Showing posts with label Home Office. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home Office. Show all posts

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Best High Security Micro-Cut Shredder for Documents, Media and Credit Cards

To protect yourself against identity theft and identity fraud, including tax identity theft and medical identity theft, the FTC recommends shredding your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards, and any other documents that have personal information before you throw them out.

In December, I replaced the Amazon Basics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket in our home offfice with an Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper/ CD and Credit Card/ 60 Minutes Continuous Run Time Shredder.  

In this product review, I'll share my tips for choosing the best high-security micro-cut shredder for personal and home office use and why my husband and I consider our new Aurora AU1210MA P-4 security level shredder superior to the Amazon Basics unit it replaced, despite their very similar features, specifications and price tags. 

Photo of Aurora AU1210MA shredder - Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft With This High Security Micro-Cut Shredder

Why You Need a High Security Multi-Media Micro-Cut Shredder

Identity theft is a huge, very serious and growing problem in the US. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission received 1.4 million reports of identity theft from consumers, according to newly published data from the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network.

Unfortunately, our personal information seems to plastered everywhere these days. So, to protect your privacy and security as well as your identity, in addition to storing materials with identifiable personal information safely until you no longer need them, you should destroy or mutilate them beyond recognition before you discard them in your trash or recycling bins. 

In addition to financial documents you no longer need to keep, such as old bank statements and canceled checks—either printed on paper or stored digitally on CDs—you should also be shredding junk mail, duplicate or expired credit cards, photo IDs, travel itineraries, boarding passes, shipping labels and sticky notes with access codes, account numbers, passwords, etc. 

Thieves will stop at nothing to get their hands on your personal information and can easily cobble together bits and pieces of your identity simply by going through your trash or recycling and then searching online to fill in any missing pieces they need. Once they do, they can wreak havoc with your finances and your life!

They can use your stolen identity not only to charge purchases to your credit cards but also to open new credit card accounts in your name, with purchases billed to you, and even obtain a driver’s license in your name with their photo. Depending on how much information they can acquire and how sophisticated they are at this cruel game, these identity thieves can also steal your tax refunds, social security checks and other benefits. 

Worse yet, proving that you (rather than the perpetrator of the identity theft) are who you claim to be and recovering/reestablishing your personal identity is a nightmare that can take years, especially if you are in a profession such as medicine or finance that makes your stolen identity especially valuable. 

Buying a reliable, high security micro-cut document shredder is the best and cheapest insurance you can invest in to protect your privacy, financial security and identity and give you peace of mind. 

Shopping Tips for Choosing a Personal or Home Office Document Shredder

If you don't yet own a shredder, or if yours has a P1, P2 or P3 security level rating, I strongly recommend that you make buying or upgrading to a high-security, micro-cut shredder for your personal or home office use a high priority. 

There are many document and credit card shredder models and brands, and trying to compare them can be confusing and time-consuming. To make it easier, here are the key features to look to help you choose the best shredder for your personal or professional needs. 

Micro-Cut

The first step in choosing the best shredder for your needs is to decide whether you want a strip-cut, cross-cut or micro-cut type. Your choice of cut type depends on different speed, security and cost trade-offs and priorities.  

As their name suggests, strip-cut shredders cut paper and other materials into long, thin strips. Although they are the fastest and, usually, the least expensive of these three types, they also provide the least security, since the long strips are fairly easy for a thief to piece back together to view your personal information. 

Cross-cut shredders cut paper and other materials into thinner, shorter strips that require more time and effort for a thief to reassemble. They also are somewhat slower and tend to be more expensive than strip-cut units.

Micro-cut shredders cut paper and other materials into tiny diamond- or confetti-shaped bits that make recovery of shredded paper documents and other media nearly impossible to reassemble manually. They also are quite a bit slower and usually cost more than strip-cut and cross-cut models. However, those tradeoffs in speed and price are far outweighed by the much higher level of protection that micro-cut shredders provide.against identity theft and other types of impersonation fraud.

DIN P-4 Security Level / Protection Class 2

Many document shredder manufacturers and retailers include the DIN 66399 security level (P-1 through P-7) in the product information for most or all of the models they offer. These security levels are part of the DIN 66399 standard for secure destruction of physical confidential material stored on paper, film or digital storage devices, which was developed by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) or (English translation) German Institute for Standardization

DIN P-1 security level shredders are suitable for destroying physical materials containing general information that is not personal or confidential, such as junk mail. Security levels P-2 through P-7 are standards suitable for destroying physical materials with increasingly sensitive information, with level P-6 and P-7 shredders reserved for destroying highly confidential, classified and top-secret information, such as national security and military documents.

The seven security levels fall under three categories called protection classes, with protection classes 1-3 indicating low, high and very high levels of security, respectively. Protection class 2 represents a high level of security and includes DIN P-3, P-4 and P-5 security levels. Some security levels fall under two protection classes: a shredder with a P-3 security level could fall into either protection class 1 or protection class, and a P-4 or P-5 shredder may fall under protection classes 2 or 3. 

Different shredder models that share the same DIN "P" security level don't necessarily provide the same level of protection, and product information for shredders designed for home and home office use rarely includes the model's protection class. So, if you need to destroy documents with confidential or sensitive information on a regular basis, you may want to contact the manufacturers, if necessary, to find out the DIN protection class (and security level, if it's not on the product page) for each model you are seriously considering.

A shredder with a protection class 2, P-4 security level rating is an excellent choice for most personal or home office use, providing a good balance of identity theft protection, speed and price. 

Note: If you are an accountant, tax preparer or someone who handles other confidential or sensitive information (such as HIPAA-protected health information) and work in a home office, you may want or need to consider a shredder with a P-5 security level shredder.

