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Secure Home Automation Systems for Different Lifestyles

Secure Home Automation Systems for Different Lifestyles

As more home automation systems hit the market, customers continue to adopt the new technologies. More than a quarter of all Americans and nearly half of millennials own at least one smart home product, and 87% of people who have smart home products say these items make their lives easier. Within the large market of home automation systems made for the average American, there are several products that are ideal for specific lifestyles, from retirees to families with young children.

Pet Lovers

As a working parent of pets, you’re faced with the same tough decision every day: stick your pets outside in the yard — where there’s potential harm — or keep them locked inside and risk them making a mess.

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With electronic and magnetic smart doors from PetSafe, you can let your pets go in and out as they please without compromising the safety of your home. The smart door connects with a smart collar that holds a key. When the door reads the key’s unique signal, it will unlock for your pet to go through the flap. Once the smart door no longer senses your pet’s key, the flap locks back into place. The key is programmed to let pets wearing the connected collars use the door, so stray animals or burglars can’t enter through the PetSafe door. With this smart pet door, you can let your pets leave the house day or night, whether or not you’re home, and feel confident that your house is secure.

College Students

Life as a college student is like a four-year juggling act; you are balancing a million different projects at once. When you’re preparing last minute for chemistry class, you may accidentally leave the hot plate on in your apartment or forget to turn off a lamp in your dorm.

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The Belkin WeMo family of simple and customizable products makes it easy to remotely control and automate your daily tasks. The WeMo Insight Switch turns any electronic product into a smart device that you can control from anywhere. You can also use connected Belkin devices, from smart coffeemakers to security cameras to lightbulbs. Once your devices are connected, you can use WeMo’s app to remotely turn your lights on and off, set your coffeemaker to brew, monitor your living space, and more. With Belkin WeMo, you can boost your dorm or apartment security and simplify a few of college’s many daily tasks.

People Who Live Alone

Living alone has its perks. You can set the thermostat to your preferred temperatures, and your place can be as clean or messy as you want. But, sometimes it can be unsettling to come home alone late at night or after you’ve been away on vacation.

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Smart home security cameras, such as the Nest Cam, can help provide peace of mind and comfort with the knowledge that technology is watching over your home when you’re there and when you’re away. Thanks to advanced Night Vision, the Nest Cam provides 24/7 live streaming. The motion and sound detectors are smart enough to distinguish pets and background noises from irregular movements and strange sounds. Once the camera picks up movement or sound that’s out of the ordinary, you’ll immediately receive an alert on your smartphone. With a smart security camera in each room, you can have a second pair of eyes and ears in your home — all while enjoying life without a roommate.

Young Families

Whether the children are leaving for school or coming home from soccer practice, they’re constantly in and out of the house. There’s a good chance that your children will occasionally forget to lock the door or will lock themselves out.

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Smart locks can eliminate these safety risks. The Yale Keyless Deadbolt lock enhances the security of your front door and allows you to control your locks remotely from anywhere. Instead of physical keys, each family member is assigned a unique user code. You can add up to 25 user codes, which is a great feature if you regularly have friends or family stay over at your house. Provide guests with user codes that you can delete when they leave instead of making copies of your keys. You can also enable an automatic re-lock function, which is a great security feature when you have children who forget to lock the front door.

Retirees

The retired life is meant to be full of relaxation and enjoyment. You don’t want to worry about the safety of your home when you’re traveling or visiting family and friends. As a retiree, the ideal home technology is simple to automate and centered on safety.

Out of all the home automation hubs on the market, Samsung SmartThings has several features ideal for those who want to “set it and forget it.” Like other smart home hubs, you can control your home — from appliances to security cameras — all from one app on your smartphone. The SmartThings app also has features like Daily Routine and Slip & Fall that can be invaluable when older family members come for a visit. Daily Routine alerts you if someone deviates from a daily routine — whether it’s that the housekeeper has arrived early or that a caregiver is late — and Slip & Fall will alert you if an older relative slips and falls in any room monitored by a smart sensor. There are many other ways to customize your SmartThings hub and app so your home and family members stay connected and safe.

There’s a smart technology solution for every lifestyle, from home security cameras to intelligent pet doors. However you choose to live, you can use home automation systems to improve the security of your home and the simplicity of your daily tasks.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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