Tech Toolbox: Etekcity Roverbeats T3

I will never be able to truly consider myself well-versed in technology; very few people have seen it all. But I do love searching out the best I can find, and once I find it, I stick with it. In my Tech Toolbox I share my favorite software, applications, and occasionally gadgets.


Portable speakers are on the rise these days, and for clear reasons: mobile devices are everywhere, Bluetooth is incredibly convenient, and you need to have sufficiently loud music to share with your friends anywhere, anytime, right?

When I decided to get a portable speaker, my requirements were these: it couldn’t be too big, it couldn’t be too expensive, and it had to have both Bluetooth and jack capabilities. Volume buttons and audio track control were bonuses.

Upon starting research, I guess I was [uneducatedly] surprised to find that everything was quite expensive and many speakers were as pill-shaped or even bigger (to me, the portability and convenience start to be sacrificed here). Eventually, I found a category  of ‘mini-speakers’ that were between 20-40 dollars and had some amount of functionality. I was looking for something small, therefore, I could not have the highest sound quality ever, but I was fine with that.

Eventually, based on prices and features, I decided on the Etekcity Roverbeats T3. It satisfied all my basic requirements–it doesn’t include phone pickup or a microphone or anything, but it has everything that I outlined above. A close second place was the T16, but I believe the prices were different when I bought it (I sacrificed red for economics). The T16 still looks like a fantastic option and if I ever need a replacement, I would heavily consider it.

The T3 comes with:

  • Speaker
  • USB to mini-USB charger cord
  • Male-to-male 3.5mm audio jack cord
  • Drawstring storage bag

There’s always some amount of uncertainty when buying technology online, what with trying to filter through reviews to see whether something is worth it or not, but in my experience, I have learned that only those who have a fantastic or absolutely dismal experience with a product really bother to write reviews. Therefore, I would say to take reviews one reads with a grain of salt.


How it works: I have been using this speaker for about a year now, and it works fantastic. It is very loud (it is challenging to play anything softly on it). It is very simplistic and small and serves the purpose I wished, so I couldn’t say there is much wrong with it. The volume buttons are not functional on cord mode, but work with Bluetooth. I enjoy the rubber grip around the outside as well as the grippy ring on the bottom to ensure anti-slip. Battery life is long enough for me–I haven’t had it run out on me yet, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t used it longer than 6-8 hours straight before. Both the Bluetooth and audio cord methods both work well–one note to make is that Bluetooth is considerably louder; wired connection doesn’t/can’t play as loud.

Due to its size, of course the sound quality cannot be the greatest. As it gets louder, there is a bit of distortion and the bass can get lost. However, I have never been listening and thinking, “well, my speaker doesn’t sound good.” It delivers without disappointing.

It is to be noted that although the shape of the speaker is very bulky and strong, it isn’t made out of very tough material; besides the rubber grip around the middle, the frame seems to be made of plastic. I have dropped it once, and now there is a dent on the rim, but use it and love it, you know.

If you don’t have too many expectations for a portable speaker, I would recommend the T3. I like it for its small size and simple power, achieved without dishing out for sound. I mean, my sister has already piggybacked off my assiduous shopping and bought the same product.

Tech Toolbox: Etekcity Roverbeats T3

Leisure Literature: The Underground Railroad

When I can find extra moments, there is always a list of books I want to read. Some I anticipate for months, some for years before I find the time to get to them, and some of them live up to the hype and some don’t. Leisure Literature is a book review column that details my thoughts on my recent readings.

I saw someone reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead on the plane, and apparently I had unconsciously heard of it before. I put it on my Goodreads list and did some more research; apparently it was one of the big hits of 2016. By chance, I walked into my school library one morning and saw it on the featured shelf, so I checked it out. (Sidenote: The librarian told me I was the first one to do so, hooray.)

The initial “appeal point” of this book was supposed to be that the Underground Railroad is, in fact, a underground railroad. However, the book is much more than that. Cora, a slave on the extremist Randall plantation makes a harrowing escape through many different locations, experiencing basically everything America has to offer a black person during her time. Each place has a different lesson for her as she seeks freedom, all ultimately pointing to the fact that there may never be true freedom.

Somehow, I read this book at an extremely timely point during school and life in general; I am in both US and World history at school, and we were not only talking about the treatment of blacks, free and otherwise, in US history (N. Carolina), but also the Atlantic slave trade in World (S. Carolina). Even Mingo’s policy (Indiana) reminded me of Trump’s policy towards the refugee crisis. Even though The Underground Railroad is technically fiction, it really supplemented my history classes in school, and my history classes supplemented reading this book.