A Higher Sheet Capacity Than Your Anticipated Needs

Sheet capacity means how many sheets of paper can be fed through the shredder in a single pass. Consider the volume and thickness of the documents and data storage media you need to shred on a regular basis. Here again, you will need to weigh the convenience and efficiency of a model with a higher sheet capacity against its higher cost. 

That said, based on both my product research and personal experience, micro-cut shredders rarely live up to their manufacturer's sheet capacity claims in the less-than-optimal conditions of real-life, day-to-day use, so I recommend choosing a model with a higher sheet capacity than you think you will need. 

Also, sheet capacities are dependent on a variety of factors including Paper Type and Weight.  Most offices typically use 20 Lb Bond Letter size sheets. Consider a higher volume shredder if you need to shred glossy or heavier paper.

Ability to Shred Credit Cards, Paper With Staples/Small Paper Clips, and CDs/DVDs Used for Data Storage (If You Use Them)

Many years ago, simply cutting up expired or unwanted credit cards with scissors before throwing them in the trash was common practice. Now that credit cards have built-in magnetic strips that store valuable data digitally, scissors no longer "cut it" as a way to protect yourself against identity theft and other types of impersonation fraud. 

I highly recommend choosing a model that can shred plastic credit cards, as well as papers held together with metal staples or small paper clips, without jamming. If you use CDs or DVDs to store or back up personal or professional data, look for one designed to destroy those optical storage media as well.

Close-up photo showing where to insert plastic credit cards, CDs and DVDs into the Aurora AU1210MA high security micro-cut shredder
This clearly-marked section of the Aurora AU1210MA high security micro-cut shredder's feed slot shows where to insert plastic credit cards, CDs or DVDs.

Always Follow the Manufacturer's Guidelines and Restrictions on Shredding Materials

For example, most models should not be used to shred window envelopes or insulated envelopes, large paper clips, bound materials, such as checkbooks or magazines, transparency film, laminated documents, cardboard, or materials with adhesives, such as self-stick labels.

Never Use a Shredder to Destroy a Metal Credit Card!

Increasingly, financial institutions are issuing premium credit cards being made from titanium and other metals. Metal credit cards are considered status symbols and frequently have high credit limits, so they are especially sought after by people who commit identity theft.

Unfortunately, even document shredders designed to work as credit card shredders cannot process these sturdy metal cards. If you try to feed a metal credit card into your document shredder, you are much more likely to destroy your equipment than your card! 

Instead, check out Experian's excellent post on "How to Destroy a Metal Credit Card."

Lightweight Bin With a Window and Wheels or Casters

Paper is heavy, so it's a good idea to choose a shredder with a lightweight bin or wastebasket that allows you to easily monitor the volume of shredded paper and other materials and empty it when it is no more than three-quarters full. 

If you allow your bin to fill up to the top, some of the shreds can be pulled back up into the shredder and cause it to jam. In addition, the fuller the bin, the heavier and more difficult it will be to maneuver, lift and upend when you empty it and the greater the volume of escaped shredded paper "confetti" you will likely have to sweep up afterward. 

Also look for models with a bin that slides in and out easily and has wheels or casters, which also will make it easier to move to another location and back, if necessary, when you need to empty it. 

5- To 10-Gallon Bin Capacity (For Personal or Home Office Use)

Unless you do a lot of shredding, a bin with a 5-gallon capacity should be fine. It's also likely to be able to fit under a work table or desk for storage when you are not working. If you typically need to destroy a larger volume of information, a bin with a 10-gallon capacity may be more suitable for your home office.

Acceptable Throughput Speed

Manufacturers often do not include the throughput speed in the product information, and feeding more sheets into the shredder per pass can slow down the speed considerably. Reading product reviews from customers who have owned multiple document shredder models can be helpful when comparing the throughput speeds of models with similar features and specifications.

Longer Continuous Run Time / Shorter Cool-Down Time

If you typically need to destroy only a handful of documents, junk mail, etc., at a time and can feed them all through your machine in just a few minutes, then comparing the continuous run times and cool-down times of different models isn't that important. However, if frequently need to destroy a large volume of paper documents, plastic credit cards or data stored on CDs or DVDs, look for models with a longer continuous run time and a shorter cool-down time, so you can shred materials for longer stretches without having to stop for an overheated motor and wait for it to cool down before you can resume. 

Note: When looking at any model's continuous run time, keep in mind that the continuous run time claimed by the manufacturer is probably based on feeding single pages of 20-lb. or lighter weight (i.e., thinner) paper without staples or paper clips. When you shred thicker or harder material (such as cardboard, plastic credit cards, CDs or DVDs), the continuous run time will likely be considerably shorter than what is stated in the product description or specifications.

Reliable Performance Over Time

A shredder that works great for a year and then has a significant malfunction can cost much more in the long run than one with a higher price tag that continues to perform well and reliably for many years. When comparing different paper shredder models, take the time to read product reviews, especially the negative or critical reviews, to get a feel for how often the products customers received turned out to be short-lived "lemons."

Highly Recommended: The Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper, CD and Credit Card Shredder

Before I replaced it with an Aurora AU1210MA, my husband and I were using an Amazon Basics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket in our home office. We may have gotten a lemon, but our 12-sheet unit routinely jammed if we fed it more than four sheets of paper at a time. The one we received also was fairly loud. Other than those two issues, it performed pretty well for a year or so. Unfortunately, despite our light usage, additional problems developed over time. The biggest issue was that both the power/function switch and the auto on/off sensors that detect the presence or absence of paper malfunctioned, causing the motor to remain on continuously. This meant the only way to turn the unit off was to plug it in whenever we wanted to shred something and then unplug it again until the next time we needed it, which was inconvenient and annoying. When I read some of the more recent product reviews while shopping for a replacement, I discovered that quite a few other customers who purchased this Amazon Basics micro-cut shredder also experienced sensor malfunction issues after a relatively short time. 

