Sunday, November 30, 2014

Smart Watch or a Wireless Activity Wristband? .

A word of advice is that you MUST read what devices, (tablets, notebooks, computer, smart phone) it syncs with.  This includes operating systems and later models of most Androids and Apple. (Go to www.fitbit.com/devices). You can use a dongle and sync to your computer, but the real beauty of it all is using bluetooth - where it sinks to your phone or tablet.  

Often you will miss the fine print  so, pay close attention.  Can your devices communicate with each other? 

WIRELESS ACTIVITY WRISTBAND. 

I did not go out on Thursday night or Black Friday, but,  I got a little ahead of the game by keeping up with daily deals from Best Buy and Google.    The Monday before Best Buy sent an email with a one day sale -- which my son immediately forwarded to me -- i was the new Fitbit Charge -- on sale for $99, regular price: $129 ! It has all the features I needed and after a check to make sure it worked for me, I ordered it right away.   This was an online deal only.

  • Activity and floors climbed
  • Sleep quality
  • Sync wirelessly
  • Mobile and online tools
  • Caller ID  (if you get a call, it vibrates. 
  • Wake up alarm , time, date 
  • Charging cable and wireless dongle.
 First day

I walked up two flights and 1 1/2 miles, burned some calories on new "Just Dance" for X box  and learned how to sync up bluetooth to my google tablet, computer and smart phone, which I made sure I had the latest operating system to use the activity tracker without a hitch.  Good to consult your family members and friends who may be able to work with you on getting started.

I  got the results of last nights sleep.  Hours I slept, times awakened, sleep quality-- so precise, and it could have been better report.   I woke up 5 times , restless sleep, but slept for almost 8 hours.   (Hope tomorrow night is better.)

A pleasant sounding alarm with vibration was hardly intrusive and I woke up without jumping up today, Sunday.

Second Day 

 I charged it up this morning.

Found the online manual too. There's a lot more I'll be adding to my daily routine, like how many calories I've taken in. and it's quite full of informative tips.    Who is in a hurry?

Start someplace and become an expert as you keep up your healthy lifestyle.

Fitbit is one of many Activity Wristbands. Some others companies include Pebble, Misfit, Jawbone. Check them all out -- each has good reviews and many are now offering some fine jewelry alternatives to fit your latest outfit.

Third Day and beyond 
Working flawlessly. Using the calorie tracker and working out .. now with Just Dance 2015.
Sleep is a accurate.  Alarm works , notifications, A-OK.. we're getting along fine .

Today:
OK, I'm on with my friend, Joan .. we're sure to do a lot more work outs .

SMART WATCHES 

If you prefer a watch which you can talk to with touch screen capability where you do voice texting, answsring calls and so many other things, this might be the gift you'll be looking for. Now, these watches can cost anyplace from $79 to $500, maybe higher -- here's a website to check out a  techie's dream watch.   Many of these watches are on sale now as they get ready for the next models -- coming up for 2015.  These look like they deliver so why wait until 2015? 

http://www.computertechworld.com/the-best-smartwatches-of-2014/

Collaboration with Casey Julian Rhodes, Electronics Consultant and Buyer


Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Black Friday Survival Guide according to TechCrunch







Reading TechCrunch's article, The Black  Friday Survival Guide,"  by Matt Burns, brought back memories of a "hunt" of my own.   I participated 3 years ago for the first  -- and last time. Big Savings. But is it worth it?  You decide.


 Best Buy and Walmart had killer deals, in limited supply, called door busters.  Everyone would not get one.  

 That night, i secretly took off into the night, backing out of the driveway, so my neighbors would not hear me leaving so late.  A plan was hatched over the previous week and although my son wasn't sure I should participate, he knew I made up my mind to join in. 

   After all he couldn't be in two places at one time.   I'd take care of one assignment -- Walmart game deals, easy to carry but the stakes were higher in Walmart and  is  less civilized than Best Buy.  

