22.September 2018 NEW YORKNow60°F
Jim BevinSeptember 17, 2018
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2min170

All parents, in some way, want the best for their children. They may show it in different ways, but one thing is for certain: they love their children and want them to have a bright future. Some may shower their children with gifts and affection; some may be stern and require their children to develop various kinds of skills and talents.

For those who want their kids to develop a talent in musical instruments, here are some of the best easy-to-use musical gadgets that could help them learn and become experts in just a short period of time.

1. Loog Pro Electric

Although the guitar is the easiest instrument to learn, it can be quite overwhelming for beginners. The goal of Loog is to make the learning process fun for your kids. Loog Guitars are small, 3-string guitars that are designed for kids and adults alike, which makes learning to play the guitar easy and super fun.

Using the 3-string Loog Mini Guitar and the accompanying flashcards and app, your kids will be able to play songs right from day one. It is highly recommended as an ideal way to pique children’s interest in music.

Loog Pro Electric

The Loog Pro Electric is available in three categories: Loog Mini, Loog Pro, and Loog + Paul Frank. The Loog Mini is mainly intended for kids 3 years and above, while the Loog Pro and Loog + are targeted at kids aged 8 and above. It comes in 6 color themes: black, red, white, yellow, green, and pink.

If you purchase directly from the official website of Loog Guitars, you can make a return within 30 days (no questions asked) if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase. As a matter of fact, they will give you a full refund and also include the return shipping costs.

2. Orange Micro Crush Pix

The Orange Micro Crush Pix is a mini guitar amplifier that will be a great addition for an adventurous music session, with its full bass response and built-in chromatic tuner. It contains a 10cm speaker that sits compactly inside its 8.5 x 15 x 15cm orange frame. With its 0.8kg weight, it is extremely portable. It even includes strap holders that are placed at either side of its enclosure.

Orange Micro Crush Pix

The Orange Micro Crush Pix is dubbed as an ideal amplifier for home practice. Powered by a 9V battery, it provides a simple plugin and plays. What’s more, it also includes a clean channel for creating snappy, spritely sounds.

3. Gibson Memory Cable

If you want to capture a memorable music session effortlessly, you might want to try the Gibson Memory Cable.

The Gibson Memory Cable, which is a TASCAM-powered smart cable, is a neat 4.9-meter instrument cable that you can plug into any musical instrument like a guitar or keyboard. It can capture all musical notes in uncompressed WAV-format files, with a resolution of 44.1kHz/16-bit.

In order to capture the sounds and store it, the memory cable uses a built-in compact recorder system that is capable of saving up to 13 hours of play with a 4GB microSD card that is included in the purchase.

Gibson Memory Cable

4. Plan Toys Preschool Musical Band

Preschool Musical Band is a musical set from Plan Toys that is primarily designed for children aged three and above who wants to become a skilled drummer.

The set stands over 33cm tall and comes with a 16.3cm drum, a 12.2cm drum, a cymbal, a pair of drumsticks, and a guiro. The set is crafted mostly from natural rubber wood from trees that are no longer producing latex.

Plan Toys Preschool Musical Band

5. Zoom ARQ Midi Controller

The ARQ Midi Controller is an all-in-one production and live performance instruments that is extremely versatile; it’s like a multitool for both performers and producers.

It is comprised of an integrated drum machine, looper, sequencer, and MIDI controller. It also has a built-in accelerometer that lets you play unique drum parts and patterns by means of touch and movement.

Zoom ARQ Midi Controller

Zoom’s ARQ Midi Controller also includes a USB port that lets you connect to your computer, as well as an SD card where you can save samples and import previously recorded audio.

By using these top-grade gadgets, not only will your little ones learn to play music while having fun but they might also pick up a genuine interest in creating beautiful sounds on their own.