Close-up photo of the Aurora AU1210MA shredder's 4-mode switch
The 4-mode switch on our Aurora high security micro-cut shredder 

The Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper, CD and Credit Card Shredder has comparable features and specification to those of its Amazon Basics counterpart:

  • Both are P-4 security level micro-cut shredders that their respective manufacturers claim can shred 12 sheets of 20-pound-thickness paper in a single pass into confetti-like particles measuring just 5/32" x 15/32" (4 mm x 11.9 mm) and destroy plastic credit cards, CDs and DVDs, staples and small paper clips. 
  • Both have switches with 4 modes: Auto, Off, Reverse, and Forward (for unclogging or removing jams).
  • They have very similar dimensions and weights. 

However, our Aurota AU1210MA has delivered superior performance during the three months we have owned it so far. 

  • Although we haven't yet tried to feed 12 sheets at a time, our Aurora AU1210MA has successfully shredded stacks of 10 sheets without jamming, compared to the 4-sheet maximum we could feed through our Amazon Basics unit in one pass. 
  • Our Aurora is also noticeably quieter than its Amazon Basics predecessor, which we definitely appreciate.
  • The Aurora AU1210MA's 5-gallon capacity bin is much easier to remove and put back than our Amazon Basics' slightly larger, 5.7-gallon capacity bin.
  • The Aurora shredder claims a 60-minute continuous run time, compared to the 10-minute continuous run time for its Amazon Basics counterpart.

Time will tell whether it continues to perform reliably for the next several years. 

Photo of the author's Aurora AU1210MA high security micro-cut shredder
We have put our Aurora AU1210MA P-4 security level micro-cut document shredder through its paces for three months so far. It has delivered reliable performance and is much quieter than its predecessor.

Key Features and Benefits

Here are some of the reasons I recommend the Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper, CD and Credit Card Shredder for personal and home office use (and prefer it to the Amazon Basics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket):

  • P-4 security level micro-cuts documents and other media into 5/32" x 15/32" (4 mm x 11.9 mm) pieces, rendering confidential personal information or business data printed at its original size nearly impossible to recover in a readable form.
  • Can shred 12 sheets of 20-lb. paper in a single pass.
  • Can destroy CDs, DVDs, plastic credit cards, staples and small paper clips.
  • Long, 60-minute continuous run time (6x longer than the comparable Amazon Basics model).
  • 6 feet per minute shred speed (slower when feeding multiple sheets per pass).
  • Quiet operation.
  • Lightweight yet sturdy 5-gallon capacity bin with wheeled casters is easy to move and maneuver.
  • Large viewing window.
  • Bright LED status indicators: Bin Full, Door Open, Overload, Overheat, Power On
LED status indicators on the Aurora AU1210MA
These LED status indicators on our Aurora AU1210MA micro-cut shredder are brightly lit and clearly visible when they're on.

Protect Your Loved Ones With the Gift of a High Security Micro-Cut Shredder

A high-security micro-cut document shredder may not be the most obvious choice for gift giving, but it can be a thoughtful and valuable present, especially for young adults, seniors, and people who work from home or run a home-based business. 

Giving a friend or loved one an Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper, CD and Credit Card Shredder can help you protect the recipient against identity theft and other types of impersonation fraud. It can also mean giving the gift of greater peace of mind.


The Best High Security Micro-Cut Shredder For Documents, Media and Credit Cards by Margaret Schindel


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Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Personal Review of the Cubii - Five Stars - A Great Product

What's the Cubii?

If you haven't seen the ads on TV for this product, it's an "award-winning compact seated elliptical." In plain English, it's a small compact bike pedal that fits under your desk or anywhere you want it to do some pedaling from a seated position.

My 80+ Year Young Mother Purchased One

My mother decided that, especially with covid and with her health issues, she was simply sitting too much.

She had been thinking about getting the Cubii for over a year, and finally, after lockdown number three, she went ahead and ordered it in around March 2021.

The Cubii - Easy Assembly - Comes with the Mat

1. Does Your Mom Use it Regularly?

Yes. She sure does. She generally uses it on average three times a day for about 15 or 20 minutes at a time. However, once on a Zoom call, she biked for the full hour. Gently, of course.

2. Does Your Mom Have Any Pain from It?

No. Nothing that's from the Cubii.

3. Is the Cubii Strengthening Your Mom's Leg Muscles?

I'm going to say yes, slowly, yes. I was concerned about her muscles atrophying, so this is a terrific, safe way to get exercise without leaving her home and risking falls.

4. Does Your Mom Like the Cubii?

Yes. Mom really likes it. She's consistent when it comes to using it. She uses it daily.

5. Is it a Quiet Machine?

Not just quiet, virtually silent! Not a sound. The ads say it's whisper-quiet, and yes, it's that and more.

6. Can You Adjust the Tension?

Yes. Mom and I keep the tension low. Easy to do, turn the dial to the number you want.

7. Does it Track Distance, Time, Calories, and Rotations

Yes. It sure does. 

8. Is it Easy to Assemble

It's effortless to assemble. It comes with a screwdriver and four screws to put the pedals on. Once the pedals are on, it's assembled and ready to use.

9. What Comes with the Cubii?

We purchased the basic model (which is still fantastic). It comes with the unit, a slip-free mat, caster stops if you have a chair on wheels to prevent your chair from moving (I didn't need them because my chair is on a rug), a screwdriver, and four screws.

10. Hows the Quality?

It's high quality and durable—great value for the money.



