A Quick History of Coffee

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coffee-beansBelieve it or not, people have been consuming coffee for literally thousands and thousands of years.

Sure, early versions of coffee aren’t anywhere near like the coffee that we drink today (people just didn’t spend that much time roasting their beans, choosing heirloom variations of the beans to roast in the first place, or taking advantage of advanced coffee making technology like we have today) – but the odds are pretty good that your great, great, great, great, GREAT grandfather or grandmother were sipping on a good old-fashioned cup of Joe a few hundred years ago.

The very first cup of coffee

While it is impossible for historians to really put a specific time when the first cup of coffee was served (and whether or not it was served by a waitress chewing gum and scribbling on a tiny little notepad in a dirty little cave somewhere), most historians and researchers agree that it was likely that the first cup of coffee was drink in the Red Sea region around 700 A.D. One thing’s for sure it certainly wasn’t brewed using a coffee maker like those available today.

Arab people are assumed to be the first people to start drinking coffee on a regular and routine basis, and it has remained a staple of their culture even today.

Arab trade ships headed east as well as west were always fully stocked with a complete and total supply of coffee beans to be roasted and enjoy (as well as coffee to be traded), and for a while it was one of the most expensive luxuries on the planet.

On top of earning a cultural status as an important and influential beverage in the Arab world, coffee was also regarded as a medicine between 1200 A.D. and about 1500 A.D. Much of the highest quality coffee produced in its early history came out of Yemen, a country that continues to produce incredibly high quality coffee today – alongside some not so beneficial “herbal” products and drugs.

Coffee shops explode in popularity

Right around the late 1400s in Constantinople coffee shops became incredibly popular, one of the hottest “eateries” in the area. More and more people flocked to these kinds of coffee shops to take part in socialization, game playing, gossiping, and of course to drink a fantastic cup of Joe – and it wasn’t all that long until other countries in the region started to implement their own coffee shops as well.

It wasn’t until the early 1600s that coffee shops really began to explode in popularity in Europe, with the first few a very, very popular (and wildly successful) coffee shops opening up in Venice. Turkish warriors helped to usher coffee shops into regions like the Balkans, Spain, and even North Africa – but those Venice coffee shops became incredibly influential for coffee drinkers in Europe.

Coffee today

Today, it’s absolutely impossible to walk into any major city (and most of the smaller towns as well) anywhere on the globe and not find a handful of coffee shops serving this delicious beverage.

Coffee is almost as common as water, and the future has never looked brighter for this amazing brown beverage.

A DJ delves into the history of DJ-ing and how equipment has changed over the years

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party-in-historyToday, when someone refers to a DJ they might just be talking about a hired gun that comes to parties and get-togethers to run sound and spin some music, not actually performing as a turntablist.  Such terms didn’t even exist prior to 1995, when DJ Babu officially coined it to differentiate between performers and event hosts.  Yeah, in the hands of a master, a turntable becomes a real musical instrument, loops and strange samples all coinciding with scratches and more – basically whatever the DJ has in their bag of tricks.  But before we start talking about all of that stuff,, let’s dive into a bit of the history first.

A brief history of real DJ-ing

Basically, a number of factors aligned which would later give rise to the possibility of certain equipment like DJ Controllers and techniques landing into the hands of key experimenters.  For one, the rise of disco had to occur in order to popularize many of the most popular types of mixers, etc.  Had this not occurred, a number of elements would be missing, thus not allowing latter DJ’s to begin doing things like “beat matching” or “beat mixing”.  Because of the need to try to keep the action flowing on the dance floors, DJ’s would wear headphones and covertly match bpm tempos to mark smooth transitions.  Naturally, this led to the emergence of special dual play turntables which would later become extremely popular with turntablists, obviously.

Then along comes this cat named DJ Kool Herc, who basically created the looping breaks stuff, thus allowing for specific and fresh types of beat construction.  As one might have expected, this in turn began to catch on, basically forming the technical roots of hip hop which in turn influenced major artists like Grandmaster Flash.  Then came scratching – apparently discovered by accident by the Grand Wizard Theodore.    From there on in, the rest is history.  Electronic music was entering the fray and integrating with street sounds in various ways, all of this led to form what we consider to be modern DJ-ing.

How DJ equipment has changed over the years and more

Well, the most obvious change has been one going from virtually all analog over to all digital.  In the past you only had a vinyl record setup to choose from – that was it.  There were no CD-based turntables, ya dig?  This also meant that a the serious DJ not only had to get their techniques down cold, but that they also had to make regular trips to the record store to stock up and stay fresh.  Basically, there used to be more of an investment mindset to being a turntablist.  Of course, nowadays, you can grab tracks straight off the net (completely legally) and/or pick up all the hottest CD pressings for literally pennies on the dollar, that is, if you’re still using CD’s.  Even a basic, bottom shelf DJ controller unit today utilizes jog wheels, trigger pads, auto tempo matching and built in effects to control sounds digitally.  Rather than lugging around boxes or LP’s, you can bring a tight, compact, feature-packed setup to a gig and pull of hundreds of techniques on the fly while accessing hundreds of thousands of tunes and cues without breaking a sweat.  It’s basically a brave new world…

Mystery Skin Condition Causes Woman To Grows Nails Instead Of Hair

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doctorDoctors are completely baffled by an extremely rare skin condition that is causing 28 year old Shanya A. Isom to grow nails in her follicles instead of hair. The criminal justice student was in her first year of university when her ordeal started, and her family has racked up medical bills totalling an eye watering $250,000 in attempts to cure her illness. This is because her state insurance plan does not cover her for the care she receives from a special unit in Baltimore.

