Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Google Search Results Need Improvement – Top Results Given to Spammy Sites

There's no denying that Google is the number one search engine and is one of the best ways to find things on the internet, but as of late, I have noticed a decline in the quality of search results provided. Often I will do a search on a new topic hoping to find a good site with clear and helpful information only to find the top results give the opposite experience.

I will click on a top recommended site and immediately be bombarded with a pop up to sign up for a newsletter. This is one of my pet peeves and the kind of thing that will make me click the “Back” button immediately to find a better site that is not going to try to spam me with pop ups.

If you manage to get through the pop ups, you may get to the site hoping it will have the information you are looking for only to find out it is a slide show that you have to click through 10 pages when all the information could have easily been listed in the first page.

No one likes these kinds of things so why is Google putting them at the top of their search results? I think some better attention needs to be put into the curating of these results. Sure the websites might be nice looking, but if it is spammy and does not provide the information the visitor is looking for, it is not a helpful result.

I know much effort goes into reviewing search engine results to make sure they are the best possible, but as of right now, somehow sites that are not very good are being given top placement in the results. Has anyone else noticed this trend?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wordpress Privacy Protection and Whois Information

Recently I got a message that one of my other websites which happens to be hosted by Wordpress was going to expire in 1 month. It was for a site that is not too active and I was debating on whether or not to renew it for another year. The cost to renew is $26 which is pretty high compared to Blogger which only charges about $10 per year.

I noticed that Wordpress charges separately for privacy protection. This basically means when you register your website, your personal information such as name, address, phone number, and email will be kept private and they will display their contact information instead. With Wordpress, they charge $8 for the privacy protection.

Since the renewal was coming up, I was testing out some of the settings and disabled the privacy protection to see what would happen. Upon a search, I noticed that it did in fact publish my personal information for the domain ownership. So I decided to re-enable the privacy protection for the remainder of the term. The only problem is, they do not allow you to re-enable it without paying the $8 again for a new year.

Of course I was not happy about this, basically having to pay another $8 for something that was already supposed to be in place. I paid the charge and the privacy was restored. I contacted Wordpress by email to see if they could refund the charge because the privacy should have been covered through the end of the year. I expected a reply saying something like unfortunately the only way to re-enable it is to pay the $8 again for the year, but to my surprise, they actually refunded the charge! Thumbs up for good customer service!

I started thinking, why is it the case where people's personal information is available upon a search if they register a domain name? This seems like a breach of privacy. I guess it depends on which service you register your domain name with and if you decide to enable the privacy protection feature. It seems like if this is an option, it should be standard for all domain registrations.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Why I Dropped Out Of College – Was it the right thing to do?

Like most kids that grew up in my area, it was expected that I attend college after high school. I had always been an average student. I was well behaved but I was not the type to try to get straight A's or take advanced classes. I was a bit lazy when it came to school work. Still I went to a decent college after I graduated.

In the beginning, I didn't really know what I wanted to major in. I liked physical activities and my parents mentioned that teaching was a good job to get into. So I decided to major in Physical Education with a minor in Health Education as was recommended by the school.

The first couple years were pretty good. I took mostly general education classes and a couple of major based classes. The 3rd year I was taking almost all Physical Education classes. It was not just about sports; There were a lot of technical classes like learning about the body and how everything about it works. There were also a lot of teacher based classes, learning how to actually teach.

Around this time, I was starting to get tired of college. I was not really motivated to be a teacher. The classes kept getting more specialized, making us learn things that no one needed to know to be a gym teacher. I didn't really want to be a teacher, but I didn't know what else to switch to. This one just one of the many reasons that persuaded me to drop out.

Another reason was the cost. While my parents paid for most of it, I did pay for a portion. I noticed the the costs were high and kept rising, everything from classes, to room and board to books. I felt like the school was more of a business trying to earn money than an educational system. We were not poor, but we certainly were not rich and I knew these costs were hard on my family. Not only that, but my sister would be going to college next year. That would mean they would have to pay twice as much at the same time. I didn't want to cause these expenses for something I was not interested in.

Another thing that stressed me out and was a huge factor in my leaving college was a condition I have called hyperhidrosis which means I sweat a lot, even in normal situations when it is not hot and I am calm and relaxed. I would sweat from places like my hands and feet and this would make it very uncomfortable to be in classes. You might think it is not a big deal, but imagine wetting your palms with water and not drying them. Then go about your life and imagine your hands always being like that. It becomes a big problem and very stressful. A couple times in the 3rd year it got so bad I had to excuse my self from class just because I was near a panic attack because of the sweating. This is something I still deal with to this day, but I have been able to manage it better with treatment.

