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Which Weight Management App is Right for You?

Managing your weight, whether you want to lose, gain, or sustain, can be challenging. Swimwear season is just around the corner, and now it’s easier than ever to make a splash with the right weight management app.

There are a number of helpful apps available for both Android and iPhone, but how can you know which one is right for you? Luckily, the hard work has been done by other folks, and if you consult the high rankings and glowing reviews, you should know what to get.

Start with the BMI Calculator, an aptly named app that helps you keep track of your Body Mass Index (BMI). This has been a doctor-preferred method for gauging your overall health as it pertains to weight for more than 100 years.

It’s not perfect, especially for athletes, but it’s a good indication of where you fall on the spectrum and whether you should be focusing on gaining weight, losing it, or staying about the same.

An app for all bodies

My Fitness Pal is a popular website that can assist with all aspects of your health, whether you’re trying to figure out how many meals to eat per day or keep track of calories. The complementary app is also a great tool, because it enables users watch their caloric intake, and it’s very customizable.

You can choose from an existing database of 1.5 million foods or input your own. There’s a free barcode scanner and more than 150 trackable exercises to see just how many calories you’ve burned, too.

However, if you’re on Weight Watchers, getting their app is an absolute must. You’ll get access to new recipes, media reports on health and obesity, and detailed reports on exercise information to keep you on track.

The support system for Weight Watchers is incredible, and with easy social media and forum links within the app, you’ll find a stronger network than ever, right on your smartphone.

A little extra support

Are you looking for all the benefits of a personal trainer but don’t feel you have the money to pay those costly fees? Noom Weight Loss Coach is an app that lets you personalize a weight management plan and assigns daily tasks to help you get there, whether it’s reading the latest breaking health news or tackling a new exercise challenge.

You can easily log your success and steps, and it keeps you on track with reminders so you can make changes that will last over the long run. Plus, it even comes with a GPS and pedometer so you know exactly how much movement you get under your belt.

If working out is more your thing than measuring your kale salad, the 7-Min Workout might be right up your alley. You’ve heard about seven minutes in heaven? That’s exactly what your body will think happened with this quickie app that ensures you get an intense workout almost anywhere with zero equipment.

Enjoy clear directions and commands for switching it up, and you can know that you’re getting the regular cardio you need in intervals that even the busiest of professionals can handle. No matter which app you choose, whether one or all of the above, putting your health literally in your hands is a good habit not just for bikini season, but for life.



Flappy Bird a Health Crisis, Developer Says

Less than two percent of “gamers” are responsible for half the revenues involved in this booming industry — a fact that is both terrifying and sad. However, it looks like some game developers are starting to own up to the addictive nature of their creations, even if they didn’t force anyone to play.

Dong Nguyen, the skilled designer behind Flappy Bird, killed his own game in March 2014 and claimed it was just too dangerous and too many people were getting addicted. This was an unprecedented move, and it helped bring attention to a serious issue.

In an interview with Forbes, Nguyen remarked: “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed. But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem; to solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

Is killing the Bird the answer?

While it appears that Nguyen’s move was a genuine one, sincerely intended to protect the fans of his game, he’s essentially left a jackpot of winnings behind. It’s been estimated that Nguyen raked in about $50,000 a day from the game, but the developer chose not to confirm that estimate. “I don’t know the exact figure, but I do know it’s a lot,” he said.

A potential issue here is that the interview took place in Vietnamese, so something may have gotten lost in translation. However, most important is that Nguyen, intentionally or not, has brought the issue of game addiction into the public forum.

It’s a condition that sometimes requires extensive physical, emotional, and mental treatment. The developer apparently shares the secretiveness of many gamers: He insisted that his face not be shown and mentioned that his parents didn’t even know he created the game. The 29-year-old generally keeps to himself.

Birds out of control

Flappy Bird has been available for less than a year, having been released in May 2013. According to Nguyen, it only took him a couple of days to code it.

However, even though the young developer has many other games in app stores, such as Shuriken Block (and all are top rated), there are currently no plans to kill other games because he says they are “harmless.”

On the other hand, Nguyen added that if he suspected addiction were to become a problem with any of his other creations, he wouldn’t hesitate to remove them, as well. His heart may be in the right place, but it’s impossible for a non-licensed, non-professional to gauge whether complete strangers are addicts.

Getting another fix

There are scores of Flappy Bird “knock offs” floating around, so it won’t be a challenge for addicts to get their fix. As for Nguyen, he says he plans to continue developing games after a short break from the grid.

Asked if he has any messages for fans of the defunct game, Nguyen’s response was simple: “Thank you very much for playing my game.” For the throngs of people who may be suffering from a documented case of gaming addiction, Nguyen’s move probably won’t cure them.

But it might be the necessary springboard that pushes them to seek professional help.


