Things I Would Endorse if People Cared That I Endorsed Things: AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones

aftershokzI must preface this review with a short story. I was running on a nearby rail trail the other day and almost got hit by a tractor. True story! One of the things I like about this particular path is the lack of motorized traffic. The most dangerous vehicle I normally encounter is a random bicycle. Because it is a safe path, I tend to turn on my tunes or a podcast and zone out while I run. Such was the case when the tractor almost took me out! I was running along in my own little world when this fella on a large tractor  passed me out of the blue. Maybe he yelled on your left, but I didn’t hear him because of my music, and I certainly didn’t see him until he practically plowed my over. I nearly jumped out of my skin and I instantly reached my maximum heart rate.

I came home right after that run and ordered a pair of AfterShokz Bone Conduction headphones. I have no idea how these things work, however the premise behind them is that they rest just in front of your ears and somehow transmit sound via vibrations into your bones. This leaves your ears open allowing you to simultaneously hear the noise that’s around you. Although skeptical, these headphones have intrigued me for quite awhile. I love the theory behind them. Having played drums all my life, I suffer from a nasty case of tinnitus. I have constant ringing in my ears that is made worse when listening to music through headphones, so I’ve always wondered if these bone conducting headphones would be a better alternative for me. My skepticism and general cheapness always kept me taking the plunge, however, the tractor incident pushed me over the edge.

I opted for the mid-priced wireless titanium headphones which were $79.95 on Amazon. There was another model that came in over a hundred dollars, but like I said, I’m cheap. Here’s my experience with them so far. Both Good and Bad:

The Good

Fit: These things wrap around the back of your head and feel like they should fall off, but they don’t. I have a pretty big sized noggin and they stay on me pretty well. They might come off if you take a nasty fall, but I think most headphones would do the same thing.

Function: I was surprised to learn they actually work as advertised. The sound is pretty decent. I can easily hear both music and podcasts while hearing the surrounding noise as well. When running on the treadmill, I was able to easily have a conversation with my wife without turning off my music. They probably aren’t quite as loud as some traditional headphones, but they are more than loud enough. Any sacrifice in sound quality is certainly surpassed by hearing oncoming tractors as they approach!

Connection: These particular headphones are wireless and connect to my phone via bluetooth. They connected easily and seem to have a strong signal. I can walk around the house with my phone in another room and not lose connection.

No Rubber Ear Buds: I think this is my favorite. You know those little rubber ear bud, stopper looking things on your headphones? I’m constantly losing them somehow. That’s not a problem with these. There’s nothing on them that can fall off and get lost.

Tinnitus: So far, these haven’t aggravated my tinnitus at all. That may not be the case for you, but I certainly think they are better for my hearing.

The Bad

They Tickle: There is a weird tickle from the vibrations where these headphones contact your head just in front of the ears. It’s really kind of weird and is going to take some getting used to. The more I wear them, the more I seem to be getting used to it, but for some people, it may be a turn off.

The Buttons: The button locations are not very intuitive. I imagine I’ll get used to them, but for now I’m having a hard time finding the volume up and down buttons while these are on my head.

As you can see, the good certainly outweighs the bad. I have yet to test out the battery life on a really long run, but if they come in close to they advertised 6 hour battery life, they’ll be golden! I really love these headphones and am glad I bought them. My only regret may be not buying the more expensive model … if they’re even better than the ones I bought, I’m sure they’re great!

If you’re on the fence about these, I would highly recommend you pick them up. I’ve gone through several pairs of headphones over the years and have used many different makes and models – the Aftershokz have quickly become my favorite.

Disclaimor: I was not compensated in any way for this review. I actually use and like these headphones. 

Things I Would Endorse if People Cared that I Endorsed Things: Mission Instant Cooling Towel

img_1312-e1538843333908.jpgTrue confession time. When I run, I sweat. In fact, I sweat a lot. There are times I can wring the sweat out of my clothes and it looks like I’ve been swimming. It’s especially bad if the weather is hot and humid. So for longish runs, I have gotten in the habit of tucking a hand towel into my running belt just in case I need to dry off mid run. On my way to a recent 20k trail run, however, it occurred to me I had forgotten a towel, so I stopped in the local Dick’s Sporting Goods to pick one up and I found the Instant Cooling Towel made by Mission.

