Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives 1

Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

Music is the best solutionMusic is a profound and powerful influence in our lives. From birth until death, music is there at every stage to comfort, inspire, motivate us in the most personal expression of who we are.  Music has been the most important part of my life. I started taking piano lessons when I was 8. My first teacher was my godmother, Mama Chinn. She taught me the basics of technique and timing. Her greatest gift, though, was a love of music that has endured. That’s what music is all about. It touches us in ways that nothing else can. It’s a universal language that everyone understands. It’s the loom upon which our individual fibers are woven into the miraculous, colorful tapestry that blankets our precious earth.

Podcast Discussion With Jay Plesset

I asked my husband, Jay, to join me on this week’s podcast, because he’s the most knowledgeable person I know about this subject. Not just music, but how we listen to music. Music is what brought us together! I met Jay after I moved to San Francisco and had problems with my stereo picking up truck drivers’ CB discussions. He was the only one who was able and willing to help me. The rest, as broadcaster Paul Harvey said, is a wonderful story.

Paul McCartney Music

Music is the voiceLast week, Jay and I were fortunate to tune into a rebroadcast CBS program produced by James Corden that featured Paul McCartney. If you’re a Beatles fan, I know you’ll love it. Everywhere they went – okay, they were in Liverpool! – crowds of people gathered around. Paul was so gracious with everyone. Don’t know how word got out when they visited Paul’s childhood home, but the streets were lined with cheering fans of all ages. Yes! And in the local pub where Paul and his band played shortened versions of many Beatles’ hits, the audience included old and young, and every generation in between. Wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the room had four generations of Beatles’ followers. This is a tiny example of music’s influence.

It’s obvious that Paul McCartney loves music. When he talks about it, when he plays it, his inner light shines. Did you know that he’s composed classical music? His first was the “Liverpool Oratorio,” in 1991, followed by “Standing Stone,” recorded in 2001, and “Behold My Heart” that was recorded in 2007. He has a new composition, commissioned by the New York City Ballet, “Oceans Kingdom.” All of his music has been at the top of different charts.

We are lucky to be surrounded by thousands of composers of all genres. We fall in love with music for the way it touches our soul, whether it’s country, rock, blues, jazz, spiritual, cultural, or classical, or a mashup of them. Many composers and performers cross over from one genre to another, like Paul McCartney has over the past 59 years. As the oldest daughter in an alcoholic family, I could tell Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Debussy and Rachmaninoff about everything that burdened me. After hours of conversation with them at my old upright piano, I stepped away feeling and knowing that everything would be all right. Have you had similar experiences in your life, where music has helped you get through tough times?

Mannheim Steamroller Music

Jay and I met because of a shared love of music. When we started dating, he introduced me to Mannheim Steamroller. I’ll never forget our drive through the Sequoias National Park in his convertible, listening to “Fresh Aire,” on a hot day in July. The air was heavy with the aroma of the evergreen trees. We have been avid fans of Mannheim Steamroller to this day. When I decided to launch “Today’s Home,” my internet radio program, they allowed me to use “Wolfgang Amadeus Penguin” as the theme song. Every time I hear it, I’m filled with child-like glee, wanting to get up and march around the room.

Music’s Inspirational Influence

Music can change the worldMusic inspires us, motivates us, connects us in ways that nothing else can. I love this quote from Leopold Stokowski, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” Music is a very personal form of creative self-expression, whether we’re listening to it or playing an instrument. Whether we’re in a large auditorium with 30,000 other people, or riding alone in our car on the way to work. Whether we’re “rockin’ out” to the oldies while we clean our home, or centering ourselves with soft meditation music in the middle of the night.

Several years ago, after I learned about Louise Hay’s positive affirmations, I decided to record them to overcome the anxiety that’s plagued me most of my life. The recordings were okay, but became a listening staple after I added soft background music. Last year, when we had a special dinner, we played the same music. I have made a list of this music for you as a personal gift. All of our guests commented about how the music created an unforgettable ambiance. I’m fortunate that Jay knew how to create this ambiance in our home. One of his first jobs after college was making Infinity speakers, before he went to work at Sound Systems in San Francisco. We have speakers in every room (and outside) that can play from anywhere through a small computer, an “Orange Pi.”

