Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts

Friend Compass - iPhone/Android Travel App Review



Barely a day passes without a news story emerging online or in a newspaper about a new advance in technology or social media that makes our lives more connected, fun or efficient.
One of the newest kids on the block in this respect is Friend Compass which has been created by travel search engine company momondo. Whilst there are other apps out there that either find flights for you or show where on earth your friends are at that particular moment in time, Friend Compass claims to be the first app that combines both functionalities.
The app will work out what city all of your Facebook friends are in, and then provide you with a list of flights from your current location to theirs.
The first question to ask about this app is, why exactly do we need this type of functionality? Well, with the Global Village seemingly growing smaller all the time, it's not unusual to have friends in a vast and diverse array of different cities and countries.
Now, when you get that urge to go and see them in person, it's that much easier to work out in an instant how much it will cost you and when you can get there. Is it the most important advance in the history of technology? Certainly not, but having tried out the app, it's definitely a very neat idea that is impressively executed.
What are the alternatives though, if Friend Compass doesn't float your boat? Well, as we mentioned above, this is the first app to combine these two functions, so you're going to have to use two separate apps to get the same results.
In terms of location apps, it's probably fair to say that Foursquare is still by far the most popular choice. It's the sort of app that people either love or hate, and we're sure that you know which camp you fall into at this stage, as it has been on the market for years now.
Beyond that, there's surprisingly few other location apps out there. Google actually retired their Foursquare-type offering, Latitude, in the middle of last year, suggesting that enthusiasm for such apps is on the wane. As such, if Foursquare isn't your thing, you may enjoy using Friend Compass as an alternative just for its location functionality.
Overall, Friend Compass is a nicely executed and novel twist on a couple of well established ideas. We don't expect that it will develop into one of those 'must have' apps, but it seems likely that it will find its niche with people who have a large network of friends around the world and like to visit them often. If that's you, then Friend Compass will be a dream come true, and we'd suggest you get over to the App Store or Google Play as soon as possible to get it installed on your device!
Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ion: A Music Detecting Mood Light with Bluetooth Low Energy


Anyone looking to add a little mood to their environment whilst listening to music might be interested in a new and very unique lighting system called the Ion.
The Ion is equipped with Bluetooth low energy connectivity allowing you to control it directly from your smartphone or tablet device. The Ion light responds to music and has a number of different modes for you to choose choose from. learn more in the video after the jump.
“ION’s genesis began with our first Kickstarter project, Ember & Torch (Bluetooth Low Energy development boards) back in June of 2013. One of the demonstrations for Ember that we built was an app-controlled LED lamp.”
“We demonstrated Ember, Torch, and the LED lamp at Social Media Day Detroit 2013. We quickly discovered that visitors were more interested in where they could purchase the lamp than Ember & Torch. Due to this overwhelming positive response to the lamp, we knew it was time to take it to the next level and create a consumer product. ION was born.
When setting out to build ION, we wanted to create something fun and beautiful. We love light and music, so we knew our device had to incorporate both. We’ve been working to push the boundaries of what can be done with LED lighting, and we’re very excited to showcase our creation.
Throughout the last nine months, we’ve developed 3 different designs of ION, and each time we’ve raised the bar.”
The Ion Light project is currently over on the Kickstarter crowd funding website looking to raise enough pledges to make the jump from concept to production. So if you think Ion Light is something you could benefit from, visit the Kickstarter website now to make a pledge and help Ion Light become a reality.”
Source: Kickstarter

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Starbucks iOS App Will Let You Tip Your Barista


Starbucks have announced that next week they will be rolling out a new update to their iOS application in the US, UK and Canada with new features that will enable customers to leave a tip for the Starbucks barista ranging from $.50 to $2 directly from their mobile device.
The new Starbucks iOS application will be launching on March 19th 2014 and will allow customers to request the application send them push notifications after paying at Starbucks with a reminder to tip the barista.
The Starbucks iOS application will then provide users with a two-hour window to decide on how much they would like to tip. Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman explained that Starbucks customers have been requesting the tipping feature for some time and explained “We think it’s going to be great for our baristas,”.
Currently there are more than 10 million active users enjoying the Starbucks mobile applications and Starbucks says that it processes over 11 percent of its transactions are made by customers using mobile applications translating to around 5 million every week.
Source: Forbes
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Five Gadgets Your Kitchen Simply Must Have

Between pots, pans, and baking trays, the creativity of making something in the kitchen can quickly devolve into feeling chore-like, especially as keeping the kitchen organised can become a nightmare. Here are five appliances that will help keep things fresh, interesting, and in no way mundane.



