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    April 18, 2014
    Nike Cuts The FuelBand

    As smartphones get better and better, the need to have so-called wearables gets less and less.  Your iPod isn’t considered a wearable, but things like pedometers and fitness calculators are considered wearable devices, and now one company has decided that you’ve got enough on your plate (and wrist) for the moment.  Nike has decided to end its FuelBand product line, meaning an end to dozens of jobs around the world as the company transitions into a more software-focused direction.

    “As a fast-paced, global business we continually align resources with business priorities,” said Nike spokesman Brian Strong. “As our Digital Sport priorities evolve, we expect to make changes within the team, and there will be a small number of layoffs.  We do not comment on individual employment matters.”

    As for its remaining FuelBands, Nike isn’t going to throw them in the trash.  Indeed, their Nike+ ecosystem will continue to support FuelBands, but future roll-outs have been called off.  Nike will focus more on developing apps and programs for smartphones and other bodily-worn fitness items like the FitBit.

    Image:  Time

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    April 14, 2014
    Google Glass Gets One-Day-Only Public Sale

    In order to get your hands on Google Glass, it’s that classic story.  You gotta know someone.  However, that’s changing, if only for one single day.  Google Glass is getting a one-day-0nly public sale tomorrow, April 15th.  Starting at 9 AM Pacific time, Google will put Glass on sale to the general public for the low, low price of $1500.

    Of course, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to how many pairs of Google Glass glasses will be available for public sale, but considering the estimates of something like 10,000 pairs of Glass in the wild, I imagine it won’t be a whole lot of them.  If you’re interested, and you’ve got $1500 to spare, you’ll want to find the website and get in line, finger poised over the refresh button.

    I don’t know the official sale website, but I’m sure it’ll be linked on the Google Glass homepage.  If Google Glass is anything like the Paul McCartney tickets I bought today, you’re going to be spending a lot of time waiting in a queue.

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    March 18, 2014
    Buttery Toasty USB Hand Warmers!

    Spring may be approaching on the calendar, but the weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating.  Yeah, we may have a couple of nice days in the low 60s, but the mornings are still cold and a few days ago we had snow here in Kentucky.  Snow, in March, in the south!  I know in two months I’ll miss the cold, but for now, I’m tired of having my hands crack and bleed from cold, dry air, and I’m tired of my fingers and toes being chilly all the time.  Fortunately, there are a whole range of USB hand warmers out there just waiting for you to stick your feet or hands into, but my favorite just might be the line from Smoko, who manufacture a whole range of hand and foot warmers featuring cuddly toast-based characters.

    For example, the Smoko Toast Butta USB Hand Warmer features smiling pieces of toast to keep your hands nice and toasty!  I’m sure the heating element is a little small, and one of the common customer complaints is that it doesn’t heat your whole hand, just the back of your hand, but who cares when your hand warmer is that cute?  Plus, if you’re going to be typing and want your hands to be warm at the same time, I’m not sure there’s a better option that allows fingertip freedom while still warming the knuckles and bones to keep those digits dancing along the keys.

    Image via Cheezburger

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    March 8, 2014
    Google Glass Banned By San Francisco Bar

    If you’re one of the few, the proud, the owners of Google Glass, I’m sure you’re enjoying finding out all the fun things you can do with Google Glass.  However, there’s one place (so far) that Google Glass is not welcome.  If you’re in San Francisco, don’t go to The Willows and expect to keep your Glasses on.  The bar has banned Google Glass within the premises.

    “Since there are no actual laws that we’re aware of limiting what people with Glass can and cannot record (and subsequently post online without approval of those being filmed), we feel the best thing for us now is to play it safe by not allowing them at all at this point,” said Tom Ryan, the bar’s owner.

    Of course, every person in The Willows is carrying at least one recording device, if not several.  The cell phone can take pictures, record video, and is generally just as much of a hazard to privacy, if not more of one.  However, you can’t ban cell phones; you can discourage the use and I imagine you’d pay more attention to someone who had their phone out and was pointing it at people, so perhaps the Google Glass ban is a good idea since all you have to do (as far as I know) is touch your glasses to take a secret picture.

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    March 7, 2014
    The Bacon iPhone Alarm

    It’s being called “A Bacon Awakening Beyond Your Imagination,” and considering the activity level of the average imagination, it’s a pretty impressive promise.  However, it seems like it might live up to the promise made by the folks behind the Oscar Mayer company.  It’s a bacon iPhone alarm that both smells and sounds like frying bacon.  Talk about waking up on the right side of bed; if bacon won’t wake you up happy, you’re probably not a human.

    Here’s what Oscar Mayer said about its bacony goodness:  ”Wake Up & Smell The Bacon is a simple alarm clock app that starts your morning with the mouthwatering sound of Oscar Mayer bacon.  Rotate the skillet to select your wake-up time, then get ready for a bacon awakening beyond your wildest imagination.  The app connects with the Oscar Mayer Wake Up & Smell The Bacon scent device, turning your phone into a bacon-scented alarm clock.”

    Here’s the catch.  You can download the app, but to get the true bacon experience, you have to be a little lucky.  You go to Oscar Mayer’s website, fill out a quiz, and cross your fingers that you’re one of only 4700 winners of the contest.  The end result, if you make the cut, is that you get the bacon scent device that the app triggers when the alarm goes off.  It’s got a $40 value, but we all know that waking up to the smell of bacon every day is actually priceless.

    Head over to Wake Up And Smell The Bacon for your chance to win the bacon iPhone alarm.

