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You Can Now Pick up Your Amazon Packages at GNC, Health Mart, and Stage Stores – Review Geek

Amazon Counter Package Pick Up
Amazon

Amazon has teamed up with new retailers to expand its in-store pickup program by thousands of locations. Called “Counter,” the service delivers your packages to local partner locations such as Rite Aid instead of having them shipped to your house.

After a successful launch earlier this year, Amazon reportedly received a wave of positive feedback from retailers who were interested in becoming Counter locations. Amazon has since reached agreements with GNC, Health Mart, and Stage Stores.

GNC is a supplement store, Health Mart is a network of independently owned pharmacies in the US, and Stage Stores is the parent company of 625 department stores, including Bealls, Goody’s, and more, in 42 states. All together, the trio provides Amazon customers with thousands of new locations where they can have packages delivered.

Having a package delivered to a Counter location is as simple as choosing a Counter pickup point near your zip code during the Amazon checkout process. Counter can be used on purchases shipped with same-day, one-day, two-day, and standard shipping speeds. It also doesn’t cost anything extra to have an order shipped through Amazon’s Counter service.

When the package arrives at your local retailer, you’ll get an email notification with a unique barcode along with the store’s address and business hours. You have 14 days to go pick it up and when you head in to get the package, the store staff scans your barcode and retrieves the associated package.

Apparently, the day that you’re most likely to pick up your package is Thursday, according to Amazon’s statistics. And when you do, the participating retailers are simply happy to have the additional foot traffic, which has taken a hit over the years as Amazon and other online retailers have gained market dominance.

Source: Amazon





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If I Pick the Potatoes Out of My Soup, Is It Low-Carb? – LifeSavvy

A woman standing in a kitchen eating out of a bowl.
Josep Suria/Shutterstock

You might be on a low-carb diet, but the rest of your family probably isn’t. Creating carb-optional dinners is a challenge. So, if you just eat around or pick out the potatoes, does it make a soup or stew low-carb? 

It’s hard enough to maintain a low-carb diet in today’s sugar-laden society. It’s harder still when the other members of your family aren’t on board. While soups and stews are an easy option for weeknight family dinners, they can be a problem for low-carb dieters.  

Usually, comforting bowls of broth, proteins, and vegetables include some form of potato. And, if you’re trying to avoid starchy foods that are high in carbohydrates, this can ring alarm bells.

So, if you add potatoes to a stew, do the carbohydrates leech into the broth? Or can you just “eat around” them to maintain your low-carb diet? To answer, let’s look at how carbohydrates work in these starchy tubers. 

Carbs and Starch

Potatoes are called starchy tubers for a reason: they’re full of carbohydrates. And, while a carbohydrate isn’t necessarily a starch, all starches are carbohydrates. Now that we’ve established that, the question is whether carbohydrates (or starch) escape the potatoes when you cook them in a broth. 

When you boil potatoes, you see clouds in the water, which implies starch is escaping. The same thing happens in a soup or stew, but it’s harder to see due to the color of the broth.

But there’s a catch. While potatoes do release starch, and thereby, carbohydrates into any liquid you cook or soak them in, it’s not as much as you’d think. That’s because starches only leech into the broth from cut surfaces of the potato.  This is either good or bad news, depending on a couple of factors we’ll cover below. 

I Took Out the Potatoes, So It’s Low-Carb, Right? 

Well, yes and no. Carbohydrates can only leech into your soups and stews via cut potato surfaces, but the rate at which this happens is extremely variable.  It’s entirely dependent on how small you cut your potatoes, and how long you simmer them. The smaller you cut the potato pieces, the greater the total cut-surface area is. And, the longer you simmer them in a stew, the more likely the potatoes surfaces are to break down and release more carbohydrates into the broth. 

So, in a soup in which the potatoes are still slightly firm rather than mushy, and not cut too small, very little carb-leakage happens. However, in a stew you’ve simmered all afternoon, with tiny bits of potato broken down to mush, the number of carbohydrates in the broth will be more significant. Whether this is a problem depends on how many carbohydrates you’re limited to on your diet. 

Considerations and Substitutions 

If you follow a low carbohydrate diet to manage a chronic illness or to maintain a certain biological state, like ketosis, consult a medical professional before you dive into potato-laden soups and stews. A doctor can provide tools to monitor your blood glucose levels, so you can see if the number of carbohydrates in your food has an effect. 

Otherwise, it’s probably okay if you pick out or eat around the potatoes. Just keep in mind, the number of carbohydrates you get from the liquid in a dish will vary based on how small you cut the potatoes and how long you cook them.  

When in doubt, you can substitute other, less carb-laden vegetables for potatoes in soups and stews. Broccoli and cauliflower hold up well for long simmers and can add a pop of color to an otherwise brownish broth. If other family members still want or need the extra carbohydrates, serve rice or potatoes on the side—they can mix them into their soup themselves! 

So, if you pick around the potatoes, it might be low-carb depending on how the dish is prepared. That’s frustratingly opaque, but because diets are completely individualistic, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

The one thing almost everyone can agree on, though, is we love giant bowls of soup and stew—even if we have to remove all the potatoes.





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How to pick the right collaboration suite

Collaboration software has emerged as a key component of the modern office environment. But in selecting collaboration tools, it’s important to take into consideration the needs, work style and culture of different departments. Otherwise your organization may actually see reduced productivity or even face security risks.

In a report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, four out of 10 survey respondents said their workplace technology actually makes it harder to work quickly, and a third said their enterprise technology makes it harder to collaborate.

[ IT leadership 10 steps to a successful digital transformation Learn more about IDG’s new Insider Pro premium, ad-free subscription site ]

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Choosing the right collaboration tools can make it easier to find and share company data, work with distributed teams, offer flexible work arrangements, increase engagement and help avoid burnout. 

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that firms should consider when selecting collaboration software for their office.