Jim BevinSeptember 15, 2018
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2min72

For those who haven’t updated their Gmail accounts yet, or those who don’t want to update, below are some ways that you can get large parts of the new Gmail experience, using only your current Google account. Read below for suggestions on how to improve your present Gmail setup and have a better Gmail experience.

updated their Gmail accounts

Gmail 2018 Update

Gmail’s latest update, which is mostly for the web version of Gmail, brings new security and AI features to Gmail account users.

First and foremost, everything from the old version of Gmail has been totally overhauled, giving it a brand new look. On the right, for instance, there is a new bar that is intended for add-ons. However, the most important change with the new Gmail is that you can now see and click attachments in your inbox without the need to open a thread.

Also, users can hover over messages to RSVP to an invite and even archive or snooze an email. With these features, it can basically reduce the need for users to frequently open the same emails in their inbox. Other features include blocking messages, creating expiration dates for emails, offering native offline capabilities, and retracting messages that were sent previously.

As for the layout, you can now see the Calendar, Keep, and Tasks pages in the side panel. Instead of sliding over a separate part of the screen, you can easily use these features from the side panel of your inbox.

Gmail 2018 Update

Google Labs and Extensions

Whether you’ve chosen to update your Gmail account or not, these additional features are available for you. All you need to do is go to the Settings menu and click on Google Labs or Advanced Options. By going to Google Labs or Advanced Options, you can access some unique options, which are listed below:

1.Canned Responses: This option can enable you to quickly reply to messages with pre-written replies. Type out a message that you often send, and then come back to it when you want to quickly send the same messages several times.

2.Preview Pane: This option lets you add a reading area where you can easily read messages without leaving the Inbox screen, which is a smart way of going through your emails.

3.Gmail offline: This option allows you to read, write, and send messages even without any connectivity. Once you’re online, all your activity will resume seamlessly.

4.Unread messages: This extension basically alters the favicon in your tabs. In place of the Gmail logo, it displays the number of new emails that you have.

5.Gmail snooze: This extension enables you to snooze messages by using Google’s labels. It’s a pragmatic solution that lets you take messages back to the top of the inbox.

6.MeisterTask: This option allows you to turn your emails into the same task-style interface that is being offered by the new Gmail and Inbox.

Exclusive Features of the New Gmail

Unfortunately, not every feature of the new Gmail can be replicated by using extensions. There is the “Confidential Mode”, for instance, that allows users to make their messages expire based on their prescribed date and time.

Furthermore, the Confidential Mode also lets users revoke messages that were previously sent and even ensure that messages are being accessed only by the intended recipient by adding in two-factor authentication.

Exclusive Features of the New Gmail

Even if you don’t want to revamp your current Gmail account, there’s no reason to worry because you can still make your Gmail experience better by spending a few minutes fiddling with the options menu.


Jim BevinSeptember 7, 2018
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2min81

Too much screen time can cause several harmful side effects on teens. Researchers can also agree to that fact, but a new study suggests that parents are also affected just as much by too much exposure to these portable screens.

Screen Addiction from Parents

Harmful Side Effects of Too Much Screen Time

1. The gray matter in the brain deteriorates

Various studies have shown that internet or gaming addiction can cause atrophy in gray matter areas of the brain, which is where processing occurs. Other areas that are affected are the frontal lobe, striatum, and insula.

2. The integrity of white matter is compromised

It is proven that too much screen exposure can compromise the integrity of the brain’s white matter, which often leads to loss of communication within the brain. White matter also connects networks from the brain to the body and vice versa.

3. There is a reduction in cortical thickness

Researchers have found that internet addiction can lead to a reduction in cortical thickness. In some cases, researchers found that there is a reduced cortical thickness in the frontal lobe of online gaming addicts, which correlates with the impairment of a cognitive task.

4. The cognitive function of the brain is impaired

Researchers have discovered that too much screen exposure can cause the brain to process information less efficiently, which ultimately leads to poor task performance.

