POWER PLATE EXERCISE SHAKES UP ROUTINE

​It’s hard to resist exercise tech. I’m talking about a $1,495 vibrating machine called “Power Plate.” My sister uses one with her personal trainer to help reverse her osteoporosis. It’s become my personal go-go-dancing platform and a fun way to exercise. The app offers a ton of workout videos and so does YouTube. But it’s so powerful, you’re not supposed to  use it more than three times a week.  The first time I stepped onto it, my whole body vibrated, even my head. To avoid head vibration, I now keep my knees bent. It’s a lot more powerful than the vintage vibrating belt my aunt used. Back in the day, my sister and I cracked up when the belt vibrated […]

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GOOGLE MAPS LETS YOUR FRIENDS SEE INSIDE THE BUILDINGS YOU’RE IN

You probably know about “Street View” in Google Maps. But did you know that you can see inside the buildings your friends are in, if they’ve turned on “Location Sharing?”  While at home on the East Coast, my friends could see inside my Chicago hotel room, alongside a map pinpointing my exact address.  They could even see my room’s wallpaper and pillows. When I moved to the other side of the room, they saw the couch. When I was at a Cubs game, they could see the seats. At an art museum, they could see the painting I was looking at. But they couldn’t see me in any of the pictures. These interior shots, like Google’s “street view,” were taken […]

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HEY DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR?

I’m horrible at finding a car after I’ve parked it. But one of my friends is even worse. Once, when we couldn’t find hers, we walked all the way back to my place, got in my car, and drove around in circles till we found it. Thankfully, phone apps can help. My favorite is Google Maps. After you park, open the app and tap the blue dot in the middle. You’ll see the option, “save your parking location.” After saving it, you’ll see a red marker and the words: “You parked here.”  When you’re ready to find it, tap the red marker to get directions. Apple fans might prefer the built-in Apple Maps. Just as with Google Maps, tap the […]

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PURE WATER

Getting pure water is a bear. I’ve tried everything. Recently, a company sent me a new reverse osmosis system that sits in a small space on my counter. It’s called “Aquibear.” Before Aquibear, I tried water pitchers with replaceable filters, such as Brita and ZeroWater. My new condo has an LG refrigerator with a filter built in. But none of these things were as good as Aquibear is so far. I know because I tested them. I bought a $15 “HoneForest” water-quality testing stick on Amazon. All I had to do was put the stick in each glass of water I tested and check the digital read-out. A high score means lots of pesticides, parasites, arsenic, lead, microplastics, virus nitrates, […]

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I LEARN TO FLY A MINI DRONE

DJI makes the best drones, according to just about everyone. But who wants to spend a thousand dollars? I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning to become a drone professional. Recently, I borrowed a $31 Holy Stone “HS 210” mini-drone from a friend. It’s astonishingly easy to fly, compared to the last miniature drone I flew. The old quadcopter shot past me like a rocket, banging against every obstacle in my apartment. Not this time. Push a button on the three-inch-by-three-inch flying machine and it launches. Push another and it flies in circles. Push another and it does aerial flips, or lands. Push two buttons —  if it’s about to hit Aunt Sally — and it shuts off […]

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HAVE YOU BEEN ‘FLoCed?’

There have been lots of complaints about Google’s new “FLoC” tracking system. You may be wondering what the fuss is all about. Here it is, in a nutshell.  “FLoC,” which stands for “Federal Learning of Cohorts” replaces third party cookies that track you on the web.  Instead of being followed individually, your anonymous browsing activity gets lumped with thousands of similar users. Then the whole group is given an identifier. For example, if 3,000 users visit a bunch of furniture websites, a group identifier will allow advertisers to send furniture ads their way Despite the complaints, FLoC seems less intrusive than the current system. Significantly, Google says there won’t be any identifiers on sensitive activities. These include searches for personal […]

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NON-FUNGIBLE IS ALL THE RAGE

Did you hear about the New York Times article, still online, that sold for $560,000? How about the digital cat in a pop tart? It sold for $590,000. Or the 5,000 online images that sold for $69 million? They’re part of the brave new world of “Non-Fungible Tokens.”  “Non-fungible” means “can’t be copied, unique,” much like the items on Antiques Roadshow. In the digital world, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are sold in online auctions. If you buy a token, you own a link to a unique piece of digital art, music, video clip or what-have-you. Recently, a video clip of  LeBron James’s basketball dunk was tokenized. The buyer paid over $200,000. Before NFTs, digital files weren’t considered unique because they’re so […]

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BUYING A RENEWED PC

After 11 years, my friend’s computer conked out, due to a hard drive failure. I tried to talk her into replacing it with a refurbished PC. No dice. Her first thought was taking it to a repair shop. Angie’s List said it would cost $300 for the drive and installation.  Not only did that sound like too much, but an 11 year-old all-in-one PC with a bad hard drive is likely to have other problems. So she got an HP Elitedesk 800 G1 desktop, which came with a monitor and mouse for $324 from Walmart. I was glad to see it had eight gigabytes of RAM and an Intel i5 processor. (You can compare processors at CPUboss.com.) Unfortunately, the Elitedesk […]

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NEW PORTABLE POWER BANK SAVES THE DAY

On a recent plane trip, I watched in dismay as the power drained from my phone. By the time I got from Chicago to New Hampshire with a stop in Philly, it was circling the drain.  A portable power bank is the answer. Here are two questions: How fast can it restore a phone to full charge? Does it lose power when not in use? In the past, on the rare occasions when I’ve thought to bring a power bank with me, it turned out it wasn’t charged and I didn’t have time to mess with it. Power banks with lithium ion batteries should retain their power months after they’ve been charged. But some products that claim to have lithium […]

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GETTING TAX PREP HELP

I’ve never done my own taxes. I was always afraid I’d mess up. Yet I’ve known about tax software for years. I met my late husband, Bob Schwabach, when I was in public relations, trying to get him to write about it.  He never did review my rinky-dink client. Having been among the first to write about Intuit, he knew it was best. I’m a convert now. Intuit’s TurboTax website makes it so easy. I went there and clicked  “connect with an expert.” I got a phone call from a folksy guy who drives a school bus. He explained how I could do the taxes myself, paying anywhere from nothing to $170, the filing fee for complex returns. TurboTax reviews […]

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