Are Amazon Basics batteries just rebranded Eneloops?

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All sorts of rumors exist about whether the factory that makes Eneloops contracts out to other brands, such as AmazonBasics, because of the sale from Sanyo to Panasonic. But no matter what corporate evidence someone wants to go dig up, our tests don’t agree.

The AA AmazonBasics powered our test flashlight for only 2 hours, 12 minutes compared with 2 hours, 45 minutes from the true Eneloops. Even in last year’s inconclusive camera flash tests, the AmazonBasics batteries strobed only 80 percent as many times before being completely run down. Though our tests of AAA batteries showed that the AmazonBasics are on par with their name-brand competitors, the AA version aren’t a great deal for most people—especially at a price of around $2.12 per battery.

The competition

Most batteries we tested did surprisingly well, and if we happened to see any of our top four on sale for $2.25 or less, we’d probably go ahead and grab them.

The new Powerex Precharged AA batteries performed well in all our bench tests, with 2,470 mAh (3 Wh) available for discharge of 2,600 mAh (3.1 Wh) of stated capacity. That’s over 25 percent higher than either of our picks in terms of raw capacity, but you’re really paying a premium for that extra energy. The new batteries are retailing for roughly a dollar more per battery than our top pick—a huge difference if you want to stock up. If you have a specific need for the extra capacity, and don’t mind the cost, we’re sure they’d be great. But they’re just not necessary for what most people need around the house.

The AA Duracell Rechargeables were the only batteries to have a higher available capacity than the packaging claimed—2,473 compared with 2,400 mAh—but they were in sixth place on our flashlight test, lasting just 2:43. Finding the current generation for sale anywhere other than Walmart is surprisingly hard, and their retail price averages about 45 cents more per battery than our pick.

The EBL 8-pack High Capacity 2,800-mAh Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries are among the least expensive AA batteries we’ve found, and they had the highest available capacity in all our tests. At an average of 2,487 mAh (3 Wh), an EBL bests our pick by a good 15 percent. But because of the technological trade-off between capacity and longevity, we’re not willing to put much stock in their cycle claims: 1,200 in some places and 1,500 in others.

Sunjack USB Battery Charger is compatible with most smartphones, tablets or power packs. it is one of the best battery charger on the market.

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What is a Solar Powered Emergency Generator?

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Whether you want to run small power tools in a remote shed or provide emergency power in the event of a power cut, a generator can be extremely useful.

The problem with most traditional generators is that they are noisy, have to be run outside and, if you are to rely on them, need to be tested regularly and topped up with fresh fuel: all too often, a petrol or diesel powered generator hasn’t been properly maintained or has stale fuel, and fails when it is required.

Petrol and diesel generators also provide very poor quality of power, with ‘spikes’ and power drops. This makes them unsuitable for powering a lot of electronic equipment and can damage sensitive equipment such as PCs and flat screen TVs.

The answer? A solar power generator to provide you with environmentally friendly, portable, easy to use and instant power.

What is a Solar Powered Emergency Generator?

A solar power generator ( for example: GOAL ZERO YETI 1250 SOLAR GENERATOR KIT ) is a battery based power supply that is charged up using solar panels. 12v lighting and mains power is taken from the batteries using an easily available inverter and this is then used to provide emergency power when needed.

Unlike petrol or diesel powered generators, a solar power generator can be used indoors – carried directly to where it is needed. It emits no fumes and is silent in operation. Depending on the size of the battery and the amount of power required, it can provide as much or as little power as you need.

There can be two types of solar power generators – an ‘all in one’ solar power generator where the solar panel is part of the generator, or a split solar power generator where the solar panels are fitted to an outside wall or roof, and the rest of the generator simply plugs into the panel to recharge.

All solar energy systems use the same basic materials, so no matter if you are planning a very simple system like this one, or a big off-grid house installation, the basic ‘building blocks’ are the same. This means that if you are interested in understanding solar energy without spending a fortune, the skills and knowledge you gain from a small system has a direct benefit for working on much larger systems.