My son tried to discourage me from being in on the plan for safety reasons, but I would go for it regardless. I took the challenge even though I promised I'd not go in the door if  there were crowds.  At 10 PM. It was calm, so I went in with my list and joined the "Walmart Black Friday" shoppers, while my son spent that night on the Best Buy line for the big electronics. 

I agree with Matt Burns, author, that door busters are worth getting tossed around for.  It's kinda like the fixings for a salad in a blender --  a little whirling, mixing, and tossing as  hands and heavy bodies tackle you  for the same item.  I came out better having camped out for 2 hours ahead of midnight hour.

Those two hours -- from 10PM to Midnight, we shoppers were quite friendly toward each other, even shared a few thoughts about the games we wanted to buy and who they were intended for.    

The newest games on the market were on sale for $20 just for that night.  They were tightly packed up high in open aisle on all four sides of a stationery bookcase.  We all chatted pleasantly as more shoppers joined the circle and eventually two police officers walked past every 10 minutes.  I felt safe,but, that was about to change.

Come midnight,  it was as if a bell rang  for a tornado warning. In a moment  the adrelenin of a crowd blew in a magic potion into the air and the humans turned into lone wolves -- out of the pack  and defying the rules.  Bodies glued to each other precariously choking as each made a effort to get ahead of the other.   I passed each section of the store to get to the finish line, the cashier with all 4 games I wanted.  Carefully and methodically, I ducked and avoided the big carts which were difficult to get around as boxes and items were strewn around for no apparent reason.   It got a little scary but I navigated. 

The phone rang, my son in a concerned voice said, "Mom be careful. If it's too insane, get out or don't wait around." 

I got to answer before a dead silence,  "I made it to the cashier line, it's long but I'm almost outta here," 

 Once outside, past the police presence and brightly lit parking lot, I said good night to the officers.     I opened the car door, got out of there as quickly as possible. At home, the garage door opened as Kane, my dog,  sat at the window waiting. 

I passed out on the couch with my cloths on.  Three hours later, I could hear the garage door open and I was happy to hear my son come enter the kitchen.  We were both too tired and wrecked to even get excited .  

My new notebook and LED Television waited until we woke up in the afternoon.  It was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.  

 As the author of the survival guide, Matt Burns, comments, "Black Friday is big business and it can be dangerous," I agree.  Plan, Plan, Plan!   Or stay home and wait until Cyber Monday. You might just find better deals. 

 Below is Mr. Burns article.  "The Black Friday Survival Guide," which have you chuckling along the way and help you survive the weekend.   Don't forget there have been casualties! 

Follow the link below or copy and paste into browser.    

http://techcrunch.com/2014/11/27/the-black-friday-survival-guide/?ncid=rss



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Patient Portals, Doctors on Skype - Technology Working for You

Skype a doctor to get a prescription
Around $25

Note:This article is a spin off from a letter I wrote which was published in the Opinions Section of the Tuscaloosa News, November 14, 2014, Printed and online. *

Patient Portals, Doctors on Skype -- Technology Working for You

A day before undergoing emergency surgery at DCH Regional Medical Center for a broken wrist, pre-screening had several forms for me to sign. There was a new form I had never seen before. It was titled “Patient Portal.” I could gain access to my own medical records from DCH for the several years I have used them for labs, other tests. I wasted no time signing up. Now that I have, I am able to read, in detail, reports and test results I had forgotten about. 

For example, an MRI on my spine was taken five years ago and the results got me thinking I might need a DEXA scan, which measures bone density. It had been exactly six years since my last one noted osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. That result together with my surgeon’s suspicion that I may have osteoporosis brought me to communicate this concern to my doctor. I signed the “portal” papers at that facility, as well.  

I had no idea how this patient portal law was initiated and by whom. It came as a positive surprise that the Affordable Health Care Act, Obamacare, was responsible. I hadn’t a clue. According to law, physicians’ offices and hospitals must have portals set up by 2015. While docs and patients have a daunting task to catch up to the technological advances and costs, I see an improving health care system in the works.  

