What’s in a Name?

I guess you have to be great to find a watch named after you. Ha! This is no joke. In reality, Stuhrling makes a Victoria watch. Could it be? It is named after me. Let me have my fantasy, so don’t email me with criticism. It is a lot of fun to claim a namesake, so I am going to do it in this blog. First I must tell you that this is a gorgeous design. It is rectangular in stainless steel and features a crystal-set bezel, a great-looking link bracelet, and a combination of day, date, and 24-hour chronograph subdials. Need I say more. This is a beauty! It has quartz movement with analog display, a protective crystal dial window, a fold-over clasp with a double push-button safety closure. You get a textured crown, hand-applied baton indices with Roman numeral marker at the twelve o’clock spot. If that isn’t enough, it is water-resistant to 165 feet. I think I have covered the basics.

I am going to wear my Victoria with pride and will tell everyone I encounter. Does that make me a braggart? I hope not. I will mention that most of the reviews of Stuhrling watches I read said that it is associated with classic refinement and a modern feel. All their watches are eye catching, no matter if it is rose or silver tone. Some of them reveal the mechanism of the timepiece through an opening in the back of the round steel case. While I prefer the bracelet style, the company also makes leather bands, some with a contemporary metallic satin overlay. The buckle that secures the strap is nice, but I am glad I don’t have to mess with one. I am rather clumsy. I like to slide my watch right onto my wrist.

Stuhrling is known for its high-quality craftsmanship and a distinct level of sophistication. No wonder I boast. If you want to give one as a gift—and they are not too pricey—the watch comes in a special box along with an instruction manual, warranty information, and a polishing cloth. The watches are made in Hong Kong with the movement country of origin—China. Hence the low cost. But don’t misjudge the functionality. These watches are popular because they are durable and last. It is what I call a good value.

I wonder why they came up with the model name—Victoria. I guess it is as good as any. It may seem odd to select a watch based on its name, but I was bound and determined. The company makes many styles and I found one that combined the right look and the perfect name. I hope they don’t offer a line of watches called Richard, Susan, Sally, or Sam. It would be overkill and ruin my special namesake. I want to be the only one who has a watch bearing their name. I am going to write a letter to the company to make sure. Meanwhile, check out the Stuhrling Victoria on line and see what got me so excited.

Germs are Gross

Hunter is a popular brand for home shopping channels. The air purifiers they make are also available at mass merchants and home centers, including Walmart, Best Buy, and Lowe’s. So apparently there are a lot of people out there who find germs to be gross and want to use a machine to tackle them in the air, along with dust, pollen, allergens, bacteria, smoke, and odors. This is a marvel of an appliance that makes you feel that your home has really had the once over beyond a little dusting and a floor mop. They can’t produce enough of these fast enough to supply the rampant demand.

During cold and flu season, my parents always would drag the Hunter out. They thought it would make us well faster if we breathed in better air minus the respiratory irritants and airborne pollutants. They were probably right and are not taking too many precautions. Since I grew up this way, I decided to buy my own appliance at the opportune moment since I, too, believe, that germs are gross. It is a small price to pay for good health.

You would be surprised at what is floating about in the air, and you can’t avoid it. If you open your windows and doors a lot, more stuff comes in to plague your lungs and sinuses. It is no wonder so many people have allergies. Thank goodness someone invented a high-tech remedy. High-tech innovations are on standby to help with almost any human ailment. After all, the air we take into our bodies is just as important as the food and beverages we consume. It is said that air quality ranks among the most significant factors on our health. This means that air purification is one of our top priorities. It is for me. It pays to learn what you can and consult with expert staff in stores where you can get information and a quick demonstration. It also pays to listen to people who own them and get their opinion. You are all part of a club of people who believe in self-protection through modern technology. Anyone who has struggled for a breath at night due to allergies knows of what I speak. You will, like me, run out and get a quiet, highly effective machine that has the best rating. A Hunter is not a bad choice. Since 1886, Hunter has provided the world with fans, lighting, humidifiers, whole house air purifiers and air filters of the utmost craftsmanship and quality. With styles ranging from classic to contemporary, products are not only ultra-quiet, but are also beautifully built. Intent on making your comfort a priority, Hunter designs products with quick, easy installation and maintenance in mind. If this sounds like an ad, it certainly is. I use it and can attest to the veracity of these words.

