Sound decisions

Choosing the home audio system that’s right for you

Great sound is a key part of any decent home entertainment setup, and these days it’s pretty easy to find various systems that will give you fuller range and more volume than your TV’s speakers or your phone’s headset.

But if you’re looking to kick it up a few notches and go for higher-quality audio, there are some important points to consider.

First and most importantly, is your top priority music or home theatre? You might think, “Hey, sound is sound, right?” But the sonic demands of music and movies are quite different. (more…)

Read More

Safe and sound

Smart alarms provide connectivity and peace of mind 

A smart home needs to be a connected home, but the fact that a home is connected doesn’t necessarily make it smart. When it comes to safety, though, there really is a new level of intelligent connectedness available in today’s generation of smart smoke alarms.

At their most basic, and cheapest, they can alert you remotely via a mobile app when an alarm is activated. In fact, a device like the Roost Smart Battery can smarten up any standard, functioning smoke detector – as long as it’s battery-powered or has a battery backup – for about $60. This deceptively simple device is a lithium nine-volt battery with a Wi-Fi chip and a microphone that “hears” your alarm.

Not only will you get an alert when the alarm is activated, you’ll also get one when the battery needs replacing. No more annoying low-battery chirps, and yes, you can just swap in any standard 9-volt cell when it’s time.

(more…)

Read More

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.

(more…)

Read More

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.”

(more…)

Read More

Connected appliances

miles

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.

(more…)

Read More