My Early (Very Early) Birthday Present From My Mom was the Cubii - My Birthday Isn't for Months, But My Health Won't Wait

I was able to try my mother's Cubii, and I loved it. Since I have arthritic health issues, she offered one to me as an early birthday gift.

I positioned my Cubii under my desk, and as I'm typing this article, I'm pedaling. 

Get ready because using the Cubii is kind of addictive!

I LOVE the movement and motion when I'm sitting hours on end at my desk.

Typing and pedaling isn't a problem. Nope. I actually thought it would be an issue, but it's not. Yeah!

What Can I Do While Pedaling the Cubii?

  1. Build Web Pages
  2. Write Articles
  3. Social Media Marketing
  4. Create Graphics
  5. Self Publish Books (Typing & Word Processing)
  6. Talking on the phone
  7. Texting
  8. Watch TV and Videos
  9. Most Accounting Paperwork
  10. Creating Ads and Marketing
  11. Update My Website

The only thing I cannot do while pedaling is create the riddles for my riddle books. Creating original riddles requires focused thought, so I find myself stopping and starting the pedals when I'm in 'creation mode.' Other than that, it's ideal for working at my desk.

What I Like Most About the Cubii

Since it's under my desk and I can exercise anytime while sitting, I don't feel guilty sitting for hours. Of course, I still get up and stretch, etc., but now it's for a change of scenery, not guilt from lack of exercise!

I find it relieves stress. When I'm feeling challenged, I pedal off my steam. 

I highly recommend this product. You can get the product directly on the Cubii website or Amazon. If it's not available on Amazon (out of stock), head over to their website. They offer both a Canada and USA site link.

There are various models with various features. We chose the basic model, the JR1. 

Five stars.

Here is another model up with a few more elaborate features - Bluetooth Compatible - Sync it to Your Fitbit

Here is the one we purchased - on Amazon:







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Sunday, January 31, 2021

6 Handy Work From Home Office Gizmos and Gadgets

Review of Handy Home Office Accessories & Gadgets

Since many of us are working from home these days, acquiring just the right gadgets and gizmos for our desks can be fun! 

For me, it's fun. Maybe, you're like, "no clutter, please." These six items don't really clutter the office up; they're all useful.

My family tends to give me gifts that fit nicely into my home-office set-up. Since I spend so much time here, I appreciate every little thing I get from them.

Here are six handy items that I've either purchased or received as gifts you may also want to consider.

Handy Home Office Gizmos and Gadgets

1. A Calendar Mousepad

My 2021 calendar mouse pad is on order. Last year, I decided that I needed a handy calendar that didn't have to hang on the wall or be buried in a drawer. The perfect solution was a mouse pad that doubles as a calendar. Sure, you can't write on it, but who cares! If I need to quickly glance at a particular date while viewing the whole year at a glance .... bingo! Problem solved.

Here's My 2020 Mousepad Calendar - 2021 Just Ordered - Waiting for Arrival

I find the calendar mouse pad handy when I travel to my mother's house. I'll work from there, and since the year is displayed in one handy spot, boom, I have a calendar at my fingertips, literally. The best part is I don't have to look at my phone or google a calendar. The mousepad gives me immediate access when working.

I'll end up with a collection of calendar mousepads as the years go by, but how cool is that? After many years of collecting them, God willing, I was considering sticking them in a photo frame for the wall and pinning a small photo in the middle of each year to represent the major event for that year. I guess the covid virus will be the 2020 photo? Um, maybe not. We'll see. 

I would love 2021 to represent something positive about my riddle books, or better yet, my first grand-daughter due in August. There you have it, she gets the 2021 photo billing.

2. HomeMedics Hand-Held Massager

This thing is so darned convenient! This massager is very inexpensive and needs batteries - yah, that part sucks, but honestly, it's worth having on hand. Sitting at my desk can cause tightness and cramps in my thighs and knees. When I'm in the middle of a project and not willing to get up and walk around, I grab that little massager and use it in those painful spots. Works great. 

3. Motivational Words

These can come in many forms. For some, it's a quote on the wall or a plaque on the desk. For me, it's a gift from my grandsons. They gave me three rocks, each printed with a motivational word; "wish, hope, dream." I love these rocks! Here they are:

Wish, Hope, Dream Rocks on My Desk

4. Candles, Yes, Candles, Lots of Candles

Over the holidays, I received three new candles, and I've used two of them completely, and it's only the end of January, lol. These particular candles came in lovely pastel-colored, small glass containers. They fit perfectly on our kitchen window ledge, so I've cleaned them and plan on planting herbs inside in the spring. If fire freaks you out, go for the led battery operated version. The ambient light, no matter which you use, is lovely, and of course, the scent of a real candle can be calming. Lemon, my fave - #anythinglemon.

5. Plants - Plants Are a Must

Plants clean the air. For that reason alone, I include them in a room. Certain plants are ideal for rooms with a lot of electronics, such as Spider Plants. I have one of those plants by our family room TV.

 Fresh flowers are nice and are normally only on my desk when given as a gift. For that reason, I keep plants. I have two plants, one on my desk and one on my credenza: They're easy to keep, they can handle indirect light, and I only water them once a week. I insert a fertilizer stick once a month or so. They're self-sustaining, and the greenery is lovely. This year I plan on adding a floor plant to the room.

Here's the plant on my desk. It's approximately six years old. It was originally at my mom's house, and during her snowbirding days, she'd give her plants to me.

Plant on my Desk - About six years old now - Easy to care for

6. A Portable Heater or Cooler

There's an electric fireplace in my office; however, I prefer the stand-up portable heater. I live in Canada, it's winter, and we're having a cold spell right now. The heater is a gawd-send during the winter months. You can find ones that offer both heating and cooling. However, with central air, the cooling option isn't necessary for us. 

