That summer reading list will be no problem after you've learned to speed read

Whether you need to grind through dry, wordy material like legal briefs and school textbooks, or you just want to make it through more than one novel per year, speed reading is a useful skill no matter the context. But certain methods will only superficially boost your abilities at a cost to actual comprehension.

To condition yourself for rapid text consumption, this Speed Reading Bundle includes two helpful pieces of software. 7 Speed Reader EX trains you to avoid bad habits like subvocalization and decreases the amount of movements your eyes make with regular exercises. With Spreeder, you can quickly plow through any text source using Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP).

This software duo will increase your capacity for information, and help you reach your full-brain reading potential. Get lifetime access to both with The Award-Winning Speed Reading Bundle, available now in the Boing Boing store for $19. Read the rest

This bundle will make you your office's Excel guru

Excel, Microsoft’s venerable spreadsheet program has some seriously powerful capabilities. But unless you know where to look in the maze of menus and toolbars, you probably leave the pivot tables and conditional formatting to your office’s Excel guru. If you want to level up your skills and steal the title from the resident guru, take a look at this Microsoft Excel Specialist Certification Bundle.

These two courses comprise 72 lessons that take you on a granular exploration of Excel’s powers. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll move on to advanced functions like managing complex, multi-document workbooks. From there, you'll familiarize yourself with Excel formulas and learn how to generate dynamic visualizations from data. At the end of your training, you’ll be ready to pass the Microsoft Office Excel Specialist exam and start using your skills professionally.

You can pick up the Microsoft Excel Specialist Certification Bundle in the Boing Boing Store for $19. Read the rest

Expand your skill sets with lifetime access to over 1,000 online courses

Entertaining bold changes in your career can feel like an abandonment of what you’ve worked for thus far, but this fallacious mindset can cost you a lot more in the long run than the time spent at your current gig. Change is constant, and building new skills outside of your typical wheelhouse will do much more to open up your future options than grinding through a job that you aren’t excited about.

The Virtual Training Company offers an online course library for professional development in a wide array of fields. With over 1,000 courses, you can get expert training in everything from 3D animation to project management. With a lifetime subscription, you'll have unlimited access to everything in their current catalog, and can pursue a variety of topics for work or personal enjoyment all on your own time.

These courses are available on almost every mobile and desktop platform. You can get a lifetime subscription to Virtual Training Company in the Boing Boing Store for the one-time cost of $79. Read the rest

Boom 3D empowers your Mac with 3D surround sound

Immersive 3D sound is usually only possible with an array of surround-sound speakers, or by using headphones with Binaural audio content. And since most readily-available media is mastered for generic stereo, your Dolby 5.1 setup won’t automagically add an extra dimension to your listening experience. But you can still simulate a rich audio environment with Boom 3D’s spatializing equalizer.

Using only your Mac’s built-in speakers, Boom 3D adds a remarkably convincing 3D effect to your media playback. It’s specifically tuned to get the best sound out of your Apple hardware, and offers helpful EQ presets for a wide variety of contexts and content. You can boost the volume of specific applications, and enjoy easy access to smart system audio controls.

Boom 3D also includes a built-in media player to get the most out of your music library. Right now, you can get a discounted license for this powerful audio utility in the Boing Boing Store for $9.99. Read the rest

You could give this toy crossbow to your kid, or just keep it for yourself

If big-game bow hunting sounds a little too intense for your delicate sensibilities, or you want to start building your kids’ archery proficiency early, this Real Action Crossbow Set is a fairly convincing replica of the real thing.

The toy bow fires suction-cup tipped bolts up to 20 feet, so you can work on your marksmanship without riddling your living room wall with holes. It features a laser-equipped scope for maximum accuracy, and its camo paint job will ensure that nothing can see you hiding in the bushes. It’s an ideal weapon for taking down imaginary deer, and is the perfect finishing touch for a Rambo-Chewbacca Halloween crossover.

Go hunting around the neighborhood with this Real Action Crossbow Set. You can get one here for $27.99. Read the rest

The QFX Elite Series is like Sonos without the price tag

If there’s such a thing as a household name for networked home audio systems, Sonos is definitely at the top of the list. And for good reason—their products provide dead-simple wireless setup, with hi-fi speakers designed for a wide variety of interior spaces. But for anyone who doesn’t care about brand-name prestige, the QFX Elite Series offers a comparable experience for a smaller price. They’re available in the Boing Boing Store, with the entry-level Bach variant going for almost a quarter of the cost of its Sonos counterpart at $59.99.

Like the Sonos Play:1, the QFX Bach puts out surprisingly loud, transparent sound via Bluetooth, or over your wireless network. Aside from significantly increasing range, its WiFi capabilities allow it to steal Sonos’ main party trick: the ability to connect multiple units together for synchronized music playback in multiple rooms. Each speaker in your network can be EQ’d separately for DIY surround sound, or work standalone with a physical analog connection for older gear.

