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6 Home Automation Gifts Perfect for Parents

6 Home Automation Gifts Perfect for Parents

There are many things a modern “smart” home can offer, like added security, but one of the best things they provide is convenience. With home automation, you can stop worrying about trivial duties and spend more time on what’s important.

For instance, the Nest thermostat will change the temperature in your home without your guidance. This saves time and money. It can also turn down the air temperature when you’re on your way home from work, so the house is just the way you like it when you arrive.

If you need gift ideas for your parents, home automation tech is perfect. It can be used to make everyone’s lives easier, safer and ultimately happier.

August Doorbell Cam

What if you could answer your door without even opening it? What if you could communicate with visitors on your terms? That’s what the August Doorbell Cam is for. It syncs with a smartphone, so you can always see who’s at the door, even when you’re not home, and has a one-way camera to record the live feed in case you want to replay a conversation or view it later. You can even speak to people at your door, thanks to two-way communication.

It also syncs up with other smart devices via Wi-Fi – namely, the August Smart Lock. If you have both installed, you can answer the door with the Cam and then unlock the door through the lock. This allows you to let family or friends in while you’re away, or even emergency services.

The home automation comes into play while you’re away. The doorbell can send you alerts and notifications when someone rings it, or even when it detects strange activity. This offers added security and peace of mind.

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Get it: August Doorbell Cam[1] | $149-$199

    August Smart Lock

    There are several different smart locks available, but we chose the August Smart Lock because it pairs nicely with the Doorbell Cam. You can use the Doorbell to see who’s at the door and then you can use the smart lock to let them in – if you deem them trustworthy.

    But a smart lock can do much more than that. It also eliminates the need to carry around keys, because you can just use your smartphone to get into the house. It can also auto-lock if you forget to lock your door after a specified time. That also means it can auto-unlock as you approach, which is super convenient if you have your hands full.

    The Smart Lock keeps a detailed activity log of everyone that comes and goes, so you can see who’s been inside your home at all times. And you can issue digital keys to friends, family and anyone else you trust. The best part is it can sync up with Apple’s HomeKit, and other home automation systems, to keep your entire house in check and operating without input.

    Get it: August Smart Lock[2] | $199-$229

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    Canary

    Modern smart tech allows us to boost security in our homes for relatively affordable prices. Gone are the days where you need to pay for a pricey subscription.

    The Canary is an all-in-one security system that monitors your home and sends you alerts while you’re away – or when you’re home, too. It has a camera that’s also equipped with a night vision sensor, which works alongside the motion detectors. If the Canary detects movement or unusual patterns, it can send notifications and alerts right to your phone.

    This allows you to open a live video feed and see exactly what’s going on. It will record in 1080p HD video and audio, so you can use the record as evidence later if necessary. The Canary is also equipped with a speaker and emergency siren, which you can use to scare off burglars or at least put them on alert. Don’t worry, the Canary is also tamper-proof and the video is stored in the cloud.

    Get it: Canary[3] | $169

      LiftMaster MyQ Garage

      You might not think of the garage as a super high-tech area, but by adding an accessory, like an automatic door opener, it can be just as smart as the rest of your abode!

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      The LiftMaster MyQ Garage system turns any garage door opener manufactured after 1993 into a smart one. This means you can open and close your garage door remotely, all from a smartphone. You can also receive alerts when your garage door opens, or when it’s been open for too long. This is great if you leave the house and forget to close it.

      It works just fine with existing garage door openers, so if you have a custom system, you should be fine too. If your parents don’t have a garage door opener installed yet, Clopay has teamed up with LiftMaster, and can install extra bells and whistles such as automatic openers, remotes, and other accessories. [4]

      Get it: LiftMaster MyQ Garage[5] | $129.99

      Belkin WeMo Switch

      The Belkin WeMo Switch is nothing more than a power switch with Wi-Fi network support. Any devices or powered items you have connected to the switch can be activated remotely from a smartphone. So, if you have a light hooked to it, you can turn it on or off while you’re away. You can do the same for TVs, stereos, computers, fans, consoles and much more.