Another specific example of something that made me want to drop out was when I had this project for one of my physical development classes. We had a big assignment and part of it was to go find some young kids and observe them doing various physical tasks, like running and jumping. Well being a college, living in the dorms, I didn't have access to any kids to observe. I remember even going to a Walmart and considered asking parents if I could observe their kids doing activities, but I was not comfortable doing that. I probably should have contacted the teacher and asked if he had any ideas or solutions, but I didn't. Instead I just didn't do the assignment. This really lowered my grade in the class. I knew I had to make it up on the final so I studied hard and ended up getting a 99% on the cumulative final. Even with this great score I still ended up with a D+ in the class. Because it was a major class, I had to get at least a C to pass it. So basically I was going to have to retake the class where I just got a 99% on the final which was over everything. I was not about to do that.

So it was the summer after my 3rd year and I was working delivering pizzas to earn money over the summer. I had been doing this for the summers and breaks for the past few years so I was comfortable with it and I enjoyed working there. It was decent money, I liked the people I worked with, and the job suited me well. I was not looking forward to going back to school in the fall. After some time I thought about what it would be like if I just kept working and took some time off to decide what I really wanted to do. As soon as I considered this, it was like a huge relief and a weight was taken off my shoulders. Because of the minor I had, I would have had to take at least another 2 years of college that I did not want to do. On the contrary, I could keep working at a job I liked and could earn money and take some time do decide on another career path. So after careful consideration, that is what I did.

Of course my parents and everyone wanted me to stay and finish college, but I stuck to my decision. You might ask, when looking back, do I regret my decision? The answer is no, I didn't regret it then and I still do not regret it to this day. I made the right decision for me. I might have done things differently if I could do everything over, for example, maybe go to a smaller school and major in something else like computers, but at the time, taking a break and working was the right thing to do.

Looking back years later, everything turned out ok. If there is one down side to it, it is that not having a college degree does limit your options more when looking for a job. I have still be able to get other jobs but there would be more opportunities available with a college degree. Because of this, my advice to others would be to try to graduate college if possible.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

RA Fischer MD-1A Iontophoresis Machine Review – Long Term Update

Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating is an issue that affects a small percentage of the population and can make life very difficult for those who have it. I have written about my experience with this condition in a previous article. Over the years I tried several treatments from antiperspirants to oral medications and eventually decided to try iontophoresis to treat this condition.

Iontophoresis works by using a machine connected to trays of water to deliver an electrical current to the effected area such as hands or feet. By doing this, it is supposed to help reduce the amount of sweat in these areas. There are a few companies that manufacturer iontophoresis machines. I decided to try out the RA Fischer MD-1A unit because they had an option to rent it to try it out for a month.

This was around 2011 when I first started using the machine. It took a while to see results but I did see enough improvement in the reduction of sweating to go ahead and purchase the device. It has now been about 6 years and I am still using the machine to help with hyperhidrosis. It is not a 100% cure and I still sweat quite a bit, but it does help to make it more manageable.

My current schedule consists of treatments for the hands about every 2-3 days or so with a 15 minute session, switching the polarity for each session. I do both hands at the same time and use my foot to control the knob on the device to adjust the intensity of the current. I usually turn the milliamps up to about about 10-12. I find this setting is pretty comfortable unless you have any cuts or cracks from dry skin on your hands, then it can sting quite a bit in these areas.

As I recall, and it looks like it is still the case, you must get a doctors prescription to order the unit. Also, when I purchased the unit, I submitted the bill to health insurance but they did not cover it so I ended up having to pay for the whole thing out of pocket. I recommend checking with your insurance to see if they will cover this device.

Overall the machine is not cheap but it is still working after years of treatments and I have not had to replace any parts or anything so I would say it has been worth it. If you have been struggling with this condition, I recommend trying out an iontophoresis machine such as the RA Fischer.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Advice to the Younger Generation from an Older Person

With age comes wisdom and over the years we make mistakes and learn a lot the hard way. No matter how much you study and try to learn things, somethings can only be learned with age. This is why it is important to get the perspective of those who are older than you and see what advice they have for the younger generation.

