Weight Loss, Workout Tutorials, and Goal Setting

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Alex announces UpRating | Fitness which will feature work out tutorials, goal setting, healthy eating, and much more! If you would like to know more about specific equipment or plans please let us know.

Review: Linksys EA3500 DualBand Wireless N Router

Linksys EA3500 DualBand Wireless N RouterRouters are similar to the heater in the basement of your house: essential, yet you almost forget it’s there…until it stops working.

Not long before Christmas I was having serious problems with my Linksys (WRT-54g) router: every time someone in my house wanted access to the internet, we would have to reset it. My home network has consistently high traffic, from online gaming to surfing the net to numerous mobile devices that all work off wi-fi. So I had to get a router that could handle a plethora of devices with heavy network traffic. After looking at many types of routers I decided to purchase a wireless-N dual band router since dual band frequencies allow for smooth HD video streaming, gaming, and quick downloads.

Having decided what type of router would work for my household, I began to research different types. Based on reviews that I read online, I was able to narrow my selection down to Linksys or D-Link brand. Because my last router was a Linksys and it had lasted 6-7 years before finally throwing in the towel, I decided to go with a Linksys again. If the new router lasts even close to as long as the previous one, it will be outdated and in need of an upgrade before it physically stops working.

Setup was easier than I had expected because all the wiring was already in place; all I had to do was swap out the old router and plug all my ethernet cables into the new one. The provided software will walk you through how to set up and configure your wireless router and even give you access to the advanced settings (if you so dare). I was able to set up and configure everything without using the software but now I enjoy being able to tweak the network settings and customize it to work best in my household.


Price: $129.99 from Best Buy
Ownership Length: 2-3 Months
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)

 


Pros
1) Speed: Very fast even with many devices connected
2) USB Port: Extra port to plug in accessories directly to router
3) Software: Not necessary for setup (if you know what you are doing) but it does make it quick and easy if you use it. It also allows you to change advanced settings

Cons
1) Cost – A little pricey

Summary

One of the best aspects of this router is that it doesn’t get slowed down when there are many devices connected to it. I have probably had about 15-20 active devices running simultaneously without a problem, whereas my previous router would have trouble with anything close to that. Most of the traffic is from gaming on both the Playstation 3 and multiple computers in addition to Netflix, which is almost always running somewhere in my house. Wanting to experiment with the USB port on the router, I attached a 1TB external Toshiba hard drive and loaded all my music onto it, basically creating a home media server that allows me to play all my music on any device connected to the network. Overall, I’m very satisfied with its performance and would recommend it to anyone looking for an in home router that can handle high traffic.

Review: Acer T232HL Touchscreen Monitor

Acer T232HL Touchscreen MonitorRecently I decided to replace one of the monitors at my (workstation/desk) and came to the conclusion I wanted to get a touch screen. Primarily I use my desktop for work purposes, but it also functions as a gaming computer; therefore, I wanted a screen with a fast response time and a high contrast ratio. Unfortunately, this limited me to very few and very expensive choices. I ended up choosing an Acer 23” Touchscreen LED with an impressive contrast ratio and a response time designed for fast motion movies and games.

My previous setup was a LG Flatron 22” and an old Dell 19” Tube monitor which has been in use for 8 years. Upon unboxing the Acer I discovered it would not fit in the designated monitor spot built into the desk, but then realized this is not a bad thing. If the monitor was set back into the desk I would be required to reach forward to use it as opposed to having it at my fingertips.

Once I had the monitor fully set up and connected, I enabled the touch and pen inputs and had to calibrate it so the touch inputs would be accurate. This is when I realized there was about an inch or 2 of unused black space bordering the screen and had to adjust the horizontal and vertical position/stretch. This task was very difficult because I was unable to adjust it through the monitor menu settings. After searching online, I found this was a common problem for people who had connected the display with the HDMI cord. Fortunately, however, my AMD video card has settings to magnify the display through ATI’s Catalyst Control Center program. Once I had increased the screen size by 9-12%, I was able to eliminate the black border and recalibrate the touch input.

Once I had it set up and calibrated, it felt like using a very large Windows tablet. Using the touch features instead of the mouse was fun and easy to adjust to.


Price: $499.99
OS Used: Windows 7 & 8 (video to come soon)
Ownership Length: Over one month
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)


Pros
1) Appearance: Extreme detail quality, no blur with fast motions, amazing color, vivid detail, wide viewing angle
2) Touch input: 10 point multi-touch screen allows use of all of your fingers
3) Windows 8 compatibility
3) Three USB ports on side for easy access
4) Flexible tilt stand

Cons
1) Price: I could have bought a new computer for the price of my monitor
2) Cleaning: Touch screens are very prone to getting smudged with fingerprints, so it requires much more cleaning than a regular monitor

Summary

This is by far the best performing monitor I have ever used; its quality is on par with the LED televisions on the market. It is a large monitor and will take up a lot of desk space depending on how you set up your workstation, but it can be wall mounted if necessary. The 10 touch input allows for fast and accurate touch screen interaction, making on-screen navigation and typing user-friendly. The multi-touch input also enables you to access the gesture features in Windows 8. Even in fast action sequences in movies or games, the display has no motion blur and delivers high quality moving images. The only drawback is that many games have yet to enable touch input capabilities, which means some games are unsure how to process the touch inputs. Overall I am very satisfied with the monitor and believe that as the technology develops it will be perfected over time and will become more functional.

