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Review: AmazonBasics A100 USB-Powered Computer Speakers

Last year I purchased a brand new PC for my new freelance career and was able to choose what components were used to build it which was great; except that I forgot to ask for speakers to be included!

Until recently I had been using some external speakers which had started to play up and wouldn’t always work due to power failures (despite being plugged in) so I decided to look for an alternative.

Knowing that I didn’t need to have super duper speakers I decided to look for a decent basic speaker setup to use with my computer and whilst browsing Amazon I came across the AmazonBasics A100 USB-Powered Computer Speakers which looked perfect for the job, so I ordered them for £11.99.

The AmazonBasics speakers have been designed to be compact with a simple, elegant modern design ideal perfect for setting up on a desk. They have been made to connect to almost any music player (phone, tablet, computer) via the attached 3.5mm stereo audio cable.

The speakers have a total RMS Power of 3W (1.5 per speaker) and are powered by 5V via USB, with LED power indicator and easy to use volume control with On / Standby functions. They weigh in at 572 g and at 7.8 x 7.8 x 12.5 cm they are great for moving around the house or putting in a bag and taking them with you.

When the box arrived it included two speakers (left and right) with an attached 3.5mm stereo audio cable and AC power plug.  Setting them up was super easy, you just need to plug the USB cable into your device or the wall (mine plugs into my powered USB bus) and plug the 3.5mm jack into your audio device and you are set.

I have found that the sound produced by the AmazonBasics speakers is clear and bright both for computer notifications as well as playing music to keep me entertained whilst working. The speakers work seamlessly with my computer with no connectivity problems and so far have shown no signs of power failure. The volume control lowers and raises the sounds well and the louder sounds are as clear as the quieter tones.

The only slight annoyance with the speakers is that they do require 3 cables to work – connecting the speakers together, the speakers to the power and the speakers to the audio source. Although this doesn’t bother me too much as they are just set up behind my computer monitor it might bother some people. If you are one of these people then a more costly wireless alternative may be for you.

Despite being a budget, basic product the AmazonBasics speakers feel well built and have been working brilliantly since they arrived. They have certainly made a difference to me when I’m working as I can hear notifications and can enjoy background music to keep me motivated!

I award the AmazonBasics speakers 5 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a basic but effective product.

amazon basics speakers

Update: Global Marketing Exchange Program

The Global Marketing Exchange is a marketing apprenticeship program for the digital generation. We help companies & agencies identify exceptional young talent for their teams, while at the same time providing life-changing career building opportunities for the next generation of marketing leaders.

Dedicated to the marketing industry the Global Marketing Exchange program recruits matches mentors and coaches talented international graduate trainees equipped with a range of marketing and digital skills with 12-month work experience opportunities at organisations, where they can add valuable support and a fresh international perspective while building their careers.

The Global Marketing Exchange currently places trainees with these host organisations; Thomson Reuters, The Financial Times, O’Shaughnessy Asset Management, Vertic NYC among others

The benefits for candidates of the Global Marketing Exchange program:

  • 12-month work experience and training placement at an NYC company or agency
  • Stipend of (US) $22,000 per year, paid monthly
  • J1 visa provided (excluding SEVIS fee & MRV fees)
  • Medical insurance coverage
  • Unlimited MTA Metro card for travel around NYC
  • Support with accommodation in NYC, (first-month rent covered)
  • Personal senior industry mentor for the duration of the program year
  • Smart phone with appropriate domestic call & data plan
  • Professional support in NYC

Start dates for 2017 trainee placements:

New York City program: Spring, Summer & Autumn 2017
London program: Spring 2018

For more information contact:

Tim Mickelborough
Founder & Chief Marketing Officer
Tel: +1 646 2892537
Email: tim.mickelborough@globalmep.com

 

Global Marketing Exchange

Review: We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board

You may have caught on that I have a bit of a stationery addiction and having recently gotten bored of using plain envelopes for my penpal correspondence I decided to look into alternative ways of jazzing up my letters by making my own envelopes.

