Archive for month: December 2017

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

I’m back with another installment in the weekly Tech Spotlight! I’m discussing fun, useful, or downright cool tech-related items available on Amazon every week. This week features a very useful charger, a time-saving and convenient smart device, and some tech for the kids in your life. Check out what I’ve found this week, then head over to Amazon and add some tech to your cart!

Solar Charger BernetPow 24000mAh Battery Pack

If you like to hike or camp, or if you just like to go out for the day without having to look for an outlet, a portable charger can help. This solar-powered device from BernetPow is a great option for anyone looking to buy a portable charger.

BernetPow’s Solar Charger is a highly-reviewed but reasonably-priced portable charger. The charger can be powered using its solar panel. It can also be charged at an outlet. The product description notes that the solar panel shouldn’t be relied on as the primary way to charge, but of course, having even some solar charging available could be extremely helpful.

This charger can charge three devices at once with 2.4A charging. It’s able to charge most of the typical devices, like an iPhone or a Galaxy. The charger also has a “safety system” meant to prevent things like overcharging or short-circuiting. Also, its listed item weight is 12.3 ounces, which isn’t the lightest option out there, but it’s pretty typical for a decent, high-powered portable charger. And interestingly, it comes with a tiny USB fan that can be plugged in to keep cool in the summer.

This charger also has some features that help prevent wasting a charge. It will automatically stop charging your devices once they’re full, which keeps the battery from charging for no reason and is better for the device. Also, the charger itself will shut off once it’s not longer in use.

If you’re looking for a good new portable charger, check BernetPow’s solar charger out for an option that works well without breaking the bank!

Flic – The Wireless Smart Button, 3 Pack

Flic is a smart button that makes it a little easier to perform actions on your smart devices. Using the Flic app, you can set your button to do just about anything. Each button has three ways to trigger it—with a click, a double click, or a long press. Each of these triggers can be set to something different, and they can also be set to do more than one thing each.

Flic can be used to control your smart devices, like your lights, your thermostat, or even the camera on your phone. It’s meant to be convenient and time-saving. Since it has an adhesive backing as well as a clip, it could be attached near your doorway so you could turn on the lights and the TV as soon as you walked in the door. Or you could clip it on your sleeve to control your music while working out.

This smart button uses Bluetooth to connect to your device, and it has a range of “roughly 50m,” according to the product description. It also is resistant to “weather and dust,” and the battery lasts quite a long while—over a year, in fact.

If you don’t have any smart products, or if you use your smartphone very little, this might not be all that useful for you. But if you want to be able to control your music without taking your phone out, or if you want to quickly perform actions with your other smart devices, take a look at Flic’s pack of three smart buttons.

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit

This Electronics Discovery Kit from Elenco is a fun offering in the arena of kid’s tech. More and more companies have been producing educational toys that help kids get excited about different areas of tech. This particularly kit has kids 7 and up figuring out how to connect electrical circuits to build interesting projects.

The pieces all snap together, which means there’s no trouble connecting the different parts. The circuit pieces are color coded and perform a variety of functions. This includes a speaker and switches. Using these pieces, kids can work on 101 different projects. The product description mentions fun projects like a musical doorbell and a light police siren.

Aside from these 101 projects, Snap Circuits Jr. can be upgraded by adding other Snap Circuits kits to it. This means that even once your child is done playing with the 101 projects in this kit, more components can be added to complete even more projects.

Kits like this offering from Snap Circuits Jr. could help children develop a love for tech and help with things like problem-solving, working with parts, and following instructions. Check out this kit and the others they offer to see which is best for your child!

Internet 101: Understanding Browser Data

Internet 101: Understanding Browser Data

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes as you surf the web. You might have heard about things like “cookies,” but do you know what they do or what else your browser is storing?

Whenever you use your browser, the sites you visit and actions you perform result in information being saved. This data is typically used to make navigating the web easier for you in the future.