Some of my favorite things: the different perspectives (Stevens, Mabel, Ridgeway, etc.), the way Whitehead was able to write Ridgeway so dreadfully fearsome (I legitimately jumped each time he appeared), the wide range of characters and opinions, the difference between slow and fast and how it’s interesting regardless of pace, leaving parts of the story unexplained and coming back to it later, and how tactfully death and the gruesome are easy to read and passed over as nothing (because that’s all the room for sensitivity people had back then).

I think it’s an interesting side discussion to talk about whether historical books like this that truthfully document how racism has worked in the past contributes to the subconscious racism many Americans experience today, or if it is a necessary insight into our past. I don’t deny that it is important to learn how we used to be, but I wonder if that unintentionally contributes to how we are now (rather than its ‘intended effect’ of motivating us to be different than we were).

Overall, The Underground Railroad is really well-researched and touches on so many different aspects of the history of African Americans. I looked forward to reading this very much each night with my scant bit of spare time, which tells me that it is a good book (even though I can’t exactly pin my finger on why). I can sense that there is even more to glean from this book if I read it again.

Leisure Literature: The Underground Railroad

Tech Toolbox: Lightshot

I will never be able to truly consider myself well-versed in technology; very few people have seen it all. But I do love searching out the best I can find, and once I find it, I stick with it. In my Tech Toolbox I share my favorite software, applications, and occasionally gadgets.

One of my goals in this column is to find the best software for specific, ordinary purposes, and share that. An example of a staple any computer user needs is screenshot tools. Most computers come equipped without a good way to handle screenshots; the image copies into the clipboard and just kind of…is there. Pasting images isn’t compatible with most places, and to save it into a file is tedious. (Or maybe I’m ignorant about how most people do this.) If you want to upload it to the internet, that’s another step.

(Admittedly, screenshots are less relevant these days, since these days pictures are taken with phones and those have countless ways to share with friends. People even photograph their computer screens. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Anyways, I use screenshots frequently, especially when programming, so I really appreciate this tool, Lightshot, which basically streamlines everything related to screenshotting on the computer into one beautiful, free tool.

It’s a bit too meta to screenshot the screenshot tool to add pictures here, but here are some of the things it can do:

  • Use a selection tool to choose what part of the screen you want to capture (easy corner-draggers)
  • Annotate the screenshot with pens, lines, rectangles, text, and more, in any color you want
  • Upload to for free and instantly get a shareable link (if you create an account, you can keep everything you’ve uploaded together
  • Save file to computer
  • Send screenshot to the printer
  • Copy to clipboard
  • Share to social media or search for similar images on Google

There’s really not much to say. Lightshot is simple, yet has everything one could need, has a UI that is neither ugly nor overdone. Et sequitur I recommend it highly.

Download the application for any OS here, and check out the general site/generally file host for free here.

Tech Toolbox: Lightshot

Two Years

An egotistic chronicling of achievements and ‘done-that’s

  • Saw PTX in concert! (May 12)
  • Read 23 books over the summer (June 17 – August 28)
  • Ran 262 miles as summer training for fall XC (June 17 – August 28)
  • Knit an entire dress for my Halloween costume (October 1 – 30)
  • Made a XC scrapbook covering 5th grade until 11th grade (November)
  • Knit 24 headbands (and other birthday gifts throughout the fall) (December)
  • Put 1400 roses on a float in the Rose Parade (December 31)
  • Made at least 3 cool arts
  • Recorded 3 pieces of music
  • Wrote a bunch of essays and drabbles
  • Opened up the wormhole that is Facebook
  • Definitely watched more movies this year than my entire life combined

People in my year

  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Rin
  • run for fun
    • TD, AP, JP, VH, DK, SK, SS, BS, and more – conquered and melted together
    • JR, AT, EC – carpool squad
    • RQ, JB, SS, JS – my favorite new friends
    • AL, OH, AD’A, MP, DH, BD, AB, NU, SS, JS – the crazy freshmen, also my favorite
    • JS, ML, TG, SK, DK, HB – I pretend I’m part of you, also my favorite
    • LS, TL, RW, NC, CW, AVG, MF, MK, EH, EB, AC, VS, GK, TD, AP, SS, BS, KS, AU, and all the rest – cool people, also my favorite
  • JP, JN, I guess
  • JS, SS, RQ – again, because we talk
  • MF, JQ – again, because you make me laugh
  • RC, JP – ?
  • AW
  • JD
  • VS – on and on
Two Years

I Have A Problem With The Nation’s #1 High School

Folks, my mind. Except also about college. New Year’s post to follow, sometime Soon™ not that long after the actual new year.