As someone in their mid 30's I certainly do not claim to know everything and I do not have nearly as much experience as those who are much older, but at this age, there is a lot of advice I would give to a younger version of myself so I thought I would share some of that advice here. Here is some of the advice I would pass along to the youth of today:

Try hard in school and take advantage of the opportunities available.
When I was in school, I did ok, but never really challenged myself to excel or get more involved. School is one of the basic things our society is built on and how you perform during these years can have a big effect on the opportunities available to you later in life.

Try out different courses and clubs even if you think you would not be interested in them. I never got involved with any performance type classes such as acting, singing, or dancing, but looking back as an adult, I think it would have been a good experience to at least try some of the classes like this.

Education becomes even more important when you get to the college years. While college is not for everyone, I would recommend try to go to college and get a 4 year degree if possible. Just having a degree no matter what it is opens up a lot more job opportunities when you get older.

Make an effort to start and keep relationships when you are young.
Growing up, you will be around many people your own age who are from the same area so even if you feel like you do not relate to anyone, just age and location alone, gives you a lot in common with these people. It is a great time to meet people and develop relationships with friends and also partners.

As you get older, it becomes more difficult to meet people and develop relationships as people are more busy and already have groups of friends established. If there is someone you like, make an effort to talk to them. If you pass up the opportunities, you may regret it later in life.

Take care of yourself physically.
One thing about getting older is your body starts to deteriorate and you start to have more issues and ailments. When you are young, your body is resilient and if you get hurt or sick, your body heals and recovers quickly. As you get older, it is easier for things to go wrong and when they do, it takes longer for them to recover.

Taking care of yourself starting from an early age will help so you have less issues as you get older. For example, things like protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen is a good idea. Try to eat healthy and stay active by working out or getting involved in sports. Avoid activities that are more risky that may result in injury.

Develop good habits such as brushing your teeth,wearing your retainer, and flossing everyday and avoid bad habits such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Taking care of yourself starting at an early age will help to make sure you are more healthy as you get older.

Don't worry if you don't know what you want to do or what direction to take.
A common question is “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. We are presented with this question at an early age and often told to choose a path even before we really know what we want to do. It is hard to know what you want to do when you are young because you do not have much experience with different things especially when it comes to jobs and careers.

Many adults still do not know what they want to do and end up changing jobs every few years. Another thing is that interests change over time. What sounds like something you would want to get into when you are 18 may be very different from what you want to get into when you are 30. A lot of it will be trial and error.

Keep in mind a job and a hobby are two very different things. You may think you want to do something that sounds fun like design video games or be a music producer. These kinds of things are fun as a hobby, but as a job, they actually become a job so they may not be as fun anymore in a case like this. Look for subjects you are interested in and feel you can do well in, but also subjects that have plenty of career opportunity.

Make the most of each day and don't waist time.
As mentioned in a previous article, time seems to speed up as you get older. When you are young, it feels like life is so long and you have all the time in the world, but before you know it, you will start getting older and soon you will be at an age thinking, “How I am this old already?”. Time is limited so make sure you are using your time wisely. There is usually something to do even if you are bored and feel like there is nothing to do. We all have 24 hours in a day but how we choose to use it is what makes a difference.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Lindberg Glasses Review – Are they worth the high cost?

For most purchases, I tend to go for the best deal and try not to spend a lot of money, but for certain things, I don't mind spending a bit more. One of those things is eyeglasses. As someone who wears glasses for distance, I wear glasses pretty much all day so it is important to have a pair that is comfortable and looks good.

I purchased my current Lindberg glasses back in 2009. It's hard to believe I have had them for about 8 years and they are still holding up strong. They were definitely not cheap especially when you add in the cost of the lenses, but I figured, for something that I will be wearing on my face all day, everyday, I might as well get something good.

I purchased them from an eyeglasses boutique retailer that carries some of the higher end brands. For the Lindbergs, they had many in store to try out, but when you order them, they actually measure your head to get the exact dimensions and then the frames are ordered and built to your exact specifications. I think this is great considering most frames you buy in store are the ones on the shelf that everyone has been trying on. Also with the custom build, it allows you to choose the color and shape options so you can get them exactly how you want.

I remember when my glasses came in the first time, they accidentally made a mistake and ordered a different shape for the frame. Luckily, they were able to re-order the correct frame at no charge so it was only an inconvenience because it took longer to get the frames.

Overall I have been very pleased with the glasses. As mentioned before, I have been wearing them every day for 8 years and they are still in great condition. Even the original lenses are still in good condition. There have been countless times where I have accidentally scratched them on things, even metal. I then check the frame thinking I just ruined them only to find out they are still in perfect condition. I guess the metal and color used is very durable because they show no signs of wear even after all these years.