Many different pieces of information are being stored while you’re online. Cookies are just one part of the equation. There’s also your browser’s cache, history, autofill information, saved passwords, and even more little bits of data.

Why does it matter?

You might be asking why you need to know about your browser data. Depending on the situation, you might want to change certain browser settings or learn how to clear your data. Understanding your browser data can do the following:

  • Avoid privacy or security issues
  • Help you make the right decisions with your settings
  • Underline the importance of clearing your data
  • Help you decide what data to clear
  • Show you how some websites work
  • Make it easier to troubleshoot problems

Also, many people use a browser on their computer, phone, or tablet every day. That’s a lot of data. It’s important to stay informed and know what’s being saved.

What data is being stored?

A lot of different kinds of information get stored while you’re using the web. In this article, let’s talk about some of the biggest types of data being saved, including how they work and what to watch out for.

Internet cookies

You’ve almost certainly heard about cookies over the years. You also may have noticed that some websites alert their visitors to let them know they use cookies. But what are they?

A cookie is made up of data. Whenever you visit a website that uses cookies, a cookie is sent to a file in your browser. Then when you revisit that site, the cookie is sent back to it. Essentially, cookies are a way for a website to remember you or certain information it was given.

What’s typically being communicated is information about what you’re doing on the site. Cookies help keep track of visits to a certain website, certain pieces of information, and things like what’s in your cart at an online shop. For instance, when you go back to a website and see your login information has been saved, it’s likely that cookies were used to do this.

There are two main types of cookies you should know—session cookies and persistent cookies. Session cookies are stored temporarily. Once a “session” is over, the session cookie is gone. This means you simply need to close out of your browser to lose the cookie. Persistent cookies, though, stick around. These are the kinds of cookies that help do things like save login information or preferences you’ve indicated on a website.

Though cookies are very helpful, it is possible for unwanted cookies to collect data about your visits and then be used in ways that aren’t helpful to you. For instance, some cookies can be used to keep track of your interests and show you ads based on those interests. This practice is concerning to some people. One way to try to combat this is to see if your browser allows you to block third-party cookies. These cookies are sent to your browser from a source other than the website you’re on—often from an ad on the page.

However, for the most part, it’s typically recommended to allow your browser to accept cookies. If you’re visiting safe websites, you’re probably not encountering unwanted cookies. They make visiting sites a much easier and enjoyable experience, as well.


Your browser history is pretty straightforward: it displays the sites you’ve visited in the past. Your history is a recording of the sites you’ve gone to, including the name of the page and when you visited. Depending on your browser, your history might go back to pages you visited months ago. This can be really helpful to you, because if you forget to bookmark a site, you can always go back and find it in your history.


If you’ve ever been told to “clear the cache,” you might have done so while wondering what you were even deleting. The browser cache is a way to save certain things on websites in order to load things more quickly and efficiently in the future. Pages or pictures on a website might be saved to the cache. This means that if you visit a site and certain images are saved to the cache, then the next time you try to load another page on the site with those images on it, they won’t have to be accessed from the website all over again—they’ll just be displayed from the browser cache.

This can be really helpful if you’re clicking through multiple pages on a website and there’s, say, an image at the top of each page being used as a banner. You won’t have to load it from the website every single time you click on a new page. Not only does this mean that things load more quickly for you, it also means it takes a bit of stress off the website’s server.


Autofill data is typically form information that’s saved for later. Think about all the times you’ve entered your address in a form. Storing autofill data means that next time you need to enter your address, you might not have to type it all back in again. This works with all kinds of information. Different areas (or “fields”) of a form often have names assigned to them. Autofill can use these names to identify which field to enter each piece of information into, so it won’t accidentally put your city in the field asking for your phone number.

Saved passwords

Some browsers can also save your passwords for you. If you’re using different passwords for each different account you have (which you should—take a look at my article about managing your passwords!), then those passwords can be difficult to keep track of. You often have the option to let your browser remember the password for you. This password data is typically saved to just that certain browser on that specific computer.

