Smart Watches – What Are Your Options?

Smartwatches are getting more and more mainstream these days.  With prices coming down and more options to be had, I have noticed more people sporting this wearable tech.  Smartwatches pair with your phone, and so the phone you have is pretty much the base starting point as to what your best options are for a smartwatch purchase.

Phone Specific

If you have an iPhone then you can still use Androidwear watches.  Thanks to the advent of Androidwear 2.0, the compatibility with the iPhone has been greatly improved.  However, there are still some limitations, thanks in part to Apple’s shitty attitude towards working with any other companies.  This is annoying, however Androidwear has workarounds to deal with these issues.  You will not be able to take calls on your watch nor reply to iMessages.  This is annoying but not necessarily a dealbreaker.

Can Androidwear Work?

The best part about Androidwear watches is that you have so much more variety to choose from.  From surf and snow smartwatches (check out the review of the Nixon Mission here) to more stylish watches such as those from Fossil, you can get a smartwatch that suits your personality and goals.  There are also fitness-centric smartwatches from Garmin that track your every movement and detail.

Of course, if you have an Android phone then you’ll have more in the way of usability.

Apple Watch Pros And Cons

The Apple Watch has come a long way and the Apple Watch 3 is awesome, especially the one with LTE connection – you can take calls and answer texts right from the watch.  The Hey Siri functionality has been reported to be even better on the watch than on the phone.

Of course since it’s within Apple’s “ecosystem” it will work a bit better with the iPhone than Androidwear watches will.  However, the Apple Watch aesthetic is not for everyone.  With only one style (square) to choose from, it’s pretty plain and everyone has the same one.  For me personally this has been a big reason that I haven’t gotten one yet, opting instead for the Nixon Mission Androidwear watch.

Personal Considerations

There are also other considerations when choosing a smartwatch.  You have to think about what you want the watch for – do you want to remain connected to your texts and calls?  Or do you want to track fitness?  Do you not care if you can’t respond to notificiations on your watch?  Is style more of an issue to you?

These are the important questions that anyone getting a smartwatch must answer for themselves.

Personally I don’t necessarily need to be constantly at everyone’s beck and call.  I do like receiving notifications on my watch, however I am glad that I really don’t have to reply on my watch right away.

And again, the style and monotony of the Apple Watch is a huge turnoff for me.

Wolves In Danger

Once considered a modern scourge, wolves are now under protection efforts by national societies aiming to reintroduce them to their normal ranges and preserve their numbers.  Human encroachment on their habitats is a big problem now, and hunting them has become in vogue.

But wolves are a hugely important part of our natural ecosystem, not to mention the fact that they are a beautiful creature that deserves to be protected.

Under legal protection, wolf numbers in northeastern Minnesota began to increase. At the same time, the wolf began to reoccupy other parts of its former range. Wolves are now present in all areas of presumed suitable habitat in Minnesota and are extending into areas previously thought unsuitable. They are now resident in about the one-third of the State. Additionally, wolves have moved back into Wisconsin and Michigan, and occasional dispersing wolves are detected in both North and South Dakota.

In addition to providing protection, the ESA required that a recovery plan be developed. The goal of the plan was to identify conservation actions needed to establish a viable wolf population that would no longer need ESA protection. The development of the plan was a significant strategy in itself because it focused time, money, and energy on the most important conservation actions. Critical tasks identified in the recovery plan included increasing public education programs on wolf ecology and restoration; monitoring wolf populations, habitat conditions, and prey base; maintaining suitable habitat and prey populations; and minimizing losses of domestic animals from wolf predation.

Research and monitoring were high priority recovery actions because an understanding of wolf ecology, population dynamics, and factors affecting range restriction and mortality were necessary to develop management strategies and to determine if they are working. During the monitoring studies, scientists documented the population increase and range expansion that occurred after 1973. They also observed responses to population changes in the wolf’s prey base (principally deer). Additionally, researchers once thought that road density was a major factor in regulating population size and range, but monitoring showed that it is not as important as once believed. Researchers have also been surprised that the wolf has expanded into areas more populated and developed than many biologists would have expected. Thus, the wolf has shown that it is not strictly a wilderness species. This information is obviously necessary to formulate sound management plans, but it is also useful for the next important strategy: public education.

A strong public education program was identified as an important recovery action, and it is easy to see why. Many people have strong emotional feelings about wolves but lack an ecological understanding of this animal. Groups representing each side in the wolf debate disseminate a great deal of information about wolves, much of it misleading or false. The recovery plan recognized that a factual public education program to explain wolf ecology and management was important so that the public could understand the role of the wolf in its ecosystem, the wolf restoration process, and wolf management options.

As part of a wolf public education program, the FWS funded the Science Museum of Minnesota’s “Wolves and Humans” exhibit that was displayed across the country and is now permanently housed at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota. The center itself, designed to house the exhibit and other wolf education activities, also publishes and distributes its own magazine, International Wolf Additionally, the FWS purchased “wolf trunks,” or containers that include teaching curricula and props such as a wolf pelt, skulls of carnivores and herbivores, and casts of animal tracks. Workshops were held to instruct teachers on how to use the trunks to educate school children about wolf ecology. The trunks have been in wide circulation in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The FWS has also prepared wolf fact sheets and submitted educational articles to magazines such as Ranger Rick and National Wildlife.

