Lifestyle:

5 Examples of Old-School Tech That’s Trending Now

It’s pretty interesting how often life seems to be a bit circular, in so many ways. Normally, once a technology has passed its prime, it doesn’t resurface. That holds true in most cases, but there are some fairly old-school technologies that have come back, and are on a hot trending run with people everywhere!

Check out these five old-school tech gadgets that are trending right now.

1. Record players

We’re not sure exactly why, but record players seem to be hot with music fans across the world. Maybe it’s the gritty sound of a long-playing disc, or the fact that hot deejays and rappers like the Beastie Boys have reached an iconic status that will keep record players hot as a symbol of coolness.

Who knows? But record players are trending, that’s for sure!

2. Chuck Taylor-style shoes

These shoes are basic and seemingly low tech, but they’ve come back hotter than ever. You can blame it on hipster subculture, or just the fact that they’re simple and durable and not flashy. And maybe that’s what this overly glamorous world craves right now!

3. Handwritten letters

Perhaps it’s because the post office is under pressure and might go away, or maybe it’s just because people are growing tired of staring at digital screens and bland emails. Either way, handwritten letters are all the rage right now, and they make a thoughtful gift too!

4. Glasses

Reading glasses are so popular right now that people are wearing eyeglass frames that have clear lenses, just because they think it looks cool and sophisticated. There have been all types of advances in technology when it comes to contact lenses and even corrective laser surgery technology; despite all that, people are going for spectacles and the trendy frames that come with them.

Is it because everyone wants to be Clark Kent, instead of having to perform like Superman? Who knows, but we’re sure of this: eyeglasses and frames are smoking hot right now!

5. Labels

And no, we’re not talking about labels like “nerd” or “popular”; those probably aren’t ever going away. We’re talking about old-school label-makers and dog tags, and all kinds of labels that are being marketed as easy entertaining labels or easy identification labels.

Making life easier is a hot trend in an increasingly complicated world, so this one makes a lot of sense.

Entertainment:

4 Superheroes That Have Office Day Jobs

Who doesn’t love a superhero? I mean, comic books have came to the rescue of many a mundane life: they take the average kid into a world of amazing feats and magic. The superhero with amazing abilities is larger than life.

But there’s another side to the superhero to which we rarely pay homage. The fact that these superheroes have a regular life with an ordinary office job makes them more human to us.

They deal with some of the same issues that many of the rest of us face in the office environment. So which one of our dashing heroes has that 9-5 office job? There are four very well-known superheroes that work in an office during the day.

1. Spider-Man

Peter Parker, high school grad and newspaper photographer is our hero! While in costume as the web-crawling crime fighter Spider-Man, he amazes and intrigues with his ability to capture villains.

His life is clearly a duality. By day, he’s a geeky free-lance newspaper photographer who just cannot seem to catch a break from his boss, J. Jonah Jameson. The difference between this character and his costumed alter ego is as huge as from day to night. Who would have believed that Peter Parker could have such confidence in costume?

2. Iron Man

Tony Stark, the conceited CEO of Stark Enterprises, is an amazing superhero. Though he transforms from office to armor-wearing hero by night, his personality remains the same within the office.

His careless attitude and demeanor have unnerved many of his coworkers and subordinates. Does Tony Stark care about his reputation? Not at all!

3. She-Hulk

Not only is Jennifer Walters strong and undefeatable as the crime-fighting green monster, she’s also a ruthless lawyer with the firm Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg and Holliway. She seldom ever loses a case. On many occasions she has helped her fellow superheroes in legal jams as well.

4. Batman

Bruce Wayne, the gothic superhero we all love, has a fairly normal life as a wealthy businessman. His high-society lifestyle is the flip side of his serious personality as the Batman.

When he fights crime, we can almost see him standing aside and dusting off his costume. His values and focus on the good of society show in his clean-cut hero attributes.

As we see, superheroes are not usually reckless (with the possible exception of Tony Stark). Some superheroes live something of the day-to-day life that most of us do. By day, the serious office duties may hold their attention; but at night, the world is grateful for the superhero’s daring rescue.

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last update: July 29, 2015

Lifestyle:

3 Ways to Protect Your Foster Child From Online Threats


Foster parents can be real heroes to a child undergoing a rough time. All parents have to deal with challenges, but foster parents have extra challenges that others don’t.

Foster children can have a wide variety of emotional needs and issues, which can make them especially vulnerable to online predators. Additionally, birth parents and relatives can use social media to make contact with their child, even if contact isn’t supposed to occur.

New social media sites pop up all the time, and keeping track of your child’s online activity can be challenging. But help is available!

Here are three ways to protect your foster child from online threats.

