9 Tech Gifts to Avoid

Sometimes, gift-giving can cause you as much anxiety as good cheer. For the most part, the anxiety manifests when it’s time to give out all of the gifts — after all, everyone likes to receive something, and most people like to give. But how do you know if you should give what you can afford, and if it will be good enough to convey good wishes?

When it comes to tech, for example, can you afford to get multiple people a game console? Are digital photo frames still en vogue? Although it’s the thought that counts, we think it’s still better to avoid certain gifts that might have been marketed elsewhere as good. Without further ado, here are almost two handfuls of tech gifts that you should pan.

1. Computers with Just the Basics

We felt the need to put this one first, because of the sheer popularity of computer deals that crop up once the holidays roll around. Obviously, you know just how essential a computer is in the modern environment, so this prohibition might at first seem curious to you. The problem is not with the computers, themselves, it’s the starting level that’s advertised as a steal. Computers with basic specs are all but useless for anyone who wants more than a word processor; 4GB of RAM limits the number of tabs you can have opened and still expect to work without lag. Always opt for at least one level above the entry specs when buying a computer for someone.

2. Virtual Reality Headsets for a Smartphone

This is a no-no; the cheap VR sets are the perfect example of the old adage “you get what you pay for.” If you want VR, then opt for the high-end ones such as Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, or the Playstation VR. The cheap brands are simply taking advantage of the novelty of VR — don’t get caught in their snare.

3. Generic Smart Home Devices

This isn’t merely a quality issue — it’s also a safety issue. You do not want to risk the shoddy internet security of generic smart home devices; hackers have little trouble getting on those networks. You also want to go with a highly-regarded company in the event of power outages, so that you can recover your information easily on their robust servers and their customer support. Basically, then, avoid the startups and go with Google, Amazon, Nest, or Wink.

4. Headphones By Celebrities

Although these may not lack quality, make no mistake — it is you the consumer who is footing the bill for the celebrity to add her name to the product. You can ALWAYS get a better deal with headphones that work as well or better. Go with the tech company that is well-known for this kind of thing. Beats by Dre from Apple is an exception — but it’s just about the only one.

5. Digital Frames for Pictures

These sound like a good idea for a gift — until you realize that they come with almost no storage and bad software. Like with celebrity-endorsed headphones, go with brand name smart home devices such as Google’s Home Hub, a Lenovo Smart Display, or an Echo Snow.

6. Premium Cables

This refers to those gold-tinged HDMI cables with name brands; they are worth the marked-up price. Go with value brands instead — cables don’t have to have Amazon or SONY on them to perform their straightforward functions.

7. Electric Scooters and Skateboards

For these gifts, always go with the time-tested, popular brand. You cannot risk a battery failure with a substandard brand on a toy like this; many of them have been known to catch fire mid-ride. Go with Segway, Boosted Boards, or Acton because they go the extra mile in order to compete. This is why the price point is higher.

8. Cameras With Point-and-Shoot Options

First of all, in the days of multiple-megapixel smartphones and tablets, does any amateur actually need a camera at all? Especially if you have a late generation iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S9 series or Google Pixel — these blow those little $100 point and shoot cameras right out of the water. Simply put, cameras all by themselves are a thing of the past. These days, it only makes sense for professional photographers to invest in one.

9. Drones

This is a popular gift for teenagers and adults; but they suffer seriously restrictions within city limits. You cannot just fly one willy-nilly. Even so, most of the drones on the market are pretty bad when it comes to battery life, range and shoddy Wi-Fi connection. You have to go with a brand name here — such as the Mavic Pro or DJI — if you even want a sniff at a capable, intelligent drone. Even so, it will cost you. Generally, avoid drones as a gift.

Read More

The Essential Guide To Getting Kids Away From The Screens

With the dawn of tablets, laptops, smartphones and video consoles, it can seem more difficult than ever to tear our kids away from the screens. The lure of bright lights, nifty graphics and interactivity is addictive for adults and children alike. However, while we like to think of ourselves as sensible and responsible, and able to tear ourselves away to complete other tasks, little human beings are less likely to do so. Given half a chance your rabble will probably spend the entire weekend glued to their Xbox playing the latest shoot ‘em up with so called friends from halfway across the globe. Gaming, screens and being cooped up all day indoors is addictive.

