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Did you say Coffee?

Did you say Coffee?

As far as the baristas at Intelligentsia Coffee in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago’s north side are concerned, I might as well be a coffee junkie. I most certainly am, by all accounts, but the difference between your run-of-the-mill junkie and me is that I actually have a job. But what’s great about my job as a freelance graphic designer is that I can do it anywhere and at anytime of day. That is, if I have a cup of Intelligentsia Coffee by my side. I started drinking coffee as most people probably do, which was in college with gallons of cream to delude the actual flavor. But eventually you undergo the process of learning to like how it tastes, or noticing the differences between a French roast and an Ethiopian roast, and the difference in texture based on preparation method.

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Want your iPhone to get wet?

Want your iPhone to get wet?

As a white-water rafting guide on the Snake River in Rexburg, Montana, keeping my phone dry isn’t exactly a simple task. The families, bachelor parties, and businessmen on team retreats who I frequently lead on these trips are always stunned to hear me ask them if they want pictures of them on the ride. But of course, they always say yes, so I bring my phone along with me, and then when we get to a particularly gentle eddy in the river, I rip out my iPhone and take some action shots. Everyone’s always very impressed. That is, unless I either A.) fall in the water with phone in hand or B.) drop my phone in the water and never see it again. Either way, my phone is ruined, and so is my reputation as being the river guide who effortlessly takes fantastic photos and shouts hilarious, encouraging things, all while hurdling down a river at an electrifying pace.

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Taking A Look At Outdoor Cooking Gadgets For 2014

Believe it or not, there’s no real way to make barbecuing much easier. Good barbecuing takes some time to pull off, especially if you’re cooking a big slab of meat for a large party. Though, while the process won’t get any easier, managing your day-long barbecuing or outdoor cooking session will. In fact, plenty of gadgets exist to make that happen.

Outdoor cooking gadgets have evolved over the past few years. Modern outdoor cooking gadgets now simplify many parts of the cooking process, except for the actual cooking itself. Let’s take a look at several of 2014′s outdoor cooking gadgets that might help you whip up an incredible outdoor meal this summer.

A look at 2014 outdoor cooking gadgets

Starting the fire

It’s difficult to start a fire, especially if you like to cook with charcoal, briquettes, wood or other combustible fuels. And, if you have a torch to start a fire, sometimes it’s unreliable at best. Forget about using matches as you most likely will have to go through a ton of them to start up the bbq.

The Looftlighter (retails between $69 to $79) is a heating device that resolves all of those problems. You just need to turn on the device, which will pour superheated air onto the combustible material. That causes the material to combust and when that happens, just pull back the device and start cooking. According to users, it takes about a minute (or less) to get a fire going.

Outdoor grilling in a cramped space

The biggest challenges of outdoor cooking mostly bother people who don’t have enough space to cook outdoors. This gadget, the BBQ Bruce Handrail Grill is a nifty gadget that lets people cook from their balcony or even wall. The handrail grill installs easily onto a rail or wall, allowing people to cook, well, right in a cramped space. This gadget doesn’t break the bank either. You can find this gadget online at around $80 to $100.

Grilling after dark

It gets dark after the afternoon hits, so naturally you’re going to need some lighting to keep your BBQ space well illuminated as you cook into the night.

The E&B Giftware BBQ Grill Light and Fan is a gadget that keeps cooking areas well lit and free of extra smoke as you cook into the night hours. The device comes with four LED lights that sit between dual fans. It clamps onto the handle of a BBQ cooker, keeping the cooking surface illuminated and the smoke curbed from the cooking area. The device operates using 8 AA batteries and cost as much as $90.

Conclusion

By choosing carefully and by staying within your budget range a good bbq gadget can not only be a time saver but also help improve cooking times and the flavor of the food you cook.

Our rough guide of the top bbq gadgets is a starting point for purchasing one that is suitable for you. We recommend you should always ask the bbq buff from your social circle of friends (the backyard champion who is always having pool parties to impress his/her friends – you know the kind) for advice on what gadget they are currently using as they will have a lot of experience in the art of bbq cooking.

Another source of great bbq information is smokymeat where you can find detailed reviews and tips on all the latest grilling and smoking equipment.

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Technology Gadgets To Make Every Geek Happy

There are some people in this world that get very excited about technology and buy it the moment something new and interesting comes out. While people often associate technology with things like computers and cell phones, there are other aspects of life in general that technology can touch. For all of those people who want to see the latest cool and fun stuff involving technology, here is a list of the latest cool technological gadgets that will make every geek happy.

Toyota Hydrogen Powered Car

Now when it comes to technology and cars, people may assume things like using it to find OEM rims and OEM wheels, and other original parts that people need in order to rebuild or restore a car. However, there has actually been a lot of technology that has come out for things like fixing cars, building cars, but now automotive technology is shifting in a whole different direction. Other than just things factory wheels and factory rims, there is new technology coming out that will revolutionize the car industry, and its thanks to Toyota.

