The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Nerf Guns

NERF WAR!!!

What do those words signify to you? To some, they might sound fun and exciting while parents with little kids will only feel horror. If you’ve ever had a nerf gun fired at you by a middle schooler on a sugar high, you’ll feel immediate annoyance. A civil nerf war with friends, on the other hand, will elicit enthusiasm. These colorful, foam shooting guns are now one of the most famous toys ever, and not just for kids either. It’s not uncommon to see college students staging elaborate nerf wars, with substantial prizes for winners. On YouTube, there is an abundance of videos teaching you how to load correctly, aim and fire these fun guns. Many even flaunt their vast collections of nerf guns. No doubt, they have become a part of today’s mainstream pop culture.

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Now, let’s move on to the best use these bad boys can be assigned.

It’s summer time, a gloomy, rainy day. The kids don’t have school and cannot be sent outside to play in the backyard or neighborhood park. They sulk around, getting in your way and not letting you work. Suddenly you have a brainwave! Why not have them play with those expensive new nerf guns they got as birthday presents? The foam pellets are harmless and do not cause any injury, after all. The kids are sure to be occupied with the toys for hours. Nothing bad is going to happen, you think, innocently. So, you hand them the nerf guns and feeling quite proud of your ingenuity, retire to the study to finish up your work, warning the kids not to make too much noise.

You get down to it and thirty minutes go by with no noise from the kids. No one comes running up to you complaining or crying. You dismiss it as luck and continue with your work. Another half hour and you start getting paranoid. There isn’t any noise from outside either. It is too suspicious to ignore, so you cautiously exit the room, feeling like an enemy soldier in a military camp. There is no sign of them, and now you are feeling mortally afraid. You start down the stairs and the second you reach the bottom, a volley of foam darts hits you from all directions. The incessant shower of foam darts aimed at you rouses you faster than a bucket of cold water dumped on your head. You dodge, yell and try to run, but the assault doesn’t stop.

Finally, you manage to make it back up the stairs, the laughter of the kids echoing behind you, as they reload their nerf guns for round two of the attack. You run into the kids’ room and just pick up an extra nerf gun when they appear in the doorway. It is war!!

In conclusion, the worst advice I could probably offer you is to give your kids nerf guns on their birthday and even encourage them to play with said guns inside the house, without first similarly equipping yourself.

Why Your Pressure Cooker Never Works Out the Way You Want

 Pressure cookers are renowned for their extremely fast cooking. This recognition has earned them employment all over the world. While it’s true that almost every household has access to a pressure cooker, it’s also a known fact that handling it correctly and drawing out the work from it the way you would have liked isn’t that easy. The cases of a pressure cooker not producing desired results are rare. Here are some of the issues that might be the cause of such problems.

  1. Carelessness

It won’t be presumptuous to discuss negligence in the first place(a double entendre intended). Not ensuring safe handling of the equipment can cause some serious problems while cooking. To avoid any issues, one must ensure that

  • The rubber gasket can still be utilized – old or worn out gaskets can cause steam leakage
  • There is no food residue – food residue can block pressure vents
  • The pressure valves must be positioned as instructed in the user manual
  • Your hands and face are protected while dealing with the pot and lid
  • The gasket must be changed annually

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  1. Overfilling

Overfilling provides food with the leeway to make for the vent and smoothly clog it. And, as a matter of fact, steam is so powerful that rupturing the pot would be a cinch for it. To avoid any accidents of such kind, avoid filling the container beyond two-third of its net capacity and see the pressure cooker working the way you want it to.

  1. Using excess oil while cooking

Oil should be scrupulously used in the pressure cooker. More than the required amount of it could melt the rubber gasket and other delicate parts of the pressure cooker. In case you were wondering why you have certain issues with the gasket, you may be right here.

  1. Not using enough water

It must be thoroughly imbibed that a pressure cooker works on the pressure generated by steam for which water is required. Not using ample amount of water can lead to slower cooking times which just can be the reason of undercooked servings.

  1. Using food for which the pressure cooker isn’t designed

While a pressure cooker can cook most of the delicacies available on this planet, it must be taken into consideration that there are some foods that it is not suited for. For examples, the food items such as noodles, macaroni, pasta, split peas, etc. produce froth which can block steam valves and pressure vents. If you want to cook using one of the best pressure cookers on the market, choose from the recipes that are available for it. Leave noodles and pasta for some other day.

