Productivity gains

Working from home is becoming the new normal for many Canadians

Working from home has become an increasingly common employment situation for many Canadians.

It’s not only the self-employed who are running home offices. Many larger companies are relaxing their attitudes toward what’s still quaintly called “telecommuting.”

As usual, Alberta is way ahead of the curve, with 34 per cent of businesses in our province offering employees some degree of opportunity to work from home, according to a recent BMO survey. B.C. came in second at 26 per cent.

The advantages of working from home when possible are well documented, from increased productivity to reduced traffic on the roads. Maintaining a functional, modern home office isn’t necessarily intuitive for everyone, but a bit of planning will help avoid some of the potential pitfalls.

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Future ready

milesStaying one step ahead of the consumer technology bubble

“Everything you see here today will be totally obsolete in four years.”

Those words of wisdom came from Bill Gates, spoken to Alberta-based technology commentator Steve Makris just before Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft.

“Count on everything changing every few years,” said Makris, whose reviews and analysis of consumer technology can be found in Postmedia newspapers, on Global TV and at techuntangled.ca.

“The cycle of technology, even smart technology, arriving to consumers and disappearing altogether is getting shorter.”

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Connected appliances

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Devices that allow you to monitor everything, from cooking progress in your Crock-Pot down to the forkful of food you just ate

Chances are at some point in the past five or six years you’ve heard the phrase, “the Internet of things.” In some industrial tech circles it’s even being shortened to “IoT” these days.

Sounds cool and acronym-y, right? And like a lot of the buzzwords that propagate online today, you have to wonder sometimes if the people using it even know what it means.

I’m going to talk about kitchen appliances in a minute here, but because connected appliances are prime examples of the Internet of things in action, let’s get clear on the term first.

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No rain? No problem

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Gardening technology can automate the watering of your garden and can even tell you when your plants need nutrients

When it comes to gardening, there are three kinds of people. First, there are those who have zero interest in getting their hands dirty. They wouldn’t know a hosta from a hydrangea, and are happy with a house full of artificial plants.

Then there are the hard-core green thumbs. They start flowers and vegetables indoors in March. Their favourite channel is HGTV, and they listen avidly to radio call-in shows whenever gardening is the topic. Their idea of a perfect winter afternoon is hanging out in a garden centre greenhouse.

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Roof Positive

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With a long list of ecological and economic benefits, green roofs are picking up in popularity

Imagine looking down on an urban centre from above and seeing nothing but verdant green. Stark rooftops are now overgrown with grasses, shrubs and trees. Here and there, sunlight glints off small ponds. The outlines of streets and roads are just visible through the greenery.

This may sound like a vision of a post-apocalyptic future in which nature is reclaiming abandoned cities. But in fact, it’s a modern technology that proponents of green roofing would love to see become a widespread reality. The sooner the better.

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