For the past few months, I’ve been commuting back and forth to San Francisco. Rehearsing for the Adobe MAX keynote is a big deal and taken very seriously. Although my part was a mere 7-8 minutes long, every second of it is rehearsed and refined for months until it became muscle memory.
It’s an honor to be a part of the keynote and I couldn’t be happier being asked back this year. If you missed my demo you can see it here:
It was just one month ago that I wrote a review of SimpliSafe. While I do still stand by that review and everything I said, I have actually switched to Ring Alarm! It’s rare that after I do my research and make a tech decision that I end up switching to something else so soon after, but this is one of those cases.
I’ve had several Wacom tablets over the years. I use them almost exclusively when I retouch photos and if I ever dabble in creating art. I love my 27″ Cintiq QHD display tablet. However, when I need to take a tablet with me on the go I’ve always preferred carrying a Wacom Intuos Pro Small. With that said, I stopped carrying my previous version. While it was “small” it was still bulky enough to take up more space and weight in my bag than I wanted. My backpack is always heavy. I decided to remove some things to lighten the load. Every ounce matters. I figured I could just use my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil as a tablet if I really needed to. While this solution did work, it just wasn’t the same as a Wacom graphics tablet. Wacom has been refining their pen/tablet technology for years! The newer tablets have a pen that offers 8,192 levels of pressure. This level of precision is amazing. The pen also has configurable buttons on the side and the top can be used as an eraser. Apple Pencil is great, but it just can’t do as many things as you can with a Wacom pen.
The NEW Wacom Intuos Pro Small makes its way back into my life and my backpack!
I’ve been into home automation and smart home gear for years. I really got serious about it when we built a new house in 2016. A new house meant being about to start from scratch with the best solutions for every aspect of home automation that I wanted. When you talk smart home the usual suspects come to people’s minds: lights, cameras, thermostats, locks, security systems, shades/window blinds, garage door openers, etc. Beyond simple control from your smartphone, smart home automation is really about Scenes and Routines. It’s about using one verbal command, or press one button or come home and have a series of things happen.
This is when picking a smart home platform comes into play
Apple’s AirPower was supposed to be the only wireless charger you would need. One charging mat that lets you charge an iPhone (or Android), Apple Watch and AirPods. Apple decided to cancel the AirPower before it ever shipped. They sited quality/technical difficulties. I can only imagine that this was because you would have been able to put your phone, watch or AirPods anywhere on the mat. Since the Apple Watch doesn’t use a standard Qi charger I’m sure it was hard to make it work when placed anywhere on the mat.
There are lots of Qi wireless chargers on the market. Some are designed just to charge a phone while other bigger mats are designed to charge two to three devices. I originally went with the Nomad Wireless Charger as it was one of the first to have an integrated Apple Watch charger. The Nomad solution works fine, but what I didn’t like about it was that it was one configuration. You lay your phone on it either vertically or horizontally and you put your watch on the dedicated spot. If you want to charge a third device then you put the phone vertically in the middle. What I don’t like about this is that you have to put the phone on it just right (not to far forward and not too far towards the front) or it won’t be on one of the three charging coils and therefore it won’t charge. I have woke up on occasion only to realize that my phone didn’t charge because it wasn’t sitting on it just right.
SliceCharge Pro offers six high speed charging coils instead of three or four
It was just over a month ago that I applied for the NEW Apple Card. I got approved and documented the whole application process here:
What’s so special about Apple Card?
This was the first question that my friends and fans started asking me. After all, it is just a credit card right? On the surface, it is a credit card. You apply and if approved you’re assigned a limit and you receive a physical card in the mail. However, that’s where the similarities stop.
The first thing that makes Apple Card different is the way you apply. If you watched my video above, you’ll note that the entire process happened in the Wallet app on my iPhone. Yes, you can apply for other credit cards on your phone in a browser or a dedicated banking app, but once you’re approved you’re likely to still need to wait for a physical card to show up in the mail. Once approved for the Apple Card it’s immediately available in your Apple Wallet app. You get to use it with Apple Pay immediately. Even if you don’t use it with Apple Pay you can still look up your Credit Card Number, CCD and Expiration Date in the Wallet app so that you can start using it online with places that don’t yet accept Apple Pay.
