Thursday, October 31, 2013

Smartphones: Source of Your Stress (Part II)

Have you been quite frazzled about knowing that your phone could be the source of all your stress? You might not notice them right off the bat but once these simple things have accumulated, you’re going to need all your might just to squeeze out that stress through your stress ball. Well, if the previous examples on the part one of this article haven’t sufficed to say that these nifty phones can be the source of all your exhaustion, then here are other situations that could wrap them all at once.

#1: That feeling when you are talking to someone, and he or she is also tapping his or her phone at the same time

using mobile phones
Talking to your friend and tapping on your phone simultaneously? Come on, give me a break. Spending time with your dear ones is your only quality time, why would you even divide it? Although I, myself, am guilty of doing this at times, I try to control myself. I let the person in front of me finish talking first, and I’ll interact as much as I can. Then after that, I’ll excuse myself to check my phone. It’s not that hard, is it? But if you try to be like jack-of-all-trades, talking, eating, and tapping on your smartphone all at once, then this is really something unfavorable. I remember one time, I was talking to a friend when I found out she has her mobile earphones plugged in. Truth be told, I was a bit bummed out. You don’t want to feel that stress, do you?

#2: That feeling when you are away from your phone

stress with smartphones
When you are in a place where phones are restricted, do you feel a bit antsy? The “No Phones Allowed” sign just makes your eyes twitch all the time, doesn’t it? For all you know, that is completely normal—completely normal for people who are addicted to their beloved, nifty smartphones. What about when you hear a speaker saying “Please turn off your cell phones, because the show is about to start.” All nails on the board! Turning your phone off was proven to induce physical and mental withdrawal symptoms according to a study. Thankfully, there is an option for you to just put your phones to silent mode. Or better yet, find a coping mechanism so as to combat the feeling of being anxious. Take a walk for awhile or take a deep breath.

#3: That feeling when you have divided attention in school

How much notes have you taken down than text you sent to your *insert whatever your relation to this person is here*? Well, I know someone who was on his first year in college. Taking up what course? Engineering—the course that will make you MA(TH)D! And so, he got a girlfriend. That’s fine. But I see him literally texting every single day. I know engineering’s math isn’t that easy but he should’ve focused studying than going out with his girl… and yeah, texting—I partially blame. Why wouldn’t I? It has been his constant distraction. Nonetheless, I believe he’ll be able to pull it off once more.

Smartphones can be really alluring; it can also be really distracting. But if you know how to use it right, if you just know how to not abuse it, then perhaps you won’t be stressed this mu—bam!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Going Somewhere? Better Bring a Tablet Instead!

latest gadgets
Electronic devices have proven their value in making life worth living. They can help us in performing our daily tasks a notch easier. Starting from the simple machines you learned back in your formative years to the high tech gadgets of this digital age, they have simply led one innovation after another. And apparently, this decade have seen the fastest advancement when it comes to machines. Computers started as humongous contraptions, to desktop computers, laptops, and now, they have come in the form of tablets. And incontestably, tablets are one of the most preferred pieces of equipment today. Certainly, they are the perfect gadgets to carry when you are on the road. Without further ado, here are the top compelling reasons why you should just leave your laptop and bring your tablet instead on your travels:
  1. It’s MORE portable. The power of a tablet is without a doubt no match to the power of a laptop, and we all know that. But if you are somewhere else and you just need an electronic device for the purpose of reading emails, watching YouTube videos, and staying updated in Twitter and Facebook, it would be a hassle if you still carry your laptop with you. It may turn out light, but you will definitely feel the weight of it on your shoulder in a matter of a few hours. So, just bring your tablet next time, and travel light.
  2. It has a longer battery life. When you’re outdoors, the thing that you want the least to happen is for your gadgets to have their battery life fully drained. There might not even be an outlet nearby to plug in your portable charger to stay connected again. Studies show that most tablets have twice the battery life of a laptop. And this will enable you to get more out of the device you are carrying.
  3. It starts up faster. The booting up period of a device is perhaps the most dreadful seconds of your life. It puts you through a mandatory downtime wherein there’s nothing for you to do but wait. If you hate wasting your precious seconds in front of a loading screen, then better use a tablet because it boots up faster than a laptop.
  4. It is future proof. Laptops are meant to take computing to a brand new level. Back in the days, one can only make use of a computer at home using a desktop. However, since laptops have made their debut, people have brought their businesses and whatnot with them on the go. But as it turns out, there appears to be the ultimate gadget that again takes computing to different heights. With a tablet, you can be able to do as much as what a laptop can do, though it may not be as powerful in terms of specs as the latter. But it’s just a matter of time when tablets will take over all consumer electronic equipment in tech stores.
  5. Cool Tablet Accessories. Because tablets are becoming more famous than laptops nowadays, innovations (internal or external) are more focused to cater for the tablet market. There are a myriad of tablet accessories out there that you can use to customize your device according to your needs. With those add-ons, your tablet just got more dynamic than ever.
  6. It rids you the workaholic mindset. If you’re on a vacation, you would want to use that time to relax and disengage from work. But if you you’re bringing a laptop, you may already feel the stress just by the sight of it, unlike with a tablet that gives a somewhat laid-back feel meant for fun and entertainment.
Come your next excursion, keep the reasons listed above in mind to have a more carefree, exhilarating journey. Travel smart!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Can Headphones Really Damage Our Sense of Hearing?

