Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Find Comic Books Online

Find Comic Books Online

There’s been even more hype in recent months with all the superhero films and TV shows that have come out recently. Marvel in particular has had some huge movies come out, bringing even more interest in their character. With the release of the newest Avengers film, Infinity War, many have wondered about the original storyline from the comics that the film was based on. Even if you’re not a fan of Marvel or DC, there are tons of other comics out there, too.

If you’re wanting to catch up on some older comics or start keeping up with new ones, there are some easy ways to do so online. Most of these options cost money, while others can be free (or at least offer a free trial). Happy reading!

Marvel Unlimited

This service from Marvel lets you read digital versions of their tens of thousands of comics. You can read as many comics as you’d like while you’re subscribed. You can read on their website or on their Marvel Unlimited app. You can also get some special features if you get an annual subscription or the annual plus subscription (like discounts on purchases and cool free items). With the app, you can download comics to read offline, so you don’t have to worry about having a consistent internet connection. The monthly service is $9.99 a month, while the annual subscriptions are $69 and $99.

Dark Horse Digital

This service lets you read digital versions of Dark Horse comics (like Hellboy and The Legend of Korra). They do have some free comics available to read, including comics from Free Comic Book Day. Other comics are available for individual purchase and can range in cost (many are only $1.99).

Comixology

Comixology offers digital comics and is a part of Amazon. The app has a lot of great features, including their “guided view” that lets you tap on the screen to move from panel to panel. You can buy individual comics, buy a whole series, and even subscribe to a series. There are tens of thousands of comics available, including popular titles like Justice League, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Star Wars, and Old Man Logan. There are even some free comics available to browse.

Digital Comic Museum

If you’re interested in old comics, you’ll like the Digital Comic Museum. This website compiles old comics that are now in the public domain. They’re all free to read, and though you won’t find some of the more popular and modern titles, you can find some fun reads. You can find some old Daredevil comics, as well as Sherlock Holmes and Billy the Kid.

DC Digital Comics

Of course, you can also find DC comics in digital form. The DC Digital Comics website and app lets you purchase individual comics. Many range from $1.99 to $3.99. There are even some free comics available, some of which are from Free Comic Book Day. You can find pretty much all the DC titles you’d expect here!

Your local library

Looking for free comics? If you have a library account, you can probably read some digital comics for free. Many libraries now use services like Hoopla and OverDrive. And yes, there are some comics available to borrow. You can find a wide variety of Marvel and DC titles, as well as many others. So if you’re looking for an easy, free way to casually catch up on comics, check out your local library’s website to see if they use these digital services.

10 Apps & Sites For Easily Earning Rewards

10 Apps & Sites For Easily Earning Rewards

The internet has made it easier to make money selling your stuff, but you may not know all the other ways you can earn rewards (including money) without selling a thing.

Not long ago, I wrote an article all about how to sell your items online. Now it’s time to talk about the many different ways you can earn money, gift cards, and items through different apps and websites.

There are a lot of different apps and sites that ask you to take certain actions to earn points or build up a cash total. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the most well-known, established, and tested ways you can earn rewards with just a little effort.

What can you earn?

Depending on the app or site that you use, there are many different things you can earn. Some services let you use your accumulated points to choose from certain branded items. Others might have you use your points to get discounts and promo codes. Many let you choose gift cards and, in some cases, actual money.

What do you have to do?

Different apps and sites ask for different actions. With some rewards services, you’re asked to watch or interact with sponsored content or surveys. You might need to exercise to earn your points, or you could get your rewards by getting rebates on purchases you were already going to make anyway.

What should you watch out for?

The idea of earning rewards for things you either already do or things that are relatively simple is very appealing. Because of this, there are some services that may very well be scams, as well as ones that just don’t work as well as they claim they will.

Before you start using a rewards app or site—including the ones listed in this article—look a little closer at it to make sure it’s actually as good as it appears. Consider doing some of the following things:

  • Make sure to read the reviews on an app’s page so you get an idea of how satisfied other users are
  • Check to see how many downloads an app has (too few might mean it hasn’t been well-tested yet)
  • Do a web search with a phrase like “is [this app] legit” or “is [this app] a scam” and look for credible sites discussing the service
  • Read the app’s or site’s fine print to make sure there are no catches
  • Look at the service’s app or site to make sure it looks professional and well-maintained

Remember: never give your personal information (like your bank information) to a service without researching it first to make sure it’s safe and secure!

At the time of writing this article, all of these apps and sites appear to be legitimate, but some formerly popular apps (like the now-deleted Pact app) have later been found to be untrustworthy. It’s important to check for the most recent reviews and news.

10 apps & sites you can download and visit now

Now that we’ve discussed how some rewards services might work, what you can get from them, and how to look out for scams, let’s look at some apps and sites you can try! These are just ten rewards apps and sites that can earn you money, items, and other rewards.

Achievement

Achievement is an app that rewards you with money for doing things that manage or improve your health. It uses monetary rewards to encourage you to keep track of your eating habits, walk more, get more sleep, and other various health-related activities. You simply connect one of the health apps you already use (like Samsung Health, Fitbit, or Garmin), then build up your points for your activity. 10,000 points can be redeemed for $10, and you can earn as much money as you want, with no maximum. Once you can redeem your points for money, they’ll be sent to you using PayPal or a direct deposit to a bank account.