I know that I can clean my house top to bottom, but still smell lingering odors when I walk in the front door. An air purifier takes cleanliness to the next level through carbon pre-filters and permanent HEPA filters that together capture almost 99.9% of dust, pollen, mold spores, and odors (including acetone benzene, ethylene glycol and formaldehyde) that pass through the unit. I get improved air quality instantly. Plus the machine actually tells me when I need new filters. Amazing! Plus, the 3-speed fan control means I can dampen noise when I want. Did I say a marvel of high-tech yet? I believe that I did.

Biometrics in Action: Safes

Technology is what makes the world go round. It is true for me, but also for most people I know. Even those not totally tuned into the digital realm, for example, have had their lives transformed for the better. There is literally something out there that has sparked inspiration for someone of any age, old or young.

Let’s focus in on biometrics, the most unique physical features that our computers can sense and interpret. It is said that biometrics may be used as proxies for our physical selves in the digital world and that is a mouthful. It is all about bonding digital data to our identities in a clear and permanent fashion such that we can retrieve it with our devices quickly and efficiently. Let’s give a shout out for automation, shall we!

Identity is composed of a myriad of pieces of information such as a description of our being, our address, birthdate, social security number, and relationships. We use it in the larger sense to conduct digital activity, store information, and foster accountability. It should eliminate fraud and mistrust. It is a kind of alter ego. Think of credit history, transcripts, medical records, and the like. Biometrics are our most unique physical and behavioral features that are used as proxies for our real selves. Thus we want to protect our identity at all costs.

Beyond the computer application, biometrics are used in practical, tangible ways. Take the biometric gun safe, for example. These safes use human traits to gain access. It must be a very distinguishable one such as a fingerprint, DNA, face recognition, iris recognition, etc. In other words, the unit identifies and authenticates the user based on an intrinsic physiological or behavioral trait. This could, in addition to the aforementioned, be voice, typing rhythm, and body gait. We have come a long way from a key in a lock or a rotary dial.

When all works as planned, the safe is secure from unauthorized access. You don’t have to worry about forgetting a combination or password, having an electronic lock battery go dead, or losing a key. You theoretically cannot tamper with a biometric gun safe, which makes it a perfect model for the home to prevent family accidents or to deter theft. In short, a biometric gun safe is individual specific.

A top grade model is the Browning PP52F that goes for a whopping $5,000 plus. This maker is well known for firearms and fishing gear. It can house 22-43 guns depending upon the racking arrangement. It comes in a desert smoke color adorned with a whitetail duck and doe scene. It would be fine to have it fully exposed in a den, garage, or rec room. It has a special pistol rack and optional dehumidifier. You can add a few extra solid steel shelves.

Browning also makes a 10-gun safe with biometric control that is about half the price. Adjustable shelves maximize storage and you can buy add-ons such as jewelry boxes and/or a fire box. An LED lighting system keeps objects clearly visible when it is open. Whatever you choose, if it is biometric, you know you are sharing in 21st century advanced technology.

Gunky Keyboard Fix

Sometimes, my car is my office. I am going to admit it right now, my car isn’t always the cleanest place in the world. And here’s another thing I am not entirely proud of – I have an air compressor for my car (because I have a thing about my tire pressure after being stranded once with a flat) and sometimes, I just plug that sucker in and blow the stuff out of my car (I pick most of it up, I swear. The stuff that doesn’t either blow away or isn’t crumbs, that is). If you’ve ever read that stat about how humans shed like 100 hairs in a day and didn’t believe it, I’ll make you a believer just looking around in my car; it somehow gets everywhere and all over everything that is in my car for more than an hour or so.

