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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Edison String Lights For Your Backyard Patio



Edison String Lights For Your Backyard Patio

I recently purchased this brand and type from Amazon and in the process, learned a fair amount about the topic.  I have seen them all my life, but didn’t realize how many variations there were, or how to purchase a quality set that will last. Here is the link:  The brand is AMLIGHT …


Here are some of the features

1.     the lights are 2 feet apart, many brands have lights 4 feet apart (too far for my taste) 
2.     the bulbs are visible filament Edison types, nice low light soft glow, and they shipped 18 bulbs for the 12 slots, so you have spares.  But they last many years I think.
3.     these are commercial strength strings with high quality, waterproof, sockets for the lights
4.     they can be strung end-to-end, up to 10 strings (it says one place, another place it says 2 strings?  I think 10 is more correct).
5.     each bulb has a ring above which can be used to hook it to a gazebo roof or something, or, to string a strong cable wire through to hold the lights up for long distances – they sell the cables on Amazon.  The cables are not visible in magazine photos, but probably many of the nice strings you see are really supported by the nearly invisible cables. 
6.     there are less expensive strings around, but are “home” quality not commercial, and are basically not as nice looking or nearly as long lasting, I chose the good stuff. 

I am very pleased with my first string, and have ordered two more strings to make the entire deck even more pleasant at night.  Fortunately I already had another lighting system in place from 10 years back (the old rope light idea) so I had a very handy water proof receptacle in place, so install was super easy.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Furnace Filters and Dehumidifier Thoughts



Filters are a boring topic, but most families need them, and need them every 90 days.  My house has filter grills, and I use the disposable kind of filters.  Therefore I have to put in about 5 or more filters every 90 days.  Storage isn’t a problem for me, I have a climate controlled attic in my home, but for others, signing up with Amazon for automatic delivery every 6 months or more, might be advisable.

I have found a local hardware store with good prices on filters, and they carry odd sizes.  But I prefer, when possible, a 300 micron pleated filter, usually one by Purolator or Filtrete. Sometimes purchased at WalMart, but they often don’t have my (odd) sizes. And they are very pricey there.  These days they run about $5 to $10 a filter (on line), outrageously expensive for such a mundane, high production, product. I guess shipping is a high cost, since they take up a great deal of space in a shipping van or UPS.  Even though, of course, they are light weight.

I even saw a so-called high performance filter on Amazon that was $18 for a single disposable filter in my 10 x 30 size. That’s just ridiculous.

I use a portable dehumidifier in summer, and that helps keep the air clean and nice as well.  After trying many brands (I have owned quite a few brands over the years), my current favorite is Frigidaire from Lowes or Home Depot (or on line from Amazon).  It has a lifetime filter than can be washed easily, so that helps as well.  By dropping humidity, the house feels cooler, and thus saves on Air Conditioning run times (setting a few degrees higher temp). 

My most recent purchase of the dehumidifier was from this link.

On the topic of energy savings and home comfort, I have slowly replaced most of my normal light bulbs with LED’s. Finding the right ones has been a slow Easter Egg hunt, as some brands are too expensive, some put out ugly light, and some are not as bright as the replacement.  But others are even brighter than the bulb they are supposed to replace.  Lately a great find was a WalMart branded 40 watt bulb, with warm light, and very bright, can’t really tell it from the old incandescent bulbs it replaced. The nice warm light was not yellow tinged either. And price was very low, a few dollars or less in-store, and even less in a big box of identical product containing 30 each. I found my big box of bulbs on EBay. Quite an accident to discover what I wanted there. I have fixtures that needed a total of 15 , 40 watt bulbs. This should save both heat build up and energy in summer, and energy in winter.  



Spreadshare – A New Concept



Share your exciting website finds -- for personal use, or to help you start up business or established business. By posting a spread sheet you have built with great "finds".

I have just started to look at this, but recommend you explore it if you are interested.

I suppose people submit spreadsheets that list URL's or links to a helpful website on their favorite topic – travel ?  entrepreneur? or building a “start up business”.  On their spreadsheets they have topics related with links to the appropriate web tools on those topics.

Here are two I have admired this morning… one on travel, the other on building a start-up business (possibly a web type business).

Aids for travel and related

Aids for a start up business

Here is one I found on my first drill=down look – I would bet it could benefit those with e-commerce websites, or other sites.

Please post any usefulness you find in these spreadsheet aids so others can benefit.  Thanks.  Dale

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Amazon Echo Show -- coming in June




Echo Show to be released in June.  This is Amazon Echo with a screen.

1.     The biggest news is the possibility that it will allow users (owners) to do something like Skype calls between Echo Show devices, so, it will behave something like a free video phone call. It could offer something a bit easier and different from doing the same via iPad or iPhone or Android. A substitute for FaceTime, for example.  But, unlike the phone, it would be tethered to Wi-Fi, which should make it more reliable.