The biggest issue that the car industry has is that the world is hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels, but no one has been able to create a car that runs without them until now. Toyota has come up with a car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells, making it the first car that will run without any kind of gasoline, and also is one hundred percent pollution free. Though there is no date on when this Toyota car will be made public, the world is applauding Toyota for coming out with such an amazing car that will save billions of dollars.

Belkin Crock-Pot

People have to work these days and take care of their families at the same time. How many people have dinner all prepared in their Crock-Pot, but then ran out of the door so fast they forgot to switch it on and now no hot meal will be ready by the time everyone gets back home? With the Belkin Crock-Pot, working mothers and fathers do not have to worry about forgetting to turn the gadget on because now all they have to do is to turn on their smart phone, and then the Crock-Pot can be activated with the press of a button no matter where that person is. Imagine being able to use the phone to make sure dinner is hot and ready when the end of the day comes.

Goji Smart Lock

Houses need more than just locks these days, and now the Goji has come out with what they call a Smart Lock. What makes the Smart Lock so great is the fact that it records anyone that wants to enter the home, and can even allow the house to be unlocked via an app on any smart cell phone. People do not need to worry anymore about locking themselves out of their house because the Goji company can be reached via phone, and people can get back into their houses easily. Thanks to Goji, the use of keys and locks that can be easily broken may be gone forever, and yet people’s possessions and property will still be safe and secure.

Technology is a lot more than just cell phones and computers, and there is new and cool technology coming out every single year that people are getting very excited about. Who knows what the future will hold?

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Why More Companies Are Subscribing To Online Training Portal Websites

The emergence of social web and mobile devices has added a new dimension to the experience of e-learning. We are in a fast-changing business world and organizations must realize the importance of keeping their work force up to date simply by utilizing various online training platforms such as Udemy, Lynda, and Coursera. Well, there are a multitude of benefits that come with online training not only for companies and business owners, but also for the employees. Let’s look at some of the major advantages that are associated with online training and their impact both to the workforce and organizations.

It’s less costly

Delivery of learning materials to the desktop is in itself a significant step in cutting the cost of companies or employees having to spend on travel costs. Did you know that some of the biggest organizations spend from thousands to millions of dollars per year on learning materials? Well, printing and distribution cost is also reduced to almost zero with online training. There are no classrooms needed and the tutor support is also reduced significantly. In fact, many organizations use WordPress, as their base for their online learning delivery system.

It grows intellectual capital

The performance of any business is dependent on its intellectual capital. Here we are talking about skills, experience and knowledge of the workforce. With today’s fast changing world, intellectual capital tends to decrease with time due to rapid technological change, legislative and social change, vast amount of new data and information, and an increasingly complex business environment. Now businesses that develop learning strategies such as online training to ensure staff remain relevant and valuable always have a notable impact on the organization’s performance.

On the other hand, e-learning provides new knowledge, skills and experience to employees. They get updated on the relevant changes in their field of work, which offers them a competitive advantage in the business world.

It’s faster, easier and cheaper to update

Compared to classroom or paper training, e-learning can be updated more quickly and easily. For instance, new regulations can be incorporated quickly into an online learning program and made available immediately to employees. A feature that is used regularly by the big restaurant chains such as in Subway’s University training program, where partners log in regularly to stay up to date on company standards, training and certifications.

It compresses learning time

There are numerous documented case studies which show that people tend to learn faster through interactive online learning as compared to classroom learning. They suggest that employees have an advantage of leaning at their own pace, not at the pace of the slowest members of a group, the training is brought right to the desktop so there is less travel time traveling to and from training events, and employees will learn only what they need to learn. Some researchers also show that some concepts can be explained quickly and easily using computer based instructions.

In today’s fast-changing world, there is every reason to believe the advantages of online training will continue to grow, as more companies are subscribing to online training sites to keep their employees skills up to date. E-learning can provide a marked impact to any business performance out there. It does not only pose as beneficial to organizations but to employees as well. The workforce gets empowered and has a notable continuous improvement.

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My Adventure of Finding New Tech Products for my Review Site

Hi there! I hope you are doing well. When you are a following my site quite some time now you probably know about the thing happened in China… For those who didn’t yet have heard about it I’ll give a brief summary: me, as an investor of a small (but decent) online retailer I sometimes go out to find new and cool products for them. And after me finding some new cool products I review them on this website. This time, I found a company in China online who offered some very cool tech products. You probably didn’t know this but I have a true weakness for companies who provide excellent customer service and at the moment I saw on their website they stand for delivering uplifting customer service I was immediately sold. Sometimes people call me a fanatic in this field because I try to follow as many customer service blogs as possible, such as www.thinkcustomerservice.com

It all began with me finding a wholesale business in China with some awesome tech products. After some phone-calls we arranged a meeting at their office but because of the fact that the trip was a bit costly I needed to make sure this trip wasn’t a waste of my time and money so I asked them to send me a product example for me to see. I received the product example within a few weeks and without any problems. The product was amazing. I immediately told them I could meet them.

