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Is a swimming headset worth the hassle of adjusting it?

by JOY SCHWABACH | December 3, 2022 at 1:45 a.m.

The first time I tried the OpenSwim headset from Shokz, I found myself wanting to swim longer and faster. It literally brought music to my ears. But I had a heck of a time getting it adjusted properly.

First I jumped in the pool, then tried to stuff my ponytail and headset under my cap. It makes a kind of ring around the back of your head, using bone conduction technology to bring the sound to you. But I kept adjusting not just the fit, but the volume. It seems louder underwater, though it had to compete with my splashes.

The second time I tried the OpenSwim, I thought "phooey." I just couldn't get it adjusted right. Of course, it's much easier if you don't wear a swim cap. But I don't really need to be entertained, except with my own thoughts. I admit that the price is good: I got it for $120 on sale. But it gets criticism for lacking Bluetooth. You have to plug it into your computer, then transfer your music over. The company does have a Bluetooth version for runners. It looks exactly like the OpenSwim, and weighs the same -- about an ounce -- but can't be submerged.

The truth is, I have no trouble staying in the zone without music. I play my own song list in my head, just like the husband of a 98-year-old friend I once had, who needed music as a soldier in World War II. He asked his wife to send his list of 100 songs. She said he could glance at a title, and hear it.

FAKE HOTEL RATINGS AND AIRBNB

According to a report in ZME Science, high-end hotels manipulate their reviews on TripAdvisor to compete with Airbnbs.

Researchers from Iowa State University looked at 2,188 hotels in 67 cities in Texas, comparing their reviews on TripAdvisor with those on Expedia. It's harder to fake a review on Expedia, because they don't allow unverified ratings. In fact, to post a review, you have to book a room first. Sure enough, the researchers found that in areas with a lot of Airbnb competition, the hotels had more five-star reviews. But maybe those reviews were sincere. It could be that the hotels in those cities are working twice as hard to satisfy their customers.

FAUX WIKIPEDIA ARTICLES

I'm not the only one who's noticed errors on Wikipedia. Wikipediocracy.com goes after them on a regular basis. In August, they pointed out that an article falsely claiming that Alan MacMasters had invented the electric toaster was allowed to stand uncorrected for 10 years.

CHROMEBOOKS RISE AGAIN

Windows machines still dominate, with 80.5% of the user base. But Chromebooks are now more popular than Apple's MacBooks, with 10.8% of the market compared to Apple's 7.5%, according to Ars Technica. The category "other," which includes Linux machines, is 1.2%.

TINY 3D PRINTER

If you've ever wanted a portable 3D printer, this is it. The "TinyMaker" fits in the palm of your hand. It's already raised over $200,000 on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, and expects to start shipping early next year for $150. It might be handy for making jewelry and other small stuff on the go. But the things you make can't be bigger than a golf ball.

MICROSOFT WORD ALTERNATIVES

A reader agrees with me that it's not worth paying annually for Microsoft Office 365. "Is there currently a good word processing program that can be purchased and used forever?" he asks.

If you don't need frills, use "WordPad," which is built into Windows and works great. Just type "WordPad" into the search box in the lower left of your screen and it will come up. Another alternative, that's been around forever and works well, is Libre Office, from libreoffice.org. Alternatively, Google Docs can be used online or off. For offline work, download your document first.

POPULAR TIKTOK PLANTS?

The aloe vera plant is the most popular plant on TikTok, according to AllAboutGardening.com. There are over 2.3 billion views under the aloe vera hashtag. It's tempting to get one, just to make lotion. On YouTube see "How To Make Aloe Vera Lotion At Home." On the other hand, as a friend points out, you could just break off a leaf and rub it on yourself. Next in the popularity list are the devil's ivy, the Swiss cheese plant, the snake plant -- which can purify the air by absorbing toxins -- and the fiddle-leaf fig, which can grow up to 10 feet tall. AllAboutGardening has many helpful articles, such as "301 Different Types of Flowers With Names and Pictures."

INTERNUTS

• CamelCamelCamel.com shows you the price history of anything on Amazon. I just bought a stainless steel pitcher for my powerful Vitamix blender. It was $159, but the price history shows it's ranged between $140 and $198.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at joy.schwabach@gmail.com.

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