Fridgepad for iPad

First is an item that functions both as utility and entertainment. Looking up recipes on a tablet is easy enough, but keeping on track with a recipe while avoiding grease, oil, and any foodstuffs on your counter can be a big issue. Thankfully, there's Fridgepad.
This magnetised board will stick onto your fridge and keep your iPad in place up there, whether you want it on to read a recipe, watch a movie, or listen to some music. It's convenient and out of the way, all the while giving you all the benefits a connected media device can give you. Brilliant. 







Soda Maker

There's been many a time when I've come from work or yoga and felt like a soft drink to cool down, only to open the fridge and find I hadn't bought any this week. Soda Makers are still around, and better than ever, and they'll make sure you never have to worry about that again.
On top of that, some soda maker, er..., makers, like SodaStream, create machines by which you can adjust how much syrup to use, or how fizzy you want your drinks to be, as well as offering a huge amount of flavours. This will ensure that whatever you're in the mood for, you don't have to go out and buy a big, fat bottle of it.





Pasta Pot

Cleaning a strainer with oil clinging to it every time you make pasta can be a huge hassle. I mean, seriously, why won't hot water, soap, and some intense scrubbing still do nothing? Anyway, my cleaning dilemmas aside, these pasta pots provide the solution.
With a lock-on lid that is perforated with teeny little holes, you can strain your pasta, or anything you're boiling, without even having to remove it from the pot. That means you can then also just chuck in sauce or cheese right into the pot, without having to get a separate bowl. So much cleaning that you just won't have to do!





Ice-Cream Maker

Here's another handy, home-made solution to your sweet cravings! Whether you're after ice-cream or soft-serve there's a solution out there for you. Much like Soda Makers, there's a heap of flavours available, and should you choose to mix the two, you can even get creative with some great ice-cream floats!
It's also a simple and fun way to have fun with your kids.





I Could Eat A Horse Spaghetti Measure

This is probably the simplest, yet cleverest, gadget on the list. The “I Could Eat a Horse” spaghetti measure solves that endless mystery of how many people your handful of spaghetti will feed. The portions outlined on the measure are what would feed a child, a woman, a man, and, of course, the proverbial horse. It's seriously worth having just for the quirky factor, but it's also super handy.



    Author Bio:
    Jenny Gonzalez loves to decorate her home, and when she isn't doing that, she loves to write about doing it! She's always checking out Flexirent for the latest nifty gadgets and technology. 
    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Get Fit With Your Phone



    Modern smartphones are far more than just devices that allow you to send and receive calls. Our phones are an extension of our personalities and a part of our everyday lives. Many of us modify our phones with personalised phone cases, ringtones and wallpapers, but have you ever thought about how you can make your phone a part of your day-to-day life?

    There are apps for almost every purpose, from forum tracking and photo management to health and fitness. The most common fitness apps are calorie trackers and exercise loggers, but there are other fitness aids too. Here’s a quick look at some of the most interesting ways you can get fit using your phone.


    Track your heart rate


    Did you know that your phone’s camera can be used as a makeshift heart rate monitor? There are many heart rate apps that will measure your heart rate for you. These apps aren’t quite as good as traditional heart rate monitors, since you have to stop what you are doing and place your finger over the camera to measure your pulse, but they’re still much more convenient than counting beats yourself.


    Go for a run


    Apps such as RunKeeper are ideal for fitness devotees, but if you want to turn your exercise into a game so that you can stay motivated there are more interesting alternatives. You could play Zombies, Run! – a fun fitness game which tasks you with going on supply runs and avoiding zombies in your area. Or, if you just want something to encourage you to move around, but don’t feel like running, why not go Geocaching or play Ingress, a free game from Google that makes you explore landmarks in your local area.



    Log your progress


    Losing weight and getting in shape is much easier if you can see how far you’ve come. Log your fitness level, motivation, weight and key measurements in the Bodybuilding.com app, which integrates with your online BodySpace account. The app also lets you upload progress photographs, and browse the Bodybuilding forums. Talking to like-minded people is a great way to stay motivated.