This thing is pretty cool. You simply wet it, wring it out, and give it a snap to activating its cooling effect. It remains cool and damp for a crazy long time. Its great for cooling off mid run and wiping the sweat off after a run before getting in the car. I don’t have a clue how it works, but it really does work. Best thing is that it is machine washable and reusable. I like it so much that I just ordered a new ball cap made with the same technology. I look forward to trying it out as well!

If you want to get your own cooling towel, it will cost you about 20 bucks. I bought mine at Dick’s, but Mission is on Amazon and has their own website as well.

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this review, but if Mission wants to send me some products to try out for future reviews, I will not complain! 

Google Chrome Was Killing My MacBook!

Last night I was trying to work on a sermon using my MacBook Pro. During the course of my work, I was switching between my Logos Bible Software, Microsoft Word, and a number of tabs on Google Chrome when my MacBook grinded to a near halt. If I clicked on anything, and I mean anything, I got the dreaded beachball of doom for several minutes. Just trying to empty my trash was futile. Needless to say, after four hours of dealing with my uncooperative Mac, I was no longer in the mood to write a sermon.

This morning I woke up on the verge of ordering a new Mac that I really can’t afford. Fortunately, my common sense kicked in and  I decided to revisit the situation and try to figure out what was going on. I had already tried to restart the computer several times with no success in speeding it up. This morning I ran diagnostics which revealed there was no problem with my hard drive. I then googled diagnostic options and found a recommendation to run the Activity Monitor to see what processes were eating up my CPU. Low and behold one single process was using 120% of my CPU – Google Chrome Helper. 

A quick web search led me to this article on elanmorgan.com, ‘How to Fix a Slow Mac: Your Chrome Browser Might Be the Problem‘. As it turns out, Elan sped up her Mac by simply quitting Google Chrome. So I gave it a shot. Just by quitting Google Chrome and using Safari instead, my speed issues seem to have been resolved.

Apparently, it may be possible to kill Google Chrome Helper without giving up Google Chrome itself (see this article), but as much as I like Chrome, it was much easier to just turn it off.

Having problems with the speed on your mac? Turn Chrome off and see if it helps.

 

My 5 Favorite iPhone Apps

 My wife often refers to me as the “King of Apps,” which I’m pretty sure is intended as a slam, however, I choose to take it as a compliment. Who doesn’t want to be royalty, right? But I do enjoy my phone and especially enjoy a good app, so I thought I would compile a top 5 list of my favorite ones. The criteria I used for judging was simple; the list had to be comprised of apps I use frequently and have worked to make my life either easier or more enjoyable. So here you go, in descending order:

5. Google Drive: This app makes it possible for me to access important documents from any weapon in my arsenal; my MacBook, my iPhone, iPad, or Mac Mini. I know there are other apps out there, including Apple’s Cloud (or whatever it’s called), but Google Drive was the first I figured out and it does everything I want it to do.

4. Weight Watchers Mobile: This might seem like a boring choice, but this app (which is available with a paid Weight Watchers membership) allows me to log and track all my food and activity points with ease. I don’t know how anyone could do Weight Watchers without it.

3. Scribd: I subscribe to the Scribd digital book service. For a low, monthly fee I can download and read as many of their books I want. I use their app on both my Kindle and my iPhone. I love it. About 90% of all my reading is in digital form (between the Scribd and Kindle apps) and I don’t miss physical books at all. They take up a lot of space and aren’t nearly as portable as a digital book.

2. YouVersion Bible App: This app is fantastic! I often tweet what I’m studying and YouVersion allows me to easily select and copy a verse and tweet it. This app also makes it and easy compare and contrast different translations, which often comes in handy. I’ve even used it in church to follow along with the pastor’s sermons. This app would have been number 1 but nothing is more satisfying to me than making notes in and highlighting my various physical study Bibles.

1. Walkmeter: I use this app for every workout. The premium version allows me to switch between various workouts (I’m currently using it to follow the couch to 5k program), control my music accompaniment, and share my progress via social media. Meanwhile, it tracks my pace, distance, calorie burn, and a whole host of other interesting statistics.

There you have it. Several apps almost made the list and deserved honorable mentions including the Walgreens, Spotify, and Maps apps.

And yes … I wrote this post from my iPhone using the WordPress app. What else would you expect from the King of Apps?