I arrived at Shanghai’s airport and the person I had contact with told me he would arrange a pick up for me. But no one came… I tried calling him but he didn’t answer…

I knew the address so I just took a cab. When the cab driver told me we had arrived at the destination I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t seem like the building on their website at all. It probably is the same building as on their website but only 60 years later. When I entered some sort of ‘front door’ I saw two men; one was moving boxes from one container to another and the other was giving instructions while drinking a beer. I walked to the man I thought was in charge, and asked him if I was at the right place. He immediately recognized my voice and introduced himself as the person I had contact with… Furthermore, he told me he was already started with preparing my shipping container with the products I needed. Hmm… I couldn’t remember me telling him that I needed a shipping container? Moreover, I also couldn’t remember that we agreed to anything? Also, I saw those products he was loading into his shipping container were not the ones I received at my home address… So I told him: “Sorry, but I came here to check out your products so that we then can discuss terms and I also came here for another product than the one you’re holding right now.” For some reason I pissed him off badly and he started calling names and he threw something at my head. I got scared and ran out of the building to the cab who was (luckily) still waiting outside… I never heard of him before…

In conclusion, his website publicly stating that they’re offering excellent customer service is a scam. I can’t imagine someone would find that they’re having some extraordinary skills in customer service. And more, they didn’t had the product I wanted and the whole business didn’t look like the one on the picture listed on their website.

As you can see I should’ve done some more research on this business and the man I spoke with. When I came back home I Googled his name and business and there were a lot of negative messages. What is more, I saw his name on a scam page!

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Innovative wallets are a new hot product

Today we’ll speak about a new invention in the wallets scene. I guess you didn’t see this one coming. You would think there’s nothing technical about wallets. Well then you would be plain wrong. In the current digital environment more and more digitalization is among us. On the internet you already have digital wallets and even digital coins like Bitcoin. We’re just at the start of these digital coins. These crypto-currencies can be the start of a new way of payment and thus digital wallets.

But the wallets we’ll speak today about are not these type of digitally advanced wallets. They’re still the ones we put in our pocket. But with the digitalization we have credit cards, ID cards and so on. These are digital cards and today there is a new hot topic: digital identity theft.

When you walk down the subway you swipe your badge over the reader and you can enter. These kinds of things are often used nowadays. However as with every new invention there are people trying to take advantage of this. Today there are thieves that don’t steal the old school way anymore but that use new methods. The new methods of stealing I am speaking about are things like RFID skimming.

RFID skimming stands for radio frequency identity. This method tries to gather the info on your identity card or digital cards when you’re close enough. A swipe with their device suffices to get data from your digital cards. And thus ID theft can happen easily in this digital age.

So is there nothing to do against this? Of course there is: Some of the best wallets they have here prevent RFID skimming. How does it work? Well those wallets have a metal or metal like shell. This shell acts like the cage of Faraday. It’s like your card that is prevented from lightening by this principle. The metal shell works the same way. It prevents thieves from getting your ID data. So if you’re going to buy a new wallet then in this new digital age with credit cards and id cards, an RFID skimming protected wallet might just be your cup of tea.

Also soon they should build the same for briefcases. Like the expensive ones you find here. A lot of briefcases are held by businessmen and a lot of confidential data is in their on digital devices such as tablets or laptops. So it makes sense that in the near future they would like to build a briefcase that is also RFID skimming protected.

To conclude we can say that even the products we least expect to innovate, can still bring innovations to the market. Wallets are an excellent example as explained above in this post. No one would have expected this, but with digitalization around the corner, new needs appear. And these new needs need to be filled by products. In this case it’s the theft of ID information that made RFID skimming protected wallets to appear, but who knows what might be next. We’ll look out for the next innovation.

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Which Sports has seen Huge Advancements in Material Technology?

Technology has come on leaps and bounds over the past 50 years. Where previously you’d be looking at a computer taking up a whole room, you can now carry something even more powerful in your pocket. With advancements coming in size, power, speed and storage space, society today has definitely earned the title of ‘the digital age’. However, technological advancements are not just limited to digital devices, we’ve seen exponential increases in technology across the board. An area where this has perhaps gone unnoticed is when it comes to kayaks. With their popularity ever increasing, they’ve achieved rapid advancements in technology when it comes to design measures, portability, available accessories and of course functionality. Throughout this post we’ll take a look at just how far kayaks have come.

When the first kayak took to the waves as far back as 4000 years ago, it was very different from the kayaks that we see out on the rivers and lakes of modern society. Constructed by the Inuits, the primitive kayak was made entirely from whale bone skeletons with skinned seal hides stretched over to make the enclosure. The bones provided natural buoyancy, while the seal skins offer a certain degree of weather proofing. It’s safe to say that this construction is the not the most concrete when it comes to stability and durability, and let’s face it, it would never reach the market with animal activists complaining left right a center.