headphone mobile accessories
Our trusty handheld devices aren’t complete without the instrumental mobile accessories that come to their aid. This is why whenever we purchase a new gadget, the package already includes those essential accessories. And among the much needed accessories in the box, the pair of headphones or earphones is perhaps the most indispensable and searched for.

Taking a look back, according to the Smithsonian magazine, Nathaniel Baldwin developed the headphones in 1910 in Utah. The contraption was meant for the U.S. Navy in improving the mechanism of the naval radio operations. And after quite some time, John Koss, a jazz musician and founder of the Koss Corp., developed the first headphones designed specifically for music. Thereafter, headphones became a standard accessory for most gadgets.

As technology evolves, so are the headphones. Today, you can now see variants of the headphones more often in the form of earphones. And in 2001, when Apple introduced the iPod with a pair of earphones, which have an earpiece that fits snugly inside the earlobes known as earbuds, the accessory gained instant popularity. And the reason behind this is that besides its perfect fit, it also delivers a blast of volume, often preferred by those who like to be brought by the rhythm of the beat.

Seldom do you hear that headphones can damage your sense of hearing. But mind you, they do, especially if you listen to music using them too loud for too long. Be that as it may, earbuds have brought chances of hearing loss to the next level. As said, they directly fit inside the ear, blasting a loud sound straight through the ear canal. Furthermore, earbuds don’t work to cancel out external ambient noise like how headphones do.

You see, the ears are very delicate. The ear drum vibrates when sound enters the ear. The vibrations then travel to the cochlea, where they are carried by a fluid to the fine hairs that stimulate the auditory nerve fibers, then, to the brain for the sound to be interpreted. Essentially, this is the physiology of hearing.

Hearing loss happens when the hair cells inside the ears are damaged. One of the most common insults is when one listens to loud noises for a considerable amount of time. The level of sound our ears can tolerate is normally less than 85 decibels. That is about the level of sound produced by a hair dryer or a food processor.

Experts have found out that earbuds deliver higher level of sound by about 7 to 9 decibels compared to traditional headphones. A discovery was made by an audiologist at Wichita State University; students who were listening with the use of earbuds were detected to turn up the volume up to 110 to 120 decibels. That intensity can cause permanent hearing loss in just a span of 1 hour and 15 minutes. This is no wonder why the number of teens who suffer hearing loss has risen by 33% since 1994, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

We come up to this question: what do we need to do about this? You really need not to throw your earbuds this instant. All you have to do is observe some precautionary measures. If ever you are going to use an earbuds or any type of headphones for this matter, observe the 60/60 rule. This requires listeners not to listen through them for more than 60 minutes. Additionally, the maximum volume should only be at 60%. Now that you’ve been informed, you better use your mobile earphones the right way to make sure you don't lose your sense of hearing earlier than expected.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Keep Your Passwords Crack-free with These Tips

mobile protection
Security has become a top priority in this digital age. The use of handheld electronic devices and the internet are now a tradition for keeping all sorts of valuable information, either public or strictly confidential. And considering the potential vulnerability of these kinds of data against crackers, it’s only about time till we experience having our accounts compromised.

Figures show that almost 73% of Americans have become victim to some type of internet crime in their lifetime. And one of the reasons why this happens is because their passwords have been known by someone else. It is an absolute truth that no information online is 100% safe, but there are always steps that you and I can take to augment our safety measures. Because passwords are considered the first line of defense, you are obliged to keep them as secure as possible. Given this, here are some tips to make your passwords crack-free.