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  1. Improper pressure releases

Please ensure that your way of releasing the pressure is either of the two widely used – letting the cooker sit until pressure subsides or deploying the steam valve and letting it whistle. Prying the lid open forcibly can lead to a sudden irrepressible cloud of steam escaping from the pot. Steam is known to cause burns which are far more severe that boiling water. It is, thus, fitting to release the pressure generated after cooking before opening the lid.

  1. Not taking necessary precautions

To avoid injuries while handling the pressure cooker, do remember to protect your hand and face. You must keep your body away from the vent. Even after releasing the pressure, there is some remnant steam inside the pot which escapes out once the lid is opened. Therefore, the pot should be placed away from your face to avoid burns.

  1. Not ensuring required pressure

The pressure depends on the kind of food that is being cooked. Ample pressure – not plenty of it – must be ensured. The heat can be accordingly reduced or increased to assure desired pressure. Needless to say, this can avoid longer cooking times as well as lopsided cooking.

Having discussed some common issues, it is pertinent to assimilate that avoiding them can bring back the control of your pressure cooker into your hands. And, the best time to start cooking is now! Happy pressure cooking!

Maintenance Guide – Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Digital Smoker

Masterbuilt’s 20070910 Smoker has garnered a reputation for being an affordable 730 square inches smoker utility with best in class reviews. With massive cooking space, scintillating chrome-coated racks and a digital control panel; the smoker is highly likely to be a unanimous choice. But as the fact goes: mishandling can render the best of the equipment useless, and one must keep in mind certain things when handling as sophisticated a gadget as the Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Digital Smoker. Here are little maintenance tips to help you through.

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  1. First things first

It is always recommended to check all the parts of the equipment before proceeding with it. In this case, too, it would be pertinent to assure that all the parts are functioning properly before you load food items onto the grills. This helps avoid any mishaps that owe their existence to insouciance of handlers.

  1. Dust should be kept away

Dust is considered to be the worst adversary of electrical equipment because dust particles have the tendency of settling in those parts of the equipment which are almost unreachable. To avoid dust related malfunctions, it is advisable to ensure cleanliness of your smoker, both before and after use.

 

  1. Know where to stop

Upper limits to the capacity of machines are inevitable. Loading beyond this limit can be dangerous for it. Never should this smoker be overloaded under any circumstances. It is also recommended that you maintain some free space.

  1. Overheating

Though it’s a known fact that most of the food items can be smoked in this Masterbuilt’s masterpiece, it also has a limitation: the upper limit of temperature the smoker can handle is about 275 degrees Fahrenheit whereas smoking poultry can require temperatures well above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Consequently, poultry should be avoided as it can significantly damage the utility. The redeeming factor is that you can still go for fish.

  1. Replace individual components timely

Certain parts of the smoker such as the heating elements have a finite lifespan and need to be replaced at regular intervals of time to ensure properly cooked food.

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  1. Use direct power outlets

Cords available with the equipment are shorter than expected. It is considered safe to prefer a direct plug in into the outlet over an extension cord.

  1. Before you start smoking food

It should be ensured that the door is properly closed and latch properly adjusted to achieve an apt closing force required for cooking.

  1. For convenience

The smoker is provided with a drip tray. Aluminium foil can be used on it to ensure smoother cleaning operations.

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  1. For cleaning

To clean the smoker, soaps and detergents are not recommended. A wet towel can be used to clean the door’s seal after which it must be thoroughly dried out. A part white vinegar and two parts of water must be used to clean the best electric smoker under 200 from the inside to keep up the neutrality while cleaning.

  1. Please know this

The smoker has settings manipulated to shut off automatically to keep away the risk of burnt or undercooked food. On this, temperature and timer must be scrupulously notched.

Machines are used to ease up human efforts, but they are designed to be dumb. Maintenance doesn’t provide for dragging down the machines but helps preserve them for longer times with the same level of functionality they were shipped with. With proper maintenance, the Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Black Electric Smoker can work at its best efficiency. So, to smoke food, bear certain things in mind and you’ll be a star.

11 Tips for Night Sky Photography

In the words of Ernst Haas, “There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” Well said and deeply motivating. In fact, whatever be the motivation for photography, the consternating night skies always tickle a photographer’s fancy. For the photographers, looking at the night sky is not just staring into an abyss but a scenery rife with depth. As a matter of fact, capturing this depth through a lens is not as easy as it would seem to be. Here are some tips you can build on.