If you are the patient sort you will be able to work out and draw the net for an envelope with only a ruler and a pencil, however, if you’re more like me and prefer to use a gadget to help you then there are a range of craft products out there to use, like the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board which I discovered on Amazon.

An envelope punch board is designed to help you easily make bespoke envelopes in dozens of sizes. The We R Memory Keeps board provides a scoreboard (with score groove guide), 2-way envelope punch, bone folder (a creepy name for the scoring tool to make folds easy) and measurement chart to make sure you get the right dimensions.

The punch board is easy to use and even has the instructions printed on the front for you to follow:

  1. Select the size of your paper by using the measurement guide for the size you desire (I have focused on 4×6 inch which is perfect for my penpal letters).
  2. Line the left-hand edge of your paper up with the ruler at the top of the board, using the score line measurement from the guide.
  3. Press down on the punch to create a perfect notch and use the bone folder tool to score the paper along the score groove guideline in the scoreboard.
  4. Rotate your paper 90 degrees, this time rather than lining the paper up with the ruler, line up the score mark you just made with the score guide on the middle punch; punch, score and rotate as before.
  5. Continue punching, scoring and rotating around until you’ve done all 4 corners of the envelope. You have created your net!
  6. Neaten up the corners by using the reverse side of the punch – slip the corner into the slot and press the punch to create a nice round corner.
  7. Now simply fold along all the score lines and apply your preferred adhesive (I use a Fullmark glue roller)
    to the bottom panels to create the envelope shape.

This might sound fiddly but in reality, it’s just measuring, punching, scoring and rotating. After discovering how easy it was I was able to make lots of envelopes in a matter of minutes! I now have a stack of bespoke, pretty envelopes which I have made in stock ready to be sent out around the globe to my penpals.

So far I have not found any problems using the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board, but it does pay to be exact when aligning and punching the paper. I really love how the bone folder tool conveniently slots into the board so it doesn’t get lost between uses.

I have really loved using the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board to create my own fancy envelopes and recommend it to anyone who is bored of using boring, plain stationery for sending letters. I award the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board 5 out of 5 stars and can’t wait to get some more paper to make some more envelopes with it!

We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board

Making an Envelope

Rounding envelope corners

Finished Envelope made with Punch Board

Introducing Lumity Life Anti-Aging Supplement

Last year I turned 30 and although I don’t really worry about growing old too much I do try to look after my skin in the hopes of always looking healthy. For years I have used the basic regime of cleanse, tone and moisturise in order to help support my skin and had never thought of taking a supplement to help support this routine.

Lumity Life Anti-Aging Supplement is a targeted nutritional supplementation designed to support health, vitality and beautiful skin by working around-the-clock via its 2-step formula. Simply take 3 coffee coloured capsules in the morning and 3 milk coloured capsules at bedtime.

The nutrients in the coffee-coloured morning capsules are specifically formulated for daytime health, supporting brain health, vitality, healthy skin, hair and nails, help to maintain the immune system and is integrated with nutrients to assist with joint, muscle and bone health.

The milk-white evening capsules are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and provide overnight radiance with Amino acids to help maintain the elasticity of the skin, so are best taken at bedtime.

The supplements are stuffed full of radiance-boosting nutrients which are important in the body and which contribute to a range of key functions and importantly contributes to healthy hair, skin and nails which helps to promote a younger, fresher look. All ingredients are sourced from safety-tested, quality-assured raw materials.

