Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Windows 10 Creators Update – Review and Thoughts so Far

A few days ago, my computer did a big update known as the Windows 10 Creators Update. It was really pushy, in fact, it woke my computer up from sleep mode just to remind me to install the update. I tried to postpone it but it started popping up a reminder like every 10 minutes even after I disabled the reminder.

So finally I did the restart to enable the update. It took a pretty long time and after the update, the computer seemed to be running a little slow. This update made a lot of changes to the computer. Things like task bar icons are changed, settings are changed, new programs are added, and even basic functionality such as scroll bars are changed.

Usually I don't like when these kinds of changes are forced especially when we did not ask for them. It just makes more work because we have to learn the new features and fix everything that it changed without our permission.

For example, I have keyboard shortcuts set up to control things like the volume on the computer. This update made them not work so I had to reprogram the shortcuts again.

Default programs were changed also. For example it switched my music player from Windows Media Player to Groove Music which I don't like as much.

When going through settings in the main windows, you will notice the scroll bar on the side now has an auto-hide feature so you have to hover over it with the mouse to get it to show up fully which I do not really like. So far I have not found a way to change this back.

It changed the listed install date for a lot of my programs. For some reason now many programs that were installed months ago are now listed as being installed on the same day as the Creators Update happened.

In the display settings there is a new feature for night light which dims and changes the color of the screen for lower lights settings. I do not plan on using this feature. I did noticed however that because of this, now you have to scroll down in the display settings if you want to switch between single monitor and dual monitor. I have to do this often for work so it is more of an inconvenience to have to scroll down every time now.

One improvement I found was the addition of Paint 3D which seems to be an updated version of the old MS Pain program. I played around with it a bit and it seems fairly easy to use and has some nice features to create 3D objects.

After tweaking the settings and using the computer for a few days, the speed seems to be about the same as before. There are more new programs and changes that I have not gotten into yet, so in case there are any big developments, I will update the review here.

Have you done the Windows 10 Creators Update? What do you think about it so far?

Update: Just as I was in the middle of writing this article, it has given me a pop up to set up Microsoft OneDrive which I do not want to do and already told it to go away before. Looks like more annoyances that will have to be fixed.

Update: Since the update, I noticed now that sometimes when my computer is in sleep mode, it will boot up and then shut down all the way by itself. I checked the power settings and nothing is changed, so it should not be shutting down the computer like this. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Live With Kelly and Ryan Review – Did they make the right choice for new co-host?

One of my favorite shows to watch is Live with Kelly, or as it has been known recently, Live with Kelly and Michael, and Live with Regis and Kelly. I try to catch this show whenever I can in the morning as it is always a delight to see Kelly and the different guests each week.

Over the past few months, Kelly was the only permanent host and each day they had a different co-host join her on the show. Usually they were other celebrities and well known entertainers. I enjoyed this rotating format as it made the show a little more interesting knowing there would be different people featured each week.

Finally after months without a permanent co-host, they announced Ryan Seacrest as the new official co-host who would be joining Kelly. The announcement was met with mixed reviews based on what I saw from the fan reactions online. I was a surprised by the choice considering they had a lot of great candidates to choose from and several that were clearly fan favorites.

Personally I would have liked to see one of the others chosen as the new permanent co-host. My top pick would have been Fred Savage. He was very likable on the show and had a great energy and chemistry with Kelly. I also think a great choice would have been Richard Curtis who was the teacher who made it on as a co-host through one of their promotions. He did such a great job, they asked him back several more times.

Another good pick would have been Scott Wolf. He also had great chemistry with Kelly and really fit the morning talk show role well in terms wholesomeness and sense of humor. I even would have liked to see her husband Mark Consuelos be the co-host, but I know that could be difficult because it would mean the two would be spending a lot of time together each week.

Nevertheless, Ryan Seacrest was chosen as the new co-host. Personally I feel kind of indifferent about this choice. He has a lot of experience in similar roles from his days on American Idol and from being on the radio. I think the producers of the show figured he would be a safe choice to fill the role of co-host. For me, he was definitely not my first choice, but I think he will do ok.

So far they have had 2 weeks with the new format of Live with Kelly and Ryan. Overall I think Ryan is doing ok. Honestly, I don't think the chemistry between them is quite right and I don't think a morning show like this is the best fit for Ryan. I will still tune in for Kelly because as I like to think, she is a national treasure. For now, Ryan will have to do as co-host. I would be interested to see if there is any trend in the ratings either up of down due to this change.