AppTrailers

This app rewards you with points for watching trailers. The trailers are for other apps, as well as other entertainment videos. You can also earn points by doing quizzes and playing trivia games. Once you have enough points built up, you can redeem them for gift cards or money sent through PayPal. They offer gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, and iTunes.

Charity Miles

This app is different from most of the other apps on the list. If you enjoy helping good causes, you can use this app to earn rewards in the form of donations to the charity of your choice. If you already donate to the cause, you can give even more using this app, or you can use it as the sole means of donating. With Charity Miles, you earn money for a charity by running, walking, or biking. After opening the app and starting to track your distance, with each mile you complete, you add more money for your charity. There are many different charities to choose from, including well-known ones like Habitat for Humanity, American Diabetes Association, ASPCA, and World Wildlife Fund.

Ebates

Ebates is a well-known rebate service that pays you back for some of the purchases you make. If you’re already planning on purchasing something, this is a way to get some money back. When you buy from different stores online through Ebates, you can earn money. You can search through Ebates for certain stores, certain items, and more. There are also some rebate offers that are in-store only. Once you find something you want, you can see how much of a rebate you’ll get. After your order is verified, you can get your money through a check or by PayPal payment.

Google Opinion Rewards

This app from Google offers small amount of money for taking surveys. As soon as there’s an available survey, you’ll be notified. There are all kinds of different surveys you might take. You can earn as much as a dollar for a survey, though most of them seem to be closer to ten cents each. If you use the app with Google Play, your money is given to you as Google Play credit, while iOS app users have their money transferred with PayPal.

Ibotta

Ibotta is a rebate app that can be used to earn real money or gift cards. If you shop at any of the stores they have listed, you may be able to accumulate a high enough balance to get real rebates. You can use the app to get rebates on items you’re already buying, or you can use it as a way to find out about more products you want to try. You can find available grocery stores that you can add to your favorites, then look through the categories to find items you’re interested in. To add some products to your list, you might have to watch a short ad or answer a poll. After you’ve bought some items currently available in the Ibotta app, you use your receipt to add your rebates to your account. Once you have $20 racked up, you can have the money transferred to you in several different ways, including PayPal and Venmo. Or you can get gift cards to places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart.

iPoll

iPoll offers rewards for performing activities like reviewing products, visiting certain stores, and more. All of their activities are typically based around learning your opinions on certain brands and products. Some of these activities could include recording a video or taking photos. Once you’ve performed an activity, you can earn rewards like money transferred through PayPal, gift cards, and entry into a cash drawing.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks rewards its users for doing a number of different things. Swagbucks users earn rewards for taking surveys, watching videos, searching online, playing games, and buying certain items for a rebate. Once you have enough points, you can either have the money transferred via PayPal, or you can get a gift card. Gift cards are available for many different outlets, including Walmart, Amazon, and Bath & Body Works.

Sweatcoin

This app hopes to encourage people to exercise more by offering rewards. The app acts as a step counter. The more you walk, the more “Sweatcoins” you earn. You can then use these Sweatcoins to purchase rewards. Rewards include actual products (like Apple products), as well as services (like exercise classes) and events. You can even choose to donate your Sweatcoins to a charity.

Walk for a Dog

Walk for a Dog by Wooftrax is another app that gives a different kind of reward: the knowledge that you’ve helped an animal-based organization. This app doesn’t specifically give you a reward, instead letting you donate money to your favorite organization that helps animals. Whenever you walk your dog, you simply use the app to track how much you walk. This builds up activity for the organization you’ve chosen. After a certain period, all the funds raised are given to the organizations people chose. If you don’t have a dog, you can walk a shelter dog or a friend’s dog. Or since the app simply follows you as you move, you can walk without a dog (though walking with a dog is much more fun).

6 Social Media Platforms That Aren’t Facebook

6 Social Media Platforms That Aren’t Facebook

In recent weeks, some people have begun to question how much they use Facebook. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many have felt a little uneasy about how much information Facebook obtains.

It’s important to note, though, that many (probably most) other social media platforms are gathering a fair amount of your data. They may handle it differently, but there is likely quite a bit of your information stored when you use any social media platforms at all.

Still, you might be wondering if there are other ways to enjoy using social media without actually using Facebook. Facebook is one of the most popular, active, and widely used social media sites out there, and it might seem like your only option. But there are other platforms that you might like just as much (or more).
If you’re thinking about leaving Facebook, or if you enjoy Facebook but want even more ways to stay connected, here are just some of the other social media platforms you can give a try!

Instagram

Instagram is, of course, a hugely popular app that focuses on images. You can use it to keep up with your friends’ lives through photos and videos. It also has built-in messaging, so you can share things directly with other people and discuss them privately. You won’t necessarily be getting the same insight into your friends’ thoughts, and it currently doesn’t let you share other peoples’ content, but it’s still a good way to keep in contact with your favorite people.

Pinterest

Pinterest is still typically for inspiration and DIY ideas. But you and your friends can share content together and keep in touch through your different boards. This platform is certainly less focused on updates about peoples’ daily lives, so don’t rely on it for that. But you can at least see what your friends are interested in.

Reddit

Reddit isn’t really a social media platform. But you can follow friends on the service, and if you actually are looking to drop Facebook, Reddit can help replace your need for a stream of interesting content and news shared by groups and people you subscribe to.

