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So You Want to Be a Storm Chaser

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The only storm I ever chased was by accident--zipping through the Texas Panhandle one time. But I've always been fascinated by people who manage to craft a living out of Mother Nature's "moments"; so, speaking of, here are some key moments in the history of storm chasing, via the National Association of Storm Chasers and Spotters:

  • In July of 1943, Colonel Joe Duckworth and Lieutenant Ralph O'Hair of the US Army Air Corps flew an AT-6 into a hurricane off the coast of Galveston, "Just for fun," according to Duckworth. Ironically, a B-25 crew had also conducted an unauthorized flight into the same storm. (Storm chasers never change!) Official reconnaissance of tropical weather began in 1944 and continues today, conducted by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron based in Biloxi, MS.
  • In 1952, the Weather Bureau (renamed National Weather Service in 1967) organized the Severe Local Storm Forecasting Unit in Washington, D.C., and the first tornado forecasts were issued. In 1959, the first weather radar was commissioned, and in 1960, the first weather satellite, TIROS I, was launched. It was also during this period that local "spotter" networks were established. As a consequence, the first volunteer chasers/weather watchers were organized.
  • The first storm chaser to gain international media exposure was newspaper photojournalist and business entrepreneur Warren Faidley. Faidley began pursuing severe weather in the mid-1980's as a newspaper photojournalist. Faidley's career and ensuing publicity was launched in part by an amazing photo he captured of a lightning bolt hitting a light pole less than 400 feet away from him. (The shot nearly killed him.) Life Magazine published the photo in 1989, billing him as a "storm chaser."

And although every good meteorologist will agree that inclement weather is no joke, here's a worthwhile Mr. T-as-storm chaser send-up.

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A Simple Way to Charge Your iPhone in 5 Minutes
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Spotting the “low battery” notification on your phone is usually followed by a frantic search for an outlet and further stress over the fact that you may not have time for a full charge. On iPhones, plugging your device into the wall for five minutes might result in only a modest increase of about three percent or so. But this tip from Business Insider Tech may allow you to squeeze out a little more juice.

The trick? Before charging, put your phone in Airplane Mode so that you reduce the number of energy-sucking tasks (signal searching, fielding incoming communications) your device will try and perform.

Next, take the cover off if you have one (the phone might be generating extra heat as a result). Finally, try to use an iPad adapter, which has demonstrated a faster rate of charging than the adapter that comes with your iPhone.

Do that and you’ll likely double your battery boost, from about three to six percent. It may not sound like much, but that little bit of extra juice might keep you connected until you’re able to plug it in for a full charge.

[h/t Business Insider Tech]

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Trying to Save Money? Avoid Shopping on a Smartphone
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Today, Americans do most of their shopping online—but as anyone who’s indulged in late-night retail therapy likely knows, this convenience often can come with an added cost. Trying to curb expenses, but don't want to swear off the convenience of ordering groceries in your PJs? New research shows that shopping on a desktop computer instead of a mobile phone may help you avoid making foolish purchases, according to Co. Design. Ying Zhu, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, recently led a study to measure how touchscreen technology affects consumer behavior. Published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, her research found that people are more likely to make more frivolous, impulsive purchases if they’re shopping on their phones than if they’re facing a computer monitor. Zhu, along with study co-author Jeffrey Meyer of Bowling Green State University, ran a series of lab experiments on student participants to observe how different electronic devices affected shoppers’ thinking styles and intentions. Their aim was to see if subjects' purchasing goals changed when it came to buying frivolous things, like chocolate or massages, or more practical things, like food or office supplies. In one experiment, participants were randomly assigned to use a desktop or a touchscreen. Then, they were presented with an offer to purchase either a frivolous item (a $50 restaurant certificate for $30) or a useful one (a $50 grocery certificate for $30). These subjects used a three-point scale to gauge how likely they were to purchase the offer, and they also evaluated how practical or frivolous each item was. (Participants rated the restaurant certificate to be more indulgent than the grocery certificate.) Sure enough, the researchers found that participants had "significantly higher" purchase intentions for hedonic (i.e. pleasurable) products when buying on touchscreens than on desktops, according to the study. On the flip side, participants had significantly higher purchase intentions for utilitarian (i.e. practical) products while using desktops instead of touchscreens. "The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers' favor of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers' preference for utilitarian products," Zhu explains in a press release. The study also found that participants using touchscreen technology scored significantly higher on "experiential thinking" than subjects using desktop computers, whereas those with desktop computers demonstrated higher scores for rational thinking. “When you’re in an experiential thinking mode, [you crave] excitement, a different experience,” Zhu explained to Co. Design. “When you’re on the desktop, with all the work emails, that interface puts you into a rational thinking style. While you’re in a rational thinking style, when you assess a product, you’ll look for something with functionality and specific uses.” Zhu’s advice for consumers looking to conserve cash? Stow away the smartphone when you’re itching to splurge on a guilty pleasure. [h/t Fast Company]

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