Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Last Minute Gift Ideas for Christmas 2009

Looking for some good ideas for gifts at the "last minute"? The final Christmas of the decade is almost upon us and millions of Americans are searching for good, cheap, and interesting last minute gift ideas. Here are a few of our favorites:

Funny Photo Gifts

Lots of people have funny photos of friends and family laying around somewhere on their computer hard drives. Why not take a few of the good ones and turn them into unique gifts? A large photo in a nice frame printed at home or a Kinko's is a fantastic gift. You could also set up a nice photo collage on Picasa or Flickr and share it with your loved ones. A simple slide show made with Microsoft's free Photo Story is another possibility.

Make a DVD

A popular gift idea these days are custom-made DVDs containing videos and/or photos of family and friends. You could spend just a few hours making a nice video, copy it onto a few dozen DVDs using your PC, and have lots of cheap but unique last minute gift ideas to send out!

Make a Donation

A simple, easy, and thoughtful gift is a donation made in the name of another person. You could donate money -- or even old computers, TVs, clothing, cell phones, etc. -- to a friend's favorite charity in their name and then give them the certificate of appreciation.

Dash to the Stores

Finally, you can always just make a run to the mall or local shops and buy those last minute gifts. In today's poor economy many businesses and merchants are offering great "last minute" deals and discounts on everything from popular electronics to best-selling books to store gift cards.

Jump Online

Many online retailers are offering fantastic shopping deals on the most popular gifts this year. In many cases you can still get them delivered in time for Christmas. And even if they arrive a day or two late, so what? Most people are happy to get a gift anytime!

Learn some mo': Last-minute gift ideas based on what you're buying at

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Google Wants to Buy Yelp

Google Inc. is currently in talks to purchase, the extremely popular local business review site. Local search has become very popular in recent years and this acquisition would allow Google to better tap into the local ads market. It would also give Google a huge amount of valuable original content in the form of millions of user-submitted reviews of local businesses and, especially, local restaurants. Many experts believe that this purchase would almost instantly change he local advertising landscape in the United States and make it much more enticing for local business to spend their marketing dollars online. Sources say Google may pay more than half a billion dollars for the company.

We already knew that Google was stepping up its "local business" efforts so this move is not surprising at all.

Learn some mo': Google In Discussions To Acquire Yelp For A Half Billion Dollars Or More

Friday, December 18, 2009

Green Tea Perks Up the Elderly

Elderly people who drink several cups of green tea every day feel better and have less feelings of depression, according to new research from Japan. Researchers found that when men and women over 70 drank four or more cups of green tea per day they were 44% less likely to experience symptoms of depression. Other research has shown that regular green tea consumption often leads to lower levels of psychological "distress" so this new study is yet more evidence showing that green tea is truly a powerful health and mood-boosting tool.

Overall, 488 participants said they drank four or more cups of green tea a day, 284 said they downed two to three cups daily and the remaining 286 reported having one or fewer cups daily. Unfortunately, black tea, oolong tea, and coffee don't show the same positive effects on depression. Some experts believe that the high levels of the amino acid theanine -- a substance that has a tranquilizing effect on the mind and body -- found in green tea may be the primary reason for it's action.

Bottom line: Drink more tea. You'll be healthier, feel better, and be less likely to suffer from depression!

Learn some mo': Feeling Old and Blue? Green Tea May Help

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CityCenter Opens in Las Vegas

The CityCenter project, one of the biggest and most-expensive complexes ever built, has finally opened "fully" in Las Vegas, Nevada. MGM Mirage executives opened the final part and "heart" of the project yesterday: the 4000 room, 61-story Aria Resort and Casino. The giant gleaming structure was unveiled publicly amid a huge fireworks display. Las Vegas locals hope that the Aria and the rest of CityCenter will help to bring visitors back to Vegas, which has struggled greatly over the past year and a half. While some experts believe the new hotel will only drive down room rates in Vegas, others believe it will help to spark a new wave of tourism that will help the entire city. It should be interesting to see how things play out in the Las Vegas desert over the next few months...

