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.Continue reading “Wemo Mini Smart Plug Review – Alexa, HomeKit & Google enabled”
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.
Get it here: Anker Wireless Charger
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.
Get it here: Logitech Circle 2
DJI Copilot – Backup On Site Solution (B.O.S.S.)
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.
Get it here: DJI CoPilot Boss
I’m a huge fan of automation in general especially when it comes to smart home stuff. My new home was built two years ago in May 2016. I got the chance to start with a clean slate and put in all the smart home tech that I wanted pretty much from day one. Sadly the builder wasn’t really into smart homes (aside from running ethernet drops) yet so I had to do it all after the house was completed. When people think smart homes one of the first things that comes to mind is lighting and that is pretty much where I started too, but it didn’t stop there. Since most of the things in a smart home are controlled via your mobile devices I also wanted to make sure that most if not all things I did worked with Apple’s HomeKit since I’m an iOS user.
1. My Lighting
In case you missed it, Apple has officially announced the end of life of AirPort Base Stations. They will continue to sell existing stock, but the product will not get any new features and Apple will no longer develop this product line. What does that mean for existing users? If you have an existing AirPort WiFi network and it’s up and running with no issues, you’re probably fine for a while. I have three of the latest AirPort Extreme Base Stations and haven’t had any issues. They just work! However, I just replaced them. Why? Although I wasn’t having ANY issues with my existing WiFi network, I’m asked for recommendations all the time. I don’t like to recommend products that I haven’t actually used. Also I looked at this time as a opportunity to try something new. Apple AirPort Base Stations haven’t had any real new features in years. Now that they’ll no longer be selling them (once stock clears), I wondered what Apple would be recommending to customers? One of the systems they sell in the Apple Stores and online is the Linksys Velop system.
Linksys Velop has over 4,100 reviews on Amazon.com and has a 4.5 star rating
Any product that has that many reviews on Amazon and manages to still have a 4.5 star rating means that people must really like it. I got mine setup and I could easily give it a 4+ star rating, but it’s not perfect…
As promised this is the first of hopefully many Monday morning posts outlining my Live Streaming Schedule for the week. This way my followers to can easily see where I’ll be live streaming and what the topic will be. This week starts off with:
Monday, February 12, 2018 – 1PM PT – Back to the Basics with Adobe Photoshop CC – Part 4 – How to Work With Layers.
When I had my house built last year the one thing that I was excited about was being able to take advantage of all the cool smarthome options out there. When it came time to buy garage door openers the main thing I wanted was ones with a battery backup. I wanted to be able to still open my garage door in the event of a power outage. When I looked I was pleasantly surprised to find the Chamberlain model that not only had a battery backup, but it was also WiFi and smartphone enabled. Chamberlain has their own app “MyQ” and it works fine, but it’s yet another single purpose app. It would have been nice to be able to also control my openers in the Apple iOS Home app. They kept promising that HomeKit compatibility was coming and they were even featured on the slides in Apple’s keynote address on more than one occasion.
Well it’s been a little over a year since I bought my openers.
Chamberlain Keeps their Promise and Delivers a HomeKit Solution
Have you ever bought something with one use in mind and then later you realized that you could use it for another purpose too? That’s exactly what happened to me when I bought my Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar. I was looking for a 5.1 WIRELESS surround sound system. I’m a fan of Bose gear and when my neighbor told me that Bose had just the system I was looking for I ordered it on the spot. Yes there are other wireless systems out there and I even had one. I had a Vizio soundbar with wireless subwoofer. However, with the Vizio soundbar the satellite speakers plugged into the subwoofer. In my family room I don’t have a back wall to run wires. Therefore the Vizio system presented a wiring challenge. The Bose SoundTouch 300 is actually sold piece by piece or you can buy the whole setup. You can just buy the soundbar. You can add on the wireless subwoofer (Acoustimass). You can add on the rear speakers. They are all wireless. Each speaker needs to be plugged into an AC outlet for power, but they don’t need to be wired to the soundbar or any central point. This was exactly what I was looking for. I am completely happy with the performance of the Bose SoundTouch 300.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that you could add additional SoundTouch speakers for music in every room
Live streaming has become a big part of my life. So much so that it’s actually a major part of my day job. I stream live Adobe tutorials regularly to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter/Periscope. I spent most of 2016 streaming to Twitch.tv. Since this is what I do for a living I wanted to have high production values.
Therefore I setup a dedicated live streaming studio in my home. Being a photographer I’ve setup a few photography studios and no matter how you equip your studio you can always find more gear that you want and ways to improve it. I’ve been building out this live streaming studio since May 2016. I have everything I “need” to do my streams, but I’m always looking out for ways to improve upon what I have.
Like a photography studio, your streaming setup can be very basic or very elaborate
The other day I was looking through the Apple.com accessories section for a keyboard and I ran across a few items that I was kinda shocked that Apple still sells. In most cases these items have probably been forgotten about and just never removed from the site, but nonetheless it’s interesting to still see them listed. Especially when Apple is quick to tell us that it was because of “courage” they removed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. Or how it was bold to stop putting floppy drives in Macs back in the day. In no particular order:
5 The Apple Mouse
I’ve been using a wireless Magic Mouse and now Magic Mouse 2 for years. I was shocked to see that not only does Apple still sell the wired Apple Mouse, but it’s still $49. By the way, I absolutely hated this particular mouse back in the day. The scroll nub would always stop working! Wired mice are still useful, just not this one. It’s here.
Although I don’t generally miss the headphone jack on my iPhone 7 Plus, there is one scenario that I do miss it. With only having the Lightning port this means that you have to decide to either charge or use a wired headset. Like I said, this generally isn’t a problem because I’m either using a wireless headset or I’m sitting at my desk and my iPhone 7 Plus is sitting in a iPhone dock which also has a wired headset attached to it. However, for those times when I want to plug in a headset and charge at the same time I’ve found the Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge Rockstar adapter. This adapter give you TWO Lightning ports instead of one.