Snapchat

Snapchat is another photo- and image-based way to keep connected to friends and family. It’s likely that most of the people you’re close with already use Snapchat. You can follow them through their Stories, have private chats with them, communicate through short video clips, and more. You can’t easily share other peoples’ content or write medium to long text images, but you can still communicate pretty well with this app.

Tumblr

Tumblr lets you set up your own blog and then create your own posts or share posts from others. You can add others and gain subscribers. Tumblr is often seen as being primarily used by a younger crowd, but there’s certainly a space for everyone. It’s also pretty hugely driven by fandoms (many people on Tumblr use their accounts to post primarily about shows, movies, and other things they’re fans of). It’s not quite as focused on simply keeping up with a friend’s daily life. But if you want to keep up with your friends’ interests and make new friends based on things you both enjoy, Tumblr might be for you.

Twitter

Twitter is a nice way to keep up with others using smaller text snippets. Though it’s grown most popular for its use in getting news out quickly, you can also form your circle of friends and keep up with each other via tweets. You can retweet, which adds another level of personality to someone’s feed, and now that tweets can be longer than before, it’s easier to write more detailed, lengthy updates.

Track Your Day with Apps

Track Your Day with Apps

For some people, there’s so much to do in a day that it’s hard to keep up with everything. By the end of the day, you might not be sure what you even did over the past 12 hours. Or you might not be incredibly busy, but you just don’t remember to stop and think about specific aspects of your life.

If this is the case for you, you might benefit from an app like the ones in this article. There’s an app for nearly everything, and of course there are apps that can track most areas of your daily life.

Why track your day?

You might have realized you want to keep up with what you’re eating, or maybe it dawned on you that you’re not sure when you last spent time with your friends without looking at your phone. Maybe you’ve been forgetting to budget for travel expenses or grocery costs. Whatever it may be, there’s a way to track it.

Tracking certain parts of your day can make it much easier to evaluate what you’ve been doing. It can make it possible to understand certain issues in your life, and it can show you things you’ve been doing well (and things you didn’t know you needed to improve on). If you don’t know what to fix, then you won’t know how to fix it. By tracking how much you exercise, how much time you spend on your tablet, or how big your environmental footprint is, then you’ll have a starting point for change.

What can you track?

Here are just some ways you can track your personal life. There are apps listed for each area. Of course, these are just some of the apps you might want to try. The app store on your phone will likely have even more to choose from. So if one of these doesn’t appeal to you, take a look around to see if there are other options that fit you better.

Track your food

There are many different apps you can use to track your food throughout the day. Most of them will let you set goals (like how many calories you can have, how much sugar you can consume, etc.) You can often set a weight goal, as well, and get food intake suggestions. Here are a few apps to try:

  • Your device’s built-in app: Depending on which phone you have, you might already have a food tracker on your device. For instance, there’s Samsung Health, which offers quite a few health tracking features.
  • MyFitnessPal (Android & iOS): MyFitnessPal is an app from Under Armour. It lets you track your food intake, find out nutritional facts, add your own recipes, find food from restaurants, scan barcodes to look up products, and more.
  • Lose It! (Android & iOS): Lose It! is specifically designed for weight loss, but you can of course just use it to track what you eat. You can use it to set and meet goals. It lets you input and track your eating every day, take part in challenges, plan meals, and more.

Track your exercise

If you’re not sure you’re exercising enough, you can always try keeping track of your fitness regimen. You can log how long you’re exercising, what kinds of exercises you’re doing, and more. Most apps will give you an idea of how many calories you may have burned during the day, as well. Here are a couple apps to check out:

  • Your device’s built-in app: Like above, some phones have a built-in health app that offers useful features. Using Samsung Health as an example again, you can choose from different exercises (like push ups and jumping jacks), then log how long you did them.
  • JEFIT (Android & iOS): With JEFIT, you can track your training and your progress, as well as set and meet goals. Along with all the instructional features and its social aspect, you can log your workouts in the app.
  • HeavySet (iOS): With this app, you can track your weightlifting and other equally intense workouts. It’s specifically designed for logging exercise. It also tells you when you set personal bests and lets you look back on past time periods to see trends.

Track your gas costs

If you commute to work, like to go on road trips, or are just worried about the current cost of gas, then you can try tracking your transportation costs. Gas prices have been soaring, and it could be a good time to figure out just how much you’re spending. You may make decent money at your job, but if you commute to work, your gas costs might make a huge dent. Or you might have gone on a trip but then forgotten to calculate how much you spent fueling up. Here are a couple apps that can help you keep a log of how much you’re spending at the gas pumps.

  • Fuelio (Android): With this app, you can track basically everything related to your auto costs. You can track how much you’ve spent filling up your tank, how many miles you’ve put on your car, how much you’ve spent servicing your car, and more.
  • Fuel (iOS): Fuel, like Fuelio, lets you log how much you spend at the gas pumps. It also lets you input other car expenses, include more than one car, and look at clear charts showing your spending.

Track daily costs

If you find yourself running low on money before each paycheck, it might be useful to start figuring out where most of your money is going. Using an app, you can track how much you’re spending on your shopping trips, then look for any trends, places you can cut back, or things you can actually spend more on. These are just a couple of your options:

  • Wally Lite (iOS): With this app, you can scan receipts, manually input spending, set a budget, and track where you’ve been spending your money.
  • Mint: Mint is a popular multi-purpose finance service. It can help you track your bills, set a budget, and get a visual of your spending, along with many other features.