Mitchell, Kim. “The Act of Saving the Wolf.” Endangered Species Bulletin, Mar. 1998, p. 14.


I’ve long been a fan of wolves, if you couldn’t tell by my choice of jewelry (my favorite wolf necklace is something I wear almost daily) and clothing.  I think that they are spectacular and majestic creatures that deserve our respect.  They are mythologized well enough and I think that even things like Twilight and the enamor people have with werewolves is only going to help them.


Tips To Easily Learn A New Language

languagelearningLearning a new language is definitely fun. Being able to speak two or more languages is a great achievement that you can be proud of. There are also many benefits that you can get after learning a new language. Your communication, speaking and memory skills are just some of the things that you will develop in the process of learning a language. Below is the list of the best tips that you can use to easily learn a new language.

1. Know the reason why you want to learn a new language.

Knowing the reason why you want to learn a new language is something that you should really think of. Being able to know your real reason why you want to learn a new language is essential for you to be motivated when you are already in the process of learning the language. Some languages are really hard to learn so you really need to keep your motivation with you when you really want to learn the language.

2. Get a partner.

Getting a partner who will either learn the language with you or personally teach you the language will make the learning process easier. Also, you can easily practice the things that you’ve learned through having a conversation with your partner. Your ability to memorize and familiarize yourself to the language will easily be developed if you have a partner who will support you during the process. But if you really can’t find a partner, then you can just rely on a language learning software that can also help you in learning the language.

3. Talk to yourself using the new language that you are learning.

Talking to yourself might sound crazy but it really helps when you want to easily learn a new language. By talking to yourself several times a day, you will be able to repeatedly practice the new words, phrases and sentences that you’ve learned. Talking to yourself will also lessen the time for you to practice the language with your mentor since you are already practicing by yourself. Also, a lot of people said that it is really the trick of talking to themselves that helped them learn the language easily and quickly.

4. Have fun with the new language.

Having fun is also useful when you want to learn a new language. You can do fun things like watching movies, reading books and watching plays that are all using the new language that you are learning. Doing the fun things with the new language can also be considered as a way of practicing the language.

5.  Try out some language learning software.

There are a ton of great language learning software programs out there on the market.  These can easily help you to get a leg up on learning – they are excellent at simulating “immersion” and they can give you some structure if you’re a do it yourself-er and you’re not taking classes in a school somewhere.  Some of the best language learning software programs are Rocket Languages as well as Rosetta Stone.  We prefer Rocket Languages but both have their pros and cons.  The best way to decide is to read a few reviews and decide which fits your learning style the best.

6. Study hard and write down everything that you think will help you learn the language easily.

Studying hard is of course necessary for you to be successful in learning the language that you want. Do your best and be serious when it is time to study. Do your work and make sure to study at least one hour a day. Also, write down everything that you think will help you learn the language easily.

Indeed, there are many tips that can help you learn a new language easily. So use the tips above now and be amazed by how much easier it will be to learn a new language!

Speedy PC Pro Review

Computers are so notorious for slowing down.  There are many reasons this can happen, but the most common cause of computer sluggishness is the slow buildup over time of software and files.  Although one could conceivably clean out their computer themselves, the thought is never very appealing.  Plus, who has the time to dig through all the file systems and software to see what can be thrown out, what are duplicates, and what is no longer needed?  Plus, many people just don’t have the knowledge necessary to safely tune up their PCs.

This is where software such as Speedy PC Pro comes in.  This software program makes it easy to tune up your computer in just a few clicks so that it is running just as fast as the day you bought it.  How does this program stack up, however, and does it work?  Check out this Speedy PC Pro review to find out!


Speedy PC Pro is a very simple program.  This is great for people that aren’t used to running utility software.  It’s created for the general computer user or layperson, and everything is very easy to understand.  The software interface itself is colorful, easy to read, and everything is laid out in a very straightforward manner.


The meat of the program lies in the initial scan.  The software will run a scan and do a standard tuneup check to see if you have excess files you can get rid of.

There are several components to the scan:

  • Registry cleaning – gets rid of excess and old/broken registry entries
  • Improve PC boot and startup time by helping you to prevent certain programs from loading upon startup
  • Gets rid of “private” files such as browser histories and search histories
  • Stops ongoing and unwanted processes and alerts you to processes that are going on that might be hogging memory
  • Gets rid of toolbars and addons that might be attached to your browsers
  • Easy to access defrag tool to help you defragment your hard disk
  • Custom restore point manager
  • Finds software to help you open unknown files extensions.

When you run the scan you can choose whether or not to run a certain process.  For example, if you don’t want the software to clean your registry this time you can opt out.

All The Tools

The basic scan will do a cursory check of the obvious trouble points such as the registry, duplicate files, and old browser history files.  This is pretty fast and easy.  The rest of the tools such as the defrag tool and the file extension finder are located in a toolbox within the program.