The Lumity Life Anti-Aging Supplement contains:

  • Flaxseed Oil – high in omega 3s, including Alpha-Linolenic Acid which maintains normal blood cholesterol levels
  • Alanine – an amino acid, a protein building block.
  • Lysine – an amino acid, a protein building block.
  • L-Glutamine – an amino acid, a protein building block.
  • L-Arginine – an amino acid, a protein building block.
  • L-Cysteine – an amino acid, a protein building block.
  • Acetyl-l-carnitine a form of the amino acid Carnitine.
  • Coenzyme Q10 – A fat-soluble, vitamin-like substance found in every cell in the body.
  • Turmeric – A root with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Zinc – Contributes to healthy bones, skin, hair and nails, normal vision and immune function among other things.
  • Selenium – Contributes to healthy hair and nails, a healthy immune system, and normal thyroid function among other things.
  • Magnesium – Contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue, to electrolyte balance and a healthy nervous system among other things.
  • Iodine – Contributes to healthy cognitive function, good skin, the normal production of thyroid hormones and normal thyroid function among other things.
  • Vitamin E – Contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
  • Vitamin D – Contributes to the absorption/utilisation of calcium and phosphorus, supports healthy bones, teeth and muscle function among other things.
  • Vitamin C – Increases iron absorption, contributes to collagen formation, normal energy-yielding metabolism, a healthy nervous system and immune system among other things.
  • Vitamin A – Contributes to iron metabolism, healthy mucous membranes, healthy skin, good vision and a healthy immune system.

Lumity offers an overall nutritional supplementation that is more than skin-deep, helping to support key functions of the body. Benefits from this combination include significant improvements in the tone and texture of your skin, with protection against oxidative stress and support for collagen production for supple, radiant skin.

Do you take a supplement for skin health?

Lumity Anti-Ageing Supplement

Top 4 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe

Pets are a large part of everyone’s family, like our pup Lexi, so it’s crucial to protect them from every kind of danger that they could encounter in daily life. Your little companions normally go roaming around sometimes without your knowledge.

In this case, any stranger or a pet thief can steal them and your pet can go missing and sometimes be in danger of real harm. There have been a number of cases involving dog-napping in our area which are a constant concern. In such a case, it is crucial that you take all the necessary precautions before to make finding them that much easier.

There are several ways you can keep your pet safe from nuisances that are dangerous to them. For example, nowadays, you can get trackers from lots of well-known brands to protect your pet. Here are 4 ways in which you can keep your dog safe from Trackershop:

Protect Them with ID Tags

You get a variety of ID tags on the market depending on their quality and usage. You can also find them at vending machines which are inexpensive but may be not reliable beyond a point. It’s best to go for the ones that are made of stainless steel, brass or a hard polymer plastic, because they don’t get rusted. Police encourage the public to use ID tags for their pets, as it makes easier for them to locate them. Lexi has a metal tag on her collar which has our surname and both of our mobile numbers just in case.

Using Microchips

Microchips are permanent ID tags that can be used to protect and identify your pet. As the name suggests, they are as small as a grain of rice which is to be implanted beneath the skin of your pet. Each microchip contains a unique identification number that differentiates your pet from others. When the pet is found, it can be identified in a veterinary clinic or an animal shelter. Microchips do not come too expensive and so you can use them for multiple pets without worry of spending too much. From April 2016 it has been a legal requirement for ALL dogs to be microchipped and contact details up-to-date. Lexi’s breeder chipped her in advance of her picking her up which was a bonus.

GPS Locators

In the case when your pet has gone missing, if you’ve protected it with a GPS locator, then it would be easier for you to locate its exact location through a tracking device or app. For this, you must fit a small transmitter on the collar of your pet and it sends signals to the pet’s owner on their mobile phone or a special receiver, depending on the system. You get several systems on the market and you can choose the one that is best for you and your pet. I have never used a GPS locator, but seeing as we have had dog-nappings in our area it might be worth considering.

Other Precautions

  1. You should have a good quality photograph of your pet so that you can use it when it goes missing.
  2. Avoid tying your pet outside a store, your home or a restaurant which can give a chance for the thief to steal it.
  3. Never keep your pet unattended in any situation. You can ask a reliable neighbour or a friend to attend it in your absence.
  4. Never leave your pet alone in your car even if it is parked only for a minute.
  5. Never leave your pet with strangers or people you don’t know very well

It is essential that as a pet owner you take responsibility for the safety of your pal, so make sure you consider the above advice and take actions to prevent him/her going missing!