Recently, I found out the results of my DEXA scan did not indicate Osteopororis, although Osteopenia remains. Furthermore my bone density has improved from the last test, so i'll stay on my exercise regiment and take one Calcium pill with Vitamin D3 daily.
  
Health innovators are coming up with even more ways to connect and communicate with patients, health care providers and families . One of those paths, besides the Patient Portals, includes doctor visits on a one to one video call via Skype.  

These  professional may offer a prescription or some good advice on how you might proceed. Prescriptions would not include narcotics.  The "visit" might cost around $25. It's a good first step if you can't get out and/or don't know what to do or where to go, or wonder how serious your condition might become without getting medical treatment. Is it an emergency or have you come down with a bad cold? 

Take your health seriously. 

References:  
Skype.com . go to features 
Check with a medical facility to see how to access a video chat with a doctor.

Link:
http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20141113/NEWS/141119819/1028/opinion?Title=LETTER-Patient-Portal-a-good-sign-for-health-care







Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIGITAL INNOVATIONS ADD UP TO A HAPPIER, HEALTHIER AND LONGER LIFE

Speaker engagement:

Carolyn Rhodes will present the program on How Can Modern Technology Influence a Writer's Success? 


The giant picture of how far we’ve come in technology may be overwhelming while at the same time unprecedented.  An entire world has connected, for better or worse, as we rely on the information superhighway to get us where we want to go and fast.  But did you know the human brain actually computes faster than your computer?  Time to slow down and smell the roses, but, don’t waste too much time staying current.  Your life or your career may depend on it.  

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest tech EXPO in the world was held in Las Vegas, January 2013.and 2014.  You can sign up for 2015 now. 

  Show stopping exhibits which stunned us with cutting edge technological innovations interwoven with all the glamour and glitz of a Vegas show – bringing us closer to a wireless world.  Celebrities, entrepreneurs, inventors and industry affiliates from the four corners of the globe rubbed elbows.  

  • ·         Lexus co-piloted a driverless car while other automakers introduced tech smart safer cars. LG’s exhibit, “Above and Beyond,” was a hit preview of the largest wall to wall  3D screen – a  spectacular sea of cinema;     SONY previewed a personal 3D movie viewer, a must have for on the go film lovers. A visitor pleaser is the 3-D printer.  Now, that's innovation!
  • ·         Smart phones controlling your kitchen appliances; environmentally friendly backpacks and shoulder bags with solar power integrating fuel cell technology; Lego introduced a build your own robot to be out mid-2013. Canon and Polaroid exhibited cameras for every photo enthusiast and film industry affiliates needs.  Additionally, noise cancellation headphones, wireless, tangle free cords and/or any accessory you could dream of owning was showcased, some new to 2013. The Ninja Mini Speakers are really a great addition for my audio on streaming and some recordings I made at the Mind, Body and Soul sessions.


  •          Eye candy-- ubiquitous and to name only a few more standouts, “Toy” air drones danced in sync alongside pretty booth girls who handed out flyers and sample products Gibson’s tent filled up with live entertainment in an ambiance of artfully decorated wall hangings of their guitars.  



  •    Going fishing, boating or skiing anytime soon?  Joy Factory introduced submergible waterproof and shockproof cases for tablets, I-pads and I-phones. 
  • Nexia Home Intelligence, displayed sophisticated home security systems which can be easily controlled from anyplace or anytime.    
Celebrity panelists Drs. Oz, Gupta and Deepak Chopra came together at CES.  Throughout their conversations and as each addressed the audience, the main theme centered around human connections -- first and foremost. Healthy has never been so easy to attain as new inventions and gadgets and apps become available.  As we continue to explore the mind, body and soul, Dr. Chopra and Oz discuss medicine and science bridge the gap and the importance of sharing what we know with one another -- towards a happy, healthier lifestyle.

  •         Exhibitors, (too many to mention),  had lots to show off for 2013.  Health Spot Live at CES integrated a tale-health system that enables patients “real-time” access to board certified doctors via high definition video conferencing;   Fitbit Wellness displayed modern day lifestyle fashion ready too.  A comprehensive rubber wireless activity- to- sleep wristband can track your every move 24/7 and the info can be uploaded to your PC or your wellness provider. Tracking and sharing your “numbers” has never been so manageable.