1. Develop a portfolio

Instead of creating a list of requirements for one tool and checking off the boxes, take a portfolio-based approach that’s focused on getting work done, says Mike Gotta, research vice president at Gartner.

Collaboration software has emerged as a key component of the modern office environment. But in selecting collaboration tools, it’s important to take into consideration the needs, work style and culture of different departments. Otherwise your organization may actually see reduced productivity or even face security risks.

In a report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, four out of 10 survey respondents said their workplace technology actually makes it harder to work quickly, and a third said their enterprise technology makes it harder to collaborate.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Choosing the right collaboration tools can make it easier to find and share company data, work with distributed teams, offer flexible work arrangements, increase engagement and help avoid burnout. 

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that firms should consider when selecting collaboration software for their office.

1. Develop a portfolio

Instead of creating a list of requirements for one tool and checking off the boxes, take a portfolio-based approach that’s focused on getting work done, says Mike Gotta, research vice president at Gartner.

Different departments have needs that a one-size-fits-all software package won’t satisfy, he said. Teams also likely need seamless integration into their existing day-to-day software. “The collaborative tool that sales may need might be different than the collaborative tool that somebody in product development or DevOps need,” Gotta said. 

And rather than being overwhelmed by dozens of collaboration choices on the market, he sees opportunities in their various approaches that can help get work done.

“Some of those tools will be foundational,” Gotta said. “They’re available to everybody across the company. There’s a least common denominator. Some of them will be within domains, like sales, marketing, or customer service. And some of them will be situational, used for something that’s very specific or maybe external collaboration with a partner.”

A firm that rolls out G Suite or Office 365, for example, might be inclined to standardize on their associated chat, video and screen-sharing tools. But they’re unlikely to take hold, Gotta says. The development team might prefer open-source software or threaded discussions that make it simpler to track bugs and new features. Some teams within the business side might prefer to use Quip, the chat and file sharing tool from Salesforce.

“You can say, ‘Well, why don’t you use your large productivity suite?”’ Gotta said. “Because it doesn’t always do everything the way that business needs to be done.” He advises stepping back before settling on a tool and first asking how you’ll establish criteria for your foundational collaboration tools — and how to go about developing criteria for situational collaboration tools. 

“Then I map in the different tooling,” he said. “I have some flexibility on what I recommend to a particular group of employees in the company. Otherwise, you’re like Johnny Appleseed running around, hammered every day. We’ve tried that, and it doesn’t work.”

2. Take a fresh look 

In a related Gartner report on workplace collaboration, the research firm suggests an approach called ACME — activity, context, motivation and enabling tech. The concept avoids a top-down approach that may miss the needs of employees. It also allows teams that have similar work styles to reuse the same tools, reducing costs where possible and support hours. 

“You have to understand what the work activity is, the use case,” Gotta said. “What’s the context of the work? Is it sales, marketing, service? What’s the cultural aspect of it, the motivational aspects for people to use the tool in a particular way?”

The approach, according to Gartner, allows leaders in the organization to “discover groups across the enterprise that demonstrate similar work dynamics and team behaviors — for instance, those involved in time sensitive, rapid-response situations, or those involved in addressing field incidents where Slack or Atlassian’s HipChat might be appropriate to recommend.

Conversely, there may be global teams that require heavy use of existing enterprise audio/video services as a primary means to coordinate and support group interactions in physical meeting rooms. In such a case, Cisco Spark or Microsoft Teams might be the better choice, as part of an ACME process.”

Gartner also advises developing methods for measuring the effectiveness of new collaboration tools once they’re introduced. “Institute a method for collecting feedback from groups using workstream tools across the organization,” the firm suggests, “and then applying this experience to existing and subsequent initiatives.”

3. Don’t forget security considerations

Day-to-day workplace communication increasingly happens through chat and online meetings, which means an organization’s most sensitive information can be found there, and, potentially exposed.

“It’s critical that such software meets or exceeds the security practices of the user enterprise,” said Robb Reck, CISO at Ping Identity. “Introducing a new, unproven collaboration tool can undo all the other work a CISO has done to build a successful security program. It’s important for organizations to understand the monitoring and security options that are available within the collaboration product such as being able to identify insider threats, and the collaboration vendor’s capabilities for using data collected from your network. One question to ask: Is the vendor using your data to improve their service, or selling that information to marketers? These are all critical components that impact the risk to a firm.”

LogMeIn’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Gerald Beuchelt said there are signs to look for when vetting collaboration services. 

“I think what’s really important in this context is that if you do look at different vendors you really try to understand and engage their willingness to be transparent with their customers around the security program,” Beuchelt said. “If there’s a sense that the vendor is not trying to be as transparent as possible with the customer that would be a warning flag for me, and that’s true for any kind of software or Platform-as-a-Service.”

4. Think mobile

Regardless of the collaboration tools selected, businesses are increasingly demanding mobile-optimization for distributed teams, employees who travel often or work from home, and even those who won’t stray far from the office. 

“IT decision-makers from organizations that tend to be on the leading edge when it comes to technology adoption are significantly more likely to identify high productivity gains from mobile messaging,” said Raul Castanon-Martinez, a senior analyst at 451 Research.

“Even for employees that typically work in an office, mobility is a requirement since they need to move around. Our research also shows that even when they are at their desk, employees typically reach first for their smartphone rather than a desk phone. This is very common among younger workers — millennials and Gen Z — but they are early adopters. We’re see these behavior trends expand across all age groups.”



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How to Pick the Right Gaming Monitor for Your Needs – Review Geek

Buying a good monitor for your gaming PC isn't easy, and marketing doesn't make it any easier.
Dell

Finding a good gaming monitor isn’t easy, and manufacturers aren’t keen to make it any easier. Here’s everything you need to know to track down a good one.

What Makes a Monitor a Gaming Monitor?