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    February 27, 2014
    California Law Allows Map Use On Smartphones

    There are a lot of places where talking on your cell phone is discouraged, and many other places where talking, texting, and that sort of thing are not the best idea.  One of those places is in the middle of a major highway.  Like a lot of states, California has laws against talking on the phone and driving unless you’re using a hands-free device.  California courts have decided that looking at a map on your phone while behind the wheel is a-okay.

    In January 2012, Steven Spriggs was caught in traffic when he grabbed his iPhone 4 and looked up alternate routes on his map.  That’s when a California Highway Patrol officer spotted him and wrote him a juicy $165 ticket for talking on his phone and violating California law.  However, the ticket was written in accordance to a law that specifically prohibits listening and talking on phones while driving.  Nowhere in the law does it mention looking at maps on your phone.  Hence, the ticket was written in error.

    It only took two hours and who knows how many thousands of dollars in legal fees to avoid a $165 ticket, but I guess the state has to pay his legal fees now and he’s made his point and clarified the law.

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    February 27, 2014
    Obama: “We’re Building Iron Man.”

    So just what has the government been spending its billions of dollars on every year?  Well, if you believe President Obama, we’ve been making our own super heroes.  Not in the sense of Captain America or The Hulk, but definitely in the sense of Iron Man.  During a press conference concerning manufacturing innovation, Obama joked, “We’ve been building Iron Man.”  Check it out!

    YouTube Preview Image

    Of course, Obama played it off like a joke, but rest assured:  this is not a joke.  The government might not be calling it Iron Man, but they’re definitely working on a powered, reflex-boosting, bullet-resistant combat suit.  It may not have jets and missiles and JARVIS, but it’s pretty close to Iron Man.  The suit is called the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS for short, and it looks pretty impressive.  The suit will use electrical currents to absorb shocks and deflect ballistic weapons, and as if that wasn’t enough it’ll also be flame retardant.  It also has an optional exoskeleton to improve speed and strength.  Amazingly, this isn’t science-fiction; all these technologies currently exist, it’s just that no one’s made them into a suit yet.

    It’ll happen.  President Obama said so!

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    December 17, 2013
    The Console War Is Over Thanks To Pink Comic Sans

    Said Twitter user MrJonty:  ”Today I learned you can set Xbox One to display system-wide subtitles in neon pink Comic Sans.  Console war over.”

    Of course, that’s a pretty spectacular reason to pick Xbox One over PS4, but not the best possible option.  Now, if you could turn every bit of text on the screen into bright pink Comic Sans?  That’s probably be the absolutely best option of all possible choices.  Perhaps that’s an option.

    Maybe that’s the next step for the PS4, just completely redesign the logos and everything so it’s all Comic Sans, all the time.  The worst possible font for the best possible gaming system on the market, if you believe what people have been saying about the relative merits of both systems.  Perhaps MS can just roll out a hot pink Xbox One with Comic Sans replacing the standard text for their logos?  Maybe Steve Ballmer can get a pink Comic Sans tattoo that reads “MS4Life”.

    The possibilities, and the potential stupidity, are endless.  Still, as console tweaks go, that’s pretty fantastic, in an awful way.

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    December 9, 2013
    Happy 45th Birthday, Computer Mouse!

    It started life as an “x-y position indicator” according to the patent filed for the device in 1967.  However, by the time the device came to life as a bulky wooden apparatus with two wheels on the bottom, the computer mouse was well on its way to becoming a sensation.  During a 90-minute demo session at the Fall Joint Computer Conference (later dubbed The Mother of All Demos), Douglas Engelbart charted the course of modern computing for the next 30 years and beyond.  The computer mouse is now 45 years old.

    Here’s a brief snippet of the demonstration, where Engelbart and his fellow researchers at Stanford University’s Augmentation Research Center (ARC).

    YouTube Preview Image

    During that 90 minutes, Engelbart displayed basically every cornerstone of modern computing, from the mouse and keyboard interface to hypertext, video conferencing, word processing, and a dynamic real-time editor.  It’s pretty amazing to see how far advanced they were in the late 60′s, and how long it took for the computer mouse to become standard equipment with every computer sold.

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    November 16, 2013
    Facebook Autotag Camoflage

    Everyone is on Facebook these days, but it seems like there are a lot of concerns when it comes to keeping your Facebook life private.  With Facebook’s autotagging feature, any picture someone puts up of you, no matter what the compromising position might be, is automatically tagged with your name.  That embarrassing Halloween costume?  Everyone knows about it, because Facebook has attached your name to it.  However, there is something you can do about it.

    As part of her master’s thesis, Simone C. Niquille of the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam came up with the idea for what she calls “REALFACE Glamoflage”, a tee-shirt with faces on it designed to fool Facebook’s photo tags.  It’s a combination of art project and privacy protection mechanism, inspired by the fictional ugly shirt designed to fool CCTV from sci-fi writer William Gibson.

    “I was interested in the T-shirt as a mundane commodity,” said Niquille.  ”An article of clothing that in most cases does not need much consideration in the morning in front of the closet…I was interested in creating a tool for privacy protection that wouldn’t require much time to think in the morning, an accessory that would seamlessly fit in your existing everyday.  No adaption period needed.”

    As a privacy protection device, it’s a pretty genius idea.  As a tee-shirt, it’s pretty awful.  Still, function over form isn’t a bad choice, if you’re really concerned about people getting their hands on your pictures.

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