Sunday, May 23, 2010

10 Ways Girls Flirt That Men Don’t Notice

1. Body Language
Body language is difficult for some men to understand. One would think that crossing and uncrossing your legs is a pretty obvious flirting method, especially if you're wearing a pair of really high heels. It’s a very sexy approach, but some men are too dense to realize it’s considered flirting! If you flirt using body language, you should think of a different approach that all men pick up on. Try a method that involves body contact, like brushing his arm if he makes a funny joke.

2. Twisting Your Hair
Men are usually in their own world. If they see a pretty girl, they notice her, but they don’t always pay attention to all the details. Using your hair to be flirtatious is something that men usually aren’t aware of. This can come across as a nervous twitchy habit, instead of something that’s sexy. You don’t need to constantly run your fingers through your hair to get a man’s attention – just smile.

3. Freshening up
Men don't notice every little detail about a woman. If they did, we wouldn’t love them as much as we do. If you go to the bathroom to brush your hair halfway into a conversation, they won't notice. Put as much effort into your appearance as you want before you meet them but it's better to focus your energy on making great conversation. Save the hairbrushing for when you get home.

4. Winking
If you wink at a man, he might think you have a tick. It will get his attention but it won’t leave him thinking you’re a sultry seductress. Winking isn’t something that a woman should do. Joey Tribbiani from the TV show Friends can wink at ladies, but if you want to flirt with a man, don’t wink at him.

5. Laughing At Everything He Says
Laughing can be a great way to flirt - who doesn't love that ego boost of meeting somebody that finally "gets it." But if you’re speaking to a man and you laugh at everything he says, you'll only confuse him – aside from coming off just plain silly. He's going to wonder what's actually so funny.

6. Trying To Make Him Jealous
One terrible way to flirt with someone is to try to make them jealous. Immature men or drama kings may pick up on this, but the mature ones will see right through it. Besides, most guys are too stupid to realize you're trying to make them jealous. So step up your game and act your age. Using jealousy as a flirting tactic is for children.

7. Keep The Compliments To Yourself
Compliments are like alcohol. They are good in moderation but disastrous in excess. You can compliment a guy on his outfit but you don't need to tell him how hot he is 10 times. Plus, chances are if you compliment someone as a way of flirting, they will most likely just think you’re just being nice. Come up with a more obvious way of flirting that even clueless men will notice.

8. Facebook Flirting
In today’s day and age, Facebook has become a way to meet people. It’s a sad fact, but true. If you send someone a flirty message on Facebook, they most likely won’t realize that you’re flirting with them. Some people don’t check their messages or they don’t always respond. Don't send flirty messages like you're scared. Save the flirting for real life.

9. Chomping on Your Gum
Chewing gum isn't sexy. If you try to be sexual with your gum to pick up a guy, he will most likely think something is wrong with you. Gum chewing should be saved for your guy friends – not to impress a man you like.

10. The Goodnight Text
Sending someone you’re casually dating a goodnight text isn’t flirting, it’s just needy. They will view you as a typical girl instead of thinking you’re flirting with them. Save your flirting for in person meet-ups, it'll be much more effective than a text message. Technology may be taking over the world, but when it comes down to it, good ol' fashioned one-on-one is still the best way to go.

Okay ladies, now you’re clued into some techniques that men don’t consider flirting. So, don’t waste your time sending out the wrong signals, men don’t notice them. Get out there and get your flirt on!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Expert advice on washing and replacing pillows

Expert advice on washing and replacing pillows

Girl on pillow

When was the last time you bought a new pillow? Can you recall when you last washed the pillows you (and your family) spend a third of your time sleeping on? If you're like many people, you probably don't give it much thought.

Yet even the most basic pillow maintenance can have a positive impact on your health (and how well you sleep). Most pillows are loaded with dust mites, which can trigger asthma and allergies. Dust mite byproducts build up in pillows over time. The older your pillow, the more dust mites it contains, the worse your symptoms can get.

And even if you don't have allergies or asthma, who wants to sleep on pillows infested with dust, dirt, and more? Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you're sleeping on the healthiest pillows possible.

Wash pillows regularly

  • Robin Wilson, an eco-friendly lifestyle expert, recommends washing pillows at least every three months. She makes a good point: "Would you wear your pajamas for three months without washing them?"