Learn some mo': Thousands flock to Aria for glitzy unveiling

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Appetite Hormone Fights Alzheimer's

Leptin, the powerful hormone that controls your appetite, may help protect your brain against Alzheimer's disease. Researchers from Boston University just found that people with high levels of leptin, which is produced by your fat cells, have a much lower risk of developing Alzheimer's/dementia. Leptin is already being studied a lot due to it's ability to control hunger and possibly help solve the obesity problems in the US and other countries. It appears to also benefit brain function and memory. Experts believe that a drug based on leptin could be developed to help prevent or at least delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. It's important to note that older studies already showed that middle-aged people who are obese have a significantly greater risk of developing dementia later in life. So, until they come up with the "miracle" leptin drug, regular exercise and healthy diet appear to be (once again) the best formula for living a long, healthy life!

Learn some mo': Hormone linked to appetite 'could offer hope to prevent Alzheimer’s disease'

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Children's Swine Flu Vaccine Recalled

Nearly 800,000 doses of H1N1 swine flu vaccine for children have been recalled by drug manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur. According to US health officials the doses appear to have lost a significant amount of potency, meaning that they may not be effective for protecting against the swine flu in some cases. The good news is that the weaker vaccine doses pose no safety risk and it also shows that the drug company itself is routinely testing their vaccines to make sure that they're up to par. Also, since the recalled vaccine is only slightly below the required potency level children who received it probably don't need to be vaccinated again. In most cases they slightly weaker vaccine should be enough to provide enough immunity to protect the child against H1N1.

Read some mo': Large Recall of Children's Swine Flu Vaccine

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tea & Coffee Lowers Your Diabetes Risk

Drinking tea and coffee can lower your risk of developing diabetes significantly, according to a new study from Australia. Researchers found that people who drink the most tea and coffee -- even decaffeinated versions -- have much lower risks of diabetes than people who drink less, or don't drink these popular beverages at all. According to one researcher every additional cup of coffee consumed in the study was associated with a 7% drop in the person's diabetes risk. Health experts believe that coffee and tea provides protection from diabetes (and several other diseases) due to the wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants they contain, as well as their caffeine content.

So if you're worried about diabetes, you might want to start drinking a lot more coffee and/or tea!

Learn some mo': Drinking coffee and tea associated with a reduced risk of diabetes


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Google Releases Their Own Smartphone

Despite what they've said in the past, Google has been developing its own smartphone and it's been released into the wild. They describe it as a "mobile lab" device that they'll test out with their own employees for the time being. Bloggers who have gotten their hands on the new Google Phone say that it's really a HTC Passion that will be called the Nexus One, run on the Android platform (obviously), and be sold directly by Google once it's ready. The word on the street is that the phone will be supported by the T-Mobile network at launch but no ones know yet if they will be the exclusive carrier. Without a doubt, the new "GPhone" will be a major new competitor to both the Droid and iPhone, not to mention all the other new Android-based smartphones that will be released in the next year. One blogger describe the new device as an "iPhone on beautifying steroids" so this should be an interesting battle to witness...

Learn some mo': Google Confirms They're Testing a "Mobile Lab" Device

Friday, December 11, 2009

Products You Should Products You Should NOT Buy at Walmart

Believe it or not, there are certain products you should not buy at Walmart. They include:

High-End Electronics -- Walmart's specialty is "value-oriented" electronics, priced under $1000 bucks. It's employees generally don't know too much about really expensive, high-performance electronics (e.g. high-end stereos and HDTVs). Best Buy is a much better place to buy them.

Books -- Walmart has actually slashed their prices on books too much, say some business experts. This is leading to local bookstores going out of business. Since Walmart only stocks a relatively small selection of the most-popular/best-selling books on the market, eventually you're going to have a very tough time finding many less-popular titles and authors.

Wood Furniture -- Walmart's wood furniture has been traced to suppliers who illegally cut down trees in protected forests all around the world. That's bad for the environment and bad for you. So buy your furniture from stores that only sell products made with 100% "legal" wood.

Learn some mo': What Not to Buy at Walmart

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Foods With the Most Pesticides

Unfortunately many of the foods we eat contain large amounts of pesticide chemicals which can be extremely dangerous to our health. It's usually best to avoid certain foods that can contain large amounts of synthetic chemicals. Below is a quick list of the foods with the most pesticides. You should choose organic versions of these usually-healthy foods to protect your health...
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Nectarines
  • Kale
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes (especially the imported kinds!)
  • Pears
  • Bell Peppers
It's important to note that things like meat and milk/dairy products can also contain high levels of pesticide residue because farm animals often feed on vegetables and grains grown with pesticides!

