Make time travel with time-lapse video apps

A sunset crunched in 3 seconds. A party shortened to a few minutes. Time-lapse videos used to be a pain to shoot but now with smarter apps they’re as simple as, well, taking a selfie. Here are a few apps to turn you into a video pro.

Hyperlapse

If you’re an Instagram workhorse, Hyperlapse is the app for you to capture a speedball video. The app smoothens hand-held videos using a fantastic image-stabilization software that uses data from your phone’s gyroscope to measure and remove frames that are shaky. Run, walk, jump, fall, drive and take a video and get a cinematic feel without lugging around a selfie stick or a tripod. All you need to do is hold the phone camera up, shoot a video, choose how fast you want it to go (it can speed up your videos up to 12 times)and upload. The only downside of the app is that it is available only on iPhones.

Free on iPhone and iPad. Hyperlapse.instagram.com

Microsoft Hyperlapse

One of the few apps to create timelapse on Windows Phone, the Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile comes with a simple, easy-to-use interface. It offers 32x speed, so you can crunch hours of videos into a few minutes. And you’re not limited to just the app. You can import any video, taken anywhere and speedball them up. What we also loved is that it can record 1080p videos. That’s pro- quality video for free and just right to be seen on the biggest screen in your home. This app can also stabilize videos, though that happens only if you choose 1x speed.

Free on Windows Phone and Android. Research.microsoft.com

Framelapse

Build by Noida-based computer engineer Nishant Singh as part of his project in the last year of his B.Tech course, the app comes loaded with features to take a hyper video. You can adjust the frame interval, speed, zoom, autofocus, adjust white balance, choose the front or back camera, set video resolution and take a video in landscape or portrait. You can also set up a video duration to stop recording automatically. So just place it in a corner of a party and let it do all the work while you mingle. The Pro version, which costs $2.99 (around Rs204), has added advance functions like sleep mode that reduces battery drain while recording and customization of the length of the video, exposure and frame interval.

Free on Android. Neximolabs.com


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6 gadgets to replace your old-fashioned switches

Dim the lights, set the mood and prepare for sparkles that you can control with your voice or a smart device. There are lights that help you sleep, lights that act like burglar alarms and fairy lights that twinkle in rainbow colours. We tell you of the best gadgets out there that can help you say goodbye to old-fashioned switches.

iDevices socket

The Socket Wi-Fi-enabled light-bulb adaptor enables you to control any standard light bulb remotely. You can change the illumination power using voice commands on your smartwatch or phone. You can design a custom lighting schedule, convert the bulb into a night light or control the ambience of the room. It works with the iDevices app, iPhone’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistants.

$59.95 (around Rs.4,000, shipping extra); idevicesinc.com. Continue reading “6 gadgets to replace your old-fashioned switches”

Can’t sleep? Give your phone some snooze time

Log out of your email and apps and keep your smartphone on silent mode to improve efficiency, concentration and sleep. Here are some  benefits of keeping away from your smartphone at work.

You’ll get more sleep

Feeling fatigued or exhausted at work? Using a smartphone after 9pm increases the possibility of you being less engaged at work the next day owing to reduced sleep and anxiety, according to a study by the University of Florida, US, that was published in the Organizational Behaviour And Human Decision Processes journal in 2014. The blue light that smartphones emit interferes with the production of melatonin, a chemical that helps you fall and stay asleep, the study explains.

“Sleep is getting compromised because people sleep with their phone on the bedside, messaging, answering calls, constantly working their brain,” says Amitabh Saha, consultant psychiatrist at the Max Super Speciality Hospital in Vaishali, near Delhi, who does not own a smartphone. “At night, your body and mind are 90% switched off and so get servicing. If you don’t give them snooze time, you’ll get fatigued or burnt out.” He suggests keeping the phone away from the bedroom at night. Continue reading “Can’t sleep? Give your phone some snooze time”

8 things to do while stuck in traffic

If you are reading this while you are stuck in traffic, here’s what you can do.

Be patient

One of the stress triggers is impatience. Having to wait for the traffic to move or dealing with the mistakes of other motorists on the road can lead to resentment, anger, road rage, all culminating in stress, a deadly disease, says Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, adjoining Delhi.

The first step to counter this is to accept traffic jams as something beyond your control. “Ignore it, wait patiently to get out of it, or listen to music. If you’re upset, talk to someone, do some breathing exercises, distract yourself to stay calm and relaxed,” he says. Remind yourself that you’re not the only one stuck.

Connect and meditate

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What not to do on your office PC

Whether it’s buying groceries online or downloading porn, your company can track your data. Here’s what you should definitely not do on your office PC.

Porn’s the obvious one

Just because you’re opening the website in the Incognito mode of your browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.), or it’s really late in the night, or you’re in another country, don’t think you’ll get away with browsing porn on company devices, even if you open the site for a few minutes. “Any inappropriate website, especially porn sites, will get you fired,” says Chaturvedi. Sometimes, you might have to face legal action too.

Don’t connect a USB

Never connect an external hard drive or a USB to the office PC that is connected to the company’s network, even if it is to only transfer your favourite music on to the device or to transfer files to take back home. Anything that can bring or transfer data from outside the network, such as USBs, CDs and Bluetooth, is a threat to the company—it could bring in a deadly virus, leak sensitive data to outsiders or transfer illegal data to the machine, making the company vulnerable to a lawsuit, says Chandrachoodan. “Usually, the company admin would have a software in your laptop that would alert them when a USB drive is plugged in. If you do, they would typically want to know what you did with it,” he adds.