Jay is a member of a worldwide group called D-I-Y Audio. He learned about the “Raspberry Pi” from another member who used this small computer – the size of a deck of cards – to access his massive collection of music. We also have a massive collection of cd’s and vinyl records. It’s fantastic to have everything so easily accessible! Jay tells all about it in our podcast discussion; to listen to the podcast, just click on the link below!

When I’m in the mood for loud music like Blue Man Group, Japanese Taiko drum recordings, or the sound track from “Blast,” all I have to do is turn up the volume and sit in the living room. Jay figured out how to turn four non-structural columns into sub-woofer enclosures, with 10-inch Dayton Audio speakers. Right now, we’re using KEF 101’s as the satellites until Jay finishes building new speakers. Can’t wait to hear it! Jay has provided links to sites where he’s purchased audio parts:

Parts Express

Meniscus Audio

Madisound Portal

The true beauty of musicTechnology has made it possible for more of us to enjoy music anywhere without investing a fortune – unless we want to. Not going to bore you with statistics. You know how you love to listen to music, and you know what to listen to, to help you get through the daily challenges that life presents. The absolutely glorious thing about music in our world today is its universality, its ability to touch the spirits of everyone around the world instantaneously, simultaneously. Music doesn’t care what our cultural heritage is, or what political party we belong to. While we’re listening, we’re connected to everyone else who is, has been, or will be listening to the same music.

Music is the greatest gift we have!

Listen Now!

“Today’s Home” Podcast: Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

 

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LED Lighting — The Highest Impact on Your Life

Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives 2

LED Lighting — The Highest Impact On Your Life

LED lighting has the highest impact on you and your life other than sunlight. I’m going to expose you to facts that you may not know. Are you aware that:

  • Insufficient lighting has been found to contribute to seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder) and vitamin D deficiencies. Up to 90% of vitamin D comes from exposure to sun – diet alone isn’t a good enough source. Vitamin D, can prevent or slow down the growth of tumours and even boost survival rates for cancer patients.
  • Light, especially blue wave lengths, plays a crucial role in regulating our circadian rhythm, commonly known as our body clock.
  • Health effects associated with poor lighting include: Headache and eyestrain. Neck, back, and shoulder strain; Falling, tripping, slipping.
  • Blue light can increase confidence and boost happiness levels, research suggests.
  • Without the Sun’s heat and light, the Earth would be a lifeless ball of ice-coated rock, like many of the moons around Jupiter and Saturn

LED Lighting Replaces Incandescent Sources

January 1, 2014 marked the official ban for the manufacture of 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs, after Congress passed a law in 2007. It took 7 years to teach people that LED lamps were better than the incandescent bulbs invented by Thomas Edison in 1879.

One hundred years later, in 1979, California started tightening its energy laws, requiring that fluorescent lighting must be the dominant source of artificial light in kitchens. To pass final inspection, contractors and homeowners used non-dimmable compact fluorescent lamps in fixtures. As soon as they could no longer see the inspector’s tail lights, they removed the CFL’s and replaced them with dimmable incandescents they’d known and loved all their lives.

Manufacturers made it easy to use small-tube fluorescent fixtures for task lighting under wall cabinets, which made working in the kitchen safer. We all hated the artificial “cool white” and “warm white” colors produced by the early fluorescent lamps that made everything look salmon pink or green. We hated the flickering. There had to be a better alternative! But that didn’t start to happen until 2006, when manufacturers started making LED lamps.

The History of LED Lighting

We think of LEDs as new technology. But the history of LEDs goes way back. In 1907, Henry Round reported light emission from a crystal detector. It took another 20 years until Oleg Losev noted that silicon carbide crystal diodes used in radios glowed when excited by electrical current. And in 1939, two Russian scientists patented a silicon carbide electro-luminescent lighting device that’s probably the predecessor to the LEDs we know today.