What I like most about the heater is the soothing effects of it at night. When I'm working late, and the room is cold, I pull the heater within one foot of where I'm sitting, and the heat pours over me. When I've had enough, I turn it off. I'm actually turning it on and off all night long. This was a gift that I said I didn't want (since I have a fireplace) - I was wrong. Best gift evah!

I hope your workspace is cozy and filled with encouraging and handy gizmos and gadgets; working from home is much better when it is. Turn your office or desk space into a reflection of yourself.




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Friday, September 21, 2018

Animal Shaped Memo Clip Holder Note Pad Dispenser Organizer Review

Animal Shaped Memo Clip Holder Note Pad Dispenser Organizer Review
I am always writing little notes and reminders for myself, as well as for my family.  These little notes help me tremendously to stay on schedule.   They also serve as reminders to take out the trash or refill a prescription, or other mundane chores I would rather forget.  I rely heavily on them everyday.  Sometimes I even write myself a little reminder about an upcoming holiday so I can remember when offices and stores are closed.  That helps me avoid being annoyed if I try to reach someone on business only to get an answering machine.  Needless to say, my laptop is often decorated with colorful post-its.  

Until recently, I didn't have a great place to leave a note for a family member, or for something that was unrelated to my computer work.  Seemed like my little notes ended up on the floor or covered by other "stuff" rendering them useless.

That was all before I bought my rabbit memo clip holder!


My Rabbit Memo Clip & Note Pad Holder


To say I love animals, would be an understatement.  I have rabbits, mice, squirrels, bears and even a giraffe included in my home decor surroundings.   They are beautifully displayed on pillows, afghans, magnets, and more.  Plus, I have cookie jars and teapots in the shape of animals.  Not to mention my beloved plush animals that decorate my craft room and our bedroom.

 Chris-Wang Multi-functional Plastic Animal Figure Memo Clip Holder Stand Note Pad Dispenser Organizer, With 200 SheetsCheck PriceOne day I was browsing Amazon, searching for shaped post-its when I spied a  rabbit shaped clip holder.  Yes, I had to have that memo clip holder!  

Now, my pretty blue rabbit chomps down on my daily reminders, receipts, or even my outgoing mail.  She keeps those slips of paper and envelopes front and center on my kitchen counter.  Therefore, the notes are no longer "lost" under other things or blowing to the floor unnoticed.  My blue rabbit has become my most useful home office helper.  

She also features a cut out space that is the perfect size for a pad of post-its.  She came with a blue note pad, but once they were all gone, I replaced them with a pad of post-its.  She can hold a post-it as well as any slip of paper.  I simply use post-its more often, but someone else might well prefer the less expensive note pad replacements.

In addition to the blue rabbit style that I selected, there is also a dinosaur, a giraffe, a donkey, a elephant and a hippo available.  I have to sit on my hands to keep from buying them all.  I think they are all adorable, but I really only have a place for one and I have a special affinity for rabbits.  However, you might prefer one of the other animal shaped memo holders so I have displayed them all below. 

 

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Coffee Table Desk - When a Regular Desk is Too Much

Coffee Table Desk, & More Here
When you just don't have the space to incorporate a typical office in your home, or simply want a second place to do your work, a Coffee Table Desk is an ideal solution.

A Review - The Top 10 Benefits of a Coffee Table Desk

1. The obvious benefit is the space saving aspect. A coffee table desk allows you to include a working surface in your living or family room without having to bring in another piece of furniture.

2. You're able to save money by incorporating two pieces of furniture into one.

3. You can also find coffee table desks that include built-in storage thus giving that designated square footage triple use. Store your office supplies inside your coffee table desk.

4. It's not only a desk to do your own work on, it's also a place for the kids to do their homework, or their fun creative projects.

5. The elevated surface gives you a way to have your coffee cup in a more convenient reach AND go ahead and eat dinner in front of the TV without a hassle.
My family room
has space for a desk in the corner.
However, a Coffee Table Desk
is another viable solution.

6. Some designs give you storage, a coffee table, and a desk combined. Despite all of this built-in convenience, the looks are sleek and easily blend with existing decor.

7. Prices range as do quality and design. If you need a more expensive elaborate piece, there are many to choose from. Or if you simply require a basic solution, there are designs with prices that reflect that purpose as well.

8. When you plan to redecorate and no longer require your coffee table desk in the room, its versatility allows you to transfer it to just about any other room in the home. Or go ahead and pass it along to a young adult for their first apartment or dorm.

9.  Many designs still offer an open bottom; something that's important in a small room. Closed full bottom coffee tables make a room look smaller. However, if your room is larger, go ahead and choose a fully closed-bottom coffee table desk. Many of the closed-in designs offer numerous built-in drawers.

10. And lastly, life is too short not to decorate your home the way your want!

You can check out additional coffee table desk designs here, where you'll find pieces ranging from traditional to modern.

Happy Funky Decorating :)



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Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to Store Your Passwords

How do you store your passwords? Let's review three choices to consider as we celebrate World Password Day.
Happy World Password Day! This is a holiday that everyone within the sound of my written voice can celebrate; if you're on a computer, you almost positively have at least one password. Or a hundred of them, and therein lies the problem. How do you store all those passwords? Better yet, how do you remember them? Let's review some of the best ways to store the passwords that you use online.

But first, let's talk a little bit about why there is a World Password Day. Cybercrime is huge in the news these days. Rarely a week goes by that we don't learn of another hack by some group of unknown criminals on the computer records of yet another well-known large company, bank, or perhaps worse, government agency.

