Apps:

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.

 

Future:

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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last update: April 20, 2014

Science:

The Fisherman vs. the FAA: The Saga of Beer Delivery Drones

It’s been a beautiful winter for ice fishing in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Due to the especially cold weather, many lakes froze early giving hardy ice fishermen an early start to the season. On top of that, a Wisconsin Brewery, Lakemaid from Stevens Point, had developed the ability to deliver cold and fresh beer straight to their fishing spots via drone. They’d never run out of beer again! No one would have to make that cold trek to shore to visit the bar or liquor store. Technology to the rescue!

Enter the FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration. They spotted a video put up on YouTube by the brewery showing their test flight of what they call their UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The FAA won’t have it, and they put a stop to it.

Although there are almost no laws governing drones specifically, the FAA rules the airspace and have determined that commercial drones, even when granted a research exception to the ‘no commercial drones’ rule, cannot fly higher than 400 feet. This means that the typical RC helicopter (seen here) is fine for a toy, but toss a delivery service into the mix and things become criminal. Additionally, Lakemaid was caught dead to rights. These drones flew higher than that and were officially in the FAA’s domain.

The Internet arose in full fury mode. Twitter and Facebook were inundated with stories of the beer drone shutdown. What seemed like a peaceful, logical and useful application of drone technology was being eliminated while military usage grew almost unrestricted.

Lakemaid even started a Whitehouse government petition asking the Obama administration to put their drones in the skies again. As of this writing only 1405 signatures have been gathered with only 98,595 to go by March 1st, 2014.

The drone in use by Lakemaid Brewery is a DJIF550, which can handle about a 12-pack or a little less on a day with windy flying conditions. Jack Supple, the president of Lakemaid, has said the company was pleased with their drone marketing so far and were about to order a larger model when the FAA called and put a stop to their drone operations. They will be keeping a sharp eye on the upcoming regulations, so they can continue their drone beer deliveries in a safe, legal manner.

Lakemaid isn’t the only commercial operator of drones that has received cease and desist orders from the FAA. A real estate company in Wisconsin had been using drones to get pictures of properties, and the University of Nebraska had been using them for journalism purposes. These programs have been halted.

Currently there are few regulations for drone technology despite the publicly-announced development by large companies like Amazon and Domino’s Pizza. The FAA is expected to come out with comprehensive regulation in 2015. In the meantime grounding protects the public from things like falling objects that could do harm to people or property.

It’s expected that special training and licenses will be involved, so drones won’t be filling our airspace for some years to come. For the time being ice fishermen will have to haul more beer out on the lake by themselves!

Health:

Science Proves These Quirky Activities Create Better Athletes

Our bodies react to different stimuli and activities in surprising ways — ways that scientists and trainers continue to probe in an effort to understand the human body better, and mold the greatest athletes of the future.

Below are some of the most surprising activities that can boost athletic performance.

Squeeze with your left, not with right

In perhaps one of the strangest studies ever conducted — one from which you would expect absolutely no conclusive or meaningful results to come — it was discovered that clutching something in your left fist (or even just clenching your empty left fist) increased athletic performance in pressure situations and prevented “choking.”

Clenching the right fist rendered the opposite result, however. It had a negative impact on athletic performance.

The reason behind this surprising result is that the left hemisphere of the brain, which is devoted to rumination (in other words, potentially over-thinking during critical moments), becomes activated when the right fist is clenched, and that may increase tension and introspection. By contrast, clenching your left fist activates the right hemisphere of the brain, which is associated with movement and motor functions, thereby improving physical functioning.

Sniff some jasmine

We know scents can have a powerful psychological effect on the body. It has recently been discovered that certain scents can even improve concentration and athletic performance.

A study of six Major League baseball players suggested that the ones who sniffed a jasmine-scented armband before each swing during batting practice greatly increased their hitting performance compared to those who sniffed an unscented armband.

The results showed that any activity involving hand-eye coordination or precise muscle movements could be enhanced by surrounding oneself with the sweet smell of jasmine.

Believe in something positive

Many athletes swear by visualization and positive reinforcement techniques to improve their performance, and science has backed them up on at least one aspect of this belief. In an experiment reported in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, white basketball players were better at shooting free throws after watching videos that portrayed white basketball players as the best free throw shooters.

Caucasian players who watched videos that depicted black players as the best shooters experienced a decreased performance. The study showed that believing in one’s own ability to perform a task, even when that belief stems from nothing but a generality regarding their race, can have a positive effect on performance.

So if you’re an athlete who’d like to fill your trophy cases with trophies and awards, consider sniffing some jasmine, filling your mind with positive reinforcements, and clenching a ball in your left hand when the pressure begins to mount.

Science:

3 Non-Traditional Uses for Vitamins in Technology

 

When most of us think of vitamins, it’s in connection with dietary supplements that help keep us strong and healthy. Many people take a multivitamin to make up for vitamins and minerals they may not be getting from their regular diet.

Vitamins can also be used to combat signs of aging, such as greying hair.

Vitamins are not only used for these purposes, though. They also have a role to play in modern technology. Here are three examples of ways in which vitamins are used for non-traditional goals.

1. Vitamin B2 used for 3D printing

Vitamin B2, or Riboflavin, is found in foods like meat, green vegetables, and cottage cheese. A group of biochemical engineers in North Carolina found it could be used to 3D print medical implants that are more compatible with the human body than existing materials.

Using this technique, researchers can create structures that will be implanted into the body, such as micro needles or scaffolds for tissue engineering custom body parts.