In the 1960s, LEDs produced a low-efficiency red light that was used widely as indicators on lab equipment. A partnership between Monsanto and Hewlett Packard formed to make LEDs on a wide scale, but it didn’t work out, so Monsanto continued to develop LEDs until General Instrument bought the business in 1979.

I’m surprised about how long it’s taken for manufacturers to adopt LED technology in the lighting industry. Today’s LED technology is used extensively for commercial, industrial, and residential applications. LEDs’ capabilities have improved across the board: increased lifespan, increased brightness and performance, and increased energy efficiency. Now all LED lamps have warranties. National and state government agencies adopted programs and standards that ultimately led to the demise of incandescent lighting.

What’s The Major Upside to LED Lights?

There are many advantages to LED lighting:

  • LEDs have an extremely long lifespan relative to every other lighting technology. LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours, and they don’t fail in the same way as older technology. The typical lifespan for a halogen bulb, by comparison, is about 1,200 hours, or 1-5% as long, at best.
  • They are extremely energy efficient relative to every other commercially available lighting technology. There are several reasons for this: they waste very little energy in the form of heat, and they emit light directionally. This means that there is no need to redirect or reflect light.
  • LEDs have faster switching with no warm-up or cool-down period.
  • They have very high light quality. Manufacturers have listened to engineers, and have improved the color that LEDs produce, in temperature and wave length.
  • LEDs can generate the entire spectrum of visible light colors without having to use the traditional color filters required by older lighting solutions.
  • They are much smaller than other lights sources.

Is there a Downside to LED Lights?

When I first began touting LEDs in 2006, the major argument against buying and using them was the up-front cost of the bulbs. Yes, they were expensive, for sure! A non-dimmable replacement for a standard “A” lamp was at least $35 each. But the technology of LEDs has followed the pattern established by other technology. As soon as people started buying the bulbs, manufacturers took notice and figured out how to produce the diodes at a considerably lower cost. Consequently, this made the investment in LED bulbs more acceptable.

Now, there’s an unlimited selection of LEDs available to replace all kinds of lamps. A 12-watt LED replacement for a 75-watt “A” lamp is now around $5. Yes, this investment is higher than incandescent bulbs, if you can get your hands on them. The major difference is how long an LED lamp will last compared to a halogen lamp. I just did a calculation that I’d like to share with you. Here’s a simple spreadsheet I prepared that tells the story:

LED Lighting Compared to Halogen Lighting

Light and Color: Why It’s Important

It’s impossible to have color without light! Next week, I’m going to follow this blog with a discussion about color, and color psychology. There are two aspects to the color of the light and how we see colors:

  • Color temperature
  • Color rendering

All of the colors we see are a byproduct of light waves, as they are reflected off or absorbed into an object. An object that reflects back all of the rays of light will appear white. An object that absorbs all of the rays appears black.

Warm, yellowish light, what incandescent lamps typically produced, intensified and enhanced warm colors like red, orange and yellow, and muted cooler hues. Cool, white light, what fluorescent and halogen lamps produce, works best with blues, violets and greens.

Color Temperature

You’ve probably heard and read about color temperature developed by British physicist William Kelvin in the 1800s. He discovered the color change that occurred when he heated a block of carbon. Starting from a dim red, through shades of yellow and up to a bright blue at the hottest temperature. When you buy a package of bulbs, you’ll be able to tell how warm or cool the light is, which will affect all the colors you see by the Kelvin color temperature:

2700K – 3000K is warm light, like a candle or incandescent bulbs
3000K – 4500K is natural light, like direct sunlight
5000K – 10000K is cool light, like a cloudy sky to blue sky, or most “cool white” fluorescent lamps

Color Rendering Index

Another reference you may see is the CRI, or color rendering index. The numbers go from 1 to 100. According to Wikipedia:

“A color rendering index (CRI) is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source.”