1. Online pseudonyms

Unfortunately, birth parents or other relatives will often defy the courts and attempt to contact a foster child. The easiest way to search for someone online is to search for his or her name, so an easy and effective way to maintain anonymity online is to use pseudonyms.

A child has no particular need for his or her real name to be attached to social media sites, so simply create a fake name for your foster child to use online. The best type of pseudonym is something simple and generic; a variation of the child’s existing name is probably not a good idea.

2. No photos

Not too long ago, a pseudonym would’ve been enough online protection. Today, however, a wealth of information about someone can be obtained simply from a photo.

With Google Image Search, and similar photo-based search engines, it can be possible to find people online even if they’re not using their real name. It’s also not terribly complicated to determine their location from a photo.

This can be an issue with birth parents and relatives who attempt to find the foster child. Make sure your foster child knows not to post pictures of him- or herself online, in addition to removing any “tagged” photos.

3. No hidden passwords

Children don’t usually understand how sneaky an online predator can be. What may seem like a harmless online interaction to the child can actually be something a foster parent should know about.

While your foster child should have privacy and space, you should also know every password to every social media site he or she visits. And you should regularly “check in,” to see who your foster child is in contact with online.

Foster children can often feel like they don’t fit in anywhere, and this can make them especially vulnerable to improper attention from strangers online. On top of that, birth parents or relatives also use social media to instigate unwanted (or even illegal) contact with the child.

Great foster parents are a must for children in need, and becoming a foster parent can be a wonderful experience for both the adult and child. These tips should help both you and your foster child feel safe and secure.

Design:

How to Find Furniture Items for Techies

When I moved into my first apartment, I didn’t care what kind of furniture I had. My parents got me a futon, I parked my bicycle where the dining room table should have been, and I stuck my mattress on the floor: Bachelor Pad 101.

But as I’ve grown up and become a bit more sophisticated, I’ve started to care about my furniture. It happens to the best of us, I suppose. But what do we do when we want to merge our furniture with our love of technology? Well, science has answered that question, and answered it with vigor.

Go online

If you’re looking for high-tech anything, the Internet is a great place to start. One quick search and you’ve got millions of hits.

People might wonder: how high-tech can furniture get, really? I was astounded by what a search came up with, and you probably will be too. But how do we narrow down what we are going to buy for our techie friends?

Price

This is always a big consideration in gift giving or home decorating. How much are we willing to spend? And will it fit in with the space?

Think about this: someone makes a couch that looks like it belongs on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Would this couch really fit in with a tiny living room decked out with IKEA end-tables and a bookshelf made of cinder blocks? Probably not.

But what would go well in a room like that is a couch with built-in wooden end-tables that include charging docks for a variety of electronic devices.

Function

Returning to the bridge of the Enterprise, is Captain Kirk’s couch useful (or comfortable)? Obviously, there’s a subjective element here, but it’s important to look at furniture in terms of what you can use it for.

If it’s too high-tech, it loses its purpose. Case in point: a bed shaped like an egg is not going to be good for the claustrophobic among us. We’ll end up sleeping on the overly-curved ultra-modern couch, and that just makes for a bad night.

Also, I wouldn’t recommend investing in anything high-tech if you’ve got small kids. From pulling over the TVs to throwing Barbies through a projector lens, kids can wreck anything. Keep it simple while they’re little, or buy the high-tech furniture for the home office that they’re not allowed to enter.

Another thought to remember when looking at high-tech furniture is reliability. If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, do your research and make sure it works. Coffee table with USB port that transforms into a giant tablet? Yeah, awesome, until you put your mug of coffee down and the heat sensor goes haywire, and suddenly you’re stuck in an endless loop of Angry Birds.

Perhaps I’m a pessimist, but you get my drift. Just because something is new and cool doesn’t mean it’s going to work.

Style

Someone who loves TV and gaming will probably find the canopy bed with a built-in HD television screen absolutely amazing. The person trying to enhance his sleep will like curling up in the egg-bed.

If you’re buying for yourself, consider what you need out of your furniture, and how this high-tech option is going to help you get it. If it doesn’t meet your needs or lifestyle, move on.

Also, consider the rest of your home. Most of us aren’t going to be able to techie-trick-out our entire pads at once, so we have to buy bits and pieces. Don’t make your home look odd and unbalanced by having, say, a completely integrated touch-screen desk that you’re eating your Ramen noodles off of.

I’m not judging; I’m just suggesting you prioritize a little.

Lifestyle:

4 Dining Furniture Items for the Digital You

If you’re a techie, all your furniture should reflect that, including your dining sets — even if you have a house rule of no smartphones or tablets at the dinner table.