Since my car isn’t always the cleanest place to hang out, when I bring my laptop in there, sometimes the keyboard ends up all gunky and gross, including underneath keys. No idea how that happens. I used to use compressed air cans to clean it, but – you guessed it – the cans just hung out in my car for months waiting for me to recycle them. And really, I don’t need that kind of hassle. Seriously. People want to talk to me about my “huffing” problem and it’s really just that I’m lazy. That’s an awkward conversation. I can see how they make the assumption, but I’m not that kind of girl.

So I needed something that gave off less of an “I need an intervention” impression. I decided to try and see if my trusty tire inflating air compressor could help me out. Mine is pretty tiny and is 12 volts (meaning it runs off the car, and I can’t plug it into a regular outlet), but it is great at tires. So the last time my computer was in the car, I tested it out. I don’t get how I never eat while typing or gaming and yet it looks like I’ve been eating toast over the keys regularly. Where does this stuff COME from, anyway? You know what, nevermind, I don’t want to know. I started up the car, started the compressor, and set it to the lowest setting I could – I don’t want to be blowing the spacebar off or anything – and got to work. The hose for the compressor is pretty long (obviously, what good would it be if I had to leave the unit in the car and the hose didn’t reach the back tires?) so I was able to sit on a big piece of plastic outside of the car while I cleaned. I used the tire needle attachment to really get the air focused where I needed it. It worked like a charm and everything that blew out landed either on me (gross) or on the plastic I had put out. I was able to clean the keyboard pretty nicely and folded up the plastic so all the gunk went right in the trash.

One of these days, I’m going to get a virtual keyboard for my tablet and then I won’t have this problem, but until then, I am going to continue to use my trusty 12v compressor to get the job done on my tires and my keyboard!

Some Girls Have a Purse for Every Occasion…

You say you never heard of Bostitch? How about Arrow, Stanley, DeWALT or Klinch-Pak? Well, if the answer is no, you are seriously lacking in stapler knowledge. You are also no doubt weak in know-how. You probably think that this device just collates pieces of paper upon rare occasions. You would be wrong. Staplers can do so much more. There are as many uses as there are types.

I, for one, have a stapler for every occasion. Some are in the house and garage, others at work, and more than one in my purse. You could say I am a bit of a self-taught expert on the subject. So listen up. You can pay from a few dollars to a few hundred depending upon the purpose. No budget is too great when it comes to outfitting your life with something this practical.

Let’s start small with the most well-known type. It sits idly on most desks waiting for attention. It jumps into action but needs care and feeding every once in a while. You don’t need a manual to understand it or Bandaids housed nearby. It can be called upon for mundane tasks like closing cartons when you are packing and other assorted repair work. It definitely is a gadget to press into action.

Climbing up the stapler scale, you encounter the electronic stapler that has merited its excellent reputation. You don’t even need to touch it and it snaps closed, producing a strategically placed and secure staple. It loves really thick stacks of papers and can handle cardboard like a breeze. This one lives in the office but has been known to frequent many garages and work stations.

Let’s not forget the trusty heavy duty staple gun that affixes most anything during construction. It is used in upholstering and crafts, and is particularly useful for decorating and assembling multi-component objects. Put up posters to find a lost dog or nail Christmas lights to your eaves—this sturdy winner does it all.

The granddaddy of them all is a pneumatic stapler running up there in the six hundred dollar range. This one is not for the faint at heart. Then there is the hammer tacker made of steel and chrome. We are getting into a serious area here suitable for only those skilled in construction. You do need a first aid kit around for these babies. Some staplers are really tools for professionals like a carpet version. They are a far cry from my purse-sized pink mini stapler complete with metallic refills.

