For any online gamer using a high-speed internet service, this story will feel very familiar. You get into a high-stakes battle with an opponent in the game of your choice. After much maneuvering and managing, and a little bit of good fortune along the way, you win. You get the results, the rewards and the ego boost that comes with any hard-fought victory. Then, your chosen game client pings: you have a new message. It’s your vanquished foe, saying that you are a cheat who “throttled his internet” and that you “only won because of lag”.
Sound like an experience you’ve had to laugh your way through before? It’s funny when the shoe is on the other foot. When your internet service throttles performance, or cannot keep up the standard, and you lose out, though, it is infuriating. You feel cheated. All your work and effort ruined by a drop-off in latency, resulting in your lagging internet not allowing you to react.
Internet speed across America is, depending on your internet provider, inconsistent to say the least. Go with a good provider, and you might have nothing to worry about. Choose someone who limits bandwidth, though, and you might just run out of latency at the wrong moment. Does it have the massive impact that so many gamers believe it does, though?
How much does internet speed impact on your gaming prowess on your title(s) of choice?
Slow, throttled internet will always hamper performance
As a gamer, every click can be the one that counts. From sending that sniper shot through the back of an opponent’s skull to sending your troops to ambush the opponent, speed of internet connectivity is no laughing matter. The drawbacks of having slow and poor-quality internet will very quickly begin to shine through.
For example, you’ll often find that your slow internet service will frustrate other gamers. This can make it hard for you to build a good rapport with teammates. If they are always waiting for you to spawn in before the game can start, they’ll get tired of waiting. They might also begin to get tired of your poor performance being put down to lag. Yes, they will be happy to put up with it when it happens from time to time. If you are always last or putting in poor performances due to not being able to react in time, you can soon find yourself out of your gaming circuit unceremoniously.
Fair? Not really. But when other gamers in the server all have smooth performance and your lagging is causing them to lose, you’ll be the one to get the blame. Whether you want to game for fun, for streaming or for competitive payment, good quality internet is essential. You’ll often be kicked from servers – or banned outright – if your internet connection stops others from playing to the highest standard that they possibly can.
Good quality internet allows for the maximum experience
One of the most important parts of playing a game online is that it should feel smooth. This isn’t the turn of the millennium any more: needless lag and latency issues will frustrate. With faster internet that is not locked or throttled, you can play the game much faster. Most maps and games need to download temporary assets before you can log in. With fast internet, you’ll never be the one holding up the rest of the party from starting their game for the evening.
You will also be able to stick around until the end. People being dropped and kicked from servers is depressingly common when they don’t have high-speed internet. If you want a smooth gaming experience where you can forge alliances and make friends, having a smooth internet connection helps. People want to know that they can trust you to be there when the game reaches its crescendo. With high-speed internet, you make that far more likely. Gaming online is a very fun social experience, but people want to know that they can rely upon you to play without dropping off.
You can reduce lagging, glitches and general service issues by having high speed internet. This not only makes it easier for you to perform, but to perform when playing with others. So, if you are serious about gaming online, investing in good high-quality internet that stays up for the whole evening is essential long-term.
Finding good quality, high speed internet for gamers
There are many forms of internet that you should investigate if you are going to be playing games online. Your high-speed internet should first and foremost be from a company that promises no throttling. This lets you to know that you can game to your maximum all night long without hampering the internet performance in-game or for other internet users at home.
You can find that you can get a lot of affordable broadband plans, such as those from Easy Internet Now. This helps you to get online and to enjoy the gaming experience with no latency. Don’t go for something that has speed caps, maximum usage per day or anything like that. Modern gaming is going to burn through even the most generous of caps, so keep that in mind moving forward.
We recommend that you look for high quality, fast paced internet. Anything in the 10mbps range is likely to be good enough, but you should never cap your ambitions. Anything under 4mbps is probably best avoided, though: most online gaming services, like the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox LIVE, will often run poorly outside of this.