So obviously, kayak manufacturing has had to move on with the times. It’s now precision engineering kayaks for different functions, making them stronger, lighter and more buoyant than ever before. It’s mainly advancements in the construction fields now that have allowed such diversification of the original kayak. Revolutionary rotomold plastic construction technique has allowed manufacturers to precision engineer cheaper, more buoyant and lighter kayaks that are ideal to get novices into the sport. With construction techniques now also existing for ultra lightweight yet durable fiberglass kayaks, advanced users are also taken care of with extra longevity for their money. Finally, perhaps the most impressive advancement is the invention of the inflatable kayak, the cheapest but most naturally buoyant on the market, making them the ideal choice for the safety conscious kayaker.

With each design technique fulfilling a different function, the diversification of the kayak has been a truly remarkable process. With specific manufacturing measures being taken to make the kayak fit it’s desired function down the tiniest detail, it’s important to understand the different types of kayak that are on the market today. You should check out “The Kayak Guide” for a comprehensive break down of the types of kayak that are on the market today, ranging from the traditional river kayak, through to surfing kayaks and the more technologically advanced racing kayaks. If you are considering taking up kayaking in a bid to further enjoy our great outdoors, then it’s important to make sure your purchase matches your needs, and to ensure that you aren’t over or undersold by local retailers.

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Footprints of Adventure

Whoever coined the saying, “When your feet hurt, you hurt all over” is probably no stranger to the pains that people have to endure when they accidentally get hurt at their workplace. People who need to be on their feet the whole day put great importance on the ease by which they can carry on with whatever tasks they need to accomplish without the nuisance of having to worry about tripping in the midst of completing a job, or tending to bruised soles at home when they are supposed to be relaxing. You may think of this as a trivial matter but foot injuries are common and one of the simplest ways to avoid this is by wearing the appropriate type of shoes that the occasion dictates.

Determining the best type of shoes is actually a matter of preference rather than style. There are no established rules with regards to knowing the perfect type of footwear. For people who are engaged in heavy manual labor and are often present in rough environments, work boots that showcase safety features such as toe protection and slip resistance are the most suitable. Work boots for men come in different styles but they all possess the same attribute of having wide wedge soles. The purpose of this is to evenly distribute the weight and retain stability when walking on hard, flat surfaces. Depending on what task you specialize on in your work area, it is best to consider the kind of shoes you will wear as there are boots that are ideal for climbing ladders or traversing jagged roads.

Footwear that is especially designed for the comfort of your feet are also highlighted in other activities such as mountain trekking. It is no secret that hiking boots ensure the safety of mountaineers whenever they are on a difficult backcountry climb, so it is important that people choose wisely on what hiking boots to wear and take into consideration the things they need to inspect before buying a pair. If you are a regular climber, it is best to check the amount of treads as they provide the friction and grip that you may need on uneven surface and slippery slopes. Also, the good thing about hiking boots is that it offers not only protection but also proper coverage on areas that have to be well supported like your ankles and midsoles. A simple pair of sneakers or tennis shoes cannot give you the durability that you need when crossing challenging trail conditions or rocky landscapes.

Regardless of what rigorous activities you have to do, if you know that you need a solid and durable pair of shoes to help lessen the possibilities of incurring foot problems later on, take your time in choosing when visiting boot stores, address all the concerns that you have or ask questions that may bother you about what boot type is your perfect match and don’t hesitate to invest. Buy the one you need.

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Would You Like An Outdoors Podcast?

It’s amazing that the Podcasting revolution was just invented by Apple in July 2005! And yet already it’s everywhere. Podcasting has gone main stream. You have almost certainly seen 1000′s of commuters each day plugged in to mobiles, portable media players and tablets all getting their daily fix of their favourite podcasts!

So why not create a station purely for those interested in outdoor pursuits like the readers here on this blog? And… why not actually record it outdoors! It sounds like the perfect combination of technology and the outdoors life… I’m already in geeky heaven thinking about it! But I wanted to check with my readers before I rushed in to creating another show where there are already some competitors out there.

Other blogs such as www.theoutdoorsstation.co.uk started making podcasts for the UK Outdoors audience and ever since then their figures have shown that the demand exists and they have been downloaded and listened to over 3,000,000 times!

As you might think the content creation, the hosting and also the administration of such a service requires a lot of money and a lot of hours as well. I have my suspicions too so I spoke to Steven over at The Outdoors Station to see what advice he could give.

Their podcast has been self financed to get to the stage they are at but they are now starting to attract advertisers, sponsors and donations which is really interesting.

Steven offered many words of encouragement saying really it’s just a case of getting a portable usb mic or some other gear and hitting record!

There is a good guide over here about the gear that you need to get started it’s actually not such a massive investment and podcasting is open to any half serious blogger as a way to increase their following.

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself

What exactly is a ‘podcast’?

In case you’ve been living in a cave, a podcast is just a regular series of mp3 recordings that are produced. It’s a bit like radio but it’s not live it’s pre-recorded. Listeners subscribe to an XML feed and are alerted when a new episode is available.

How do you listen?