Track environmental impact

There are many things we do every day that can be wasteful or otherwise bad for the environment. With an app, we can remind ourselves to make environmentally-conscious decisions. We can also see a visual representation of the environmentally sound things we did that day, as well as learn about other little things we could be doing better. Here are a couple apps that can help:

  • JouleBug (Android & iOS): With JouleBug, you’re inspired to take note of what you do every day to try to be a little more green. The app offers suggestions on how to be more environmentally friendly, then gives you points and achievements when you actually do Earth-friendly things. Your points are a great indication of how environmentally sound you’re being each week.
  • Oroeco (Android & iOS): Oroeco is an app that encourages you to be environmentally friendly and then rewards you when you make an effort to do so. You can earn rewards when you do green things, and you’re given suggestions for ways to be kinder to the environment.

Track your mood

Keeping up with how you feel throughout a day can be difficult. You might not even know when you’re in a bad mood or if you’re experiencing mood swings. Keeping an eye on your mood can give you an indication of what the underlying causes might be (whether it’s something as basic as stress or something more serious). The following apps can help you track your mood throughout each day:

  • Realife Change (iOS): This app is a motivational app that offers a “virtual coach.” You can track your moods and various different emotions and thoughts throughout your day, then receive advice based on what you logged. You can also track your moods using hashtags.
  • iMoodJournal (Android & iOS): iMoodJournal lets you log your moods throughout the day (including hashtags), then look back at charts showing your trends. You can even include extras (like photos), and you can track other things, like energy level and stress.

Track screen time

If you’re like most people with access to tech, you probably spend a lot of your day looking at a screen. Phones, computers, tablets, TVs—there are screens everywhere. Some screen time is unavoidable, and realistically, it would be difficult to cut it out completely. But it is possible to learn how much time you’re really spending on it and then set goals to cut back. These are just two of the apps that you can try:

  • Moment (iOS): Moment is an app for iOS users who want to know how much time they’re spending on their iOS devices. It tracks screen time automatically. You can then see how much you’ve used all your devices (and you can include your family’s devices, too) and set daily limits.
  • AntiSocial (Android): This app runs in the background of your device and then provides reports on how much screen time you’ve used. You can use it to set limits and block access to certain apps, as well.

Tech You Need If You’re Traveling

Tech You Need If You’re Traveling

Have plans to travel? If you’re like a lot of other people, you might be headed on vacation this summer. Or you could have business trips planned. Whatever the case may be, traveling can be fun. But it can also have its own stresses and issues. Whether you’re driving a car or heading to an airport, it can sometimes seem tricky making it to a destination.

Thankfully, there’s some great technology available to make trips a little easier. You might need something to keep kids distracted during family trips, something to help you find your destination more smoothly, or something to give you peace of mind while your home is empty. All of these worries and more can be taken care of with some devices you’ve already heard of (and perhaps some you haven’t).

Tech For Traveling

Don’t lose your stuff

Want to keep track of your luggage or other important items? Tile is one way to do that. Luggage can sometimes get lost. And while you’re away from home, being in unfamiliar places can make it easier to lose things like your keys or your wallet.

With Tile, you can easily track important items, whether it be a suitcase or your rental car keys. All you have to do is attach Tile to whatever you want to keep track of, then use Tile’s app if you need to locate the item. There’s the Tile Slim, which is a thin version of the device that isn’t too bulky in a wallet. There’s the Tile Mate, which has a small hole in the corner so you can attach it to anything, like purses, backpacks, keys, and more. These two are most likely to be helpful during your travels. There’s even an accessory for the Tile Slim that is specifically made for traveling: the Tile Slim Luggage Tag.

There’s also the Tile Sport, which could come in handy if you’re going on a trip that might get a little rough (like if you’re camping, hiking, biking, or doing things outdoors). And there’s the Tile Style, which adds some extra flair to the device for a more fun appearance.

Prices vary for each Tile device, and there are also combo packs. You can buy 4-packs or 8-packs to pay a little less for each device, or you can mix it up and buy the different devices separately.

Keep your passengers entertained

If you’re traveling with impatient kids or adults who aren’t fans of road trips, keeping them distracted can be a great way to eliminate some stress. The answer is simple: bring a tablet. Using phones can be a drain on the battery and run the risk of not having enough battery life if your car breaks down. And using a tablet can seem like a special treat if your kids don’t already use them regularly (if they do, I’m sure you already know how entertaining they can be).

Even if you don’t already have one, buying one for your trip doesn’t have to be expensive. There are pricey options out there, but it can be as easy as buying a Kindle Fire for just $49.99 (and sometimes for less during a promotion). You can easily set up a kid-friendly account and choose which apps they can use. This should make it easier to pass the time.

A tablet can also be a useful way to save space. If you like to read during your relaxing vacations, you don’t have to pack any bulky booksyou can just read them on your tablet.

Find your destination with no problem

We all know about apps like Google Maps and Waze. You likely use Google Maps to find your way on a regular basis. But for some, this isn’t the most convenient way to travel. If you’re traveling alone, or if you are particularly uncomfortable driving on busy interstates, through tricky areas, or at night, having a GPS system in your car might work a lot better than having to look at your phone while on the road.

