Top articles of the week

Hello there and welcome to our weekly feature titled top articles of the
week.
Especially chosen for you, these articles will help you to keep up to date
with current trends plus a lot more.
Enjoy!

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Contributed by Dan Thompson
Why I Can’t Bring Myself to Buy Salad Greens in a Bag
I don’t buy bagged double- or triple-wash or any other variety of prepared
salad greens that come in a plastic clamshell or bag. But not be for the
reasons you might assume.
It’s not because I’m overly concerned that bacteria might make it through
all that pre-washing in a chlorinated bath (although tests conducted by
Consumer Reports
did find bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal
contamination, when they tested 4,000 samples of all kinds of packaged
greens from baby greens to
spinach, traditional and organic). As creepy as that is to think about, the
report assures that the contamination falls within the FDA’s acceptable
levels.
It’s not even my concerns about just how long ago these greens were cut and
washed. Granted, I am not a fan of limp, tired-appearing romaine, iceberg
lettuce or cabbage. And
even though I am a believer that once you wash, cut and prepare any kind of
fresh produce—be it fruit or vegetables—the flavor and quality begin to
degrade, that’s not it
either.
Nope, it’s not any of those things that cause me to just walk on by that
prepackaged section in my supermarket produce department.
The reason I don’t buy salad in a bag is the cost. I can’t bring myself to
pay at least three times more to get my salad greens cut up, pre-washed and
then sealed in a plastic
bag or box.
At my local supermarket, Fresh Selections/10-ounce romaine lettuce mix in a
bag is $2.99. A head of romaine lettuce is $.99/each, or $.62 for a 10-ounce
equivalent.
As I’ve queried readers and friends on the bag versus bulk question, the
overarching reason so many people go for the prepackaged, triple-washed,
salad greens in a bag, is down to one thing: time. Bagged salads are
convenient and so easy to just
grab and go. (Ironically, nearly everyone I’ve chatted with admits to
rewashing those bagged salad greens, just to be on the safe side. So where’s
all the convenience in
that?)
Last weekend I did my own test. I shredded an entire head of green cabbage
using a sharp knife. I was done start to finish in 7 minutes. I ended up
with a bowl of beautiful,
bright green, crunchy, fresh cabbage for our favorite coleslaw. It took
another 5 minutes to make the awesome dressing. And the cost? About $1.30,
complete. Yum.
Sweet Restaurant Slaw
1 head green cabbage, shredded
2 tablespoons diced onion
2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper
Combine shredded cabbage and onion in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk
together the remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over cabbage mix and toss
to coat. Chill for 2
hours before serving. Servings: 6.
TIPS: If you still prefer to purchase prewashed salad greens, follow these
tips:
Buy packages as far from their use-by date as you can find.
Even if the bag says “prewashed” or “triple-washed,” wash the greens
yourself. Rinsing won’t remove all bacteria but may remove residual soil.
Prevent cross contamination by keeping greens away from raw meat.
Question: Do you buy pre-packaged greens that come in a bag or box? If so,
do you rewash?
www.everydaycheapskate.com