  • Most pillows are machine washable, but check the labels before tossing them into your machine. Older feather pillows may require dry cleaning. Use the delicate cycle. Check seams on down pillows so that feathers don't leak out. Wash pillows in pairs to keep your machine balanced and give them an extra rinse.

  • Pillows can go in the dryer on a low setting. Fluff often. Throw in a couple of unused tennis balls and dry thoroughly.

Add an extra layer of protection

  • Encase each pillow in a zippered allergy proof cover and place a pillowcase on top of it. Wash pillow covers and pillowcases with other bedding in hot water (130 degrees F or 55 degrees C) once a week. Cold water will not kill dust mites.

Replace old pillows

  • Wilson suggests replacing your pillows every three years. A new pillow that weighs 10 ounces can double its weight in three years, according to Wilson. Those extra ten ounces are dust mite remains, she says. Washing your pillow will help, but it's still a good idea to start fresh every three years.

  • If you have asthma or allergies, buy hypoallergenic pillows, which are typically foam. Otherwise, feather pillows are fine, but make sure they're machine-washable so you don't have to get them professionally cleaned. Check out these buying tips from Martha Stewart.

  • Used pillows make great beds for pets. Take your castaways to your local vet or animal shelter.

How to make your electronics batteries last longer

How to make your electronics batteries last longer

Taking good care of your electronics batteries can pay off. The financial rewards of longer lasting batteries are obvious: You won't be forced to render a perfectly good gadget obsolete before its time or have to shell out money for a replacement battery.

It's also better for the planet since disposing of electronic waste is a growing problem.

Experts say there are plenty of easy things you can do to prolong the life of electronics batteries. They also dispel some common myths.

Here is general advice from Dell, Nokia, and Apple that can be applied to other brands:

  • Avoid extreme heat. It's the single-most important thing you can do to protect your battery. For example, don't leave your laptop in the car on a really hot day, says a Dell spokesperson. If you must leave electronics in the car, then don't leave them on the dashboard. Also don't close them up in the trunk or glove compartment -- the coolest place is probably under a seat. Apple recommends that you remove your iPod or iPhone from any extra case if it gets hot while you charge it.

  • Take precautions in cold weather. Bring your battery up to room temperature before turning it on if it's been exposed to very cold temperatures, recommends a Dell spokesperson.

  • You don't need to totally discharge your battery periodically to make it last longer. That was true of older batteries, but not for today's lithium-based models. In some systems, it does help with how accurately the battery reports how much energy it has left, says a Dell spokesperson. Apple suggests that you go through at least one charge cycle per month for laptops, iPhones, and iPods. (It's also no longer necessary to charge your battery for an extra long time for the first charge, says Petri Vuori of Nokia.)

  • Unplug your cell phone from the charger when the battery is fully charged. This saves energy and protects the battery, according to Vouri. Don't forget to unplug the charger from the wall. There's absolutely no difference between car and wall chargers, according to Vuori. The only potential problem with car charging is if you leave your cell phone in the car on a hot day (as noted above).

  • Leave your battery in your laptop. Some websites recommend taking your battery out of your laptop when you're using it as a desktop computer so that your battery doesn't get worn out. That's not such a good idea, according to a Dell spokesperson, because your battery is more likely to be damaged if you take it out. Besides, he says, it's not necessary since the microprocessor inside the battery manages the charge automatically. So the battery will stop charging on its own when it's fully charged.

Looking for ways to extend the life of your battery between charges? Change your settings, turn off anything you don't use, switch your cell phone off when you're in low coverage areas, update your software, and follow the specific tips from Dell, Nokia, and Apple.

Ahead of schedule, an LED bulb for us all

Ahead of schedule, an LED bulb for us all


Just yesterday we brought you news of Cree's new module that will soon be working its way into lighting fixtures. We asked when we'd see their technology taking the shape of high-brightness bulbs that could fit in for home use.

The answer was within the next year or two. But today GE announced that they'll have an LED bulb replacement using Cree's LEDs available by the end of 2010. Now, let's be clear, this joint project from Cree and GE isn't as bright or as technologically advanced as the module we discussed yesterday, but it is a huge step forward for LED technology and I can't wait to get my hands on one (or a dozen).

These bulbs will fit into any traditional bulb socket and will produce about as much light as a 40 watt bulb. It consumes just 9 watts and lasts up to 17 years. It doesn't contain any hazardous substances but will cost up to $50.

Of course, over the life of the bulb, it will be cheaper than incandescents, but when you just want a new lightbulb, it's hard to choose the $50 one over the $0.50 one.