Navdy is one way you can integrate navigation into your vehicle. Information is projected onto your windshield with a transparent display, so you don’t have to look down at a phone. It also dims or brightens appropriately. It uses Google Maps, so that will be familiar to you, and you can also set up a dashboard that shows things like how much gas you have left.

If you can’t quite afford a system like that at the moment, you can also consider Garmin. Garmin offers many different GPS systems, some for less than a hundred dollars. Their website lists their many different products, and you can also find them on Amazon.

Track down your car

You might be worried you’ll forget where you parked at the airport. Or you might be parking on unfamiliar streets in a city away from home. You can take a picture of your surroundings, but that isn’t always enough to find your way back where you started.

Fortunately, there are many apps that you can use to track down your car when you’re ready to leave. The simplest solution? Drop a pin on Google Maps and save your location. By placing a pin at your current location before leaving your car and then saving it to your places, you can easily make your way back.

There are other options if you don’t use Google Maps or want a more streamlined way to get back to your vehicle. Find My Car is a well-known app that saves the GPS location of your car and navigates you back to it later. You can find it on iOS and on Android. There’s also ParkMe, which can not only help you find your car, it can also help you figure out where to park in the first place.

Keep your home safe while you’re gone

If you’ll be away from home for a while and there won’t be anyone staying behind to house sit, there are ways to make yourself feel less worried about your empty home. With smart devices, you can keep watch on your home and make it look as though it’s not actually empty.

Smart bulbs, like Philips Hue bulbs and the bulbs from MagicLight, can be set on a timer to turn on and off, fade, and more. So your home won’t have to be dark and obviously empty at night.

Smart security systems are also great for peace of mind. There are a lot of options out there, so of course, research carefully before investing in a system. With these systems, you can typically set motion alerts so you get a notification if the camera catches movement. You can also usually check in on a live feed. Nest offers some popular devices, as well as Frontpoint and Canary. Just make sure you know what the initial installation cost is as well as how much it will cost every month.

Want To Track Tech Deals?

Want To Track Tech Deals?

If you’re building your collection of cool devices, or if you have some specific tech you’re looking to purchase, it’s important to get the best prices. Different sites are often running their own promotions, and sometimes major manufacturers themselves will offer limited time deals.

Keeping up with all of these sales might seem tricky, but there are actually a number of sites you can use to keep track of current tech deals. Here are just a few you can bookmark and head back to every day!

Tom’s Guide Best Tech Deals

The Tom’s Guide website features many different pages with how tos and product suggestions. Their Best Tech Deals page (currently titled “Best Tech Deals of 2018”) is updated every day with a collection of great deals. They mention some of the overall best deals, then show deals based on different categories, like laptops and smart watches. Since it’s updated so regularly, you can be sure you’re not wasting your time looking over deals that have already expired.

PC Mag Best Deals Today

PC Mag is a hugely popular site that features news, how tos, and perhaps most importantly, detailed product reviews. They’re well-respected when it comes to their reviews. Their Best Deals Today page is, of course, updated daily. There are several categories, including laptops and gaming. The page is arranged in a slightly overwhelming way, with quite a lot of information, but the information is all useful and relevant, making it easier to spot which deals are the right fit for you.

CNET Deals & Promotions

CNET is another very popular site that’s well-known for its product reviews. They’re also popular for their news articles. On their Deals & Promotions page, they might offer over a thousand different suggestions for current deals. You can click the check boxes on the side of the page to narrow down what you’re looking for, including things like tablets and televisions.

Amazon Deals in Electronics

Amazon’s Deals page is not quite the same as the others. Instead of linking to various different outlets (like Walmart, Newegg, etc.), you’ll obviously only see deals for products you can purchase on Amazon. This means it’s not really an aggregator like the other sites and you might miss some good deals that aren’t available on Amazon. However, if you prefer to purchase using Amazon Prime, or if you want to find more than you might spot on the other sites, Amazon’s Deals in Electronics can offer some good buys. You can see currently available deals, and you can even see which deals are coming soon. And they show deals on Amazon devices (like the Echo Dot), so it’s a good place to check if you’re in the market for a new smart speaker or tablet.

____

Editors Note

Interested in more ways to save money on Amazon and maybe even get free stuff? Check out The Babble Out and see if their program might be a good fit for you!

10 Podcasts to Make Your Week More Interesting

10 Podcasts to Make Your Week More Interesting

Podcasts may not be a new discovery or some secret section of the internet. But in past years, podcasts stopped being discussed quite as often as they had been before. This has led some to believe they’ve mostly stopped being made and that there aren’t really any worthwhile podcasts out there.

While the format certainly isn’t new, there are some new (or new-ish) podcasts in existence that are quite different from what you might expect. And there are some podcasts still going strong for a decade or more. When someone mentions podcasts these days, some people think they’re talking about podcasts made up of political discussions and news stories. But there’s much more out there to subscribe to and enjoy.

What’s so great about podcasts?