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A Dan Thompson contribution
Choosing a security camera: A roundup of options from ExtremeTech
If you are willing to go generic you can get a 5MP 1920p camera like this
GW5061IP for under 150
If you are willing to go generic you can get a 5MP 1920p camera like this
GW5061IP for under $150
Amcrest also makes some very-impressive and reasonably-priced cameras.
Somehow they even manage to get motorized panning into a sub-$100 model with
full
1080p HD support. I have been evaluating a couple of these as part of
looking at
DIY Home video monitoring
and have been impressed by both the video quality
and the two-way audio.
If you are interested in setting up your own video monitoring,
Read, “How to set up DIY video monitoring for home or office – subscription
free” found here
https://www.extremetech.com/computing/240302-diy-setting-video-monitoring-home-office-
subscription-free
However, I found the vendor’s own software pretty lame, so you’ll be much
better off using it with your own monitoring software, either running on
your NAS or
your PC. I’ve been using them with Synology’s Surveillance Station.
3. Plug’n’Play options: Nest, Ring, Skybell, iSmartAlarm
For those who don’t want to set up their own system, there are some very
popular options. Keep in mind that these devices typically require monthly
subscriptions
to look back at your recorded video. For general use, Google’s Nest Cam is
by far the best-selling. It has taken a step back in user approval since the
original
Dropcam version was acquired by Google, but has been improving over time.
The newest versions include an outdoor-ready model and
sophisticated-cloud-based
object detection.
The Pro version of Ring features full 1080p video better features but
requires hard-wired power
If you want a camera to see who is coming to your front door, the Ring is
both best-selling and very popular with its users. Some
report that setup can be painful, but nearly everyone loves the result. The
same is not true of its security camera product, which isn’t as popular with
users. Skybell
is a less-well-known company that provides an even-more-fully-featured
alternative to Ring’s doorbell, and is also well-liked by users. Ring is
working to set itself
apart with cloud-based software features like its new neighborhood sharing
capability. Users can share video of suspicious events with other Ring users
who live
within in a specified radius of their home. Ring’s new Pro model is smaller
than the original and has full 1080p. However, it requires constant power,
so you’ll need
to use it to replace a wired doorbell, not just as a replacement for the
peephole in your door. Battery-powered cameras in general wind up being
fairly limited,
unfortunately. I wanted to review Netgear’s new Arlo Pro for this article,
but they couldn’t provide a review unit in time, so that will have to wait.
While iSmartAlarm primarily sells a DIY home alarm system, they also have a
slick, stand-alone, camera offering, the Spot. It doesn’t have all the
features of some
of its competitors, but it is easy to use, streams to the company’s app, and
automatically records 10-second videos whenever motion (or optionally sound)
is
detected. What sets the Spot apart is the video service is free, with no
monthly subscription. I’ve been using one since they first launched as a
Kickstarter, and it
has worked well. The base is even magnetic, so it is easy to attach. It does
require external power, but that is typical of most units that have
night-vision capabilities.
4. EZVIZ: A hybrid option of commercial cameras with consumer software
Typical product shots like of this EZVIZ Mini Plus often leave out the
inconvenient power cord
The success of consumer-targeted solutions (and their relatively-high profit
margins) hasn’t escaped the attention of
commercial camera vendors. Chinese industrial giant Hikvision has created
EZVIZ to offer its cameras with an integrated online subscription service.
The cameras
are full-featured, and well-constructed. Their motion detection and IFTTT
integration worked well in my testing. However, the EZVIZ cloud service is
still fairly
rudimentary, and current pricing seems somewhat high ($5-$10/month/camera) —
but the first year of 7-day cloud storage is free. Fortunately, even though
direct
LAN access isn’t officially supported, I found I could (like with the
Samsung models) simply login and grab their video stream off port 554, and
use them with my
choice of software.
The EZVIZ Husky is a well-designed outdoor model with 1080p active IR and a
microSD slot
EZVIZ makes three models, including both indoor and outdoor versions, so
consumers can use them to create a
full system. The Mini Plus is a particularly-impressive combination of
features in a tiny package. It has 1080p, 2-way audio, a microSD card, and
motion detection,
in a package about the size of a deck of cards. My only complaint about it
is that the ball joint you use to swivel the camera on the base has
very-limited travel, and
the charging cable is routed out the front of the camera instead of the
back. The less-expensive mini has a similar form factor — although with
better rotation — but
only supports 720p. Their Husky model is a very-well-built outdoor camera
that produces an excellent 1080p image. Here too my only complaint relates
to
mounting. The camera can be run over PoE, but the Ethernet connector is not
removable, and is quite large, so you need a hole nearly 3/4-inch through
your
outdoor wall (or a sealed connection to your Ethernet cable). You can also
use it with the included charger, but the connector for that also needs to
go through the
wall. Note that EZVIZ is part of a company (Hikvision — one of the world’s
largest supplier of video surveillance gear) that is partially-owned by the
Chinese
government, which may concern some buyers.
5. Working around a lack of static IP address
For any camera you want to monitor, it is simplest if you can give it a
static IP address. However, some consumer cameras that assume you want a
plug-n-play
install with cloud-only access, don’t provide a way to set a static IP —
EZVIZ, for example. They rely on DHCP. That’s normally fine, but if you want
to make
them part of a video monitoring network by streaming them to a server, it
needs a stable IP address to work with. If you can’t set it on the camera,
you can usually
log in to your router and create a DHCP Reservation for the camera using its
MAC address — so that it always receives the same IP address when it asks
for one.
6. Ultra-wide lenses mean plenty of distortion
This GW camera has excellent resolution and good radial rendering, but you
can see the large barrel distortion by looking at the edge of the deck
If you’re used to the carefully-controlled image outputs from high-end video
cameras, or even the corrected ones
that come out of your smartphone, you won’t get that from typical security
cameras. Their relatively-inexpensive wide-angle lenses do a good job with
resolution,
but they also have plenty of barrel distortion. For the most part, that
shouldn’t matter if you are using them for security, but if you are hoping
to get some other type
of footage from them, you may find yourself needing to do some heavy
post-processing.
7. Some personal choices about privacy
Looking at the various cloud-based solutions, there is more-or-less a choice
of Samsung, Google, Chinese-owned companies, or little-known startups. Even
if you
choose a startup like Ring, it is quite likely that it will be part of
Google or some other large corporation before long — as happened with
Dropcam. Personally, at
least for interior security, it makes me happy that I have my own LAN-based
solution, and the video doesn’t have to leave the premises unless I need to
look at it
remotely.
The good news is that there are now dozens of models of cameras suitable for
video monitoring and home security, with just about any combination of
features you
need. We’ve only had room to cover a few of them here, so if you have a
favorite we missed please let us know about it in the comments. At this
link.

Choosing a security camera: A roundup of options


Visuals – screen shot links to all of the cameras mentioned in this article
are available for viewing at this link.

Choosing a security camera: A roundup of options


Author: David Cardinal from “Extreme Tech” December 29 2016

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Contributed by Dan Thompson
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