Tent-like solar fabric could charge cars, help with disaster relief

Tent-like solar fabric could charge cars, help with

disaster relief

Imagine being able to pitch solar tents in situations where you need both some protective cover and access to clean energy -- perhaps as a car port for a plug-in EV or a disaster relief shelter. A new tensile solar fabric from FTL Solar could be used in variety of ways and, as a bonus, it isn't an eyesore either.

A great example of highly functional design, the PowerMods as they're called bring together super-strong fabric and thin-film PV. The possible uses for this solar fabric are almost endless: battery charging stations, medical units, military bases, temporary housing, energy pods for remote villages, solar arrays in city parks, etc.

FTL has four different models of the PowerMod, including smaller-scale lean-tos and large car-park arrays. You can check out the specs for each model here. Each of the models' outputs are calculated on five hours of sunlight ranging from 1,068 Wh a day for the smallest model to to 2,040 kWh a day for the largest.

Printed paper solar cells

Printed paper solar cells


Solar panel materials are getting thinner and thinner. Now, MIT researchers have announced a method forprinting solar cell material on paper.

The efficiency of this method is far lower than other kinds of solar cells. The paper solar cells have an efficiency of around 1.5-2%, while commercial silicon wafer solar panels are generally around the 15-20% efficiency range. However, the scientists point out that this is still a research technology and is years from commercialization.

Even if the efficiency does not improve dramatically, it may be possible that cheap and abundant solar collecting materials provide a better and more cost-effective way of getting power, especially for portable electronic devices.

The relative effect of the chemicals and processes used in system may also be an issue. If there are less harmful materials used in a printed solar cell technology, the benefits that offers may also outweigh the relative efficiency gap as compared with the more toxic option.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Four energy technologies that could replace oil

Four energy technologies that could replace oil

Every time there's an energy-related disaster, it boosts the prospects for clean alternatives. Last month's devastating explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine killed 29, and got people wondering if all that ancient coal shouldn't just be left in the ground. And the spreading oil slick from the Deep Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico led to a flurry of Congressional bills banning offshore drilling, and rising public sentiment for cleaner alternatives.

The problem is that people's memories are short. Old arguments, such as coal is "native energy" or offshore oil offsets foreign imports, reassert themselves to reinforce the status quo. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's approval of the Cape Wind Project in Massachusetts April 28 could spur development of the dozen other offshore projects pending in the U.S. (and, indeed, also jumpstart other stalled energy projects).

Since it was first proposed in 2001, Cape Wind has been fighting determined opposition from Cape locals who don't want to look at spinning white turbines. The tremendous cost of fighting those well-funded special interests has given both developers and potential funders pause. But if Cape Wind now goes forward (the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and its allies are filing lawsuits) it could be a green light for green energy.

Here's a progress report on four green energy technologies:


Fresh Wind
Google Maps maintains an interactive map of the status of some of America's pending offshore wind projects. The developing trend is for turbine farms to be located much further out to sea than Cape Wind (which is five miles offshore). There are projects moving forward off the coasts of Rhode Island (Deepwater Wind, 100 turbines, 400 megawatts), New Jersey (Deepwater Wind/PSEG, 96 turbines, 345 megawatts), Delaware (Bluewater Wind, 60 turbines, 450 megawatts) and New York (Con Ed/Long Island Power Authority, size to be determined), among others, and according to the American Wind Energy Association they total a whopping 2,500 megawatts.

The New Jersey project would be 16 to 20 miles offshore, and the Delaware one 11. As the Bangor Daily News recently put it about proposed wind projects there, "Because the turbines will be far enough offshore to not be seen, some aesthetic concerns will be avoided. The floating nature of the proposal also avoids some of the environmental problems posed by disturbing the seabed."

According to Barbara Hill, executive director of turbine-supporting Clean Power Now, "There are a number of offshore wind projects proposed up and down the East Coast, though none of them have yet filed the required applications to the Minerals Management Service. As Secretary Salazar said, Cape Wind is the first of many wind farms."

stirling energy systems solar thermal arrays, with mirrors and Stirling engines, in the desert

Solar Power Scales Up
"I think the future of solar is in all sizes, from the dinky cell powering your calculator to large utility-scale projects that need to be hooked up to utility lines," said Bob Noble, CEO of Envision Solar, whose company builds solar "groves" that also include electric car charging. The solar-powered calculators have been are on the market for decades, but utility-grade solar will take longer.