You can just click the ‘download’ option and the mp3 will be transferred to your own device. Subsequently ‘double click’ the file and it will play in your PC speakers through whatever software you already have installed. However ‘subscribing’ is more easy (see under) using ‘podcatching software’ like iTunes software that is FREE (Apple and PC). This keeps things in a catalogue format that is simple that is fine.

Where may I hear them?

That is up to you! The pleasure of ‘time shifting’ your podcasts, is whenever you want you can listen to the shows. Lots of people listen when they are commuting, in the office, at house, behind the wheel, jogging, doing the shopping, wherever! I myself listen when I’m swimming.

Do I have to own an iPod to tune in?

This is the greatest source of confusion about podcasting, much to Apple’s joy! The simple truth is NO you don’t. You can listen right here on the site, providing you’ve speakers or headphones, or you’ll be able to move the file to some other portable media player.

So, what do you think? Is a podcast a good idea or should I just stick with the written word rather than the spoken word. Would you like to hear these words in your ear when you are out walking or is there enough of me already here! Let me know what you think!

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How Car Dealers Use The Internet to Attract New Buyers

Traditionally, people interested in purchasing a new vehicle would take a look at their local newspaper’s car dealership section and then travel to the dealer’s lot. They would survey the cars on the lot and make a deal with the automobile salesman. Every step of the car deal was handled in person and ended with a handshake. Today, car dealers discovered that they were losing customers to car dealers online. In order to stay competitive, car dealers had to use the Internet to attract new buyers and increase their profits.

For the most part, the average person does not look in the auto sales section of the newspaper for a new car. Most people looking to buy a new car, research it online. They decide on the type of vehicle that they would like to buy and visit several sites looking for more information. In the old days, the same person would probably hit every car dealership in town, looking for a new car. The Internet has certainly streamlined the entire car buying process. Now, it is estimated that over 30 percent of new car sales are through online deals. This has certainly had a dramatic impact on car dealerships and the industry in general.

Previously, brick and mortar car dealerships regarded internet based car dealer websites as a waste of time. They imagined that the websites had little impact on car sales and were a useless marketing ploy. Today, savvy car dealers realize that online car dealer websites are attracting thousands of visitors to their online site daily. A large majority of those visitors return for more information, and a growing number visit the dealership to purchase a new car based on the information found on their website. Suddenly, internet based car dealership sites filled with information on many kinds of vehicles are driving people to the physical locations and they are buying cars.

Certainly, more and more car dealerships are recognizing the significant impact that car dealer websites have on the car buyer. They realize that the physical car dealership and an online presence go hand in hand. They work together to attract more buyers and to drive up sales. Those car dealers, who do not recognize the significance of an online presence, are losing customers and profits.

Marketing strategies for physical auto dealerships is still traditionally based on advertising in magazines, newspapers, television, and radio. Traditional advertising is expensive and certainly affects profit margins. Car dealership owners recognize that traditional marketing and advertising online is different. Social media is a driving force in advertising and marketing. They look to social media as a driving force to persuade new car buyers to visit their online site.

Online marketing and advertising might be less expensive, but it takes a more concentrated effort. This concentrated effort pays big dividends in the long run. Here is the new cycle. The car dealer builds a website. The car dealer uses social media to drive people to their website. People visit the website. Those internet leads purchase vehicles at their physical location. Now, the average dealership is experiencing lower advertising cost while their sales are increasing and that is exactly why car dealers are using the internet to attract new buyers.

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Cool Eyewear Websites That Make Shopping Easier

In the modern age of the internet you can buy almost anything online, but would you? There are a few different items which have traditionally been difficult to purchase online, especially items that you would normally try on or play with prior to making a purchase. New web based technologies are being developed to overcome these hurdles providing a great shopping experience for consumer resulting in more sales for online retailers. As you can imagine, I make most of my purchases online and look forward to seeing even more enhanced ecommerce sites and tools become available in the near future. Here are a few of my favorite online retailers which have implemented cool applications into their website to make shopping easier.

The first and foremost would be Oakley, my favorite brand of sunglasses. There are many stores where you can find Oakley products on the shelves, but there is nothing like being able to create your own look in their online store. This custom shop offered at Oakley.com allows you to pick your favorite sunglasses frames and customize every single detail. You can choose the lens, color accents of the emblem, and rubber pieces. You can even add text and other items to the sunglasses which are then assembled with your choices and shipped out in a matter of days. Eyewear is a great way to express yourself and everyone loves being unique, so this option from Oakley is one of my favorite tools for purchasing sunglasses.

Another company which has overcome a major hurdle in selling eyeglasses online is Dharma Eyewear Co. When purchasing eyewear, whether it is eyeglasses or sunglasses, everyone would prefer to try them on and take a look in the mirror. Since you spend so much time wearing these products and they are a fairly expensive item, you need to get it right the first time. They have provided two options to ease consumers into buying eyeglasses online through a virtual or home try on application. The first is their ground breaking virtual try on software which incorporates a database of their frames and interfaces with either an uploaded picture or your webcam. After your face has been loaded into the web app then you can select the style of frames which are automatically fit to your face. You can then make sure that the fit is correct and see what they would look like on you, just like looking into a virtual mirror. This is a very neat idea and is very easy to operate making it an excellent online shopping tool for eyeglasses or sunglasses. If this isn’t enough for you then they also offer a home try on checkout option which will ship your chosen frames for free to your house. You can then try them on and send them back from the comfort of your own home before finalizing a decision.

