4 Cool 3D Printed Tech Accessories

Tech accessories have always been an integral part of our electronic devices, whether it is for adding value or personality. With the emergence of 3D printing, tech accessories lead the way for 3D printed consumer goods. The following 3D printed technological accessories are not just created for the sake of innovation; they are made to provide convenience and utility.

 

Infinite Sisu iPad Stand

 

The Infinite Sisu iPad Stand is designed for fitness fanatics. Notice how the support stand is shaped like a human pushing the iPad to its position – a design inspired by a concept called “Sisu.” Sisu is a Finnish term which means grit or determination. It exemplifies how humans can overcome hardships through determination. The Infinite Sisu iPad stand is perfect for fitness enthusiasts, or for those who want to start achieving a fit body.

 

IPhone 5/5s Car Holder

 

There are so many car holders available on the market today, but this product has a distinct feature  known as the 3D printed iHook design. The 3D printed iHook design is particularly made for the iPhone 5 and 5s since it is created with similar dimensions. It is made flexible so that the hands-free calling and viewing of maps can be used with just one hand. The iHook design can also be placed right under the rearview mirror allowing for easy access.

 

Pod a Porter Neckband for iPod Shuffle

 

Manufactured from a 3D-prined polyamide, this tough product is set to resolve the problems associated with having an unruly iPod wire. Further, its lightweight feature makes it easier to carry it around for wherever you are and whatever you do. In fact, the controls are easily accessible in just a few touches. The Pod a Porter is designed for iPod 4th generation and is available in black and limited edition colors.

 

3D Printed Phone Case

 

Phone cases are made for protection and style. Currently, the owner of WittPrint 3D made an interesting product for the iPhone – the 3D iPhone case. The 3D printed phone cases currently are available with three designs: The Upper Peninsula (UP), Great Lakes and the entire Michigan state. The cases are made with with a durable material called polylactic acid (PLA). The PLA has been tested and proved to protect the iPhone from a 5-foot drop.

 

3D printed accessories are must-haves for early adopters of technology. With further advances in 3D printing in the near future, expect more creative and useful designs to appear. To protect your gadgets, visit our mobile device and small electronics pages.

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Home Appliance Maintenance Tips

Home appliances are unquestionably a necessary convenience that most people are unwilling to live without. Just as your car needs its oil changed on a regular basis, your household appliances whether big or small, need TLC too. A certain amount of care and maintenance is needed in order to keep your appliances in good working condition. Improper care can lead to an appliance break down which can lead to costly repairs and lost time.

 

The good news is that a little maintenance can go a long way and ultimately save you money.  The following are tips on how to maintain and keep everyday home appliances in tip-top shape.

 

Refrigerators

 

Regular maintenance on a refrigerator saves money in the way of food and repairs. Sticky, dirty gaskets stretch and tear, letting cold air leak out. Additionally, dust around the coils makes the unit work harder, which actually shortens its lifespan. Use a long-handled refrigerator coil brush or a vacuum crevice tool to remove any dirt or dust around the condenser coils. With the use of a damp rag, wipe away dust, crumbs, and spills off gaskets and door seals. Just a few minutes of easy maintenance on your refrigerator can save thousands of dollars in potential repairs.

 

Stoves and Ovens

 

Stoves and ovens require a great deal of regular care and maintenance, doing so ensures a reduction of costs on repairs bills and an outcome of high quality meals. Food spills and particles can stick to the interior, which may cause your appliance to work less efficiently. Clogged and dirty vent hood filters prevents smoke and odors from leaving your kitchen. Wipe the door seals and the interiors regularly with a damp rag. Clean the grease filters from the vent hood by removing and soaking it in soapy water, rinsing it, drying it, and replacing it when necessary. If your vent hood has a charcoal filter, it’s ideal to replace it every 6 to 12 months. Another tip for ovens is to avoid the handy self-clean feature because of damage to internal parts and toxic fumes due to extreme heat.

 

Washer

 

Rubber drain hoses are commonly known to burst and cause major water damage to the machine and your home. By keeping the detergent drawer clean, you can be sure that the product flows out naturally during the proper portion of the wash cycle. For some washers, particularly the front-loading ones, keeping the gasket dry can prevent stinky mildew and mold from forming in the tight seals. Simply wipe the door gasket dry after use. Another important tip for this household appliance is to never overload it with laundry. Large loads can quickly lead to a faulty or damaged washer.

 

Dryer

 

Dryers are easy to maintain. First, regularly clean out the lint trap before or after use, this ensures that the vent line is clear of lint. Reduced airflow from lint buildup in the filter reduces efficiency and increases the dry time of your clothes. It can also cause the dryer to overheat and catch fire. Just as with your washer, do not overload your dryer. Overloaded dryers can cause poor air circulation.

 

Replacing appliances can be both frustrating and expensive. Implementing the proper care for your home appliances can save money and extend the estimated lifespan a few years.  To further reduce risks, appliance insurance is available for a wide range of products.