5. There are uncontrolled cravings and impaired dopamine function

Studies show that online games cause the brain to release too much dopamine, which results to craving or urges that are similar to drug addiction.

Harmful Side Effects of Too Much Screen Time

Various Studies that Support the Claim

A report from the Pew Research Center states that parents are just as compromised by too much screen time. In a research entitled “How Teens and Parents Navigate Screen Time and Device Distractions”, data is presented regarding the behavior of tech-addled kids as well as the concerns and behaviors of their parents.

According to the report, every family member struggles to sustain a healthy relationship with their devices. About 51% of the teens say that their parents are distracted by their phones during conversations “at times”, whereas 14% say that their parents are “frequently” guilty of this particular behavior. In fact, parents are more likely than their teenage kids to be distracted by their phones outside of the home.

Various Studies that Support the Claim

Managing our Screen Time Better

Due to the concerns about too much screen time, several companies have introduced new features into phones, wearable, and other devices in order to help users have more self-control.

Google, for instance, announced its Digital Wellbeing Initiative in May, which offers Android users easy access to their activity log. Apple, on the other hand, announced its upcoming iOS will have a Screen Time feature that offers similar tools. These tech companies, along with other big-time tech executives like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, uses this strategy with the understanding that these gadgets are primarily designed to cause addiction in mind.

Aside from using these tools, one thing that we could do to better manage our screen time is to practice self-discipline. It will definitely be hard at first. But if we want our younger generations to heed our advice, we must set a good example for them to follow.

A certain amount of limits can be useful. It doesn’t have to be too harsh since it will run the risk of promoting rebellious behaviors. The most important thing is to educate children about the risk of too much exposure to gadgets and to be a good role model to them.

No one is indeed immune to products that are specially-designed to short-circuit one’s self-control, even parents. But if parents keep telling their children to do something that they themselves cannot do, then it will eventually generate more opportunities for conflict later on.


Jim BevinSeptember 5, 2018
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2min113

In our world today, hackers and scammers are constantly evolving and finding new ways to fool people. As a safety measure, we employ various principles and techniques in creating our passwords so as to prevent these people from accessing our personal information.

Recently, there is news that Bitcoin fanatics are using DNA in storing their cryptocurrency passwords. They hide their password inside a microtube of DNA. Don’t believe it? A startup that is called Carver is providing the very same service I have shared: protecting the digital money of its customers.

DNA in storing their cryptocurrency passwords

Carver, a Financial Biotechnology Startup

Carver is a startup company that is exploring various technologies and concepts. It doesn’t really have a direct connection with cryptocurrencies. But with this new service, that situation is about to change real soon.

Carver is currently looking at the possibility of building a partnership with various cryptocurrency companies (or bitcoin companies) by offering an innovative cold storage solution for cryptocurrency assets.

Storing Information on DNA

Carver offers an insurance policy, which is both unique and extreme, for the precarious world of cryptocurrency. The service incorporates a new area of genetics research; that is, using synthetic DNA as a means to store information. They are able to store a wide range of sources like Word doc, animated GIFs, and even an operating system.

It might sound odd at first, but it has the potential to become a valid alternative as people struggle to find legitimate storage space for the ever-growing data that are produced every day.

For those who are interested, the service costs $1,000. It might be too expensive for most people, but Carver CEO and Co-Founder Vashaal Bhuyan assures that it is completely worth it.

According to Bhuyan, DNA crypto key storage is just another type of encryption tool; it will probably last longer and will be more reliable than saving your information on a USB stick or hard drive.

“DNA is the only thing that won’t become obsolete. So, the way I see it, this is a trust or 401(k) that you can be assured will keep your assets and information safe for a very, very long time,” said Bhuyan.

Storing Information on DNA

How the Service Works

To be able to convert a data file into DNA is surprisingly easy. When data is broken down into a basic binary form, it appears to be just a bunch of zeros and ones. In the case of DNA, its language is comprised of four letters: A, T, C, and G, which are the abbreviations for the nucleotides that form the rings of the DNA ladder.