Although my old wallet wasn’t quite a “Costanza Wallet” it was thick enough to be noticed by my buddy Larry Becker. We trade tech recommendations all the time and while this had nothing to with tech, it’s hands down the best wallet I’ve ever had. It’s actually quite a simple concept. Instead of trying to consolidate everything into a smaller footprint, The Big Skinny wallet spreads things out a bit so that the same contents can be, well skinny in your pocket.
The Big Skinny is the best wallet I’ve ever had!
I stopped carrying my wallet in my back pocket years ago because I was sitting lopsided. Also, it’s less of a pickpocket opportunity. Moving it to my front pocket was more comfortable and as you might imagine caused an unnecessary bulge.
It’s definitely an amazing time that we live in. While we’re still probably a few years out from being able to climb in the back seat and nap while your car drives you safely to your destination, Tesla has definitely been moving us closer and closer to that goal. In the latest Over-the-Air software update (v10), Tesla delivered the long-awaited Smart Summon feature.
Smart Summon allows a Tesla owner with either Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self Driving options to remotely summon their car in a parking lot from up to 150 feet away. The car will figure out how to leave its parking space and navigate its way to the owner.
The owner can either simply hold down the “Come to Me” button on the screen in the Tesla App or go into the Summon feature and plot a point on the map for the car to drive to.
It’s amazing to see Smart Summon in action and I can’t wait to see what comes next. If you’re interested in getting a Tesla, you can get FREE Supercharging by ordering with my link here.
My house was built in 2016. Back then I went with the security system that had been partnered with the builder. It turned out to be Alarm.com and later was acquired by Brinks. The system itself did its job. I was even able to set it up so that it could be armed via my voice by Alexa, Google Home and their mobile app. The system was basic and covered all the entry doors as well as a motion detector. It included a panel on the wall and this panel had the siren built-in as well as a cellular connection to the monitoring service. That’s it.
Why I switched from a system that I had paid off to one that I would have to buy from scratch?
There are several security web cameras and video doorbells on the market right now. Each as you would expect has its advantages and disadvantages over the other one. While there are several viable options out there, today I’m going to focus on three that I use regularly. All of these webcams connect to your home/office network via Wi-Fi. By no means should you walk away thinking that these are the only three options. However, these are the three that I’ve had the most direct experience with.
Why use more than one brand?
You can absolutely get good cameras from any of the three vendors I’m reviewing today and use that brand exclusively. However, sticking with a single brand may mean that you’re missing out on other features and uses that you may be interested in. For example, I like my Ring cameras because Ring offers solar powered options that don’t require a power outlet outside the house or having to constantly take them down and charge their internal batteries. Ring also works with Amazon Echo (Alexa) smart speakers with displays so that you can view them in any room without having to fire up the app on your phone.
Amazon Echo 5 Showing the Ring Video Pro Doorbell by saying “Alexa, show me the front door.”
Nest offers both indoor and outdoor cameras that work just as good as the ones from the other two vendors, but I really like that they offer of all things a native Apple TV app so that I can view my cameras on the big screen.
Logitech offers cameras that cost less and have the big advantage of having native HomeKit support. Having HomeKit support means that the cameras can be integrated into HomeKit Automations. For example, if someone walks within range of a camera at night it can trigger lights inside and/or outside the home to come on automatically. Logitech also lets you do more without having to pay for a monthly subscription to store the videos in the cloud. Because Nest cameras are powered via AC they are always recording/streaming whether there is activity or not. This way you can look at any timeframe to see what happened even if there wasn’t a specific event trigger.
I love all of these features and use them daily, but don’t worry, I’ll tell you by the end of this post which camera I’d go with if I could only pick one.