How Dirty is Your Phone? And How to Clean It

How dirty is your cell phone?

You’ve probably never stopped to think about it, but you should.

According to a recent study the average American checks their phone about 80 times a day. In fact, as many as 10% of those surveyed said they check their phones as much as 300 times a day.

This means we come into contact with them so much, that any harmful germs or bacteria they have can easily be transferred to us.

More importantly, you’ve probably never thought about the surfaces where you’ve left your phones.

Just how dirty are those surfaces? And, what other objects have been there before your phone.

Below, we take an in depth look at just how dirty your mobile phone is. And, how you can keep yourself safe from infection by properly cleaning it.

How Dirty Is Your Phone?

Here’s a quick quiz. Which of the following common things you touch is the dirtiest?

a) Toilet seat

b) Door knob

c) Your dog’s food bowl

d) Cellphone

e) Grocery store checkout screen

f) Kitchen counter

If you said (d), your cellphone, you’d be current!

Yes, all of these items carry a lot of germs. In fact, they all have more than 1,000 germs per square inch. But, your cellphone has by far the most number of germs and bacteria among them.

In fact, researchers at the University of Arizona found that high school student’s cellphones contained over 17,000 gene copies of bacteria. That’s 10 times more than what they observed in toilet seats.

Depending on the research you look at, the total number of germs in cellphones varies quite a bit. This ranges from about 17,000 per square inch all the way up to 25,000 per square inch.

A lot of this seems to depend on who’s using the cellphone, whether or not they do actually wipe their phones down, and where their put their phones. It also depends on the person handling the phone. People who wash their hands often tend to have cleaner phones.

What Germs Are On Your Phone?

Researchers who’ve swabbed phones say that common germs found in phones include fecal matter, salmonella, e. coli, MRSA and streptococcus. All of which are pathogens that can cause serious health problems.

Our phones collect a lot of germs because the environment we live in isn’t sterile. Wherever we go, be it your desk or at the restaurant, there are all sorts of bacteria and pathogens on these surfaces.

Additionally, about 75% of people bring their phones with them when they go to the bathroom. If you use them while you’re on the toilet, they have a very high likelihood of containing a lot of germs from there.

Surveys show that between 38% to 75% of people use their phones while in the bathroom. About a third of all bathroom phone users do it for social media.

But, even if you leave your phone in your pocket, they may still be susceptible. Germs and other microbes float up into the air whenever we flush the toilet.

More importantly, if you don’t wash your hands properly after using the toilet, then touch your phone, you’re directly transferring any germs and fecal matter onto it.

Washing Your Hands And Touching Your Phone

According to a survey of 100,000 people, Initial Washroom Hygiene found that 62% of men and 40% of women don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.

And, of the half that does wash their hands, about 97% don’t do it correctly. This is according to a 2018 study by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

They observed this by installing cameras in test kitchens which allowed them to see whether the participants correctly washed their hands.

The researchers found that the most common shortcomings when it came to handwashing was not using soap and water, and not washing for at least 20 seconds.

Because we can’t see or smell bacteria, it’s easy to assume that you’ve done a thorough job of washing your hands. But, that isn’t necessarily true. The only way to see whether there are bacteria left after washing your hands is by putting them under blue light.

Can Your Phone Make You Sick?

Just having these microbes on your phone won’t automatically make you sick, Whittier says, but you still don’t want to let them enter your system. Viruses can also spread on phones if one person is sick with strep throat or influenza and coughs on their cell phone before handing it off to a friend.

While there are a lot of germs on your phone, researchers say that you’re unlikely to get sick from your phone.

Most of the germs found in mobile phones are natural bacteria and microbes that come from your skin. These microbes naturally occur in our skin. And, they aren’t harmful to health. At least, for healthy individuals who don’t have the cough, cold or flu.

These, along with the oils and natural bacteria from your hands are transferred to your phone whenever your touch, text, call or swipe on your phone.

Unlike some of the other germs, these aren’t pathogens. So, they won’t make you sick.

Similarly, while there are some more worrying germs like staphylococcus there, these aren’t necessarily the same strains that cause staph infection.

That said, you do need to be wary about a few of the bacteria that stays on your phone. These often come from the surfaces it touches, where you leave them. At the same time, touching infected areas or coming into contact with sick people then touching your phone afterward also leaves these pathogens there.

As we touched on earlier, the bathroom is one of the worst places to use your phone. This makes it more likely to come into contact with fecal matter and e. coli. Both of which can make you sick.

How to Clean Your Phone

So, one of the most important things to keep your phone clean is to sanitize it regularly.

The good news is, it’s fairly quick and easy to do so.