If you aren’t a diehard aficionado of this wonderful invention, you can take your pick of one or two types. I have more, but then I know how to wield this mighty monster. I have been to the online “World of Staplers” and read all the info. I keep instructions in the kitchen drawer. In short, staplers are fun and practical, and you can’t have enough. They can handle simple to complex tasks without breaking down. Just don’t forget to buy refills as this can be the bane of their existence.

White Noise Apps: Better Than the Real Thing?

Ah! Blissful sleep. Nodding off to dreamland. This is what you want every night to keep your body going. Why is it so hard for some people, however, to fall and stay in slumber land? Insomnia is rampant. You wait for heavy-lidded eyes to take you away, but it doesn’t happen.

The culprit can be a noisy, distracting environment. Maybe it’s the neighbors, your own family watching late night TV, the dog skittering about the wood floor, or a night owl. It can be the buzz of a clock, a fountain in your courtyard, or traffic from afar. Or perhaps it’s an uncomfortable pillow that should be replaced with a new one like these. Whatever is the bane of your existence has a solution, and it is called “white noise.”

You get it from a small sound machine engineered to produce a pleasant constant background noise that wipes away anything else in your ambience. For about $50, you can get a good one and finally attain some serious shut eye. Dohm is the original maker, so why not opt for the best. Turn it on and tune out the world.

A practical white noise machine should have two speeds, adjustable tone, and volume control. Most do. You want to ask about improved sound quality as compared to budget models. The colors and shapes are nonintrusive and fairly similar. With the Dohm, you get acoustic housing surrounding a two-speed electric motor with an asymmetrical fan—rather unique. As a result, soothing sound can be yours such as simple rushing air. This will block noise at a wide range of frequencies, which is what you want and is to be expected at any price.

If you want to spend more, just shy of a hundred bucks, the Tinnitus Therapy and Sleep Machine comes highly recommended. It is actually a white noise alarm clock with two interchangeable sound cards. Professionally recorded sounds will help the worst insomniac learn to relax and unwind. Apparently the white noise targets alpha, beta, and delta brainwave patterns on one card and eases tinnitus on the other to promote deep, restorative sleep. The world of digital soundscapes is rather amazing.

Your own personal sound environment is at your fingertips. But this is not your only option. There are apps that fill the bill quite nicely. The Sharper Image is at your service with a choice of relaxing sounds. Depending on your mood and lifestyle, you can select forest stream, thunderstorm, summer rain, ocean surf, or generic white noise. These sound so good you might want one on all of the time to help you focus and concentrate while studying or working. Get that iPod out right now. I believe the app is free.

It pays to get some kind of sound soother in your midst. Conquering insomnia is no easy task. You can try not eating before bed, stopping texts and emails, and turning off the TV. You can count sheep till you drop off. Everyone has a system, but many forget the value of white noise. With the app, you get a pleasant image on your screen as well to help with the power of escapist suggestion.

The Digital Revolution

Think about the Information Age and how the Digital Revolution made that possible. Both are game changers for the world in how we do business, work, play, handle money, and any number of normal daily tasks. In fact, digital technology has become so much a part of our lives that we ignore the changes that have taken place over the last ten years.

Once upon a time you had to stand in line at a bank to cash a check. There was signature verification, and it took several days for the money to be made available to you. Now there is Direct Deposit for almost every kind of financial transaction, whether it is your pay check or an income tax refund. There are smartphone apps that let you take a picture of the check and send it to the bank to be deposited. No bank visit required.

It’s clear that the Digital Revolution will have just as much impact, if not more than, previous technology revolutions like the Industrial Revolution. It changed the way people lived and looked at life, and that’s what is happening now.

If you buy a new car, most of the functions are controlled by a computer chip in the car. The computer controls everything from the power windows to the digital readouts on the dashboard. (Personally, I like the digital readouts.) But that brings with it some problems because of something goes wrong with the computer chip you could have some serious problems with your car. If you are like most people, your car breaking down is a major event.