  •           Brain game exercises, gaming with Sony’s PlayStation or Microsoft’s X-Box Kinect is another way to share activities and exercises right at home with family and friends.  Additionally social networking has given us a voice to join forces, share what we know.  

CES attracts industry affiliates from around the world to bring us their latest inventions, their ideas and everything “tech” from medicine to science, entertainment, education, careers and every social connection.   How does technology color your world?

                                                                                     Contributions by Casey J. Rhodes 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE RECORDS SUCCESSFUL START


The health insurance exchanges opened enrollment  November 15th  to enable those who are uninsured to shop for insurance coverage for 2015. It looks like a big turnout according to the morning news on Monday, November 17th. 

Obamacare 2.0 is off to a start without a hitch so far.

If you already have a plan from 2014 you may have to pay more to keep it. If you don't mind change, a better price with more benefits, might be in your deal.   You will make new alliances with healthcare providers without looking back. New choices might save you save you in the pocket, but, choice wisely for your life might depend on it. 

On the flip side, who has time to do the research or make changes after getting cozy with your present health providers during 2014?  States show different options -- so maybe keep an open mind and one eye open for your state's offerings.  Saving money is good, however,  don't short change yourself in terms of what you may pay out before benefits kick in.   

 According to an article in the New York Times today, the Obama administration on Friday unveiled data showing that many Americans with health insurance bought under the Affordable Care Act could face substantial price increases in 2015  — in some cases as much as 20 percent — unless you  switch plans. The data became available just hours before the health insurance marketplace was to open to buyers seeking insurance for 2015.

Statistics from Gallup.com website relating to the third quarter of 2014,  uninsured rate in the U.S. was 13.4 %,  the lowest going back to 2008.  

How long will that be the case as each state has different offerings and for some folks while having no offering (low income status) for others who just cannot sign on.  It's predicted we're going to see higher prices within the next year, until around 2016, but how much will Americans have to pay out until more affordable prices and less deductibles and co pays take a step back when and if it all really becomes affordable for everyone. 

No secret to most of us is that Gallup has previously found that Americans' level of satisfaction with the healthcare system partly depends on their party identification. Currently, about three in four Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are satisfied with their healthcare situation, compared with 60% of Republicans and Republican leaners. 

 How will the  satisfaction level  remain favorable  when buyers are once again asked to leave their comfort zone with what insurance they now have  -- most likely asked to move to a different plan? Results will soon be on the table for social media to "kick" around.  Our leaders may smooth out the rough spots or dump it.. Gads. 

 It 's a no brainer that with republicans at the helm  some things will change.  Will potential buyers in 2015 bring down the latest poll from a satisfaction level in 2014 of 67%  to a new low?   Will an Arctic blast plummet the numbers of potential new signs -- sign off rather than sign on?  How much will our new congress want to ditch? 

  As waves are so often unpredictable in their journey to shore, can the Affordable Care Act stay afloat? We will soon find out who the winners are and who the losers are, and I mean we the people, not the parties we have voted in.  I don't know if I agree yet with President Obama that's it's a "win-win," for all of us . 

 Open enrollment ends on February15, 2015.  (Note these dates do NOT apply to Medicare open enrollment, which is December 7th.) Take your time and get the best plan offered.  Or, stick with what you know if it fits all your needs.  Get a clearer picture and try the following links.

References:  
http://www.gallup.com/poll/179294/americans-satisfied-health-system-works.aspx

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/us/politics/cost-of-coverage-under-affordable-care-act-to-increase-in-2015.html?

Tips: 
http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/10/4-tips-for-navigating-open-enrollment-for-insurance/



Monday, November 10, 2014

Are Americans illiterate who know nothing about American history, geography, or politics? How would our soldiers feel?