  1. Choosing the right place

Needless to say, noise is inimical to quality photography. Photographing night skies in urban areas can easily lead to what has been termed as light pollution which is brought about by artificial lights. Such disturbances cannot be subverted as they can cause a substantial amount of light infiltration into your photographs, making them appear with a grayish backdrop, which in turn ruins the highlights, and this can be minimized by choosing to capture at rural locations with completely dark skies. Dwelling places of your forbears can be handy here.

 

  1. Avoid any unsteadiness

Shaky setup can spoil hours of labor in one go. It would be essential to hold the camera steady when capturing the night sky. A tripod can help when coping with long exposures and shutter speeds. Moreover, for further assurances, cable releases or remote controls can be deployed to eliminate indispensable human transgressions.

  1. Use long shutter speeds

Capturing dark skies can be a laborious task for your cameras. Long shutter speeds in the range of 15 to 30 seconds can veritably produce great shots. Speeds beyond that can be exploited to capture exotic phenomena which would be discussed later.

  1. Ascertain widest possible aperture

Aperture decides the amount of light that enters the camera through the lens. Since the amount of light available in this case is already low, it would be conducive to capture most of it (the reason why telescopes are fitted with huge lenses). This can be achieved by choosing the lowest f-numbers or f-stops (lower f-stop indicates wider aperture). Capturing most of the light can significantly enhance the depth in your shots. f/2.8 would be fair enough.

  1. Choosing optimal ISO

Simply put, ISO is a measure of sensitivity to available light. Though ISO can be increased when not enough light is available, it must be kept in mind that it can appallingly reduce capture times. Whereas, when photographing night skies, the camera is programmed to high shutter speeds. Thus, the ISO has to be maintained in the range of 100 to 400 for the best shots, so that it doesn’t interfere with the other settings.

  1. Focus on Infinity

Do bear in mind that sky is endless and stars are far away. Focusing on infinity is pertinent to producing sharp images of distant objects. Blur is a spoiler. So, avoid using finite focus levels.

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  1. Avoid substantial moonlight

High moonlight serves almost the same purpose as the artificial urban lights. It can even lead the camera into perceiving a night shot as a daylight shot. Therefore, it would be recommended to avoid much of the moonlight. New moon and half moon are better backdrops for night sky photography.

  1. Use metering when shooting cloudy skies

Cloudy skies offer uneven light and darkness levels. Spot metering can be a savior here to get crisp shots. If the night happens to be even, center-weighted metering will produce good results.

  1. When to shoot?

Sky unfolds with distinct features every season. Photographers learn this over time. Astronomers know it by heart. What happens to be the right time of the year to shoot the night sky depends on what you want to capture. For instance, summer is a great season to picture the Milky Way in the northern hemisphere. Also, weather plays a crucial role – clouds can sometimes scupper your chances of a good shot.

  1. Capturing the rotation of the Earth

Extremely long shutter speeds can be applied to capture what is known as star trails. Arising from the rotation of the Earth, this phenomenon can be used to produce scintillating images that underscore the rotation of the Earth. For example, the star trails depict beautiful circular formations. Here, the shutter speed can be adjusted beyond 30 seconds to achieve great results.

  1. Astrophotography and Auroras

These tips can be applied to shoot stars and auroras. Besides, capturing auroras is a challenging task that can test a photographer’s abilities – auroras are sporadic. Nebulas can also be photographed using simple techniques above.

 

These techniques are officially endorsed by successful photographers and can do wonders for avid and rookies photographers. So, what makes you lazy? Grab that camera of yours and step out to shoot the skies before you miss the shot!

How To Do Underwater Photography the Right Way?

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface, and he is free.”

Have you ever wanted to be free and experience the immense enjoyment of the most fascinating but complex pastime i.e. Underwater Photography. This article seeks to demystify essential concepts behind Underwater Photography so that the most novice users can also hold the cameras and dive off.

  1. Type Of Camera

Get a camera that can work in a wet environment, and jump in to capture and conquer the wonders of the water world. You can use a disposable, reusable and even a digital underwater cameras. A compact camera capable of wide angle photography should be used.

 

  1. Learn To Hold Your Breath

The underwater photography gives a visual voice to the invisible but with the prospect of drowning. So, the first thing you should learn is to hold your breath underwater, or you can carry oxygen masks.

Ko Lanta, November 2010

  1. Best Place To Shoot

For the beginners, before attempting Underwater Photography in the ocean, where the water is unpredictable, try taking images in a pool.

Others can dive directly in oceans and explore the beauty of blue.