The nose pads however did wear down after a few years. They are a high quality, but the silicone did start to break apart eventually. Luckily, I was able to take them to a local eyewear place that carries Lindberg and they were able to replace the nose pads for free! I was very surprised by this, especially considering the high cost of the frames.

As for comfort, they are super light and do not cause any discomfort or irritation. They fit very well which is expected since they are made to order.

Are they worth the high cost? If you take care of your glasses and plan to keep them for several years as I have, I would say yes, they are worth it. The quality is top notch so you can expect them to hold up longer than cheap frames.

Recently I had another eye exam and my insurance covered some basic frames. I would have liked to get another pair of Lindbergs but since my current pair is still good, I decided to just get a cheap pair as a backup. The difference in quality of the cheap pair vs the Lindbergs is very clear when trying them out side by side. The Lindbergs are lighter, more comfortable, and better looking.

I wish the Lindbergs were not so expensive, but I would probably get another pair when I need to replace my current frames. If you are someone who takes care of your glasses and doesn't mind spending quite a bit more for high quality frames, I would recommend checking out Lindberg.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lego Designers – Alan Yuppie, JK Brickworks, Keep On Bricking

Years ago as a kid, I had Lego sets and loved building with them, but then like many, I stopped playing with them when I got into my teen years. Recently, as an adult, my interest in Lego was rekindled and this year, I picked up a few sets and have really enjoyed not only building the stock sets, but also making my own original creations with them.

These days with the internet, it makes it easy for people to share their creations online. I have found a lot of great builders out there and I thought I would feature some of my favorites here on the blog. One thing that is great about Lego is it is a global brand so there are many great creators from all over the world! Here are some of my favorite creators right now:

Alan Yuppie – Alan Yap aka Alan Yuppie is a builder from Malaysia who specializes in Lego Transformers. He is able to make original models with Lego that actually transform from robot to vehicle and back. I first discovered him after finding his Wheeljock Transformer which was made from the 31046 set. I built it and even made a video for it here.

His most recent project is Optimus Prime from Transformers The Last Knight movie. I also recommend checking out his Liokaiser combiner Transformer which is incredible and combines 6 individual Transformers into one! You will find most of his work on his blog as well as more frequent updates on his Facebook page.

JK Brickworks – Jason Allemann from JK Brickworks is a Canadian Lego builder who is fairly well known in the Lego world. He has made some of the most amazing creations and is especially skilled at building projects with moving parts. He even had one of his designs the Labyrinth Marble Maze chosen to be made into an official Lego set.

Some of my favorites from JK Brickworks include the Sisyphus Kinetic Sculpture, the Lego Ball Clock, and the Combination Safe. You can check him out on his official website as well as on Youtube.

Keep On Bricking – Peteris Sprogis from Latvia is another one of my favorite builders who is known for his alternate builds using the pieces of official Lego sets. He has been known to make 10+ different models from the same set and he is particularly skilled and making vehicles. He also makes wonderful videos showing step by step instructions for how to build many of his designs. 

Some of my favorites of his include the 31046 Tumbler and Classic Cabrio Car, and the 10252 Buggy. You can check out his work on Youtube as well as Instagram.

What do you think of these designs? Do you have any favorite Lego builders? Feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Not Touching Food With Your Hands – Why and How To Do This?

Many people have heard you should wash your hands often to avoid getting sick. The theory is that throughout the day, you touch many things, shake people's hands, go to the bathroom etc, and by doing these things, you may pick up germs in the form of viruses and bacteria. Then if you hold or touch the food your are eating, the germs may transfer to the food and ultimately get into your system. This is why there are regulations in place for food workers not to touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands.

My years ago, I remember getting sick often and I hated being sick. So I started to educate myself on ways to avoid getting sick such as washing your hands before you eat. I did this for a while but soon realized trying to wash your hands every time before you eat can be impractical and sometimes it is just not an option. Also it can get to a point where it becomes excessive and you start washing your hands too often to the point where it starts to take a toll the skin.

I wanted to find a solution where I did not have to worry about potentially contaminating food by touching it, but at the same time, not have to worry about washing my hands all the time. So I started to look for ways to eat food without touching it.

The first and most obvious way to do this is to use utensils such as fork, knife, and spoon. Many foods are expected to be eaten with utensils like this. If you are out at a restaurant you can almost always find something on the menu that is meant to be eaten using utensils. Even if it is something like a sandwich that is usually eaten by hand, you can still use a knife and fork if you want. People might question you about it, or you might feel like George Costanza, but sometimes it is better to have piece of mind knowing you are minimizing your chances of getting sick.