Keep that in mind, as it will likely inform a large part of your decision-making process moving forward. The best gaming experiences online, though, will always be served well with faster internet. So, if you are sick of always coming last due to lag, or being the scapegoat for slow game loading times, consider a faster internet plan. Don’t let yourself be the one to let the team down!
Alexa has gotten an interesting new addition, and in the near future the smart assistant may also be able to continue a discussion without using a wake word.
To correspond with what’s known as ‘Alien Day,’ Alexa has a new skill called Offworld Colony Simulator. According to Fortune, you can use the skill on all devices that have Alexa. The skill is a game that’s similar to roleplaying games and that uses voice prompts and responses to challenge you to get away from a Xenomorph. There have been other voice-based RPGs available on Alexa (like The Magic Door). This one, though, is for sci-fi and Alien lovers.
There’s also news that Alexa may soon gain some more useful abilities. TechCrunch reports that Alexa users will be able to talk with Alexa more naturally and have Alexa remember certain things they choose.
Currently, when you want to use Alexa, you have to use a wake word (like “Alexa” or “Echo”). But in the future, Alexa will not always need you to use the wake word when you’re asking follow-up questions. So if you ask a question and then need more information, you won’t have to wake Alexa up all over again and form a complete new question. This will make conversations with Alexa flow more smoothly and be a little easier to manage.
As TechCrunch notes, you’ll also be able to ask Alexa to remember things. You can ask her to remember peoples’ birthdays or other important pieces of information. Then you’ll be able to ask her about that information in the future and retrieve it easily.
All of this is meant to give Alexa a more expansive and useful memory. It will make her more personal to each user’s account and it will make conversations with her feel a step closer to a conversation with a human (though, of course, we’re not fully there yet).
Offworld Colony Simulator is available to play now, while Alexa’s new memory updates are coming soon (TechCrunch says there’s not yet a launch date).
Xbox One gamers will soon be able to play more of the old games they remember. Forbes is reporting that more original Xbox games are becoming backwards compatible, making them playable on Xbox One.
These games will be released in two batches over the course of the month, and the games include some that have gamers very excited. People using Xbox One will be able to play original Xbox games like “The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind” and “Star Wars: Battlefront,” along with many other popular titles (including several other Star Wars titles).
According to Tom’s Guide, there are currently 13 original Xbox games that are backwards compatible. These were released last October, and they include games like “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” and “Fusion Frenzy.” And, of course, a large number of Xbox 360 games are also playable on Xbox One. These classic Xbox games, however, are particularly exciting since there were so few playable up until now.
Forbes gives the following schedule for the release of the backwards compatible games:
- Blinx: The Time Sweeper
- Conker: Live & Reloaded
- The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
- Hunter: The Reckoning
- Jade Empire
- Panzer Dragoon Orta
- SSX 3
- Destroy All Humans!
- Full Spectrum Warrior
- Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
- MX Unleashed
- Panzer Elite Action: Fields of Glory (Europe only)
- Star Wars: Battlefront
- Star Wars: Battlefront 2
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
- Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter
- Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
- Star Wars: Republic Commando
If you own an Xbox One and want to go back and replay these classic games, keep a close watch on the schedule this month. If you own any of these discs, you’ll be able to begin playing them on your Xbox One. If you have them as digital downloads, you’ll be able to find them in your list of games, ready to be installed.
Microsoft has been in the news quite a bit over the past week! Here’s your chance to catch up. Microsoft owns many different well-known services, including XBOX and SwiftKey, many of which were recently updated or will be updated soon.
Here’s a quick roundup of some of the Microsoft news you might have missed recently!
XBOX Live avatars will soon offer more options
More player avatars will be coming to XBOX Live in April. The Verge is reporting that these avatars will include a host of new options, making it easier for everyone to build an avatar that suits them.