Though it’s likely tempting to take this option, be careful! If you’re using a shared computer, others will have access to your accounts. Keep this in mind, and make sure you never save your password to the browser if strangers will have access to it.

What you can do with your browser data

Now that you know about some of the data your browser is storing, you can make some informed decisions. Data takes up some space on your devices, and some of the stored data may be totally useless to you (or even completely unwanted), depending on how you typically use your browser. The good news is, you do have some choices when it comes to your browser data.

Change your settings

Most browsers allow you to change your settings to fit your needs. For instance, you can choose to block third-party cookies, or, if you want, even block all internet cookies. You might also want to turn autofill on or off. Depending on your browser, you can likely edit your autofill information, as well. If you have a new address, you can update your old autofill information. If you saved some information on accident, you can delete it. You can also turn saved passwords off and on, as well as delete passwords. Most of this data can be managed in some way.

In Chrome, you can find these kinds of options in your Settings under the Advanced section. In Firefox, these options can be found in the Options under Privacy & Security. Similar settings can be found in most popular browsers.

Clear some or all of your data

You can clear your browser data as often as suits you. Unless you’re having issues with your browser, you probably don’t really need to clear your data. On the typical PC, browser data doesn’t usually take up that much space. Of course, phones and tablets can be a completely different story. If you don’t have much space left on your phone, clearing your browser history actually can make a notable difference.

Also, you can clear data if you have any privacy concerns. If you share your device, you might want to clear your history. (You can also bypass this altogether by using something like Chrome’s incognito mode, which prevents browser data from being saved while in use.)

You can typically choose which data to delete and how far back you’d like to go. For instance, you might only want to delete your history so you keep your cache and cookies for easier browsing. You could delete just some of your recent history, or you could delete it all. Take a look in your browser’s settings to see which options you can choose from!

YouTube No Longer Available on Fire TV

YouTube No Longer Available on Fire TV

If you use Fire TV, you may have noticed you no longer have access to YouTube. The Verge reports that YouTube has now been deactivated on the device.

Fire TV is Amazon’s streaming device offering. It’s a small device that plugs into a TV and allows users to stream channels or use apps and Alexa skills. With a separate Alexa device or with the voice remote, users can control their TV by voice. Back in July, Business Insider noted that Amazon Fire TV had 35.8 million monthly users. Now all of those users will have to use a browser to watch YouTube on their TVs.

The removal of YouTube from Fire TV stems from an issue going all the way back to September. At that point, Google suddenly took YouTube off of Amazon’s Echo Show device. After the removal, Google said that they had never fully worked out the pairing before YouTube was made available on the Echo Show. Google said the version of YouTube on the Show created “a broken user experience,” likely referring to the fact that many key features were missing in this version of YouTube. Eventually, YouTube reappeared on the device.

Then earlier this month, Google pulled YouTube from the Echo Show once again. TechCrunch reports that Google didn’t know YouTube was being reactivated on the device. Google wasn’t involved in the process of creating this version of the YouTube app either, and they say it violates their Terms of Service. Once they pulled it from the Echo Show, they announced they would be removing it from Fire TV, as well. The original claim was that it would be removed on January 1st, 2018.

Instead, it was pulled on December 28th, days before it was meant to be removed. The Verge notes that we don’t yet know who took it down early. In any case, Fire TV users hoping for one last hurrah with the voice-controlled version of YouTube have now missed their shot. There don’t seem to be any current plans for reactivating YouTube on Amazon’s devices.

Keep Up to Date with a Calendar App

Keep Up to Date with a Calendar App

If you have events or reminders to keep track of, you probably make good use of calendars. And since you likely have a mobile device, it’s safe to assume you take advantage of your phone’s or tablet’s calendar. Thankfully, tablets and phones typically come with some kind of calendar app preinstalled, but what if something better is available?