Another method to avoid touching food is to handle it by the wrapper. Many foods, especially fast food come wrapped in paper or foil. For example you can eat a hamburger or a burrito by opening it half way and holding it by the wrapper. This keeps a barrier between your hands and the food.

Another method when neither of the first two are an option is to hold food by the edge and eat around it. For example with pizza, you can hold it by the crust and just eat everything except the part that you held. This can work with things like bread rolls as well.

Of course there are many arguments to this practice of avoiding touching food. One argument is that we have an immune system that protects us from germs like this and it can even be helpful to expose yourself to more germs in order to build up resistance. It is true that our immune systems will protect us from most of these germs, but the few that are very harmful will still make you sick if they get into your system. I don't know about you, but I would rather be safe than sorry.

Another argument people may say is “Just wash your hands”. It is good advice but as mentioned above, this is not always practical or possible. Even if you try to wash your hands before you eat, for example at a restaurant, chances are you may have to touch more things such as a door handle, a menu, a hand to shake... before you even get back to your food.

Some may still say avoiding touching food is overreacting and impractical in itself. I don't necessarily disagree, but as mentioned above, I don't like getting sick so I don't mind taking extra precautions if it means less chance of potentially picking up harmful viruses or bacteria.

This issue can also pose a problem when others are preparing your food. When you make your own food, you have much control over it so you can make sure it is sanitary from start to finish. When others are making your food whether it is in restaurant or at a friends or family gathering, you don't have as much control over it so sometimes you have to take a chance and hope they are preparing the food in a sanitary manner.

Upon doing a little research on this topic, it seems president Donald Trump also avoids touching food with his hands. I didn't find a concrete reason given for his case, but I would guess it would be the same reason as discussed here. Especially for someone in his line of work where he is shaking hands with people all day, you can imagine why he would not then want to go pick up a sandwich with his hands.

Are you someone who also does not touch food with your hands or do you think trying not to touch food with your hands is crazy? If you have any feelings on the issue one way or the other, feel free to leave a comment.

Being Oblivious to the Concept of Socialization

Socializing is a common practice among adults as a way of getting to know each other but this skill may not seem so obvious to everyone. As a young child, like most, I played with kids in the neighborhood. I was outgoing and socialized with others by playing games and sports.

As a teen, I become more reserved but still managed to socialize with others at school and during after school sports. Around this time, I did not really understand the concept of socialization. I only knew of socializing as a byproduct of doing an activity. It never occurred to me that it would be a stand alone activity.

As I got older into late high school and college years, people began to start having parties where they would invite people over and the main activity would be just talking. Maybe they would have some music and some snacks or something but no specific activity planned. I remember going to these parties at first and just being kind of confused and bored as if there was nothing to do.

Soon I became accustomed to socializing as it is an activity that becomes more common as an adult. I still would not consider myself a social person and still I prefer to socialize while doing an activity rather than having “talking” be the activity.

I think it is more comfortable and natural to talk with people while doing something because the focus is on the activity so there is no pressure to try to make a conversation. If conversation happens, great, but if not, it is no big deal because there is something else to focus on.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Portillos Lemon Cake Shake Review

Portillo's lemon cake had been off the menu for a long time but because of a request on Reddit and a lot of support from those who missed it, Portillo's decided to bring it back! I like lemon desserts so I have been looking forward to trying it. A while back I had the chocolate cake shake which was great and I was hoping they would be able to do this with the lemon cake.

I went to place the order and the cashier was not sure if it could be done, but they checked with a manager, and yes, it can be done! So I put in an order for the lemon cake shake. I figured I would get the taste of the lemon cake and the deliciousness of the shake all in one.

So how does it taste? It has a very familiar lemon taste. Pretty much what you would expect lemon cake to taste like, mixed into shake form. The consistency was very thick and well mixed. It can take a little effort to get it through the straw but when you do, you are rewarded with a tasty treat! It is very rich and after about 1/4th of the shake I was pretty full so I saved the rest for later.

How does it compare to the chocolate cake shake? Both are great. The lemon is more of a lighter more tart taste while the chocolate is more sweet and savory. Overall, if you like lemon taste you won't be disappointed.