Are Americans  illiterate who know nothing about American history, geography, or politics? How would our soldiers feel?  
(edited: 11/12/2014)
Daughter of Mike Spann, American Hero

  •  If you do read, read the headlines of your local government happenings where  you will get to know all about us, the United States of America, for whom  our soldiers have died for our freedom time and again, war after war.  Please don’t be a zombie. Be a proud American and give our soldiers a reason to serve. 

Recently, a friend sent me a YouTube video where, at random, students on the campus of Texas Tech were asked simple questions about this country, its leaders and some of the most basic questions any American should know the answer to.   The results were shocking. Here it is – expect to be shot out of cannon into the minds of this generation’s college students -- space cadets.

 All of these students knew celebrities’ names, but not a one knew anything about the Civil War or our Independence Day, date or year.   I felt compelled to visit website in search of Texas Tech’s Mission Statement and boy it sure had my blood boiling.  I tried to place their students’ lack of government and history knowledge into the college’s mission.  Those interviewed did not fit their Mission Statement. 

“’…to enhance the cultural and economic development of the state, nation and the world.’”  

 I have always believed mission statements were the essence of what a corporation or university stands by.   At this college, I’d ask how one can lead a state, nation and the world with no comprehension about the country they live in, this beautiful country for which our children have died for its freedom?  

 The good news for Texas Tech is that a new student political organization, PoliTech, might have enlightened the academics  after the exposed  video on  some not so smart students. Will they  stand by their mission statement or change it to a lesser standard?   Maybe a course in freshman year for all majors would include American history and how we formed a congress, senate and an executive branch and who our leaders are.   

This is not the first time I witnessed American zombies in real life interviews. 

Jimmy Kimmel, a late night TV host,   interviews people on the street at random. Most of the time, it is hilarious, maybe it’s just dumb, but you get to laugh when you hear answers or blank stares to elementary questions   One night, I was absolutely horrified.  Not one out of the 10 plus interviewees knew the answer to, “Who is Joe Biden?”    One out of 10 responded slowly, “Isn’t he the President’s assistant?     It’s just funny – maybe because it’s really tragic and embarrassing.

I decided to find out where the “smart Americans are.” But the road kept leading back to the historically and politically challenged.  

 Here’s a good one from the lunch room scholars at a high school.  I’d like to think their brains are on half empty before eating for thought but I think it is just on a “don’t know, don’t care, or who?” basis accompanied by a shrug and a raised eyebrow.  Here’s a sampling from this diverse group.

 “Can you tell me what states border the United States?”  Ah, let‘s see now. He ponders and then asks, “South America?”  Apparently, he didn’t have a clue that is a continent. 

“What was the war America gained its Independence?”   And “Who won the Civil War?” Try for example as an answer, “America!” for Civil War and only one student knew the Revolutionary War gave us our independence.  As for the year of any of these two, let’s just say most  of the responses were in the wrong century.
   
My final YouTube video in search of  “ the smart people” in America lead me once again to to yet another video, entitled, "Idiocracy."   Mike Dice, author and activist, brought his questions to the viewers on a pathway overlooking the  Pacific Ocean.  It was breathtaking, the sun and blue skies overhead.  The people looked ordinary and yes, smart enough.  Could they answer the question who lives in the White House?
   
Who is Obama?”      After several of the “haven’t a clue,”  with a twitch of apathy, Mike  thanked his “ zombies,”  for being “morons” and that’s when I had to laugh out loud.  The laugh soon turned into a shaking of the head and total embarrassment. 

 If you don’t know the answers, google the question!   If you don’t know how to use a computer notebook, tablet, smart phone– get one of these. A world will open up to you.  OK,  if you don’t read, you can listen at the very least to the news of the day. There is usually one official name or another you can learn about.
    
 If you do read, read the headlines of your local government news where  you will get to know all about us, the United States of America.  This is the country you are privileged to live in whose soldi soldiers have died for our freedom time and again, war after war.  Please don’t be a zombie.

 Be a proud American and give our soldiers someone to be proud of -- the people they serve. 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nhRViM02Mk (for the Mike Dice interviews)