To answer the question in the headline without any further ado: it’s hard to shop for a gaming monitor because the definition of “gaming monitor” is somewhat fluid. There are specific features that are good for gaming, or to be more accurate, are more conducive to a positive gaming experience on a PC. And those features don’t always align with what makes a monitor “good” for conventional uses of a desktop or laptop PC, like accurate colors or the most resolution.

Things aren’t helped by marketing. If you browse Amazon or an electronics store shelf (if you can find one), you might think every monitor is “good for gaming.” But that’s only true in the sense that every TV is “good for sports,” because technically, you can watch sports on any TV. It’s sort of true, but all those flashy graphics and buzzwords are misleading.

There are a few features that are specifically designed to make a monitor perform better for games. Here’s what you want to look for.

Image Quality

Almost any monitor will tell you it has good colors on the store description, but there are degrees of this: vibrancy, brightness, color accuracy, etc. Here’s the odd thing about image quality: it’s not necessarily what you want if you’re playing PC games.

This IPS monitor has great color accuracy, but it's a bit slow for gaming performance.
This IPS monitor has excellent color accuracy, but it’s a bit slow for gaming performance. Dell

Super-expensive monitors, aimed at professional graphic designers and printers, use a ton of advanced tech to get colors as accurate as possible. But all of that tech has to go between your PC and the image you see with your eyeballs, which slows down the time between when your computer renders the image and when you actually see it. The time is minuscule—a few thousandths of a second—but it’s enough to make a difference in fast-paced games like shooters, racers, and fighters. Gamers also tend to set their monitors with more vibrancy and saturation, prioritizing an appealing image over one that’s more technically accurate.

For this reason, inexpensive monitors and those focused on gaming usually use the less expensive and “faster” TN screen panels, as opposed to more color-accurate but slower IPS panels. A new middle ground is getting popular, the VA panel, which has better colors than TN but faster image display than IPS.

Speed

What do I mean when I say that a monitor is “fast?” Two things: display response time and hertz. Let’s talk about the first one.

Response time is the amount of time it takes between when your monitor receives an image from your PC and when it can display that image on the screen. Most monitors have a response time of under 10ms (one one-hundredth of a second), a trivial interval if you’re surfing the web or answering email. But in fast-paced games, that can be several frames of animation, and the difference between winning and losing.

This Samsung monitor has a response time of just one millisecond in its fastest mode.
This Samsung monitor has a response time of just one millisecond in its fastest mode. Michael Crider

“Gaming” monitors have LCD panels that focus on shorter response time, usually below 5ms, some as low as 1ms. That means less time between the game rendering the image and you reacting to it. That means (hopefully) you win.

Hertz is a different matter. Most monitors and TVs use 60hz panels: the computer renders sixty frames of animation every second. Some gaming monitors go higher, up to 120Hz, 144Hz, or even 240Hz. More frames of animation per second mean a smoother, more enjoyable game. These panels and the monitors that use them are, naturally, more expensive.

Keep in mind that a game running at 120 frames per second needs a beefier, more powerful PC than the same game running at 60 frames. Don’t break the bank on a fancy gaming monitor if your PC can’t actually use those features.

What About Resolution?

Screen size is an easy choice to make: get the biggest one you can afford (and which fits on your desk). Resolution is more tricky. Like hertz and frames per second, the more resolution you have, the better your games can look—and the more powerful your PC needs to be to get the game to run well.

This 4K monitor is a impressive, but it's not a great pick for a gaming rig.
This 4K monitor is impressive, but it’s not a great pick for a gaming rig. Philips

1080p (1920×1080) is the standard PC resolution for the moment, and you can find 1080p panels in sizes from 20 inches up to 32 inches. 4K is another popular resolution, with four times the display area of 1080p, but it needs a much more powerful PC to use it well. 4K monitors start at around the 25-inch mark and go way up from there. 2K (2560×1440) is a happy middle ground, with many gaming monitors offering this resolution that combines good performance with sharp graphics. You can find these monitors in the 25-32-inch range.

There are also “ultrawide” monitors, which use the vertical resolution of a 1080p, 2K, or 4K monitor, but stretch them extra-wide for a more immersive experience. These are neat, but naturally, more expensive, and the extra resolution means your PC needs to work harder to render the image.

Other Extras

There are a few other features that are often included on gaming monitors. Let’s touch on them briefly:

  • RGB Lighting: The monitor lights up on the sides or back, usually synced with a program on your desktop. Neat-looking, but entirely cosmetic.
  • G-Sync and FreeSync: Special monitor tech that lets the image “pause” a millisecond or so for the PC to finish rendering a full-frame, eliminating screen tearing. Most gaming monitors support FreeSync, with some more expensive versions supporting NVIDIA’s proprietary G-Sync with extra hardware. But now there’s a version of G-Sync that doesn’t need additional hardware, but only for some monitors (it’s getting really complicated).
  • HDRHigh Dynamic Range. Support for extra-vivid colors in some games, just like HDR televisions. This used to be rarer, but it’s coming equipped on cheaper monitors now. Not all games support HDR graphics.
  • VESA: A mounting standard. This doesn’t have anything to do with games, but if you want to use a fancy monitor mount or mount multiple monitors at once, make sure it supports VESA.
  • Video inputs: All modern monitors should support at least an HDMI input. Gaming monitors should also have a DisplayPort so that they can take advantage of advanced graphics card hardware.
  • Curved screen panel: It looks neat, and it’s supposed to improve viewing angles. The evidence for that isn’t clear-cut, though it makes sense on bigger, super-wide monitors.

The Specs You Should Focus On

So after all of this, you’re armed with the knowledge you need to find the gaming monitor that fits your PC and your budget. Here’s a checklist of what you want to focus on.

