Blogger app

The app offers alerts to keep caring for houseplants on time

Thank goodness for veg applications: I tend to underwater, except when I overwater. I don’t fertilize. I only repot when the roots are so big and gnarled that there is no soil left.

Planta, for iPhone and Android, saved me. It puts every task on a schedule without being a bully about it. On watering day, for example, it will ask me if the soil is still wet. If so, I can snooze the alert. Different factories have different schedules. For example, my ZZ plant is over 3 feet tall but almost never needs watering.

Unfortunately, the free version of Planta only has watering reminders – no plant identification or care tips. The paid version, for $36 per year, gives you everything. It includes alerts when you need to repot, fertilize, mist, water, or move the plant to a better location. It also offers free technical support.

I started with the free version and tapped on “Plant Identification”. That’s when I found out that identification requires the premium app. I tried a workaround, a free app called PlantSnap. Later, I decided to go for Planta Premium for advice and alerts.

I had a little trouble with plant identification at first. You need to take a photo and then tap the green tick. The app calls it a “photo scan”. The word “scan” made me think of scanning a QR code, so I just pointed my camera at the factory. Nothing happened. Duh! Anyway, now that Planta Premium is taking care of my green babies, I think it will save me money in the long run. Fewer trips to the plant store.


If you’ve ever tried walking around while taking a video, you’ve probably noticed that the results can be shaky. Things are better with the Feiyu Scorp, a portable camera stabilizer.

You might think your compact camera already has image stabilization. The same goes for your single-lens DSLR camera. But their capabilities are weak compared to what a camera stabilizer can offer.

FeiyuTech sent me the $429 Scorp 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras for review. I didn’t have a DSLR to test it, so I asked a photography enthusiast to test it for me. He sent me before and after videos. I could tell a big difference between a video shot with Scorp and one without.

If you’re a budding video blogger, the Scorp might be worth the investment. You could walk around a convention hall, take videos at a wedding, or interview people at your high school reunion. Check out the YouTube video titled “Feiyu Scorp Basic Tutorial”. It comes after videos describing the most expensive model, the Scorp Pro.


When my local computer repair shop pulled out a broken hard drive and put in an SSD (Solid State Drive), my computer went super fast. But the SSD was just one of the reasons it got fast. Lots of RAM, a fast processor, a factory reset PC, and good maintenance also made a huge difference.

Speaking of good maintenance, the free CCleaner program makes it much easier. It speeds up your computer by updating your software, cleaning up your machine, and helping you disable programs that can slow it down. The pro version, for $25 per year, also updates drivers, performs a health check, updates software, monitors your system in real time, and lets you schedule automatic cleanups. I went with the pro version. Otherwise, I would never remember to do these cleanses. The pro version also gives you free technical support.


Johan Norberg’s “New and Improved” video podcast series includes a three-minute history of the PC. At first, he notes, “experts” were skeptical about PCs. In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp., said, “There’s no reason anyone should want a computer in their house.” In 1982, William F. Buckley Jr. said, “The Pulitzer Prize belongs to the man who finds out what PCs are for.”

At first, everyone suggested using it as a recipe organizer. The 1969 Honeywell kitchen computer, sold by Neiman Marcus, weighed 100 pounds, had a built-in cutting board, and cost about $10,000, or about $70,000 in today’s dollars. According to Wired magazine, it could connect to a ticker and a paper tape reader to store data. If you didn’t have a TTY, you could use the 16 buttons on the front panel. Each corresponded to a bit. A pressed button was a one, an unpressed button was a zero.

The machine was based on Honeywell’s 16 series “minicomputers”. These would later feed into the network of advanced research project agencies, commonly known as Arpanet, precursor to the modern Internet. Although the kitchen computer did not sell, it was a great publicity stunt. Another early PC came with its own ashtray.


Wondering about the sites you forgot to bookmark and can’t find anymore? Go back in time using the “History” command. Simply hold down the “Ctrl” key (“Cmd” on Mac) and press the “H” key. This brings up all the sites you’ve visited recently. My recent list included “Why mangoes are good for the gut,” “Six Cups of Coffee Is Enough to Damage Your Brain” and “Archaeologists May Have Found Why American Rabbits Were Never Domesticated”.

INTERVIEWS has “Six Memorable Travel Slogans”. My favorite is: “Nebraska is not for everyone.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]