The defrag tool, for example, can speed up your computer quite a bit by combining pieces of files so that they are all together.  You see, your computer will store files in “pieces” all over the hard drive wherever it can find space.  Each piece of the file has pointer information to the other pieces.  Defragging takes all these pieces of files and puts them together again on the disk so that everything is more organized.  Your computer will run much faster if it’s not constantly piecing things together.


This software is truly an “all around” utility that can help you to easily and quickly tune up your computer.  Many people aren’t even aware of things such as defragging, and this tool can help them to get the most out of an older computer.  Check it out if you want to restore your PC to working order.

Strategies For A Well Working Computer

cleanupcomputerIf you’re using your personal computer to code, then you definitely know that you want it to be running fast and furious.  There are a number of different things that can case a computer to slow down, crash, and act weird.  Even if you’re very computer savvy bad things can still happen to good people.

The best strategies to keep your computer running smoothly are to prevent the “bad” things from happening – namely by backing up your data often, not downloading a lot of junk files and installing weird software, and also installing protective antivirus and anti-malware software.

I personally use Norton 360 on my computers.  I have been with them for a while and I like the way that Norton 360 is basically unobtrusive.  I haven’t had too many problems with it and it usually stops the bad stuff from getting on my computer.  There is a free trial if you want to take it for a test drive.

Another software program I use that’s very good is Spyhunter 4, which enabled me to get rid of a very annoying malware/adware program from my computer called “Conduit” which took over my browser.  I probably could have removed it by hand, but I honestly did not have time to do so and I needed this thing gone for security reasons.  Spyhunter is easy to use and very effective at what it does.  You can check out an article about it here.

In order to adequately ensure the safety of your computer files you must set up a good backup procedure.  I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me where I lose files due to a hardware failure or some other problem.  However I’ve started to use online backups to ensure that there’s always a backup somewhere even if I forget to make a local backup onto a hard drive.  This happened recently where I had been lazy and hadn’t backed everything up to a hard drive in a while and my hard drive broke!  I was in the middle of a video editing project for a client and boy did I have a panic attack.  But thankfully I had always been running Backblaze in the background and all my files were backed up to their servers (thankfully!).

Of course as seasoned computer professionals you don’t need me to tell you that you should try not to install software unless you absolutely need it.  So don’t go downloading any “freebies” from those download sites, no matter how tempted you become.  Also, try to stick to safe internet neighborhoods and don’t browse adult or hacking sites.

If you find that you computer is slow because it’s bogged down by a lot of extra files then a quick run of CCleaner or PC Health Advisor is a great idea.  You should also think about uninstalling any unnecessary software programs that might be loading during startup.  You can prevent these programs from starting when you boot your machine, or you can uninstall them completely if you don’t need them.



Amazon Echo: Your New Best Friend?

amazonechoAt first you may think it’s a tall thermos or a regular Bluetooth speaker— but this sleek black cylinder is so much more. Amazon Echo is a home automation controller, a cloud-connected smart device, and an electronic companion that you’ll enjoy using.

The Look

It’s about 9.25 inches high and 3.27 in circumference. You can stick it almost anywhere— on a shelf, beside the TV, on the coffee table. Near the top of the unit is the volume control, but with the included remote and voice controls for volume, you may never have to touch it. On the top side are the microphone and action buttons.

The Lights

Want to know if Echo is active or not? Check the ring around the top. If it’s glowing, you are currently in control of Echo. If it’s unlit, Echo is currently dormant. In most settings, Echo responds to the direction of your voice by lighting up more intensely in that spot.

The App

To set up the Echo, just download the app. It walks you through the easy steps. After you link Echo to your Wi-Fi, you don’t even need your phone, your tablet, or the remote in order to use it.

The Voice

Now for the fun part. You get to talk to Alexa, the operating system voice of Echo. According to users and reviewers, Alexa’s smooth tones sound more human and natural than Siri’s. Generally, owners find that Alexa understands them very well and that errors are few and far between. No need to say “Alexa,” and then wait for the device to wake up; you can pose your question immediately after saying her name. “Alexa, what’s the weather?” “Alexa, how is traffic?” And she can hear you from all the way across the room.

The Drawbacks

Alexa isn’t Google or Siri, however. You can’t say “Alexa, what is a metronome?” You need to be more specific, as in “Alexa, Wikipedia metronome.” Also, Alexa can’t pull up your messages or emails, although she does have access to your Google calendar. You cannot add appointments, but you can make notes or lists using Echo’s list feature and then access that information through your Echo app.

The Potential

Alexa sets alarms, pulls up audiobooks instantly, offers news, weather, traffic updates, and sports scores. She accesses your own music as well as Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, TuneIn, and similar stations. The music quality is excellent, with Echo projecting sound throughout the whole room.

Interested in controlling your home’s switches and lights? If you have those connected devices, Echo works with systems like Wink, Belkin WeMo, and Philips hue to give you voice control. Imagine saying, “Alexa, turn off the kitchen light,” and watching it happen from your comfy seat on the couch.

The Future

Amazon plans to expand Echo’s features and abilities in the future. With such a strong start, it’s easy to see how Echo and similar devices could become common, much-loved staples of the modern American homes.