The Verge specifically notes that there is a focus on diversity with the upcoming avatar options. For instance, there are options for prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs. Aside from these options, there will be more to choose from when customizing an avatar’s body shape, clothing, accessories, and more.
Windows 10 update coming in April
Speaking of April, more updates are coming to Windows next month. Also reported by The Verge, the next big update to Windows 10 is coming in April. The update will very likely be called the “Spring Creators Update,” and it will have a number of new features. The Verge mentions new features like Timeline. According to Windows Central, Timeline compiles your activity on your computer into a timeline that goes back up to 30 days. Using Timeline, you’ll be able to jump right back in where you left off in a program or app. Windows Central also notes how useful it is to be able to use Timeline across different devices. Aside from Timeline, there will also be other improvements to the operating system in the upcoming update.
SwiftKey has been updated
SwiftKey, the keyboard app run by Microsoft, has received an update. GeekWire is reporting that there are many new features in the SwiftKey update. One new feature includes the new Toolbar for quicker customization of the keyboard. The update also includes a bigger focus on different visuals. For instance, the app page on Google Play notes that you can now create your own stickers in the app. This update is a fairly notable one for the app that has been downloaded millions of times and is a top contender in the third-party keyboard app field.
It’s very nearly spring, and for some, the urge to start spring cleaning has already hit. (It definitely has for me—I went for “late winter cleaning” instead.) Spring arrives on the 20th of this month. So if you’re about ready to get started cleaning out your garage or your messy closet, you should know there are some great and super helpful apps out there.
Here are just some of the ways you can improve your spring cleaning with apps!
- Any.do (Android & iOS): Any.do is a to-do list, calendar, and more. You can get reminders and schedule times for you to accomplish whichever spring cleaning tasks you want. You can even share your to-do list and set up certain tasks for certain people, and there are many more helpful features.
- BrightNest (Android & iOS): BrightNest lets you plan your cleaning schedule and get tips on how to accomplish tasks. You can get reminders, and you can look through their tips for cleaning and organizing, among other useful features.
- OurHome (Android & iOS): If you’re spring cleaning with other people in your home, OurHome can help. You can assign different tasks to different people, set up rewards, get reminders, view progress, and more.
- Sortly (Android & iOS): Sortly is a great way to set up an organized system as you finish spring cleaning a section of your home. With this app, you can take photos of your stuff and then tag them, add notes, put them in different folders, keep track of who you loaned items to, and more. Using this app throughout the year could make spring cleaning even easier next time around.
- Spring Cleaning Checklist (Android): With this app, you can create a helpful checklist for getting all your tasks done. You can organize your checklists by different areas of the home. There are also videos that give tips for cleaning, and you can listen to a playlist while cleaning.
- Wunderlist (Android & iOS): With Wunderlist, you can create different lists and keep up with your tasks. You can share lists, add photos, discuss tasks, set reminders, and more.
Make it fun
- EpicWin (Android & iOS): EpicWin can make completing your tasks a little more fun. It’s a to-do list in the form of an RPG. Instead of just checking off tasks as you complete them, you have a character that can gain XP and develop. There are “animated battles” as you complete tasks, you can find loot, and more. There are also some typical features, like reminders.
- Habitica (Android & iOS): With Habitica, you can treat your tasks like a game. Finishing tasks allows you to level up your avatar. You can go on quests, fight with your friends (helping you stay accountable and on track), and gain rewards as you progress.
There are plenty of websites that offer tips for effective and safe cleaning! Here are just a few sites you can check out.
Get rid of unwanted stuff
Once you’ve cleaned out your closets and under your bed, you’ll likely have some items you don’t need anymore.
For those things that aren’t really worth anything and that you couldn’t sell, you should look into recycling. One app for this is iRecycle. This app is available for Android and iOS. Using this app, you can use your location to find recycling centers near you. After choosing which type of item you’re wanting to recycle, the correct recycling centers will be suggested for you.