It can be hard to break the screen time habit. Even when the sun is shining, the weather is hot, and the outdoors are screaming to be enjoyed, kids will very often choose to park themselves three feet away from a television screen. Instead, you need to be proactive and think of strategies that will promote a more active lifestyle for your little darlings. Take a look at this essential guide to help get your kids away from the screens and doing something more productive with their time.

Get Outdoors

Kids love getting attention from their parents. This can be true of positive and negative attention. Of course, you want to make the removal of screen time a positive experience, so you need to encourage your little ones to ditch the gaming for something more engaging. You want to promote quality family time so make sure that you are free at the weekends. The very fact that you are available to kick a ball around in the park with your offspring will fill your kids with joy. Whip out the bikes and head off for a ride around the local vicinity stopping off at the park. You might even want to take a picnic or head down with a disposable barbecue. This simple, free and more active way of living is just what your kids need – they simply need an adult to guide them.

Combine Some Tech With Outside

If a barbecue isn’t floating your kids’ boat, why not coax them outdoors with a smattering of tech? Hoverboards and drones are futuristic bits of kit that have become all the range. Check out the basic hoverboard price and pick up a couple for your cherubs. With any luck they will adore becoming an expert on them, learning tricks and racing one another around the park.

Alternatively, you could invest in a drone. These amazing flying hydrofoil quadcopters look like something out of a sci-fi film and are really a step up from the old school remote control car. With a lot of practice, your kids could be taking the drone for a spin and recording a birds eye view of the flight path. They can then head back indoors for some (controlled) screen time to see the images and video that they have captured.

Craft

While it’s great to head outside, sometimes it’s too wet, windy or cold to venture down to the park. Instead, you need an activity to excite your kids and get them away from their social media feeds. Get creative, but do it together. Being involved will instinctively interest your children. They want to spend time with dad and mom so invite them to cook with you, paint pictures or do some mosaic work. If there’s a party coming up, or you simply feel like a lovely dessert that evening, get baking. You can do this from scratch, or you can pick up plenty of packet mixes from the grocery store. With a little bit of creative flair, you could have a three tier carrot cake, or gateau whipped up in no time.

If your kids adore art and technology, get out the lego and set some challenges. Who can make the strongest bridge or the largest tower or the coolest looking spaceship? Lego has been around for decades, and everyone has a tub in their cupboard so get it out on a rainy day.

Board Games

There’s nothing better than getting out Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders and having a marathon board game session with the kids. Games like Twister can also be fun if you’re supple and don’t mind getting down on the floor! The TV is off, some music is playing, and there’s not a screen in sight; there’s just you, your kids, maybe the family pet and some quality family time to be enjoyed.

Ensure that you encourage good games manners and don’t cheat. Seeing how your kids play a board game or two can really tell you a lot about their attitude and temperament. Make it fun, have some snacks and chat. When everyone has their head in a smartphone, the art of family conversation is lost.

Draw Up A Charter

If you are expecting your kids to limit their screen time, then it’s only fair that you do the same. If you are telling your kids to get some fresh air and hot foot it to the park, but you are staying behind to watch your favorite movie, download some games or check your Facebook feed, this isn’t fair, and your kids will begin to resent you. Set up a formal contract and sign it and put it on the fridge. It shouldn’t be unrealistic but should set out some screen time ground rules, such as no screen time after 8 pm, homework always comes first, and smartphone usage is for one hour a day maximum. If you are all in it together, you can support one another in seeking out alternative forms of entertainment.

Being a parent isn’t an easy job, but it seems even more difficult since the emergence of technology and interconnectivity. Follow this guide and try to encourage your kids to venture outside of their screen cocooned comfort zones. With any luck, you will have enhanced quality family time because of your efforts.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

Read More

We Love These Home Upgrades!

You should always be thinking about the different ways that you can upgrade your home in our opinion. There’s just so much you can do to try and improve it on a day to day basis, but we bet you’re put off the idea purely down to the fact you feel like it’s a hell of a lot of effort. We think this is without a doubt the main reason why people don’t do anything to their home for so long, yet there are so many wonderful home upgrades that you can actually do. All you have to do is have a little bit of motivation to want to do them, and a little bit of a DIY head on you. But if you’re not sure what type of home upgrades you’ll going to need, or even where to start, you’re reading the right article. We love DIY and what it can do to your home, and even if you don’t do it yourself, there are still some fab home upgrades below that we think you should try and put in your home!