What this means to us is the ability to match colors. Hundreds, maybe thousands of times in the past 35 years, I’ve known frustrated homeowners who went shopping in showrooms lit with fluorescent or other light sources. They thought they found a product with the perfect color to match their interior, only to discover that the light in their homes is much different. Of course, the products weren’t what they wanted.

Watts and Lumens

There are two more numbers on light bulb packaging, the watts and lumen output. We’re all familiar with watt reference, the amount of energy that a light source consumes. We’ve associated a certain level of brightness with 60 watts of incandescent light. We can’t do that anymore, because we have LEDs that give us more light with fewer watts. Instead, we need a measurement for visible light energy – lumens. Lumens per watt is a measure of how well a light source converts energy (watts) into light (lumens). Tungsten filament incandescent bulbs produced about 15 lumens/watt. LED technology can produce about 60 lumens per watt. In other words, LEDs are about 4 times more efficient at producing light than incandescent bulbs. This 4-1 ratio is a rough guide of how to calculate what LED bulb to use when replacing an incandescent bulb.

LED Lighting Options

As I said earlier, manufacturers have been on board with LEDs since 2008. Here are the nine different kinds of LED bulbs that are available on one of my favorite sites, 1000 Bulbs:

  • Standard Shape A19 – Designed to give the appearance and pattern of a standard incandescent bulb. Standard and A-shape LED bulbs fit the same sockets and fixtures as your current household lights.
  • 3-Way LED – A three-way bulb is a light bulb that has three brightness settings instead of the standard on or off. If your lamp or fixture says it requires a three-way bulb, this is the category for you.
  •  Standard Shape A19 – Designed to give the appearance and pattern of a standard incandescent bulb. Standard and A-shape LED bulbs fit the same sockets and fixtures as your current household lights.
  • 3-Way LED – A three-way bulb is a light bulb that has three brightness settings instead of the standard on or off. If your lamp or fixture says it requires a three-way bulb, this is the category for you.
  • Vintage LED Bulbs – Vintage reproduction bulbs are now available with LED filament. They have a warm orange glow with lower light levels to mimic the style of a vintage bulb on a dimmer as it transitions from yellow to orange. These Edison style and Victorian style bulbs make great collector items. Order yours today to make your own steampunk lighting.
  • Wet Location LED Bulbs – A wet location UL rating means these LED light bulbs can be used in humid indoor areas or outdoors where water may drop or flow against the bulb or fixture.
  • Decorative LED Bulbs – Browse LED globe lights ranging from 3 in. to 1.5 in. diameters or find LED replacement bulbs for your chandelier light bulbs. The long life of LEDs mean less time on the ladder changing burnt out bulbs. Many LED chandelier lights are dimmer switch compatible and come in a range of color temperature so you can still enjoy the ambiance of traditional bulbs but the energy savings of LEDs.
  • LED Tubes – LED tubes are the emerging standard for commercial and household lighting. Ranging in size from T5 to T12 and a variety of color temperatures, these LED tubes are an easy way to upgrade to energy efficient lighting. Some of them work with or without an existing ballast, making the transition to LED lighting easier than ever. These LED tubes emit the same amount of light as fluorescent T8s, while using a fraction of the power and lasting up to three times longer. LED tubes are especially effective in cold areas like refrigeration lockers where fluorescent tubes are less efficient at producing light.
  • LED Tape Lights – For accents, alcove, and backlighting, LED tape light is a fantastic choice. More flexible than rope light and bright enough for accent illumination, a strip of LED tape light can bring any place to life. There are countless uses and applications for this easily installed new light source.
  • Shatter Resistant LED Bulbs – Dipped in a special coating, these bulbs may still break if dropped, but they won’t shatter into pieces and fly across your floor. We recommend not dropping them, but if you do, these make cleanup quite a bit easier.
  • LED Night Lights – Keep the monsters away with LED night lights. Motion activated, and battery powered, these LED bulbs will light the way to the bathroom or give reassurance that nothing is lurking under the bed when your child needs to reach for a dropped retainer or teddy bear. Mounted using tape or screws, light only the area you need without waking sleeping babies.
  • Reflectors – From the powerful flood and spot lights, to home bound recessed or track lights, reflectors find excellent use indoors or out. LED reflector lamps can provide the same brilliance for less energy and will create far less heat than an incandescent or halogen lamp. As a bonus, they have a higher CRI than fluorescent reflectors for better colors. – Vintage reproduction bulbs are now available with LED filament. They have a warm orange glow with lower light levels to mimic the style of a vintage bulb on a dimmer as it transitions from yellow to orange. These Edison style and Victorian style bulbs make great collector items. Order yours today to make your own steampunk lighting.