If you have items someone might want to purchase, selling online is much simpler than it once was. You can sell through a site like eBay, an app like LetGo, or a service like Facebook’s Marketplace.
For help getting rid of your stuff, check out my article about selling online!
Ebay is making things a little easier for those on a budget by launching their ‘Under $10’ section.
You may recall the recent introduction of Amazon’s ‘$10 and Under’ section which I wrote about back in January. Amazon collects inexpensive items and groups them in different categories like Men’s, Electronics, and Household.
Now Ebay is doing something similar, giving shoppers a chance to find inexpensive deals in a number of different categories. Ebay’s ‘Under $10’ section collects a large number of items from different sellers, all of which ship free (just like Amazon’s budget section).
Ebay’s section has a much more detailed selection of categories to narrow down your browsing. On Amazon, there are 8 categories to choose from, and then you browse through a bunch of items within that category. On Ebay, however, there are 6 main categories to choose from, but within those 6 categories, there are over two dozen sub-categories, and in those sub-categories, there are sub-sub-categories.
For instance, if you look in the ‘Fashion Under $10’ category, you can narrow down to ‘Men’s Clothing & Shoes’ (or another sub-category), then narrow further with sub-sub-categories like ‘Jeans’ and ‘Sandals.’ This means you don’t have to scroll through a ton of items you have no interest in. It’s easier to focus in on what you really want to browse for. The six main categories on Ebay’s new section are ‘Fashion,’ ‘Electronics,’ ‘Home & Garden,’ ‘Sports,’ ‘Lifestyle & Entertainment,’ and ‘Motors.’
The ‘Fashion’ category includes things like off-the-shoulder blouses, workout pants, and reflective sunglasses. In ‘Electronics,’ you can find waterproof bluetooth speakers and PS4 games. ‘Home & Garden’ includes artificial succulents and vegetable slicers. In ‘Sports,’ there are yoga mats and canteens. ‘Lifestyle & Entertainment’ features things like vinyl records (from many different artists, including Buddy Holly and Incubus) and cat hammocks. And in ‘Motors,’ you can expect to see items like windshield cleaning tools and auto repair parts.
If you’re on a budget but still enjoy shopping, it’s a good time for you. With Ebay joining Amazon in offering a whole section devoted to items $10 or less, online shopping might be a little more convenient. Ebay’s section is great in that it has so many different categories to make finding what you need (or didn’t know you needed) a little easier.
Check out Ebay’s ‘Under $10’ section and see what you can find!
Over the past several years, it’s unlikely that you’ve missed all the buzz over virtual reality headsets. Virtual reality (VR) headsets became highly sought after and hugely popular. Over time, some headsets became affordable for more people, while more VR content was released.
In recent months, a lot of the fuss over VR has died down. It seems as though people simply aren’t talking about it as much as they once were. It feels a bit like the novelty has worn off for some.
But even if VR isn’t hyped as often as it was not too long ago, it’s still making advancements, and it has a lot to offer. Less than a week ago, Qualcomm announced their newest VR headset. And near the end of last year, Oculus Go was announced, a different kind of headset that could be coming very soon.
Since we’re still early in the new year, now is a good time to take a look at what you can find in the world of VR in 2018. Read on for some basics, some tech options, and plenty of fun suggestions!
What is VR?
When I talk about VR in this article, I’m talking about the current VR technology accessed through the use of a VR headset. While wearing a headset, wearers are given the impression they are in another world. Users can turn around and see content in every direction, including above and below them.
Some people find the difference between VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) a little confusing. With virtual reality, you’re immersed in a completely separate world. You interact with content that is not connected to your own real-world visuals.
With augmented reality, on the other hand, objects are placed in your actual surroundings. You can look at something that is actually right in front of you, and augmented reality will work within those visuals to add content into what you’re really seeing. (Pokemon Go is an example of AR—when you used your camera to capture what you were really seeing while catching Pokemon, you were using AR.)
