No Place Like Smart Home for the Holidays

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Genius Gift-Giving

In case you haven´t picked up on the dramatic soundtrack shift in every public space, we have officially entered the most wonderful time of the year!

Of course, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is getting great gifts–we all love it, admit it to yourself–and so if you´re looking to send a certain someone a nice gift box for entertaining you with all these wonderful newsletters week in and week out, CNET has compiled a list of outstanding options…sharing it with you is just another service I am happy to provide.

I suppose you could also just send something special to a valued client if you want to make your gratitude a bit more selective.

Living in 2025

It´s a balmy 70 degrees here in SoCal today, but for my East Coast readers winter is ramping up right on schedule…seems like a perfect opportunity to make the home you´ll be spending a lot of time in over the coming months a little smarter. 

Smart TVs have exploded in popularity as the quality and quantity of streaming services have steadily risen, but if you have an older set there´s no reason for an expensive upgrade. A $30 Roku device transforms your old flatscreen into a lean, mean, streaming machine with access to everything from live TV and sports through YouTube TV along with free options such as Pluto TV that deliver dozens of channels you´ll recognize from that $200 monthly cable bill.

These WiFi enabled-thermostats I picked up from Amazon made for another easy smart home upgrade. I use them for timing the heat to go up when I get home and go down when I leave the house, which should offer plenty of utility for folks living on the wrong side of the country as well.

Like any reputable geek, the model for my home is the bridge of Starship Enterprise, and voice controls bring me one step closer to the ideal. Recently we have been experimenting with these Caseta wireless light switches that offer power and dimming functions via voice control, remote, mobile app, or even the old fashioned way (15 miles uphill both ways). Gotta say, few things make the future feel more real than verbally bossing your house around.

Naturally, all these fantastic innovations will require some analog expertise, and TaskRabbit has been amazing for finding qualified people to hook it all up. With this same-day service, you can send your whole home 5 years forward in time over a single afternoon, and probably for less than you think.

Microsoft Edge: An Underdog Story

By now it seems like the debut of every big Microsoft product follows a similar script. A flawed product comes through the curtain to a raucous round of boos–Windows 10 comes to mind–and the stained glass squad just keeps plugging away in the programming department until hearts and minds gradually change.

The story arc of Microsoft Edge is no different. After making its appearance to lackluster reviews, the OS is slowly gaining ground on Chrome after dozens of previous iterations. I was definitely one of its early detractors, but with new features including ¨sleeping tabs¨ to maximize performance and an intelligent startup sequence that keeps your most frequently used apps in a state of readiness to improve boot times, it looks like Edge is finally taking a steady-handed aim at the throne of Chrome.

Guess the 88th time’s the charm.

The Last Word

Well that certainly feels like a full week of geek, wouldn´t you say? Thanks as always for taking time out of your busy routine for another inspired installation of Brad´s Blog, I take every week you don´t send me to the spam folder as a compliment. If all goes to plan I´ll be back around in less than a week´s time, and here’s hoping I find you even more fulfilled and productive by then!

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