Image Source

 

The Simpler Things

There are some simple things that you can do to your home that will really make a difference. For one, you can think about all of the accessories and fun things that your home might be lacking, that will definitely add a bit of character. One we bet you haven’t thought of before, is a real life games machine like you would find in the arcades. They’re so much fun to have in your home, and even bring that vintage sort of vibe that you might have been missing up until now. Pinball is just one machine that you could get, and we guarantee it’ll transport you back to your younger years, and give you endless hours of fun in your home. Of course, there are plenty of other lovely home accessories that we think you’ll benefit from, and you can find plenty inspiration for those if you visit websites such as Pinterest.

The Bigger Projects

If you know your home needs something a little more substantial, then it is time to don your scruffs and get to work. A substantial change that you can make to your home without having to bring in professional, is a complete redecorate of a room, and we think it’s about time your bedroom had some TLC. Take down the wallpaper, or sand off the paint, and think about the colour scheme that you would like. White and grey is all the rage still, and it’s so easy to make a bedroom look super sophisticated by using it. It’s easy enough to decorate, you just have to take your time to make sure you’re doing it properly.

Making Sure You DIY Properly

Now.. we just said to make sure you’re doing it properly, and if you’ve never done it before, you might not know what properly is. Our best advice would be to watch some Youtube tutorials, or bring in family help to guide you. There will no doubt be an experiences decorator in your home that can guide you, but if not Youtube should do a fantastic job.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

Read More

The Most Comical, Incredible, Worrying Car Crashes In Movie History

While there’s nothing amusing about car crashes in the real world, if choreographed in an intense, insane manner on the big screen, they do have a certain explosive charm. Of course, in an intense drama, a car crash is a much different affair than a car crash in a movie featuring Jason Statham or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Movie car crashes can be entertaining because they often punctuate a car chase, and thus all the cathartic, intense energy is released through that intense twisting of metal, and often a fiery explosion. We enjoy seeing things on the silver screen, because we know in real life events like that would have a very different subtext.

However, this is all blindingly obvious. Instead of further exploring obvious statements, let us get to the meat of the article. If you’re looking for some high-octane and thrilling viewing pleasure this weekend.

The Matrix Reloaded

Any car crash that happens in the Matrix is relatively worry-free, because we know it as a synthetic world of no real consequence. However, the stakes our much different for Trinity, as she bounds from car roof to car roof whilst flipping off her motorcycle. This scene is of course punctuated by a fight on the top of a semi truck. Another is commandeered by an Agent, the villains of the piece, and is driven headlong in the opposite direction, effectively bring the most bombastic game of ‘chicken’ we’ve ever seen in theatres. As the two trucks collide, a sonic boom explodes, and debris flies everywhere. Certainly one for the movie history books.

Mad Max – Fury Road

Perhaps the most engaging part of Max Max’s bombastic road-terror is that it’s hard to imagine ourselves in that situation. That means the movie can be as insane as it likes without asking an audience to swallow the hardship of seeing themselves in that environment. In this movie, Tom Hardy drives through tornado winds in order to lose the procession of chasing vehicles behind him. The large, monster-truck like vehicles grind and knock into each other with abandon, but as some enter the hurricane level winds, they fly into the air, in a crazy kaleidoscope of churning metal. It’s this image that was perhaps one of the most memorable of 2015.

Die Hard 4

Die Hard isn’t known for its heavy realism either, but it’s perhaps the most believable world in this list (and that’s saying something.) As Bruce Willis attempts to cross the city in search of his goal, and with the entire corrupt police force on him, he decides to drive a police vehicle in the middle of an underground tunnel tolling booth, effectively using the raised barrier metal tracks to launch the vehicle in the air (but not before bailing out,) into the unwelcome reception of a search helicopter. Even the best road accident lawyers such as Gray And White Law might have trouble defending him for that one, but they’d certainly give it a try. It was a bold move, and it seemed to pay off. Thank goodness for our Bruce.

We hope this list has inspired you to watch a range of entertaining movies guilt-free this weekend.

Read More