In either case, the product is the same – only the packaging is different. A split solar power generator would work better if you are trying to provide electrical power to an outbuilding such as a shed or lock-up garage whereas an all-in-one solar power generator is a better solution for power on-the-move.

What you will need:

To build a simple solar power generator, you will need the following parts:

  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) panel – collects daylight and converts it into electricity
  • 12v Leisure Battery – stores the electricity for use later on
  • Solar Charge Controller – stops the solar panel from overcharging the battery
  • 12v – 240v Power Inverter – converts the power in the battery to 240v AC
  • 12v low-energy light (optional) – an efficient way of providing bright lighting
  • Tool case (optional) – useful for packaging everything neatly together

Sewing Kindness: Church quilters send comfort where needed

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Quilts made by a congregation in Ormond Beach provide comfort and more to area residents and people around the world.

As part of the nationwide organization Lutheran World Relief, members of Grace Lutheran Church meet weekly and prepare quilts for distribution. Of the 346,170 quilts made nationally in 2016 to be distributed worldwide to those in need, 107 came from the quilting club at Grace Lutheran.

“They are used in any situation — refugee, hurricanes, earthquakes,” said Ann Jacoby, who has been involved in the effort for 10 years. “We usually receive a report for the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church Association) telling us where they all went.”

This year, each box of quilts had a bar code on it to allow the destinations to be tracked more closely. “It’s our first year with the bar code and we’re excited to hear about that,” said Jacoby.

The club supplies not only the labor, but all of the fabric, batting, yarn, sewing supplies for 60-inch-by-80-inch quilts.

“It’s all donated by members,” said Barbara McCormick, group leader. “Sometimes people remember us in their will so we can buy batting.”

The quilts are not the traditional hand-quilted type, explained McCormick, but are completed as a team effort. Some women cut squares, some sew the squares together at home, some prepare sheets, others sew the binding, and they come together to tie the quilts, which means to secure the batting and fabric with yarn.

“Everybody can do something,” said McCormick.

Their goal is to complete three handmade quilts a week, and at least 100 quilts each year.

The Sunday before the quilts are sent to a regional collection center, they hang in the sanctuary for a blessing.

“We bring them in the church and hang them around the communion rail and on the pews. They are all brought in and the pastor has a special dedication for them,” said McCormick. “The next Tuesday, we pack them up and send them to their shipping place.”

Quilts are also shared locally. Six children’s quilts were recently delivered to Family Renew Community, which provides housing and services to homeless families in 32 apartments at three locations in Volusia County.

“They are absolutely adorable. The families move into completely furnished apartments, and we’ll put them on the beds. It makes the children so happy and the parents love it,” said Claris Mac’Kie, a consultant at Family Renew Community. “They know people in the community care, and you can see their faces soften.”

The children keep the quilts and will take them when they leave, said Mac’Kie.

The group is adding quilts weekly to the current stash of 21, which again is filling up a storage unit at the church, waiting to be distributed.

Whether the quilts stay locally or are sent far off, stories come back to the quilters.

One year, a woman received a quilt and took it apart to make a dress for a job interview, shared Jacoby. Another time, she said, quilts that were sent to Haiti were used in outdoor hospitals as room dividers to help give the patients privacy.

“It’s not only that you’re helping someone else, it’s a good fellowship time for the women who work on them,” said McCormick.

In addition to quilts, the Lutheran World Relief organization sends blankets, school kits, personal care kits, fabric, baby items and soap out to 16 countries around the world.

“It’s really cool, it’s a great program,” said Jacoby.

4 Tips For Mobile-Marketing Success in 2017

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Today’s online shoppers depend more and more on mobile to juggle their various interests and tasks: In addition to their laptops, users are turning on smartphones, tablets and even smartwatches to consume information.

And, with mobile eclipsing desktops at a faster pace than ever, mobile marketing is no longer just the option it was just a few months ago. Today, marketers looking to build the ever-crucial consumer relationship have to get on board with the digital age.

If your marketing strategy has “success” on its 2017 agenda, these four mobile-marketing tips will be key.

