Curtis Technology

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Pass Time Usefully with These Tech Tips

If you’re a frequent fisher, you probably know how quiet and boring it can get when you haven’t had a bite in hours. What do you do to pass the time? Before there was CD players and stereos, people used to listen to the sounds of the wilderness, chat with their buddies, or whistle a tune. However, since technology has taken us so far now, we almost feel the need to have auditory stimulation even in the middle of a lake. At least there’s more than just the radio to listen to nowadays. There are so many new portable and wireless speakers that hook up to your mobile devices, you won’t have to worry about taking a huge stereo, wires and CD’s with you!

Deepsea.JPG
Deepsea” by LsuffOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Playlists/Music

Take some time before you head out for your fishing trip to put together a playlist or two of some great music. There’s so much out there now that you can make full playlists for different times of day, different moods, or just for a change of sound. Relaxing instrumental music is fantastic if you’re heading out in the early morning. You can sit in your boat with your coffee and your tunes watching the world awaken as you wake up yourself. Of course, it’s all personal preference.

Podcasts

Have a favorite podcast you just can’t get enough of? Take it with you! With so many podcasts coming out daily, you can keep up to date and discover new ones every trip you make. Unlike music, podcasts are very much TV shows, keeping you entertained and listening close to every episode. Of course music can too, but it seems to be more of background thing to whatever your main task is at the time.

AudioBooks

Audiobooks are an incredible invention. Now, of course, they don’t only exist on “side 1″ and “side 2″ of a tape. You can continuously stream chapter after chapter of an exhilarating story. There are tons that you can download from iTunes or buy from different websites these days (some for very cheap!). Don’t be afraid to try a new book because even if you don’t seem to like it, it’s not like you wasted the physical space of bringing a paper book. Different stories and authors sometimes have their books recorded differently. For example, The Wizard of Oz is recorded both by a single reader, and by a group of people voicing different characters. Other books may only have the option of one or the other. Generally speaking, audio books are a great way to pass time on the lake.

Use your smart phone for other purposes

There is something out on the market now called the Vexilar T-Pod (essentially a sonar phone). It is a little green and white pod you put in the water that hooks up to your smart phone or tablet through a wireless transmitter. On your device, you will see what is basically a map of the lake/ocean floor blow you (maxing out at 120 feet deep) and all the “disturbances” between (fish, mainly). It runs for 4 hours on one charge, so you can actually use it for a solid amount of time and get your money’s worth in fish caught. There’s some cool perks to it as well, including a fish alarm, shallow water alarm, battery indicator, vast water temperature resistance, and so much more. It’s pretty cool how far technology has come for our entertainment and use.

5 Tips For Installing A New Audio System

When it comes to building a great audio system for your car, there are a few things to consider. According to Vehicle Mix.com Although factory systems have gotten better over time, there are still a few “premium” systems that are albeit inexpensive and “good for now,” simply don’t provide that umph that you’re likely looking for as someone prepared to customize and put a little love in their ride. Let’s look at 5 tips that just may help you build the audio system you’ve been wanting ever since you first laid eyes on your little baby.

1. Evaluate what kind of system you already have.

What kind of system are you working with? It’s not doing the trick, eh? Well, why is that? The first thing I would advice, is to simply replace the speakers. Manufactures could care less about speakers when branding a car, they just have to be up to standard. You’ll hear the difference after installing a good set of aftermarket speakers. It’ll tighten your bass and clear up all the muddle you were hearing before. You would be surprised at just how much this first step will change you’re overall happiness with the sound system in your current vehicle, it may even satisfy – as it doesn’t cost a lot of money, as compared to setting up a new rig.

2. Use sound deadening material.

If you’re still looking to amp up your ride, another good thing to consider would be a type of sound deadening material – by reducing the amount of vibration and road noise, sound deadening material can silence the “rattle” you might get from a loud side-door panel, as well as keeping a consistent quality and level of sound – rather you’re driving around to the store or on the free-way. One recommendation would be Dynamat.

3. Add an amplifier.

If you plan on powering a subwoofer, upgraded speakers, or are interested in an overall better quality of sound, adding an amplifier is the next step. After adding those after-market speakers you’re probably going to be looking at a higher requirement of power for peak performance, a good amplifier will meet that need. If you’re considering adding a subwoofer you’re certainly going to need that extra reserve power. Which brings us to…

4. Installing a subwoofer / subbox

Rather you decide to build or buy a Subwoofer box, installing a subwoofer is what’s going to give your system the real gritty meat you’re after. A Subwoofer will highlight that bottom octave you’ve been missing and will rattle the bones of you and company. Helpful to your system, adding a Sub will allow your speakers to take a load off since you’ll be playing your bass at “0″ instead of a “+5″.