All you need is a microfiber cloth. With that, just wipe down your phone’s screen as well as the sides and back. This is good enough to eliminate common bacteria that’s present on your phone.

But, to handle more serious pathogens like e. coli, you will need to use stronger cleaners. Alcohol and bleach are two effective ways of doing so.

All you need to do is mix a 40% of alcohol with 60% of water. Then dip the cloth not the mixture and gently wipe down your phone thoroughly. Doing this once a week or every two weeks will help improve the cleanliness of your phone. And, it will significantly reduce your risk of getting an infection from it.

Similarly, there are some special products that are available for cleaning your phone. These cost a bit more but get rid of the extra work on your part.

One example is the Phone Soap, which uses UV (ultra violet) light to sanitize your phone. The UV light effectively kills the germs and bacteria on your phone. So, all you need is to place it into the Phone Soap casing and leave it for a few minutes. The UV-C Light is designed to kill 99.9% of harmful bacteria on your phone.

Finally, it’s always important to wash your hands properly. This makes sure that you aren’t transferring a lot of harmful bacteria to your phone or anything else you touch. This includes your eyes, nose and mouth all of which can quickly make you sick.

Smart Gardening Tech, Tools & Gadgets for Your Yard

Thanks to modern technology, you don’t need to have years of gardening experiences to be able to successfully grow your own lawn, flower bed or vegetable patch. The right smart gardening tech lets you get started and avoid all the mistakes that many beginners make.

Smart garden and lawn technology range from tools, apps and gadgets that help you monitor soil quality, adjust to the weather and manage the planting process. This lets you quickly get off and running when it comes to seeding, planting, watering and fertilizing your plants, both indoors and outdoors.

Because there are so many different types of garden and lawn care tech around, we’ve decided to break them up into groups to help you figure out which you need most.

Plant Sensors

Plant and soil sensors are one of the most useful types of gardening technology around. They supply you a lot of information about the current status of your plants and soil. This allows you to know if they’re healthy, need watering or more sunlight.

All you need to do is place these devices into the soil near your plants. They will then collect information about the surfaces and send this data to your mobile devices. Most sensors come with apps you can install in your cellphone or tablet. Some also come with website logins that allow you check all the information on your laptop.

Thanks to them, you’re better able to care for your plants. They’ll tell you the nutrition levels, humidity, amount of light, moisture and temperature the plants are getting. This lets you know if you need to make some adjustments to your watering schedule, change or increase the amount of fertilizer you’re using.

Some also come with recording capabilities. This allows you to keep track of all the things you’ve collected along with the actions you’ve taken. Many also offer recommendations based on the type of plant you have. So, you don’t just get generic results.

Here are a few plant sensors we like.

  • Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor
  • Edyn Wi-Fi Smart Garden Sensor
  • sPlant Soil Sensor

Smart Sprinklers

These are the high tech version of your traditional garden sprinklers. Most are designed to replace your sprinkler’s controller system, although some also come with the sprinkler head itself.

Smart sprinklers help you in many ways.

  • Use weather forecasts. This allows them to know whether it’s going to be sunny or rainy. Doing so lets you increase or moderate the amount of water the release
  • Remote control and scheduling. You’ll be able to control and change the settings using your smart phone. This lets you adjust how much water and when the sprinkler should work.
  • Conserve water. Besides helping your plants get the proper amount of water, they are also designed to save you water. The scheduling feature as well as knowing the weather forecast allows them to use optimal amounts of water, without overdoing it.
  • Divide your lawn or garden into zones. This lets you control which areas of your garden gets more, or less water, and when. By splitting it into zones, you can tell the sprinkler which zones it should water, how much it should dispense and when to do so.

When it comes to smart sprinkler systems here are a few products that work very well

  • Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
  • Orbit B-hyve WiFi Sprinkler Timer
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro Smart Watering Controller

Weather Sensors

If you do a lot of outdoor gardening, weather sensors are a great tool to have. But, they’re also useful for certain types of indoor use.

Weather sensors are a step up above the common free weather apps. In addition to letting you know the weather forecast, the also have the ability to monitor air quality indoors as well as air pressure, humidity and temperature.

This makes them useful whether you’re doing indoor or outdoor gardening, albeit you’ll be using different features of these devices for each.

These sensors also lend themselves to a few other uses including monitoring your child’s nursery and wine cellar environment. They’ll be able to track the surrounding air, temperature and other metrics that will help you figure out whether the environment is optimal for that room in your home.

In general, there aren’t too many weather sensors around. And, they offer varying features. Here are a couple popular products.