Since virtual reality doesn’t include visuals from your real surroundings, it offers something much more clearly separated from your real life.
VR headsets let wearers enter a different world. After placing a device in the headset (or plugging a tethered headset into a computer or gaming console), the headset is worn to fill a person’s vision with whatever content they choose.
Many headsets were very expensive when VR was first popular. They were sometimes fairly basic, as well. Over time, more headsets came out that were inexpensive, and other headsets added more features.
Keep in mind that if you buy a cheaper headset, you’re likely not getting as nice of features as you might with a pricier option. Cheaper options also might not be as comfortable or durable.
Here are just a few of the headsets you can consider when deciding whether to enjoy VR.
Popular (pricier) headsets:
- Samsung Gear VR with Controller ($72.98)
- PlayStation VR (price varies)
- HTC VIVE Virtual Reality System ($599)
- Oculus Rift + Touch Virtual Reality System ($399)
What can VR be used for?
VR isn’t just for playing games (though VR gaming is great)! VR can be fun in a lot of different ways. Here are some ways to use VR, including for education and entertainment (and yes, that includes gaming).
With VR, there are opportunities for learning. There are plenty of apps that offer educational experiences. Depending on which device you’re using, you might be able to learn a wide variety of things!
Practice public speaking—VirtualSpeech lets you work on your communication skills in private. You can learn how to become a better communicator, plus you can practice by being placed in different surroundings. For instance, you can give a presentation standing on a stage in front of a virtual crowd.
Look through the human brain or look around Stonehenge—Unimersiv offers many different educational apps, including more than just a tour of the brain or Stonehenge. You can also do things like check out ancient Rome and the International Space Station.
Learn a new language—With an app like House of Languages, you can learn another language in a different way. You can learn English, German, or Spanish while actually looking at the objects that correspond to the words you’re learning and playing minigames.
Go inside the human body—The Body VR is one app that lets you learn about what goes on in the human body. You can learn about things like blood cells and viruses.
Make your way through the solar system—Titans of Space is just one app that teaches about the solar system. You can move through space, checking out planets and certain stars, all while learning facts about what you’re seeing.
Surround yourself with Discovery content—You can view VR content from Discovery, which lets you see places all across the world, check out different cultures, and experience special events.
There’s more entertainment to be found than just VR games. There are a lot of fun things to do in VR!
Watch 360-degree videos—If you access YouTube through your VR headset, you can search for tons of 360-degree videos. You can find videos that let you experience what it’s like to swim with dolphins, jump out of a plane, or follow along with a fictional story.
Binge Netflix in a quiet, stylish home—Netflix’s VR app lets you appear to watch your shows and movies on a huge screen. You’re set in a comfortable-looking home with the large TV in front of you.
Watch a movie on the big screen—Many devices offer their own apps for movie-watching. With some devices, you can use Virtual Desktop to use your own computer in VR. This means you can watch all your movies from your computer.
Surf the web—Whichever device you’re using, you can likely access a web browser. This means you can fill your vision with a browser and check out all of your usual sites. For instance, Samsung Internet is available on some devices.
Play around on Facebook—With Facebook 360, you can check out tons of VR content on Facebook.
VR has made it possible for people to travel places they might never have been able to go otherwise. With VR, people who have limited mobility or who just can’t afford to take a trip can get a sense of what some locations look like in person. Depending on which device you have, you might have different options for your virtual tourism needs. Search for VR experiences that offer high-quality video tours or look for apps that make use of Google’s Street View.
Visit some amazing places—Jaunt VR offers VR videos of some specific locations. These videos are often documentary-style, and you’re given a chance to learn and walk through some interesting places.
Go anywhere you want and walk the streets—Some apps, like Viso Places, give you a chance to go basically anywhere and look around. Viso Places uses Google Street View, so you can search for a location and magically transport yourself there. You can even use this app to go inside some museums.
(Check out my article with the 7 places you should check out as a virtual tourist!)