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last update: January 27, 2015


Four Facts that Will Convince You The World Isn’t So Bad After All

More than anything else, the uncertain economy has left many people feeling pessimistic about the state of the world. The threat from Middle East terrorists also hovers in the background as another reason for negative attitudes.

While these factors look bad, an examination of the big trends in the world paints a very different picture. A glance at the actual statistics concerning key components of wellbeing provide solid evidence that people’s lives, on average, have improved in recent decades and continue to improve. Here are four areas with good news.

1. Longer Lives

It’s true that in some regions of the world, such as parts of Africa, there can be temporary declines in average life span, but the overall trend has been an increase in how long people can expect to live. Keep in mind that in many places, such as North America, there hasn’t even been any short-term setbacks. The key players in making this possible have been increasing wealth and scientific discoveries. These forces have made their way throughout the globe during the 20th century and into the 21st century. One dramatic fact that’s resulted from this spread is that the average world lifespan has grown from 47 years in 1950 to 70 years in 2011.

2. Growing Wealth

Another area where the facts don’t warrant pessimism is in the standard of living throughout the world. The spread of more democratic governments is credited by most experts to be the main driving force. Governments that have to be responsive to their people are going to be more concerned about whether they succeed or not. The single best example of this improvement is regarding what the World Bank has defined as extreme poverty; anyone making $1.25 per day or less. In 1981, 40% of the globe’s population fell into this category. By 2010, this situation only applied to 14% of people worldwide.

3. Less Violence

The mechanics behind growing wealth and health are relatively easy to understand. Another piece of good news, the decline of worldwide violence, is a bit more mysterious to figure out. It’s thought that emergency medical and policing technologies play a role. It’s also believed that higher income levels make people less likely to commit crimes. These ideas can’t explain all of it, though. Others have proposed even more unconventional theories to account for the reductions, including the removal of toxic lead from the environment.

4. Literacy

Another bit of good news is the increase in literacy worldwide. This phenomenon can be connected to improving living standards in a feedback loop. Wealthier people can better educate their children. These children then grow up and become more productive. While increases in wealth and longevity have not taken place evenly throughout the world, this is one situation where the improvements have been consistent everywhere. Globally, the rate stands at just over 84% as of 2010.


Do you feel a little better now? When you look at the right metrics, things seem to be just fine with the world. If you want to feel even better, studies have shown that donating to charities can make you feel better about life, and make you happier. Give it a try, and you might agree; the world isn’t so bad after all.


5 High-Tech Devices That Will Save You Both Kinds of Green

Going high-tech and changing your home to go green are working together in a growing synergy. Each year more smart devices come on the market that are not only earth-friendly but pretty cool to have in your home. Here are five examples.

1. High-tech thermostats

It’s no surprise that since a majority of home energy bills involve heating and cooling costs, much of the new technology for homes centers on this. Older homes have inefficient systems that waste an incredible amount of energy.

Much of the waste is attributable to climate control of rooms that are not in use and when the home is unoccupied. Smart technologies now give you programmable thermostats you can control from anywhere.

Applications and Internet-enabled technology provide greater control while you’re away, as well as networking of thermostats for efficient climate control throughout your home.

2. Motion sensors

Remember when you were a child and your parents would remind you to turn out the lights when you left a room? Motion sensors will turn on lights when you enter a room and shut them off when you leave.

This technology isn’t limited to lighting. Electrical and other systems through your house can be outfitted with sensors to cut the flows to other devices as well. Some devices even allow you to do this using an application on a smartphone so you can monitor and shut off any appliances, electrical systems, and anything else that might have been left on when you rushed out the door.

3. Solar power

Even though it could save an average of 30% of their power consumption, some people aren’t ready to commit fully to solar energy. This is understandable, since converting to solar requires a costly initial investment.

The good news is that many smaller solar collection devices can cut your energy costs. By placing solar panels on patios, porches, garages, or at other outdoor locations, you can increase the efficiency of your home dramatically.

Some companies offer hybrid devices that run on both solar and direct power to provide some savings and take that small step toward being greener.

4. Smart Appliances

When LG released its line of smart appliances at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2012, people went crazy over them. From a refrigerator that creates menus and inventories its contents, to a washing machine that was not just eco-friendly but also fast and high-capacity, these advances in home technology were the greatest in many years.

Utilizing Internet networking technology, these appliances are able to connect and even communicate with one another, which allows for easier use and greater energy efficiency.

5. Power adapters

There’s a common myth that installing energy- and cost-saving devices requires a ton of work and a complete overhaul of the space. The reality is that you can do quite a few things that save money and still do your share in going green.

The average household uses 13% of its home energy simply charging and powering up devices each year. Typical charging devices push far too much energy through their adapters during a charge-up and continue to do so even when the charge is complete.