It is said that there are two groups of people online, those who've been hacked and those who don't yet know they've been hacked. It's hard to imagine how much personal information, often including account numbers and passwords, is in the hands of criminals who have nothing but bad things in mind. Likely they plan to sell all the compromised information they can get their hands on to the highest bidder with no regard at all to how their illegal deeds might adversely affect the average computer user.

While there's little we as individuals can do to stop this widespread criminal behavior, the best thing we can do to keep our own online information safe is to protect access to it by using good, strong passwords and storing them properly.

Care to guess what the two most-used passwords in the world are? At the top of the list is the numeric sequence 123456 while second is the word "password." If you use either of those on any of your online accounts, I have three words for you: No! No! No! It takes mere seconds to create a strong password, one that even the worst bad guy's password-stealing robot can't easily hack. For some simple tips to follow when creating a password, both do's and don't's, visit the World Password Day website. It's a fun and informative site where you'll probably learn a thing or two.

Once you've created your new long, strong passwords, one for each and every account you use, you'll need to figure out how to safely store them. Here are three choices to consider.

Kaspersky Password Manager is a great way to keep your personal passwords safe!
1. Hire a manager. The easiest way is to store all of your passwords with the help of a password manager such as the highly-recommended Kaspersky Password Manager (available in both a free and a paid version). This program syncs your passwords across devices, which is very handy. It will also help you develop strong passwords that are hard to crack, always a good thing. Learn more then download the free version or buy the paid version (just $14.99, price subject to change) at the link.

2. Write them down. If you're old fashioned, as I tend to be, you might want to keep track of your passwords yourself by writing them down on paper. Or use a simple Rolodex. The one in the picture above is mine. The alphabetical tabs make it easy to file the cards by site name or URL and it doesn't take much room on your desk top. This is a good solution for a home office, but I wouldn't use it in a public work space where anyone who walks by could take a peek or, worse, grab it and take off with it. Also, it isn't easy to pack in my purse when I travel. That's where the next option comes in.

This personal password logbook is a great way to store all the passwords you use online.
3.  Use a password journal. I really like this personal password logbook or journal! It's designed specifically for recording internet addresses and their passwords as well as other useful information about your computer, your software, your ISP, your email addresses, and more. The front label is removable, so the contents are stored discretely. The elastic band helps by keeping the book closed until you want to open it. I really like the cover design, too, which is just one of several available for this line of password journals or logbooks. (You'll see them at the link.) While I keep a short list of passwords with me in my purse, it's barely sufficient and not nearly as efficient as this pretty book which right now costs less than $7 (price subject to change).

A word of caution: House fires happen. I know first hand. So if you depend on a Rolodex, sticky notes, or just a simple notebook for storing passwords, make sure you have a backup somewhere (and not on an external hard drive in your home; they burn, too). The Kaspersky system is probably the best choice for storing passwords or, if you still want to do it yourself, just make sure you've set up a file in the cloud somewhere that you can retrieve from anywhere in case of emergency. The price is very reasonable and very worth it when you consider the time it takes to retrieve and/or change every password you have. Again, I know.

So, how do you store your passwords? Do they need updating? How will you celebrate World Password Day? While it officially falls on the first Thursday of May (May 4, 2017), this information is important every day of the year. I hope you'll use it to keep both your data and your passwords safe!

~ Susan
Read more of my reviews.




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Sunday, January 31, 2016

How to Visually Increase the Size of Windowless Room

Faux French Door - See more here
Last week we talked about three affordable ways to increase the size of a room, and today we'll talk about how to trick the mind so you won't feel caged in a windowless room.

The three previous suggestions were to use a faux window, 3D Scenery Drapes or Mirrors. Today we'll add three new ideas to the mix. 

Although your first choice should be a faux window, here are a few other ideas to consider:

Faux French Doors

Yes, that's right you can easily feature double french doors in your space, without so much as picking up a hammer and banging a nail into the wall!

Faux door wall graphics, usually made of easy to put-up vinyl or a pre-pasted material, are very effective. You'll have to read the directions, and patiently approach the project, but the overall completed look makes it all worth while.
Suggested Tip: If you paint the walls to coincide with the actual faux doors you're putting up, you can easily create a seamless visual effect by choosing a wall color that will blend or compliment the doors. 

Animals Bursting Through Your Walls
3D Animals Bursting through the Wall

These are so creative! Do you know anyone who has 3D animal art on their wall? Probably not, so get ready, you're going to make an impression when your guests see this!

By using 3D wall art to create the illusion of something busting into the room, you automatically trick the mind into believing the room has been opened to the outdoors.

Best of all, this unique approach provides a decorating foundation to use when adding accessories; add animal pillows, throws or rugs and all of a sudden you have a theme going!
Faux Book Wall Shelf

Where a real bookshelf takes up too much space in a small room, a faux bookshelf takes up no space! 

If an actual faux shelf isn't your cup of tea, there are many other book wall decals you can choose from and most have a three dimensional look: Some feature a dog with a stack of books, others just a stack of books that look so real you'll reach out to touch them, and some are designed as sketches. Visit the link above to see examples of these.

There you have it, three more creative ideas you can use to visually increase the size of a windowless room. 

Featured Photo: 3D Faux Book Wall - Via Amazon

Stay Open!
by Funkthishouse.com


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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: Will a Sunlight Lamp Help SAD Disorder?

If you suffer from seasonal depression, known as SAD or seasonal affective disorder, then this is a very important question for you. My review is based on my experience, and I am not a medical professional. Your results may vary, but here's what I've discovered while using a sunlight lamp to help with SAD disorder.
Here's what I've discovered while using a full-spectrum sunlight lamp to help with SAD disorder.
The author's sunlight lamp.

The lamp in the picture is the sunlight lamp that I've used on my desk in my home office for several years now - and I love it. It helps improve my seasonal depression (SAD disorder) during fall and winter (also referred to as the winter blues). It also provides excellent lighting at my desk while I'm working all year round.