Using Windows 8 With Touchscreen

The Downfall of Research in Motion

How Long can the BlackBerry Last?

Research in Motion is the Canadian telecommunication company that is best known for their development of BlackBerry smartphones and recently a tablet called the PlayBook. BlackBerry was one of the first to enter into the wireless market with their focus revolving around Email, instant messaging, and high level security. It was quickly adopted as a personal digital assistant for most professionals and even integrated into many corporate businesses because of the data encryption feature. BlackBerry integrated a camera and a media player before most other phones even had a keyboard, giving them even stronger market advantages.

Everything changed when the iPhone and Android devices entered the market. Suddenly, with all different types of phones that weren’t targeted at companies or business professionals flooding the market, consumers who did not use their phones primarily for business began to jump ship. For casual consumers, the extra business options and security features available on the BlackBerry couldn’t compete with the games and other fun apps available on iPhone and Android. Thus began the downfall of RIM.

RIM stocks have had a rapid decline over the past year, but they will not go down without a fight. There are many reasons to still buy a BlackBerry, and these why why RIM has potential to bounce back. For example, BlackBerry has great security, which has encouraged the US Federal Government, Department of Defense, and even President Obama to rely on BlackBerrys. This high level of attention to security makes RIM a prime contestant for anyone who values their personal information highly or deals with valuable/sensitive confidential information. RIM put it well when they said “These security features have made the BlackBerry solution a world leader in security certifications.”

BlackBerrys are also designed for productivity. BlackBerry preloads your information in the background so you can access all your recent communications immediately. The productivity aspect can be found throughout their apps in addition to written into the operating system, allowing you to run multiple applications and easily switch back and forth from them even when connected up to 10 different email accounts.

In addition, BlackBerry is available in 91 countries with over 500 mobile service carriers supporting their wide variety of wireless handheld devices. This means that regardless of where you are, you are not restricted to a specific carrier or even a phone, giving the consumer a range of freedom not offered by other popular smartphone companies. RIM has been able to adapt and improve their products to compete with the recent advances released on the market, constantly improving the hardware, software, and applications to directly compete with the top phones on the market. However, there is room for significant improvement in their app store, which only contains about 100,000 apps (about 10% of what Apple and Google each have in their respective stores).

RIM’s products have always been designed with the end user in mind, focusing on ways to overcome the common difficulties of life we often face. This can be seen in the physical design of the phone, features, and its overall durability. Their phones are built solidly enough to endure such abuse as being dropped down a flight of stairs, being stepped on, and landing in a puddle, and keep on ticking. The battery life is also very impressive, lasting through multiple days of heavy usage. Another advantage is that even if the battery does die, it is removeable and can be swapped out with a backup. (Because most users do not carry a backup battery on hand, the charge port on the BlackBerry is a microUSB port, for which a generic charger can easily be found.) Many phones have fixed batteries, forcing you to plug it in when the power has been exhausted–which, if you’re traveling or otherwise on the go, can be inconvenient at best.

If RIM is on its last legs, why would it even be worth looking at a BlackBerry? Well, there are several reasons they still have a fighting chance. Founded in 1984, they have had all of the 90s to perfect a messaging system and it is clear how much work went into making it seamless. BlackBerry has always had push email, which means the second a message is received you are alerted (as opposed to “pull” email where you are not alerted until you prompt it) and it will do this for up to 10 different email accounts of any type with ease. There is also a notification light that can be programmed to blink any color for any specific type of message, so even when your phone is on silent, you can be fully aware of type of message and even its urgency.

Overall Blackberry has provided a phone that is perfect for any professional business individual who needs to coordinate a busy schedule and have immediate internet access, GPS navigation, and a high level of security. If they are to properly compete in the application world, they need to step up their game and start carrying many more apps. If their new devices and the newest operating system show drastic improvements, there is potential for RIM to make a comeback. In the event they do not recover, there are many companies that could swoop in for a buyout. There have been rumours that Google, Apple, Microsoft, and even Amazon and Facebook have shown interest in RIM. If they don’t rebrand to include a larger consumer market and start competing more aggressively in the app war, then any one of these companies may take the reins. I personally still love my BlackBerry, but if they don’t come out with new devices with improved BlackBerry 10 OS then I might be shopping for a different brand. I hope this won’t be necessary but only time will tell.

Resources:

1)Forbes – Five Reasons the BlackBerry isn’t Doomed
2)Business Insider – Why I’m Dropping the iPhone and Switching to a BlackBerry