The calendar app you need will very likely depend on what you’re primarily going to use it for and what works best for reminding you of your schedule. Some people remember to check their calendar every day, some remember what day an event is but can’t remember the details, some need loud and persistent reminders. Because of all this, your day to day life can be made a little easier with the right app.

The most important things to look for when choosing an app are that it has what you specifically need, doesn’t take up more space than you can reasonably offer, and comes from a reputable developer. With that in mind, here are just some of the cool and useful calendar apps waiting to be downloaded.


This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Some of its main features include the ability to show different views (day, week, month, year, agenda, etc.), customize colors, connect with Google Calendar, place widgets, see moon phases, and share events. These are all available in the free version of the app. There are many more features in the paid version.

Awesome Calendar

This calendar app is available for $9.99 in the App Store. This app can sync with the other calendars available for iOS. Some main features include the ability to set custom alarms, add stickers and notes, see your calendar in different views, include photos, show the weather, share information, and customize the appearance.

Business Calendar 2

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Business Calendar 2 is not just for business! Some of its main features center on being able to set up events and tasks, look at multiple different views, sync with other calendars, use voice input, and place widgets. You also have multiple options for your different calendar views. Especially cool is the heat map that shows your free and busy days. These are just some of the features from this free app.


This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. This app is a colorful and fun calendar option. Some of its main features include syncing with other calendars, multiple calendar views, plenty of reminder options, themes, and widgets. Most importantly, it has Magic Circles, which is a feature that gives you a visual of when you’re free or busy.


This calendar app is available for free in the Play store or in the App Store. This app is specifically meant to help families stay on top of events and agendas. Some of its features are the shared calendar, color-coding, automated agenda emails, shopping & to-do lists, a family journal, and widgets.


This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Some of the biggest features of this app are the multiple agenda views, widgets, weather forecasts, themes and customizable colors, and location search. These are all in the free version. The paid version has even more features, plus you can also pay a fee to add premium calendars that add events to your calendar for you (for things like sports and holidays).

Fantastical 2

This calendar app is available for $2.99 in the App Store. Just some of this app’s features include the ability to use “natural language” when entering events, customize reminders and alerts, view maps, and share events. This app prides itself on being visually pleasing, as well as working in an intuitive and natural way.

My Study Life

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store and in the App Store. This app is primarily focused on helping students stay organized. Some of its main features are its ability to save information to the cloud, keep up with homework, remember your class schedule, and get notifications about things like due dates and class times.

Recommended Posts Added to Instagram

Recommended Posts Added to Instagram

Noticed any posts on Instagram that seem especially unfamiliar? If you have, it might be because Instagram has now added a recommended posts feature.

After you’ve scrolled through new Instagram posts from the accounts you follow, you’ll now see content that Instagram recommends for you. Instagram’s algorithm will display posts they think you’ll like based on your friends liking them. The “recommended for you” section displays after you’ve already looked at all the new content from the people you follow. If you see something you don’t like or that shouldn’t be on Instagram, the company notes that you can hide and report the content.

Though it’s hard to fully tell what the response from Instagram users is, so far the change is not going over well with many people. Some articles are straightforward in showing their distaste for the new feature. In an article titled “What Makes Instagram’s ‘Recommended’ Posts So Awful?” for Gizmodo, the author says that no one they’d talked to about the feature “is excited about the change,” and he goes on to question the choice. The Daily Dot’s article on the subject is titled “Instagram is further messing up your feed with ‘recommended’ posts.” Refinery29 says that “Your Instagram Feed Is About To Be Full Of Strangers.” Slate’s article is titled “Instagram Is Getting Less Intimate,” and they go on to say that scrolling through the new feature is “like getting separated from your friends in a crowded bar.” And aside from articles, a search about the subject on Twitter brings up a string of tweets from users expressing displeasure with the idea of recommended posts.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the feature will actually be a nuisance for users or if they will eventually enjoy it. The idea of it doesn’t seem to be popular and it isn’t going over well. But hopefully Instagram users will grow to like it once it’s been implemented for a while and they’ve gotten used to it. And if not, here’s hoping Instagram will listen to the users and make their feeds more personal again.