  • Size and resolution: Whatever you can afford or fit on your desk. Keep in mind that larger monitors don’t always mean higher resolution. And if your gaming PC doesn’t have the latest hardware, it might have trouble keeping those framerates up at anything sharper than 1080p.
  • Monitor panel type: Go for TN or VA panels, not IPS, unless you need better color accuracy in your everyday work.
  • Hertz (Hz): 60Hz is fine; 120Hz or 144Hz is better. Again, don’t invest in a monitor with a super-fast panel if your PC isn’t powerful enough to render games that fast.
  • Response time: Something below 5ms is ideal.
  • G-Sync or FreeSync: Most gaming monitors support FreeSync to diminish screen tearing. Super-expensive gaming monitors support G-Sync. You only want to pay extra for G-Sync if you use an NVIDIA graphics card.

Our Gaming Monitor Picks

With the information above, you should be able to evaluate your needs and find a monitor within your budget. But if you’re in a hurry, we’ve made a few selections from the best gaming monitors on the market at the moment. All of them have high refresh rates, lightning-fast response times,  compatibility with either G-Sync or FreeSync, and both DisplayPort and HDMI ports to make the most of your PC’s capabilities.

Premium Gaming Monitor Recommendation: Acer Predator X34 

This enormous Acer ultrawide has everything you could want in a no-compromise monitor for PC games.
This enormous Acer ultrawide has everything you could want in a no-compromise monitor for PC games. Acer

If your gaming PC (and your desk) can handle this massive ultrawide, you won’t find a better gaming monitor on the market at the moment. Thirty-four inches across with an enormous 3440×1440 resolution, it also includes a 120Hz refresh rate (which is hard to do at this size), G-Sync compatibility, and a super-fast 1ms response time.

Best Premium Gaming Monitor

Mid-Range Gaming Monitor Recommendation: MSI Optix MAG321CQR 

MSI's 32-inch monitor has an ideal balance between size, features, and price.
MSI’s 32-inch monitor has an ideal balance between size, features, and price. MSI

If your budget won’t stretch for a top-of-the-line model, this MSI option still gives you huge 32-inch screen real estate and plenty of gaming-focused features. Those include 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, a GPU-friendly 2560×1440 resolution, and integrated RGB LEDs. The stand is also surprisingly robust.

Best Mid-Range Gaming Monitor

Budget Gaming Monitor Recommendation: Dell D2719HGF

his Dell monitor will give you great gaming performance that won't break the bank.
This Dell monitor will give you excellent gaming performance that won’t break the bank. Dell

At under $200 from most retailers, this Dell monitor would be a steal even if it didn’t include gaming features. Its 27-inch 1080p panel isn’t the biggest or sharpest, but it’s easy for even a mid-range setup to take advantage of its 144Hz refresh rate. 2ms of response time is great for gaming, but grab some dedicated speakers—the ones included in the monitor won’t blow you away.

Best Budget Gaming Monitor





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How to Pick the Right Car Seat – Review Geek

A woman looking at car seats in a store.
Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.com

A car seat is the most important thing you buy in preparation for your baby’s arrival. And unlike other items, this isn’t something that can wait—you can’t take your baby home from the hospital without one.

New parents likely feel overwhelmed by the task of choosing a car seat when they find out how many types there are and everything they have to consider.

This guide will help you make more sense of your car seat options, and hopefully, feel more confident when you make your choice.

Why Finding the Right Car Seat Is Important

An infant being buckled into a car seat
Suti Stock Photo/Shutterstock.com

First, take comfort in the knowledge that all car seats are safe. Before they’re sold, a car seat must meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213. This standard regulates any restraint system for children under 80 pounds. It requires restraint systems to pass things like a 30-mph frontal sled test, a maximum rotation crash test and head injury criteria, and dozens of others.

However, car seats are only safe when they’re installed and used correctly. So, you want to pick one you and your child’s caregivers are comfortable using. The National Highway and Transportation Board has an Ease-of-Use Ratings tool, where you can compare how easy different models are to use. You can also search for seats based on your child’s age, weight, and height.

Ease of use is especially important if others (caregivers, grandparents, etc.) will use the car seat. You might have a firm grasp on how a seat works, but you want to make sure it isn’t too complicated for those who are less familiar with it.

If you have a compact or two-door car, you want to pick a car seat that’s suitable for smaller spaces. They should all technically fit, but some will be easier to use than others. Manufacturers sell “slim-fit” convertible models that are more appropriate for smaller vehicles. Infant car seats tend to vary less in width, but even an inch or so can make a difference.

Pre-Owned Car Seats

Second-hand items are ideal for most baby gear, but not when it comes to car seats. Here’s why:

  • Car seats expire: A car seat’s expiration date is usually stamped on its side or base, and it’s typically six years from the date of manufacture. This is not a government regulation, but manufacturers have agreed to common guidelines to address several issues. Technology and safety requirements are constantly evolving. Materials weaken over time and can’t be expected to hold up in crashes.
  • It could be damaged: Even if you find a seat that hasn’t expired, you don’t know if it’s been damaged (in an accident, from exposure to the elements, etc.) in a way that impacted its safety features. If a car seat was involved in a crash of any kind, it’s no longer safe to use. If you can’t verify the details (and odds are, you can’t), it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

For these reasons, we strongly recommend you avoid buying a used car seat.

The Categories

A toddler and a baby in their car seats.
Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock.com

There are four stages of car seats/safety restraints. You use rear-facing seats from birth to 2-4 years old, and forward-facing up to at least 5 years old. When your child outgrows his forward-facing car seat, you use a booster seat. When he’s big enough that the lap portion of a seat belt lays across his thighs and not his stomach, he’s done with car seats.