    Fitocracy



    Turn all of your fitness into a game by logging how much exercise you get on Fitocracy. The Fitocracy app awards you with points for completing exercises. Once you earn a certain number of points, you level up. Excel at certain activities and you earn badges. The points and badges are just for fun, but you can compete against friends, or even form groups and engage in mini competitions against other groups to earn the highest levels. Fitocracy turns every fitness related activity into a game, and the badge system is a great way to find new exercises to try.





    Author Bio:
    With an interest in digital marketing, fitness and technology Monika Grzankowska regularly shares his knowledge and tips on various blogs, including Mr Nutcase 
    Friday, February 7, 2014

    The Top Technologies That Will Help With Lifestyle Design




    Tim Ferriss is the author of the book 'The Four Hour Workweek', a highly successful tome in the self-help niche and one that has inspired countless new entrepreneurs to start working less and living life more. Ferriss' argument is that you don't need to be tied to a desk 9-5 staring at a computer and getting shouted at in order to make a living, and that you should be living life to the fullest now rather than waiting for that day when you retire or happen to win the lottery. He advises against 'fear disguises as optimism' and recommends making changes to your life that will help you to create a lifestyle that works for you and gives you more time to enjoy the things that are important to you.

    One of the key elements in creating such a lifestyle is the smart use of technology – and Ferriss thus explains in the book how you can use a number of technologies in order to automate your work flow, manage your money, work remotely and more. Here we will look at some of the technologies you can use to do that, both those listed in his book and those that he neglected to mention…



    VAS


    VAS stands for 'Virtual Assistant Services' and is one of the big topics that Ferriss focusses on in the book. Essentially, a virtual assistant is someone who charges a relatively small fee in order to take on all manner of odd jobs for you that can be completed by e-mail. Normally this means paying $40 or so a week/month in exchange for x-number of e-mails and calls.
    What can you do with such a service? Well pretty much anything you don't want to do yourself: including contacting potential new clients, releasing press releases about your new product, calling people you need to interview, or sorting through your e-mails and flagging up only the most important items. This can save you countless items and when used correctly is more than worth the money.



    IFTTT



    IFTTT is one that doesn't get a mention in Ferriss' book, but which is highly useful for automating aspects of your lifestyle. Essentially IFTTT stands for 'If This, Then That' and allows you to create small routines that work across your various social networks and other online services.
    For example, you could organise your DropBox to automatically download any pictures you are tagged in on Facebook, or you could get your Twitter to post messages that you write on Facebook. You can get it to e-mail you tomorrow's weather, and generally you can do a whole range of other cool things that automate annoying online tasks and save you a ton of time.



    EverNote

    Ferriss recommends that one way to save yourself time is to write one to-do list at the end of each day. This way you can work through items the next day without wasting time thinking about what needs to get done.
    What he doesn't mention is what a great app EverNote is for doing just that. The best part of EverNote is just how many different platforms it's supported by – which means that no matter what kind of phone you have you can make your note on there and then see it on your computer as soon as you wake up the next day. I use a Galaxy Note 3 which allows me to take hand written notes very nicely.



    Spotify



    How does Spotify help you to get the lifestyle you want? Well, technologies like this allow you to do away with physical products such as CDs. This then frees up much more space in your home, which at the same time will free up more time as you have fewer items to look after and maintain. It also means that if you ever want to consider moving to Toronto on a whim you will be able to much more easily. And then once you're out there, you'll be able to sit in the sun and listen to your whole music collection that you didn't have to pack or bring with you…






    Author Bio:
    The contributor of this article, Evan Adams, is an employee at Tender Touch Moving Company, leading commercial movers Toronto. Evan is fitness enthusiast and strictly follows his exercise routine.
    Monday, February 3, 2014

    5 Gadgets That Can Boost Your Fitness Goals In 2014



    Reaching a fitness goal can be quite difficult without the proper help. One thing that a lot of people do is make use of a variety of gadgets specifically designed to help them meet their fitness goals. These types of gadgets will help tremendously when it comes to reaching your ideal weight and performance in order to look and feel better about yourself. Considering there are a wide range of fitness gadgets on the market, it is a good idea to take a look at five of them that can help you stay on track.



    1. Pedometers

    A pedometer is a small tracking gadget that gets clipped to your pants or belt. It will actually measure the amount of steps that you take in a day as a way to tell you how much you're walking. For individuals who want to become more active, the pedometer is a wonderful gadget to have because it helps you to see how you're improving as far as movement goes.