 

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The Rise of Rent & Renting in America

The economic downturn that began in 2008 severely affected many people across the nation.  The consequences have been long lasting as the gradual recovery continues 6 years later.  With the onset of high unemployment rates, home foreclosures, diminished wages, and rising student loan debts, more Americans have resorted to renting during the recession and its slow recovery.  The demand for rental units has sent shockwaves throughout the rental market and has caused the number of single-family rental units to elevate accordingly.  In the face of unprecedented demand, rental prices continue to increase as American families struggle to recover from the Great Recession.

 

During the recession, the unemployment rate skyrocketed as American workers from all sectors of the economy lost their jobs.  In a matter of a year, the unemployment rate rose from 5% to over 10% during 2008-2009.  To make matters worse, the percentage of the long term unemployed peaked at 45% of the total unemployed population in 2011 and still remains high today at a rate of 37%, which is more than double the pre-recession level of 18%.  These bouts of elongated unemployment detrimentally affect US families permanently as current financial equity and future potential earnings plummet with each passing week.

 

Foreclosure SignForeclosures became rampant in 2009 and 2010 as homeowners could no longer make payments on their mortgages, many of which were considered subprime.  There were 4 million foreclosures during the period from 2008 to 2012, resulting in an average rate of 83,000 foreclosures a month.  From 2000 to 2006, that rate was only 21,000 a month.  These massive losses effectually wiped out home equity for millions of Americans.  This has driven Americans to rent like never before.   Some analysts predict that foreclosures could rise again in 2014 as the tax exemption passed in 2007 on mortgage debt forgiveness expired at the end of 2013.

 

During the recession, older Americans were hit hard and the economic effects subsequently reached the young adults of our country in a domino-like fashion.  Often referred to as Millennials or Gen-Y, young Americans endured an unrelenting struggle as youth unemployment spiked to a rate 19.6% in 2010.  While the youth unemployment rate has improved, it still remains high in 2014.  Underemployment is another issue that is often overlooked when talking about the state of the job market.  Many young college graduates have taken part-time jobs that don’t require a degree (think baristas and retail clerks) as the stagnating economic recovery continues to hamper job growth.  The level of student loan debt rises each year as the cost of higher education continues to expand like the Big Bang.  According to the nonprofit organization, Institute for College Access & Success, 71% of recent college graduates took out student loans last year.  The average debt of those loans totaled $29,400 per borrower.

 

Student Loan DebtAs expected, young Americans have become saddled down in student debt and stuck in low wage limbo to afford a house any time soon.  First time homebuyers represented only a third of housing purchases last year, well below the historical norm.  Many Americans have realized that the cost of owning a home is out of their grasp and have accepted their fate of renting.  The rapid rise in home prices and mortgage rates in 2013 certainly has not helped potential home buyers.  More Americans have delayed purchasing a home as the unsustainable jump in home prices do not reflect the economic reality for most Americans.  According to the Census Bureau, 18% of single family homes are considered rentals, an increase from 15% in 2006.  Housing markets that suffered near meltdowns in foreclosures during housing crash seemed to have the highest rates of rental occupancy.  Las Vegas has a rental rate of 29% for single family homes, a large jump from 19% in 2006.  Stockton, CA has a share of 32% (the highest in the top 100 metro areas), up from 24% in 2006.

 

Not only has the popularity of renting risen, the cost of rent has surged upwards too.  According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, more than 50% of US renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing for the first time ever.  This is frighteningly clear for two reasons.  Real median income has fallen 13% from 2000 to 2012 and the demand for rental units has spiked causing rental prices to rise.  In 2011, 11.8 million low income renters vied for 6.9 million rental units considered affordable at that income threshold, equating to a shortfall of 4.9 million units.  On top of monthly rental payments, renters are also subjected to rising utility costs such as water, electricity, sewage, and natural gas.  Additionally, most landlords require their tenants to purchase renters insurance to reduce financial risks for both parties.

 

Although the economy is gradually recovering to its pre-recession levels, many Americans are still reeling from the devastating effects of the recession in 2008.  The economic and social landscape for both old and young Americans has been altered irrevocably.  Unemployment and underemployment remain at unacceptable levels, pre-recession equity has been wiped out, wages have diminished and become stagnant, and student loan debt is being called the next bubble.  Welcome to the era of renting in America.

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4 Tech Gifts for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and your special someone is sure to be expecting something exciting from you. Why not consider giving a tech-related product? Tech-savvy individuals love receiving the newest and coolest gadgets that bring joy and excitement to their inner nerd. Here is a list of gift ideas:

 

1.     Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

 

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is perfect for picture-taking lovers. It has advanced settings so every picture will come out with a high-quality finish. The camera app has on-screen controls to provide more ways to easily share pictures to any social media channel.  Other features include easy flash toggling, camera flipping, filter effects, and an ultra-sensitive 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. The S4 Zoom also has a voice control feature allowing for much more freedom.  For example, the phone can be mounted on a tripod and directed to take a snapshot just by saying “shoot” or “cheese!”  Family photos have just gotten that much easier.