Just Angela Things

While this post features TJ, it is by no means specific to TJ.

Almost two years ago, I graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. In another two years, my younger brother will do the same.

Me and TJ, we’ve got history. TJ is where I had my first slow dance, learned to drive a car, and once got chased down the chem hall by an eleven-year-old supergenius with a roller backpack and the blessing of Satan. TJ also happens to be Newsweek’s #1 high school in the United States of America. I know, right? You’d think an institution like that would learn to keep its child prodigies in check.

Anyway, I have something to say about this school:

Something is wrong.

Something is very, very wrong.

And it’s not getting better.

Flash back to my freshman year. I’m volunteering at Techstravaganza, an annual STEM activity fair for elementary-…

View original post 2,531 more words

I Have A Problem With The Nation’s #1 High School

Leisure Literature: Legend

When I can find extra moments, there is always a list of books I want to read. Some I anticipate for months, some for years before I find the time to get to them, and some of them live up to the hype and some don’t. Leisure Literature is a book review column that details my thoughts on my recent readings.

This year, I attended public school for the first time and was incredibly disappointed. We read a whopping total of four books throughout the entire year. In response, I have pledged to read fifty books of all varieties this summer. I have already been through a few, which I have chosen not to write about here, but Legend by Marie Lu was so good that I feel as if I have to record my feelings about it.

What made this book so great is its incredible character-driven nature, paired with a stunning plot. I knew it was going to be good when I was already asking lots of questions and in love with the characters by page 11. Day and June are both very clever, resourceful, and in the book’s own words, perceptive, and it’s such a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the fact that they never display a superiority complex or show any intention to suppress their cleverness’ full potential, but own the fact that they are smart and use it to their every advantage. As a result, throughout the book, they keep uncovering the things they don’t know, and the knowing reader is never waiting for Day or June to figure out ‘what’s next’. What astonished me is that the plot always kept going, even after they make the supposed biggest discovery at that plot point. This made the whole story very realistic and the characters more life-like, since they seem as intelligent as people are in real life.

Some high points:

  • Day is just straight-up flirtatious, which gives both him and the author an attractive boldness.
  • The moment and situation in which Day and June first meet was triumphantly impressive; it just made me feel very joyful.
  • Even though the protagonists are very smart, have many tools, and plenty of information, the antagonist still seems insurmountable. I think this is notable because it is often times the case in books of this type that the protagonists are disadvantaged in some way, which gives the antagonists their grip over the protagonists, but in Legend, they have the resources and the antagonists still feel impossible to get.
  • It made me cry! Physically cry–at a certain event occurring during the climax of the book. I think that’s impressive.

Some low points:

  • Some of it was predictable. I guessed three major reveals before they happened (which I will not detail for the sake of spoilers). Given, I didn’t guess all of it, but I could anticipate the general point.
  • I don’t know how to feel about intelligence and capability being measured in a test, and especially that a perfect score represents extraordinariness. At any rate, the author had to create some device to quantify this, and it did the job solidly.
  • Three tropes I didn’t enjoy were the Jameson character (especially the gender), the Kaede character, and the government/power factions and the question of the ambiguous goodness/evilness. This falls in with The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Red Queen, and so on, but at least this was a character-driven book, so the faults in the plot are outshined. The redeeming attribute of the factions is the apparent historical basis, which is intriguing, but was not discussed a lot in book one.
  • Although I understand their age for the sake of the points about their extreme intelligence, I think Day and June’s age dampens the realness of the romance in the book; they seem young.

A couple of personal notes:

  • Even though Day and June are both endearing, I was drawn to John the most and his older brotherly character. Perhaps I liked him that much only because his personality reminded me of a friend of mine with the same name, but altogether he was still my favorite.
  • There was a lot of physical wounding in the book, but to my surprise, it was effective and felt necessary to the setting. I like how the author didn’t leave it out for the sake of complications, yet didn’t add it in light-handedly or carelessly. It was a lot but it was handled well. The only thing is I’m unsure about the rate of healing that happens.

In all, Legend had me recommending it before I finished it, reading it straight through without stopping, and raving about how good it was afterwards. It is a captivating read and I highly recommend it.

Strangely enough, I’m still debating whether to continue reading the trilogy, since the first book is a lot to live up to, and the conflicts implied by the first book don’t seem as interesting, but at least Legend looks to be a bought-book on my shelf, a high honor.