    2. Calorie Counters

    Small calorie counting devices can be worn like a bracelet or watch and they allow you to input the amount of calories you're consuming in a day to keep on track. When you wear this type of gadget, it helps you to always remember how much you've eaten so that you can stay within your estimated calorie allotment for the day.






    3. Fitness Bracelets

    Fitness bracelets are great because they can be directly linked with your tablet or smartphone device that has a fitness app downloaded onto it. The fitness bracelet can track the amount of activity you're getting in a day to see if you are improving your fitness goals and reaching them on a daily basis.






    4. Waterproof Headphones

    Waterproof headphones are a great idea for anyone who does a lot of swimming or running and doesn't want water or sweat damaging the headphones in their ears. These types of products can be submerged into water so that they last a long time without any issues. A lot of people who swim for fitness are finding these types of products to be a worthwhile investment for their daily life.






    5. Muscle Stimulators

    If this is your thing, take a look at shopcompex.com. They offer a muscle stimulating unit that can be attached directly to muscles on the body and pulsate to stimulate them. This helps athletes who are in need of muscle recovery or for warming up the muscles without having to do a variety of different exercises. This type of gadget is a fantastic option for anyone who does a lot of intense workouts and needs a little extra stimulation to their muscles to keep them warmed-up and stretched.




    Having the right gadgets for your fitness goals can help tremendously because of how beneficial these products can be for you. There are a lot of different types of products on the market, so choosing one that works well for you and your budget can help you reach those goals and feel better while doing it. Since many people struggle to lose weight or get to the gym on their own, it is a good idea to get motivated by making use of some of the best gadgets on the market.




    Author Bio:
    Dave White is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running marathons and playing soccer as much as he can. Dave recommends CoachingSoccerConditioning.com for any soccer enthusiasts looking to improve their game.
    Saturday, February 1, 2014

    How to Save Money Heating Your Office

    With twenty percent of workplace energy costs going towards heating up our work spaces, the wise and prudent office manager is always looking for ways to keep the temperature budget under control. These simple tips can help you save money while keeping staff and clients comfortable.




    Lock the Thermostat

    Every worker has a different idea of what a comfortable temperature is for the office. One worker's "just right" might make another worker feel like they're on a polar expedition. Unfortunately, this usually leads to quiet battles over the thermostat as worker's "correct" the temperature and cold workers often compensate by bumping up the heat to tropical levels. This means heating appliances are working harder to keep up with the thermostat changes rather than maintaining a steady temperature.

    Every degree of temperature represents a ten percent increase in heating costs. Avoid the temperature wars by setting the thermostat for a steady twenty degrees Celsius and installing a locking cover.




    Use Space Heaters

    Most offices have some colder areas out of the way of the heat flow vents. Rather than turn up the heat for the whole office, use small space heaters to warm the staff that are feeling the cold. Encourage the staff in these areas to bring cardigans and give them a proper space to keep the extra layers.

    Make sure that money isn't wasted by running space heaters more than is necessary. Gently remind staff to turn off heating appliances when they leave an area. Better yet, use electrical timers to automatically shut off space heaters at regular intervals.




    Review Your Heating Zones

    Large work spaces are often divided into heating zones, each zone having separate thermostats which affect separate heating and ventilation fans. Turning up a thermostat on the side wall may do nothing for the nearby workers, but may send more hot air out the front door. Understanding your heating zones means that you can make more informed decisions about your office heating needs. Have a heating professional review your zones and ensure that they are set up efficiently.




    Use a Timer on the Thermostat

    Set the thermostat timer to shut off the heat half an hour before employees go home and to turn it back on half an hour before they arrive. If your office tends to heat up uncomfortably in the afternoon as the sun shines in, then use the timer to allow temperatures to drop beforehand. This will help moderate the office temperature and may even cut down on air conditioning as well as heating bills.




    Keep Windows and Doors Closed

    On cold days, the air pressure inside a warm office is higher than outside. When doors and windows are opened, heat quickly leaves the building. Keep office windows closed and reduce the number of doors in active use. Install automatic door closers on all outside doors and, if possible, lock one side of double doors so that visitors only open one door.




    Let the Sun Shine in, but Close the Blinds before Sunset

    Take advantage of our best source of heat. Opening the blinds in late afternoon can raise the office temperature by several degrees. This may provide enough energy that heating appliances can stay off late in the day. Just remember to keep that heat inside by closing the blinds before the sun goes down.