Lexi chocolate labrador on sofa

Recipe: Russian Olivier Salad (Оливье салат)

Over the Easter period my mother-in-law came to visit and on Easter Sunday she made some salads from Eastern Europe where she comes from, to go with our traditional family roast lamb and trimmings. One of these was the Russian Olivier Salad (Оливье салат).

This salad is a traditional dish in Russian cuisine, which is also popular in many other European countries including Iran, Israel and Mongolia as well as Latin America. It is usually served during times of celebration such as New Year’s Eve and religious days, such as Easter.

There are many adaptions of the recipe but it is usually made by combining vegetables, dill pickles, eggs, meat and seasoned with salt, pepper and dressed in mayonnaise. The following is my mother-in-law’s family recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Diced Boiled Potatoes
  • Diced Boiled Carrots
  • Diced Brined Dill Pickles (or any pickled cucumber)
  • Green Peas
  • Diced Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Diced Raw Onions
  • Diced Cooked/Smoked Ham (or any cooked meat)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Mayonnaise

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and combine
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  3. Decorate with fresh herbs/ sliced raw vegetables
  4. Enjoy as a side dish or on its own!

Olivier (Russian) salad

Fight jet lag this summer

Nothing is quite as frustrating as arriving at your fabulous summer holiday destination and having to put up with sleep disruption, tiredness and even nausea brought on by jet lag. If you regularly travel long distances and cross several time zones you will know what I mean.

Jet lag is caused when the body struggles to adjust to the new time zone. We have an internal biological clock that regulates daily routine; the circadian rhythm. When we travel across multiple time zones (usually more than 3) it can be disrupted, leaving the circadian rhythm out of sync and ultimately making us feel pretty awful!

The degree of suffering will vary from person to person, but common Jet lag symptoms include:

  • Indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea
  • Headaches, nausea and loss of appetite
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Feelings of disorientation, lethargy and light-headedness
  • Feeling confused
  • Difficulty concentrating and clumsiness
  • Sweating

Funnily enough jet lag is more common when travelling east opposed to travelling west as travelling east means adjusting to a shorter day rather than having a longer day. The risk of developing jet lag can also be increased or exacerbated by:

  • Dehydration
  • Drinking alcohol or caffeine during a long flight
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Being over 60 years of age.

There are several things you can do which will help reduce the effects of jet lag including medicines to lifestyle techniques, all designed to help your body’s circadian rhythm adjust to the new time zone.

Medication includes melatonin (a hormone released by the body to let the brain know it’s time for sleep), and circadin which help adjusts the body’s circadian rhythm to that of the new time zone. Taking regular sleeping pills is not advisable as you can end up with a ‘handover’ in the morning, making you feel worse!

If you prefer to avoid medication then try to avoid napping on arrival to make sure you remain active until you reach the correct time for sleep in your new time zone. You can also spend some time outdoors where the exposure to natural light will help to reset your internal body clock and adjust to the new time zone. Finally, make sure you eat at the new time zone’s times to get your gut on track!

Do you have any great jet lag cures?

how to avoid jetlag plane wing

 

Review: Oskie’s Unchewable Dog Seat Belt

If you are transporting your dog in your car there are some important safety implications to be aware of both for you and your canine companion. If your dog isn’t secured properly and you are involved in an accident you run the risk of being injured by your dog crushing you and of course, your dog can easily be injured too.

If you have a travel crate or your dogs travel in the boot of your car you are pretty much protected against these sorts of issues, however, if like Lexi your dog travels on the back seat of your car you need to make sure you have the equipment in place to keep them secure.

We have had several different doggie seat belts in the past which clip into the normal seat belt clasp and attach to the dog’s harness in combination with a car protector that covers the foot wells, however, Lexi being the rambunctious pup that she is, loves to chew them up – ultimately destroying them!

Having had enough of replacing the fabric style seat belts I decided to find a more hardy option and came across Oskie’s unchewable dog seat belt on Amazon. Unlike the previous seat belts I had used, the Oskie belt is made of metal (yay!), so Lexi can’t destroy it by chewing on the seat belt en route between our favourite walks and home.