Though gaming isn’t all VR is good for, it is just a lot of fun in virtual reality. Here are just a few of the well-received or newer games you might try!
Chronos—An RPG that takes users on a hero’s quest to fight evil. ($39.99)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR—Players can enjoy Skyrim’s huge world in virtual reality. ($41.99 to $59.99)
Fallout 4 VR—The hugely popular Fallout 4 is available in virtual reality, so you can explore the post-apocalyptic world like you’re really there. ($59.99)
Job Simulator—A popular, lighthearted game that has players “job” like humans used to do before robots took over for them. ($19.99)
KIN—A puzzle platformer set on another planet. ($9.99)
Minecraft—Everyone’s favorite sandbox game, but in virtual reality. (Free to $6.99)
The Playroom VR—This game is free for PS VR users, and it’s a fun, bright collection of multiplayer games. (Free)
Rez Infinite—A VR version of this popular game that lets users experience the fast-moving and visually appealing action game in a new way. ($24.99)
Smash Hit—Smash objects as you move through a different dimension. ($2.99)
Vacation Simulator—An upcoming game from the people who created Job Simulator!
Xbox Party Chat is now available on devices with Android and iOS!
If you’ve wanted to keep in contact with your team while away from your Xbox, or if you just want to be able to use your phone for communication instead of your Xbox, now you can. Microsoft has added its party chat feature to its Xbox app on Android and iOS. You can use live voice chat and text to contact your team if you have Xbox Live.
You might find this useful if you’re making plans with a team or if you’re running late to join the team in-game. It’s also particularly cool because it makes it easier to create a group chat for your team when you’re not actually playing, so you won’t have to all chat on a separate third-party app if you want to stay in contact.
In the past, people have turned to other apps and programs for team communication. One of the most popular choices has been Discord. Discord provides free voice and text chatting that’s specifically targeted at gamers. It works on computers and phones, so just about any gamer can use it. Since Xbox didn’t offer live voice chat, and since Skype wasn’t necessarily the best choice for gamers, Discord became popular among gamers. Other services gamers have used include Mumble (free voice chat software targeted at gamers) and TeamSpeak (free or paid voice chatting meant for gamers as well as professionals).
Now that Android and iOS devices can access live voice and text chat right through the official Xbox app, it’s unclear how many people will really switch to the Xbox app and drop the services they’ve already been using. However, if there was anyone who was wary of using a third-party service for voice chatting, they now have the option of staying in the Xbox app for team chats.
Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, and whether you have a significant other or not, you may still want to make plans. And with so many specific sites and apps out there these days, it’s easier than ever to plan your February 14th by using your internet connection.
The internet can play an important role in how you prepare for any holiday. But with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to think about how you can make the day easier. You may not even know how many helpful apps and sites there are that cater to lovebirds, people who are looking, and people who are single.
If you have a special someone, or if you don’t have a date for the 14th yet (and even if you don’t want one), scroll through for some ways you can improve Valentine’s Day this 2018!
Find a date
There are definitely plenty of dating sites and apps to choose from. You can find more general sites, like most of the ones below, or you can narrow your search to sites that focus on a specific interest. If you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day and you’d like to, you might find someone who’s looking for a date for the 14th themselves.
- Match—Match is the popular dating site that’s been around since the 90s. You can join for free, but to really use the site, you’ll need a subscription.
- Zoosk—Zoosk is another well-known dating site, this one started in the mid-2000s. Like Match, you can join for free, but you’ll need to pay to actually use their services.
- Tinder—If you want to try a free way to maybe find a Valentine’s Day date, give Tinder a shot. Keep in mind, people using Tinder have a wide variety of agendas, and it’s not like a dating site that has a detailed algorithm for matches.
- OkCupid—OkCupid has also been hugely popular for years. OkCupid also has a free version, as well as a paid version. With OkCupid, though, you can do more in the free version than other sites.
