MASSAGE GUN GETS A THUMBS UP

I asked a friend who has arthritis in his hands and feet to test a cordless massage gun. He gave it a pleasantly-massaged thumbs-up. A good massage increases circulation, decreases pain and removes stiffness. My friend reported back: “The Merach Pocket Nano Massage Gun is better than my Wahl Heat Therapy Therapeutic Massager, with one caveat. The hard plastic tips work well enough on muscles and fleshy parts, but pose a problem for bony parts. For instance, I usually run my massager over the tops of my hands. With this, I can only comfortably do my palms.” But it turned out that massaging the palms worked its magic all the way through to the bony parts as well. It also […]

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PLAN TO LOSE YOUR PHONE

I was strolling in Chicago when my phone fell out of my bag somewhere along the river walk. I was notified by email right away. Wow. “I hope you get this,” the email said. “My wife found your phone downtown. We left it with the front desk person at Boeing.” I was mystified. How did he get my email address? It was simple. I’d allowed notifications for important messages to be displayed on my Android phone’s lock screen. My email address was listed at the top. I was lucky the phone hadn’t run out of juice and was still showing notifications. The couple who found it had tried calling me first, only to discover I hadn’t entered any contact info […]

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KID PHONE

My neighbor’s ten year-old won’t get her first smartphone until high school. Unless her parents change their mind when they see my “Gabb Z2.” The Gabb, sent to me for review from GabbWireless.com, is designed to be non-addicting. Its basic functions are text messaging and phone calls. Or you can enjoy pictures, videos and music transferred from a computer. There’s no Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, web searching or games. The Gabb Z2 is an $80 ZTE Android phone with a $20-a-month unlimited talk and text plan. It has a few basic apps, like FM radio, but there’s no app store. A new “Find your phone” app for the parents’ phone allows the Gabb to be traced.  The Gabb’s battery is great. […]

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SKIN CANCER APP HELPS DETECT SKIN CANCER

Growing up in Southern California, I never drove if I could walk, ride a bike or row a boat. Now my skin is paying for it. But a new app may save me. “Mii Skin” can check for skin cancer, when you feel like postponing a visit to the dermatologist. Due to the pandemic, skin care screenings are down 90 percent, according to USA Today. Mii Skin Premium, for $25 a year, lets you take a picture of an area, then wait to see if the suspicious spots it flagged have morphed over a 30-day period. If so, it could be a sign of skin cancer. Fortunately, there’s a 30-day free trial. Unfortunately, the free version only lets you keep […]

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SMARTPHONE PLANS FOR THE FRUGAL

My frugal sister will get her first smartphone when her flip phone runs out of minutes, 45 minutes from now.  That may take a while. She doesn’t make many calls on it. In the meantime, her friends keep saying: “What?” The sound quality is dreadful. I suggested the Pixel 4a for $349 with “Google Fi” cell service for $20 a month for unlimited talk and text, not counting whatever data you use. But a friend’s deal may be better. She went with Consumer Cellular’s iPhone SE for $250. Consumer Cellular is known for their friendly tech support, especially for seniors. The monthly cost is lower than Google’s “Fi” service if you use more than 500 megabytes worth of data per […]

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A SECOND LOOK AT AMAZON HALO WEARABLE

Amazon Halo, the new Fitbit-type wearable I wrote about it last time, is even weirder than I thought. But I like it.  Halo’s voice analysis can pinpoint my moods to the very second, telling me when I sound delighted, amused, shy, and so on. (I’ve yet to sound angry even once in over three weeks.) For example, it said I was  “miserable” at 11:10 a.m., but “happy” exactly two seconds later. If you want to improve your tone, the app has video challenges for that. For instance, a four-time martial arts champion and yoga expert guides you in warm-ups for powerful public speaking. You can turn off the mike if you don’t want your tone analyzed. Speech samples are processed […]

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SLEEP TRACKER KEEPS ME UP ALL NIGHT

My first night with Amazon’s $65 “Halo” fitness band was hilarious. I kept waking up to see if I could improve my sleep score. I couldn’t stand to see a “poor” grade. I kept trying to go back to sleep until I got a “fair.” The next night, my sleep score went up to “good,” with eight hours and six minutes of sleep but slightly less rapid-eye-movement than ideal. It also told me how long I took to fall asleep. Last night, it was zero minutes, compared to 14 the night before. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. The funniest thing happened when I took a nap. The app changed my score to “poor” and […]

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PRINTER PROBLEMS

Over the years, companies have sent Bob Schwabach and me a lot of printers for review. We once lined up six of them and they were all clogged. After hearing from readers on this topic, I’m tempted to start a Cloggers Anonymous. “My sister has an Epson XP-446 that seems to have been clogging up since just after she bought it,” one guy wrote. “She doesn’t print much and suspects the printheads are clogging between uses. Is it worth buying the $25 kit to clean the heads or should I just get her a new printer? I am concerned it will just clog up again.” “You probably don’t need a new printer or a cleaning kit,” I told him. “You […]

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BYE BYE ROBOT VACUUM

When a young relative gave me a robot vacuum last Christmas, I got excited. Sure, it wasn’t a Roomba, only a $140 knock-off. But it jump-started my vacuum adventure. The “LeFant 300 M” robot did a great job, but I had to babysit it. It would go back and forth, practically on the same path, on a faux Persian rug from Home Depot, though it did better on wall-to-wall carpet. After awhile, I got bored and left the room. That’s when disaster struck. It made a beeline for the strings that pull up the blinds. After having a good chew, it burned itself out. I could still start it up, but after a few seconds it would stop and bleat […]

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NOT READY TO CUT THE CORD? THEN AT LEAST PAY LESS

Every year I consider dropping cable TV. Then I call AT&T and they offer me a deal. Using an ace negotiating technique — I simply ask– I got the bill down from $165 to $90  before it rose again. The discount ends every year if I don’t call to renew it. So this time I told AT&T: “ I don’t need cable; I have Amazon Prime and Netflix.” (If I miss “60 Minutes,” I’ll put rabbit ears on the set.)  AT&T offered me Internet-only service for $40 a month with a 1024 gigabyte limit. Is 1024 gigabytes enough? Currently, I’m averaging only 50 GB a month. What if I become a movie maniac? That’s OK too. A high-definition movie uses […]

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