  • Netatmo Weather Station
  • Bloomsky

Robot Lawn Mowers

Robot lawn mowers are like robotic vacuum cleaners but for your gardens. They aren’t as far developed as their vacuum counterparts. So, we recommend waiting a while before investing in one.

Robotic lawn mowers are designed to make mowing your lawn hands-free. The are small flat rectangular devices with two wheels on their sides or towards the rear.

Very similar to robot vacuums, they run of smart technology that allows them to navigate through your lawn. This system lets them the entire area methodically. All the while maneuvering around obstacles and turning on corers and edges. At the bottom of the machine are mower blades which cut grass.

These high tech lawn mowers do require some set up in the beginning. Currently, most of them require quite a bit. We do expect that to become much less tedious as the technology develops.

If you want to learn more about robot lawn mowers, check out Robomow. They’ve been manufacturing these devices for years. Although we do warn you that the prices are still quite expensive.

Indoor Gardens

If you give in an urban location or a city where apartments and townhouses are the norm, then you may not have a lot of space for an outdoor garden. But, that doesn’t mean you need to give up on having some plant life at home.

Plants offer a lot of benefits. This is true even when they’re grown indoors.

  • Improve oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. We as humans breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Plants do the opposite. This helps increase the amount of breathable air indoors.
  • They make your home more beautiful. Well maintained plants positioned in the right areas of your home improve its ambience. They also make it brighter and more welcoming, which is why many service related establishments have plants at their reception areas.
  • Natural stress relievers. Studies show that indoor plants help reduce stress. This is true both in the workplace as well as at home.
  • They boost happiness and productivity. Having plants around also help boost your mood. They’ve been shown to make people happier and get more things done.

To help you grow flowers, vegetable or herbs indoors even if you’re a beginner, here are some useful indoor gardening tools and gadgets that help.

  • AeroGarden
  • NanoFarm
  • Click and Grow Smart Garden

7 Planting & Gardening Apps for Beginners (iPhone, iPad & Android)

Need help planting? We’ve got 7 perfect gardening apps for beginners that you can use with your iPhone, iPad and Android devices. These apps range from the plant and flower identifiers all the way to those that will guide you step by step on how to grow your garden.

Some even have planting calendars that are specific to your area. This will let you know when the best times are to start planting certain vegetables, herbs or fruits no matter what part of the country you live in.

So if you’re new to gardening or just have some specific issues you want to know about without having to pay experts to do so, these mobile phone and tablet apps are for you.

Planting & Gardening Apps for Beginners

1. Garden Answers

Garden Answers is one of the best apps if you need to identify plants in your garden. It comes with a database of more than 20,000 plants and useful information about them.

All you need to do is use your phone to take a picture of the plan and click the submit button. The app does the rest and tells you what the plant is.

In addition to helping you identify different plants, it can also help you with pests and diseases. All you need is to click to see whether your plant has a problem with pest infestation or disease.

It is one of the most popular apps for gardening with over 2,000,000 users. And is available for both the iPhone and Android.

2. Garden Compass

Garden Compass is very similar to Garden Answers, although it started out more or a plant care app that helps you keep your plants healthy.

Now, it’s a more complete app in that it comes with the ability to identify whether your plant has disease or pests. To help you do so, all you need to do is take a picture of the spots or abnormal things happening to your plant. Then, send it through the app.

Garden Compass puts you in touch with over 100 experts who will then take a closer look an analyze the problem before giving you a definite diagnosis. It also works the same way for pests.

This is a great way to have plant experts with you whenever you need them.

3. Garden Time Planner

Garden Time Planner is a useful app for beginners or green thumbs who want a reference on when the best times to plant or harvest. They give you information on what are the best plants or vegetables to plant during specific times of the year. And, it’ll will also tell you what’s the best way to do so in your region.

In addition to telling you the best dates to start planting in your area, it likewise includes a checklist of things to do. This step by step instructions makes it easier to get things right without missing out on any important details.

Finally, you can look up the weather and frost dates to be prepared.

4. Leafsnap

Available for iPhone and iPad users only, Leafsnap is a free app that helps you identify trees based on their leaves. It is a collaboration by researchers from the Smithsonian Institute, Columbia University and University of Maryland.

Their database includes a lot of the trees in the Northeastern part of the country and Canada. This is probably because that’s where the institutions are located. But, they are expanding their collection of high resolution images to the rest of the U.S.

The app contains beautiful images of fruits, flowers, seeds and leaves among other things.

5. Vegetable Tree

One of the top selling apps for gardening on iTunes, Vegetable tree helps you with get started with gardening. It provides information for planting, watering and germinating. You also get useful information about how to keep fruits and vegetable healthy in your backyard.