Think about how music and movies have changed our lives over the last decade or so. Once music had to be bought on a physical medium, like a CD or DVD. Now you can download everything onto your computer and play it back and get the same sound and video quality as the CD or DVD – sometimes even better. The cost has dropped, even though there are still some people complaining about the prices.

Here is another way the digital revolution has become a part of your daily life – the telephone. Because of smartphone and cell phone digital technology, there are places in the country where it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a public phone. Cities and towns have had to remove many of the old-fashioned cord phones because no one was using them. These days if you don’t have a cell phone of some type, even if you are a teenager, people wonder why not. Like other products, the digital revolution has resulted in the lowering of prices of what were once expensive products. A telephone is considered a necessity instead of an option for most people today.

The current wave of technology is the mobile device, and it is being expanded into the workplace by wearable technology. This is technology that you can wear on clothing or your body, like an Apple Watch, and it will send and receive data automatically. Some younger employees are asking for this type of technology to make their jobs easier and raise their personal productivity level. This not something that is happening by accident.

Unknowingly, all of us have entered the Digital Revolution with open arms, and depend on digital technology far more than even 5 years ago. The impact of the Digital Revolution is just starting to be felt.

Bigger Isn’t Better

If you haven’t noticed, the size of technology continues to get smaller with each new device upgrade. Laptops are smaller, thinner, and lighter than just five years ago yet can do somewhat more than their predecessors. The prices have come down as well, which is always good because I’ll have more money to spend on other stuff. I remember the days when laptops were huge and heavy, and you had to be careful when you carried them around.

But the size issue also carries over the mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones. When Apple came out with the iPod-Mini, a lot of people were saying it wasn’t a good idea because it did the same basic things as the bigger model, only on a smaller screen. People liked the mini version because it was cheaper and they wanted something that would fit into a backpack or briefcase and wouldn’t take up so much space. Many people, myself included, liked the idea of smaller is better.

One thing people are talking about now is the screen size of smartphones. A lot of people are streaming video and shopping using smartphones, so they want a bigger size screen to make it easier on their eyes. One truth about using a smartphone to shop with or do any kind of major reading on is that companies haven’t done that great of a job making their web sites easy to read on smaller screens. Instead of waiting for businesses to catch up, I guess it is easier to ask for a bigger screen.

I know this isn’t going to be popular, and some people are going to hate on me for it, but why don’t these people pushing for a larger screen size just get a mini-tablet? If you do that much online reading or shopping, then get the right device for the job. If the argument is that the tablet costs too much, what do you think the manufacturers of smartphones are going to do – lower the price? OK, it might be a bit of a pain to have to get two devices, but if a larger screen is what you need then get a larger screen!

Maybe it’s because I am a female-type but I like things small. Small and compact. First, there’s only so much I can fit in my purse. Then there is the weight to consider. Bigger devices tend to weigh more, though that is not always true. But I’m almost positive I’ll be paying more for big and lightweight. Companies have spent a lot of money on making components smaller, and I’m all for it.

As popular as mobile devices are, I don’t want to leave out laptops. They seem to be getting lighter and thinner all the time. While tablets and smartphones make the news, they are not the answer for people who are serious and heavy users of computers. It may be a retro idea, but there are still some things a laptop can do more easily, and cheaply, than a mobile device.

The Watch: Are we ready for tech?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI just heard about the Apple Watch coming out and I’m not really sure I want to wear one just yet. Apple went through a lot of trouble designing the bands and watch styles so people would wear them as a fashion item more than a tech tool. If you don’t believe me, go to their web site and look at their Apple Watch page.

The first thing is the price. How many normal people would spend that much on any watch? So here comes Apple and they think because it is from Apple and innovative that somehow we must buy it. Apple does a lot of innovative stuff, and some of them have really changed the way people work with and think about technology. But they may have gone too far with the watch.

