For the past two years I’ve been looking for a solution to automate my blinds without having to replace them with new ones. I would love to have Serena blinds by Lutron to integrate into my existing system, but those would set me back anywhere from $500-$800 a window. I just can’t justify that. Luckily now I don’t have to. I stumbled upon the MySmartBlinds Automation kit. MySmartBlinds allows you to automate your existing traditional horizontal blinds. I have 24 windows with these blinds already installed. No need to replace the blinds. I can just pick and choose which windows I want to automate and install the MySmartBlinds kit.
How hard are they to install?
It takes about 10-20 minutes to install the kit on one set of blinds. I can do it pretty quickly now that I’ve done about 10 of my windows. Here’s a video of how the installation and setup in the app works:
I love my Apple AirPods on a level you can’t imagine. They are not perfect, but they are absolutely the best wireless earbud solution I have ever tried. While I love my AirPods there are times when I wish I could use them with a device that doesn’t have bluetooth. For example, the in-flight system on planes requires a wired connection. The same goes for gym equipment if you want to watch any of the TV’s that are broadcasting.
AirFly to the rescue
The good folks over at Twelve South have created a great solution. It’s called AirFly. I picked one up in the airport right before a flight. I was happy that it came pre-charged. The cashier even helped to get it paired with my AirPods while I was paying for them.
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of smart home gear. When we built our house back in 2016 I got a chance to have a clean slate and really install all the latest and greatest smart home gear of the time. I wanted lights that would come and and go off at different times, WiFi controlled garage door openers, cameras, voice assistants and more. When it came to lighting I standardized on the Lutron Caséta system. I’ve been 100% happy with it for the last two years. While I love the Caséta system it does have a hard limit of 50 devices per hub. I couldn’t believe it one day when I went to add a device and it told me that I had hit the limit. Now keep in mind that’s wall switches, lamps and pico remotes. But yeah, I hit the 50 limit. Luckily I was able to unpair a remote that we weren’t really using and add the last device.
Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday break. I took some extra time off to unwind, but I’m back! I’ll be in my home office this week and that means that I’ll be live streaming design and photography tutorials. Here’s my schedule for this week:
Monday, 1/7 – 1PM PT – A look back at the BEST New Features introduced in 2018 for Graphic Designers
Last year the holiday season snuck up on me and I failed to get my guide done last year. This year isn’t much different as once again the season just kinda appeared and the next thing you know it’s the last week fo November and here we are. I try to get this done before Black Friday (which has become Black November), but as they say better late than never. If you have a techie or photographer on your holiday gift list, here are my top recommendations for gifts that they are likely to appreciate. In no particular order:
Anker Qi Wireless Charger for iPhone/Android smartphones
Wireless charging is so convenient and this Anker charger is my favorite. Fast, low profile and it just works.
Logitech Circle 2 Wired HomeKit compatible security camera
My top three favorite home security cameras are from Nest, Ring and Logitech. I find myself adding more and more Logitech Circle 2’s because they are cost effective, easy to setup and the only ones (that I like) that work flawlessly with Apple’s HomeKit.
One of the things I hear from photographers again and again is that they want to travel with less gear. One of the things that people want to do is carry an iPad instead of a laptop or not carry a computer at all. The DJI Copilot is a solution that lets you backup your images in the field AND use your mobile devices to review, edit and share your images. Yes, even your raw files. With 2TB of storage and all the connections you need it’s a great solution.
I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend and that you got a chance to spend time with family and friends. I’m in my home office this week and that means that I’ve got some live streams scheduled:
I’ve had an amazing couple of weeks! As many of you know, two weeks ago was Adobe MAX in LA. Last week was PhotoPlus Expo in NYC. From coast to coast I had a very busy presentation schedule with live in person audiences. I got to kick off Adobe MAX to an audience of close to 15,000 people. See my Photoshop presentation here. Last week I was doing sessions at PhotoPlus Expo in the Adobe Theater as well as the conference track. I also got to speak in the Nikon Theater. See that presentation here.
Now with the major shows out of the way for a while, I’m back to live streaming. Here’s my schedule for this week:
It was a surprise low-key announcement by Apple. An upgrade to the MacBook Pro line. I wasn’t expecting it as everyone was telling me not to expect a MacBook Pro capable of supporting 32GB of RAM until 2019. Perhaps when Apple starts using their own processors instead of Intel. I was just as surprised as the rest of the world. I was also happy that the wait was over. I had been holding out going to a new MacBook Pro for years. I was still using my work Mid-2014 MacBook Pro 15″. At work we are allowed to upgrade computers every 3 years and unfortunately for me that was in 2017. Instead of going with a 2017 MacBook Pro (which wasn’t much better than the 2016 MacBook Pro), I opted to go with a 27″ iMac instead. Most of my day-to-day work and live streaming is done from my home office these days. I don’t do roadshows and tours like I used to. Therefore a nice fast desktop Mac was the way to go.
The reason I skipped the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros
In 2016 Apple made the radical decision to redesign the MacBook Pro. In the process they did away with all the traditional ports and instead went with 4 Thunderbolt 3/USB C type ports. At the time this was painful for most users because it meant buying an adapter for every single peripheral that you wanted to connect. I was still intrigued until I talked with others that had the new one. The feedback was pretty consistent. I didn’t find a single friend/colleague that raved about the new 2016 MacBook Pro. Everyone I asked “so how is it?” the response was pretty much the same “it’s OK. It’s not really any faster than my previous model.” This coupled with having to buy a bunch of dongles and adapters AND still being limited to 16GB of RAM meant a pass from me. Apple upgraded the MacBook Pro again in 2017 moving to a faster Kaby Lake processor, but that was about it. It was still limited to 16GB of RAM and no significant speed benefit. There was also the problem with the design of the keyboard. I remember the day one of my colleagues sat down next to me and started working/typing on his 2016 MacBook Pro and the clicking/clacking was so loud that I wanted to scream. This coupled with the high number of people reporting keyboard failures meant another pass in 2017 and going with the 27″ iMac instead as I didn’t want to be stuck for another 3 years on 16GB of RAM.