Snapchat Joins Other Platforms in Letting You Look Back at 2017

Snapchat Joins Other Platforms in Letting You Look Back at 2017

If you’ve spent much time on Snapchat this year, you might have quite a few photos and videos saved in your Memories. If so, you can now look back on 2017 with Snap’s new feature called “A Look Back at 2017.”

With 2018 about to kick off, some platforms are giving their users a way to look back at the past year. Perhaps most well-known is Facebook’s feature called “Year in Review.” This feature lets users share a video that collects fun or important moments from the past year. Facebook users can edit their videos before sharing to make sure some of the best content is included. In my experience, my feed becomes flooded with videos from people looking back on the year, and it’s a lot of fun.

Instagram users can also wrap up their year with the popular #bestnine2017 hashtag. Users share a photo collage of the nine most popular shots they posted over the year. You can’t actually create this photo directly inside the Instagram app, but you can use a website like 2017bestnine to generate your collage of popular photos, or you can do it yourself with Instagram’s Layouts app.

Snapchat’s feature is interesting when you consider what previously made the app so appealing—its disappearing images. Many people were drawn to the app because Snaps quickly disappeared, never to be seen again. Since that time, though, Snapchat’s popularity has continued even as they’ve added the ability to save your Snaps into your Memories and let people view your Snaps for much longer than before. Their year-end review feature further shows that having Snaps disappear forever is not necessarily as important anymore. You can not only save your images, but you can collect them all together and show others your Snaps from across the year.

To share your end-of-the-year Snap review, simply open the app, go to your Memories, and look for the “A Look Back at 2017” feature. Then follow the prompts. The Verge mentions that if you don’t see this feature, it might be because you don’t have enough Snaps saved to your Memories to generate your year-end review. But if you do, you can take yourself and your friends back to your past Snaps to recall the fun times you’ve had in 2017 (and to reminisce about your favorite face filters).

Happy 2018!

Internet 101: Customizing Your Browser

Internet 101: Customizing Your Browser

There may be more ways to customize your browser than you think. If you’ve never really looked into what your browser can do, you might not even know what options you have. Fortunately, most popular browsers can have really cool capabilities once you personalize them. If you find some aspect of your browser inconvenient, it’s possible there’s a way to get rid of those irritations. Even if you think your browser is fine the way it is, you could be missing out on some cool little tricks that change the browsing experience.

In this week’s Internet 101, let’s talk about how customization works and what you might want to add to your browser!

Why you might customize your browser

You might feel like your browser does everything you need it to do—and of course, that’s possible. But browsers are able to be customized for a reason, and one size doesn’t always fit all with browsers.

Your browser’s default settings can really just be a starting point. Depending on what you like, what annoys you, or what you really need, you can likely tweak your browser to make things simpler and more fun.

Here are just a few reasons you might customize your browser:

  • Accessibility needs
  • Aesthetics
  • Privacy concerns
  • Website annoyances
  • Convenience

How do you customize your browser?

Customization works differently depending on which browser you’re using. Since we’re keeping it simple, I’ll just mention that some more experienced tech-minded people might customize their browser by hacking it or by essentially building their own. But for the purposes of this article, let’s stick to the much easier options.

Options, preferences, or settings

Every browser will have preferences or settings of some kind. These options are built-in to the browser. You don’t have to download anything new or go searching for specific tools that you need to add.

Depending on which browser you have, these options might be fairly basic or surprisingly complex. If there are a lot of options, don’t get overwhelmed—just scan through for words or terms you recognize, and try to avoid changing any options that you don’t really understand. Otherwise it could be a hassle to go back and figure out what has been changed!

Extensions or add-ons

Extensions or add-ons are a different way to customize your browser. If your browser has these available (and it very likely does), you can install them to open up even more options. They’re not pre-installed, so you will typically have to search or browse through all the offerings to find what you want.