You should give either of these sites a try the next time you are looking for a new pair of eyeglasses or a fresh pair of shades. Skip the long lines and traffic going to the mall and shop intelligently from the comfort of your own home.

 

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The Technology of Coffee Brewing

Coffee is not something normally associated with technology. Except perhaps as the quick-fix, all-purpose beverage that technology types drink by the gallon. Even coffee machines don’t usually come up in technology discussions. Part of the problem is that technology – the word, if not the idea – is typically associated with computers, internet and engineering. An espresso machine is a useful thing but it simply does not make the cut.
But, as in most otherwise normal everyday stuff, there is technology in coffee brewing. There is quite a bit of technical innovation in your average espresso machine.

The Technical Challenge of brewing Coffee

The concept of brewing coffee is simple. It is about getting the substance inside coffee beans into water. But the same can be said of just about any technological concept. For example, the concept behind the most modern airliner is essentially about getting a heavy object shuttling through the air. A phone is simply about moving sound through the air.

For coffee machines, the obvious way to get whatever is inside the coffee beans into water is to break down the coffee beans into tiny pieces and place them in hot water. That’s how the Ethiopian goat farmers who first discovered coffee prepared their daily dose of caffeine. But they soon learnt that good coffee is about more than just a dose of caffeine. There is the flavor and aroma to worry about and the mix has to be of a certain concentration. Too much water or too much of the ground beans complicates issues. For the modern coffee brew traders such as coffee shops and cafes, there is the additional problem of maintaining quality consistency in a mass production system. Every cup has to be of exactly the same concentration, flavor and aroma.

Naturally, generations of coffee makers have grappled with the problem and narrowed it down to a simpler technical problem. Apparently, centuries of experimentation has proved that the best way to cajole the best quality out coffee beans is to force steaming water through ground beans under pressure. The quality of the coffee beans matters of course and there has to be a filtering system. But the key factors are the hot water and the pressure to push it through the beans. The real technical challenge of brewing good coffee is therefore figuring out how to most efficiently pass pressurized scalding water through ground coffee beans.

The Technology of Coffee Machines

That’s what all coffee machines do. They force hot water through coffee beans at high pressure. The difference is how one type of coffee machine solves the technical problem as compared to another type.

The result is that there are now just four technological approaches to making coffee brewing machines. Your home or office coffee machine – and that includes the most sophisticated espresso machine – falls into just one of those four categories. The four technical categories are:

Pump Espresso Machines:

The defining feature of pump espresso machines is that they use an electricity powered pump to create the pressure that forces steaming water through coffee beans. Their technical edge is that they come with precise calibration systems that measure and control the amount of water in the system, the temperature levels and by extension, the pressure deployed on the ground coffee. In addition, pump coffee machines make a consisted quality of coffee and brew the stuff by the gallons.

Lever Espresso Machines:

This is a less sophisticated kind of coffee machine that uses a manual lever and piston to build the necessary pressure. It is old technology that requires practice and skills to produce a consistent quality of coffee.

Steam Powered Espresso Machines:

This type of coffee machine use the boiling water to create steam which then build the necessary pressure to push the rest of the water into the coffee beans chamber. It is simple technology that only needs to worry about controlling the pressure from rising to dangerous levels.

Moka Pots:

This is the classic old technology in coffee brewing. It is essentially a sophisticated two part pot, with the bottom part holding water and the upper part holding the coffee beans.
Not surprisingly, commercial coffee brewers prefer coffee machines operating on the electric pump principle. In fact, most commercial coffee machines are essentially no more than scaled up versions of standard pump espresso machines. They have to be bigger so as to match the higher capacity demands of a coffee shop. They also have to be more precise so as to retain quality consistency.
All of which means commercial coffee machines have some fairly precise engineering and good electronics calibration. That is nowhere near the technical sophistication of an airliner but it is pretty good technology.

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Home Automation Systems are Becoming More Cost Effective

The world of home automation has come a long way in the last 5 years. Systems have become dramatically more powerful while also becoming much more affordable. You can now control almost any part of your home from a smartphone or tablet. What was once something out of the Jetsons is now a reality.

In the old days all of the various systems in your home worked independently from one another. But now you can tie everything together. From one device you can control your music or TV, lights, climate control, pool and hot tub controls, security system, landscape lighting, and even look at closed circuit security cameras.

Much of this technology has been around for more than a decade. But only in the last few years has it become relatively affordable to outfit a house with this kind of system. This is due in large part to manufacturers such as Control4, Savant, and a few others. They saw a niche in the home control market that was not being serviced. And that was those that wanted to integrate the various systems in their home to interact with each other, but didn’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing it.