Many of the biggest projects are either in Europe or involve European companies. Abengoa Solar announced this week that it had started commercial operation near Seville, Spain of its 50-megawatt Solnova 1, which uses parabolic trough solar technology. The plant can power 25,700 homes, or offset 31,400 tons of carbon dioxide.

But Abenoga is also moving ahead with two large concentrating solar plants in the U.S., including Solana (in the desert outside Phoenix) and the Mojave Desert Project (California). Another Mojave project, backed by BrightSource and $160 million in investment, got a big boost in February when it received a conditional $1.4 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

U.S. solar electric capacity is still relatively small-just over 2,000 megawatts, enough to power 350,000 homes. But revenue climbed 36% in 2009. Last year $1.4 billion in venture capital reached solar companies in the U.S. Total U.S. volume is $4 billion. The largest users in the U.S. are in California, including Pacific Gas & Electric (the most installed capacity) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (the most solar watts per customer).

The key to parabolic technology as backed by Abenoga and BrightSource is mirrors, huge ones. Solnova 1 covers 280 acres. The mirrors concentrate solar radiation onto heat-absorbing pipes carrying a super-heated liquid. Heat transfer turns water to steam, and that steam powers a turbo-generator to create electricity.

Clean tech funder Vinod Khosla, in a briefing paper on utility-scale solar, recently called for stable U.S. and European government incentive schemes, and for the "formation of large-scale, low-cost capital to underwrite low-carbon energy projects" of $100 million to $1 billion. According to Khosla's paper, a 100-mile by 100-mile solar-equipped section of Nevada desert could meet the full electricity demand of the U.S., and one percent of the world's desert areas could meet global electricity demand as forecast for 2030.

Khosla predicted that the price of photovoltaic cells is dropping from $2 a watt today to $1 in the near future. Noble of Envision also points out that technical advances have made large-scale solar adoption more feasible. And there are frequent breakthroughs: An MIT group recently coated paper with solar cells, meaning you could put panels up with a staple gun.

Photo: Some of the most exciting developments have been in large-scale solar installations. Credit: Stirling Energy Systems

oyster wave power machine by aquamarine power

The New Wave
Wave energy is still a technology awaiting widespread commercialization, though costs are coming down rapidly. According to a federal Department of the Interior study, results from the first commercial-scale projects that capture electricity from the restless movements of the ocean are encouraging. The report said that early facilities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Massachusetts were able to generate electricity at nine to 11 cents per kilowatt-hour (after tax incentives). The report estimated that the total wave potential from U.S. coastlines to a depth of 60 meters is 2,100 terrawatt-hours annually.

The biggest problem is cost. "These facilities are very capital intensive," the report said, ranging from $4,000 to $15,000 per kilowatt. "Significant breakthroughs in capital cost would be needed to make this technology cost competitive." Ocean-based systems take a beating, especially since it's roughly true that the rougher the water the more energy they can produce.

But wave projects off Scotland could soon be commercialized on a massive scale. According to MIT'sTechnology Review, six wave and four tidal projects proposed for the Orkney Islands could produce 1.2 gigawatts. "This industry is about to grow up," said Martin McAdam, CEO of Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power.

Photo: The Oyster wave power test project. Credit: Aquamarine Power

closed trash to energy plant in tulsa

Talking Trash
Traditional trash-to-energy plants have a bad name in the U.S., mostly because they simply burn garbage and emit lots of chemicals out of their smokestacks. But a new type of plant that turns trash to electricity and heat is catching on in Europe, and its key feature is filters that capture mercury, dioxin and other toxins before they're emitted.

According to the New York Times, energy pioneer Denmark (a leader in wind power) has 29 clean trash-to-energy plants, and there are 400 in Europe (Germany and Holland are also leaders). "Their use has not only reduced [Denmark's] energy costs and reliance on oil and gas, but benefited the environment, diminishing the use of landfills and cutting carbon dioxide emissions," said the Times.

Unlike Europe, the U.S. has plenty of low-cost landfill space, and that combines with the low public opinion of the older technology to create a barrier to adoption of the cleaner approach. Higher upfront costs are also a barrier. Meanwhile, they're so accepted in Europe that they don't even affect property values.

Photo: A shuttered trash-to-energy plant in Tulsa. Credit: Janice Waltzer Curtis/Flickr