What can you customize?

There are many different ways to customize most browsers. Of course, some browsers are much more able to be customized than others. And don’t forget, this is just a brief overview of some popular or particularly interesting things to consider. You can do many more things than listed here—browse through your browser’s settings to see if there’s more that interests you! Also, if you use Opera Browser, don’t forget you can use Install Chrome Extensions, and if you use Vivaldi, you can install Chrome extensions by following Vivaldi’s instructions.

(Note: As of writing this article, Safari’s extensions gallery was not accessible. Once it’s able to be viewed, this article may be edited to include Safari options.)

Look through built-in accessibility options

Most browsers will have these options built in to their settings or preferences. You can find change things like font size, use of color, and more.

Make images easier to see

You might want an extension that works with images. To make it easier to zoom in on images, check out Hover Zoom for Chrome or Zoom Image for Firefox.

Work with language tools

There are a lot of things you can do with language extensions. There are a few extensions you should definitely consider adding.

To quickly translate while on the web, take a look at ImTranslator for Chrome, Mate Translate for Firefox, Mate Translate for Microsoft Edge, or Mate Translate for Opera.

To look up a word or check your grammar, try out Google Dictionary for Chrome, Grammar Checker for Firefox, or Grammarly for Microsoft Edge.

Save things for later

Sure, you can bookmark things for later, but some tools are even better than bookmarks. Take a look at some extensions that make it easier to save content for later.

If you want to save things for access from multiple devices, look at Google Keep for Chrome, Save to Google Drive for Chrome, OneNote Web Clipper for Firefox, Evernote Web Clipper for Microsoft Edge, Save to Pocket for Microsoft Edge, or Pocket for Opera.

Cut back on space and time

Some extensions will help use less data, which can save time, or change how your browser works so your browser just moves more quickly. Here are a few ways you can speed your browser up and save space while you’re at it.

To save space by optimizing or compressing the webpages you visit, check out Data Saver for Chrome or Data saver proxy for Firefox.

To speed your browser up by blocking websites from using trackers, try Ghostery for Microsoft Edge.

Get rid of annoyances

There are many, many things about browsing websites that can be unbelievably irritating. There are two offenders that are perhaps worse than the others.

To block ads in your browser, look into Adblock Plus for Chrome, AdBlocker Ultimate for Firefox, Adguard AdBlocker for Microsoft Edge, or Opera Ad Blocker for Opera.

To stop some videos from playing automatically (but, unfortunately, not all of them), consider adding HTML5 Video Autoplay Blocker for Chrome or Disable HTML5 Autoplay for Firefox.

Change the visuals

Your experience with your browser could completely change just by changing the browser’s appearance. It can be lovely to make a browser look more like your own style, and it’s helpful to set things up in a way that makes sense to you. Here are just a few ways to do that.

To change the colors or images displayed on your browser, look to see if the browser supports themes. You can browse themes or wallpapers for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi. If you don’t use these browsers, yours might still have themes available. You can often find out by looking in your browser’s settings or preferences.

To rearrange your tabs, take a look at OneTab for Chrome or Tile Tabs for Firefox.

To make your browser’s tabs pretty, check out Dream Afar New Tab for Chrome or ColorfulTabs for Firefox.

Have some fun

There are, of course, quite a few extensions or add-ons you can use to do fun, random, or just very specific things. Below are some popular ways you might use your browser extensions for fun.

To capture (or possibly record) your screen, try out Screencastify for Chrome, Nimbus Screen Capture for Firefox, or Nimbus Screen Capture for Opera.

To easily use GIFs, GIPHY is the way to go—find their extension on Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.

To get a little more creative, take a look at Sumo Paint for Chrome, SketchPad for Chrome, or Web Paint for Firefox.

Finally (and very importantly), to add emojis (or even Bitmojis!) to your messages and posts, check out Bitmoji for Chrome, Emoji Keyboard for Chrome, Emoji Keyboard for Firefox, or Emoji Keyboard for Opera.

