Archive for November, 2012


3 Factors To Weigh Before Picking a Tablet

With So Many To Choose From, Deciding Which Tablet To Buy Can Be Tricky

1. Size

Are you (or your gift-ee) going to be carrying it around a lot? Watching a lot of movies and TV? Reading books? Taking notes? The 10” tablets are definitely tops for watching video and giving you plenty of real estate for browsing the web, but they are also, by definition, bigger and heavier than the 7” family. For throwing into your bag or large coat pocket, a 7” tablet is far more convenient — and it’s lighter weight makes it a better option for people who intend to read on their tablet frequently.

2. Operating System

Now that Apple has brought out the iPad Mini, a 7” tablet, you can pick any size and still have a choice between Android and iOS — and Windows tablets are beginning to garner some acclaim as well. Apple does offer more apps than any other platform, and its user interface remains the best — although that margin is closing fast. On the other hand, the Android OS offers more flexibility and customization than Apple. The Windows 8 platform is powerful, but it has a steeper learning curve than the other two.

3. Storage

Some tablets offer external storage in the form of some sort of SD card — and some don’t. Apple is infamous for not offering any external storage options on any of its iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad or iPad Mini; iPads are available with internal storage up to 64gb. Many Android devices do offer a slot for an SD memory card — allowing you to add up to 32gb to your tablet’s storage capacity for less than $50.

Other factors you’ll want to weigh are cost, speed, battery life, among others. CNET, PC World, Digital Trends, and TechTrends offer advice, reviews and information to help you choose the right tablet. The site Versus IO lets you compare a variety of smartphones and tablets — bringing up the specifications of each and weighing them against each other.


3 Tips To Handle Holiday Stress

Things You Can Do To Keep The Season From Stressing You Out

1. Anticipation and Imagination

Planning ahead for the pitfalls of the holiday season is one of the best ways you can smooth your way. For all the events coming up, visualize the experience in your mind — if it’s a tradition you’ve been part of before, remember both the good and the bad. 

Focus on ways you can maximize the positive and prepare yourself to handle or even avoid the negative. If you had a great time last year on that last-minute shopping run with your sibling, this year, make it a plan. If a colleague tends to become obnoxious at the holiday party and make you uncomfortable, prepare yourself with a few hasty departure excuses, so you’re not fumbling at the time.

2. Sleep and Exercise

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean the basics don’t apply. Research study after research study show that getting enough sleep and exercise are surefire ways to keep your mood up — and your ability to handle stressful situations at its peak.

3. You Time

The holidays can take up a lot of time with parties, events, family, colleagues — all of which can be fun and festive, but may also feel like an endless load of obligations. Make sure you schedule time at least a couple of times each week to do something that really is fun, and also relaxing — whether you sneak off to a movie, or lock the door and take a long bubble bath, or crack a bottle of wine and stay home with your best friend (and NO one else), remember that the holidays should leave you feeling joyous, not resentful.



8 Fall Movies With A Lot of Buzz

Oscar Season Is Here — What You Shouldn’t Miss


1.    The Master

Starring the inimitable Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix in his first post faux “retirement/breakdown” appearance, The Master tells the story of a magnetic cult leader, his belief system and his young protégé. Director Paul Thomas Anderson delivers a compelling story powered by some powerhouse performances.

2.    Looper

Looper is Rian Johnson’s third movie after his debut (the surprisingly successful film noir set Orange County, Brick) and sophomore film (the con and caper tale The Brothers Bloom) — it’s a thriller/suspense/time travel movie that is a huge leap forward (no pun intended) for the filmmaker. With Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, playing an oddly convincing young Bruce Willis, Looper is a fast-paced adventure that grabs you up and doesn’t let you go until the very end.

3.    Argo

Possibly the best movie of the year so far, Argo tells the true tale of the recently declassified mission to rescue six American hostages from Iran during the hostage crisis in 1980. Written by newcomer Chris Terrio and superbly directed by Ben Affleck, this movie is a master class on how to maintain nail-biting suspense even when your audience knows exactly how it’s going turn out.

4.    Skyfall

It may be not Oscar material, but the first Bond movie after a four-year absence is chock full of Oscar caliber talent. Directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Skyfall brings Daniel Craig and Oscar-winner Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) back as 007 and M and introduces what promises to be a Bond villain for the history books, played by yet another Oscar winner, Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men).

5.    Life of Pi

An unlikely best-seller and award winner (the Man Booker Prize in 2002), the book Life of Pi has sold more than twice as many copies as the next best-selling Booker prize winner. About a boy, a tiger, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan adrift at sea in a lifeboat, Life of Pi appears to be an unlikely movie as well. If anyone can pull it off, it would be director Ang Lee, who brought us Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and who won the Best Director Academy Award for Brokeback Mountain.

6.    Zero Dark Thirty

She was the first woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director (The Hurt Locker). This year, Kathryn Bigelow (along with the writer who won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for The Hurt Locker, Mark Boal) is back with Zero Dark Thirty, which should be a mesmerizing look at the hunt for (and killing of) Osama Bin Laden by Seal Team 6.

7.    Les Miserables

What are the chances that this December’s Les Miserables — a musical based on a 1990s movie based on a 1980s Broadway musical blockbuster based on an 1860s French novel — is going to be any good? Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) thinks they’re pretty good. Then again, with a cast that includes Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen it looks like the director may have stacked the deck.

8.    Silver Linings Playbook

Oscar nominated director David O’Russell (The Fighter) is back this year with a tale of what you do after you lose everything. Starring Bradley Cooper and Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Silver Linings Playbook promises to be an emotional rollercoaster.


4 Easy Ways to Stay On Top Of Product Recalls

Before You Take That Pill Or Eat That Peanut Butter

It seems like every week another report comes out announcing a product, food or drug that has had to be recalled from the shelves because it malfunctions, or isn’t what it’s supposed to be, or is contaminated in some way.

How’s an average person supposed to know that this week isn’t the week to buy peanut butter? Or that the pretty bassinet you were eyeing poses a suffocation danger to your new baby? 

Some recalls hit the news in a big way. The Excedrin recall this year was a hot topic and all over TV, the internet and the newspapers. That’s one item. Last year there were more than 2,000 product recall announcements.

Various U.S. agencies offer alerts for product safety issues — via email or various social media platforms.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is “committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children.” You can subscribe to their alerts — and even specify just what kind of updates you’d like to receive (all recalls, child/infant product recalls, household product recalls, etc.). 

 Sign up for alerts from the CPSC here.

 Follow @OnSafety on Twitter to get their updates on safety alerts and recalls

 Check out CPSC’s Facebook page for updates on recalls. 

U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

When items that fall under the purview of the Food & Drug Administration (such as Excedrin, spinach, peanut butter, etc.) are recalled, the FDA oversees the recall process to make sure it is adequate and effective. The FDA keeps a record of product recalls, which can be searched, sorted by name, date or product type, as well as an archive of press releases related to products and product safety. 

  Sign up to receive information on recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts from the FDA here.

 Follow @FDARecalls on Twitter here

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Part of the USDA’s charter is to make sure that the “nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.”

 Sign up to get notified when the USDA issues a recall or public health alert here.

 Follow @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter here

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The NHTSA is tasked with “achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety” — not only does the agency monitor manufacturers’ recall efforts, they can also order recalls and repairs of vehicles and parts. You can sign up for the NHTSA’s email notifications on their recalls — and even tailor the content to your area of concerns (e.g., child restraints, specific makes/models, motorcycles).

Sign up for email notifications of NHTSA recalls and safety alerts here.

 Follow @NHTSAgov on Twitter for recalls and other vehicle safety announcements.