features

What not to buy on Black Friday

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Shopping advice is easy to come by. There’s always some site (guilty!) willing to tell you what to buy: “Get this tablet.” “Snap up that smartphone.” “Download this pricey app.”

I have no buying advice for you. Instead, I lend my voice to the opposition. Here are the products and product categories you should avoid, or at least ones where you should tread carefully.

I spent a recent evening perusing half a dozen Black Friday store flyers. I found a lot of good products and deals, but also a lot of dogs. Or, worse, deals that look good but actually resemble a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon: bloated, full of air and ultimately worthless. I felt compelled to speak out. Read more…

More about Holidays, Gifts, Shopping, Features, and Black Friday

6 foods exempt from the FDA’s strict new calorie count rules

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced stricter calorie count regulations on Tuesday that will require a wider set of American businesses to post calorie information alongside most menu offerings, specifically prepared foods

These regulations not only adhere to businesses larger than 20 chains, but also vending machines, movie theaters, convenience stores and more. They have rolling deadlines, but most will take effect one year from now

FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the new regulations are one additional step toward fighting the United States’ obesity epidemic Read more…

More about Health, Law, Features, Business, and Obesity

The safest gift to get anyone on your holiday list

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Battery life is the gift that can’t go wrong.

We know from anecdotal evidence (and personal experience) that everyone hates phone batteries. But surveys also show that battery life is the paramount complaint people make about their smartphones. It’s the biggest phone-related concern about for one in three people, and 89% of people in a British survey named battery life as an important feature when shopping for a new phone.

There are numerous forms in which extended battery life can come, depending on whom you’re buying for: the frequent driver who needs a car charger, the backpacker who needs a solar charger or the airport traveler who needs a universal charger. It really can’t fail — unlike your phone battery. Read more…

More about Holidays, Iphone, Android, Smartphone, and Features


7 tips for writing cold emails to prospective employers

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A cold email is like a handshake: We do it all the time, but we’re not always sure if ours is strong enough.

Despite the gray area of a cold email’s effectiveness, it’s still one of the most helpful ways to get the job you want. Like most job advice, the key to the cold email is to own it like you’ve been doing it your whole life, just like Elle Woods getting into Harvard Law School.

That is, you need confidence in your tone, even if you’ve failed before. Check out these seven tips to find out how you can write the most effective cold email possible, and remember the sage advice of Elle Woods when you want to give up. Read more…

More about Email, Features, Employment, Business, and Job Hunting

5 email myths you can stop believing now

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Everyone has a different email ritual

Maybe you send emails early in the morning, or late at night. Maybe you create insanely long subject lines or militaristically short ones. Maybe you CC as many people as possible in hope of eliciting a response. You stay steadfast in your superstition — but what if you could know for sure what really works?

Yesware, a Boston-based company that tracks email information, studied over 500,000 emails to pick out the true and false email myths

1. MYTH: Monday is the best day to send an email.

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More about Email, Gmail, Features, Tips And Tricks, and Tech


Why is the average pop song only 3 minutes long?

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There’s a famous Billy Joel song called “The Entertainer.”

In it, the piano man warbles about the perils of the music industry, and having to limit himself to writing radio-friendly tracks.

“It was a beautiful song/But it ran too long/If you’re gonna have a hit/You gotta make it fit/So they cut it down to 3:05.”

It’s a deft set of lyrics that perfectly sums up the music world’s short attention span. In the pop industry, most radio hits typically can’t be longer than three to four minutes. Case in point, the top three songs currently on the Billboard Hot 100. For the week of November 22, the reigning trio was Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” (3:39 minutes), Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass” (3:08 minutes) and Maroon 5′s “Animal” (3:49 minutes) Read more…

More about Music, Radio, Features, Pop, and Billboard


9 fantastic gifts that aren’t just clutter

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By your 10th pair of socks or day planner No. 4, you may realize what the holidays are actually about: clutter.

This year, practice the art of uncluttered giving and spread the cheer brought on by drawers that aren’t holding two dozen dust-collecting pens.

There are a few strategies to this art. Make sure you don’t give someone gifts she already has, but pay attention to the exception to this rule — if she has four pairs of Apple earbuds she doesn’t like, buy her one good pair of headphones and help reduce the clutter for her.

You should also buy items you’re sure the recipient will use several times within the next year. If you can imagine it in a drawer or at the bottom of a closet, don’t waste your money Read more…

More about Holidays, Shopping, Technology, Features, and Christmas


3 career experts share the keywords that stand out on a cover letter

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Cover letters are tough to crack

They’re the lengthier cousins of resumes, requiring you to call upon your writing skills and explain why you deserve the job. It can be a frustrating process, one that sometimes feels like a blatant cry of, “Please just hire me already!”

Your letter may be one of hundreds a potential employer reads, so you have no choice but to stand out. How will you do that? By slipping in smart, eye-catching words

We spoke to three career experts and rounded up their favorite keywords everyone should put on his or her cover letter Read more…

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It’s hard enough to balance a cocktail, let alone on ice skates

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St. Moritz, Switzerland, hosts a multitude of winter sports, including skiing, ice skating, tobogganing and more recently, snowboarding. It was and is a favorite destination of the super-rich, apparently ranking as one of the world’s most expensive ski resorts.

The skating waiters of the Grand Hotel ice rink were a popular attraction, serving tea and cocktails to patrons, and providing entertainment that was especially popular with the press

In 1932, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt took some of his most iconic images on the ice. Read more…

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1959: Seville’s extraordinary Holy Week festival, celebrated since 1350 A.D.

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Since the 14th century, the festival of Semana Santa (Holy Week) is celebrated across Spain. In Christianity, Holy Week is the one-week period preceding Easter, the day believers celebrate Jesus rising from the dead

The week of observation in Seville is undoubtedly the most elaborate. Brotherhoods from Seville’s many churches promenade through the streets to the cathedral. Some are dressed in the striking robes of medieval penitents, or nazarenos, wearing tunics, cloaks and conical hats, called capirotes. Built into the capirote is a cloth mask, which allows the sinner to repent while maintaining his anonymity Read more…

More about Holidays, Features, Easter, History, and Religion