Want to make your home smarter?

Setting up a smarthome is becoming easier every month with new, cheaper devices coming into the market regularly. At our place, I have installed a Google Home (3 in fact as they are so cheap) with some power control devices and the whole family can use them to make our lives easier.

Here’s a selection of some of the things we can use voice control to manage now

  • Lights. Some are grouped together so we can just say for example ‘turn the lounge lamps off’.
  • Outside bore pump – this one is really handy as I often forget to turn it off before closing up the garage which is where the switch is for it
  • Water feature – similar to the bore, but this one has been set on a timer so it switches on in the morning and off in the evening
  • Bedroom TV – this can be switched on from anywhere in the house and I have experimented with the Google Home ‘Routines’ which are ways of doing multiple things at once, so in this case we can say ‘Ok Google, bedtime’ and she (we use the female Aussie accent voice) says ‘Ok’ and she turns the TV on, sets the volume to 20% and plays a relaxing YouTube relaxing music video for us!

Google Home can also be used for any of the Google searches you can do with your phone or computer too – so a few of examples of this are:

  • Hey Google, set a timer for 8 minutes (great for boiling hard boiled eggs)
  • Hey Google, whats 325 degrees in centigrade?
  • Hey Google where did I put my passport (you tell her to remember stuff)
  • Hey Google, play Abbey Road by the Beatles (she’ll play it using Spotify)
  • Hey Google, what’s the capital of Peru? (handy for grandkids homework!)

So, as you can see it isn’t just a gimmick and you soon get used to talking to the grey speaker in the kitchen as if it were a family member. We try hard to be patient with her when she misunderstands us or says ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you with that yet’ or similar.

The system I have setup can also be accessed using a phone app when we are away too, so if I’m not sure if I have turned the pump off for example, I can check this and turn it off. It’s handy when we are away for a spell too because we can set the lights to turn on and off to make it seem someone is home.

If you are interested in finding out more about setting up a smarthome system just let me know and I can advise you of how to go about it and assist with the setup process. It can be surprisingly easy to do and not that expensive also.



Ensure You Keep Everything From The Old PC


Moving from a computer that has been in use for sometimes a decade (in the case of many XP users!) to a new one can be a little stressful. My customers often have stored their files in the weirdest places and they all say without fail, ‘oh, just copy the photos across, I don’t need much else’. To which I always reply ‘are you sure?’. Their answer then is always the same – that they may have some other stuff but they aren’t sure…

I offer to remove the hard drive from the old system and install it into an external USB drive box for them. That way, they have ALL their files safely stored Continue reading

Are desktops and notebooks doomed?

There are many people – me included – who feel very comfortable using desktop or notebook computers (laptops to use the old term), but if you were to believe all the hype from the press and sellers of computing devices in general, you’d think we are all moving to tablets.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s no doubt that for many tasks like quickly checking emails, browsing the ‘net, watching YouTube videos, playing games or keeping up with news – a tablet like an iPad or Android device is fantastic. The convenience of a light, fast booting touch screen tablet can’t be faulted and for many travellers, it beats a notebook hands down especially when you consider the much longer battery life. Continue reading

Microsoft Surface Tablets available tomorrow!

Microsoft Surface TabletIf you have been following the story about the new tablet computers made by Microsoft called ‘Surface’ here’s the details on dates and pricing for Australian customers.

Microsoft will have three different Surface versions available tomorrow. They will all run Windows ‘RT’ (more on what that means later) – a 32GB version for $559, a 32GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover for $679 and a 64GB version with a black Touch Cover which will be priced at $789. Continue reading

DIY Computer Repairs

I come from a time, as many who live at the Heads do, when most blokes (and some ladies) did their own car repairs.

DIY Computer repairsHours spent lying on cold concrete floors battling with unyielding bolts, swearing and covered in grease and dirt. Fixing the Holden or Ford us gave much satisfaction and the money (sometimes) saved helped the family budget. Once chips – silicon ones, not the dead remnants of lunch at the beach – found their way into cars, things changed. Using a strobe light to set the timing and tinkering with carburettors soon became impossible when they were replaced by electronic ignition and fuel injection and we had to rely on workshops with the right gear to do the specialised work for us. Continue reading

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