Podcasts might not be quite as widely discussed or followed as they were not too long ago. But there are a lot of reasons to download or stream some podcasts. Here are a few things that are great about podcasts:

  • They can cover a wide variety of topics and be made in a number of different formats
  • You can find fun, interesting, or highly knowledgable hosts
  • You can listen to new content regularly (sometimes monthly, often weekly)
  • You can subscribe using music platforms you probably already use (like iTunes and Spotify)
  • There’s a lot to choose from because creators have so many outlets
  • You can listen to your podcasts during trips and your work commute
  • You can listen on many different devices, including smartphones, computers, and smart speakers

Where can you find podcasts?

There are a number of places to find new podcasts you may want to listen to. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • iTunes: Podcasts have been available on iTunes for many years now.
  • Spotify: Spotify listeners can stream quite a few podcasts and scroll through the podcasts they’re currently following.
  • Listen Notes: This website is a search engine devoted specifically to finding podcasts.
  • Stitcher: This site hosts many different podcasts (some of which you’ll see below).

Before you listen to these podcasts…

Keep in mind that the podcasts listed in this article may include some mature content. We can’t guarantee that they’ll be safe for work or that the content will always be clean or inoffensive. Always make sure to visit a podcast’s page and read its description before subscribing!

10 interesting podcasts

The following podcasts are all fairly different from one another. Take a look at each one to learn a little more about it, then click the podcast’s link to find out more!

Answer Me This
Answer Me This is a comedy podcast devoted to answering odd or interesting questions. Each episode description features a long list of topics discussed in the podcast (like “goldfish as gifts” and “Dothraki grammar”). Episode descriptions also feature a suggestion of how mature that specific episode’s content is (though the tone here is humorous just like everything else on the podcast). Episodes are bi-weekly.

Criminal
This podcast taps into peoples’ interest in true stories about shocking and compelling crimes. It attempts to actually look deeper into an understanding of the crimes instead of simply describing what happened. It’s been going for several years and puts out two episodes each month. Episodes feature a variety of different types of crimes. Some recent episode titles include “Willie Bosket,” “Secrets and Séances,” “A Bump in the Night,” and “Vanish.”

Hello from the Magic Tavern
Hello from the Magic Tavern is a comedy podcast that features the fictional Arnie, a man from our world who accidentally fell into another world (through a portal behind a Burger King) and ended up in a place called Foon. Arnie hosts each podcast in the Vermillion Minotaur, his new land’s local tavern, and he includes co-hosts (a wizard and a talking badger). He typically brings people of interest from the land of Foon onto the show and interviews them. This podcast has been running for several years and will appeal to both comedy and fantasy fans.

How Did This Get Made?
This podcast features funny conversations about bad films. The hosts (including Paul Scheer), based on recommendations, watch bad movies with their guests and then discuss them. Some past guests have included Patton Oswalt, James Franco, Seth Rogen, John Mulaney, Anna Faris, Kevin Smith, and many more. New episodes come out every other week.

Important If True
Important If True is a somewhat new podcast (which started last year). The hosts discuss various interesting topics and do it with a sense of humor. They often talk about future technology, science, and life in general. They often go off on tangents describing funny imagined scenarios, and it’s never a boring or dry discussion. Some episode titles include “Alexa, Destroy Me,” “The Terrible Power of Knowledge,” and “Untethered From Reality.” It’s posted weekly (though at the time of writing this article, episodes may be released less frequently).

Stuff You Missed in History Class
This podcast is from How Stuff Works. It features interesting historical topics that you probably didn’t learn about and that will catch your interest. Some recent podcasts are titled “Ignaz Semmelweis and the War on Handwashing” and “Hawaii’s Legend of the Menehune.” Podcasts can be sorted and looked through by topic or by the century the information is set in.

Stuff You Should Know
This is another podcast brought to you by How Stuff Works. The concept of this podcast is that there are a lot of things you might not know about, including some basic information. Each podcast covers a different subject you could benefit from knowing more about. There are podcasts focused on topics like landmines, the evolution of language, trickle down economics, hoarding, crime scene cleanup, and much more. You can sort and look through podcasts by topic.

They Walk Among Us
This podcast is not for the faint of heart. True crime shows are highly popular entertainment these days, and this podcast fits the bill. They Walk Among Us is a true crime podcast that features real events set in the UK. They have episodes on subjects like “Wearside Jack,” Alan Turing, missing persons, and more.

Thrilling Adventure Hour
This now-ended podcast is set like an old radio program. It features fictional stories read by the cast in front of an actual audience. There’s music, humor, and some interesting tales. It ended a couple of years ago, but the good news is you can still listen to the old recordings, and they’re worth going back to listen to even knowing there’s not more to come. Since they were created to have an old-timey feel anyway, it doesn’t matter that the episodes are a few years old.

You Must Remember This
This podcast is a work of creative nonfiction that features the host (Karina Longworth) telling true stories set in Hollywood during the classic era. Each episode is carefully researched, put together, and hosted by Longworth. There have been stories about Bela Lugosi, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Charles Manson’s connections to Hollywood, and much more. It’s currently on break, and the new season is scheduled to begin this July. In the meantime, you can listen to previous episodes in the show’s archive.

Tech For Your Pets

Tech For Your Pets

If you’re like me (and all the other pet owners I know), you probably care a lot about taking good care of your furry friends. You feed them well, walk them (or leave them alone, depending on the pet you have), and dote on them.

What’s great is there’s plenty of tech out there ready and waiting to make your pet’s life a little bit nicer. Here are just a few of the cool things you can get for your pets (and for your own peace of mind)!