Infant seats cover the first stage of rear-facing. Convertibles and all-in-ones function at a minimum as rear-facing and forward-facing seats, and some also include booster seats. While you can use a convertible or all-in-one seat for an infant, there are good reasons to buy a dedicated infant seat, which we’ve outlined below:

  • Infant seat (bucket seats): These rear-facing carriers click into a base you install in your car. An infant seat might seem like a short-sighted purchase next to convertible seats, but there are good reasons to go this route. Infant seats are often part of a stroller system, which saves you money when you buy the less expensive stroller base. These make more sense for transporting infants because it’s easier to buckle a small baby into her seat indoors. A newborn can be terrifyingly fragile, so you might not want to carry her from the car into your home.
  • Convertible: You can install this car seat to be either rear- or forward-facing. If you only want to make one purchase, you can opt for this type, although you lose the advantage of a carrier. Unlike an infant seat, a convertible car seat is meant to stay in your car after it’s installed. You can use a convertible seat for infants—many fit babies as small as 4 pounds. You might want to consider your parking situation—do you have a garage or park on the street? Because you can’t use this seat as a carrier, you have to unbuckle the baby and use a baby sling or an infant stroller, or just carry her whenever you’re out and about. A lot of parents buy the convertible seat when their child gets too heavy to carry in an infant seat. At that point, your child will still need a rear-facing seat, so you’ll initially install a convertible seat in that mode.
  • All-in-one: This is where the categories get tricky. You see model names that include “all-in-one” or “convertible,” followed by “4-in-one,” “5-in-one,” etc. These seats are all convertible, but they also have a booster mode. Some models differentiate even further, with some being “high-backed” or “backless” boosters.

The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend a rear-facing seat, a forward-facing seat, and then a booster seat. You can consider any modes outside of these as extras that might add comfort or ease.

Which Car Seat Should You Buy?

Toddler being buckled into a rear-facing car seat.
TierneyMJ/Shutterstock.com

A car seat is an expensive and important purchase, so give yourself plenty of time to pick the right one. If online research doesn’t cut it for you, head into a Buy Buy Baby. You can try out floor models on the in-store car bench seat or even take one out to your car to see how it fits. Try to have some picks in mind before you go—the wall of car seats can be overwhelming.

A car seat is only safe when you install and use it correctly. So, you want to get one you’re confident and comfortable using. One of the best things you can do is get help with the initial installation from a car seat technician. Depending on where you live, you might be able to have a hospital, or fire or police station inspect your car seat. This NHTSA tool tells you where you can go to have that done.

Try to knock the car seat off your list sooner rather than later, so you can learn how to use it. Then, you can relax a bit because you’ll have taken care of the biggest purchase to prepare for your baby’s arrival.





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How to Disable ‘Pick Up Where You Left Off’ in Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office logo.

Microsoft Office is packed with enabled-by-default features, like “pick up where you left off.” Some people find this feature useful, but others…not so much. If you’re willing to make a couple of quick changes to the Registry, you can disable this feature.

As the name implies, “pick up where you left off” brings you to the point you were at in a document when you last closed it. So, if you were on page 32 of your Word document when you exited the program, the next time you open it, you’ll be back on page 32—with your insertion point at the same location, too.

Microsoft didn’t provide a simple solution to disable this feature directly within the Office suite, though. If you want to disable this function, you have to do so in the Registry.

Standard Warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

First, press the Windows Key + R to open the “Run” window. Next, type Regedt32.exe and select “OK.”

Type Regedt32.exe and select “OK."

This opens your Registry Editor Utility. Now, navigate to the following file path:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice16.0WordReading Locations

Note that “16.0” in the file path might be different depending on which version of Office you’re using. If you’re using Office 2013, you need to look for “15.0.”

The "Registry Editor" menu in Windows.

Here’s where you find the “pick up where you left off” key. If you delete the key, that only works temporarily. The key is generated automatically, so the next time you reboot your computer, it will reappear.

To disable it, right-click “Reading Locations” and select “Permissions” from the drop-down menu.

Select "Permissions."

The “Permissions for Reading Locations” menu appears. Here, click the “Advanced” button.

Select "Advanced."

The “Advanced Security Settings for Reading Locations” dialog appears. Toward the bottom, check the box next to “Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object.”

Check the box next to "Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object."

Click “Apply,” and a security message appears. Read the message and then click “Yes” to continue.

Click "Apply," read the security message, and then click "Yes."

You can now click “OK” and close the Registry Editor Utility.

To make sure the feature is disabled, reboot your computer and open Word.





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5 Decision-Making Apps to Help You Pick the Right Choice

Sometimes, when you’re faced with a tough decision, you find yourself paralyzed and unable to take the next step. These decision-making apps will help you figure out the right choice in any situation.

We already have a few websites that make decisions for you when it comes to specific situations, like what to eat for dinner or what to watch on Netflix. But those sites don’t allow you to pose your own unique problem.

So when you need to ask someone to help you pick between two outfits, or make a major life decision, these are the sites and apps that will guide you towards the right pick.

1. Decisionize (Web): See How Decisions Affect Your Goals

Decisionize simplifies decisions by turning them into equations of pros and cons

Decision paralysis often comes in because you can’t actually see the end result clearly. Decisionize turns your choices into an equation that helps you realize how much impact could be achieved by each choice.

It’s a three step process. In the first step, you write down all the multiple choices that you are facing.

In the second step, write the pros and cons of all those choices. Also, the emoji you choose indicates how good or bad it is. In fact, you could go a step further and add general goals and results you want to achieve.

In the third step, in a series of slides, rate how each decision could affect a pro or a con. Judge them on three metrics: none, some, and yes.

After you’re done, Decisionize will calculate each answer and turn it into a score. The final score indicates the decision you will be most happy with while balancing the pros and cons.

2. Pros & Cons (Android): Make a Pros and Cons List With Points

The age-old, tried-and-tested method to simplify a decision is to make a pros and cons list. This app is a modern take on it, adding points or a rating to each pro and con that makes your decision easier.

Create a new decision that you are struggling with, and add your current mood based on the emojis. Then, you simply start adding pros and cons, each of which has a rating on a 10-point scale.

For cons, you rate them from Not Bad to Very Bad.

For pros, you rate them from Not Important to Very Important. The weightage makes it intriguing as it doesn’t just count the number of items, but estimates how much those items matter.