- Coffee Meets Bagel—This app is a newer dating option that began in the mid-2010s and has been gaining in popularity. You have suggested matches every afternoon who are chosen through their algorithm.
Plan an outing
If you want to go out this year, you have a few things to consider. Here are just a few ways you can plan your day (or night).
Look for special events in town—If you want to spend your Valentine’s Day going to an event you’ll both like, find out what’s happening nearby with something like Eventbrite, or search through Events on Facebook.
You don’t have to hit the town or take a trip to celebrate. If you do plan a night in, take a look and see if these apps and sites can make it special.
Cook—When you decide to try your hand at cooking a romantic dinner, download a cooking app like BigOven (Android or iOS) or Food Network in the Kitchen (Android or iOS) for a little extra help. Both offer thousands of recipes to choose from.
Order in—Maybe cooking isn’t really your thing. If that’s the case, you can always find food to order with apps like GrubHub and UberEats, both of which let you find what’s nearby and have it delivered to you.
Play music—Playlists and genre stations can help give your night atmosphere. You can always make your own playlist with Spotify or find a themed one, and Pandora has plenty of playlists for different occasions (including Love Songs Radio).
Give something nice
It’s not a requirement to buy something for your Valentine’s Day date, but it can be a nice gesture! If you think your date would like something for the occasion, here are some places you can find something for them without leaving home.
Sweets—Chocolates and other candies are an obvious (and usually well-liked) choice for Valentine’s Day. See’s Candies offers a lot of different options for candy. 1-800-Flowers may have “Flowers” in the name, but they also have a large selection of sweets. And Godiva has many different chocolate options. All of these sites specifically have pages dedicated to Valentine’s Day sweets.
Arrangements—Whether you want flowers or something a little different, an arrangement can be a nice gift. 1-800-Flowers has many, many different options for bouquets and other types of flowers. Shari’s Berries offers many different bouquets that can be paired with their berries (meaning you can order a bouquet with chocolate covered strawberries). ThinkGeek is a little bit different—instead of sending a bouquet of flowers, you might want to send a bouquet of plushies (like a bouquet of plush dragons).
Gifts—If you’re not sure what to get someone for Valentine’s Day, take a look at my list of gift finders! It includes several websites that offer gift suggestions and even let you buy the suggested gifts right there on the site.
Custom Valentine’s Day cards—You can always buy a card at a local store, but if you want something a little more personal, you can make your own card. Canva lets you create a card from scratch or choose from many different templates, and Shutterfly has a large selection of card choices that you can customize with things like text and photos.
If your significant other is going to be out-of-town on the 14th, or if your relationship is long-distance, Valentine’s Day may seem like a downer. But there are ways to make the day a little nicer from far away. Below are just a few ways you can make the day more romantic with some helpful apps.
Plan a scavenger hunt—If your partner is away, try planning something fun for them to do anyway. One popular scavenger hunt app, Klikaklu, lets you create your own hunts and then send them to a specific person (or make them public). It’s only available for iOS, but you can try something kind of similar with Seek&Spot, another scavenger hunt app that lets you create your own hunts.
Send poetry—If you’re not a poet yourself, don’t worry. You can find plenty of romantic poems to send on Valentine’s Day. Love Poems is available for Android, and it lets you search, save, and send poems. On iOS, you can try Valentine’s Love Poems for romantic poems you can share.
Keep in touch—If you’re long-distance, make sure you’re staying connected. Couple is an app that can be helpful on Valentine’s Day, since it lets you message each other, and it also has ThumbKiss, which is a feature that makes phones vibrate when both people press their thumbs to same spot on their phones.
There’s been plenty in this article for those who have a date or are looking for one. But being without a romantic date on Valentine’s Day is awesome, too. There are plenty of things to do if you’re single on February 14th. Here are just a couple ideas!
Find a Second Halloween—Some people are skipping Valentine’s Day and celebrating Second Halloween instead. Your town might be throwing a Second Halloween bash—search for “2nd Halloween” or “Second Halloween” on Facebook, narrow your results to “Events,” and see what you find!