For a versatile home wireless speaker with nearly unlimited expandability, it’s hard to beat the QFX Elite Series for the price, starting at $59.99Read the rest

Charge any device anywhere with this universal solar charger

It’s easy to forget about your phone’s dependency on modern infrastructure when you have free public WiFi and consistent access to electrical outlets. But for all their ubiquity in first-world urban spaces, smartphones become a lot more temperamental once they're out in the wilderness. To keep using your device’s offline abilities when you go off the grid, the Universal Waterproof Solar Charger can come through in a pinch.

This portable battery pack will deliver a full recharge to your phone using nothing but sunlight. It has a second 2.1-amp port specifically for tablets and other more power-hungry devices, and includes handy adapters for iOS and Android compatibility. It’s also built like a tank; this charger is fully sealed from water and dust, and is shock-proof to protect from unexpected drops. And to keep it off the ground entirely, it features a handy loop that comes with a carabiner to attach to it your gear.

You can get the Universal Waterproof Solar Charger in the Boing Boing Store for $13.99. Read the rest

Here are 15 apps that will make your laptop The Mac That Was Promised

Aside from specific apps needed for work, the most casual Mac users can probably survive without anything more than the bundled software. iLife is a surprisingly capable office suite (Apple even promotes Keynote as a tool for interface design), and recent versions of Safari are more energy efficient than any other macOS-compatible browser. But if your needs go beyond basic document creation, or you have enough stuff to overwhelm the ridiculous ‘All My Files’ tab, you’ll want something more powerful.

The World's Biggest Mac App Bundle is a curated selection of some of the best third-party utilities for the Mac. Here’s what you’ll be able to do with this software collection:

Advanced data recovery with Data Rescue 4Work on a Windows OS from your Mac with CrossOver 16Improve disk partitioning with Paragon Hard Disk Manager for MacWage epic historical warfare in Sid Meier's Civilization VBlock all outgoing app telemetry with Radio SilenceUnlock hidden UI functionality with MacPilot 9Prepare images for web publication with PhotoBulkRemove unnecessary files with Movavi Mac CleanerPlay Blu-Rays on your desktop with Mac Blu-ray Player ProMake archival movie backups with MacX DVD Ripper ProWrite notes with structured data using Caboodle 2Solve practical math problems with natural language using SoulverGet a deep understanding of your OS with Master Your Mac: El Capitan and Sierra MasterclassInstantly search for all types of files and data with TemboCentralize all of your file sharing and uploads from Dropzone 3

Bought separately, these apps go for over $600, but you can pay what you want for the entire set here. Read the rest

Time for a new toothbrush?

Despite the upfront cost, electric toothbrushes are much better at removing plaque than those freebies from the dentist’s office. For those who struggle to fill the American Dental Association’s recommended two minutes of brushing time, or anyone with limited dexterity, a sonic toothbrush can give your oral care routine a boost.

To keep your chops healthy without dropping too much cash, we'd like to invite you to check out this Rechargeable Silicone Sonic Toothbrush. Its two included brushing heads are made of antibacterial silicone, so they last longer and are easier to clean than their manual counterparts. It features 13 vibration levels to cater to sensitive teeth, and a 4-minute deep cleaning mode for when you need to go in for your biannual checkup.

This sonic toothbrush is great for travel, and can be used for up to 40 days without needing a recharge. You can get one here for $29.99. Read the rest

Become a polyglot in your spare time with uTalk

Learning a new language will give your resume an upgrade, sure, but it will also provide a huge cognitive boost for mental tasks outside of translation and conversation. Bilingual brains have been shown to be better at handling multiple concurrent tasks, and gaining fluency in a new tongue is an amazing way to improve memory, and stave off dementia later in life.

uTalk is a mobile application for studying foreign languages. Instead of grilling you on complex grammar rules, this app focuses on building a practical vocabulary so you actually communicate with people. You’ll grow your language skills naturally with input from native speakers, and build confidence with interactive speaking games. This app syncs your progress across all of your devices and is compatible with most mobile and desktop platforms.

This package from uTalk includes American English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Latin American Spanish. You can get lifetime access to resources for these six languages for $29.99 in the Boing Boing Store. Read the rest

Get a better night's sleep on these memory foam pillows

If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, consider replacing your pillows before dropping hundreds on a new mattress. You can give your tired neck a break with a 2-pack of memory foam pillows, available now in the Boing Boing Store.

Each of these pillows is stuffed with cooling polyurethane foam that molds to your shape and provides ample nighttime support. For those with sensitive sinuses, its outer case is made from soft, hypoallergenic bamboo rayon that resists moisture, mold, and pesky dust mites. Each pillow compresses into a packable tube for easy carrying, and may be used comfortably without a pillow case.

These pillows are perfect for travel and home use alike, and this set of two is now $39.99. Read the rest

This power pack has a tracker built in, so it will be exceedingly difficult to lose

Although flagship smartphones are unlikely to adopt heavy-duty outer casing anytime soon, you can always prepare your device for the outdoors with a beefy case and and an external battery like this Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack, available in the Boing Boing Store for $119.95.