    Author Bio:
    Leslie writes for Claddaght Oil who supply heating oil in Ireland.

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Exciting Travel Destinations For 2014



    With the new year in full swing, world travelers are beginning to schedule their travels for the remaining months of 2014. Instead of settling on another beach vacation, take your international travel to some of the most exciting locales, many of which are celebrating important milestones or events. Take a tour of the world in 2014 and experience new people and cultures.




    Cape Town, South Africa

    With the recent death of Nelson Mandela, Cape Town has become a special place to congregate and remember his legacy. This year, you can visit this gorgeous land and remark on the local architecture. As 2014's World Design Capital, fashion designers and traditional artists are opening up their homes and businesses to the world to show off their unique perspective of art and culture. Enjoy the people and history of Cape Town with art flourishing around every corner.





    Brazil

    Whether you root for Spain or Australia, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is the place to be in June and July. For this travel extravaganza, there is not just one city to visit. All events are spread across several different Brazil locations, mostly near Rio de Janeiro. Take a look at the countries playing and plan your vacation accordingly. The World Cup is an experience unlike no other.





    Sochi, Russia

    If following international sports is your favorite hobby, then you want to be where all the action is, at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Held in Sochi, Russia, this snowy paradise is ready to host skiing, hockey, curling and many more for excited fans. Hurry to book your tickets now because the Olympics are just around the corner!





    Ecuador

    If flora and fauna are your destination goals, look no further than Ecuador. In the past, it used to be difficult to see the thousands of plants and animals that call this land home. The country has just refurbished a luxury train, called the Tren Crucero that takes passengers from Quito to Guayaquil by way of the Andes Mountains. Spectacular scenery and unique wildlife make this destination a must in 2014.





    California, United States

    Skip the visit to Hollywood, turn your tablet computers off and turn your attention to Yosemite National Park, found in central California. In 2014, Yosemite turns 134 years old, its age attributed to its long-lasting protection status. However, this natural canyon was actually carved thousands of years ago by glaciers during the Ice Age. In celebration, this national park is holding many events to keep patrons entertained and fascinated by the stunning geography. From Half Moon to Yosemite Falls, you must visit this natural wonder in 2014.





    Berlin, Germany

    Visit Berlin at the beginning of November to feast your eyes on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To commemorate this anniversary, the city intends to use balloons to mark the wall's location, holding events and educational symposiums to celebrate peaceful revolution. Look upon exhibits depicting the Cold War and the wall's history. As a serious, but joyful, destination, a trip to Berlin is a perfect way to teach your family about real history in motion.





    Author Bio:
    "Talha Maniar is the owner of PopularElectronics.com and a travel lover. With years of worldwide retailer experience, Talha is committed to informing and providing world travelling customers with quality affordable electronics."
    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    'Smart' Kitchens: A Matter Of Intelligent Design



    Don’t look now, but your kitchen may be getting smarter. 
    Ordinary appliances now come complete with keypads, LCD displays, and the ability to perform tasks that, until recently, would have seemed like science fiction. 
    Terms such as “multi-functionality” and “dual-use” seem to be the new buzzwords, and even basic, low-tech kitchen furnishings are designed with an eye towards maximum performance and efficiency.


    If you’re planning to renovate, and you’re worried that the abundance of state-of-the-art technology will result in a kitchen with all the charm of a NASA command center, you can relax.

    The trend towards “minimalism” in kitchen décor doesn’t indicate depressing starkness or cold, scientific sterility - it does signal a look that is streamlined, uncluttered and inviting, in which one small, well-chosen detail can state the theme. It is a look in which the glossy plum of the backsplash tile is echoed by a single spray of freesia in a crystal bud vase on the counter, in which the soft tan of the countertop is picked up by terracotta bowls displayed in a graceful glass-front cabinet.

    And that, of course, is the point. It doesn’t matter how “smart,” “high-tech,” or “multi-functional” your appliances are. In the end, you want your kitchen to be a place in which your personal style shines through - a place that makes you, well…happy.
    The following trends in kitchen appliances and décor represent minimalism at its best, combining the brains of new technology with the beauty of thoughtful design.