 

2.     Polaroid iD820

 

This Polaroid iD820 is currently the world’s thinnest and lightest 1080p HD camcorder. With its 12-megapixel resolution, touch screen feature, and less than 4 oz. weight, it can be carried around with convenience without compromising the quality of the video. Furthermore, it allows taking two videos simultaneously –one in a YouTube-ready format and another in a high-definition output.

 

3.     PlayStation Vita

 

Gaming couples can easily enjoy this powerful, little device. The Playstation Vita is made  with a 5-inch OLED touch screen and dual analog sticks. There are more than 900 games available for your entertainment pleasure including the classical games, PS Mobile games, and many more. If your loved one already owns a PS4 system – the better! The Playstation Vita has a remote play function which allows PS4 games to be playable on the Vita.

 

 

4.     Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote

 

The Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote is the perfect Valentine’s gift for the whole family. Once programmed and paired, it can harmoniously control every entertainment device in the house. These include the home-theatre system, gaming units, and even your smartphones. This is an all-in-one product that will make life easier and more fun!

 

This Valentine’s Day, surprise your loved ones with these spectacular innovative gadgets. These are sure ways to create lasting memories of fun and love. To maximize the use of these products, visit our mobile device and electronics pages.

 

 

 

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The Top 4 Olympic Apps

The Winter Olympics of 2014 officially started on February 6 and athletes from across the globe have made their trek to Sochi. Expect fans to cheer on the athletes from their country to bring home the gold. No matter which events you are inclined to watch, your smartphone can keep you up to date with latest news, highlights, the medal counts, and so much more. Here are some smartphone apps we found to help you keep you updated on the Olympics:

 

Sochi 2014 Guide

sochi 2014 guide app

The Sochi 2014 Guide is the official guide app for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. This app gives you an overview of the upcoming events allows you to easily integrate it with your calendar. If you’re unable to watch a particular event, there’s a section for news and highlights so you can effortlessly catch up on what you missed. If you’re attending the Sochi 2014 Olympics in person, this app includes tips on where you can stay, ticket information, and a lot more.

 

Sochi 2014 Results

 

The Sochi 2014 results app is similar to the guide app but its main focus is to keep you updated with the medal counts and the results of the events. You don’t have to worry about missing the latest news and medal updates on your favorite event or athlete because the app has push notifications that you can customize to your liking. The app also allows you to view complete details on a particular event, including the competition schedule. It also features a list of athletes with their biographies, letting watchers connect with the favorite athletes on a personal level.

 

Sochi 2014 Medal Alert

 

If you prefer a simpler app to track medal counts, then the Sochi 2014 Medal Alert app is the one for you. The push notifications option of this app allows you to easily set alerts for any country and events that you’d like to receive updates for. Although it functions much in the same way as the Sochi 2014 results, it offers a cleaner design and has fewer options. If you prefer to only receive updates for medaling of your favorite events, download the Sochi 2014 Medal Alert app.

 

Olympics Athlete’s Hub

olympic athlete's hub app

The Olympics Athlete’s Hub app features thousands of profiles of Olympians and is the best way to stay connected and follow the participants of the 2014 Winter Olympics. This app puts the spotlight on the athletes themselves by pulling in social feeds from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can create your own custom feed by following Olympians on the Hub and you can stay up-to-date with what’s trending among the Sochi 2014 athletes. The Olympics Athlete’s Hub app is the only app that gives you a backstage pass at the Olympics.

 

If you can’t watch every minute of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, keeping these apps on hand would be a great idea! You’ll never miss out on an important update.

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Top Security Apps for Your Phone

Your phone often contains personal and sensitive information about yourself and others. That is why it is important to safeguard your phone from thieves, hackers, phishers, and spammers. There are several different security apps on the market that can help protect you, but there are only a few that stand out. Here are some of them:

 

1. Find My iPhone

 

This is a great app if you often misplace your iPhone, iPod or Mac. Moreover, you can find your friends’ Apple gadgets by adding it to the ‘My Device’ panel and logging in with their credentials. To use, simply download it for free and sign in with your Apple account. It will locate your iPhone by using a map and you can remotely lock it if it’s been stolen or lost.

 

2. Lookout

lookout-app

Lookout is another security app that functions like the Find My iPhone. However, it can back-up your data and warn you about security risks. For example while browsing a website via your mobile phone, an alert will pop up and warn you if a particular app or malware is tracking and revealing your location to third party members.  You will then have the option to block the latest threat or proceed on your own terms.

 

3. Where’s My Droid

 

If you have an Android device, Where’s My Droid may be the best choice. It is a phone tracking system that uses GPS to locate your phone. This is done by a text messaged attention word or by the online control center called the Commander. It is linked to Google Maps so you can find the exact location of your phone. This is a free app should be taken advantage of without hesitation.

 

4. Silent Circle

Silent-Circle-App

Silent circle was initially designed for military personnel, but it is now available for a monthly price ranging from $20-$49. Silent circle will encrypt all your conversations so that it will remain private and secured. It encrypts text messages, calls, emails, and even video conference.

 

These are only a handful of security apps available on the market; be sure to check out other apps and choose the ones that would be most beneficial to you. However, if you are not comfortable with only a security app, there are options to cover your phone with a protection plan.

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