Petcube Bites Pet Camera

This device is a fun, multipurpose bit of tech that is designed to be fun for pets while also being useful for pet owners. Using the Petcube app, you can watch a stream of the device’s camera, enabling you to check in on your pets while you’re away. It captures moments for you using its motion and sound detector, and you can even “talk” with your pets through its two-way audio. Plus you can brag about your pets by sharing video clips with others.

What makes it different is that it’s a camera and a treat dispenser. Using the Petcube app, you can have the device throw a treat to your pet whenever you want. You can use the sample treats that come with the device, then get some of your own (keeping in mind you’ll want to get a certain size of treat for the dispenser). So while you’re out, you can not only look in on your beloved pets, you can even reward them for good behavior (or just spoil them). You can find this device on Amazon.

ASPCA—Emergency Pet Safety

This app is a very useful way to make sure you and your pets are ready for an emergency. This app from the ASPCA is meant to help pet owners prepare for and recover from major storms. It shows people how to get ready for a storm, even letting you enter your pet’s health information for safekeeping in the app. It can then inform people of what to do to find a missing pet, even letting them design a lost pet flyer they can share. If you live anywhere that is prone to major storms, this app can give you peace of mind.

CleverPet Hub

There’s a lot to consider when caring for a pet. Sometimes people forget how important it is to give their pets proper exercise. The CleverPet Hub is one way to take care of that. It stimulates pets’ minds and gives them exercise. Pets are able to solve puzzles and get food rewards as they finish challenges. You can create a schedule for your pets, as well as track what your pet is up to using the connected app. And since the Hub is designed to be durable and stationary, it can withstand a lot of use (even if you have a very energetic pet). You can find this device on Amazon.

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor

We like to track our own activity, so it seems only natural we’d like to track our pets’ activity, too. With this tracker, you can keep up with what your pet has been doing. You simply attach it to your pet’s collar and harness, then set it up using your WiFi. You can create a “Place” your pet is meant to be, then receive an alert if your pet leaves that location. You can also see where your pet went over the course of the day. And, of course, it tracks other aspects of their activity, like their level of activity and the amount of rest they’re getting. All of these features make it possible to keep up with your pet’s health even if you’re away from home for a large part of the day. You can find this device on Amazon.

Dog Walk

With this app, you can track your pets while you’re with them. This app lets you keep track of the walks you take with your dogs. It tracks where you are, as well as how far and how long you walked. It shows you your route on a map so you can see where you went. And if you love taking millions of pictures of your pet (I know I do), you can use the built in camera. Also, you can track where and when your dog is relieving itself by adding the information in the app as you walk. This app is available for Android and iOS.

Choosing a Video Streaming Device

Choosing a Video Streaming Device

Long gone are the days when people had to wait for a show to air and watch it live. For many years now, TV shows and movies have been available to stream online. There are too many streaming services to even remember them all.

Whether you have Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu, or any other streaming service, it’s very likely you’ve streamed an episode of your favorite show or a full movie in the not too distant past. You might have watched it by using your phone, your tablet, your computer, or perhaps something like a video game console connected to your TV.

There are many different streaming services and streaming options. One option is to use a streaming device (or a streaming stick). These streaming devices are focused solely on being small, unobtrusive, quick, and easy to use. You’ve likely heard of the most popular devices on the market.

You also might be wondering what the differences are between the devices. For those looking to get a streaming device, it might be difficult to choose. Or you might be wondering why so many people want to use these devices. In this article, I’m going to cover the basics as well as some of your options!

What is a video streaming device?

The video streaming devices this article talks about are typically small devices that plug into your TV. They can be tiny plugins that work with a remote, larger sticks, or other forms. While using one of these devices, people can stream videos from different places depending on the device: from specific services (using apps) or even from absolutely any service or site (using screen mirroring).

Some devices are more limited in what you can watch. Others (that use screen mirroring to let you display your phone, computer, or tablet on your TV) are nearly unlimited in what you can decide to watch.

Keep in mind that you’ll still need to subscribe to services separately. If you buy a video streaming device, you don’t get subscription services included (for instance, you’ll still need to pay to use Netflix).

Which TVs can use these devices?

Video streaming devices use recent technology to work. They typically need to be able to plug into an HDMI port on a TV. For this reason, you’ll nearly always need to have a fairly modern TV. Some devices specifically require you have an HDTV. If you have a pretty old TV that doesn’t have HDMI ports, you’ll very likely need to upgrade to a slightly newer TV.

You can check your TV’s manual to see if you have an HDTV with HDMI ports. Or you can look on your TV to find the TV model and look up its information online.

What’s so great about them?

Video streaming devices like those in this article are fairly popular at the moment, and they have been for years. One reason they are so well-liked is that they typically offer a wide range of streaming options. With most of these devices, you can choose between just about any service you use—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Vudu, YouTube, you name it. This means your video streaming might be entirely controlled through one device.

They’re also great because they’re usually very small and portable. They’re typically small sticks that can be quickly unplugged and used in a different TV. So if you buy a new TV, there aren’t a bunch of confusing cords to figure out. Or if you’re going to watch TV with someone else, you can easily transport the device to their home and set it up there.