The sunlight desk lamp gives off light that is soft and natural, not harsh and hard on my eyes. I don't claim to fully understand the scientific explanation, but the light from this lamp simulates the colors of natural light, so that the light produced appears similar to sunlight. It's a cool sunlight, though, so don't worry about the lamp producing heat. Mine stays on for hours every day, stays cool and does not heat up the area around it. Instead, during the daytime it balances the light I work in (the lamp is on my left and I'm fortunate to have a big window on my right). When it's dark outside, the lamp provides all the light I need across my workspace.

Don't confuse a sunlight lamp with a sun lamp; a full-spectrum sunlight lamp won't give you a tan. While there are claims that a full-spectrum lamp helps produce vitamin D in our bodies, I'm skeptical of that. Don't stop your supplement if you take one. However, having a good amount of natural light most definitely puts me in a better mood. Like many others, I suffer to some degree from seasonal depression (or SAD disorder) and having plenty of soft "sunlight" to work in most definitely lifts my spirits during the winter months. I've used this lamp long enough to know that that claim is absolutely true, at least for me, and I would recommend using this lamp if you suffer effects of seasonal depression or live in a low-light latitude.

Inexpensive to Operate, Long-Life Light Bulb


The official light output of the sunlight lamp is 150 watts though it only uses 27 watts of energy. In other words, it's inexpensive to operate.

The bulb life is 10,000 hours and, while I haven't measured the exact hours, I've used my current lamp for over four years and just recently replaced the bulb. Given that the light is on for many hours most days, I'd say the bulb probably lived up to its long-life promise.

Other Features of the Sunlight Lamp That I Like


  • The touch on/off switch. My previous lamp had a toggle switch (we lost that lamp in a fire) and when I ordered this one I didn't even realize it had a touch switch. What a happy accident! I really enjoy being able to just touch the switch to turn the light on. 
  • The lamp looks nice. It's not a decorative lamp meant for a fancy living room, but it's sleek, nice-looking, and looks pretty as well as professional on my desk.
  • The small footprint. The lamp does not take up a lot of space on the desk. The base is about 8 inches long and 6.5 inches wide. 
  • The height is adjustable. My lamp is adjusted to about the highest point I can get it, about 18 inches high. That works for me. Occasionally I'll want to contain the light a bit, so I'll lower it by pivoting the lamp at the neck and adjusting the top. It's simple to move and stays put nicely at any height. 
  • It only moves when I want it to. The lamp doesn't slide on the desk though I can pick it up and move it easily if necessary. I like that it doesn't slide. It's also heavy enough that it doesn't tip.  
  • It's also available as a floor lamp, which would be absolutely perfect for people who do hand crafts. Placing the sunlight floor lamp next to your comfy craft chair would be a wonderful idea! (Think "gift idea"!)

So, Will a Sunlight Lamp Help SAD Disorder?


Based on my personal use, I do believe that the sunlight lamp helps improve seasonal depression, but I'm not a doctor so if SAD disorder is a problem for you, seek out a professional opinion. Or order a sunlight lamp and try it for yourself.

Do you use a full-spectrum sunlight lamp? For SAD disorder or just as a nice desk lamp? Feel free to share your comments about how you like it.

P.S. Replacement bulbs for the Sunlight lamp are sold on the product page or pick one up at your local Walmart.


Or find one on eBay:

~ Susan Deppner




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Monday, September 14, 2015

Two Things that are Missing from Everyone's Computer Room




Now I'm sure you are already laughing at the title of this Little Review!  But I must say, that if you love your family, there are two things that you will immediately add to that room where everyone gathers to check out their emails, Facebook postings, Google + pages and anything and everything else that you could possibly do on the computer.

Have you come up with what those two things are, yet?  Don't worry if you haven't because I'm sure there are lots and lots of people who are scratching their heads right now and  that will never think of these two things.

Now let me assure you, that they are not the regular things you might think of like, monitors or printers, paper and other computer related items, as a matter of fact, these are not really computer related at all, at least not directly.




Let me give you a little information that might help you decipher what I am talking about:

Most Americans and Canadians, are found to live a lifestyle that is far too sedentary.  The minimum of 20 minutes of exercise daily, is not being met by the majority of people over 40.  And that is 20 minutes of accumulated exercise.  Every time you exercise for 5 minutes or more, you add it to the next 5 minutes of exercise until you come to the 20 minute level.


That doesn't sound too strenuous for anyone, yet we don't do that little bit.  Why?

Well it seems that  the biggest problem is people come home from work, and sit down at the computer to do just a few "things" and before they know it 3 hours have been whittled out of your life, and it's time for bed.

Now, if you had these two things in your computer room, you would never get that far behind in your minimum requirements of exercise per day.

The first item needed, is a Kitchen Timer, and in this case we are going to re-purpose that Kitchen Timer to be our Computer Time Timer.

Oggi Countdown Stainless Steel 60-Minute Kitchen Timer

 Once you are at the computer, set the Timer to 55 minutes (or 50 minutes for those who are more active already).  Don't cheat, just do it!

Now when that timer goes off, you need that second piece of equipment in your Computer Room. That equipment is a Stationary Bike.  So the Timer has gone off, it's time to get out of your chair and get on the Stationary Bike.  It won't help if you just look at it, you have to get on it!
Sunny Health&Fitness SF-B901 Pro Indoor Cycling Bike

Now if you are really smart and I'm sure that you are, you can load up all those You Tube Videos that you have wanted to watch and let them roll!  You are on your bike, pedalling your way to a healthier lifestyle and still doing what you like to do on the computer.   This is the best WIN-WIN situation, ever!  If you are not into watching You Tube, you can put a movie into your CD ROM and catch up on a movie in the 5 or 10 minutes that you have set the timer for.