Learn some mo':

Top 12 Foods With the Most Pesticides
Shopper's Guide to Pesticides

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Motorola Droid: Time's Gadget of the Year

Time Magazine today named the newly-unveiled Motorola Droid smartphone it's #1 "Gadget of the Year" while the popular Apple iPhone 3GS only made it to the 4th spot on Time's list. Quite a surprise/upset in the electronics world! Time editors say that the Android-powered phone won for featuring a free turn-by-turn GPS navigation system that works with Google Maps, a big good-looking touchscreen, and a well-designed hardware QWERTY keyboard that most Droid users love.

Learn some mo': Droid trumps iPhone for Time Gadget of the Year

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Can You Still Buy "Cheap" Gold?

Lately the price of gold is going up, up, and up some more. But it may still be possible to buy "cheap" gold in order to protect your wealth and make some easy money. In fact, according to investment expert Louis Navellier, you can buy gold for about $310 an ounce... even though the extremely precious metal is currently trading at over $1100 per ounce.

The key is to invest in a gold mining company -- GoldCorp, Inc. -- that is able to produce gold at relatively low costs due to their highly streamlined mining processes. Buying this company's stock (up 125% in the last year) is, according to Navellier, one of the best and most-profitable ways to ride the current wave of skyrocketing gold prices.

If, as many experts predict, gold reaches $2000 an ounce in the near future, owning shares of GoldCorp may turn out to be a very golden opportunity indeed!

Learn some mo': How to buy gold for $310 an ounce

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cool Google Stuff: Real Time Search, Google Goggles

It looks like the world's greatest search engine company Google is up to their old tricks. They have launched two incredibly cool new services: Real Time Search and "Google Goggles". The first allows you to view extremely "fresh" information about the topic you're searching as it's being created in real-time. Examples include live Twitter tweets, news articles, blog posts, Yahoo Answers, and new web pages. This service will even be available on mobile smartphones, including Apple iPhones and Google Android phones.

The second new service/product, Google Goggles, is about as cool and useful as they come. It's basically a "visual search" product that allows you to take a photo of something and have Google instantly recognize it and then provide you with useful related information. Imagine being able to take a pic of a wine bottle or book at a store, before buying, and then viewing all the most-useful vintage info or reader reviews (e.g. from It will even be able to recognize text and read product bar codes, making the usage possibilities almost endless!

Learn some mo': Google Introduces Real-Time Search, Google Goggles

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Zhu Zhu Pets: A Possible Recall?

Zhu Zhu hamster pets, the ultra-popular, ultra-cute robotic toy from Cepia LLC, may have some not-so-cute toxic chemical problems. If it's true, there may be a Zhu Zhu pet product recall coming in the near future! According to consumer group Good Guide, the toys may be unsafe for children due to relatively high levels of antimony, a chemical that can cause serious health problems. They also found unacceptable levels of tin and bromine. Of course the makers of Zhu Zhu pets says that there products are 100% safe for children and have passed rigorous tests for contaminants. They say they want to know exactly how GoodGuide tested the toys and determined that there were problems.

So for now, it's probably OK to keep buying those cute and cuddly robot hamsters for your kids. Just don't let them eat or lick them!

Learn some mo': Watchdog Issues Zhu Zhu Pet Warning

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wireless Electricity Is On the Way!

We already have wireless internet and Bluetooth. But what about wireless electricity? It looks like it's on the way, according to a new company called WiTricity. They say that their new wireless electric systems will be able to power lights, TVS, computers, and even electric cars... all without any power cords. Intel Corp is also working on similar technology.

It's all based on pretty old ideas mainly created by famous inventor Nikola Tesla, the creator of the alternating current (AC) power system that we use today. Tesla actually was able to demonstrate low-power wire-free electrical conduction all the back in the 1890s. Good to know it's only taken over a century to get back on track with this potentially extremely useful technology! Of course the scientists who are working on this, including some of the smartest people in the world at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, need to make sure it's safe and won't be "cooking" its users!