What do you think of this choice to make Ryan Seacrest the new co-host of Live? Feel free to leave comments below.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Wahl Color Pro Hair Clipper Kit Review

About 10 years ago, I was getting tired of going out to get my hair cut every 4-5 weeks so I looked into the possibility of cutting my own hair. I noticed, in store, they sell electric clippers like the ones the hair stylists use and they are not too expensive at all. I ended up getting the Wahl Styler Haircutting Kit for about $25.

At first, I tried doing it myself and got a little help from my dad, but the results were not that great. Luckily, I learned how to use it better and within a couple more haircuts, it was looking as good as anything I was getting from the actual hair cutting place.

I would say it has been one of the best investments I have made in terms of saving not only money, but time and convenience as well. The only downside is it can be messy because you have to clean up the hair afterward, but even this becomes easier after a while. (A tip I use is putting a large garbage bag on the ground to catch most of the hair. Then fold it up and rub the bag around the floor as it will pick up any loose hairs with static electricity.)

But back to the original purpose of this article. Even though my original Wahl clipper was still going strong after 10 years, I decided it would be a good idea to get a new one and keep the old one as a back up. I knew I wanted to stick with Wahl because based on experience, they are very durable. So I did a little research and decided to get the Wahl Color Pro. It was only $20 and had very good reviews. I figured it would be similar to the Styler clipper so I decided to try it out.

Contents and Case
It comes with many different length guards starting at 1/16 inch up to 1 inch. It also has combs, scissors, cleaning brush, and oil. All these items are packed tightly into a carrying case. The problem with this is once you unpack it, good luck getting everything back in. With the limited space, I just use the case for all the guards and accessories and keep the clipper out on its own.

Clipper Feel and Details
The shape of the clipper is flared out towards the top and gets more tapered towards the bottom. I don't love the shape, but overall it is functional. I do like the on/off switch which is easier to flip compared to my old clipper which stuck out more and was hard to flip. I noticed the tapper lever was very hard to adjust on this new clipper, but I fixed it by loosening the screw on the side and now it slides much easier.

I like that this one has a guard that goes all the way down to 1/16 of an inch as with many others they start at 1/8 inch. The guards themselves are ok, but feel a little cheap. Also I would prefer just the regular black color rather than different colors for each clip.

One thing I noticed was the clipper oil does not have a sealing cap like the old clipper oil had. This one does have a screw on top, but I would be worried about the oil getting out if it is tipped over. As long as it stays upright and has the cap on, it should be ok though.

As far as performance goes, it is great! It runs smooth and is not too noisy. It cuts the hair very easily and does not get caught. So far I have not had any issues with it getting too hot. It is plug in which on one hand is good because it is always powered and you don't have to worry about charging it. On the other hand, the cord can be annoying sometimes but given the choice, I would stay with the corded style vs cordless.

Overall if you are looking for a reasonably priced haircut kit from a reliable company, I recommend the Wahl Color Pro. They do have upgraded models also if you don't mind spending more money for even higher quality clipper and accessories. For anyone who is tired of going to the haircut place or is just looking for an easy way to save money, cutting your own hair with a set of clippers like this is a great solution!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Shampoo, Body Wash, Face Wash, Moisturizer, and Sunscreen Review

Shopping for new health and beauty products such as shampoo, body wash, and face wash can be overwhelming if you are trying to find as new brand or product to try. In stores, there are aisles upon aisles of choices and online there are even more!

When trying to read reviews online, there are always contradicting reviews and even when you find a product with mostly good reviews, it is hard to know if they are real reviews or paid reviews from the company. Because of this, I figured I would round up a bunch of these items I currently use or have tried recently and help give some recommendations.