The Portillos lemon cake and lemon cake shake are available for a limited time now through July 31st.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Getting calls from numbers with the same first 6 digits – Caller ID Spoofing

For a while now I have been getting calls from numbers that are very similar to mine in that they have the same area code and even have the next 3 numbers the same. I usually do not answer calls I am not expecting from numbers I do not recognize so I just let them ring.

I noticed I kept getting calls like this but the last 4 digits were always different which I thought was odd. Was it a telemarketer company calling from several different phones in the same call center? Maybe a big business that uses a lot of different phone lines? I even overheard a neighbor talking about how they were having the same issue with similar numbers calling them.

I decided to do a little research and it turns out many others are experiencing the same thing and it is something called Caller ID Spoofing. This is where the caller is faking a number that is similar to yours but they are actually calling from a different number. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but apparently there are ways to enable the caller to make it look like they are calling from a different number.

This may be done to make the recipient think it is a local call so they are more likely to answer. Reports are that it is done by telemarketers or people trying to scam you into giving out your personal information, or they are robo-calls calling a bunch of numbers to see who will pick up.

The FCC has an article here with more information about Caller ID Spoofing. They say it is illegal if the company has intent to defraud or cause harm, but if no harm is intended then it is ok. They also have an option to report spoofing by filing a claim on their website. As far as I know there is not really a way to stop it other than just not picking up if you receive a call like this.

It's a shame there is not more regulation or efforts being made to stop this sort of thing. With the ability to change how a number is displayed, it makes it so you really can't trust any number that calls you. Because of this, we must be very careful about answering unknown calls especially if they ask for personal information. If you are unsure about the authenticity of a caller, end the call and call back at the number you know is correct.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Julius Sumner Miller – Physics is his business and his business is wonderful!

Recently I was trying to learn about the science behind hydraulics and how they work and one of the videos that came up was by a physicist named Julius Sumner Miller. It looked like an old video, but I decided to check it out. What I found was not only an educational video, but a very entertaining teacher!

I was pleased to see someone uploaded a series of his demonstrations to Youtube that cover many areas of physics. They follow a similar format, about 15 minutes, and each covers one lesson in physics. They always have “enchanting” experiments as he teaches the viewers about how and why things work the way they do.

I took physics in high school and enjoyed it. I remember learning a lot about Newtons laws and how things move, but just by watching some of these videos, I realized there is a whole lot more to physics and we only just scratched the surface with what we learned in high school.

I highly recommend checking out his videos to learn some new things and to be entertained at the same time. Julius passed away a while back so it is clear these video were made a while ago, but the physics remains true and relevant to this day.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pur Classic Faucet Mounted Water Filter Review

For a long time I was buying bottled water but eventually I got tired of buying water and lugging in heavy packs of water every couple weeks so I looked into water filters for tap water. The tap water in my area is generally pretty good and considered drinkable but just to be sure, I wanted to have a filter.

First I got a Bobble water bottle that has a built in filter. I used this for several years and I still use it today, but after doing some research, I thought it might be a good idea to invest in a better water filter. The Bobble is good, but it does not filter as many elements such as lead compared to some other water filters. I read that lead can get into the water supply from pipes in old buildings and since my building is old, there is a chance the water could contain lead.

Research suggests that you can have your water tested and I would like to do that except is seems to be very hard to actually have this done. For a good test, you have to contact a laboratory and send samples out which will have a cost that is not cheap. They do not make it easy to find these labs either. So I just decided to get a good water filter to be safe.

After doing some research I went with the Pur Classic faucet mounted style. They have a few different models but I went with the Classic because it is the least expensive (about $15) and uses the same filters as the newer more expensive models. I went with the white color to match the kitchen but it is also available in black.

In the box, you have the main contraption, a sealed filter, 4 different faucet adapters, and instructions. I read over the instructions and it seemed fairly easy to install. I tried the first recommended adapter and it worked perfectly! They have 4 adapters that come with it and they will even send you a free adapter if none of the 4 will fit your faucet.

Getting Started
Next I put the filter in the main compartment. Again it was pretty easy. Finally you just have to snap the device onto the faucet and it is pretty much ready to go. They recommend run the water through it for about 5 minutes before you start using it.

I was surprised by a few things. One, the filtered water comes out pretty slow. The regular stream goes fast, but when you flip the switch to the filter, it comes out much slower. Still it is ok, you just have to be more patient.

Another thing that was surprising is that it can rotate so you can move it around to adjust how you want it situated. Even with the rotating, it did not leak. I did notice some water getting out the top of the adapter at first, but I was able to tighten it a bit more to seal it.