5. Use a capacitor.

This is mainly if you plan on running high-powered Subs. A capacitor will act as the buffer between your amp and car battery – potentially saving you from any early-morning surprises. By storing up power from the car battery, the capacitor feeds energy to the amps when they need it, letting your car run smooth and safely.

The Best Technology to Use for the Rounds at the Hospital

Anyone who has ever done rounds in a hospital, know how long and time consuming that may be – especially if you’re a billing specialist (or a coding specialist) The hours are long and most nurses need a little help to make the rounds and shifts go by more smoothly and efficiently. It’s no secret that having the right technology handy helps in many careers, but it is especially true in healthcare and nursing. Technology is helping nurses connect with patients quicker, or just help them pass time in-between long shifts.

A popular and booming technology that seems to have worked its way into a successful and efficient staff of medical professionals is the iPad or iPod touch. While the iPad is more ideal for those on rounds to quickly look up and access information and can hold charts and information data more, the iPod touch is a technology that should be added into the nurses’ necessities.

The iPod touch is capable of holding apps that nurses can use to either look up information such as Web MD or other medical aid apps, or they can choose to use the apps to keep mind sharp with memory and mind games. Of course, the nurses all have the option to listen to music during down times. It’s important to de-stress throughout shifts and rounds as a stressed out nurse is going to make more mistakes than one who a more level head in the situation.

Listening to music during rounds can help a nurse relax and refocus their mind. It’s important to pick out headphones that will allow music to be listened to comfortably, and not too loudly for patients to be disturbed. Sleek, smaller ear buds are more preferred as larger headphones can be harder to take off with ease and can hurt the ears if left on for too long. If a nurse only has a short window in the day for a break, they will want headphones that will block out the noise, too, as a hospital can be very loud and busy. Headphones will also have to be able to be durable and able to be tossed around, as nurses may have to run to one area of the hospital very quickly on short notice.

The best headphones I have found for an active lifestyle of a nurse is the BOSE SIE2i.

The sound quality on the headphones is amazing and will give crisp and clear music that you can feel. These headphones are also excellent in cancelling out noise, so these are good for a much needed break time. They also fit comfortably in the ear with the help of the headphones StayHear tips. They are also pretty durable and won’t go anywhere out of your ear, no matter how sweaty you may get! They are on the pricey end costing about 150$, but really these are worth the splurge.

The right technology duo of an iPod and the right headphones can make all the different on your next rounds, so give it a shot!

Summertime Concert Series

I was driving in my car today and listening to the radio as I normally do on my way home from work. I usually don’t pay it much attention and only use it as background noise, but today I was actually listening and humming along to most songs. During a break a commercial came on for a summertime concert series that is presented by one of my favorite skate shoe companies. I look forward to this concert every year and have gone without fail since the very first one in 1995. To say I was excited to hear the date of the show, the bands that were going to be there and that tickets were going on sale this weekend is a vast understatement.

It is such a fun and exciting experience to be outside in a unique venue listening to your favorite bands. The skate shoe company that backs this concert series began doing this to make music accessible and fun for everyone. I have been to past shows everywhere from parking lots, large outdoor arenas and even big open fields. There are always two stages so you can wander between them and see a good show at either one. I love that the entire show is outside as well as it provides a really great atmosphere and there is so much to do and see. Since the concert is funded and promoted by one of the biggest skate shoe companies around there are always areas to watch skateboarders and BMX riders show their stuff.

I love this concert series because it is a time when different genres of music meld together allowing people of different musical tastes and backgrounds to come together and rock out. The series originally started with only having punk bands, which I always loved during my heavy phase of NOFX and Bad Religion during my early teens. There has been a natural shift towards incorporating more current music and bringing in other genres to keep up with the interest of the younger crowd that has begun flocking to the shows. This has been met with a bit of controversy as some long returning concert goers are not fans of change or of some of the new music out there. I can understand this having such a love for all things punk, but I also understand the need to keep with the times and bring in revenue. I would rather sit through a few bands I had lukewarm feelings about rather than not being able to go to this amazing event each year.