A Personal Testimonial About LED Lighting

When we built our dream home 11 years ago, I wanted to use dimmable indirect lighting in the main hallway, the dining room, living room, and kitchen. At that time, LED strip lighting was prohibitively expensive, about $40 a foot. So my “techie” husband figured out how to build the strips using individual LEDs on “perf” board. The electrician installed switched outlets in each of the recessed coffers to make installation easy for us. Eleven years and about 35,000 hours later, the lights are still working perfectly. When we decide to replace the LEDs, we’re going to use commercially-available strip lighting that sells for about $2.50 per foot! You can see pictures of our home in my portfolio.

In Conclusion

I hope you’ve learned about the lighting technology that can change your life. Actually, it’s easier than learning how to use a new app on your cell phone or computer. The bottom line: By exchanging all of your existing incandescent , fluorescent, and halogen bulbs to LEDs, you’re getting the following advantages:

  • No mercury, a cleaner alternative to fluorescent and CFL lamps.
  • A lifespan that is 20 times longer than traditional lighting products.
  • Light quality equal or superior to traditional lighting products.
  • Energy consumption that’s lower than any lighting product to date – you save money!

“Today’s Home” Podcast: LED Lighting — The Highest Impact On Your Life

Call me today to talk about remodeling your home that will include upgrading your lighting!

 

 

HOME, SMART HOME

Smart Home Technology and the Today's Home Mascot

HOME, SMART HOME

Today, I’m writing about smart home technology   where it came from and where it is, according to experts who know.

SMART HOME TECHNOLOGY — HISTORY

Remember when home technology was in its infancy? If you’re my age, you were probably in your infancy. Or maybe you weren’t born yet.

In 1950, inventor Emil Mathias built his “Push Button Manor” in Jackson, Michigan.  It had many of the smart home features we have today, although they were primitive in operation. Mr. Mathias could control his windows and window coverings, and door locks. He and his family felt safe and secure with their burglar alarm. They could control music in their home and turn on specific lights. Their home even had a dinner bell control!

“Push Button Manor” was built 12 years before the Jetsons aired on TV. Rosie, the robot,  did everything with an arrogant attitude for George and Jane, their two children Judy and Elroy, and the family dog, Astro. Today’s voice-controlled smart homes just listen, unless we ask them specific questions. This makes me wonder how we’d feel if “Alexa” or  “Siri” developed an attitude like Rosie had.

“House of the Future” in Disneyland

Between 1957 and 1967, Disneyland featured a smart home called “The House of the Future,” designed by architect Marvin Goody for Monsanto. The floor, ceiling and walls were made entirely of plastic. The famous conversation from the 1967 movie “The Graduate” might have been inspired by “The House of the Future:”

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics. There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.

The “House of the Future” kitchen had a state-of-the-art microwave oven. Refrigerated shelves dropped down from the ceiling.  An ultrasonic-wave dishwasher saved water. It worked because the dishes and drinking vessels were plastic. The plastic ceiling panels could be set to various levels for task or mood lighting. A climate control panel heated or cooled the house. It could provide what we know now as aromatherapy, making the house smell like the seashore or a garden of roses. The built-in TV and HiFi hid from view when not in use, and a push-button speaker phones provided hands-free calls.

