EVERYDAY CHEMISTRY


Reactions: Everyday Chemistry” Search on those words to find a fun YouTube video series with topics like: “Why does bacon smell so good?” or “Accidental Discoveries that Changed the World” – like turning tar into dyes and sweeteners.

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ROACH AND RESCUE

fully loaded roachSearch and rescue dogs are fine for finding trapped victims but cockroaches can go anywhere – unfortunately.

Rescue roaches are being developed by researchers at the University of North Carolina. Solar powered microphones and radio transmitters mounted on their backs pick up sound from any direction. The researchers use “acoustic steering” to make the roaches turn right or left, preventing the roaches from straying too far afield. Walking in sunlight recharges them. (That’s gonna be a tough one because roaches avoid bright light.)

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FINDING FONTS

1001 fontsA reader pointed out that installing free fonts from just any ol’ site can sometimes stick viruses on your computer. Ain’t it the truth? It’s a caution that goes with many sites, particularly ones for free games.

But it’s fun to go beyond Arial and Times New Roman so we’ve looked around for some safe fonting. Try 1001fonts.com to find over a thousand free fonts to safely download for non-commercial purposes. Another site that seemed clean is fontfabric.com. After you choose a font there, scroll down the page to find the free download link in green.

 

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MARRIED TO YOUR PHONE

phone clipartOne of the things we like best about our Samsung smart phone is not having a contract. We have a T-Mobile prepaid phone plan and can walk away any time. But what if you signed up for one of those multi-year contracts? You are married to your phone.

Divorce penalties are typically around $350 a month minus $10 a month for each month you’ve already been on the plan. But you can walk off Scot-free if someone takes over the contract for you, and there are services to help you find that person.

CellTradeUSA.com charges a $20 finders’ fee, but you can advertise your phone plan and look at your offers before paying the $20. CellSwapper.com charges between $19 and $25. TradeMyCellular.com another swap partners service is free for now.

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ADDING PHONE SERVICE FROM A MENU

VIRGIN MOBILE CUSTOMWe won’t forget the time Joy racked up a $264 hotel phone bill for three hours of casual conversation with a girl friend. She’d run out of minutes on her smart phone, so she decided to switch to the hotel phone. A new phone plan from Virgin Mobile would have skipped that.

With the new “Virgin Mobile Custom” plan that comes on three smart phones sold at Walmart, Joy wouldn’t have hesitated to add more minutes. She could have doubled her available voice minutes for as little as $3. When the conversation was over she could have changed back to the same basic plan she was on before.

We tried this service out on the $60 “ZTE Emblem,” a nice, though smallish Android phone using the “Jellybean” operating system. Popular apps come pre-loaded and nicely organized. The camera isn’t great, so if this feature is important to you, go with one of the other phones that come with this service, such as the $80 LG “Pulse” or $130 LG “Unify.” (Smartphones are getting cheaper fast, aren’t they?)

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VANISHING PHOTOS, TEXTS AND VIDEOS

mirageMirage” is a new app for sending photos, videos, texts or voice messages that vanish after a set time period.

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TALK TO THE ANIMALS

SpeakaZooSpeakaZoo” (iPhone/iPad only) lets children talk to cartoon animals, and they talk back. The free app has built-in speech recognition that works pretty well. It understood questions like “What’s your name?” and simple answers like yes or no. When we said “I like you,” the elephant said “I like you too Zookeeper.” Most of the animals are wistful. We hope the next version has happier creatures. Could be the zoo environment.

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GMAIL INBOX

inbox by gmail“Gmail Inbox” organizes your email to save time. If you already use Gmail filters, you won’t need it. Right now, it’s by invitation only, but you can request an invite at Google.com/inbox.

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FREE TALKING DICTIONARY

dictionarySlovoed” offers one free talking dictionary each month for every kind of smart phone. This month it’s Russian to Arabic. It includes flash cards, common phrases and other learning tools. You can purchase any other dictionary from within the app. There’s a long list of dictionaries for $8 to $28. PC and Mac versions cost more.

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HISTORY’S BAD ASSES

Kick ass factsKickassfacts.com has a huge variety. In “history’s bad asses,” we learned that French Marshall Ferdinand Foch said the Versailles Treaty ending World War I was not a peace accord but an armistice for 20 years. World War II broke out 20 years and 65 days later. On the home page, we read of a Game of Thrones actress who got stuck on a different kind of throne (a toilet seat) because she was covered in so much fake blood.

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