Another positive is that there are some pretty affordable options. You don’t have to buy a new computer or use a gaming console to stream your shows. Those can be kind of pricey (though, of course, they do a lot more than just stream shows). If your main concern, though, is to stream TV and movies, you won’t have to splurge on an expensive, larger product.

And with these devices, controlling them is easy and convenient. Some of them have small remotes for controlling what you watch. Some of them also work through apps on phones. It’s no trouble at all to use the devices.

What are the most popular options?

There are a number of streaming video devices out there. If you’ve heard people talking about them, though, you’ve most likely heard them mention one of the devices listed below. The four devices in this article are some of the most popular and well-liked choices you have. Of course, they’re not your only options. But these devices are probably your likeliest contenders.

Apple TV
Apple, of course, has a streaming video device. They have more than one model, in fact. They offer the current model of their regular device (the 4th generation Apple TV) as well as the new Apple TV 4K (for use with 4K televisions). The 4K version is specifically designed to work with 4K TVs. If you have a 4K TV, you’ll want this model. It’s designed to run faster and display 4K video.

With the Apple TV, you simply plug the box into your TV with an HDMI cable (not included). The Apple TV comes with the Siri Remote so you can control what you watch. Once you’ve purchased Apple TV, you also get access to tech support for 90 days, plus you can get help from the Genius Bar.

Apple TV has many different apps to choose from. The product description specifically lists Netflix and Hulu. It also works with the other apps you’d expect, like YouTube and Amazon Video. It’s difficult to find a comprehensive list of all the available apps, but if you’re wondering whether your service works with Apple TV, a quick Google search should tell you. If you have an iOS device, you can also either cast an app to your TV or even mirror your iPhone’s screen to the TV.

Apple TV is currently $149. If you want the 4K version, you have two options: 32GB for $179 or 64GB for $199.

Chromecast
Chromecast is Google’s video streaming device. They also have two current models: their regular 2nd generation device and Chromecast Ultra (specifically designed for use with 4K TVs).

Chromecast is a little different from the other devices. It’s focused on casting from your other devices. Instead of having a remote that lets you choose between different apps, you use your phone, tablet, or computer to pick what you want to watch. Then you press the “Cast” button on the app and it’s displayed on your TV. It works with a number of devices, including those that use iOS, Android, and Windows. And there are many different apps that work with it, including the typical ones like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Google Play.

Screen mirroring is also big with Chromecast. If you have an Android device or use the Chrome browser on your computer, you can display your device’s screen. This means you can watch anything with your Chromecast. If there’s a streaming website that doesn’t have an app, you can simply open it on your Chrome browser, mirror the browser using Chromecast, and watch on your TV.

A regular Chromecast 2nd Generation device is currently $35. Chromecast Ultra is $69.

Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick is Amazon’s video streaming device. There are two current models: the regular Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV (meant for 4K TVs).

The Fire TV Stick plugs into an HDMI slot and can be controlled with the included remote. The remote, called the Alexa Voice Remote, lets you control what you watch by either using the buttons or by using your voice. For instance, you can say “Alexa, open Hulu” to launch the Hulu app, or ask Alexa to play a specific show or pull up a genre of shows. And if you don’t want to use the remote for some reason, you can also use your Amazon Echo device to control your TV.

This device from Amazon doesn’t just play Amazon content (I did mention Hulu above). You can launch many different apps, including the ones you’d expect, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video (of course), and HBO NOW. You can also open web browsers and find content that way.

The Fire TV has some slight differences from the Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV isn’t the same kind of stick—it has a “pendant” design, so it looks a little different. It’s also designed to be faster, which is a definite plus. And, of course, it can display 4K content, so if you have a 4K TV, the Fire TV will be superior to the Fire TV Stick.

The Fire TV Stick is currently $39.99, while the Fire TV is currently $69.99 (or $74.99 if you get the bundle that includes a TV antenna).

Roku
Roku offers a number of different video streaming devices, each a little different. There’s the standard Roku Streaming Stick, the Streaming Stick+ (intended for 4K TVs), the Roku Express, the Roku Express+, (which works on older TVs!), and the Roku Ultra (intended for 4K TVs).

With a Roku device, you simply plug it in and set it up by creating a Roku account (or using an existing one). Depending on which device you choose, you’ll have some different features and options. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s different with each device:

  • Roku Express is designed to be easy to set up (for those who are new to video streaming devices); it still has access to the same apps and it has a remote, but its performance may not be as high, and the remote doesn’t have voice control ($29.99)
  • Roku Express+ is meant to be able to be used on older TVs; it comes with a composite cable as well as the typical HDMI cable, so if you don’t have HDMI ports, you can plug in the oldschool red, white, and yellow cords ($35)
  • Roku Streaming Stick is the standard stick, with access to all the typical apps; it comes with a remote that includes voice control ($49.99)
  • Roku Streaming Stick+ has the capabilities of the regular Streaming Stick, but it’s higher quality (it can stream 4K) and it can work well when further from your internet router, so it’s more easily used throughout your home ($69.99)
  • Roku Ultra is meant for intense streaming and can stream 4K content; it’s designed to be faster, clearer, and it comes with some extras, like headphones, a feature for finding the remote when it’s lost, and other audio features ($99.99)

Though Roku’s devices all have some things in common, like access to typical apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video, they all have some slight differences, so make sure to consider each one before deciding.