A SMART HOME WILL HELP YOU NOW

In the 1950s and ’60s, most homeowners didn’t know or care about home technology, but we’ve become so accustomed to a high-tech world,  we forget that our present was defined and designed over 62 years ago! The “smart home” in Disneyland was perfect for that time and location. It was the only one of its kind. Technology has been and is improving and is becoming affordable so your home can now have features that can be easily controlled by your cell phone, pad, computer, or a simple voice command. Are you:

  • Expecting a delivery at your home but no one is there to receive it?
  • Unsure whether you turned on the security system or closed the garage door before you left?
  • Coming back from vacation and want to reset your HVAC system the day before?
  • Confused about what to fix for dinner with food you have in your refrigerator and pantry?

Additionally, do you want to:

  • Turn on music and lights when you’re on your way home from work?
  • See what’s going on in your home while you’re away, or just have fun with your pets?
  • Be alerted if an appliance fails or your home develops a plumbing leak?

SMART HOME FEATURES

These are all possible with technology that’s readily available. Here’s a description of what smart home features can do to make your life easier and more enjoyable:

  • ACCESS

You can control and monitor access to your home with smart door locks, cameras and intercom systems. A camera picture or email shows up on your cell phone to let you know when your children arrive home from school, or when someone rings your doorbell. You don’t have to answer the door in person.

  • AUDIO and VIDEO

You can distribute music and movies throughout your home and hide all of the equipment in a closet. Family and friends can enjoy different types of AV media in different areas of your home at the same time. You have simple control of complex systems, and save money by reducing the number of cable or satellite boxes at every TV. A movie or TV show can be paused in one room while it continues to play in another room. Digital media stores and catalogs your collection; you can sort or filter thousands of titles with instant access.

  • CLIMATE

Building departments have required automatic setback thermostats for many years. They work with a clock, but you have to tell it what time you want the HVAC system to turn on and off. You may have to adjust the clock for daylight saving time. You don’t have to heat or cool every room in your home, because with occupancy sensors, the room can adjust the temperature for a specific activity or the exterior temperature, to reduce the solar gain or loss and save you money on energy bills.   Skylights can open or close and exhaust fans can turn automatically on based on the temperature and humidity. Window treatments can open and close spontaneously for light and privacy, as well as helping to control solar gain or loss.

  • ENERGY CONSERVATION

With an energy monitor, it’s possible to see how your home is performing, to help you save money while you help the environment. There is a range of smart home devices that will show you energy consumption. The most expensive, of course, will break down which appliances are energy hogs, what time of the day you use the most electricity, etc.. Did you ever watch the “Living With Ed” TV series? It was one of my favorite shows, because it was entertaining while I learned about smart home technology.  Ed Begley, Jr. inspired and motivated my husband and me to incorporate and plan for many of the smart home features he already had. He is one of many celebreties who live conservation every day.

  • LIGHTING

This is the major feature that can enhance every activity in your home at any hour of the day or night. Good lighting can help in five important ways:

  1. Create a safe pathway when you come home, walk from room to room, and navigate in each room.
  2. Adjust with activities. A kitchen must have good task light so you can see what you’re doing, and a family room must have sufficient light to play board games, but you don’t need as much light when you’re eating, entertaining, or watching TV.
  3. Reduce eye strain in your home office caused by too much contrast between your monitor and light fixtures in the room.
  4. Save you money when you use dimmable LEDs. Using dimmer switches instead of regular on-off switches reduces your energy consumption and saves the light bulbs that you’re dimming.
  5. Produce a festive atmosphere in your home for the holidays and other celebrations.

My husband and I attended a holiday housewarming party at clients’ newly-completed whole-house remodeling. “Steve” knows more about smart home technology than anyone I’ve met who isn’t in the business of helping others with their smart homes. The focal point of the living room was the smart LED Christmas tree that could be operated from a cell phone. It could change colors and change the speed of twinkling. It added a festive glow to the party!

There are many manufacturers of lighting control that integrate with smart home technology. I’m a long-time fan of Lutron controls, but they can be at or near the top of your investment. It depends on how sophisticated and integrated you want your lighting controls to be. Knowing the features you want (including integration with other smart home devices) will help you find exactly what’s right for your lifestyle and your home.