A company called Green Plug offers an alternative that creates a “smart” style of charging device that powers down when it isn’t connected for a charge and only feeds power to the device when it needs it.


Would High-Tech 18-Wheelers Be Safer?

Accidents that involve 18-wheelers have turned up in the news increasingly. Some surveys suggest there are roughly two semi-truck accidents across the nation per hour each day.

Of course, this includes lesser incidents with minor damage that aren’t widely reported, but it’s a large number of accidents that involve costly damage, and sometimes cost lives.

There haven’t been major changes in semi-truck technology in many years, and 18-wheeler mechanical failure is a leading cause of accidents in the US. Perhaps this is a sign that it’s time to rethink the design of semi trucks altogether. This has already been under consideration for several years, most notably by German designer Luigi Colani.

The 18-wheeler of the future

The original reason for Colani’s futuristic truck design was to reduce the amount of gas needed to run a big rig. Gas prices have been in violent flux, and sometimes make it too expensive to justify driving a huge, gas-guzzling vehicle.

Colani’s design proposal changed the engine to reduce fuel consumption by 30%, and reconfigured the frame so it’s much smoother and more aerodynamic. Over the years, he continued to refine the idea, and came up with lighter materials and a new method of driving that incorporated a joystick rather than a steering wheel.

The current design uses 50% less fuel than semis currently on the road, but for the moment it’s unfortunately not cost-effective. A price tag of $1 million to produce a single vehicle is a little too pricey.

Perhaps one day, manufacturers will come up with ways to reduce this production cost. One thing that Colani never mentioned about was any safety improvement, to parallel what has been added to non-commercial vehicles in recent years.

Safety feature technology

A hot new trend in modern cars is a lengthy list of vehicle safety measures. Some of these features include:

- Forward collision avoidance

- Responsive automatic brakes

- Back-up cameras

- Parking assistance

- Back-up warning sensors

These are among the most popular features that regularly turn up as options in private vehicles. Perhaps some of these same measures will be added to semi trucks.

Semis are very heavy vehicles that take a longer time to slow down than cars do. If a semi driver has slow reactions, he or she only adds to the braking time necessary to avoid a terrible accident.

With autonomous brakes, a truck can begin to slow down at the first sign of danger, and potentially save lives.

Keeping semi drivers alert

Another major factor in accidents involving semi trucks is drowsy drivers. Big rigs typically move freight over long distances, and they can be on the road for incredibly long periods of time.

If a driver begins to “nod off” after a long stretch of driving, an accident is more likely to occur. Technology is starting to be implemented to keep drivers alert on the road. A few examples could be sensors that send out an audible alert if the driver’s hands leave the wheel for more than a few seconds, or if the vehicle begins to drift.

Technology of this variety has already been developed in certain areas, and it may not be long before it can be used to keep big-rig drivers and the people around them safer on the road.

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Tech News for Dogs, Cats, and Their Owners

Science and technology have improved lives through uses both wide and varied, that have affected everyone over time. Recent scientific and tech developments have helped pet owners in a variety of ways.

One of the more interesting ways that tech companies are currently working with pets is in helping to improve communication between animals and their owners. One group that’s concentrating on this area is NSID: the Nordic Society for Innovation and Discovery.

The No More Woof device

One of the NSID’s more interesting innovations is called No More Woof. It’s designed to read your dog’s brain. While it doesn’t do much more currently than read basic thought patterns, it’s still able to tell an owner when a dog is thinking certain things, like when it has to pee or eat.

The gadget rests on the dog’s head and may soon be publicly available. No More Woof can currently be pre-ordered at prices anywhere between $65 and $1,200. The machine is far from perfect at the moment, but the NSID aims to create far superior models in the future.

Beyond the more entertaining aspects of the pet industry, medicine and health innovations for pets are constantly improving, which is always good news for owners.

The Improvements

A recent study is taking a closer look at Golden Retrievers because the breed has shown a higher-than-usual likelihood of developing cancer. The Morris Animal Foundation study is projected to last roughly 14 years, and with at least 1,000 Goldens enrolled, will be the largest of its kind ever. The researchers hope to make improvements in other areas of canine health as well.

On a less mortal note, the health of cats is also being looked at. While cats can be remarkably healthy for much of their life span, especially if they stay indoors, certain problems persist.

One painful issue for feline companions is tooth-related; it can involve teeth that break too easily. The condition is fairly common among cats and can result in multiple teeth having to be pulled.

The main problem here is that cats not only can’t show their human housemates the problem, but they’re inclined to hide and mask pain as well. So owners must figure it out or take their kitty to the vet.

Frequent visits to the veterinarian are the best way to combat these issues. X-rays taken at a pet clinic can indicate what we cannot see.

Technology is constantly seeking to improve the health and lives of people and their pets it. Whether you want to have a more meaningful relationship with your dog or your cat needs of medical assistance, we can expect great new developments in the future.