The app is very useful for homeowners whether you do indoor or outdoor gardening. It explains the different factors involved in both situations that will let you grow plants in these environments.

6. Gardenate

Gardenate is one of the highest ranked gardening apps around. It costs 99 cents on both the iTunes and Android stores.

Very helpful for homeowners who like to grow their own food, the app is loaded with information including planting calendars for different herbs, vegetables and fruits. This helps you know the best times for each type of plant.

It also allows you to record your progress helping you track when you started planting and when you should expect to harvest.

If you don’t live in the U.S., you’ll also be happy to know it includes information for international locations as well, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and South Africa.

7. Flower Checker

For the inner botanist in you, Flower Checker helps you identify the different flowers growing in your backyard. This is somewhat unique in that focuses more on flowers rather the vegetables, herbs and other greens that most apps do.

What sets Flower Checker apart is that they use real botanists to help you identify the flowers. This gives you accurate findings which make it a very highly rated app in both the iTunes and Android stores.

The app itself costs 99 cents bot for your iPhone and Android devices. But, you do need to pay for each flower you want to have the experts identify.

7 Ways to Protect Your Kids’ Identity Online

More and more kids are on the internet. In fact, mine are on their phones almost constantly. If they’re not chatting with friends, they’re usually on social media.

The time they spend online makes it important for us to know what they’re doing there. Not because we want to snoop. But, because we need to keep them safe from online predators and those looking to take advantage of them.

If you’re like me, your child is everything to you. And, if you don’t know where to start in ensuring their safety online, here are some tips that will help you do just that.

Kids and Online Identity Theft

According to Pew Research, over 90% of teens go online every day. And, about 45% of them say that they’re online almost constantly. That’s nearly double of what it was in 2015 (24%).

Among their most popular destinations are social media sites. As of 2018, video and photos have surpassed more conventional social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, at least for teens. Leading the pack are YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat where about 85%, 72% and 69% of teens say they use most.

Unlike websites, social media sites aren’t just for browsing, they encourage interacting. Plus, they also require users to submit their profiles which can include sensitive information like your photo and where you live.

This makes them more susceptible to identity theft.

If you thought identity theft only occurred in adults, think again. According to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research, over 1 million children fell victim to identity theft in 2017. And, over half of those were kids aged below 7 years old.

And because children aren’t as protective of their information as adults are, they are more likely to be targets of identity theft.

At the Center for Identity at The University of Texas at Austin, children are also 35 times more vulnerable to identity theft because they haven’t used credit or their social security numbers.

How to Protect Your Child’s Identity Online

To help you and your family avoid all the headaches and possible legal fees in the future, here are some ways to protect your identity online so that they’re secure from thieves’ prying eyes.

1. Educate Them About Identity Theft Before They Start

When they start engaging in social media, their identity is the last thing on their minds. Kids aren’t away are how important it is to keep sensitive information like their address and birth dates private.

So, it’s important to have a long talk with them about which information can be sensitive. Therefore, not something they should ever give out to people they don’t know.

Similarly telling them about the consequences of identity theft also helps.

2. Make Them Aware of the Different Scams Online

It is likewise important to make them away of the different strategies and approaches that these thieves use to befriend children. Role playing goes a long way since it helps them quickly recognize the situation when it happens again.

In general, strangers asking a lot of questions regarding their identity should be able to raise a red flag with your kids.

3. Protect Their Private Information

While making kids aware of the identity theft, its consequences and how they may be approached helps, many parents are taking it among themselves to keep their child’s identity safe.

Giving them a list of things they should never give out without notifying your first also goes a long way. These include sensitive information like home address, phone number, complete name and birthday.

It’s also important to let them know that each time they comment or post a photo online to think about whether it may expose them to these threats.

4. Monitor and Limit Their Time on Social Media

While the most obvious way of keeping your child’s identity safe is by not letting them use the internet or social media at all, this is a losing battle.

Because all their friends are using it, it’s almost impossible for them to stay away.

More importantly, if you try to keep them out, it’s more likely that they’ll keep it a secret from you. This keeps you in the dark about what they’re doing online, which can turn out to be more dangerous.

So, one way to help police their internet and social media use it to limit it. This can be in the form of what sites they can access and how long they can do so.

There are many apps that help you easily do this.

Additionally, knowing what they often use and visit on the web is important. Monitoring their email and social media use as well as knowing what their logins and passwords are helps.

If you think that monitoring your child is something not many parents do, think again.

Recent research shows that 70% of parents say they monitor their child’s social media use. Additionally, 46% of them have access their kid’s accounts.