Once you have filled as many pros and cons as you can think of, go to the next step, where the app will tally the results. You’ll see what you chose, how much weightage you gave it, and a final points count of your Pros and Cons. And there you have it, you know what your decision should be.

Download: Pros & Cons for Android (Free)

3. Pollsify (Android, iOS): Create Polls or Give Your Opinions

Pollsify is one of the simplest apps to create a poll and share it with your friends, or with the public at large to get opinions. You can create both public and private polls, which are automatically tallied.

In each poll, you can ask a question and attach a GIF or an image, take a photo, or pin a location.

Polls can be two types: multiple choice text or emojis.

Text is the more traditional way to take a poll, allowing you up to eight different options for a single question. The emoji poll is a cool alternative too, as you can get a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, or have emojis that mean enthusiasm or disgust


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.

While you wait for your poll to get results, you can hop into the public Pollsify feed to see questions others have posed for the general user base. Tap along to give your opinion. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple comments box to get more from participants.

Download: Pollsify for Android | iOS (Free)

4. r/MakeMyChoice (Web): Let Strangers Make Your Decision

The r/MakeMyChoice subreddit lets strangers make decisions for you

Sometimes, no amount of pros and cons lists or rational arguments can help you come to a conclusion. You might just need someone else to make the decision for you. Fear not, you don’t need to go to your friends, for you can instead get a stranger on the internet to make the choice for you.

From the mundane to the life-changing, the r/MakeMyChoice subreddit is full of benevolent souls ready to share the burden of decision-making.

Create a new post, state your dilemma, and let these netizens choose what you should do, while offering their own unique perspectives and reasons.

It sounds a bit silly, but there is some logic to this.

First, there is the thrill of adventure to letting someone else decide for you, and going with the flow. But more than that, it also helps you see things from a different point of view, and figure out why you should or shouldn’t be doing something. Your own pros and cons will be limited to how you think, and a fresh perspective might tilt the balance.

5. Wheel Decide (Web): Spin the Wheel to Pick a Choice

Wheel Decide spins a custom with all your choices to pick a random decision

“What do you want for lunch?”

‘I don’t know, you pick.’

“I’m okay with anything, you decide.”

If you’ve had quite enough of these everyday passive non-arguments, let Wheel Decide make the choice for you. It’s time to spin the wheel and let fate and chance have its say.

The web app is exactly what you’d expect. Type up to 100 choices in the fields, and give your wheel a title. The advanced options have plenty of tweaks. For example, you can remove any choice after it is picked once by the wheel. You can also specify how long to spin that wheel, and even embed it on a web page.

The new wheel automatically adds colors, although you can customize those too if you want. Log in with Facebook to save any wheels you create, so you can use them regularly for recurring decisions, like what to order for lunch at the office.

Wheel Decide is a pretty cool way to make a decision at random so that no person gets the blame in case there is any decision regret later.

Make Decisions and Settle Arguments

Through the tools in this article, you should be able to make every sort of decision, from nuanced arguments that evaluate your options and their results, to leaving things to chance. Plus, they are all free, and they don’t need much time either.

There are other similar free websites to settle arguments and make decisions


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. Some of them let you flip a virtual coin to pick heads or tails, while others randomize lists or pick a name at random from a virtual hat. Hey, anything that gets you out of decision paralysis is a good thing, right?



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How to Pick Glasses that Work with Your Face – LifeSavvy

Woman trying on different eyeglass frames at the store
Kzenon/Shutterstock

Three-quarters of American adults need corrective lenses of some sort. For those who choose glasses, the frames become an integral part of their look. But how do you find the best frames to suit your face?

Different Frame Types for Different Faces

Many overly simple guides promise to sync up particular frame styles to specific face shapes. However, the reality is that many faces don’t fit one specific shape, but fall somewhere between extremes (such as “oval” or “square”). Picking the right glasses doesn’t mean following a formula, so much as it means understanding the effect that specific frames will have when you put them on.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common shapes and styles of glasses, and the ways they can complement (or distract from) your facial features. Use this as a reference point for your decisions — but don’t forget, the best frames are always the ones that make you feel great when you look in the mirror.

Thick Frames

Thick frames offer a statement-making look that remains popular even though thinner frames are trending at the moment.

While thick frames were once the daring, hip choice in glasses, they’ve now taken their place among classic looks. Still, the thicker the frame, the bolder your glasses become. This means that if you have small, delicate features, a pair of thick frames run the risk of overpowering your face and taking center stage.

But for some, that powerful effect might be just what you’re looking for. If you want your glasses to be the focal point of your face, consider a thicker frame. Otherwise, avoid thick frames unless you have bold features (like large eyes or stand-out cheekbones) to add balance.

Thin Frames

Thin wire frames have become a hot alternative to the bold frames that dominated trendy glasses for years. Wire frames lend themselves well to softer, rounded designs for a more neutral look.

These thin frames offer one of the most universally flattering looks in glasses since they don’t make a bold statement on your face. Delicate wire glasses let your features stand out more, which is ideal for those who don’t want their glasses to be the boldest part of their look or anyone with small features.

If you don’t love the idea of wire frames, you can also choose a thin plastic pair to get the same effect. Opt for clear plastic or a translucent, neutral shade for the subtlest look.

Round Frames

Most eyewear guides suggest that those with square or angular faces should wear glasses with round frames. In general, they’re right: contrasting your face shape with your frame shape can add balance to your overall appearance.

However, round frames can also look nice on people with round face shapes, if you want to highlight that aspect. A softer, rounded face is often associated with a more feminine look, so you might consider rounded glasses if you want to play up your feminine side.

How can you tell if your face is round? Features like full cheeks and a soft chin usually lend themselves to a rounded look. Round frames will draw more attention to the softness of your face.

Angular Frames

Square or angular faces, on the other hand, tend to offer more masculine energy. You can highlight this feature with a pair of angular frames. Meanwhile, if you have a round face, you can play down the roundness by offsetting it with square frames.