Getting Ready for the New Year

Getting Ready for the New Year

With 2017 wrapping up and 2018 quickly approaching, it might be difficult to keep up with everything. There are the holidays to get through, and with the new year, there might be some expectations or plans to keep up with. If you’re feeling a little unprepared for 2017 to come to a close, here are just some ways you can get ready, as well as some ideas for taking care of yourself!

Use an app for your resolution(s) or goals

Do you have a special New Year’s resolution? Many people come up with resolutions to better themselves or do something specific. Many people also forget about their resolutions not too far into 2018. The good news is, you can use the internet to focus on keeping your resolutions!

Even if you don’t have a resolution, you might have decided on some goals to meet over the course of the year. Here are some apps that can help! is an app that helps users form new habits. If you’ve set a goal to work on your diet, be more productive, or otherwise change your habits, can help. It’s available for Android, iOS, and the web. You get access to “coaches” who help you stay on track and work to meet your goals.

GoalsOnTrack is software that helps you set and meet goals, change habits, and complete tasks. You can set goals with milestones and actual achievable end results, then follow your progress. Your habits can be linked to certain goals, as well. There’s even a vision board so you can practice visualization. This software works for Android, iOS, and the web.

irunurun is another goal-setting app that focuses on setting attainable goals and staying accountable for your progress. Your goals can be given a certain weight or value depending on how important it is. You can score points and look at your progress. You are also held accountable by being on a team—others can see your progress, which makes reaching your goals a little more competitive, as well. irunurun is available for iOS and the web.

Way of Life is a good option if you’re into visuals. You can set goals and work on your habits, then look at a visual representation of your progress. There are bar charts and pie charts, plus a scoreboard. There are also many other features that help you keep up with your goals and habits. Way of Life is available for Android and iOS.

Use websites or apps for your New Year’s Eve party

Planning a New Year’s Eve party? Don’t stress. There are quite a few ways you can use the internet to easily plan your party.

Use countdown videos

If you don’t like (or don’t have access) to the typical live countdown on New Year’s Eve, you have options online! YouTube has plenty of NYE countdowns available. For instance, you might like to simply play the London Fireworks published by BBC or the Sydney Fireworks from ABC TV. There are also countdown videos with interesting effects, like this countdown video by Mandy Mathy. You can almost certainly find one that suits your party’s style.

Use a Spotify playlist

Don’t worry about music for your party! Spotify users have already made playlists for New Year’s Eve. Searching through them, you can find one that you think your guests will like. There’s the “Ultimate Party Playlist” or the “2018 New Year’s Eve NYE Party Playlist.” Or you could get a playlist started and let your friends add to it as the party gets closer.

Make planning simpler

Check out my article called “Organize Your Upcoming Events Online” for ways you can use the internet while planning your NYE shindig!

Know your resources for stress and other concerns

Many people struggle with things like stress and depression around the New Year. The holidays can be a stressful time, and they can be difficult for some. The best thing you can do for yourself is see a health professional so you can talk through your concerns. However, in the meantime, here are some apps or websites you might check out for self-care during the New Year:

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight is back this week with more cool and useful tech! Each week, I’m finding the most interesting or helpful tech-related products on Amazon and telling you all about them. With the new year quickly approaching, consider starting 2018 right with some fun new tech!

Roav by Anker SmartCharge Car Kit F2

Roav is a simple-looking device that can do much more than you might expect. Roav plugs into your car’s lighter socket and helps take care of your music, charging, calling, and car finding needs. It uses Bluetooth or FM radio to let you play your music through your car’s stereo system. You can also use Roav for a hands-free device to make calls while you’re in your vehicle.

While you’re listening or talking, you can charge your devices—it has two USB ports for car charging, and it’s designed to charge quickly. It’s described as using “high-speed charging” no matter what charging cable you’re using and regardless of what device it is.