In order to translate binary to the language of DNA, a person needs to have a conversion system. For instance, let’s try substituting A to 00, T to 01, C to 10, and G to 11. So, if you have the string 11000101001000, it would translate to GATTACA.

Nowadays, laboratories can print out the DNA chemicals together in any order that a client wants. It could be something peculiar or something long, as long as it adheres to the client’s wishes.

Now, all these things are sitting at the bottom of a microtube, which sometimes might be suspended in a drop of liquid, stored until it is ready to be read by a lab-sequencing machine. At that time, the alphabet code can be translated back into binary form.

I bet you’re now asking yourself why you should use DNA to store data. Well, you should, especially if you have something valuable to store. The main reason should be because it is secure and enduring, which is mostly owed to its multiple layers of encryption.

It doesn’t have to be right now, but you should probably think about using this service in the future.


Jim BevinAugust 24, 2018
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2min91

In a world where you can almost always see someone taking a selfie or posting a photo on Instagram, taking instant photos seems like a thing of the past. Today’s young generation is more predisposed to clinging to their smartphones and other gadgets. They don’t know the joy of clicking a Polaroid camera and seeing a photo come out seconds later.

There’s a genuine beauty in instant cameras. The way you have to manually fine-tune the settings of the camera in order to get the picture-perfect shot and the way a photo comes out shortly afterward is really fascinating.

What I’m going to share with you in this article is a list of the best instant cameras that you can take anywhere, even to the beach. Before that, let me share how the instant camera has continuously evolved into what it is today.

Brief History of the Instant Camera

The instant camera uses self-developing film, which creates a chemically developed photo shortly after clicking the camera. Polaroid Corporation was the one who pioneered and patented instant cameras. Soon after that, several different manufacturers followed suit.

In 1923, Samuel Shlafrock invented the earliest instant camera, which is made up of the camera and a portable wet darkroom in a single box, although it wasn’t until 1948 that the first commercial instant camera was offered in the market when American scientist Edwin Land created the model 95 Land Camera.

In 2009, Polaroid was purchased by PLR IP Holdings, LLC and was used to market Polaroid branded Fuji Instax instant cameras and several other digital cameras and portable printers.

The 3 Best Instant Cameras on my List

1.FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 9

Being on the market for years, there is definitely a reason why the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is so well-liked. Aside from being one of the most affordable instant cameras in the market today, the Mini 9 is also very portable and intuitive to use. It also comes in different colors. So, you can choose something that perfectly fits your style.

If there is a downside to using the Mini 9, it’s that the photos come out as small. The Mini 9 also offers few features and is kind of hard to adjust to get the perfect shot.

FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 9

2.LOMOGRAPHY LOMO’INSTANT SQUARE

The Lomo’Instant is probably the instant camera with the most artistic design. The full body of the camera, with its leathery neck exposed, looks a lot like an old projector. To turn on the Lomo’Instant, you need to open the camera’s main flap and then it’s on.

The good thing about Lomo’Instant is that it guarantees very good quality photos with every click and offers numerous features. It also has an ability to swap between mini and square film.

There are two cons in using the Lomo’Instant, however: its pricey cost and the steep learning curve. Even with the manual, you will find that it is difficult to get the hang of using the camera’s features and functionalities.

LOMOGRAPHY LOMO’INSTANT SQUARE

3.FUJIFILM INSTAX SQUARE SQ6

Although the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 shares some similarities with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, it is clear that the SQ6 is the more premium offer.

The SQ6, with its square-shaped body, offers a total of seven settings. There’s the selfie mode, double exposure, toggles to control brightness, and even an automatic mode. It has a timer button for taking selfies. It also has a flash suppression button, which keeps the camera flash from firing automatically.

The SQ6 is a bit pricey; however, you can expect that it will provide you with great-looking photos and fond memories that are surely worth it.