  1. Remember: a password easy to remember is easy to crack. We have a tendency to use passwords that has something to do with our daily lives. Our password of choice might be a series of predictable set of numbers, a birth date, a name of our family member, or anything else that says about us. One best practice is to mix and match numbers, letters, and symbols. It may complicate things, but at least, you will be spared from the high probability of being a victim of an internet crime.
  2. Do not use the same password for your every account. Some people practice using a single password for all of their accounts to make every login a tad easier. But mind you, this is a very unhealthy habit, most especially if those accounts with the same password include your email account. Your email is typically used to reset the passwords of your other sites; therefore, if someone has taken over your email, he can easily gain access to all your accounts and wreak havoc to your life.
  3. Don’t let security questions make you insecure. Security questions are a great way to retrieve your accounts in the event that you have forgotten your password. But you have to bear in mind not to choose to answer the questions that solicit an obvious answer which can be easily googled, such as the name of your pet, the high school you’d attended to, the car you’re driving, or your mother’s maiden name. Don’t set a trap that you yourself will fall victim into.
  4. Make your passwords long and strong. The longer the password is, the harder it will be for an attacker to crack it. However, length is not the only factor that you can take advantage of; its complexity can also serve as an advantage for you. After coming up with a long enough set of characters, try to employ a combo of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols to make it even harder to crack.
  5. Do a routine password change. Same as with your underwear, you also have to routinely change your passwords. A good practice is to change them every three months.

Make sure to practice these tips to ward of any threats to your digital life. While the fingerprint technology isn’t yet widespread on every device and logins yet just like with the innovative iPhone 5s, make do of your set of alphanumeric characters for a moment. Keep in mind, a healthy password today keeps the crackers away.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Smartphones: Source of Your Stress

What’s that nifty, self-luminous rectangular thing in your hand? You probably use it to be connected socially. And let’s not drift our thoughts away for the amusement it brings by any means possible—apps, accessories, features, or just being the phone itself, they are just covered with neatness in every inch.

Seeing and experiencing all the functionality of this gadget from bits to pieces, anyone could all get attached to it instantly. And almost anyone—if not all—would freak out if these smartphones can be found nowhere else near them. Talk about Nomophobia—fear of being out of mobile phone contact, or simply put, No Mobile Phone Phobia. I’m sure these people would be all so stressed out if they lost their phones, but did you know that having these phones can render you all stressed more even? Yeah, well, check out these stressing factors that you might haven’t noticed yet:

 #1: That feeling that you have to respond immediately to a message

Have you ever been in a situation where it’s so important that you need to treasure every moment, and then suddenly your phone beeps? What do you then? Forget that it beeped and just savor the moment? Yeah? I don’t think so. Most people would pull their phones out of their pocket, and would even try to reply even if they are in the middle of something—or in this case, the wedding. Text messages interrupt us from what we are doing. We then have to reply immediately because it has been in our behavior to be compulsive. Some would even keep their portable chargers with them at all times because of fear of their phones dying out. In my case, when I’m about to do something, I’ll tell the person on the other end politely that I have to do something first. And then I’ll text him or her afterwards once I’m done. In this way, neither the relationship nor your chores will suffer.

#2: That feeling when you thought your phone beeped

You thought you heard a beep, or you felt a vibration inside your pocket… you pulled it out just to find out that there are no any reasons for all the fuss since no new messages are being displayed. Do you know what you are experiencing? That’s what we call, Phantom Cellphone Syndrome—and this is a clear sign that you have been so attached with your phone. Don’t worry; you’re not alone, a lot of people have been experiencing this, too—and that includes me.

#3: That feeling when you don’t want to miss out anything under the sun with your close circle

iphone black case
Have I already said that smart handset has become the means of people to be socially connected? Well, they also use it to be updated. Being updated with what’s new with your close circle is something that is kind of acceptable, but there’s a fine line between “I just want to check on you” and “fear of missing out” or FOMO for short. This is when anxiety strikes you as you missed out all the fun events other people do. You feel you have the need to be updated on what they are doing so that you could join them. I bet you can’t even close the iPhone back case cover of your phone because of definitely, the fear of missing out. But I guess you must learn how to combat this. Do something that you want; not what other people tell you.

Do you already feel the stress? Then, I suggest you disconnect with your smartphone from time to time. Wean yourself away, and try to connect with people rather than your gadget.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why Too Soon with the Galaxy S5, Samsung?

galaxy S5 mobile accessories
Samsung is one of the major players in the smartphone industry. It has managed to stay alive and kicking amidst the myriad of adversities it had and is still consistently encountering. Due to Samsung’s constant innovation, it has overtaken Apple in terms of number of units shipped. Today, Samsung is regarded as the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.