It also helps you keep track of what’s going on with your car. Using Roav’s app, you can keep up with how your car’s battery is doing. You can also take steps to avoid losing your car. If you’re parking somewhere confusing, or if you tend to forget where you’ve parked in the parking garage, you can use the Roav app to take a picture of your car, set a timer so you don’t run out of time on your meter, and even place a pin at your car’s location so you can find it later using the map.

Roav by Anker is a great multi-purpose device that could potentially consolidate a number of other devices you’re thinking of getting for your car. Take a look at Roav to make your car’s tech a little more convenient.

Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear

This set of headphones from Mpow is a well-reviewed and affordable choice for your listening needs. The Bluetooth headset works with PCs, phones, TVs, and any other devices with Bluebooth capabilities. It has hi-fi sound and can be used wirelessly or with the cord Mpow provides. Whenever the battery runs low, all you have to do is plug it in and charge it.

The headphones go over your ears, and they use a “memory-protein ear cushion” that’s designed to be soft and comfortable. You can also adjust the headphones so they fit properly. Also, the sliders you use to adjust the headphones are also used to fold them for easy carrying.

Mpow’s headphones also work well for hands-free calling. The headset has a microphone built in, so you can make calls when you’re using the headphones wirelessly.

If you’re looking for great headphones at a great price, check out Mpow’s Bluetooth Headphones!

Osmo Genius Kit

The Genius Kit from Osmo is a great way to take your own devices and turn them into educational tools for the young ones in your life. Osmo Genius Kit requires an iPad to use. With your iPad, there are five available games that let kids (ages 5 to 12) use their hands and learn about subjects like math and spelling.

The Genius Kit also helps kids practice certain skills. For instance, the Masterpiece game helps with drawing skills. The Tangram game works on spatial thinking, and the Newton game lets kids work on their problem-solving skills.

The product looks simple, with the stand for your iPad and some game pieces, but all together, Osmo Genius Kit makes an iPad something completely different. Kids can learn important subjects with just one device and the Genius Kit. Consider getting the Osmo Genius Kit for a child in your life!

Chrome’s Ad Blocker Coming in 2018

Chrome’s Ad Blocker Coming in 2018

Not a fan of ads? If you’re using Google Chrome, you’ll see less of them starting in February. Chrome will soon be implementing their own kind of ad blocking built in to the browser.

Chrome’s ad blocker will be out February 15th. It’s important to note it won’t be all-encompassing—The Verge notes that the blocked ads will specifically be ones that are “spammy or intrusive.” Chrome’s announcement outlines how the blocking process will work. They’ll be using the guidelines set by the Coalition for Better Ads to remove unwanted ads. Websites that are reported and are marked as “failing” will be blocked by Chrome if the issues aren’t taken care of within 30 days.

For those wanting to know more about the Coalition for Better Ads, their website gives a glimpse into their thought process. The Coalition focuses on solving the problem created by web users encountering ads that “disrupt their experience, interrupt content and slow browsing.” The website’s Standards page goes over issues like videos that play automatically, ads that cover a lot of the screen and stay in place, and “scroll-over ads” that take up a mobile device’s whole screen.

Chrome’s built-in ad blocking will hopefully take care of the worst offenders. But of course, Chrome users are already able to use extensions like AdBlock Plus to block more than just the most annoying ads. This leads to the question: will Chrome’s ad blocking be enough to keep people away from more extensive ad blockers? It’s important to note that if fewer ads are cropping up and doing particularly annoying things, people who were considering a full-blown ad blocker might decide not to bother with it. Chrome’s ad blocker will be built in, instead of calling for an extension to be downloaded.

Like Ars Technica points out, Chrome is a widely used and very popular browser, so integrating any sort of ad blocking into the browser “will have huge ripple effects across the Web.” Chrome’s ad blocking gives Chrome even more power over the advertising people see, and it might also make the browser more appealing to people who hadn’t decided whether to switch over. After February 15th, we’ll see how effective the new tool is and what difference it ultimately makes for Google.