    Revolutionary Refrigerators

    Kitchen Remodeling

    Surfing the net: a common household activity. Surfing the net via your refrigerator? Not so common.
    At least, until now. With the new interactive computer-regulated refrigerators, you can go online, send e-mails and messages, and take advantage of TV/DVD capabilities, all from the center of your kitchen. WIFI-enabled LCD screens contain various apps that allow you to access wire news services and weather reports, check in on social media and search a 30,000-item database for that last-minute recipe.
    Yet another of the refrigerator’s “smart” functions could spell the end of “sticky” notes, kitchen scratch pads, cluttered refrigerator doors and yellowing tape. Digital reminder and memo features, along with an interactive calendar, allow these sophisticated refrigerators to function as full-service, 24-hour-a-day family communications centers. With nary a curled-up Post-It, in sight.
    In addition to these digital bells and whistles, of course, the new refrigerators are equipped with programmable settings and push-button control for more traditional tasks, such as keeping food well-chilled and making ice.




    Cabinets: Tall, Dark (Well, Sometimes) and Handsome

    To reflect the streamlined look of the new “smart” appliances, the modern kitchen cabinets tend to be slimmer and taller than past versions, with floor-to-ceiling styles rapidly gaining ground. Door handles and hardware, finished in weathered or satin nickel, tend to be minimal and un-fussy; “touch-latch” styles are a popular choice. Darker finish shades on cabinets -- such as black walnut, mahogany and ebony -- add a dramatic touch, while lacquer or enamel can contribute vibrancy and visual interest. Aluminum, organic bamboo and treated glass are unconventional but effective alternate choices for surfaces.

    Kitchen Cabinets

    Glass-fronted, lighted cabinets – as well as those that are completely open in the front -- are an increasingly popular choice for displaying treasured glassware collections and making them part of the décor. You can help your dishes take center stage by using halogen lighting. The focused, well-defined beam enhances shine and makes an effective spotlight.
    Many of the new cabinets feature convenient pull-out shelving, as well as under-cabinet pull-down knife storage to help maximize counter space and cut clutter.

    Improved storage options continue with the new under-sink cabinets. Featuring specially tilted and shaped drawers; these cleverly-designed units accommodate under-sink pipes to increase available space.

    Finally, “unloading the dishwasher” may join “changing the typewriter ribbon” on the list of outdated tasks from the past. False cabinet fronts, with the dishwasher concealed behind them, allow you to store dishes, glasses and silverware in the same location in which they were just washed.




    Now You’re Cooking With Gas…And Electric

    Cooking aficionados have long argued the merits of gas versus electric ovens. Gas is prized for its quick ignition and responsiveness, while electric convection ovens are valued for their even performance and consistent temperatures. The new dual-fuel stoves – which combine a gas range top with an electric convection oven – offer the best of both worlds. The oven’s self-cleaning function and its five different rack positions offer additional convenience; some high-end models have sealed burners and include an aluminum-clad central griddle.

    Whether made of stainless steel or cast-iron, dual-fuel stoves feature a classic appearance that makes them fit in well with modern kitchens. Some are even available in bold, up-to-the-minute jewel tones such as garnet and sapphire.

    One caveat: dual-fuel stoves can be as much as 6 inches wider than conventional ovens, and can be more expensive to install. In addition, you will need a 240-volt outlet for the electric portion, along with hookup for the gas.




    The Bold, the Bright, and the Beautiful: Lighting Options

    Kitchen Cabinet Painting

    In keeping with the current enthusiasm for multi-function, dual-use and “smart” appliances and furnishings, versatile pendant lamps are a runaway favorite as a lighting choice for modern kitchens. Depending on how they are suspended and shaded, they can be used to cast mellow pools of ambient light, or deliver highly focused beams for task lighting. You can use a row of mini-pendants to stylishly brighten up an island or countertop; oversize pendants can cast an inviting glow over the kitchen table while providing drama and dimension to a low-ceilinged room.

    Another quickly-growing trend in lighting is under-cabinet illumination. Designed to brighten countertops and food prep areas without monopolizing valuable space, under-cabinet lighting also works to play up a dramatic backsplash or countertop. 
    The tops of cabinets can house a lighting arrangement as well, with uplights working to accent the sweep of a high ceiling or call attention to decorative molding.

    Overhead track lighting, valued for its consistent, even quality, has the added bonus of flexibility. Because the angle of each light can be adjusted, you can customize it to accent specific design elements. Another plus for track lighting: it’s available in energy-efficient options.