5. Know When Your Child’s identity Has Been Compromised

On your end, it’s also important to know when something has gone wrong. This allows you to quickly act to prevent it from escalating.

Knowing the warning signs also lets you verify whether or not their identity has in fact, been stolen.

Here are some things to look out for that may mean your kid’s identity has been compromised.

  • Loan and credit card offers. While not always a sure sign of identity theft, most young children and teens don’t receive these offers unless they’ve used credit or applied for it.
  • Medicaid and other government benefits. Getting a notice from these institutions saying their Social Security Number is already is used is almost always a bad sign.
  • IRS notices. Children don’t have income. So, they shouldn’t have taxes to file. If the IRS tells you your child hasn’t paid their taxes, then something not right.

6. Use Safe Passwords

According to SplashData, people continue to use some common passwords that make it easy for strangers to hack their account. And, get access to their sensitive information.

At the top of the list are these bad passwords and their variations.

1. 123456
2. Password
3. 12345678
4. 12345
5. Qwerty

7. Turn off Geotagging

Many online websites and social media services offer location services. This makes it easy to see where you are at any given time.

Other services tag the date, time and location of your photos. This gives them an idea of where you’ve been, allowing them to trace your regular path.

If someone was interested in getting hold of your child’s information, they’d be able to figure out where they can find them simply by observing their common routines.

By noting down the locations and times where your child is at for a week or so, they’ll be able to tell when they’re home, in school and where else they often go. And, at what time to expect them there.

Closing Thoughts

As of 2017, over 2.5 billion people are on social media in one form or another. Children make up a good portion of these users. And, that number is rapidly increasing. As parents, it’s important to safeguard your child’s identity so they don’t have to deal with its consequences when they grow up.

6 Cool Smart Devices to Help Automate Your Home

In recent years, smart home products have slowly made their way into store shelves. While they’re still in their developmental stages, we’re now seeing more and more companies producing smart appliances.

It may not be time yet to invest in smart home, but, you these cool gadgets can make your home a little bit smarter.

What are Smart Home Appliances?

Smart home devices or appliances are gadgets that you can control from your smartphone. They are all part of movement towards building smart homes, which are envisioned to improve comfort, security and convenience.

Most smart devices today are controlled by either your voice or smartphone. They’re connected, usually by the internet, which allows them to communicate with one another.

This lets you turn them on or off without having to be near the device. You can likewise remotely modify their settings and schedule them. Finally, another feature common to smart home products are their ability to learn and adjust to your preferences, which helps optimize use and energy consumption.

Here are some of the best smart devices you can easily integrate into your home.

Smart Speakers

Nope. These aren’t your run of the mill speakers you attach to your stereo or MP3 player. Instead, they’re voice assistants.

Unlike your conventional plug in or Bluetooth speakers, these do more than emit sounds from a digital device. They are more technologically advanced, making them capable of understanding voice commands and responding to them.

In order to do so, they fitted with smart systems that lets them decipher voice controls. They’re also connected to the internet which allows them to answer your questions.

Popular devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home let you control different appliances in your home as well. This lets you shout out voice commands to turn the lights on or off. Similarly, you can instruct it to increase or decrease the A/C or heating.

In addition to helping you around the home and doing small tasks like play music, tell you the weather and act as a kitchen timer, they can also be linked to many popular apps.

This lets you quickly order an Uber or check for flights just by asking it to.

The two most popular smart speakers in the market are Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.

Amazon Alexa

Alexa is our favorite smart speaker. We like it because it offers the most functionality with your home. This lets you control many of your home’s devices just by commanding it. It definitely saves us time and the extra effort of going from one place to another.

Similarly, Alexa works with more third party apps and devices. This lets you do more things online including check the weather and buy things without having to turn on your laptop.

Google Home

Google Home has its advantage when it comes to connectivity with other Google devices. It lets you play music and upload your songs online. Since it’s made by Google, it does have the ability to answer your questions the best. We also like its nice, sleek exterior and set up. But, it isn’t compatible with many home devices.

Nest Learning Thermostat

If you live in a city where it can get really hot in the summer and cold in the winter, this Nest Learning Thermostat is something that can make your home feel cozier the whole year round.

This product has been the top smart thermostat for many years now, and for good reason. We also like that Nest doesn’t rest on its laurels, making improvements each time the next generation comes out.

Unlike your standard home thermostats you need to adjust by hand, this one makes climate control easier. Its smart system allows it to learn your behaviors and preferences so that it can moderate the temperature to your liking.

Just as importantly, its smart feature allows it to configure the settings, so you reduce energy consumption which helps lower your utility expenses.