2. Vitamin C neutralizes chlorine in water

Vitamin C is your go-to vitamin to keep your bones, teeth, and gums healthy, but it also does a great job stamping out chlorine in water. If left untreated, chlorine will kill fish and other aquatic life in the water supply, upsetting the local ecosystem.

Two types of Vitamin C, sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid, can be used to neutralize chlorine. Neither is considered hazardous, since they do not lower the dissolved level of oxygen in the water. Vitamin C is not toxic to wildlife: Once it is introduced to the water, it will degrade in 24-48 hours.

3. Vitamin E stamps out static cling

Static cling is a nuisance when you’re trying to get dressed, but it’s a more serious matter for the manufacturing sector. When electrostatic shocks occur in that setting, it can be enough to damage computer chips or television circuits.

Static electricity also has the potential to start fires and explosions that could result in extensive property damage and personal injury for anyone caught on the premises at the time.

Vitamin E, along with other non-toxic antioxidants, is added to coatings for electronics to minimize this problem. These surface coatings will not react chemically with sparks or dust that build up on equipment or plastic parts, which avoids the static charge.

It’s a simple solution to an old problem.

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Health:

How Technology and Physical Therapy Work Together on the Road to Recovery

Technology isn’t just for kids who want to play games or adults who want to keep up with the latest on social media. It’s for everyone and everything — especially for the health industry.

In ways most people cannot even imagine, technology makes it possible for those who thought they’d never walk, talk, or regain motor functions again to do just that.

In the medical industry, technology is used for everything from diagnosing injury and disease to surgery and organizing patient records. Technology also plays a significant role in physical therapy, by helping patients overcome their trials.

Physical therapy and the iPad

You might use your iPad for shopping, game playing, or browsing social media, but you may not know that physical therapists use iPads to help patients with speech problems learn to articulate their words.

Use of the iPad in speech therapy has been shown to promote healing at a faster rate. Patients who’ve suffered illness or injury that resulted in speech problems learn to communicate faster and with more accuracy.

Electrical therapy

Another way technology has improved physical care is through the use of electrical therapy. This involves the placement of small tech devices on patients’ hands and legs during physical therapy.

Therapists use this to stimulate the muscles and help the patient regain use and control of appendages. The technology has proven highly successful and is now being utilized in more physical therapy applications than ever.

Technology and physical therapists

No matter how much technology a physical therapy specialist has at his or her discretion, nothing replaces the stellar therapist. Patients need emotional support: a therapist who is willing to listen and has confidence and enthusiasm in the process of therapy.

If your therapist doesn’t show this kind of attitude, it may be time to replace him with one who does. Without a knowledgeable and capable therapist, all the technology in the world is unlikely to help.

While it might seem as if technology can take the place of caregivers, it simply cannot. As beneficial as it is, it simply can’t furnish the emotional, human factor involved in physical therapy.

Technology is one of the main reasons that so many people live longer their ancestors. While a healthy lifestyle helps, technology has made it possible for those who shouldn’t be here to survive and prosper. Life-saving techniques cannot be performed without the proper technology, which makes it invaluable to the medical profession.

Without technology in physical therapy, the process of recovery is long and arduous. Even with it, some injuries and illnesses involve so much damage that patients will spend years in therapy working to recover; but technology can speed up the process.

General:

3 Reasons to Invest in Third-Party Logistics

When a business is starting up and beginning to thrive, the owners may have to come to terms with the fact that the company might need a logistics outsourcing post.

A third-party logistics company can provide solutions for assembly, packaging, warehousing, and distribution that may not be possible for the startup to handle anymore. The original firm may have launched small and grown faster than anticipated; in order to keep the same quality that customers expect, outsourcing certain functions of the company may be what is necessary to grow.

Consider the following three reasons to outsource to third party.

1. Greater resources

A third-party logistics provider may have the resources that the original company may not have at its disposal. The outside firm can improve the supply chain to make sure the original company’s needs are met in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

The supply chain can be restructured with technology to provide better service to customers so they know where goods are located and when they’ll arrive.

2. Flexible response

The benefit of scaling to inventory can save you money by flexing with busy and down times. The third party can scale labor, space, and transportation depending on the needs of the inventory and depend. Seasonal ups and downs can be easier for your business since the third-party logistics team is dealing with the flow of the bulk of the workload.

Outsourcing will save you money you won’t have to invest in warehouse space, technology, and staff for the logistics process; all that comes with outsourcing. The third party can save you from mistakes, as well, since they have expertise and provide your business with lower risk and higher return.

3. Outside expertise

Outsourcing can give your company expertise that it may not have, and you don’t have to hire more employees to fill that gap.

Third-party workers are aware of industry best practices and will keep updated on developments in technology that help your business, along with software used for reporting, inventory management, and monitoring the outsourcing process. A back-up system is available so that the outsourced employees know where and when inventory is shipped so that it gets to its destination on time.

By outsourcing, companies can focus on the core goals of the business without having to worry about incompetence or accidentally overlooking a task. Good third-party logistics companies will allow business owners to be confident on all angles of their business.

Future:

3 Tech Companies that Changed the World Before Going Bankrupt

Tech

The tech environment that has been growing around us for a few decades isn’t fair. It often rewards the innovators more than the creators and those who put in the effort to launch a new product or start a new segment are often left in the cold. Such is the case with the three tech companies below who changed the world forever despite not being with us at this time thanks to financial challenges.

Continue reading 3 Tech Companies that Changed the World Before Going Bankrupt

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