Suave Professionals 2 in 1 Plus - I have been using this shampoo for many years and it is still one of my favorites. It is widely available, reasonably priced, has a good scent that is clean but not over powering. It works well as a shampoo and even a body wash. I consider this my go-to wash of choice.
Pantene Pro-V Classic Clean 2 in 1 -  This is one of my new favorites in the shampoo and conditioner category. It is more expensive compared to Suave, but the scent is great and it has a silky texture with just the right amount of lather. It is also available with the pump style top which is very convenient. It works well as a shampoo as well as a body wash.
Body Wash: 
Nivea Care and Illuminate  - I tried this one because it was 50% off probably because they were in the process of changing the name from Touch of Sparkle. Overall it has a nice scent and that can be a little stronger compared to other similar products. It is very smooth and moisturizes the skin well. I would get it again if it was on sale but at full price it is a little expensive for this quantity. 
Dial Triple Moisture - This is one of the newest body washes I have tried. I also found this one on sale which was an incentive to try it out. The scent is mild but pleasant. The consistency is smooth with a little elasticity and it has a good amount of lather. I noticed the bottle design is a little misleading in that it makes it appear to contain more than it actually has. Overall it was ok but I would not rush back to buy it again. 
Face Wash:
Up & Up Oil Free Acne Wash (Target Brand) - This is Targets version of the Neutrogena face wash. I find it works about the same as the name brand and is a little more affordable. It does a nice job at cleaning the skin especially if you have oily skin. It can be a little over drying so you may need to use it in combination with a moisturizer afterward.
Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser - I tried this as an alternative to the Up & Up brand to see how it would compare. The scent is kind of strong and it is incredibly drying. At first it feels smooth on the skin but once you start washing it off, you get that really grippy dry feeling. I find it is ok to use once in a while, but I would prefer the Up & Up style given the choice.
Up & Up Dual Effects MoisturizerTo combat the over dryness of the face washes, I first tried this moisturizer. It is ok but the thing is it contains salicylic acid which is supposed to help with acne, but it also dries the skin and makes it peel. So it kind of counteracts itself. I found it moisturizes at first but then it seems to make the skin peel more later so I stopped using this one for now.
CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion - I decided to try out this moisturizer by CeraVe which does not have the salicylic acid. So far it has been doing a pretty good job at re-moisturizing the skin after a wash. It is available in a small 3oz bottle and it is not too expensive. So far, it is still early to tell on the long term results but so far it has been working ok. 
No-Ad Sport 50 - Rounding out the list is a sunscreen lotion by No-Ad. I have been using it since last summer whenever I am going to be out in the sun a lot and so far it has had good results. It goes on the skin nicely and does not feel too oily. I have not had any issues with burning while using this lotion. Overall it was a good value for the price especially if you can find it on sale during the off seasons! 

Hope this helps when doing research on which health and beauty products to try out. If you have tried any of these or have another to recommend, feel free to share it in the comments. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife – One of the Most Useful Tools

Swiss Army knives have been around for many years and are one of the most popular multi-tools around. I was first introduced to them by my grandfather who had one with many functions. I was very impressed how many different items could be packed into such a small package. He gave me one of his older Swiss Army knives which I still have to this day.

A few years later I decided to buy my own Swiss Army knife. I got the Super Tinker which has tools such as knife, scissors, flathead and phillips screwdriver, as well as things like bottle opener, tweezers, and toothpick. It was a great purchase and I got a of use out of it.

Some time later, I was taking a trip where I had to fly to another location. I did not have too much experience with flying so I thought it would be ok to bring with. Unfortunately it got stopped at the check-in and they would not allow my to bring it with. We were in a hurry so I was not able to check it or set up a way to send it back home so I ended up having to leave it there. It was pretty disappointing but I soon replaced it with the same model.

I have had the Super Tinker for many years now and it is still in great condition. One thing about authentic Swiss Army knives is they are super high quality. I didn't even realize how good the quality was until I was given a multi-tool from a different company as a gift. The quality on the other tool was no where near the quality of the Victorinox. It made me appreciate it even more and want to write up this article here about them.

I would consider it one of my best purchases in terms of quality, value, and usefulness. If you have never had one of these before, I recommend checking them out. They are available in many different styles and sizes ranging from simple pocket knives to multi-tools with dozens of functions. They are available online at Swiss Army, Amazon, as well as local retailers such as Walmart and Target.

Friday, April 21, 2017

How to put Contact and Return Information on iPhone Lock Screen

A while back, I found a lost iPhone on the ground, so I picked it up to try to figure out who it belonged to. Unfortunately it had the lock screen with a passcode so I was not able to reach the contacts or pull up the information for the owner. Luckily I found it in a large residential building that has an office so I was able to return it to the office for them to hold on to until the owner was able to retrieve it.

This got me thinking, it should be easier to find the owner of a lost phone since it is something that is important and can be lost very easily. I wanted to figure out a solution I could use for my phone in case it were to get lost. This way, whoever finds it would be able to contact me or return it quickly.