Just recently, it had announced its first ever smartphone that utilizes a bendable display, which is called the Galaxy Round. The said handheld device is incorporated with a virtually unbreakable screen that can withstand all sorts of physical insults. Despite the fact that the Galaxy Round per se isn’t a flexible device, Samsung still pushed through with the concept. Many analysts and lay people alike deem that having a bendable screen in a hard shell, together with non-bendable internal components is absurd. It’s simply useless. It’s just like having any other smartphone available on the market but with a concave display.

According to Sascha Segan, a mobile analyst at PC Mag, “I don’t think this particular model is going to be a big deal on the market.” But the South Korean tech giant never did doubt its concept. The Galaxy Round will be a jump-start to the bendable screen technology that will benefit its future smartphones. And this is what mobile consumers find admirable with Samsung; it sticks to finding ways to innovate regardless of the risks associated with the technology to be adopted.

Well, that was quite a lengthy introduction; better yet, let’s go to what we’re supposed to talk about here, and that’s about the allegations of the premature date of announcement of the Galaxy S4’s successor. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was just announced in March of 2013, and rumors are already circulating that the Galaxy S5 will be unveiled sooner than expected. Some say that it will probably be scheduled in January of 2014.

Just like me, I suppose that you are wondering as well on why the hurry. As it turns out, the disappointing sales of the Galaxy S4 prompted the company to launch a new flagship device earlier than usual. Every battle becomes fiercer in the ongoing smartphone wars, and Apple seems to be enjoying a short-lived victory with the impressive sales of the iPhone 5s. And of course, Samsung will never let this pass by without a fight. So, to show that its really means business, it has decided to shorten the gap of its phone releases from 11 months to 9 months that be succeeded by an advanced smartphone that can outperform each and every handset on the market.

Samsung had kept in mind its tightest competitor, Apple, with its flagship phone powered by a 64-bit processor. Given this, it plans to sport the Galaxy S5 with a 64-bit, octa-core Exynos 5430 chip. With such striking processor, it may be the most powerful handset there is. In addition, it will feature a 16-megapixel camera with an enhanced low-light performance and Optical Image Stabilization. Anyway, these are merely rumors. Don’t get too excited just yet. There are a lot of things that can happen in a span of 3 months, so watch out.

Mobile Phone Addiction Has Gone Widespread

handheld mobile phones
Over the years, mobile phones have become necessities—something that is vital for our daily living. But if you take a look back in the past decade or two, people manage their lives without the use of any handheld electronic device. But today, they have taken over humanity, hence, the birth of nomophobia (no mobile phone phobia). We seemingly can’t live without them anymore.

Yes, we have seen them walking amongst us—the people who make their mobile phones the center of their lives. They keep on tapping and tapping as they walk down the streets, only to break their solid gaze from their phones the moment they bump into another person or whenever they hear the screeching of tires brought about by cars trying to avoid them. And this habit is already turning out to be annoying.

According to Dr. Simon Hampton, psychology lecturer at the University of East Anglia, “People’s inability to leave their phones alone is the newest addition to common ‘displacement’ behaviors such as smoking, doodling, fiddling with objects, and picking at food.” Instead of doing something else, we’re forced to turn to our mobile phones for reassuring comfort.

To make things worse, more and more of the handsets that are being used by people are becoming smarter. Smartphones are devices that can perform almost any task, and this vast functionality has even doubled the incidence of nomophobia. With that single device, a person can communicate, connect to the web, play music with his mobile earphones, entertain himself with games, connect via social media, manage his finances, do business, and a whole lot more. With all these, there appears to be no reason to disconnect from that all-around contraption.

Concerns have been raised about this ongoing issue. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts the blame to mindless smartphone usage for an 8% rise in the number of American pedestrians killed in road accidents between 2009 and 2011. Furthermore, psychologists believe that the effect of dependence to technology, particularly with handheld devices, to young people is already disturbing. It turns out to inhibit their communication skills. And if those aren’t enough, the impact of this engrossment to nonstop smartphone usage to etiquette has gone to greater heights. It is now common to see people fiddling with their phones while in the company of their friends.

This new-found habit shows to be so beneficial to online businesses. “This mildly compulsive behavior might be exploited to encourage purchasing, particularly as digital increasing blurs the lines between shopping and entertainment,” Hampton said. As we see it, we’re led into the clutches of those sharks who feast on what turns out be our waterloo—mindless spending. But this shouldn’t be the case; we must pull ourselves together and take control over our “conscious” decisions.

As for my final words: indubitably, technology greatly helps us in one way or another, but we must not forget never to miss out on what’s really important—our life.