If people are anything like me, they are hard on their watches. That’s why a lot of people liked the idea of the iPhone. No watch required. The clock is in your pocket or on the desk out of the way, yet easy to get to. When I did get a watch as a gift a few years ago I broke the crystal and the strap pretty quickly. I felt pretty bad about it because it was a gift, and I would feel worse if someone bought me a really expensive watch and I did the same thing to it.

Who wears watches these days anyway except well-to-do people who use it as a fashion accessory? Now Apple is asking us to wear a watch with a microphone and speaker that we can talk into. Personally, I’d feel really creepy seeing someone doing that in public. It can store some tunes for listening but not your entire music library. So I see myself talking to my friends on this watch, and then having people watch me listen to my music on it. Somehow it just doesn’t seem right.

What I compare this to is the Google Glass. Google pulled the idea because having what amounts to be a camera on your head makes people uncomfortable. So if the Apple Watch can record people talking, won’t that make people uncomfortable just the same? Now Google Glass was like three times more expensive than this watch, and who could afford those? Most of the people who wore the Glass were geeks anyway. I hope Apple isn’t trying to turn all of us into watch wearing geeks.

Besides, to get the full use of the Apple Watch you have to have to have an iPhone 5 or higher. So the watch really isn’t a standalone device. People are going to balk at the price to begin with, and then add the price to buy or upgrade to an iPhone 5 just to use the thing. It isn’t diamond studded or anything like that, so unless it can control drones flying around the neighbourhood, it’s hard to see people wanting one. I think this is different than the smartphone, which is really a better cell phone. With those you can put them in your pocket, purse, or briefcase. The watch can only be in one place all the time.

The Triumvirate

gmaWe might like to admit it, but there are basically three big tech companies we will have to deal with for the foreseeable future because they will influence our personal tech choices. You know the three – Apple, Google, and Microsoft. The truth is they have been around for a while and it is more than likely you have one or more pieces of their technology on your computer or in your home.

Google is getting involved in everything from driverless cars to trying to reintroduce an improved Google Glass for the general public. I think they will have to reconsider the price tag though. Apple has their Apple Watch along with a continuing steam of smartphones people line up to get. Microsoft seems to be lagging behind these two, the biggest reason being that they were late to get into the mobile device game.

You should notice that all three companies are more invested in the hardware side of technology than the software or apps. One of the reasons is that many apps require being connected to the Internet, and that is an essential feature of any consumer technology. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept that is making connectivity essential even for the maintenance of home appliances. From a business viewpoint, hardware is where the money is.

The good news in all this is even though these three get most of our attention (and money) the prices we pay for technology have gone down over the years. Smartphones pack in more features with each new upgrade, and storage of our data can be done outside of our computing device to be accessed anywhere in the world. We don’t think much of all of this but at the same time our lives are built around having the technology. It is more than a little weird.

Should we thank the Triumvirate? I’m not so sure about that just yet. Here’s the thing. Their technology has benefitted our personal lives in so many ways. Just considering Google’s search engine, how many times do you use it in a single day and what would you do without it? I think I made my point. We have become dependent on these three companies and in the process have lost something as well.

Do we really know what is being stored on our computers with all their updates? None of the Triumvirate can seem to solve the problem of making our computers secure from hackers and viruses. It’s interesting that these issues are mostly about the software, not the hardware that is their cash cow.

That seems to leave us with the problem of getting quality stuff for cheap, but having to feel less secure about using the devices whether it is a laptop or smartphone. There aren’t a lot of choices for a smartphone operating system, the most popular provided by the Triumvirate. The same with Internet search engines. Then there is the cost, where before our old phones begin to show signs of wear, there is a newer model out that offers greater promise.

As much as I appreciate what they have done for us, I would feel more secure if they focused more on getting things right than moving faster. I realize the profit motive here, but I think most people prefer that their technology serve them rather than the other way around. Maybe it is just me.