2.     “With the addition of a touchscreen, Amazon said that users will be able to watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, check on security cameras, swipe through photos, view weather forecasts, make to-do and shopping lists, and more. Far-field voice recognition, eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation allow users to be heard from anywhere in the room, as well as over loud music coming from the Echo Show itself.”  (from the website link above0

3.     $230 is the projected price, I think, per advance articles.  Less than the cost of some iPad models. 


I enjoy my Echo Dot – but don’t use it properly, or nearly enough.  I find it is much like Siri --- and I have Siri with me all the time, not just in one location.

A friend of mine has a full Echo, and enjoys the music features, and a few other features.  Another friend uses the Echo to add things to his shopping list – which then appears on his phone … segregated by stores.  For examples, he could say “Alexa, add pork and beans to my shopping list at Trader Joes”.   And, next time he is in Trader Joes, he can use that app on his phone to see what is on the list ---  saves writing down, and, if your hands are not clean, it is much easier to speak what you need, than start (or add to) a paper list.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Apple Pay Revisited



Have you subscribed to Apple Pay?  Would love to hear your experience.

It is very secure, probably more so than using a credit card.  It is fairly simple to use, and I think useful for small transactions like buying a coke at McDonalds. I am going to sign up soon, but first wanted to see if it would be accepted at stores I use. So I researched some of the stores that accept it now. Fast food places, grocery stores, and a few other places would be useful, since I always use my credit card in fast food places now, to avoid carrying change in my pocket.  Here is a list of useful stores that I think might be a benefit for me.  Disney does accept Apple Pay in the parks, but I don’t often go to the parks. Wouldn't it be nice if parking meters, nationwide, accepted it?  and parking garages?  And toll booths?

A few of the Fast Food places that accept Apple Pay :

Au Bon Pain*
Baskin-Robbins*
Chick-fil-A

Coca-Cola vending
El Pollo Loco*
Firehouse Subs
Fuddruckers
Jamba Juice
Dunkin’ Donuts
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Johnny Rockets*
Luby’s
McDonald’s
Panera Bread

Peet’s Coffee
Rubio’s
Subway
White Castle


A few of -Grocery stores and drug stores that accept Apple Pay:

BI-LO
Shop ‘n Save
Trader Joe’s
Walgreens

Wegmans
Whole Foods Market
Winn-Dixie


Gas stations that accept Apple Pay

Chevron
Chevron Extra Mile
Texaco
ExxonMobil (through the Speedpass+ app)



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How To Escape From A Car In Water




This New York Times story, April 2017,  you might never need, but if you do, this is valuable advice.

If your cars goes in water (and many do every year) :

1.     do not open the door
2.     the electric windows will work after it hits the water, run down the window
3.     go out the window fast  -- within 60 seconds of hitting the water
4.     put out children first, oldest child first, then younger
5.     stand on top of the car if it is floating – THEN call 911
6.     survival depends on your doing this in this order, do not call 911 from inside the car, you don’t have time.  They won’t respond fast enough.
7.     some cars, like minivans, might float for 10 minutes but most will not
8.     your chances of survival are slim if you stay in the car -- or open the door


Monday, May 1, 2017

Bannish Wi Fi Dead Zones In Your Home or Office



https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/technology/personaltech/mesh-network-vs-router.html    New story in New York Times Newspaper about Mesh devices

Banishing dead zones from your home with a mesh network is not news for some, but others are not yet aware that it is a trend and system that is better, and "here to stay", so to speak.

Mesh systems are getting more and more news stories.  Google and others have products out to solve a long standing problem. See links below.

1.     Wi Fi signals don’t penetrate brick walls and other things very well
2.     When Wi Fi signals are weak, devices might still work, but be aggravatingly slower.
3.     some Mesh Networks like Google have iPhone apps to adjust them easily
4.     Mesh systems are much more esthetic than multiple routers in a home
5.     they are now recommending Mesh system in all homes, not just large ones
6.     switching between mesh broadcasters is instant and always with the strongest one, that’s not the case with Wi-Fi “extenders” or even setting up a second router in a more distant part of a house
7.     the mesh networks automatically “hop” the signal around the home, some speed can be lost in this, but Orbi brand delivered the fastest and best results “overall” of the 3 brands tested.
8.     most users love their mesh system, I know one person who said it greatly improved coverage and performance of all the wi-fi devices in their home.

I suspect that these Mesh systems use a different frequency than Wi=Fi to send the signal with more clarity and speed through the more dense walls and distances.  Then, it re-broadcasts the Wi-Fi signal at the remote spots much more complete and stronger than the weaker Wi-Fi signal (which I think broadcasts a different, less efficient frequency). 

Here are the 3 most popular brands of these devices :


ORBI – product


Google System Meshing devices (set of 3)


EERO – the original inventor of the Mesh system, the other two above copied it quickly, probably using similar frequencies, I am not sure.