In addition to controlling your home’s temperature, it now also includes home security and automation.

Rachio WiFi Smart Lawn Sprinkler Controller

For homeowners with green thumbs, Rachio’s smart sprinkler system lets you maintain a more beautiful lawn with less work.

This smart sprinkler controller takes the place of your standard controller. It is connected to your smart phone. This allows you to monitor and control your sprinkler system as you wish.

The settings make it easy to control how much water is used, schedule when the sprinkler goes on and notifies you when it starts or stops.

It comes with weather intelligence which helps you make better decisions. Plus, you’ll be able to set certain areas of your lawn or garden into zones. This lets you run different watering schedules based on the zones.

LG Smart InstaView Fridge

For your kitchen, LG’s line of smart refrigerators adds a new dimension to food storage. At the forefront of this product is its Instaview technology, which is labels as Door in Door.

The reason for this is that on the front panel of their smart fridge you’ll see a large tinted window. When you knock twice on the window, the tint turns translucent allowing you to quickly see your fridge’s contents without opening the door.

This ingenious addition helps save time and energy. Since you don’t open the door, you don’t let any of the cool temperature get out.

To make the fridge smarter, it also has Alexa voice controls built into it.

This lets you quickly find recipes for food that are about to expire in your fridge. Alexa will also walk you through the recipe step by step.

If you own other LG smart products under its ThinkQ series, the InstaView fridge will also be able to send instructions to them. For example, tell the oven about the lasagna recipe so it already knows what temperature and times to use. Or, communicate with your dishwasher to tell to be ready to clean a tray with oven cooked cheese.

Whirlpool Smart Ovens

Among your many kitchen appliances, ovens require a bit of handling. You need to set the temperature and the timer as well.

Whirlpool’s smart ovens take a lot of the extra work out, whether you’re cooking a turkey or roast.

These smart ovens make it easier to control offering you a number of ways to do so. Of course, there’s the traditional way via its control panels.

But, in addition, it also lets you do so with your smart phone. This lets you keep the food warm for dinner or defrost it so you don’t run behind schedule.

You can also give it cooking instructions through your phone, allowing it to automatically adjust the temperature when the time comes. This lets you do other things while staying on top of whatever you’re cooking.

Finally, you can instruct it via voice commands. It works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home which makes it easy to control even when you’re far from the oven itself.

U by Moen

This is a smart shower that makes it easier to relax and get cleaned up before or after you day. The U by Moen Smart Shower comes with Alexa voice controls. This lets you tell it when to start, stop or pause.

In addition, there are two other ways you can command the shower, these are via your phone or the wall controller that will be installed with it.

Besides being able to tell it when to start and stop in order to conserve more water, you can also schedule your shower length to make sure you don’t stay too long in there, especially in the morning.

Similarly, its temperature controls, let you set how warm you want the water to be when you get in there, all through your phone.

7 Genius Ways to Use Your Smart Phone in the Kitchen

Did you know that your phone can be a great help when cooking? In this article, we look at some of the genius ways to use your smart phone in the kitchen.

In recent times, cellphones and food are two things that often come together at the table. When you’re at home, your kids are probably on their phones texting or browsing. When eating out, many of us pull out our phones to snap a picture of our food.

That said, your smart phone isn’t limited to eating time. In fact, it’s very useful in the kitchen as well. Here are some of the most common things home chefs use their phones for.

1. Find and Collect Delicious Recipes

Your phone is a treasure trove of recipes that are waiting to be discovered. Whatever kind of recipe you’re looking at you can easily find them thanks to the many apps around.

In addition to apps, there’s Pinterest which contains a huge collection of dishes you can make for every occasion. And, if you’re a fan of a specific chef or home cook, all you need to do is go to their website and check out their latest creations.

Free recipe apps like AllRecipes, Yummily, Epicurious and BigOven all have thousands of recipes you can search and sort through. They’re perfect if for finding breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack ideas.

You can also filter them, so they show certain types of recipes. This lets you quickly find, recipes that are less than 30 minutes to make, vegetarian dishes or gluten free meals.

If you want to know a recipe for a certain food, you can also try Pic2Recipe, which can find recipes for you along with their step by step instructions all from just supplying it with a picture of the dish.

2. Run Different Timers at the Same Time

My phone’s timer is one of the things I use most. It helps me keep track of different things and prevents me from spending too much time on one task.

In the kitchen, your phone’s timer lets you monitor different things at the same time. Most cellphones only come with a single timer. That is, you can only use one at a time. If that’s all you need for keeping track of something you’re stewing or steaming, then, that’s great.