Again, there’s no rule for matching face shape and frame shape here. Instead, it’s all about deciding which facial features you’d like to draw the most attention to. Square frames will make an angular jawline more noticeable, for example, while round frames will soften it.

Large Frames

In addition to choosing the style of your frames, you’ll also need to consider the size.

Following the rules is a little more important when it comes to glasses size, rather than shape. If you choose frames that are much too large or too small for your face, they can look comedic or costumey.

To avoid that effect, check the position of the frames on your face. The edges of the frames shouldn’t extend past the edges of your face, or land very far inside your facial contours. Ideally, your eyes will sit right in the middle of the lenses horizontally, and in the upper third of the lenses vertically. Having correctly fitted glasses also allows you to see through them more easily.

Once you have the frames correctly fitted, the other size considerations are purely aesthetic. If you have small eyes, a large pair of glasses will make them look even smaller.

Small Frames

On the flip side, a small pair of frames can make large eyes look larger. Generally speaking, it’s a safe bet to match frame size to eye size. Wear smaller frames if your eyes are small, and vice versa.

Think of the frame of your glasses as a picture frame for your eyes. Just like when you’re framing a photo, you want the frame to hug the shape, but not cut it off at the edges.

Choosing the Best Glasses for You

Now that you know how certain glasses styles affect your look, you can pare down the countless options offered by your favorite eyeglasses retailers.

Although we haven’t covered every single specific frame style here, you can apply this information to any frames you look at—even sunglasses. For example, now you know glasses with sharp angles, like square and cat-eye frames, will play down round features and accentuate angled ones.

When you understand how different glasses will play with your facial features, you can confidently choose the pair you’ll love the most. If you adore your angular cheekbones, for example, you can highlight them with angular glasses. Instead of following a list of rules, this guide will help you choose frames that showcase your features in your favorite ways.





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How to Pick the Right Components for Building Your Next PC

When you’re selecting parts to build a PC, an important concept to be aware of is balance. You need your components to be appropriately powerful for whatever use you intend your PC for.

What Is a Balanced Build?

pc-builder-needs

A balanced build is one in which all the different components are of a comparable level. In a balanced build, your system won’t be harshly bottlenecked by one lagging component, so you get the most performance for your money.

For example, you wouldn’t want to have a low-wattage power supply if you plan on using a pair of super powerful graphics cards. In this case, the graphics cards won’t get enough power and you won’t get the most use out of them.

Similarly, if you have an ancient motherboard and processor, then there’s no point in buying more RAM and hoping it will make your system run faster.

Selecting the Right Components for Your Needs

When it comes to choosing your parts, which components will be most important for you depends on what purpose you’ll be using your PC for.

Gaming PC

For gamers, the most important component in a PC is the graphics card. The higher settings you want to use on your games, the more powerful your GPU will need to be.

Depending on the types of games you play, you will likely need a solid CPU as well. This is particularly important for calculation-heavy games like Civilization, Grand Theft Auto, or Cities: Skylines.

You will also want plenty of hard drive space to store all your games. If you are flush with cash, you can buy a large capacity SSD for super fast loading times. But if you want to keep to a lower budget, get a smaller SSD for your operating system and a larger HDD for your games.

Powerful hardware means lots of heat being generated, so you’ll also want good cooling and plenty of fans. And you’ll need a relatively high wattage power supply to feed those power-hungry components.

However, a gaming PC doesn’t have to be expensive. If you play resource-light games like Fortnite or PUBG and you’re willing to compromise on graphics settings, you can build a cheap gaming PC


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for well under $1000.

Video Editing

If you edit videos frequently, for example because you’re a YouTube content creator, then your build will need plenty of RAM. When you edit a video file, your system needs space to hold the file in memory as you work on it, and that is what RAM does.

Unlike gamers who can get away with 8GB of RAM in most cases, content creators will want 16GB, 32GB, or even 64GB of RAM. This will make editing video files go more smoothly.

On the other hand, if your priority is rendering videos quickly, you’ll need to spend more on the processor and graphics card.

You’ll also need a large hard drive to store your media. If you can afford an SSD that would be ideal, but generally that will be too expensive so you’re better off with a 1TB HDD instead.

Graphic designers and photo editors will want plenty of RAM too. Editing images doesn’t require as much RAM as editing video, but if you’re working with high resolution images or large batches of images then you’ll benefit from more RAM as well.

Productivity

If you plan to use your PC for work and for common productivity tasks, then you won’t need an expensive graphics card, a large hard drive, or a huge amount of RAM. Instead, what you should focus on is getting the best processor you can afford.

The processor is the limiting factor for more software applications, especially if you multitask a lot. Having a better processor will make your applications open faster in many instances.

In addition, getting a good processor means you won’t need to upgrade your system so often. If, later down the line, you decide you want to upgrade your graphics card or RAM, you can easily do so without replacing your processor or motherboard.

Media Center

If you’re building a PC to act as a media center for your living room, your requirements will be quite different. First and foremost, you won’t need a powerful CPU or graphics card unless you’re planning to use the media center PC for gaming. You can get away with using cheaper, lower-end components. You will need a large capacity hard drive to store your files but a HDD will do just fine, rather than a SSD.

However, you may want the media center to be compact, so in that case you’ll need a smaller case and compatible, low-profile components. Some coolers, for example, are too wide to fit inside smaller cases.

Another big factor in building a media center PC is how much noise it generates. It’s pretty annoying when you’re trying to watch a movie and you’re distracted by loud, whining fans.

To keep your media center quiet, look for quiet fans. These will spin at a lower rate, producing less noise. Alternatively, you can manually set your fans to spin at a lower rate to keep them quiet. To learn more, check out our advice on how to get your PC fans running cool and quiet


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. You can also mount the hard drive with rubber grommets to minimize noise from it spinning.