  • WATER CONSERVATION

Although water conversation is an important part of green technology, there are smart devices to help you water your garden. We just purchased a landscape irrigation tool that won’t turn on the sprinklers if it’s raining, or will give our precious plants an extra drink of water if we have a heat wave. This device can be operated by cell phone, computer, or voice command.  This is smart home technology at its best. It protects our investment in plants and saves time and energy. My husband loves not having to get up at dawn to turn the sprinklers on manually!

SMART HOME ADVICE

You can hire a company to help you turn your home sweet home into a home smart home, or you can transform your home yourself, if you understand how smart technology works and you’re handy with tools. You can make the task easier by breaking it down into smaller pieces. If you’re at the entry level of a smart home, here are expert recommendations:

  • Start with one or two gadgets and build from there as you become familiar with how the products work.
  • Get products with the widest compatibility.
  • Opt for user-friendly, wallet-friendly gadgets from tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Samsung.
  • Sell “mistakes” on Craig’s List or Ebay if something doesn’t fit in, to recoup some of your investment.

HOW SMART DEVICES WORK

While smart home devices can do a lot, they’re really not as smart as you are! A smart home isn’t just about fancy Wi-Fi devices that you control from your cell phone. Don’t get frustrated if things don’t work as smoothly as you want, or were led to believe. There isn’t a single app that controls everything, and the devices may not intertwine seamlessly. As your smart home gets smarter, you’ll find workarounds to get devices to talk to one another so you can have inter-device automations like “When I unlock the door, turn on the lights in the entry and make a path of light to the kitchen.”

All devices that control your smart home have something in common: a radio. Voice assistants are a great buy early in your smart home journey. They give you the flexibility you may desire. It’s reported that 20 million households in the U.S. have voice-control devices. Your voice command is transmitted to the manufacturer’s server. Without this process, voice assistants don’t understand a word you say. The servers and hubs are the brains of your smart home. That’s where the intelligence is, not in the gadgets and not in the apps or physical remote controllers you use. But there is one thing about voice assistants that nags at me, though – this is a personal opinion – that the devices have to be listening, always. Here’s a link to a news report that I saw on NBC news about the security of voice controls: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/hey-alexa-how-secure-are-voice-activated-assistants-you-n824566. An online search for the subject of “security of voice-activated controls” got over 31,000,000 results.

IMPORTANCE OF THE “CLOUD”

What if you want all of your devices to connect to the internet, communicate, take your commands, and send you information? This isn’t science fiction, or rocket science. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a key component of home automation and smart homes, but each additional device in the chain of connection introduces points of failure and chances of lag. A local system will work more quickly than a system that uses the cloud, although not using the cloud may limit what devices you can use. It may prevent voice control which relies on cloud servers to work. Before you start acquiring devices, it’s a good idea to invest valuable time to do research.

SMART HOME IS STILL STUPID

A writer’s personal story about the battle with her smart home might scare you away from technology or verify that this can happen to anyone else but you. Written four years ago by Stacey Higginbotham, the article is still very entertaining and enlightening: “5 Reasons Why The Smart Home is Still Stupid” in the August 15, 2015 issue of Fortune Magazine.

RECAP

Smart homes that were created in the 1950s and ’60s were a dream for a small handful of forward thinkers. We’ve benefitted by the advancements of technology in the past 65-plus years. It’s difficult to think about the future of smart homes in the next 65 years, 2084, just as it was difficult for the Wright brothers to envision that we’d be exploring outer space when they flew their simple airplane in December of 1903. We’ve come a long way, but we have a long journey ahead of us. I hope that technology will be a tool we can use to save and protect our precious home, Earth.

Listen to the 6/25/19 Podcast: “Smart Home Technology”

I can (and will!) help you define your smart home needs and refer you to people who can help you achieve your goals! Contact me today for an initial phone call about your smart home needs.