For me, I need a bit more. That’s why I love Timer+ so much. It lets you set all the timers your need. This makes it easy to leave the laundry going while you’re busy in the kitchen.

Similarly, it’s perfect for when your cooking a few dishes at the same time. This lets you keep track of how far they’re all in. All the while, you’ll be able to do something else in the meantime.

This really takes out a lot of effort on having the keep rechecking each pot.

3. Converting Measurements

If you bake or like to be precise on measuring ingredients, try a number of different kitchen calculator apps that make converting measurements quick and simple.

This is something that really helps me a lot because I’m not very good at math. In the kitchen, a lot of the recipe ingredients call for fractions. That can be a bit daunting for me when I need to add or subtract.

Also, I don’t have the entire conversion tables memorized. Apps make it easy for me to convert grams to ounces. And, use the right conversions and units even in both liquids and solid foods.

Knowing how many ounces of beef for example also makes it easy to tell my butcher how much I need. Plus, it lets you have a basic idea of how much it costs, which helps me with our budget.

4. Learn How to Cook Different Foods

Thanks to the internet and all the wonderful apps in your phone, it’s so easy to learn new cooking techniques. I remember when I used to stir fry everything because that was the easiest.

I wasn’t comfortable with poaching, had problems getting the temperature right when grilling and didn’t know how to make steamed foods delicious.

That’s all changed. And, the best part about it is that all I had to do was look things up.

It did take a bit of reading and experimenting. But, it’s so much easier when you can see the correct steps laid out before you. And, you can always ask around for help when you hit certain problems.

Besides learning to cook, I also credit my phone for helping figure out how to cook some foods properly.

I used to have problems with fish sticking on the pan and grill. Cooking chicken breast was also an issue because it would come out dry. And, getting steaks to the right medium rare doneness was hit or miss.

While it took a while to figure them out, I can consistently do them well without messing up the dish.

5. Finding Substitutes for Ingredients

If you or any of your family members have food restrictions, your phone is a great place to look for substitutes. This lets you swap out certain ingredients from recipes and use options that are more amendable to you or your family’s dietary needs.

This makes it easy to convert your favorite dishes into healthier options, be it low calorie, gluten free or vegetarian.

In addition to being able to substitute ingredients for dietary purposes, your phone can also help you find alternatives to ingredients you don’t have. Whether you’ve run out of them at home or your local store doesn’t carry them, odds are these ingredients can be substituted by other foods or combination of items.

6. Learning Nutrition Information and Ingredients

Along with many recipes, you’ll also find their nutrition data. This helps you figure out how many calories that dish has, its sodium, carb and nutrient content as well.

This helps you limit your calories to stay in good shape. And, it will help you ensure that you get most of the nutrients your body needs.

In addition to the nutrition labels, you can also search data for specific foods. This will help you figure out how much protein there is in chicken, pork and beef. Or, if you’re looking for healthy fats to add to your diet, which foods contain the most omega-3 fatty acids.

Your phone also helps a lot when it comes to produce. Apps like Perfect Produce lets you quickly look up which fruits and vegetables are in season. It also includes useful guides in choosing produce, how to tell if they’re ripe, store and prepare them.

7. Take Pictures of Your Creations

Finally, be proud of your own creations. Use your phone to snap a picture of your dinner and share it with your friends on Instagram. Your phone is fully equipped to take high resolution photos that look amazing, even if you’re not a photographer.

After you’ve taken the picture, you can beautify the image by sharpening it and making sure the colors are right, with your phone’s photo editing tools.

Also, you can take photos of the dishes you’ve ordered when eating out. You can use this to try and recreate the recipe or share it to your friends.

HTC One X and Evo 4G LTE Finally Cleared By US Customs

The current shipment of HTC EVO 4G delay has everyone asking when the phones will be available. Now, there’s some good news to bring to the table as some of the products that were stuck in customs have gotten clearance. This will let them get through US Customs after being delayed.

Earlier, there have been news that customs reviews are causing the delay of the new devices. This has prevented the company from moving forward with its planned release date. As a result, pushing back the launch until they’re able to get their items clear of the customs.

After a lot of wait, the devices seem to be coming in slowly through the review. This is in contrast to earlier in May when they weren’t allows to get through at all. Still, it may take a bit of time before the entire shipment comes through considering the lengthy extra checkups that’s being conducted I customs.

In addition to the HTC EVO 4G, the HTC One X is also stuck there. One of the questions being raised is why the products are actually not getting though. And, why they require “reviews”.