Leisure Literature: Legend

Spasmodic Baking: Meringues

As a general rule of thumb, I’m not to be trusted in the kitchen. However, I’m slightly better with the oven. I sporadically bake cake and cookies and the like (you can count on it around my birthday), and it usually turns out kind of tasty. In “Spasmodic Baking”, I share recipes I’ve done.

I recently had that arbitrary itch I get to bake, so here I went again. It was my friend’s birthday, but there was another friend who needed a pick-me-up, and in general, giving food to friends is fun. So there I went.

Many years ago, I tasted hard meringues at a party, and I fell in love (they are kind of magical, aren’t they?). I decided to try to make them myself for the next party I went to. It was a disaster. I didn’t bargain for how much time it actually takes to make, wasted a horrible amount of eggs whipping non-pure egg whites, and ended up with rather skimpy, half-wet sugar-things to take the party. I forgot about meringues after that.

For some reason, as is happening to me recently, this random memory popped back into my head with no particular evident stimulus, but it’s nice to know that my brain still remembers treasurable things even if I can’t remember them. At any rate, I decided to make meringues.

The four things you need to know about making meringues are that they are very low cost in that barely any materials are required, very high cost in that a lot of time must be invested in order to make them, the instructions NEED (in all caps) to be followed to a T otherwise you won’t have meringues, and that they are tasty beyond belief.

The ratios I report are for a large party amount of meringues (I believe I gave ~4 each to around 12 friends; some got more than 4 (birthday and such) and I made two sizes, small and large), but if you want less, just reduce the number of eggs and sugar proportionally (3 eggs -> 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs -> 1/2 cup sugar, etc.).

What you need:

  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • a beater
  • two baking sheets
  1. Separate the egg whites into a mixer bowl. You MUST not have a TRACE of egg yolk, or they will not whip right. If you are not confident about your ability to crack eggs safely, crack them into a separate container first and then add them to the bowl. (Unfortunately, I was too lazy and wasted two eggs cracking them straight into the bowl; I got a bit of yolk and had to start over.)
  2. Beat the egg whites until you have soft, stiff peaks (raising the whisk(s) out will make little points that slowly fade instead of slopping like liquid).
  3. Add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time, completely dissolving the sugar in before adding more. Once all the sugar is used, make sure the mixture is smooth and not grainy.
  4. Add the vanilla and mix in.
  5. Line the two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Here you have an option to use spoons to put balls on the sheets, or pipe the meringues on. I chose to put the mixture in quart-size bags and pipe with just a simple infinitesimal corner cut off. If you want to be more fancy, you can do a big star piping tip.
  7. You can really pipe in whatever shape/size you want! I just made traditionally-sized ‘dollop’ things with their little Hershey Kiss-style pointy top. Something else you can do is mix in food coloring to do more than just the regular off-white color. As mentioned, I piped out of quart bags. I had to use two, and I colored each a different color.
  8. Now, with the oven at 225, put the sheets in for around 90 minutes. You are drying the meringues, not baking them. Make sure to give them all the time they need. Simply because I was paranoid, I stayed near the oven the whole time. Once they start showing signs of crack lines, or generally being dried out, you can turn off the oven. Leave them in there for another 15 minutes or so to continue drying and cool a bit. You need to have complete patience here.
  9. Once they’ve been out of the oven for 5 minutes or so, they should come off the parchment paper well.

If your meringues start browning in the oven, that’s your option–whether you would like browned meringues or not. If you don’t want brown meringues, turn the oven off if you’ve fulfilled most of the 90 minutes. Otherwise, I’m not quite sure what to tell you–my meringues did not brown, and neither was I going for browned.

In terms of storage, I decided to go for in plastic bags in the fridge overnight. I think really anything would be alright, as long as they’re protected from moisture. Even if they are, I believe they can be re-dried.

I made my own instruction set by combining previous knowledge and the best advice from approximately four internet recipes and two book recipes. If you would like to make variants or just need general comprehensive meringue advice, this recipe was very elaborate.

These are really fun to make and so enjoyable to eat. They can be very eloquent, or just a fun party dessert. Since I had very little homework that night and had the time budget to spend on this, it was so worth having some myself and giving out smiles to some of my friends as well. Perhaps I’ll do it again soon.

Sidenote: impatient, forgetful me did not take pictures. Hopefully you know what they look like; if you don’t, the internet is always there for you.

Spasmodic Baking: Meringues