I decided to do a side by side test of the filtered vs unfiltered water. Comparing them side by side, the filtered water was noticeably more clear. Even after letting them sit for a while, the filtered water remained more clear.

As for taste, they were very similar but the filtered water tasted a little more crisp and had more of an absence of any flavor that might come from minerals. Overall I would say that it does a good job at filtering and it is good to have peace of mind knowing you can drink the tap water and it will not have any harmful impurities.

The filter says it lasts 3 months or 100 gallons. I did some calculations and I figured it would take a lot longer than 3 months to get through 100 gallons so I will probably be able to use the same filter for 6 months to a year at least. It does have a light sensor that is supposed to help determine when the filter needs to be changed, so I will keep an eye on that as well.

If you are looking for an affordable way to get clean drinking water, I would recommend the Pur Classic faucet mounted water filter. I will update this article over time in case there are any long term updates as I use this filter.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Computer Shutting Down From Sleep Mode – How To Fix

Recently I installed the Creators Update for Windows 10 and after the installation I noticed the computer would randomly boot up by itself while in sleep mode and then go into shutdown. Not only that, after it would shut down, it would have a hard time starting back up when pressing the power button.

At one point the computer would not boot up at all, instead it just ran the fan at full blast. I had to force shut it down and even turn off the power supply to get it to boot up again properly. So I knew something had to be done to fix it.

From doing research, many suggested to look at the power settings. The Creators Update did change a lot of the settings, but I found I had to dig deeper to fix the problem. To check the power settings, go to the Control Panel and click Power Options. From here, whichever plan is selected, click “Change plan settings”. You can make sure it is set so that it will not turn off or go to sleep by itself.
Then click “ Change advanced power settings”. Here you can adjust more settings to make sure it does not off the hard disk or put it into hibernate. I did all these things but the issue was still not fixed.

Back on the Power Options page, on the left side, it says “Choose what the power button does”. From here, it will have the setting for “Turn on fast startup” enabled. I unchecked this to disable fast start up. Tip: You may have to click “Change settings that are currently unavailable” first before it will let you disable the fast startup. I'm not sure why Windows makes you jump through so many hoops just to fix the power settings.
Finally there was one more thing that seemed to be causing the shutdown from sleep mode. I went to the Task Manager (right click the bottom task bar) and clicked on the Services tab. In this list was something called “AdaptiveSleepService”. Apparently it is something form AMD that affects the sleep settings. I did some research and there is not much information about it, but apparently it has been known to cause issues such as this with the sleep and shutdown. So I right clicked it and clicked “Open Services”. From here you can right click AdaptiveSleepService and click Properties to open it up. In the Properties you can Stop it and change the Startup type to “Disabled”.
Since doing both of these things, I have not had the issue with the computer booting itself up from sleep and putting itself into shutdown automatically. Disabling fast startup does make it boot up a bit slower from shut down so I am still testing it out, but so far, it seems to be more stable when disabling the fast start up.

I will update this article in case there are any new updates on this case. Hopefully this helps if you are having the same issue.

Update: The computer has not been shutting down by itself, but once again, there has been an instance where it would not boot up after waking up from sleep. Force shut down did not fix it. It needed a complete unplug from the power supply to boot back up again. I may have to try a system restore back to before the Creators Update was installed. 

Update: It would not allow a rollback to undo the installation of the Creators Update. For now, I have enabled the Hibernate option for shutdown and will use Hibernate instead of Sleep. It still wakes up fairly quickly from Hibernate and so far it has not had any issues like it did in Sleep mode.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Victorinox Classic SD Pocket Knife Review

I have enjoyed Victorinox multi-tool Swiss Army knives since I was first introduced to them many years ago. Up until now, I have only had the medium size which is great but can be a little bulky to carry around with you all the time. I did a little research and saw they make some small pocket knives such as the Class SD Swiss Army Knife. The price was reasonable so I decided to pick one up.

The first thing I noticed was how it was a lot smaller than I expected. The pictures online make it look bigger than it is. The actual measurements are a little over 2 inches in length by about 3/4ths of an inch width. This small size has positives and negatives. On the plus side, it is very portable and good if you want to put it on a keychain without adding a lot of extra bulk or weight. The negative is that the small size can make it more difficult to handle and less efficient as a tool.

For the packaging, it comes in a plastic encased by cardboard. It is sealed very well and there really is no elegant way to open it other then just cutting right through the middle of the package. Upon taking it out, it has a high quality feel as expected from Victorinox knives. Also as expected, the hinges have fresh oil so you may want to get a cloth or paper towel to wipe off the excess oil.