One thing remains constant, though: A pet has to be active to be truly healthy and happy. Making sure to walk the dog and play with the cat is as important as anything future technology might be able to offer. Whether in a group or alone with your pet, no man, pooch, or feline is an island.


Topgrading Means Companies are Hiring More Strategically

Competition is extremely fierce in the current job market. Strains on the economy, outsourcing, and the laws of supply and demand are all factors that affect the number of jobs companies can offer these days.

So it’s no surprise that contemporary employers have become more selective in their hiring process than they might have been in the past.

Companies today want the cream of the crop

One of the most popular practices for employers today is known as topgrading. This practice has become a powerful tool for the hiring process. Topgrading provides businesses, from small entrepreneurs to large corporate offices, to weed through applicants and uncover the best of the best.

The process begins with questionnaires that are designed to target star qualities in potential applicants. The interview process is also carefully constructed to pinpoint strengths, interests, and skills that will more effectively match employers with the best candidates for the job.

Topgrading is the latest attempt to improve hiring to the level of a science. If employers are able to work directly toward precisely what they want from the start, it saves them time and money, as well as making their business more effective in the long run.

A more effective hiring process means a more effective business

As firms across the U.S. seek to thrive and surpass their competitors, they need to take advantage of every possible way to excel. Of course products and services are the key to a company’s success, but its personnel need to be stellar.

The best way to ensure an effective hiring process is to make the employer’s expectations clear from the start. Companies need to include explicit instructions about the job and any unusual requirements.

That will enable them to be extremely thorough as they gather information about their applicants, which may date back to high school. Members of the human resources team will be involved in combing through all the details, picking out promising candidates, and contacting previous employers for references. (It’s surprising how many companies still neglect to do this.)

Then the favored applicants will be brought in for the interview(s). The process can be lengthy and should be scored according to the topgrading criteria. In the end, employers can be assured they have selected the strongest applicants for the job — through a structured, deliberate process that features a strong attention to detail.

What topgrading means for potential employees

Topgrading is changing the face of hiring across America as companies seek to develop a talented staff that meets all their requirements. For those who are applying for jobs, it means taking more time to prepare for the road ahead.

It’s extremely important to polish resumes and interview skills before submitting your materials to the potential employer. You have to ensure your best qualities stand out above the rest of the crowd.

Be sure to dress for success, make yourself well versed in specifics about the company, and prepare to share every possible personal asset. (Make a list, if you have to.)

Learn how to be at ease and appear confident, and hire a coaching service if you suspect it might be necessary to succeed.


How to Hire the Right Candidate – Putting Skills In Perspective

Every employer evaluates promising job applicants on the basis of two basic skill groupings. The first is hard skills and the second is known as the soft skills.

In most cases a candidate’s hard skills have already been established by the resume. These skills are definite and reflective of the person’s experience and knowledge. Soft skills are typically tougher to determine.

The key to evaluating both hard and soft skills is to identify which ones are important to the company and what kind of employee you feel would truly be the best fit.

Hard skills

The resume may sparkle with every key word carefully positioned on the sheet like a script for a play. This can be misleading, though.

While most candidates are surely not out to mislead prospective employers, jobs are scarce. Job seekers told by experts to custom-tailor their resume to suit the details in the job description and thereby attract the most attention.

While this may not be outright lying, it can certainly misrepresent the person’s hard skills. The candidate may have dabbled in certain technical areas in college but has no practical knowledge of them. Others may have greater experience in related skills but no true knowledge about the required hard skill.

Each system and organization is different, so there’s always going to be some kind of learning curve. Although the hard skills may not match entirely, the general perception is that they can be taught.

Most systems are generally the same within a given industry. Some of the rules may differ, but the structure of the organization is similar to that of most of the others.

Soft skills

Recently, there’s been quite a focus on soft skills when it comes to hiring. Perhaps that’s because there is an abundance, and sometimes an overabundance, of people who have the necessary hard skills to choose from.

This comes with its own set of problems, though. The soft skills of a candidate may be entirely on point. The candidate is friendly, he’s social, and he seems like the kind of person that will get along with everyone.

Don’t let the charming nature of the candidate mislead you. While there are a handful of people that are genuinely outgoing in this way, the majority may just be putting on a show to compensate for their lack of ability.

The candidates know that hiring managers are focusing on the soft skills over hard skills so they shift their presentation in that direction.

The assumption that one may easily change technical skills is a lofty expectation. Simply put, the saying about old dogs and new tricks generally holds true.

The ability to learn and adapt quickly is rare but paramount. This certainly is far from a justification to focus solely on soft skills, though.

It’s important to keep in mind the goals of the company. You are going to want to hire a candidate that will get the job done, not the candidate who might turn out to be your best friend.

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