Saturday, May 27, 2017

Finally, A TV with Built in Amazon Fire Functionality!

You can now pre-order a TV with built in Amazon Fire Functionality. You should check it out here. Amazon Fire makes it better than pretty much any other smart TV for compatible apps and usability, but you can buy an Amazon Fire Box or Stick to give any TV that functionality. Overall, it looks like it should be a good television and if you're in the market for a new TV, you should definitely consider it. It's ideal for someone interested in cutting the cord or if you are simply looking for more on demand content. It goes well with an Amazon Prime membership, which you can try for free Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial to access tons of episodes of your favorite shows. This TV does lack a few features other companies are including in similarly priced products such as HDR and LED dimming zones, but many people won't even notice their absence.

So what exactly is this TV all about. Well, it's mostly about the web content especially content from Amazon. This can be good or bad depending on where you get most of your content. Not that it's needed with so many available apps this device will allow you to mirror most Android devices and Amazon Tablets, giving you the whole internet for entertainment options.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Top 4 Single Serve Coffee Makers

We all love things to be fast and easy these days. There are many great options for coffee. Currently, I use a Keurig 2.0 or a French Press for Single Serve Coffee, and when I want to brew a pot, I have a standard 12 cup Mr. Coffee Drip coffee maker.

1. Keurig 2.0

There are a number of options out there and K-Cups are readily available in many different flavors. I currently use the Keurig 575 while quite expensive offers a lot of nice features. First, it has a touch screen interface which allows you to select a number of brew sizes ranging from 4 to 12 oz. Second it allows you to dispense specified volumes of hot water on demand. This makes it perfect for the office. If you want to make a bowl of noodles or some oatmeal its very easy and also allow you to make regular tea bags, so there is no need to buy the more expensive tea pods.

As far as coffee selection goes, they have some good options. My favorite flavor is the Starbucks Sumatra Roast. This is very dark and has a nice strong coffee flavor. Another favorite is the Green Mountain Dark Magic also a very dark flavor. If you're looking for a lighter roast, I like Seattle's Best this is a smooth, easy drinking coffee.

2. Nespresso
The Nespresso coffee system makes some of the best coffee of any single serve system, but this comes at a very high price. The coffee pods are difficult to find so most people will have to order them and they are quite expensive. The coffee comes out very strong, I will often brew a disk twice in the same large cup to dilute it a little bit. This model also doesn't have nearly the selection of Keurig you can't  make hot chocolate or other drinks, but I think it does a better job at coffee the thing its meant to do.

My favorite flavor is the Odacio which is a dark roast coffee. It's dark but also very smooth and not too bitter it sort of reminds me of an Americano. I have never tried their espresso pods, but I hear the Altissio is good.

3. Verismo
The Verismo system gets rather mixed reviews. A lot of people seem to have their units fail with the biggest complaint being inconsistent brew size. Overall the system seems great and is an excellent option if you love Starbuck's coffee. Obviously, you better like Starbuck's coffee because you are limited to their selection of pods. One feature I like is that you can get a Milk Frother and in about 3 minutes have great steamed milk, or you can use their milk pods which are faster and still offer a great product, though only come in whole milk. If you're interested in the frother, you should definitely look for the starter kit which includes it as well as some coffee pods although currently out of stock.
The Pike Place Roast works great with this unit for coffee or misto, If you are interested in espresso pods, their Espresso Roast is great and makes wonderful lattes and cappuccinos.

4. Tassimo
Last on my list is the Tassimo system. While it's a good system, I feel like it has fallen behind the other systems. It does offer a lot of great Gevalia Disks. The biggest benefit this system has is that it can make some fancy drinks using the coffee and creamer discs. The quality is good, and the selection is good, but you are still stuck ordering most of the flavors since they aren't stocked in many stores.

They offer some very unusual flavors such as Oreo Cookie and Milka. This gives a lot of other options when you're looking for extra variety.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

3 high tech foods of the future you can get right now

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There are many futuristic foods out there attempting to change the way we eat. Some of them claim to be better for the environment, others last almost forever, and others still claim to
be able to feed the world. Although many of these aren't something I would want to eat regularly, they do offer some interesting possibilities.

1. Soylent Complete Meal Replacement Shake
First on any list discussing futuristic foods needs to be a completely liquid diet that can be purchased as either a Powder or a Liquid. In a way, I like to look at this as the ultimate fast food. Not only can it be purchased ready to go it can be a cheaper faster alternative to fast food although it is better cold which could be difficult if you're on the go. It even comes in a few different flavors so you can shake things up. You do lose the satisfying feel of eating by drinking your nutrition making it something you probably wouldn't want to try and live off of.

2. Wise Long Lasting Dried Food Packets.
These are a great option if you're looking for easy to cook and grab food that will last for years if you need it to. They claim it will last at least 30 years if you don't need it before then making it a great option for emergency food. While these could be a great option for camping as well they also have mixed reviews. Some people love them and some people seem to hate them. Either way, they are a super light and compact way to carry a lot of calories.