Learn some mo': Massachusetts company plans to market wireless electricity system

Friday, December 4, 2009

Obama: Plan Will Jump-Start Business Hiring

There's been some surprisingly good news about job losses in the US. And there will soon be even more, according to President Obama. He says that a new proposal he'll roll out next week will help to "jump-start" hiring across the country. The most important part of the plan is a set of new tax breaks for small businesses that hire new employees. The plan will also help states pay government employees, give people money to make their homes more energy efficient, and increase federal spending on infrastructure (roads and bridges) construction.

Let's hope this works... because America definitely needs more jobs!

Learn some mo': Obama: Jobs plan will 'jump-start' hiring


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mortgage Tips for 2010

Getting a home mortgage in 2010 is going to be a whole new ballgame. The real estate market and banking environment have changed dramatically over the course of the past couple years. The good news (for buyers at least) is that home prices are still dropping all over the United States, there are still helpful tax incentives available to purchasers, and mortgage rates have remained low... below 5 percent! Still, banks have really tightened things up in the past 15 months or so. Factors such as your personal credit score, your ability to put down a decent down payment, and your current employment status are going to play a much bigger role than they did in the last decade. US News recently interviewed several top housing experts and mortgage loan professionals to help people show plan to shop for a home -- and a home loan -- in 2010.

Here they are: Getting a Mortgage in 2010: 10 Things to Know

Exercise = Smarter Kids

Here's yet another reason to make sure your child gets enough exercise: young people who are fit tend to have significantly higher IQs and are more likely to attend college. That's according to a new study out of Sweden, which showed a clear link between being in good physical fitness and getting better results on IQ tests. The strongest links were for logical thinking and verbal comprehension abilities. Some experts believe that since regular exercise increases heart health and improves lung capacity, it leads to the brain getting more oxygen. This, theoretically, leads to healthier, smarter brain.

So get your kids of their butts and have them get some real exercise every day!

Learn some mo': Young Adults Who Exercise Get Higher IQ Scores

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Joblessness is THE Big Issue

In a week full of very big issues, the huge joblessness problem is by far the biggest in America. The real unemployment rate right now is hovering near 18%... slowly creeping toward levels last seen during the Great Depression. This is without a doubt the most-important issue to people living in the United States (and even to many of those who live in other countries that produce the products we buy).

Joblessness is bigger than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's bigger than health care reform. It's bigger than the values of gold or the US dollar. It's bigger than energy. It's bigger than Swine Flu. It's bigger than cap-and-trade. It's much bigger than the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place next week. It's even bigger than Tiger Woods crashing his car!

The reality is that, until we get a handle on the unemployment problem in the US, nothing else really matters. Especially not to the out-of-work American citizen who's struggling to pay his or her bills.

Learn some mo': In a Big-Issue Week, Joblessness Remains the Biggest Issue

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cyber Week Deals

We love deals... especially deals that happen during Cyber Week! Yes, Black Friday has passed. Cyber Monday was here and gone. But we've still got another whole week of great deals to find the hottest products (like the Zhu Zhu hamsters!) at super low prices. Online retailers are offering once-in-a-year bargains like "25% off" sales and free shipping deals. In fact, we've even seen a few incredible "40% off" deals on everything from Nike shoes to Canon photo printers to Lands End outerwear.

Now, it's true that in this down economy many retailers are going to continue offering great buys for the entire month of December ("Cyber Month" anyone?). But many of the most-popular products will be gone before the end of this week. So fire up your PC or Mac, jump online fast, and go grab those Cyber Week deals while you still can!

Learn some mo': Are there good cyber deals to be had all week?

YOU Can Help Your Kids Lose Weight

In 1990, an important study on childhood obesity revealed that overweight kids have a much better chance of losing weight and keeping it off if their parents are directly involved in their weightloss and fitness efforts. Yet, 20 years later, obesity levels have skyrocketed in the United States and many other parts of the world. This has led to a huge jump in diabetes cases, heart disease, and other health issues related to having too much body fat.

The good news is that it's not too late to reverse the trends. Today's parents can still help their kids lose weight, reduce body fat, get fit, and enjoy good health. All it really takes is some realistic goals, a healthy eating plan in the home, and some fun exercise that (ideally) the entire family participates in.

Visit the links below to find out what you can do to help your child lose weight and keep it off:

5 ways to help your kids lose weight

7 Ways to Help Your Child Lose Weight