Lifestyle

No more sucking: Starbucks eliminates plastic straws

Replaced with a recyclable alternative!

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Cold Starbucks drinks have gotten even better — and I’m not even talking about the taste. The world-famous coffee shop chain has vowed to go strawless and the world is thankful for this contribution.

Starbucks just announced that they’re ditching plastic straws. Replacing the offending cold drink accessory is a specially designed cup cover that’s made of recyclable materials. Only Frappuccinos will be served with straws, and even then, they’d be made of paper or some other compostable material.

This move has already started, with most people finding no straws in their Starbucks orders today. By 2020, the chain aims to eliminate all single-use straws in their shops. With this initiative, an estimated one billion plastic straws will be eliminated per year.

According to the coffee chain, this is a response to requests from customers and partners alike. Starbucks’ success, with more than 50 percent of sales composed of cold drinks that feature single-use straws, meant more waste. This was the best solution.

The brand is no stranger to the sustainability movement. Starbucks has always encouraged its customers to use “for here” cups and their own tumblers to reduce single-use plastic waste.

They’ve even gone as far as investing in the development of recyclable hot beverage cups. Of course, there are still more steps to take to make sure everything is sustainable, but this move, if anything, shows the commitment to make the necessary changes.

Now you can enjoy sipping on your cold brew even more.

Her GadgetMatch

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: Is a smartphone enough to document your vacation?

I left all my other gadgets behind!

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Since the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 came out, it’s been touted as a “powerhouse” phone that can do everything — but a lot of people say that to a number of phones. Put into real-life context (which is the context we all really need), what can it do? My main question: Is it good enough that I can ditch other devices like my point-and-shoot camera? Also, will I lose the S Pen? What real-life scenario can I use live messaging in?

Photo credit: Joshua Vergara

I brought the Note 9 on a trip and put it to the ultimate test: A millennial girl on a beach vacation. This is how it all went down.

En route to California

Like all stories, we start with the journey.

I flew to L.A. to catch the boyfriend, Joshua (who was also playing with the Note 9 on this trip so we get insight from him, too), before we jet set to the ocean paradise that is Cabo San Lucas, Mexico which is to be the final destination of this piece.

I’ve been on the Note 9 for four days and I had not lost the S Pen, yet (hooray for little victories!). The Note 9, which looks almost exactly like the Note 8 is not really a pocket-friendly device. With its 6.4-inch screen, I can tell you now that no woman pocket would fit this thing comfortably. You best believe you’re holding on to the phone for the most part, but for such a big phone, it feels good to hold (shocking). It’s sleek and solid, though the glass panels on my copper unit are pretty smudgy so the phone, unless I clean it up, can look dirty at times.

Pocket fitting reenactment because, as I said, I brought no other cameras with me on this trip

The novelty of the S Pen does not wear off easily. After almost a week, I still found myself navigation the phone with the pen. Scribbling on this thing is pretty fun and definitely a blast for my Instagram stories — you can get more detailed with what you’re writing on the S Pen! And yes, airport selfies are still a thing because the S Pen makes remote selfies way easier.

Now, it might be just me, my scribbling, and my tinkering with the phone but I was expecting way more from my standby battery time. My battery lasted me through my airport wait in Manila (on data), until my Taipei stopover (on WiFi) but I had to charge once I was on the plane bound for L.A. This is fine as I was on my phone A LOT during this period. What I couldn’t explain, however, was how my battery drained while on Airplane Mode after charging it to full in the first few hours of my 12-hour flight to 79 percent when I landed.

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Nevertheless, got to California in one piece and had Ikea meatballs and The Hat so all was right in the world.

Barbecue Pitstop!

The next leg of this trip involves meat. We were flying to Cabo, but a Houston stop was in order: Joshua and I were heading to Texas and getting us some barbecue.

Now, remember when I said S Pen selfies were great? Let me demonstrate (again, because I never tire of how useful it is). Your photos can go from a close up to a wider view. All I did to take the wider photo was to prop it against a random wall at the airport and use the S Pen shutter.

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So yeah, I was still taking tons of airport selfies like nobody’s business but at some point, I had to stop because we had to catch the Apple keynote (#AlwaysHustling). I gotta tell you, I was pretty thankful for the wide Note 9 screen — we watched the whole announcement on the Note and I couldn’t have asked for a better big phone to watch it on. I was following updates and tweeting reactions via my phone as this was all going down — and this is when split-screen capabilities on a bigger screen factor in. The processing power on this phone is enough for all these things without it slowing down or lagging.

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An afternoon in Houston entails trying famed Texas Barbecue spots and you know what that means? More photos and IG stories!

I did notice, though, as one is prone to noticing when one’s hands are filled with barbecue and one wants to take more photos, that the combination face and/or iris scanner wasn’t as fast as other phones in the market. At the end of the day, I found myself swiping my pattern on the phone more — so much so that I was swiping even after I switched phones when the trip was over because I got so used to it.

Finally, Cabo

Another plane ride later, I was in Mexico for the first time and I was pretty excited. I was, at this point, vlogging and shooting stories of everything. As expected, photos with the rear cameras were great for Instagram (which is where most of my photos are going).