Among the possibilities is Apple’s current complaint about its patent regarding data detection. This possibility of infringement is the main reason why the shipment was indefinitely delated earlier in May. The agency is currently thoroughly investigating the patent issues. So, until they’re completely satisfied, which they seem like is happening, you won’t see the release of the new phones in stores till then.

HTC EVO 4G LTE Review

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is designed to compete with high end phones like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy. That said, HTC is currently on the down end of the race with Apple dominating the market and Samsung continuously taking more market share away from HTC.

The question is, will the new HTC EVO 4G LTE help bring the brand back up?

This new handset release for 2012 is set to feature new apps, more sophisticated use and faster speeds. We’re also seeing some design additions that look good so far.

The HTC EVO 4G LTE comes with a good sized screen at 4.8 inches. It is still a relatively small phone so how much you like its feel really depends on you. If you like a more comfortable handle on your handset, you’ll probably like larger phones.

In addition to the the size, it comes with a slim, sleek design. You have some metal parts on the case especially at the edges. Still it is very thin in terms of design.

On the side, you have a very accessible and easy to push power button. While the volume toggle controls are on the right side. Both the buttons are not too obvious if you look from afar. But, they protrude just enough to make it easy to use them.

One of the new things we see with this release is the kickstand. This is something introduced in some Sprint phones and also the earlier HTC ones. What you get is plastic stand the snaps outwards from the back of the phone. This lets you keep the phone up while you do something else. We like its practicality since it lets you easily see and use the phone when on the stand.

The screen uses a Super LCD 2 technology and comes with 1280 x 720 pixels. This gives you the highest resolution available as of today. So, you can expect the same high quality images and videos that you seen on the HTC EVO 4G.

As for OS, it comes with Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. This is the newest release of the OS so you can’t get any newer than that.

In addition to the high quality image and video resolution you also get Beats Audio so the sound is great. It’s definitely much better than many other phones around. This lets you place music apps on your device and enjoy it.

The HTV EVO 4G LTE runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 processor. Ihas 1 GB or RAM and 16 GB of internal storage via flash. The 8 MP camera in the rear and 1.3 MP camera in front give you the ability to take pictures whichever way you’re at.

Overall, this is a nice release that we really like. It is fast, and has good Wi-Fi capability. The video, camera and audio are top notch and you get the newest apps available.

First look at marketing materials for HTC EVO 4G LTE, May release date is confirmed

News just leaked that the HTC EVO 4G LTE is set to be released to the public on May 18 (Friday). Along with this news are some exclusive photos of the marketing materials that will be on the Sprint store shelves by May 14. This gives the stores enough time to set them up for display for the product’s May 18th launch.

The release of this information verifies the recent rumors about the latest EVO model to hit stores. The day is on track with what we’ve heart and this will be way ahead of the initial rumors that have targeted the release of the new products for June 6.

Sprint will be accepting pre-orders for the new EVO 4G LTE starting May 7. This means that you will be able to sign up via Best Buy or directly through Sprint’s websites. The EVO 4G LTE is set to retail at $199.99. But, you can check for other retailers for discounts. This includes Amazon Wireless which often provides a lower price for customers. This will give you a chance to get the new release at the cheaper price much like they’re offering the HTC One X.

Here are some more of the exclusive photos.

The new EVO 4G LTE will include the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a 4.7 inch HD LCD display. It also houses Beats audio, running on a 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor. You’ll enjoy 1 GB of RAM and an 8MP camera for photos. Internal memory is set at 16GB.

Nandroid Browser Lets You Browse Files From NANDroid Backups

Nandroid backups are an essential piece anytime you decide to root your phone. But, it is designed to make a complete backup. This makes it a hassle if you only need to only do a few files because you can’t.

With the current setup, the Nandroid backups will have to be done in full, then restored as well. So, if you happen to only need one or a few files, you’ll still need to go through the entire process of backing up the new setup then restoring the old backup and finally, recovering the new backup to get the data there.

Now, there’s a new app that will save you all the extra trouble of having to do those repetitive steps again should you only want to extract specific files form your full backups.

Enter the Nandroid Browser. Aptly name for its ability to let you browse any Nandroid backup, you’ll be able to select individual files for extraction from the full backups. This saves you the time and effort of having to recover the entire full backup just to restore a few files.

The Nandroid browser not only lets you inspect the different files, it also allows you to open, copy and share the files individually. Best of all, it’s very easy to use and its free. Yes, no money out needed to access and use this fast file manager for Nandroid backups.

So, if you like rooting your phone to try the newest hacks you see on the web, this is going to be a very useful tool. You won’t need to restore the entire backup anymore. Instead, you can navigate through the backup and look for the files you want. You can open them or copy them depending on what you’re doing.