatt via photopin cc

Link Round-up: Delicious Snacks, Slow Cooker Tacos, a Backyard Playground, and More

Posted on Sep 4, 2014 by 5 Comments

Today’s link round-up has delicious snacks, some slow cooker tacos, and more.

Chocolate Covered Katie showed us how to make homemade Clif bars.

Choosing Raw taught us how to make caramel mocha bars.

About a Mom taught us how to make cute cereal box notebooks.

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Kenarry showed us how to build a backyard playground.

Belle of the Kitchen shared a recipe for slow cooker salsa chicken tacos.

The Michigan Mom shared tips for changing your mindset.

A Simple Pantry shared a recipe for a pumpkin spice latte with marshmallows.

Photo credit: Chocolate Covered Katie and Kenarry

Link Round-up: Keep Your Laptop Safe, Fridge Scrabble, Snacks, and More

Posted on Sep 2, 2014 by 3 Comments

Today’s link round-up has tips for keeping your laptop safe, a way to play Scrabble on the fridge, snacks, and more.

Aunt Peaches showed us a cute seating card display ideas—it uses paintchips.

What the Fork Food Blog showed us how to make homemade peach ice cream.

Southern Girl Ramblings taught us how to make pumpkin cheesecake bars.

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Chocolate Covered Katie shared a recipe for secretly healthy chocolate fudge balls.

A Simple Pantry showed us how to make spicy cilantro lime popcorn.

About a Mom shared some tips for keeping your laptop safe.

I Love to Create Blog showed us how to set up an ongoing Scrabble game on the fridge.

Photo credit: Aunt Peaches and Chocolate Covered Katie

The App Generation

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by No Comments

The App Generation is a book by Professors Howard Gardner and Katie Davis.  The book examines life before digital media and life since. How has life changed for children born after digital media?

I’ve wondered this myself, as I have two children born after digital media had become the standard. They have no idea what it is like to live in a world where instant gratification was not the norm. They don’t understand a world without MP3s, Instagram, iPhones with cameras, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

When I was in college, the Internet was still new and mostly I used my computer for school emails and writing papers. I still used encyclopedias for research. The things I could have done with Google in the late 90’s.

Back then, cellphones were a luxury and by luxury I mean hardly anyone my age had them and those of us who did, seldom actually used them because cellphone plans were outrageously priced. I don’t even think texting existed back then. That’s what pagers were for because who could afford to waste cellphone minutes?

No one has failed to notice that the current generation of youth is deeply and totally involved with digital media. Professors Howard Gardner and Katie Davis name today’s young people The App Generation, and in their book they explore what it means to be “app-dependent” versus “app-enabled” and how life for this generation differs from life before the digital era.

How many of us parents can remember, once the Internet was common for everyone to use, how easy it made life?

For instance, I no longer have to wait when my brain is stumped on what the name is of that actor who nobody can remember. I just type in the clues and Google figures it out. I no longer have to pour over cookbooks for hours, I can just type in the ingredients I have and voila, a recipe appears. In fact, I no longer have to wait for anything.

Gardner and Davis are concerned with three vital areas of adolescent life: identity, intimacy, and imagination. Our children are losing these capabilities because they no longer need them.

Through innovative research, including interviews of young people, focus groups of those who work with them, and a unique comparison of youthful artistic productions before and after the digital revolution, the authors uncover the drawbacks of apps: they may foreclose a sense of identity, encourage superficial relations with others and stunt creative imagination. These all become too easy when you are sitting behind a screen instead of interacting face-to-face.

On the other hand, benefits of apps are equally compelling: they can promote a strong sense of identity, allow deep relationships, and stimulate creativity. For instance, you are freer to be who you are and more likely to find a community of your peers when your pool of people is the entire Internet versus just the 200 people that attend your high school.

Sometimes intimacy is easier when you don’t have to look someone in the eye because you don’t have that immediate sense of rejection and reaction.

The challenge is to figure out the best ways that apps can be used in your life. Like everything else, it is up to us to make the most of what we have access to.

Do you think life was better before digital media or after?

Photo Source: Amazon