In a perfect world, everything would be run by sensors. If you're Bill Gates, your house is already programmed with sensor technology: when you walk in a room sensors track your presence and lights purr to life, paintings come alive, and a soundtrack starts to play in the background.
But until Gates bequeaths us his house, we'll make do with the Simplehuman multi-sense trash can. As simple humans can deduce, the can works by sensing your presence and conveniently opening the can.
So how does this work in a house with endless traffic? (In my house, that includes a teenager, three rambunctious dachshunds, and an impatient husband.) That's where the multi-sense comes in. It adjusts to the patterns in the house. For example, the can doesn't pop open every time we walk by- only when our hands hover above it.
(The trigger zone is a focused space directly above the lid, you see.)
Once open, the trigger zone extends to become more sensitive so it knows if your're still in the area and goes into "task mode" so it won't close on you until you're finished.
After 3 seconds of continued activity, the can switches to a 30-second stay-open mode... handy when changing the bag.
The brushed steel 10.5 gallon rectangular genius of a trash can comes with a five year warranty and costs a cool $225. Available online or at your local Bed, Bath and Beyond, Crate & Barrel and select Williams Sonoma stores.
Note: Simplehuman is working on a optional power adapter which will be sold separately.
It's a confusing medical world out there, full of obscure terms and a language that is technical but still foreign, even to many tech types. There are a zillion ways to translate these terms and keep track of medical matters, but how to unearth them in the immense data universe?
If you have a smartphone of the i- or Android variety, the Harvard Health Letter makes it easy. A free article in its latest issue describes several smartphone apps, so you can search the App Store or Android Market by app name instead of imprecise keyword. The apps can help you count calories, keep track of your workouts and glucose level and blood pressure, look up mystery terms, reduce your stress, and in many more ways smooth your path toward a healthy future.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the wonder that is the new Windows Phone 7 operating system. Now that I’ve had a chance to test-drive it, I continue to hold it in the highest esteem. The little Android robot, cute as it is, should be shaking in its little green boots. And, the apple… well… that’s a debate for a future post.
Having the right equipment to showcase the WP7 functions is key and the HTC HD7 is an excellent performer. As usual, the HTC folks have produced a phone that is both solid and sexy. I will admit, this is my first “oversized” phone – I’ve always been a bit wary of too big, but this one is nicely balanced and gives the benefit of enhanced screen size for viewing videos, web pages, etc. while not being too clunky. The kickstand on the back that allows for hands-free viewing takes me back to the early days of the Sony Watchman TV.
The HD7 is speedy and features an excellent touch screen that is very responsive. The display is very bright and has superb color reproduction and contrast (with proper adjustments to the settings). Battery life is good - It will serve an average user well, but could be better for power users. Call quality is excellent. The earpiece and microphone are beautifully integrated into the design. The camera seems to be the one feature that is a bit lackluster when compared to the reset of the hardware, though the free HTC photo enhancer app does help to kick things up a notch.
Although WP7 still needs a few minor tweaks, like cut and paste (which Microsoft promises is forthcoming in early 2011), the HD7 is a perfect partner to showcase all of its talents. The HD7 is available exclusively on T-Mobile in the USA. $199.99 with a 2-year contract.
I am obsessed with macaroons- and yes, I know that sounds very Marcel from Top Chef, but macaroons are the big gooey coconut cookies, and these tiny, egg white/ground nut filled sandwich cookies are, to me, much more delicate and special. They are indescribably delicious, but notoriously difficult to make.
My all-time favorite online shop, Strapya, now has a shorcut which promises to make the process a tad easier, and the final results much much much cuter. What's cuter than a cookie the size of a tip of thumb? How about one that looks like a bunny or a bear? The hardest part of making macaroons is the piping (squeezing out the sticky, stiff dough into perfect circles) so the At-home macaroon maker provides a template- basically like batter stencils, which you you use to make your macarons perfect. There's also a hand mixer, which presumably assists in making sure you don't under or over beat your macaron batter which is far too easy to do with a powerful electric hand mixer. This is so charmingly Easy-Bake, even though I realize it doesn't actually look all that easy.
Available for pre-order, for about $27, at Strapya.
We can't afford to buy solar panels for our house but felt we could do our eco bit by adding teeny, tiny solar panels to our computer keyboard. Ok, we're just kidding about that but we do like the idea of saving on all those batteries. Logitech was way ahead of us with their wireless solar keyboard k750 with its small solar panels, in a sleek, low profile (only 1/3 of an inch thick) design.
But solar panels in our dark cubby hole that passes for an office? Turns out the Solar K750 sucks energy from a simple desk lamp and can stay charged for at least three months in total darkness.
And since it's the advanced 2.4 GHz wireless model, you can work from virtually anywhere and the long-range wirless connection doesn't drop out.
When you need to check to see how much solar power you've got left, the Solar App easily lets you know if you're almost running on empty.
As with all of of their keyboards, the solar model features the concave key cap design, which makes typing for hours more comfortable.
For $79.99 you can feel righteous without the big price tag.
I bought a Kindle e-reader when the new models came out a few weeks ago and have been very happy with it. It works flawlessly. I hope I am not tempting fate when I say that I've had no problems at all. And it is such a pleasure to pick it up and find my morning newspaper awaiting me automagically, and my book opening at the exact place I set it down last night. The Kindle's screen is even very readable outdoors, a big plus for me, and you certainly can't say that about most other device screens.
But if you've been thinking about an e-reader as a gift for yourself or someone you're fond of, don't take my word for it. Crave has done the research work for you by comparing the several different devices now out there in the e-reader market, everything from the iPad and Galaxy Tab to the Nook.
I don't regret my choice--for one thing, the Kindle wi-fi model price was just $139. But I have to admit there is some other nifty reading hardware out there now.
Flying Delta, AirTran, or Virgin America in the next few weeks? If so, Google has a present for you: free wi-fi on your flight.
Google is repeating its holiday treat from last year, making free wi-fi available on those three airlines from November 20 through January 2. The point is to inveigle folks into trying the Chrome browser, which you can download at the site.
Ever since I read about the Stanford University study which declared cell phones "dirtier than toilets", I've been totally paranoid about how unclean my phones are. The study declared that touchscreens, in particular, are breeding grounds for e.coli, influenza, staph, strep, and salmonella. I'm a little bit of a germaphobe in the best of times, and now I've got a little infant who touches almost everything I do, and has been known to try to eat my iPhone.
What to do? Antibacterial wipes are fine for most plastic cases, but will leave a slightly blurry film on your touchscreen glass. Wipes and sprays meant for cleaning phones and electronics are sometimes alcohol-based, which should help eliminate some germs, but the protection is short-lived. and you can't reach into tiny spaces like in between keys. A better solution may be the UV Smartphone Sanitizer. The sanitizer, made by Vio Light, the company that makes the toothbrush sanitizers, uses UV light to kill 99.9% of germs on your smartphone, including the ones hiding in tight spaces and wipe-inaccessible corners. You just put your phone in the case and give it a 5-minute UV light shower.
Your phone will emerge germ-free, but of course, germs lurk everywhere so it's best to treat your phone almost like something you eat from- like a cup- if it's touched your hands or your face, give it a wipe-down, and then a thorough cleaning later on. Wash your hands constantly, and try to be careful about where you put your phone down. You wouldn't rub a dirty plate on your face, but a phone laying on a germy table often goes right up to your ear, and certainly all over your hands.
One more thing to worry about, yay. But seriously, keep your phone clean. The UV Smartphone Sanitizer is available for $49.95 from Hammacher.