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5 Smart Ways to Make Even the Worst Christmas Movie Enjoyable

5 Smart Ways to Make Even the Worst Christmas Movie Enjoyable

This Christmas malarkey is pretty relentless. The older you get, the faster the 350-odd days before you dig out the Christmas decorations and put up the tree seem to go. Before you know it, what was 12-months of respite feels more like just a couple of months. There’s a week or two of summer, a tiny glimpse of autumn and just a fleeting whiff of spring, before, in your Radio Times television schedule, there it is again – Elf!

Christmas movies, whether you love them or loathe them, will probably always exist. For as long as this planet remains habitable there will be Home Alone; there will be Miracle on 34th Street; and God help us all, there will be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Jingle all the Way.

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So, escape from Ground Hog Day, both literal and metaphorical, is clearly not possible; but at least you can watch Christmas movies in an entirely different way. Welcome everybody, to the smart house, and the gadgets that can transform even the offensively bad Santa with Muscles (starring Hulk Hogan) into a rollicking good time.

1. Summon up a nice warm drink

One of the simplest joys of Christmas, and in fact winter as a whole, has to be a hot, comforting drink after escaping the cold. The TopBrewer will brew your favourite coffee or hot chocolate with a touch of your smartphone. A finger touch keyboard can even be built into your table top to save you the ardour of reaching into your pocket and grabbing your phone, so there’ll be no arguing about who’s turn it is to make the drinks.

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2. Give me popcorn!

Ever wanted to make popcorn in your very own home simply by shouting “make me some damn popcorn”? Well now you can. Using Amazon Alexa and Echo, you can make popcorn with your voice alone, as long as you prep the popcorn machine first of course. And here’s how:

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3. Load up Netflix with the heft of your buttocks

The smart sofa (number 15 on this geek den guide) is not a dab hand at University Challenge kind of smart, but is smart in the way that, once you’ve sat down, you’ll be treated like a king. At this time it’s still very much in the concept stage, but once fully realised, this unassuming sofa will recognise the heft of your buttocks and load up your Netflix account for you. It’ll carry on playing from were you left off and even pause whatever you’re watching while you jump up to grab yourself some mulled wine. Jingle all the way!

4. Answer the door without moving

There are few things worse than settling down for a Christmas film, only for someone to have the audacity to knock on your front door. Thankfully, to spare you the ignominy of having to get up, this new smart lock has been designed that lets you see who is at the door, talk to the visitors through your smartphone, and remotely unlock the door without getting up.

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5. Set the mood with lighting and temperature control

Compared to these new fangled innovations, remote lighting and temperature control can almost be considered old hat. But no self respecting technophile could claim to live in a smart house without this absolute staple. For an added bonus at Christmas time you can also control all of your Christmas lights, so you can switch the Christmas tree light on too or have them all come on automatically when it gets dark and then switch off at bed time. So, dim the lights, nudge the temperature control up just a little, and enjoy that Christmas classic in complete comfort.

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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