Her nightmare started in 2009 when she had an asthma attack and was treated with steroids. This medication caused her to have an allergic reaction and develop bumps and scabs on her body. She has since struggled to walk and carry out many tasks that once seemed trivial. It was almost two years later that doctors realised that the bumps were actually human nails growing from her skin. Any place where hair once grew now has nails growing.

The treatment she has received since being afflicted with this illness has helped improve her quality of life slightly but doctors are a long way off establishing what is causing her problems. She is currently the only known person to suffer from this in the world. Shanya has since set up the S.A.I. Foundation in order to help cover the medical bills and even help anyone else who may suffer from this condition in the future. She feels that going through this will be worth it if she can help others in the future.

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Buyers guide to a new Laptop Bag

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samsonite-luggage-vizair-laptop-bagIf you have an expensive laptop then you will know that one of the most important accessories for it is a laptop bag or case. These items not only protect your investment but are also very useful for carrying around your other gadgets, chargers and even papers. Some can even be somewhat of a fashion statement due to their trendy design, though if you are a business person then it is best to stick to smart and sleek designs. Follow on with our guide and we will help you find the best laptop bag to meet your needs.

In order to choose the best bag for you, you must take into account the different specifications and features of the bags, as there are so many out there to choose from. For example some laptop bags have a feature that allows you to go through airport security without taking your laptop out, this is a great benefit for frequent travelers. If you are a student then you should look for one with a large enough main compartment to carry all of your books and notepads, sometimes the best way to do this is to visit a shop first to try out some models.

Of course you can check the bag’s dimensions online but that isn’t always the most helpful because it doesn’t guarantee you can fit your items in based on the bag’s design. Though you will find that through a bit of research you can check which size laptop is supported, something which is very important to make sure it fits your machine. Also if you have other gadgets such as an iPad or tablet PC then it may be a good idea to find a bag which has a special compartment for these devices. Another useful feature is things like a crush-proof compartment for fragile items like sunglasses as well as smaller pockets to store things like mobile phones or MP3 players.

How to Choose a Style

In terms of the different styles and designs there are many to choose from, including traditional shoulder bags, messenger bags, backpacks and even rolling bags. Each of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is down to user preference and needs to make a decision.

For example laptop sleeves are very basic but useful if you want to carry your laptop in a normal bag that lacks the padding. These can be good because there are many different sizes available, normally designed specifically for your laptop, meaning you can always get a snug fit. This is in contrast to laptop backpacks where they have to try and accommodate many different sizes.

The other style are shoulder / briefcase bags which are more traditional and still useful especially for professional environments where you don’t want to look like an 11 year old on their way to school carrying a backpack.

The next and more modern bag is a laptop backpack, these are more casual  but tend to be full of features and storage space. They are particularly good for students, travelers and the professional who has to carry a lot of gadgets and papers with them. They are also more comfortable to wear if you have a bulky, heavy laptop and lots of other items as the shoulder straps will distribute the weight evenly rather than just on one shoulder. In recent years these bags have become very popular so in order to find the best laptop backpack it is important to read plenty of laptop backpack reviews first.

The final type are the rolling laptop bags which go even further and completely take the weight off your shoulders. They tend to be bulkier and have more storage space than the other bags which is why they have the wheels.

Overall I hope this guide helps you make your choice, there are so many options out there and it is very important to consider your needs and do plenty of research before making a purchase.

 

My LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine Review

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LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing MachineI bought the LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 with high hopes but ended up being slightly disappointed by this rowing machine. As most people do, I spent a lot of time browsing the internet for reviews and comparing the features. I actually recommend this website for the best rowing machine reviews as they tend to be the least biased and quite thorough.

My situation was that I wanted a pretty decent rower but couldn’t quite afford the most highly rated ones made by Concept2. So after looking at the RW1000 and others in my price range like the Kettler Favorit, I ended up going for the LifeSpan.

Positives

It was incredibly easy to put this machine together, I was up and running with it in under 30 minutes. The main frame is already assembled out of the box which really helps speed things up. All that had to be done was to attach the seat and bars etc. There are many different resistance settings which is good as it means people of all different strengths can use it comfortably. Probably the best part of the machine is how the seat and bar fold up nicely for storage, which is great for those like me who have limited space.

Negatives

The performance monitor does not work for me, it is meant to display the strokes per minute, timer and calories burned. However mine just doesn’t function, the display shows information when I start rowing but only the timer, everything else doesn’t display any data. Even the timer is quite erratic and seems to get stuck sometimes. It’s not a massive issue because I can still get a good workout but it is quite annoying.

Another problem is that if I really get into it and row fast and with a lot of force the front of the machine can lift off the ground. I don’t even weigh that much so I can’t imagine what would happen with a bigger and stronger person. In the end I actually had to put some heavy weights on top of the front feet to stop it from trying to take off!

After using it for a few weeks it started to make squealing noises, again this isn’t a huge problem but it can be pretty distracting when you are trying to concentrate. Sometimes it’s nice to have a relaxing quiet workout and right now this isn’t possible. It also means I can’t watch TV or listen to the radio because I won’t be able to hear it above the noise.

Verdict

Overall this is a pretty decent machine and for the money it will give you an effective workout. It is better than a treadmill or other exercise machines but don’t expect it to be of the standard of the high end machines you find in the gym. Before making a purchase of a rowing machine I recommend reading lots of reviews and deciding whether it would be worth your while to splash the cash on something like the Concept 2 Model D. It’s your choice and I wish you luck.