 

  1. Shoot On A Bright Day

The perfect time to shoot underwater is in the afternoon when sunlight travels intensely in the water. To spice your picture, try to do it on a sunny day. Shoot in 20 feet of water or less, with the sun behind you. You can also use a flashlight as artificial lighting to bring an extra bit of allure to your photographs.

 

  1. Clothing

If you’re shooting others in costume for a photo shoot or any other reason, make sure to wear light clothing. Do keep in mind that when clothes are wet, they make it harder to swim. The tighter the dress, the less resistance you’ll have to move freely underwater with your camera and thus you won’t be able to do right photography.

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  1. Practice!

Discuss your plan and have your subject practice first on land and then one or two times below water in a pool to make yourself practiced in the art. It’s less tiring for everyone who are into it, and who knows; if you can make your first shot a perfect shot, you’re already on your way to becoming a professional!

 

  1. Use Props And Bubbles

Bubbles will make your photograph look creative. You can use water guns, and if you’re feeling like experimenting, bringing Props underwater will make things even more surreal. For example, you can use a guitar, a chair, rope, or frankly anything you like, as long as it makes your photographs bring out the emotions that you want them to.

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  1. Preserve Your Equipment

Salt from sea water infiltrates in your Equipment. Soak equipment in fresh water for half an hour. Also, extract water that can stagnate around sensitive parts of your gear.

With these tips in mind, you’ll survive whatever challenges the water bodies throw your way.

 

How to Find Your Dream Job in Less Than 5 Minutes?!

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Finding your dream job in less than five minutes. Is it even possible? With a population of more than 1.2 billion people inheriting the earth, where finding a job becomes a massive task- the question about finding a dream job, and that too in less than five minutes? Sounds almost next to impossible, doesn’t it?

A dream job is a job you love. A job which you like doing. A job which doesn’t necessarily seem like a job- more like a hobby. A dream job- a job about which we’ve been dreaming all our lives.  Are five minutes or 180 seconds enough to find this kind of job?  Well, the answer is yes. Yes, we can get this sort of job in less than five minutes. Whether we get the job or not, well that’s another thing!

The Internet, which is like a storehouse of information, has so much data on almost everything. You might have come across many quizzes or tests which claim to tell you what job suits you the most or even to discover your dream job and you know what, all these quizzes are fake. They are only meant to be for entertainment and nothing more, especially not for making decisions related to career choices. My psychology teacher once told me that even the best of researchers don’t come up to a conclusion with just one observation. Be it any research, it takes a lot of time to comprehend results because humans are complicated, and will always remain so. And finding our dream job is research too, and the only researcher fit for this is you- the person making the choice.

There are two things which help you realize what kind of job suits you. Put in the simplest of words; they are as follows:

Passion- it’s something which drives you. It’s like a burning fire in you. If you have a passion for something, you do it. I completely agree with Steve Jobs when he says “the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Seriously, when your interests become your source of living, it doesn’t seem hard, more like play. And for that matter, if you’ve got a job which interests you, which you love doing- that’s your dream job.

Research- even when you know the answer, it’s not graded if you don’t put it down. Similarly, even if you know what to do – how you do it is the real thing. Have a job in mind, right- next find out how to go forward. Do research and find out all you can about the job. Know where to apply for it, how you can go about doing so, and most importantly, know what designations are on offer. Incomplete information is even more dangerous than having none.

I know it sounds harsh, long and tedious, but if you want to know or find your dream job in less than 5 minutes, there’s this small activity you can try. Close your eyes, and no I am not trying any psychoanalytic therapy- just close your eyes and imagine yourself doing something you love. Can you do that for a job? Without whining or grumbling or becoming bored? If you can, that my friend is your dream job discovered in less than 5 minutes!!

 

How to Find the Best Camera for Your Photo Shoot?

Well, if you find your friend in his most quintessential costume and if he isn’t going to meet anyone, don’t be flabbergasted. Yes, he might have spent two hours just to get few of his pictures clicked on a DSLR (Digital single – lens reflex camera) for his Instagram and Facebook accounts. But your best clothes won’t alone get you that perfect photo shoot. A right camera is a big must. However, the criteria for selection of right camera may differ from person to person based on his/her requirement. So here are a few broad guidelines to find the best camera for your photo shoot.

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Need and Range

I have seen a lot of people spending hundreds of bucks on cameras, but they use them only once in a few months. In case the camera is to be used sparingly, a massive investment is not advisable as there are continuous improvements in technology and old ones get obsolete very quickly.