After all, it just seems out of place if you have a high-tech house, maybe with some automated features, and a dining table that looks like it belongs in a French kitchen. But how can you blend the two worlds?

It’s actually much simpler than you think. Check out these four incredible dining pieces for homeowners who are more tech-minded.

1. Hampton Contemporary Dining Set

Don’t let the name fool you: the Hamptons might be known for traditional styles, but this particular dining set is all contemporary.

Featuring black tempered glass and easily seating six, it’s just what you need to bring sleek lines into your dining room. Chrome legs and simplicity make it pop in all the right ways.

2. Lyn Contemporary Dining Chair

Your chairs are the accessories of a dining table, so feel free to liven them up with innovative designs and colors that will brighten any dining area. The Lyn series is akin to a lightning bolt, yet still comfortable.

With chrome at the base and a variety of bright colors to choose from, this design can complement any table or literally stand alone as an accent piece.

3. Heriz Designer Round Dining Table

If space is an issue or you just prefer a more intimate approach, try the Heriz model. White and high-gloss, it perfectly blends retro with futuristic.

It’s also a great space saver, so you have plenty of room for your other gadgets. It seats four, with round, tempered glass and — just like the perfect little black dress — it impresses the eye without standing out too much. There’s also a touch of 60s funk involved, so it’s ideal for a little throwback design.

4. Yelena Modern Glass Dining Table

Here’s something that doesn’t make much sense: If you throw a lot of dinner parties or have a larger family, why are all the dishes kept in the kitchen where you have to trot them back and forth?

Enter the Yelena, which offers storage space right below the surface. The 3D glass cube design is also a knockout, and you can opt to keep some eye catching collectibles in this space, too.

These are just four options to choose from at Furniture to Your Door. No matter what your style, there’s something to suit every technophile.

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Autos:

7 of the Most Affordable Tech Cars in South Africa

For those who need an efficient vehicle in South Africa, there are many options to choose from. Some of the various inexpensive options can be found on native soil; many other great quality cars hail from places like India and South America.

Below are seven of the best and most affordable cars for the techie in South Africa.

1. Renault Sandero

This very affordable car is energy-efficient and reliable. It was first manufactured in South America but it’s now available in many other countries, including upscale neighborhoods of South Africa.

The interior is spacious and perfect for families and individuals. The Renault features very low fuel consumption, using either petrol or diesel fuel, which makes it the perfect vehicle for any adventure. Many luxury features are available, such as low noise and vibration amenities. There are also options to reduce some of the luxury items to make the care more affordable.

2. Hyundai Jazz

The Hyundai Jazz is quite reasonably priced at this time — for one very important reason. This vehicle line is being discontinued in countries such as India and South America.

In South Africa there’s speculation that this car will drastically drop in price during closeouts. The Hyundai Jazz is much like other modern hatchbacks in that it has push-button start capabilities and Bluetooth accessories in the interior. This model is almost a steal!

3. Hyundai i10

Another popular hatchback style that replaced former Hyundai models is the Hyundai i10. This car is unique for its ergonomic design in the front and passenger seats. The interior is intended to suit taller drivers and companions.

As with other Hyundai models, the i10 has experienced a facelift by total transformation of the front grill and bumper. This adds a new flavor to a very popular and inexpensive car.

4. Nissan Micra

The Nissan Micra is truly a flashy hatchback. But besides that, this car has many extra features that will amaze any tech lover. For one, the Micra has a push-button start, it is Bluetooth hands-free, and it also has a CVT, so you can enjoy incredible acceleration speeds. If you’re looking for a truly innovative vehicle, this one’s for you.

5. VW Polo Vivo

The native South African Polo Vivo is one of the best selections with regard to affordability, as well. This small hatchback has the capabilities of a full-sized car and the interior room will fool you.

The Polo Vivo has a long list of safety features that includes air bags on every side, front, and back, air control, and plenty of boot space. What more could be needed in an efficient, quality car such as this one?

6. Kia Picanto

This small car has the ability to win you over simply because of its strengths and affordability. The Kia is fully loaded with six air bags, remote-control locking, and electronic stability control.

The Picanto is also very aesthetically pleasing, with body-colored bumpers and mirror handles. If you’re looking for an affordable beauty, then this is the one you want.

7. Ford Fiesta

This beautiful car is very sleek and cool. The Ford Fiesta comes equipped with a powerful transmission and uses both diesel and petrol gas. Extra amenities include best-in-class air conditioning, steering column audio, and Bluetooth capabilities.

This sporty vehicle is quite competitive with similar vehicles and has the ability to charm the buyer. If you buy it used, the Ford Fiesta is very affordable.

These seven cars are simply among the best in quality. Not only are they some of the best, they are quite affordable as well. For natives of South Africa, these tech cars are the way to go.