The Nomad Tile can fully recharge an iPhone 7 over three times on a single charge and it's about the size of a thick wallet. The 9,000mAh battery can even recharge most full-size tablets, and it features both USB-A and C ports for maximum compatibility. It’s rubberized polycarbonate frame is rated for military-grade shock resistance, so you don’t have to worry when it inevitably falls out of your pack. Plus, built-in Tile Bluetooth tracking makes your lost battery easy to locate.

This battery pack is a mobile workhorse designed to keep your devices chugging no matter where you are in the world. You can get the Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack today for $119.95. Read the rest

Time for a new wallet? Check out this slim, RFID-blocking one

Even though credit cards now feature an EMV chip for securing transactions, they still have to include the magnetic strip for compatibility with older point of sale systems. Because of this, there’s no way for the chip’s new security capabilities to protect against card skimmers in the wild.

How do you protect yourself from legacy-technology-induced fraud? Keep your cards hidden in an RFID-blocking Wallet, like this one from Ideka. These wallets are slim and functional, and prevent unauthorized scanning of your cards when they’re in your pocket. They store up to 8 credit cards in easily accessible pockets and have an extra pouch with room for cash.

These Ultra-Slim RFID-Blocking Wallets won’t weigh down your pockets and can help prevent theft without giving off tin-foil-hat vibes. Usually $30, you can grab one of these faraday-cage wallets for $22.99 in the Boing Boing Store. Read the rest

Aura is a mobile meditation trainer that learns from your sessions

As the old saying goes, "You should sit in meditation for 30 minutes every day. Unless you are too busy, in which case you should meditate for an hour." Since most of us have an endless list of things to do and people to see, carving out quiet time can feel impossible, especially when most of our free moments are squandered scrolling through social media.

Aura is a meditation coach for your smartphone (and you) that helps you practice mindfulness every day. It provides you with short meditation exercises that are scientifically proven to decrease stress and balance out your overactive brain. Aside from gentle reminders to breathe and relax, Aura uses machine learning to tailor your practice around your individual needs and anxiety levels. Its guided sessions can last 3 to 10 minutes, and you can revisit previous sessions any time.

Additionally, Aura tracks changes in your mood over time to paint a detailed picture of your mental health. A lifetime subscription to Aura is available in the Boing Boing Store for 82% off the usual price—a one-time cost of $69.99. Read the rest

The Bragi Dash have their own music storage and fitness tracker in earbud form

The Bragi Dash Truly Wireless Smart Earphones are far more than your run of the mill Bluetooth earbuds. While the earpiece design makes these earbuds ideal for exercise and activity, and passive noise cancelling is conducive to a more serene listening experience, these buds go well beyond just playing music.

First of all, they can actually store up to 1,000 songs locally so you can leave your phone in the car when you head to the gym, and you can still enjoy your music in service dead zones. On top of that, they also act as a fitness tracker. The integrated sensor tracks heart rate, steps, cadence, strokes, duration, and more all in real-time so you can get live updates as you workout. You will need your phone for that, however. They’re even waterproof up to 1 meter so you can put your pump up playlist on while you're swimming.

This remarkably high-tech and feature-rich design earned the Bragi Dash an IF Product Design Award and a Red Dot Design Award, and you can pick up a pair for $192 now, 35% off the retail price. Read the rest

Learn to code on your own time with this digital library

The Coding Powerhouse eBook Bundle comprises 9 titles covering everything from front-end web frameworks to cross-platform mobile application development, and it's available now in the Boing Boing Store.

These books give a detailed overview of current technologies and programming languages. You’ll learn how to write modern code for the web using modular JavaScript, as well as application frameworks like Angular 2 and React. In addition to building iOS Apps with Swift, you can also make your code compatible with the Android ecosystem using Xamarin. Once you have a solid foundation of knowledge, explore advanced topics like high-performance computing and machine learning.

This digital library includes the following titles:

Learning Angular 2Java Deep Learning EssentialsMastering PythonMastering ReactMastering JavaScriptMastering GitXamarin Cross-Platform Development CookbookSwift 3 Functional ProgrammingScala High Performance Programming

The Coding Powerhouse eBook Bundle is available here for $29. Read the rest

Make board game night a brain buster with this puzzle-based board game

COGZ is a game where up to six players compete to see who can fix a mad scientist’s color-coded machine, and it’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.

In this Mensa-endorsed tabletop game, players take turns laying gear tiles to connect like-colored segments. Points are scored when complex paths are finished, but your unfinished arrangements are constantly vulnerable to sabotage by your opponents. It’s great for all ages, but still takes plenty of strategy to master. COGZ rounds typically clock in under 30 minutes, and the game is fully accessible for colorblind players.

Usually $42, you can get the COGZ board game here for just $33.99. Read the rest

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