 

Megapixels DO NOT MATTER

You might have seen a lot of people running for megapixels when buying a camera, but, let’s face it, we know the camera of an iPhone is better than most of the other phones boasting similar technical specifications. Simply going for a number may not be relevant, as quality depends on a number of other factors as well.

 

Photo sharing

These days cameras come with wifi sharing and allow you to transfer images directly from camera to phone which saves you a lot of time. So, if you’re just looking for a casual photography session for your mini-portfolio, then seamless sharing is something you should acquire fast.

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DSLR or Non-DSLR?

Some people buy a DSLR when they don’t even need one. You need to decide carefully what the scope of your photoshoot is. Indeed, getting a DSLR is better especially if you are looking for quality and professionalism, but having said that, before you do invest your money, make sure you know every nook and corner of that expensive piece of equipment.

 

Mirror or Mirror-less

Two types of cameras have gained prominence these days: Mirrored and Mirror-less cameras. Mirror-less cameras are the latest technology, and many experts are betting their money on them, but still, some reputed professional photographers still use standard mirrored DSLRs. If you’d like to tweak with the latest technology, though, then Sony Alpha series and Canon M series are some of the best mirror-less cameras available.

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Lens

The most important thing in DSLR cameras is the lens. For personal shots you need a blurry background with focus on you, so a camera kit of 18-55 mm and 50 mm would be the best kit for someone who needs their best photos. 18-55 mm will show a broad view of maybe a monument or landscape as the background. Meanwhile, 50 mm f1.8 or f1.4 should give you the portrait shots with the blurry background you’re looking for!

If you’re looking to find the best camera for your photo shoots, there is no general rule. It is solely based on individual requirements and many other factors. So, make your pick!

 

 

6 SIMPLE MISTAKES EVERY PHOTOGRAPHER MAKES

Being able to capture a moment with precision and accuracy without altering too much of its natural appeal is an achievement in itself. Whether you are an amateur looking for personal gratification, or a professional seeking to impress clients, it is imperative for your clicks to be error-free. While you may be thinking yourself as good enough, check again. Here is a list of some basic mistakes which are regularly committed by photographers.

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  1. SWITCH YOUR FORMAT

Most of us are only aware of only two formats: JPG and JPEG. But for your benefit, use RAW as you will find a marked difference in image quality and a whole lot of options to be explored post-production. When you shoot in JPG format, the camera adjusts the features of saturation, white balance, sharpening, and contrast to compress the image. So, get yourself an external memory and get started.

 

  1. KNOW YOUR FOCUS

Getting the focus right is imperative to get a definite click. If you see your camera struggling with focus or focussing on the wrong object, chances are there that your focus mode is incorrect. So go back to basics. For still shots, you have AF-S mode, for ones in motion AF-C and AF-A is a kind of mixture of both. While the first two do their job well, use the last one when you are unsure of the tendencies of your object. For example, a bird perched on a branch or a solitary flower.  So select the right one according to your need.

 

  1. FLASH IS HERE TO HELP

Using the camera flash is easier said than done.  Without the know-how of using it, your experiment can turn into a disaster. To avoid it, use the camera flash especially while clicking indoors or in badly-lit places. Learn to control the level of light and the direction of light produced by the flash. Once you start getting the hang of this, you are sure to create some high-quality pictures.

 

  1. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Changing your perspective is the easiest thing you can do to improve your photos. Often, photographers walk up straight and click from their own  ‘eye-level-perspective’ which does not do justice to your object. So go on your knees more often and compulsorily when clicking children or pets. Not only you would find your pictures fresh from your change of perspective, but also you can easily avoid a lot of unnecessary things in the background.

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  1. SUPERZOOM LENSES- A BIG NO-NO

While one may be tempted to buy these lenses due to the extensive range it provides (18-250mm!!), but sadly, it pushes image quality down the hill because it has to zoom through a ridiculous range. Instead, choose a 50mm lens over the super zoom lenses. A fixed one works well most of the time as it has only one job to do.

 

  1. KNOW YOUR THEME/SUBJECT

The last and the most important one. This one deals more with conceptual clarity. Clicking random photos with no subject or theme will lead you nowhere, nor will your passion and drive go through a high-point. Think about the emotions, ideas and thoughts which can be portrayed by your photo. Let your pictures tell the world a story, something you feel strongly about. For this, you need to merge both form and content. This will also bring consistency in your collections and lend substance to it. Who knows, you may end up creating a masterpiece in the process.