I am looking forward to slipping on my old skate shoes and spending the day in the sun listening to awesome music and having a blast with my friends. Music is provides me the soundtrack to my life and gets me through both good and bad times and going to this show every year makes memories that are irreplaceable. Every year there is a compilation CD that is released of the best bands and songs from all the shows and you bet that I play that thing until it skips. If you haven’t been to this concert yet you are missing out for sure.

Music 101

I recently began accepting new students for a music/singing program that I run out of my music studio. I have encountered a high percentage of my students that are new to playing an instrument that have a difficult time reading music and keeping time with the music while playing their instrument. I am happy to have the knowledge of both of these important things when learning how to play an instrument and more than happy to share some tips and tricks.

Learning how to read music sounds way harder than it actually is and is not nearly as intimidating as it is made out to be. Here are the basics of what you need to know as the rest will fall into place once you start learning about the instrument you are playing.

  • Learn about the Treble and Bass Clef as well as their corresponding notes. Treble Clef notes E, G, B, D, F on the lines of the staff and F, A, C, E in between the lines. The Bass Clef notes are G, B, D, F, A on the lines of the staff and A, C, E, G in between the lines. Each of the notes on both clefs has a corresponding tone, but you will learn more about that later.
  • You’ll want to get a good understanding on what the parts of the notes mean as that will change how you play the note. A note head may be open or closed. An open note is a held note and a closed note is a short, clipped sounding note. The stem of the note does not change sound of the note, but rather helps to keep it organized on the staff.
  • To me the most difficult area for new musicians to grasp is the meter and time of reading of playing music. The timing is essentially the pulse or heartbeat of the music and is crucial to the way it sounds. Each piece of music will have its own time signature or melody and the timing of the notes will be notated in number form on the staff. There are several really cool new ways to help new and old musicians alike keep time. One of my favorite things that I just discovered on the market is a watch that has a built in metronome. This really changes the way that we teach and learn music. It makes it easier for musicians to play music on the go rather than being confined to a space or having to lug a big metronome around, plus it still functions as a regular watch. There are also applications for nearly every smartphone’s operating system. These apps have built in watches or clocks with programmable metronomes that will help you keep time.
  • Once you get the meter and time concept down you can really get into the groove of the rhythm of the music. This is where the watch with the built in metronome or the metronome app will come in handy as well. The rhythm is what you tap your foot too or strum your fingers on your steering wheel to when you are jamming out in your car.

So grab a pen and paper to practice drawing a staff and place the notes for the Treble and Bass Clefs appropriately. Once you have mastered the placement of the notes, practice drawing out the different types of notes you will see on your sheet music to become familiar with it. Lastly, but most importantly, get the metronome watch, install the app and/or get those fingers and feet tapping. Practice finding the time, meter and rhythm to songs you already know as it will really help you in the long run.

Lawn Seats

“Can’t swim so I took a boat,
To an island so remote
Only Johnny Depp has ever been to it before”

I belted Train’s song, “Mermaid,” from the lawn seating at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre at Tinley Park in Illinois on July 21, 2013. My friend Natalie was doing the same while a sea of people swayed and jumped around to their performance.

We were sitting on the lawn on a warm Sunday summer evening, a good distance from the stage but close enough we could still enjoy the performance. I also had my Olympus PEN1 digital camera, so if we had to I could zoom in on the stage making us feel like the front-row ticket holders.

I have been to a few concerts prior to this one, but at that moment this was one of the best I had ever experienced. There were people everywhere singing along to every song and the atmosphere was filled with a love for music.

It is funny how a vast population of strangers can come together on one day and become one as they share a commonality. As I stood on the soft freshly cut grass I could feel the beat of the music pulsate through my body. Through the sweat and screaming I could make out the music notes sung in the air filling the dimming sky.

 Concerts are something everyone should experience more than once in their lives. Find the bands/artists you love and search through their tour dates. In this particular case money should not matter (you do not need $200 front row seats though). If you are a true fan of someone’s music you will not care whether you are sitting front row or in the very back of the balcony. Listening to them play live will be enough to set fire to your love of the music.

Music has always been my own personal outlet when I need to take a break from the chaos of life. Reading does the trick to but I am always in the mood to turn up the speakers and fill the dead air. In those couple minutes of a song turn into a love affair so great that I begin to wish my life had a soundtrack.