Space Saving

You might consider building a small PC for a couple of reasons. Firstly, perhaps you have limited desk space and you want a PC with a small footprint. Secondly, you might want a more portable PC if you attend LAN events regularly.

Finally, sometimes you or a family member just needs a simple machine for basic tasks, and you can build something that is compact and cheaper than a full-size case.

For this type of project, you’ll want to choose a motherboard that is either Micro-ATX vs Mini-ITX. Micro-ATX is small, but Mini-ITX is even smaller. You can select the right format by first choosing the case you want, then picking the largest motherboard size that will fit inside. Once again, you’ll need a low profile cooler.

You will likely also need a smaller graphics card. Fortunately, today many graphics card manufacturers produce versions of graphics cards which have all the same power as a larger card, but in a miniature form. To really save space, you can try an M.2 drive for your storage instead of a HDD or SSD.

Finally, don’t forget that airflow and cooling will be more of an issue in smaller builds as there is less space for air to move between components. Make sure you have enough fans in your build and keep an eye on the temperatures inside your PC to make sure it doesn’t overheat.

To learn more about smaller builds, check out our guide on how to build a small PC


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.

Choose Components Based on Your PC Requirements

The great thing about building your own PC is that you can configure it to meet your specific needs. These tips will help you make good component choices to get the best performance for whatever particular tasks you’ll be using your machine for.

Once you’ve selected your components, head over to our how to build your own PC guide


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for information about putting your system together.



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How to Pick Your Next Tech Focus

Every day, people are asking themselves things like, “React or Vue?” “VR or no VR?” “CSS Grid or Flexbox?” These are the wrong questions entirely, because the technology you focus on or use next should always be matched to both the job and the people at hand.

Besides, here are the answers:

  1. Personal preference.
  2. Not yet, wait ‘til the market starts to truly expand again.
  3. CSS Grid for known quantities, Flexbox for unknown quantities. Except for all the times where that’s wrong. CSS is a bit like English that way.

And that “Except for all the times where that’s wrong” bit is exactly the problem with making definite pronouncements about which technologies you should focus on next. I can’t reliably do that. However, in my years of muddling through tech problems, I’ve discovered ways to make an educated guess. Since people often use the new year as an excuse to try new things, I thought I’d share my principles of educated guesswork with you all.

 

1. Watch People

Watch how people use tech: Don’t be creepy about it. Conduct studies with willing participants, if you can. Otherwise, keep a non-invasive eye on your spouse, friends, and any kids you might have just lying around. If you see them using an app (for example), try it out for yourself. If you notice them ditch an app, maybe ask them why.

If you want to understand why VR hasn’t taken off on billion-dollar wings yet, look no further than smartphones. The smartphone has something everyone wants, and just about anyone can use one anywhere, and at any time. VR has yet to make that connection with people.

Watch what people do, not just what they say looks cool.

Watch the people who make tech: Research the people who make the tech you’re considering buying into. Do they listen to their community? Do they consider the edge cases? Do they care? Can they write clear documentation?

While there’s something to be said for the brilliant visionary who drags everyone else along with them to distant visions of grandeur, you should mostly be looking for the people solving simpler, more everyday problems. Stable people make stable tech.

Unstable people are better advertisers though. ahem Steve Jobs ahem.

 

2. Look For Convenience (For Your Users)

Because your users are looking for it, too. If a new bit of tech only adds steps to the process of just… getting things done, users will be frustrated. Now, when choosing between programming languages, for example, it’s all down to what you build with it. PHP, Node.js, Python, and ASP.NET can all process form data, after all.

But if, for example, you’re choosing pre-built software like a CMS, this factor becomes a whole lot more important. People don’t care how powerful their new content editor is, if they now have to do more things before they finally get to hit “publish”. A new tool that’s more convenient for you is all well and good; your users may have an entirely different opinion. Do not sacrifice their convenience for yours.

 

3. Integration

No tool is an island. Everything you use gets used in tandem with a bunch of other stuff. It’s for this very reason that some companies have opted to stick to older operating systems or browsers, sometimes. Ask anybody in IT or InfoSec: new software can upset entire ecosystems if you don’t do your research first.

Now sometimes that’s a good thing. Using an OS after support has officially ended, for example, is not a thing you want to do. But as web designers and devs, the choice is not always so clear. With the sheer massive numbers of libraries we use nowadays, conflicts can come out of nowhere. So maybe—just maybe—if your entire layout up to this point is still based on Bootstrap 3.x, starting to use CSS Grid everywhere can wait until you have the budget for a full redesign.

 

4. What Happens When Things go Wrong?

How Does the Tech Respond to Bugs? An improperly coded WordPress theme, for example, can refuse to display anything at all if something goes wrong in a single function. It’s one thing for a single feature to break on your site. As long as it’s not the navigation, or anything else that’s critical, chances are your users will ignore it. It’s quite another thing to have your whole site go down because someone mistyped something.

What are Your Support Options? At the very least, you want an active community and a developer that responds to questions when things go really wrong. Paid support options aren’t bad, either. A little money for support, or other expert help, can save a lot of lost sales.

 

5. Extra Tips

Remember that your needs are not necessarily everyone else’s needs. Tech that sounds like it might improve things for your users needs to be tested on a smaller scale. The world is littered with dead products and features that sounded useful and even delightful until you actually bothered to think about them.

Buzzwords be damned. Most likely whatever you’re doing does not need to be on the blockchain, or whatever else is popular this week. Chances are that trying to implement a “fashionable” solution to your problems may cause more harm than good. Again: test.

Perceived value is value. Think of website optimization. A website that feels fast is almost the same thing, in the eyes of the user, as a website that actually is fast. They want things to be snappy. The same goes for value: no matter how amazing a new bit of tech actually is, it’s got to feel valuable to the people who actually have to use it. If they do not feel as if it does them any good, they may forget about it or worse, actively avoid it.

If it ain’t broke, implement all fixes with caution.

 

Featured image via DepositPhotos.



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