Food:

Moonshine and Cupcakes: the Perfect Summer Treat

There are moments on summer days — as the ceiling fan is blowing hot air around, you’ve got the screen door open, and you’re sweating in your porch chair with a pitcher of quick-melting ice water — when all of a sudden you get a craving for the Southern that can’t be cured with just a class of lemonade.

When it’s too hot to fry chicken, consider something a bit different to soothe your Southern appetite: moonshine and cupcakes. It probably sounds odd. Perhaps you are wondering where one acquires moonshine now that Prohibition is long over.

You may be concerned that supporting moonshine distillers means you’ll be arrested for skirting some liquor sales tax. But fret not: this is not a dangerous operation, but merely a new way to rethink an old summertime treat.

Moonshine and sweet tea cupcakes

Nothing is more innocent than a cupcake. Give these little delights a rebellious flair by adding moonshine to the batter … for a fruity, booze-y tinge and a little kick on those hot summer afternoons when there is nothing to do but relax and pray for rain to cool things off.

Start with ingredients for a typical vanilla cupcake batter, then include about one cup of milk and 10-12 bags of tea. The more tea bags you include, the stronger the tea flavor in your cupcakes.

Heat the milk in the microwave or over the stove until warm, but not boiling, and then allow the tea bags to steep in the milk for about five minutes; again, longer steeping time makes for a stronger flavor. Typically, black tea is used for cupcake recipes, but you can use any strong flavor — sweet and spicy Good Earth tea might be an interesting alternative for the holidays.

Mix in the rest of your cupcake ingredients (see recipes here), and then comes the kicker: replace some of your liquids with moonshine — any fruit flavor of your choice will do.

You can also chop up the fruit at the bottom of the bottle, or soak some fresh fruit in moonshine overnight, and then add them to the batter or the frosting. If you want to keep the kick, add the moonshine to the batter (the alcohol will bake off in the oven), then place one of these soaked fruits on the top of the cupcake after it has been frosted.

Make your own moonshine

If you really want to make these cupcakes fresh, consider making your own moonshine at home — it does add a bit of that rebellious feel — and you can make the proof as strong as you like. A number of moonshine recipes can be found online, or in distillery books, and you can make it at home the same way beer can be brewed, or wine fermented … in the basement or the garage.

Autos:

Understanding Variations in Auto Insurance

 

When it comes time to shop for a new auto insurance policy, buyers often find a huge variety of rates. This can be due to many factors, and while sometimes the cheapest auto insurance is also the best, other times it’s better to go for a more expensive rate and get the highest quality insurance.

How do you know? What’s behind the numbers? Here are a few things to watch for.

Surplus Lines Carriers

Insurers who “officially” offer policies inside most states have to file financial information with the state insurance commissioner. They are held to certain standards. They have to abide by specific state laws that govern their obligations to customers. State regulators largely control auto insurance rates; however, they have to follow the state’s financial guidelines.

Other companies are allowed to offer insurance inside the state on a “surplus lines” basis. In most cases, that means they provide insurance that is not adequately furnished by the regulated insurers, but there’s plenty of grey area. A surplus lines policy is often cheaper, but that may often be because it is less subject to regulation and of poorer quality.

On the other hand, some companies offer surplus lines policies for many years. They meet their obligations. They avoid regulation in order to keep their rates low. Discount insurance sellers often provide quality surplus lines policies that cost a lot less and have fewer fees.

Deductible Dodge Ball

When you buy an insurance policy, you’re essentially paying somebody else to take some of the risk for you. The greatest risk to your car is little stuff, like scratched paint or a chipped windshield. It isn’t big stuff, like getting totaled or striking a pedestrian. Insurance companies will offer really low rates while pushing high deductibles on their policyholders. You’re still covered against the big stuff, but you have to pay out of pocket for the little stuff.

Insurers have really smart people working the numbers for them. Statistically, you’re going to pay more money for nickel-and-dime repairs than you will forking out the extra cash for a policy with a lower deductible.

Apples and Bananas

Insurance is a financial tool, so the cost of a policy is always based on how much money is at risk. Generally, lowering the cost of a policy means lowering the amount of money at risk, which some insurers try to do with some pretty intricate cloak-and-dagger methods. That can include things like requiring you to use approved shops (even when they don’t do good work) or applying conditions to the policy that get them out of paying for certain damages.

The declarations page of a policy generally includes all the pertinent information. Get the declarations page for all the policies you’re shopping and make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples.

Some insurance discounters do a good job of making sure the policies available through them are of high quality. Others, however, aren’t nearly so scrupulous. Be sure to check the credibility of the source you’re shopping, especially if you’re using an anonymous online brokerage.

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