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3. Life Caps
These claim to keep you functioning as close to normal as possible when going for days without food. Currently, they appear to be sold out and may have gone out of business. I am surprised because they actually had pretty good reviews. They would be a great option for emergency packs, although I am not sure how safe they are.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tesla Plans to Start Selling Solar Roof Tiles this Year

Tesla plans to start selling solar roof tiles, and it looks like they will be an obvious choice when compared to conventional roofing. Not only will they last longer they can produce electricity making them cheaper overall. On top of that, they argue that they look nicer than conventional roofing.

I have been a fan of solar power for a long time. Although unlike many people I kind of like the look of traditional solar panels too. The pictures on their site do look gorgeous. If I had a house, I would want to sign up now.

They don't go into a lot of detail on how much power they will produce. They do say that you can get regular tiles and solar tiles to optimize it for the amount of power you need for you home. They even offer a power calculator to estimate how much of your roof should be solar in order to meet your needs and calculates how much the value of the power produced will be over 30 years.

This plays well along with the Powerwall they released previously and will likely significantly help its sales although at a steep price tag of $7000. This allows excess power produced during the day to be used in the evening and also offers some protection from power outages. A nice feature and I would be interested to see how well it works for on grid homes during an outage.

Overall I think this is a great step forward for the company. Not only does it bring them further into the home power world it maintains their brand quality.  I really appreciate that they put in the effort to make a stronger better roof on top of the fact that it produces power.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

5 Essential Health Apps Updated 09/19/2017

Here is a list of my favorite health apps.

1. Pact Unfortunately they retired pact one of my favorite fitness apps.

This app literally pays you to work out, log your food and take pictures of your fruit and veggies. The only downside is you have to commit to how many of these activities you will complete on Monday each week, and if you don't complete them you get charged whatever you set the fee per an activity at. I have been using this app for more than a year now and have never lost any money I just make sure to set the Pacts to something I know I can complete.

2.  MyFitnessPal

This app allows you to track your foods throughout the day and even gives you warnings if your food contains too much of something unhealthy. It also allows you to track your weight and can really make you more aware of what you're eating. One of the best things is it even has a barcode scanner so you can simply scan pre-packaged foods.

3. Runkeeper and MapMyRun
It's great to have an app that can track when you run and even help you with your pacing. I have used both of these, although some of the recent updates to Runkeeper seem to have made it miss parts of my workouts.

4. iTriage
This app has a great amount of information in case you come down with something or get injured. I really like the way you can find illnesses based on the region of the body. It also offers information about medical practices.

5. Instant Heart Rate Monitor 
There are a number of these available. This one seems to work well and is fairly accurate. It uses your camera and flash to take your pulse. You simply put a finger over the lens and wait for it to finish reading. It's great to have if you're interested in monitoring your workout intensity.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

6 Essentials for your Daily Commute

I have had 3 different difficult commutes over the years and through them, I have learned some of the essentials to carry with me. One key thing you learn from having a difficult commute is that you never want to forget anything you might need, but also any added weight can make things tough.

1. Travel Mug
A good leak proof travel coffee mug is a must. Especially if you need coffee as much as I do. The model from Klean Kanteen offers a great Leakproof Cafe Cap 2.0. It's also BPA free and has an easy to clean stainless steel interior. I found this works very well for biking and hiking and can keep things hot or cold for hours. If you want something cheaper the Eco2 is a great option as well.

2. Portable Power
This one will depend a lot on what you need to carry and whether your cell phone can make it through a full day. I use the PNY 10400 power bank which is quite heavy. I would probably look for something light unless you need that much power to get through the day. If you want something cheaper or light check out the Ravpower stick

3. A Toothbrush
This is a great thing to have even if you brush your teeth before you leave. You never know when you will want to brush your teeth.

4. Snacks
This can be a difficult one. The easiest things to carry tend to be dry snacks, but sometimes when you get dehydrated, this is the last thing you would want. I like to carry a back of Belvita Breakfast Biscuits with me because they will keep you full for a long time. I also like granola bars and almost always have one of those in my bag.

It can also be nice to have some powdered drinks on hand in case you get thirsty but are in the mood for something refreshing other than water. I am a big fan of Propel  Packets, and they take up almost no space in your bag.

5. Instant Coffee Tubes
I am a big fan of instant coffee tubes for my afternoon cup of coffee. My favorite one is Tasters Choice Hazelnut, but I also like Starbuck's Via Latte. The biggest problem here is finding a source of hot water. What I used to do was carry ceramic mug to heat some water in a microwave and put it in my travel mug, since you can't microwave stainless steel, but this was heavy. Now I have access to a hot water dispenser so it no longer an issue.


6. Good Backpack to carry it all in
The one I use is from High Sierra. At times I wish it were a little bit more compact, but it works well for the most part. It's nice because I can fit everything I need in it and it keeps everything organized.

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