The concert I went to see Train, Gavin DeGraw and The Script kick-started an obsession with going to live performances whether held at small venues or large stages like the Amphitheatre. I have been to a handful or more of performances since then and I thank those three bands/artists for a memorable evening of euphoria.

The Classics…

When it comes to finding the perfect guitar the best place to start is at your local Guitar Center. Spend a few hours looking over the walls and strum a few cords on any that catch your eye. That is the only way to find one that fits you and your style.

If you are looking for someone to tell you which one to use here is what I suggest: Gibson, Fender, or Jackson. These are some of the brands that have stuck out in the past and are the classics when it comes to well-known guitar companies.

Guitar Center carries all three brands and the most popular guitars being sold are running for a couple thousand. When buying a guitar, you must prepare yourself to break your piggy bank; so be serious about learning or continuing your hobby/career.

Three of the best sellers, at the moment for Gibson, at Guitar Center are the Gibson Hummingbird Pro Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Gibson 50th Anniversary 1960 Hummingbird Guitar and the Gibson ES-175 Reissue Electric Guitar. The prices range from $2,000 to $5,000.

Then there is Fender. Fender’s best sellers are a lot less expensive but that does not mean they are not just as good as Gibson. Like I said before, the only way to know what guitar is your guitar is by taking it for a test run. But here is Fender’s top three for your consideration: Fender CD140SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Fender DG-60 Acoustic Guitar and Fender CD-60 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar. The price range for these three run from $180-$400.

I cannot forget the rock ‘n’ roll style guitars made by Jackson. Jackson is known for its v-shaped body and angled head. The best sellers at Guitar Center are Jackson JS32 Rhoads Electric Guitar, Jackson KVXMG King V X Series Electric Guitar and Jackson Dominion Mark Morton Signature Electric Guitar. The prices for the three guitars, fall anywhere from $300 to $2,000.

Guitars are a common interest for many people and there are a vast amount of styles and structures to choose from.  If you are looking to invest in the popular instrument you should start saving now. Take the time to do the research and read the reviews. When you are reading reviews on products you should look for critiques on the structure itself and not the biased opinion. What I mean is everyone is different and they will or will not like certain things about a guitar based on their preferences. Take the reviews with a grain of salt.

Your real critique should come from your own personal experience with a guitar in the store. For some people, their connection comes the moment they see the guitar and others it takes a few strums to find a tool for their musical talent.

Plugged In

There is nothing wrong with blasting the radio in your car with your windows down, searching Spotify for the next big band, or plugging your headphones into your IPod blocking out the world’s white noise. Music has become an outlet for people and that is why new bands keep popping up in someone’s garage, basement, and/or beer-reeking music venue.

My taste in music jumps all over the charts, so when it comes time to answer someone’s question of who my favorite band is, I am at a loss for words. There are too many to choose from and I am definitely not going to be the one to leave out one of the Greats.

Here are a few of the bands I have been listening to when I am editing pages for my school newspaper and/or typing up Anthropology notes for class.

Bastille                                    

Yeah, I am sure I am jumping on the bandwagon but they are a great band. Their songs are empowering in a peaceful and mellow way. It is like describing the way someone breaths. In. Out. In. Out. Slow. And. Steady. Every lyric sung by lead singer, Dan Smith, and every note played by Chris Wood, William Farquarson and Kyle Simmons is like a strong gust of wind blowing feathers in the midst of the woods. I do not know how else to describe them but I would not hesitate to go see them perform live. Too bad their show in Chicago is sold out already.

One Republic

Maybe it is Ryan Tedder, the album cover art for “Native,” or the band’s incredible music talent that I love so much; and maybe it is all of the above. I was aware of their release of “Native” three weeks before the album was put out. If I remember correctly they released one or two singles from it as a teaser for their fans and boy was I hooked. I had those babies on repeat until March 26, 2013 and the second the full album was released it was the number one playlist on my IPod Touch.

This is the song that got me hooked: “If I Lose Myself

Do not get me wrong, I was a huge fan of One Republic before. You have to love the classics like: “Apologize,” “Good Life,” “Say,” just to name a few. But “If I Lose Myself” rekindled my love for them. It made me feel alive, free, and ready for a spontaneous adventure. I, without a doubt, was tempted to pack a bag, hit the road, and roll the car windows down with this song blaring through the crappy car speakers.

You cannot say you do not know what I am talking about either. We all have our roll-down-the-window-freedom-life-is-good song. If you do not have one of those yet just click the link and you may find out what I am talking about.

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