Celebrate Galentine’s Day—Galentine’s Day is a popular way for women to celebrate on the 13th without worrying about romance. For many, it replaces Valentine’s Day celebrations. You can plan your own Galentine’s Day by using a site like RSVPify. Or if you’re new to town and looking for friends to invite, you might give Bumble a shot; Bumble is for finding friends, dates, business partners, and more, not just a dating site.
Welcome to this week’s Tech Spotlight! Each week, I’m sharing some fun and cool tech-related products you can find on Amazon. This week’s Spotlight features a wireless controller, a smartphone camera kit, and a photo printer. Take a look at what I’ve found this week, then go on over to Amazon to add some new tech to your cart!
The Myo Gesture Control Armband is a wireless controller that makes it easy to control your tech. While wearing the armband, you can make gestures and motions to perform certain tasks with your devices. The armband works by reading muscle activity and through the use of downloadable apps in Myo’s store (the Myo Market).
Using this armband, you can control many different things. Its product description mentions its use for gaming, as well as for things like controlling presentation slides and even flying your drone. You can also use the Keyboard Mapper to connect the armband to your keyboard. There are more than a hundred apps in the Myo Market, so there’s quite a bit you can play around with.
The Myo armband is designed to be convenient. It won’t weigh your arm down—it’s light (the description says it’s lighter than most watches). The battery is rechargeable and works throughout the day. And it’s compatible with many devices, including those using Windows 7 and up, as well as many Android, Mac, and iOS devices.
The Myo Gesture Control Armband is a convenient way to control your devices from a distance with just the motion of your arm. Head over to Amazon to find out more about what it can do!
This camera photo kit from ARORY offers a way to take photos from your phone in a new, fun way. Though many phone cameras do offer a lot more customization and options on their own, this telephoto lens kit gives smartphone photographers more choices for their shots.
The telephoto lens kit comes with 10 items designed to make photographing with your smartphone easier and a little more engaging. It does, of course, come with several attachable camera lenses. There’s a telephoto lens that offers 12x optical magnification, meaning photos can be zoomed in 12x further without the photos suffering from a loss of quality. There’s also a macro lens for close-up shots, a wide-angle lens for larger shots, and a fisheye lens for curved shots.
These are not the only items that come with this kit. There’s also a mini tripod with an attachable phone holder, so you can place your phone in the holder and take photos without worrying about a shaky hand or take a photo of yourself that’s not a selfie. To make this even easier, there’s also a Bluetooth remote shutter. Using this small device, you can take photos from a distance without having to touch your phone. There are also clips to hold the different lenses in place, and there’s a cleaning cloth to help keep the lenses clear of any dust or specks.
Many current smartphone cameras offer reasonably high-quality images, and many people rely solely on their phones to take pictures. This kit can improve the smartphone photo-taking experience!
The Prynt Pocket is a small, portable photo printer for use with iPhone. While you’re on the go, you can print previously taken photos or take new ones to print right away. All you have to do is place your iPhone in the printer and you’re on your way to printing photos anywhere.
The Prynt Pocket works with many different iPhones, from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone X. It uses ZINK Sticker Paper, which is an ink-free paper with a sticker backing (so you can also stick your photos anywhere). The photos print within 30 seconds, so there’s not a long wait for your photos. Oh, and if you like your tech to be pretty, there are several colors to choose from—graphite and white both look fairly clean and standard, but there’s also lavender and mint green.
The Prynt app also allows you to do some fun things with your photos. For instance, after you take a photo with the Prynt app, you can also record a short video to go with it. Then when others point their Prynt app at the photo, they can watch the matching video! You can also use the app to tweak your photos with things like filters and text.
If you take many photos with your iPhone (and if you have an iPhone, I’m confident you do), the Prynt Pocket will make a nice new addition to your accessories!