Abstain from shopping

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5 life hacks for aspiring writers

Want to start on that first book? Aspire to get published? Here are a few tips for aspiring writers that I shared with Writersmelon.

Why do you want to write?

If you want to be a writer, the first thing that you need, which is I think a very individualistic thing, is the desire to write, the passion to create something new, to express a story, a character in a new way. I write because  characters crop up in my head and bang inside, demanding to be let out. I write because it’s addictive and I have no other choice. It’s the highest I’ve ever felt, and also the lowest. It’s hard, but I’m not going to leave it anytime soon.

Once you’ve keyed on this desire, it will drive you through the long, long process of gathering the skills and actually writing the whole thing. Ideas are easy to come by, getting the skill of writing is also not too difficult, but it’s this desire that makes all the difference. This motivation that comes from inside you, will discipline you, make sure you don’t give up halfway and will not let you rest till you complete the creative work. In that sense, it’s an intrinsic value.

A stranger browsing the book. Isn't that nice!
A stranger browsing the book. Isn’t that nice!

Finish that first draft

Don’t let your rational mind take over till you complete the first draft. Write with your instinct, write whatever you see the characters doing, just write without thinking too much. Continue reading “5 life hacks for aspiring writers”

Bad habits you need to avoid at work

Picture this: In your 20s, you skip breakfast to reach office early. Once the meeting is over, you have coffee and two-three biscuits. You work till late evening. A decade later, you struggle to work, for your shoulder and neck are stiff from slouching in front of the computer for too long; you are overweight, constantly tired, depressed and stressed.

Working in a closed office can damage your health in more ways than you can imagine. Here are some work habits you should get rid of at the earliest.

Walk, stand and stretch

On an average, most of us spend 8-10 hours a day in office. This adds up to 50-60 hours every week. And most of these hours are spent sitting. According to a study published last year in the International Journal Of Epidemiology, the lack of movement, whether sitting or standing, is cause for concern. According to a report, “Is Your Job Making You Fat?”, published in 2010 in the journal Preventive Medicine,office workers have become less active over the last three decades—this partly explains the rise in obesity levels.

Navneet Kaur, senior consultant, internal medicine, at the Apollo Spectra Hospitals in New Delhi, says, “Even simple steps like walking up to a colleague to discuss an issue instead of writing an email or calling on the phone can help.”

In fact, a study published in June in Preventing Chronic Disease, another journal, says that changing even one seated meeting per week at work into a walking meeting can increase the work-related physical activity levels of white-collar workers by 10 minutes. “Sitting increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease even if you exercise later in the day,” says S.K. Gupta, senior consultant cardiologist at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in the Capital. “Heart disease happens when the blood flow is blocked and cholesterol builds up in the arteries, and sitting does both effectively,” he says, adding that it’s essential to stand for 8 minutes and stretch for 2 minutes for every half-hour of sitting.

Remind yourself constantly to get up for a drink, stand in meetings, sit on something uncomfortable and wobbly like an exercise ball or backless stool and be constantly on the move, says Dr Gupta. And always take the stairs.

Continue reading “Bad habits you need to avoid at work”

Apps for the last minute parties

New Year’s Eve brings with it stress. And last-minute parties to arrange. So we’ve put together a list of apps and sites you can use to get everything you need to prep for a party at the last minute, from venue to balloons. Sorry, last we checked, ordering an elephant and booze is still illegal in this country.

Invite the gang

What’s a party without an invitation? Forget the humdrum Google Hangouts, Facebook events or WhatsApp groups and create a proper invitation. Continue reading “Apps for the last minute parties”

Go green to counter pollution

Eight plants that can help you counter pollution, improve the air quality in your home and office, and breathe better

Seven quick and nutritious breakfast fixes

Looking for a recipe of a perfect breakfast? Most traditional Indian meals, like poha, upma and idli, are high in starch and calories, which is great if you need a shot of energy— but what you also need is a healthy dose of protein to keep you going for the day. Choose what Madhuri Ruia, founder of Integym, Mumbai, and a Mint columnist calls “first-class proteins”. “Egg white, paneer, chicken or fish ensures balance in blood sugar and insulin levels,” she says. And when it comes to carbohydrates, adds Ruia, “opt for grains like oats, muesli, nachni (finger millet), bajra rotior multigrain roti, which give you energy but keep you feeling full for longer”.

The body needs essential nutrients like calcium, iron and vitamin B, as well as protein and fibre in the morning, says Shikha Sharma, founder and managing director of Nutri-Health, a Delhi-based wellness clinic. She says an ideal breakfast should be split into three parts: “One-third should be carbohydrates, another third should be filled with proteins and the remaining portion should be fruits and vegetables.”

It is also good to add variety to your plate. “It’s like exercise. If you keep doing the same set of exercises again and again, your body stops responding,” says Mumbai-based sports nutritionist Deepshikha Agarwal. A variation will ensure you don’t get bored—and that you consume different types of vitamins and minerals.

Agarwal suggests choosing between idli-sambhar with fruit, milk with cornflakes, vegetable poha, pancake with a milkshake, or a vegetable omelette with a bran muffin and orange juice.

7 RECIPES THAT ARE EASY TO MAKE

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