In 5 or 10 minutes you can get off the bike and resume your position in front of the computer again and continue your blogging or catching up with your friends on Face Book or just searching for whatever floats your boat!.

Two pieces of equipment for your computer room that will cost less than a yearly gym membership, and help you to become healthier, less sedentary and maybe even lose a pound or two in the process.
Can you think of a better way to do all of that?  

If you can, let me know and maybe I'll try it your way.  In the meantime, think about it and then do it!  Your body will thank you!








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Friday, March 13, 2015

Ativa Cross-Cut Shredder Review



Over the years, I have owned several different paper shredders for our home use.  In our world where identity theft is a very real concern, it is wise to purchase and use a cross-cut shredder for old bank statements, old credit card statements and applications, old tax returns and oft times, even unsolicited mail offering new credit cards.  These types of documents should not simply be thrown in the trash bin for someone else to happen upon and use to steal your identity or to apply for credit in your name.   And, we certainly do not want to have to hoard every piece of paper with our personal information just to protect ourselves.

As I preciously stated, I have owned several paper shredders over the last 15 years or so.  None of them last forever.  

In fact, we have to replace our shredders every few years.  I consider myself fortunate if I get one that lasts for 3-4 years.  That is both good and bad.   It is bad because I hate having to replace any equipment or household appliance because it stops working.  It is good because each time I have to buy a new shredder, I purchase an improved version.


The Ativa Cross-Cut Paper Shredder

I recently purchased the Ativa 12 Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder, model #12CC01 and I have been pretty pleased with it.  In the past, my home shredders would only shred a few pages at a time.  This new shredder will truly shred 12 sheets at a time without jamming up.  That is a definite improvement!

I also like the lockable wheels on this shredder.  They allow me to move the shredder to a different room or pull it right up next to the file cabinet.  When I have finished shredding the papers, I simply roll it back into it place next to the wall.


Benefits of the Ativa Cross-Cut Paper Shredder

  • Shreds up to 12 sheets at a time
  • Shreds Credit Cards
  • Waste Basket with Full Indicator Light
  • Lightweight Basket ~ Pulls out / Removable / Easy to Empty
  • Eats through Staples
  • Cross-cut for Shorter Strips
  • Reverse Mode on Power Switch in case of Jams
  • Automatically Shuts off when Overheated
  • On Lockable Wheels
  • Dimensions:  18.9" x 9.5" x 13.6"

If you are bulk shredding, the waste basket does require being emptied frequently.  I should also note that this shredder does not shred cd's, but otherwise is a great little home paper shredder.


Lubricant Sheets for the Ativa Shredder


You will need to properly maintain your Ativa Shredder by periodically using a lubricant sheet.  If you plan to bulk shred, you will need to run a lubricant sheet through the shredder every 30 minutes or so.  The lubricant sheets are very easy to use.  You simply put them through the shredder like you would a regular piece of paper.  There are arrows on the lubricant sheet showing the direction in which to insert the sheet.   Extremely fast and easy!  No Mess!

http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/778012/Ativa-Shredder-Lubricant-Sheets-Pack-Of/




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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Review of The Best PC to PC Transfer Device

PC to Pc Transfer Device
I can't say enough good things about this PC to PC data transfer device! We've had this Tornado Data Transfer Tool for years and years: I'm trying to remember what year my husband bought it...maybe 2005 or 2006?

Of course since then we've had to transfer data numerous times from an old PC to a new PC and it's still as easy to use now as it was then!
I Was Really Mad that My Husband Bought Yet Another Gadget!
Well let's hope he never reads this page, 'cause he was right about this gadget...well worth the money and not expensive! To be fair, he knows he was right about this one already; I've admitted it to him! Big girls don't cry? lol.
The thing sat in it's package for a few years before I actually took it out to use it! My first thoughts on new devices are usually how they're going to suck hours out of my day trying to learn and configure them...you get the picture! Well, well, well, it turns out it's as simple as 1,2,3!
  1. Plug the USB in One Computer
  2. Plug the Other USB end in the Other Computer
  3. Open up the Tornado on both computers, read the screen and drag and drop to transfer
Seriously, it's that easy! On both computers, the screen says 'This Computer' and 'The Other Computer' so you can easily know which files are on which!
Again, at that point, just drag and drop the files you want to transfer.
My Most Recent Computer Crisis - and How I Used It
Yep, I was having computer troubles...pulling my hair out and thinking about wine! Anyway, I quickly pulled out this device to transfer all the data to another laptop - (I have too much info for Cloud Storage...maybe eventually I'll go down that road).In no time flat, all my data was protected. Today I transferred all my data back to a new laptop. Again, fast and painless!
Best Part, I've never had the pain-in-the-rear compatibility problem that can sometimes happen when you get a new laptop; The Tornado has worked on every version of windows that we've used, without a hitch - currently 8.1 - Not only that, I was able to transfer even if one computer had one version of windows and the other was different. So hubby was right to get this device years ago! shhh.
Other Ways to Transfer Data
Of course there are many other ways to back-up and transfer data: Windows Easy Transfer, Cloud Computing, Other Software Programs, Wireless Transfer between devices if you're set up for that, or Using an External Hard Drive. I've tried 'Windows Easy Transfer' and for me it wasn't that easy! I prefer this device.
Here you can watch The Tornado File Transfer Tool in action: 

Although this video goes back to 2007 (ish), you'll still get to see how easy this is to use! And Best of all, how to use it hasn't changed despite the constant changes in technology since then!



By Barbara Tremblay Cipak
Funkthishouse.com


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