Live focus using the rear cameras (which is basically why you have dual cameras on the back) also looked awesome, it was a perfect way to add drama to your vacation photos. See example below:

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What’s great about the Note 9 is that it’s waterproof. What’s even greater is that the S Pen is waterproof. And yes, that means I was carrying my phone around in the water and forcing Joshua to take photos of me like this:

Excuse my hideous tan

Even dramatic beach photos like this:

But, even Joshua (who is the best IG boyfriend in the world) gets tired of shooting photos for me. When that happens, I just bust out the S Pen. Even in the water, I can take photos like this:

And since they said the S Pen can take photos from up to 10 meters, I put it to the test. And yes folks, the picture below was taken with the S Pen.

Of course, that last photo was just showing off. A more reasonable scenario with the S Pen would be for great group selfies.

The Note 9’s camera did not disappoint at all. Colors were vibrant, the details were crisp, selfies were flattering (the beauty mode set in low didn’t erase my face), and most photos would totally pass for IG.

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Video looks pretty good on this phone, too. I especially love how smooth the built-in stabilization is. This thing’s camera can shoot in 4K at 60fps, or in 1080p at 240fps which makes for some good slow-mo footage. This phone is a quick and easy way to vlog, though don’t expect to get crazy with the camera settings. The video shooting mode doesn’t really give you a lot to work with but, that’s to be expected with most smartphones.

Flying back

The flight back to California was spent on our phones. I discovered the wonders of Alphabear and Joshua was busy (way too busy 🙄) playing Shadow Fight 3 on his Note 9. Suffice to say there were no hitches when it comes to mobile games on these devices.

I also caught up with my Bojack Horseman episodes on that flight. Say what you want but I still like my audio jacks, despite being recently converted to wireless headphones, and I’m pretty glad the Note 9 still has them.

So, is this smartphone enough? Will it suffice for a whole trip? Well, it was enough for me and that says a lot. A quick look at all the things I’ve been doing on and with my phone just goes to show that I’m a pretty heavy media user, and the Note 9 definitely kept up. This is the first time in a while that I traveled without a dedicated camera and I’m still very happy with the photos and videos I came home with.

And though I realized (probably way too late) that there really isn’t any practical use for Live Messages or AR Emoji (because honestly, they haven’t gotten better), the bottom line is that all you really need is a phone that can cover the basics and do it well. The Note 9 is a definite candidate in that department.

Oh, and I never lost the S Pen.

*Joshua uses a Snapdragon 845-powered Note 9, while I have been rocking the Exynos 9810 variant.

SEE ALSO: How to be productive with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Accessories

CherryRoam offers affordable high-speed internet anywhere in the world

Cherry Mobile branches out to a new territory

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After venturing into prepaid telecommunication services with Cherry Prepaid, the makers of Cherry Mobile are now expanding their reach globally through a travel Wi-Fi roaming device — the CherryRoam. The roaming pocket Wi-Fi service will battle rivals with affordable rates and a more user-friendly device.

The CherryRoam device sports a 4-inch touchscreen display for ease of use and intuitive operation. It’s bigger than most pocket Wi-Fi available since it has a whopping 5350mAh battery inside. The large battery capacity will be able to last 15 hours of usage or charge other mobile devices thanks to the nifty power bank feature.

It’s powered by a Qualcomm 4G LTE chipset and GlocalMe’s CloudSIM technology which allows CherryRoam to automatically connect to the best network coverage anywhere in the world. The service is available in over 100 countries and you can share your connection with up to five devices.

CherryRoam’s flexible global per gigabyte rates and long validity packages offer cheaper data roaming costs. Packages start at PhP 250 which already includes 1GB of high-speed data that’s valid for three days in popular travel destinations. There are also unlimited day pass services which offer high-speed and unlimited browsing data.

The CherryRoam is available in the Philippines for PhP 6,990. If you don’t travel that much, you can also rent the device and have it delivered straight to your preferred local address. Visit their website for more information and to avail of the rental services.

SEE ALSO: Moshi Arcus: The perfect travel bag for creatives

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Her GadgetMatch

BoxLock Home makes sure you never lose a package again

It’s like having a digital security guard for deliveries

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One worry that comes with buying things online is the safe arrival of the order. This might not be the case when there’s always someone at home ready to receive it, but what about when everyone’s out at work or doing errands or on a trip? These are the perfect opportunities for those porch thieves, and you might not even know your package arrived. BoxLock makes it so that these worries are no more!

BoxLock Home is a high-tech lock that you can use on any chest that keeps your deliveries safe and sound. It has a scanner, and the delivery person scans the tracking number of the package, and it will unlock if the package is indeed addressed to you and is out for delivery that day. An accompanying app helps you monitor your deliveries, and you’ll get a notification when the package is in the bin. Once it arrives, it can be opened via Bluetooth by you, or people authorized by you to retrieve the delivery.

BoxLock is designed for single homes, and with one administrator and four additional users, most if not all people in the household would be able to unlock the bin. You can pick one up on Amazon for US$ 129, and hopefully your delivery woes will be eased.

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