First I thought of the possibility of just putting the contact information right on the back of the case, for example, typing it up on paper and taping it onto the case. While this would work, it kind of ruins the aesthetics of the phone and I decided I didn't really want the contact information to be out in the open like that all the time.

Using "Find My iPhone"
I started looking for ways to get the contact information on the lock screen of the phone so if someone finds it, they can pull up this information just by pushing the home button. One method I found is by activating the “Find My iPhone” app and putting the phone into Lost Mode. This can be done by logging into iCloud either on a computer or from another iPhone. You will be able to log in using your Apple ID. When putting it into Lost Mode, you will be able to enter text that will display on the lock screen, so you can put your contact information there.

While the above method works well, if your phone is lost and you are out and about, you may not have immediate access to a computer or another phone. Or you might have forgotten your Apple ID or password. In this case, it might be hours before you are able to get home or figure out your login for the app. Because of this, I wanted to figure out a way to get the contact information on the lock screen without having to activate the Find My iPhone app.

Edit the Background Wallpaper
I noticed iPhones have the option to set photos as the background wallpaper. So I figured if I could edit the background wallpaper to include the contact information it would be a good solution. It was a little tricky to set this up and I'm sure there is more than one way to do it, but here is how I did it:

First, I did a search on the computer and found the iPhone wallpaper I wanted to use. (I just used one of the stock images.) Next I downloaded the image and opened it up in a basic image editing program such as Microsoft Paint. From there, I was able to add text and put in my contact information for email and return address. You can put a message such as, “If found, please contact or return to...” Finally save the updated image.

Once the image is saved, you can email it to your phone as an attachment. After the image has been sent, open the email on your phone. It will show the image. If you touch and hold on the image, it will bring up the options. Click “Save Image” and it should save it to your phone in the Photos section.

Next, go to your Photos on the iPhone and click on the image you have just saved. To bring up the options, click the box with the arrow pointing up (located at the bottom left corner). Swipe over a few options and it will it will say “Use as Wallpaper”. Then click Set. It will have the option to set as lock screen, home screen, or both. I set it as lock screen because you don't really need it in the background once your phone is unlocked.

That's it! Your new lock screen background will be in place with the contact information. It sounds like a lot of steps and I'm sure there are other ways to go about it, but it is worth it for peace of mind knowing that if your phone gets lost, it will be much easier for people to get it back to you. Hope this helps!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Unknown Certified Mail – What Could It Be?

I recently checked the mail and there was a note card from USPS saying I had missed a delivery for a certified mail and that I had to reschedule the delivery. It was a letter and had a tracking number and a name, but I could not read the writing so I could not tell who it was from.

I started thinking what it could be but I had no idea who would be sending me a certified letter. Usually if something is sent certified, it means it is very important and the sender needs to be positive you have received it. The only other time I ever got a certified letter was after I left a job and they were sending me some final paperwork to confirm the decision.

I got the note on a Friday and the earliest reschedule was on Monday so I had a couple of days to worry about what it could be. Of course I thought the worst like it was a legal issue or something, but nothing came to mind on what it could be. Another thought was maybe it was some important documents from the health insurance or from a retirement fund or something, but I have never had to sign for any of those before.

About a week back, I contacted a couple companies about mail I was receiving that was addressed to previous residents who have not lived here for many years. I asked them to update the mailing list so I would not receive the letters anymore, so I was thinking maybe it had something to do with that and they were trying to confirm I was the current resident.

I kept thinking of possibilities. Sometimes I fill out those surveys on receipts that offer a chance to win a gift card so I was thinking there might be a small possibility maybe I won something like that and they sent it certified to make sure I got it.

So finally Monday rolls around and the mail man shows up. He has the letter and I sign for it. I look at the return address, but it is something I didn't recognize and never heard of. I take it in and open the letter. Turns out it is a notice about a public hearing about a potential business that is looking to open up in the area.

At first I was relieved that it was not anything bad. Then I was kind of confused as to why they sent something like this certified. It was basically a note from the village and the business owners saying there would be a meeting at the village and that is was open to residents in case we wanted to go to the meeting.

Maybe there is some rule that they have to notify a certain amount of local residents if they are looking to open a new business. Other than that, I'm not sure why they needed it to be signed for. The postage was almost $4.00 for a letter so it was certainly not cheap to send it. I guess the lesson learned here is if you get an unexpected certified letter, don't worry because it might be something like this that is nothing to worry about.