Category Archives: Technology

What I’m Into Right Now – March 2018

Time for another collection of things that have my interest right now.

What I’m Into Right Now – March 2018 – This online site and it’s accompanying app let you easily make and distribute your own podcast.  I recently started one in which I share a Bad Dad Joke Of The Day.  It’s been a fun project.  Check it out now on iTunes.

Cadbury Creme Eggs – This Easter time candy is as polarizing as Peeps.  You either think they’re great or gross. There’s really no in-between. I’m a part of the camp that loves them.Wooden Beard Comb & Beard Butter – Last month I mentioned how I was growing my beard out and started using beard oil.  Well, I’ve upped my beard game a little. My wife got me a sandalwood beard comb for Valentine’s Day and I followed it up with some beard butter. Both help keep my facial hair soft and under control.

Disjointed – This Netflix Original sitcom isn’t for everyone.  It stars Kathy Bates as a marijuana dispensary owner and centers around her relationships with her clientele and employees.  The humor and subject matter is extremely crude… but I enjoy it for a quick twenty-five minute, laugh-filled distraction.

Ozark – This is another Netflix original show that stars Jason Bateman as a financial planner who moves his family to the Ozarks where he launders money for a Mexican drug cartel.  It’s a pretty intense drama.  I’m a little bummed that I’ve burned through season one. Now I need to wait for season two.

Five More Minutes – This is Scotty McCreery’s first number one song.  It’s one he co-wrote and said his Grandpa Bill was the inspiration for it.  There’s a lot in here that I can relate to. Maybe you can as well.

What are you into right now?

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Review: Our Smart Home

This past Black Friday I finally spent the Christmas money I had been saving for nearly a year.  There were some incredible tech deals too good to pass up so I finally made the jump to start turning our house into a “smart home”.

I picked up two Google Home Minis, a Phillips Hue Starter Kit, and two TP-Link Smart Plugs.  All totaled… it added up to around $150, more than half off the original pricing.

Needless to say, I was really excited to get it all home and set up.  I was hoping the rest of my family would share my excitement.

Setting up the Google Minis was easy.  If you have a Google account and can and follow directions I’m confident you could easily set one up too. I chose to put one on our main floor near the dining room and kitchen.  The second found a place downstairs in our living room.

The Phillips Hue bridge and bulbs were also easy to set up.  I put smart bulbs in two of our basement lamps and two in our ceiling fan light in our dining room.  I spent an extra $15 to get another smart bulb to go over our kitchen sink.

One of the smart plugs got used for the lamp next to my wife’s side of the bed while the other initially went to control our Christmas tree.  It’s since been moved to control the lamp next to my side of the bed.

That’s the current set-up in our home.  So how has it worked out?  I’d say 90% success and 10% frustration.

It’s been awesome to be able to be able to ask our Google Home Minis random questions that come up in everyday life that we’d normally just search out online.  “Hey Google, how long will it take me to drive to Oskaloosa High School” not only got me the answer but also sent driving directions to my phone. That’s not only cool… but also convenient.

Having total control over our lights via my smartphone and Chromebook has been cool too.  No more getting in bed, realizing I forgot to shut out the kitchen light, and having to get up to go shut it off. Now, I can turn it off with my phone from bed.

It was great for the holidays to be baking goodies with the family and have Christmas music playing throughout the house on the Google Home Minis.

My youngest daughter spent a couple hours dipping pretzels.  If a song came on she didn’t like she’d just say, “OK, Google… I don’t like this song” and the song would stop and another would start.

Having a Google Home Mini next to the kitchen has been great too.  “Hey, Google… set a timer for _______ minutes” is something I use all the time.

That’s some of what I love about having a smart home… but what are some of the things that I haven’t liked? What’s led to the 10% frustration?

Since everything is controlled via wifi if your internet goes down things don’t work as they’re supposed to… which can be annoying.

My family can tend to be fast-talkers so sometimes Google doesn’t “hear” us and we’ll have to slow down and make our request again.  This can be frustrating when you’re asking it to turn on a light and you’re already in the room wanting light.

I’ll be honest, there have been other times where I just don’t feel like talking… even to an inanimate object and wished I could just use a light switch to turn on the lights.  With our current set-up, it’s all voice.  I’d need to spend some more money on connected light switches.

Speaking of spending more money… I do plan on getting 1 more Google Home Mini to put in our bathroom.  It would be really useful to be able to listen to the news, weather, and music while I get ready in the morning.

I wouldn’t mind getting a smart thermostat too… but I’m holding off until the prices really come down.

The only other annoying thing is I wish there was a way to get the Google Home Mini to not respond after every request but just do what I ask.  For example, if I tell it to turn off the basement lights it will respond with, “OK, turning off the basement lights.”

Don’t tell me, Google! Just do it.  It’s a minor thing but it can be annoying.  I’m hoping this is something that can be controlled via a software update.  I submitted some feedback to Google, so we’ll see.

Oh, and I didn’t need to worry about my family sharing my excitement for having a smart home.  They’re liking it just as much as I do.

Do you have a smart home? What are your favorite things about it and what are your frustrations?

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What’s Your Online Legacy?

I mowed tonight and while I did my mind started to wander… which is often the case when I mow.  Several upcoming blog topics came up and so did an article a friend shared on Facebook today.

It was about how Harvard withdrew offers of admission from 10 incoming Freshman based on things they had posted and shared online.

This is the world we live in.  Schools, workplaces, even potential dates are all checking out our online profiles to decide if they want to be associated with us.

It got me thinking about the things I share online?  Would I be embarrassed if any of my posts ended up on a billboard? What would my online legacy be if my accounts were locked as of today?

What would my online legacy be if my accounts were locked as of today and examined?

If my online legacy was my last 10 tweets, Facebook posts, or Instagram pics what would it say about me?

After I was finished with the yard and put the mower away I went back and checked.  Turns out I’m fine with my last 10 posts… but I’m sure if I dug further back there could be some I might regret.  How about you?

What do your last 10 tweets, Facebook posts, or Instagram pics say about you?

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