Before these companies came along, homeowners would have to hire an AV or home automation installation company to design, install, and program a system for them. These sorts of systems could easily run into the six figures when you include whole house audio, speakers, and TVs. And while these systems created a more efficient home, the cost savings they generated couldn’t even come close to covering the cost of the system itself.

When Control4 came into the marketplace they wanted to change the game. They wanted to introduce parts that were functional, stable, easy to install, and easy to program. There were some big hurdles and they encountered a lot of bumps along the way, but now they are capable of delivering a full blown automation system at a fraction of the price that a consumer would’ve paid 5 years ago.

Their user interfaces, which used to be clunky and only marginally responsive, are now not only beautiful and durable, but so intuitive that just about anyone can use them to control all the functions of their system.

To give you an idea of what one of these systems is capable, let’s look at how an automation system ties together various parts of a houses technologies. Let’s say it’s summer, and it’s 90 degrees out. The air conditioning is running full blast, but someone has left a door open. The system can see that the door has been left open based on feedback from the alarm system, and automatically turns off the air conditioning for that zone. This saves a great deal of energy.

Other functionality includes the ability to remotely lock and unlock doors in your house. From your office you can unlock the doors for the maid or pool man. You can then use the camera viewing capability on your phone to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

These types of systems used to extremely difficult to install and program, but changes made to their software have made them much less difficult and time consuming to install. It’s still something for which you’ll want to hire a home theater contractor as the work still requires some training to install correctly. And while your cost savings may not be immediate, these systems are perfect for creating more efficient homes.

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Why You Should Use Solar Powered Watches

If you’re out camping, hiking, or if you’re simply environmentally conscious, a solar powered watch may be something of interest to you. There are plenty of great brands making these watches, and some solar powered watches can be bought for $200 – or even less. Those of you that are true to spirit of camping leave your smart phones at the house to enjoy the disconnect of nature, well, you also know how important it is to keep track of time when gauging the amount of sunlight you have left to set-up camp and find good wood for a fire. A solar powered watch can complete the simply task of time management while being powered entirely naturally, eliminating the need, and waste, of batteries.

As early as the 1970s some models of Christalonic, Alba, Seiko, Citizen designed watches to accommodate the array of solar cells needed for power. It wasn’t until the 90′s that Citizen started selling light-powered watches under the brand of Eco-Drive. Eco-Drive watches typically absorbed sunlight and artificial light by a solar panel behind the crystal. This panel converts the light into electrical energy, which is then used to power the watch. The Citizen’s mode featured lithuim-ion batteries that could store sufficient energy to power the watch for several months, even years, without light exposure, by inventing a power-saving and hibernation mode during which the seconds hand stops until being re-exposed to light. Other companies followed suite – Casio releasing a similar solar model, the Tough Solar, as well as Seiko.

One good Casio model is the Casio Men’s G-Shock multi-band atomic solar analog watch. What is interesting, and intrinsically valuable, about the atomic solar watch is that its time is set via a radio signal that is broadcast from the one and only atomic clock at the Fort Collins, Colorado-based National Institute of Standards and Technology. If you’re familiar with the NIS, then you’ll know that the institute gives the most accurate time on the planet. Since the time is doesn’t require adjusting, and you will never need a change of batteries, the watch will never need any attention. The G-Shock features a bold black dial face encased by a mineral dial window, making the time easy to read at a glance. It also features a day-date-and-month calendar, as well as a daily alarm, and countdown timer. On top of being sophisticated and low-maintenance, the G-shock is water-resistant up to 660 feet.

On the Sieko front, Seiko released, in 2012, the Seiko Astron GPS (the originally Seiko Astron was released on Christmas day, 1969, and was the world’s first commercially available quartz wristwatch.) The Astron is an analog, solar-powered watch that receives GPS satellite signals and will adjust to the precise local time anywhere on Earth – it also recognizes all 39 time zones; a feat top mechanical watches cannot contest with. The Astron does this by first locating its location via GPS and comparing said information with an onboard database that will dive the Earth’s surface into one million square, each of which being assigned to its proper time zone. In this respect the product is the first of its kind. This is important as where the radio controlled (RC) Casio G-Shock do not offer global coverage, the Astron does – say the middle of the ocean, hiking on top of a specific mountaintop, places where radio signals fail.

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Top 5 Ellipticals by Horizon Fitness – A Guide to Choosing the Best

If you are eyeing to buy one of the ellipticals from Horizon Fitness, take a moment to read reviews about that item. Much of the time, you will read encouraging reviews, but there are equally good items from the company as well. Take a good look at the other offerings from the company. Here is a comparison guide on the top 5 ellipticals by Horizon Fitness.

The EX-57

The Ex-57 is the least expensive unit of the line. The price is a good basis for determining the price worthiness of the more expensive units. For this unit, what you will easily notice is the ease in putting the pieces together. Some people say that the unit can be completed within two and a half hours. This is because the instructions in the manual are fairly easy to understand and are straight forward. The hardware is properly labeled so it wouldn’t be hard trying to figure out which piece should go with the other pieces.