For the tools included, the Classic SD has a knife, scissors, flathead screwdriver/file, tweezers, and toothpick. Given the small size of the casing, the individual tools are also very small.

The knife is about 1.25 inches in length with a height of about a 1/4th of an inch. It is sharp and can cut small things but you will have to be very careful as there is not a lot to hold onto and with a blade that does not lock, you have to make sure your fingers are never in the folding path of the knife.

The scissors works well, but are also very small so you may find it takes a few extra cut motions to get through what you are trying to cut. The screwdriver is a nice feature to have as well and I find it doubles as a general tool that can be used to scrap surfaces if needed.

The toothpick and tweezers are the 2 items that are actually the same size as in other Swiss Army knives. They are both handy to have and do not take up much room.

I tested it out on a keychain and overall it was not bad in terms of adding extra bulk and weight. I also tried carrying it in the small 5th pocket of a pair of jeans. I found it fits very well in a small pocket like this and I prefer this method vs adding it to a keychain. Also it will help protect the finish when stored in a pocket vs being next to a bunch of keys that can scratch the finish.

Overall it is a pretty nifty tool to have especially for the small size. They are available in many different colors and are priced around $15 so they are quite affordable. If you are looking for a useful tool that does not take up much space and can be taken with you on the go, I recommend checking out the Victorinox Classic SD.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Does perception of time go faster as we get older?

Have you ever felt like the years go by a lot faster these days compared to when you were younger? When we were kids, it seemed like the years would take forever to go by, but as an adult, they tend to fly by before we know it. It got me thinking, does our perception of time go faster as we get older?

Here is a little experiment I tried, and you can try too. First, get a timer. You can pull one up with a quick Google search or on your phone. Without looking at it, start the timer and then count for 60 seconds or 1 minute. Then stop the timer when you think 60 seconds have passed. Check to see if the time went by faster or slower than you thought.

When compared my count to the actual time of seconds, I found that real life seconds were going by a lot faster than I thought. I was surprised as it seemed like seconds were moving almost twice as fast as I remembered. This means time is going by faster than I thought.

I did a little searching and there are some more articles out there about this same issue of time speeding up as we get older. One of the theories is that as we get older, each year is a smaller percentage of our overall life. For example, when you are 10 years old, a year seems like a lot because it is 1/10 of your life experience so far. Compare that to when you are 50 for example, 1 year is just 1/50 of your life so far, so it is a much smaller percentage.

Another theory is that as we get older, our life experiences become less eventful and more routine. For example when we are kids, everything is new so there are a lot of new memorable experiences, but as an older person, chances are each year is relatively similar in terms of life experience. This may lead to the years kind of blending together which may make them feel like they are going by faster.

There is also physical age vs how old you feel. I find, I feel younger than my actual age. This feeling may also have an effect because if you feel a certain age but then get a reality check of your actual age, you may realize how fast time has gone by.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you feel like time goes by faster now compared to when you were younger?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Restaurants unwrapping and leaving paper on the end of a straw?

Have you noticed when you order a drink, some restaurants will present you with the drink that has a straw partially unwrapped with the paper still on the top of it? Some may think this is a way to show that the top of the straw has not been touched in an effort to be more sanitary, but what about the rest of the straw?

I would guess if someone is partially unwrapping straws, there is a good chance they are handling the open part of the straw which kind of defeats the purpose of leaving the paper on the top of it. Maybe if they are very careful, they are able to unwrap it while only holding the covered part, but personally I would rather have the straw intact with the full wrapper to be safe.

The partial unwrapping seems like an unnecessary effort that really does not have any benefit. For the most sanitary option, the full straw should be left covered, not just the top portion.

What are your thoughts on this practice of restaurants leaving the paper on the end of a straw?

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. 

Update: I seem to have fixed the issue where it was booting up from sleep and shutting down by itself. Here is an overview of how this was fixed. 

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.

Update: It has been a couple months and I still feel that they should have picked someone else to be co-host. This was very apparent the past 2 weeks where the first week Ryan was hosting with guest co-hosts and the next week Kelly was hosting with guest co-hosts. The week where it was just Ryan, I found myself thinking, "Why am I even watching this?" Then the next week when Kelly came back and had different co-hosts, it was like energy and excitement had been restored to the show. I will still tune in here and there, but I hope some changes are on the way to bring the show back to how it was.

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.