It is easy to attach to Lexi’s harness and is approximately 20 inches from harness clip to seat belt clip giving her enough space to be comfortable but at the same time, secure. It also has a seat belt clip 3 times thicker for increased strength to support your dog’s weight and stop them from popping free, should the worst happen. 

We have been using the unchewable dog seat belt from Oskie twice a day since getting it and I am very happy with the results. The belt provides a safe and comfortable way for Lexi to travel and gives me peace of mind. I award it 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who has a pup who loves to chew and travel!

Oskie's Unchewable Dog Seat Belt

Review: Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Over Easter, my mother-in-law came to stay with us to share in the seasonal celebrations. While she was here my husband decided to buy her a new tablet computer as a gift and after some research, he settled on the Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet which he purchased via Amazon. 

Vlad was attracted to the Lenovo TAB 2 because of the budget price tag of £68.99 balanced with the portability and specification which was impressive for the price.

The Lenovo TAB 2 comes with a quad-core 1.3GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB Memory (expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card) and runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. Connectivity wise, it comes with 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity and optional Bluetooth® 4.0. It has a Dolby® built-in speaker.

The Lenovo TAB 2 is described as being a wafer thin, ultra light device and coming in at 522g with dimensions of 20.8 x 12 x 6 cm it is certainly a very portable device, perfect for slipping into a pocket or handbag for on-the-go entertainment, social networking and web browsing.

The performance of the tablet is of decent quality due to the processor and RAM combination which allows for speedy browsing and loading of apps. One let down has been the screen sensitivity which is low, meaning the user has to push harder than expected to get a reaction. The Lenovo TAB 2 is slow to charge but the upside of this is the device holds charge well, lasting around 8 hours.

The tablet has a 7 inch IPS LED screen with a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution which is described as allowing for eye-popping multimedia performance. However, we have been disappointed by the quality of the screen where icons and images appear blurry around the edges. This problem extends to the camera which is low resolution and produces blurry images.

All in all, if you’re looking for a budget friendly, basic, portable tablet which will serve you well for catching up with emails or for entertaining you on a journey then the Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-inch tablet may be a good choice. Alternatively, this tablet would be a great option for kids who can enjoy watching their favourite programs or playing games on the tablet and you don’t need to worry so much about them damaging a higher-end device.

The Lenovo TAB 2 certainly doesn’t measure up when compared to more expensive, higher performing devices but for the price point we have found it surprisingly good for basic tasks such as checking emails, updating social networks and playing games. We award it 4 out of 5 stars based on performance vs. price.

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Big Brekkie 2017 from Christian Aid

Since the announcement that the district that I live in, Sevenoaks, will be taking in its first Syrian refugee family after hundreds of people signed a petition asking Sevenoaks District Council to promise to provide at least one of these families a home in the next five years, there has been much debate locally on the topic.

Unfortunately, there are many people who do not like the idea of a refugee family moving in, particularly as the house available is a vacant six-bedroom house in the village next to mine and many residents believe that local people should have priority, despite there being no local family in need which is appropriate for the house.

This whole experience has opened my eyes to the views of other people and I have been really disappointed in those who think that the Syrian family do not deserve the house and clearly do not realise (or even care) that these people probably have nothing to their name and may well have lost loved ones in the recent turmoil.

Today I wanted to let you know about the Big Brekkie 2017 from Christian Aid, part of Christian Aid Week 14‑20 May, who believe that sharing a meal can bring us together and help break down the barriers between us. Christian Aid has more than 70 years’ experience of working in partnership to support communities to thrive.

Although I am not religious I can relate to wanting to help those less fortunate and this campaign focuses on showing love for people living in poverty and suffering injustice around the world. The Big Brekkie idea is a simple one, just invite friends, family and colleagues to attend fundraising breakfast which you host so whilst you are enjoying sharing a meal you can raise money through donations to help Christian Aid support refugees.