1. Make sure your site is mobile friendly.

Last year, marketers learned that few consumers want to pinch and zoom their way to a purchase. New SEO changes also debuted, prompting a mad dash by most companies to implement those changes so their sites would be mobile-responsive.

Now that it’s 2017, marketers who failed to get on board are already feeling the effects; for whose who have yet to remedy non-responsive sites, the next few months won’t be forgiving. Marketers who have taken the necessary precautions, however, can move on to optimize their users’ mobile experiences.

Creating a mobile-friendly experience that streamlines a customer’s checkout process will make all the difference. Start by decreasing the length of your bandwidth as much as possible. Mobile users are far less patient than those using a desktop. A slow loading page can snipe out conversion rates faster than the words “other options.”

Use social media logins to reduce the hassle of having to create an account. Customers who have the time to rethink purchases are more likely to re-shelve products. Your aim for a mobile-friendly site is that it get consumers out the door as fast as possible, hopefully with a bag in tow.

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7 Pillars of Being an Influence in Your Market

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A little more than a year ago, I decided to start growing my personal brand. I knew when it came to business in this super-connected world, there was one key thing to remember — people need to be sold on you before they can be sold on whatever it is you’re selling. People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves. If you aren’t who they want to be, they will not care about what you have to offer.

This influence has the power to connect you with the high level performers most people only dream of meeting. It could give you more authority in your field and awareness of your product or service. Most importantly, it could attract opportunities that can make your time here on earth magical. All of this is what I coined “social currency” because it truly has a power similar to our monetary currency.

I went after it head first, getting my name out there, posting constantly on all the top social platforms. Yes, I was gaining followers. But there was an issue — my followers were silent. For whatever reason, they weren’t engaged. They weren’t passionate about what I was posting, and they didn’t care about what I was doing next. It was clear to me then that I didn’t know what I was doing.

So, what makes someone influential? What makes someone a leader in their field?

To figure this out, I dug deep and looked to the greats — everyone from the influential Steve Jobs to Casey Neistat. I was in search of those key factors that made them the powerful leaders they were. And at the end of it all, it came down to seven pillars — the seven pillars that, if mastered correctly, can make you a massive influencer in your market.

1. Trust.

How would you treat your business partner if you found out they stole money from you? You keep them out. You don’t return their phone calls and if you’re smart, you don’t give them a second chance.

How about your best friend? You tell them all of your darkest secrets. You let them borrow money. You’d choose to hang out with them over anyone else, and you try the things they recommend.

Both of these scenarios are a play on trust. When trust is built, you and your followers can have a beautiful relationship. How do you build trust? Give people what they want. Figure out what those people in your market are looking for in a leader and, don’t just say you’ll do those things — show proof (through content) that you are those things.

2. Individuality.

Unfortunately, you’re not the only person who knows the impact of influencer marketing. With so many people out there trying to make names for themselves, how do you stand out? Get crystal clear on your purpose. So clear that when anyone comes across your content, they can quickly understand what it is you’re doing, why you’re doing it, why you’re the best at it and how it will improve their life.

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5 Tactics That Haven’t Worked For Digital Marketers Until Now

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In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, new trends quickly overshadow proven methods of connecting and interacting with consumers. Often, users determine these trends — and it’s up to digital marketers to keep pace.

As user preferences continue to evolve, tactics that didn’t work in the past might be worth another look. Here are five examples of strategies that are gaining traction among digital marketers and the audiences they seek.

1. Mobile marketing.

Industry watchers have whispered about the transition to a wholly mobile marketplace for some time, but it’s never come totally to fruition. Through it all, desktop has maintained its status as king of e-commerce. That worldwide reign could be very close to coming to an end.

The majority of searches performed in more than 10 countries (including the United States and Japan) take place on mobile devices. To adapt, Google introduced its mobile-first index. This rank will become more important for businesses going forward as they optimize their sites for mobile.

It’s imperative that marketers understand how mobile search works, especially with regard to e-commerce. Conversion rates remain lower for smartphones versus tablets, so businesses should focus on improving those rates in 2017.

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