    Whether you opt for a full “IQ upgrade” for your kitchen, with a computer-regulated refrigerator, or merely brighten it up with some new cabinets and lighting, your new “smart” appliances and fixtures should result in a kitchen that is a more efficient, comfortable and happy place to be – a room to which your family is drawn to relax, congregate, communicate and share each other’s company.

    Creating a beautifully-designed, attracting and inviting space in which your family can spend quality time while enjoying great meals – now, that’s smart. 




    Featured images:
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: 123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: 123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: 123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: 123rf.com





    Author Bio:
    Molly Hilton is the owner of Renaissance Painters in Toronto and has devoted more than 30 years to home renovation, painting, and custom home building. Her unique design concepts bring homes to life with colours and unique pieces that are artfully placed to draw attention to the most powerful and distinctive features of a home.

    The World's Most Unique Houses




    Since the invention of residential construction, having the coolest, funnest, most unique house on the block has been a very common desire. It's nice to have a house that you can show off, have fun in and enjoy. There are some very creative people in this world who have taken their creativity and used it in the architecture of their home. Here are a few of the world's most unique houses:



    In a suburb of Salt Lake City, somebody designed and built the house from Disney Pixar's Up. With some slight variations (garage, no balloons), this house was built to look exactly like the house that defied physics to explore the world. There aren't many people brave enough to build a house from a movie, let alone a computer animated cartoon movie. This house certainly stands out in its neighborhood.




    Earth House






    No, Bilbo Baggins won’t answer when you knock on this door, and no, this house was not built in the Shire. This house is actually built in Switzerland, but it looks like something taken out of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. One of the many things that sets this home apart from others is the fact that natural terrain is used to form the walls and roof of the house.




    Shoe House






    There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. Seriously. South Africa's Ron Van Zyl built this house for his wife, Yvonne, in the early 1990's. The house also has a pool, restaurant, bar, and it even has a guest house. While this home may not be a fancy digital smart home, it certainly is one of a kind and has a lot to offer anyone who visits it. I haven't even mentioned the mini museum of woodwork that's on the inside, either. What's more unique than a shoe that has all that stuff with it?




    Toilet House








    Who wouldn't want to live in a toilet? For South Korean Sim Jae-Duck, living in a toilet is a reality. This home is just over 4,500 square feet, and was built to celebrate the WTA, which, for those of you who don't know, stand for the World Toilet Association. Jae-Duck was nicknamed "Mayor Toilet" after building this, um, unique house. Say what you will about the house, but there is no denying that this is one of the most uncommon homes ever built. The builder was probably relieved when construction had finally finished.




    Warped House






    This house started out as more of an art project rather than a construction project. This warp hole is made of side paneling, and is so small that only a kid could fit through it. I’m not sure what the purpose of it is, but it looks cool, gets attention, and it's one of a kind.




    Cube House





    Rotterdam, a suburb of the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, is home to these amazing, cubic homes. It's a series of houses that all contribute to forming a huge, geometric cube. The houses balance each other, and keep each other from falling, too. Since these are in the Netherlands, I vote that we nickname these “The Dam Houses”.


    Featured images:
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.123rf.com
    •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.123rf.com



    Author Bio: 
    David Glenn is a home improvement expert. He occasionally freelance writes about home security and DIY home repair. He's also knowledgeable about topics like how to improve social presence and building a reputation online. 
    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    Life Hacks For The Workplace



    Unless you were born or married into money, you need to work to get by. Some of us are currently working jobs we absolutely love, and some of us are stuck in jobs we really don’t like. No matter if you love or hate your jobs, there are plenty of ways to make your workdays much easier. The following are five life hacks for the workplace you need to know.



    1. Store office supplies creatively.

    Chances are you have plenty of small office supplies cluttering your desk or your drawers. Items such as push pins, paper clips, staples, etc. can take up a great deal of space, especially if you have to buy multiple “holders” to keep them in. Instead of being disorganized with your small items, try to be creative. Use a spice rack to store all your small office supplies in one location. This will take up less space than a multitude of holders and you can then use your drawers for something more important.



    2. Buy a desk fridge.

    Leaving your food in a community fridge can be dangerous—there’s a good chance someone will steal it, or you may forget you put something in there. Instead of allowing this to occur, invest in a desk fridge. These mini coolers allow you to keep your lunch close to you. This way, you’ll always know what you have on hand and you won’t have to worry about someone else walking off with it.