You will also feel this unit to be solid and sturdy during operation and will like the many programs that it has. The resistance automatically changes during operation and when it changes, you will hear no annoying sound, a good thing for people who have no other choices but to put the elliptical in their bedroom.

The EX-59

The EX-59 is the unit to choose if you put priority on experiencing the “natural feeling” while doing your exercises. This unit has earned the approval of the highly-priced SixStar certification agency. At the same time, the pedals are situated in the machine in such a way that they can copy the natural stride of man.

The EX-59 also has ten different programs for different exercise needs. The programs are called Calorie Goal, Random, Reverse Train, Rolling, Constant Watts, Intervals, Intervals Plus, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Plus and Manual. These programs might have similar exercises but surely there are differences in the execution of these exercises, in the duration of performing those exercises and so on.

The EX-69

In your research, no doubt you have come across the EX-69. It is because this machine is earning the most accolades among its brothers in the company. The reviews are not simply encouraging. They are very convincing.
First, the machine is easy to set up. According to reviews, there is no need for screwdrivers or tools like that to have the machine read for use. If you are good at reading and following instructions, you can get the machine ready within 2 hours.

This machine is smooth to operate and it can let you customize the kind of operation you want. There are options to choose to target the body parts you want to work on. In particular, you can set the operation in terms of distance, time and calories. There are also built-in workouts like the one that can make you feel going down and going up a hill. The workout programs for this machine are also those that you can find in the 59.

The EX-79

The EX-79 is one of the most expensive elliptical units in the market and is the most expensive model in the Horizon Fitness line. It is about $1000 in most online stores, and being the highest priced, it has all the features of the other models. But there are outstanding additions that shouldn’t be missed.

One is the warranty parameters. The company has warranties for defects and workmanship – a lifetime warranty on brake and frame, two years for parts and one year for labor and elevation motor.

The EX-77

This elliptical machine is something that you can call the “halfway” version of the others, which explains why you can get it for about $700. This is for the medium-sized people as its stride is about 18 or 19 inches only. The number of resistance levels is in between that of the 57 and the 79. If you’re on a budget and all you want is something that can be used by the majority in your family, this is your unit.

List Your Priorities

It can be hard choosing the best unit. Start by listing down your priorities. Give the appropriate scores in accordance to those priorities. Those scores will point you to the right unit to take home. For more information on elliptical check out www.bestellipticalfitness.com

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Check out this sleeping bag suit!


The Selk’bag USA

Have you ever heard of the Selk’bag USA? Didn’t think so, but this new sleeping bag is pretty ingenious! You know when you’re camping and you’re in your sleeping bag thinking “Man, I really wish I could just be fully insulated everywhere”? Well, now you can! Enter the Selk’bag USA.

The idea behind the Selk’bag USA is that you wear the sleeping bag as a one piece suit, instead of just slipping inside of it! So you are literally covered head to toe with warmth and insulation. No more curling up, trying to find the best spot for comfort and warmth.
Think this is just a gimmick? Well, it does kind of verge on ‘too cool for camping school’, but it’s also pretty functional and holds it’s own against other synthetic sleeping bags in the same temperature ranges.
The Selk’bag USA has a robust and weather resistant 40D nylon ripstop shell exterior which can withstand the elements, and would fair well if you were moving around the campsite. 50D polyester lines the inside and feels soft against your skin, the low friction keeps you comfortable when moving about without irritation.
The insulation of this sleeping bag is synthetic polyester (no geese were harmed in the making of this sleeping bag, don’t worry). The insulation on the original bag is good to keep you warm down to 35 degrees. Although, there are also Lite and Kids versions of the bag by the same name that are only rated down to 45 degrees.
So will you be using this bag when you’re traversing up Everest? No. But if that were your goal, I doubt you’d be looking at a funky sleeping bag to begin with!
Even though this bag is designed around your body, it still utilizes traditional sleeping bag baffling, which really helps keep the insulation in place. This means that cold spots won’t form due to internal clumping of the polyester.

Will this bag actually keep you warm? For sure!

The Selk’bag USA has draft zippers along both of the dual front zippers which prevent cold air from seeping into your personal cocoon. Draw strings around the hood act just like a jacket would, and tighten the bag along your face to keep you warm.
Along with all the features that keep you snug, you’ve also got vents that run along the legs which allow air to escape and cool you down. Arm and body adjustment straps means that you can tailor this bag to your body for optimal temperature regulation. There are also quick release openings at the hands, which allow you to basically wear your sleeping bag while cooking, or play the guitar, or do whatever you need to while still staying in your bag! Pretty cool.

All in all, the Selk’bag USA is a funny looking piece of camping equipment which is actually very useful (for the average camper). This is definitely a novelty in the industry, but provides a lot of fun and works for the purpose it was designed for! Check out the Selk’bag USA today.

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