FUJIFILM INSTAX SQUARE SQ6

Conclusion

Overall, I think the best of the list is the Fujifilm Instax SQ6. Not only does it produce photos with great quality, but it is also simple and easy to use.


Jim BevinJuly 27, 2018
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2min328

Back when I graduated in college and started to be a working individual, one reality that I was always being kept reminded of is how there is so little time to do everything. I mean, who hasn’t ever wished that they could be more productive and be more efficient?

As for me, I almost always get pulled in so many different directions that I don’t know which way to go first. On top of that, there are so many distractions that eventually waste most of my precious time.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my years of working, it is “how being organized can help me become more productive and efficient at work”. In order to save precious time and become more productive, you only need to avoid distractions and keep yourself organized.

In this article, you will read about the importance of being organized and you will get acquainted with some of the best productivity tools that can help boost your productivity and can help reduce wasted time.

Best productivity tools

Importance of Being Organized

Now, some people may take this for granted, but being organized can bring lots of benefits not only to working individuals but to all people in general.

The first and most important benefit of being organized is gaining focus. When you’re focused, you can think about what you want to do and what you want to achieve. Having focus also lets you make good choices, both at work and in your personal life. Also, when you’re focused, you’re also able to do more and in lesser time. Not to mention that your stress levels will significantly be reduced since you’re free from clutter and chaos.

Another benefit is having a better work-life balance. Most of us may not realize this, but we can sometimes get so wrapped up in the jobs that we lose sight of the things that truly matter. Yes, having a job is important because it gets food on the table, but you also have to remember why you’re working so hard. Since being organized can help us be more efficient and focused, we no longer have to spend as much time at work and we can spend our precious time with our loved ones.

Lastly, being organized can bring more energy and enthusiasm in your life. Having to deal with disorganized tables and files can be physically and mentally draining. Being organized can provide the clarity that you need in order to feel more energetic in your day-to-day life.

Why You Should Use Productivity Tools

If you’re thinking along the lines of “I could always just use Excel to keep track of my work”, then I’ve got something to tell you: “You’re missing the big picture, buddy.”

Productivity tools can bring a lot of benefits to everyone, especially to those who are working. One notable benefit is, of course, improvements in productivity and efficiency. Certainly, you would want to see a considerable increase in the amount of work that you do. But productivity tools do more than that; it’s not always about output as there is definitely more to it than just that.

Not only do productivity tools improve the quantity of your work, but it also improves the quality as well. You can also reap some long-term benefits, like having the opportunity to correct past mistakes, for instance, from most online productivity tools.

Recommended Productivity Tools that You Can Use

  1. Trello

Trello is a collaboration tool that can help you organize all of your tasks or projects, turning it into visually appealing, user-friendly boards. Trello is considered to be a powerhouse in project management, and it also has plenty of integrations with other applications that can help to automate some of your work. Another good thing about Trello is that you can use it for free.

Trello is a collaboration tool

  1. Be Focused

Be Focused is one of the Pomodoro applications for macOS. Be Focused has a neat and minimalist theme for its user interface, and it provides an easy access to your timers while also providing enough additional features without creating disorder. You will be happy to know that you can use Be Focused free of cost.

Be Focused is one of the Pomodoro applications for macOS

  1. Zapier

Zapier is a web-based service that lets its users integrate the web applications that they use and automate tasks relating to those applications. Of course, not every task can be automated by using Zapier, but it will surely complete a huge part of your boring and repetitive tasks. Not only that, it will be much easier to monitor and organize your tasks if a large part of it can be handled automatically by a tool. You can absolutely use Zapier for free, but you can also opt to use its premium version for just $20 per month.

Zapier is a web-based service

When all is said and done, what really matters is how you value productivity within yourself or an organization. It is not necessarily about the tools that you use but how you use it. If you only see the quantifiable side of being productive, then you may be missing the true benefits of your software and tools.



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