    3. Run late with a purpose.

    There will come a day when you’re running late to the office. Hey, it happens. Unfortunately not many bosses will be happy to know you showed up late. When you know you’re going to be late to the office, stop and grab some coffee or breakfast for the office. This way, your lateness will appear as if it occurred because you were being thoughtful, not because you hit snooze five times.



    4. Don’t get distracted.

    How often do you find yourself wasting hours online instead of actually working? Sure, you may find it enjoyable one time, but if doing so means you’re no longer on schedule, it’s not going to make you or your boss happy. Eliminate the distractions at work with the right tools. First, put your cell phone out of your sight. Turn off the sound and stick it in your drawer. This way, you’ll be less likely to be distracted by texts or personal emails (or your games). Second, invest in Self Control, a program that blocks all websites except those you need. For example, you can block Facebook, Twitter, Google News and any other site you find yourself perusing when you should be working. You can designate how long the site should be blocked, and restarting your computer won’t change it. So if you ask Self Control to block you from Facebook for six hours, you’ll have to wait six hours.



    5. Use a transcription service.

    How many hours have you spent typing up notes from meetings? Probably a lot. This type of tedious work is wasteful. Instead, it’s a good idea for you to use a transcription company to do this work for you. Simply record these big meetings or presentations with an audio recorder or your smartphone and send them off to the professional transcription company of your choice. You will then receive a transcription of your audio file quickly, thus saving you a great deal of time and allowing you to get back to your other responsibilities.




    Author Bio:
    Meyling Lau is a freelance writer with a creative ability to combine personal experience and research into entertaining, educational articles on a wide range of topics.
    Monday, January 20, 2014

    Socializing Tips For Geeks And Nerds

    There are many ways that tech-savvy people can meet up with and get to know other people with similar interests. The best way to meet others that have similar lifestyles is to find places where like people gather and come together.






    User Groups


    There are hundreds of user groups all over the US that cater to any type of interest. There are advertisements in  local papers or on Craigslist when user group events are planned. There may be a social media page for user groups in the local area as well. There will be a gathering of people, sometimes large and sometimes small, that will listen to a speaker in the professional field, or may have a panel of experts to discuss certain topics in line with the event.
    Usually, the speaker will talk about a certain technology or methodology. Afterwards, there will be a time for the audience to ask questions or make comments. Any question about the subject is welcome, and usually the speaker is glad to go over anything that may be difficult to understand for some.

    Afterwards, there is a time to gather and chat with other participants about any topic. Sometimes this is easier if there are some similar faces, but there may be a few awkward moments before people start getting to know each other. Eventually, many of the same people start attending the same future group events, and there is more socialization with each gathering.

    Gradually, it will be easier as everyone gets to know each other. Exchanging business cards and personal information is a great way to network and get to know others in a different environment. Socialization is easy because everyone in attendance at the group event has at least one thing in common.



    Bar Camps


    Bar Camps are groups of people who have interests that revolve around technology and the internet. They get together for a "conference" type event. At this event, there are workshops that attendees can participate in. Attending a bar camp can be a great way for a technology-minded person to get to know others with the same interests.

    Gaming and comic cons are similar in nature to bar camps. Some usually take place when a new game is launched. Newbies can ask for tips and tricks from more professional gamers, usually personally or thru their gaming site, if they have one.



    Code Camps


    Code camps are similar to bar camps. They are also free to attend and usually happen on the weekend. There are typically different presenters that are members of the local community. Different community members will suggest topics to be discussed, and it is not unlikely that those same people present the information to the group.

    Code camps are used by the community to promote software development. They usually last for one day, yet there are many different topics of discussion to attend. This would allow someone the opportunity to get to know many different people during the day by choosing different tracks.


    Bar camps and code camps are full of people that have similar interests, and there are also many speakers and discussions that appeal to large amount of people. These are excellent ways to meet people that share similar interests. The topics are intriguing and most people are excited to get to know other participants that share their lifestyle and interests.

    Much like user groups, the more bar camps and code camps that someone attends, the easier it gets to meet and get to know others. People can be successful at doing this by working up the courage to speak to someone that they may find interesting. There are other events in addition to these suggestions. Using the internet to locate some of these groups can be the best way to get the most up-to-date information.



    Author Bio:
    Marcie Mehegan has been an online writer and blogger since 2007. She has a degree in marketing and currently writes on social media marketing, business technologies and other related topics for businesses.  
    Saturday, January 18, 2014

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