Brian Banmiller's blog

High Tech on the High Seas

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Carnival cruise line is bringing a little high tech action to the high seas.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas the company unveiled its One Cruise Experience Access Network or OCEAN. This will let travelers control their entire experience from a personalized smartphone app and quarter sized medallion.

OCEAN uses a series of sensors placed throughout the ship that can locate you based on your medallion. The sensors can then activate the lights in your area, control the temperature and open your room door. You can also order drinks and food from the app and it will let the crew know where to deliver. OCEAN also allows passengers to play games and gamble without hitting the casino and you can message fellow passengers to arrange the next party.  read more »

Monitoring Your Drinks

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Not sure when you've had a few too many? Now you can self-regulate why you self-medicate.

Proof, is the latest wearable device from Milo Sensors that lets you know when you're hitting your limit when it comes to the number of drinks you've had. The wristband features a disposable 12 hour cartridge that tracks your alcohol level by the amount of alcohol you sweat out.

The device pairs with the Proof app and displays your current blood alcohol content and gives you the estimated time of when you might sober up. You can also set the device to alert you through vibrations when you have reached a pre-selected level of saturation.  read more »

A Tax Increase

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We're heading into the official start of tax season and this year Uncle Sam wants just a little bit more.

For millions of Americans the first thing they will see when they visit the tax man is a tax increase. This year about twelve million workers will be hit with an automatic adjustment in their payroll taxes. And for the first time in 34 years the amount of income subject to be taxed is 7.3%. That tax could cost you as much as $534, more if you're self-employed.

So what's behind the increase? The social security taxable minimum is adjusted based on U.S. wages and not consumer prices. Accountants say the sudden hike is two years of wage gains packed into one. So as wages go up so does the amount the government can tax you.  read more »

Happy Birthday iPhone

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The iPhone is celebrating its 10th birthday and it's growing up fast.

Ten years ago this week Steve Jobs stepped on stage and debuted a revolutionary new idea. A device he said was the perfect marriage of three products; a mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls and a web browser. Since the unveiling the iPhone has grown into the recently released iPhone 7 Plus, has millions of apps and has changed the way the world communicates. So as it approaches the terrible teenage years, where will Apple and the iPhone go from here?  read more »

When Flying Was Fun

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Flying used to be a lot more fun, until it wasn't.

Believe it or not, flying used to be a great experience. Before jets shortened flying time dramatically, passengers were a lot more forgiving of delays and cancellations. It was simply expected as the industry was having its growing pains. And when long haul jets first came into service, passengers were so excited about the speed and cabin space that men and women dressed up as if they were going to a fancy restaurant for a fine meal. And yes the meals were actually quite good. Imagine roast beef carved at your seat and wine poured in crystal goblets. Celebrity designers outfitted flight attendants in the latest fashions.  read more »

New Year's Resolutions

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It's the first weekend of 2017, so what are your resolutions for a better year?

Every year you make yourself a couple promises and if you're like most people, every year you break them. So how about putting in some real effort for the next twelve months? To help you along the way the blog “Care 2 Healthy Living” has a list of the worst resolutions people make and how you can actually try sticking to them.

For example, getting your finances in order. This will take a little work because you need to figure out your long and short term goals, track your debt, spending and income and stick to a budget. If you're truly serious about it experts say you should bring in an accountant, or financial planner to keep you on pace.  read more »

Amazon's Holiday Sales

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It looks like Santa might not have been the only one working hard this holiday season.

Amazon says that 2016 was its best season yet with more than one billion packages shipped worldwide. The company says that most of those orders came from mobile devices and its busiest day was December 19th, the Monday before Christmas. In addition to that, Amazon prime customers, spent twice as much as other customers on Amazon because they're able to take advantage of the free two day shipping.

Besides helping to deliver gifts across the globe, it was also a big year for Amazon products. The company's voice activated assistant Alexa, both in the large and small form were top sellers. Amazon says they don't have final numbers yet but they sold around nine times more than last year.  read more »

In Flight Nap

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Plan on using your next plane ride to catch a couple z's, there are a couple of sleep easy tricks you might want to try.

A long flight is the perfect time to get a little shut-eye, especially if you're traveling alone. Unfortunately not everyone is able to curl up in a cramped seat without disturbing their neighbor; unless you're lucky enough to be sitting in the areas closer to the front of the plane. But if you're stuck back in coach there are some things you can do to get a little comfortable.  read more »

Dual Purpose Paper

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When nature calls at Tokyo’s Narita airport, your smartphone is also in for a little relief.  read more »

Retirement Plans

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Getting ready to retire; you might want to consider packing your bags.

According to the social security administration just under 400,000 American retirees are now living outside of the U.S. The number grew 17% between 2010 and 2015 and is expected to increase even more over the next ten years as more baby boomers retire.

The people heading out to see the world cite the cost of living as one of the biggest reasons for trying something new. They say it's impossible to live on a fixed income in most major cities in the U.S. and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. So they are heading to countries such as Canada, Japan, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom.  read more »