      If you use it in combination with an app like IFTT or home automation equipment, you can set up some pretty cool scenarios. For example, you could have lights turn on and off throughout the day to make it seem like you’re home. You can also use the plug to turn off power-hungry equipment that you might have left on by accident.

      Get it: Belkin WeMo Switch[6] | $29.99-$39.99

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        iRobot Roomba 650

        Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if my home could clean itself?” Well, certain chores like the dishes or the laundry may never be automated, but vacuuming and sweeping sure can be! The iRobot Roomba 650 is a smart “robot” vacuum that operates out of a charging cradle and is completely automated. It leaves the dock and cleans for an hour or so, before returning to charge back up.

        It can clean hair, dirt and dust from your floors without any input from you. Of course, when the dust bag is full, you still have to empty it – the robot can’t do that itself. Yet. This product has a lot of competition, admittedly, but we chose the Roomba 650 because it’s excellent and it’s affordable.

        The best part about having a robot vacuum is that once you set it up, you can truly leave it alone. It will send alerts and notifications to your phone occasionally, like if it gets stuck. Other than that, you can power it on and just enjoy your clean floors.

        Get it: iRobot Roomba 650[7] | $159.99-$375

        Home Automation

        With these six suggested home automation gifts, you can really turn your home into a smart home. Did we miss your favorite automation gadget? Let us know in the comments!

        Reference

        [1]August: August Doorbell Cam 
        [2]August: August Smart Lock
        [3]Canary: Canary
        [4]Clopay: LiftMaster Garage Door Opener
        [5]Liftmaster: LiftMaster MyQ Home Control
        [6]Belkin: Belkin WeMo Switch
        [7]iRobot: iRobot Roomba 650

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        Megan Wild

        Editor, Freelancer

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        Last Updated on August 15, 2018

        25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

        25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

        Imagine if you could use 5 simple shortcuts while working in Excel, and increase your productivity without wasting time for searching information in huge tables, writing long formulas, and sorting the data.

        Or even better:

        What if you would get 25 useful shortcuts… and each of them could simplify your work, so you could do much more every day?

        You’d definitely feel excited to read about them.

        Today is your lucky day because we are going to share with you in this article 25 great Excel shortcuts you can use in your work every day! This is your lucky chance, so go ahead and become a real professional in Excel without wasting your time.

        How important are Excel shortcuts for you?

        The most effective thing to check out if people really need something is to release a survey and look at the results. So, according to the anonymous survey, 99% of people said Excel shortcuts are critical or important for them.

        In general, there are more than 200 shortcuts in Excel. But when we have analyzed the data about how many shortcuts people know, we got the next results:

        • 26% of people know 10 or fewer shortcuts;
        • 61% of people know 10-50 shortcuts;
        • 10% of people know 50-100 shortcuts.

        As you can see, not so many people know a lot of shortcuts. Probably, some of them never think about increasing their productivity in such a simple way.

        Of course, it depends on how deep you use Excel. Some people use this powerful application just for making simple tables or graphs, others use it for everyday work to count something.

        Most of the accountants and businessmen use much more Excel functions for more complex tasks such as creating VBA macros, managing PivotTables, recalculating huge workbooks, outlining data, etc.

        But even those people who work with Excel every day very close may know a few shortcuts. Needless to say, they can do their job without shortcuts, but it usually takes for them much more time. T

        his sounds not funny, especially if you must finish a huge amount of work urgently. There is a great opportunity for you to increase your productivity in Excel and do your job faster with our useful shortcuts.

        5 Main reasons to learn excel shortcuts

        Many people don’t understand why they should use shortcuts if they can work without them. Of course, if you use Excel twice per year to make a simple table or a graph, it is probably not so important for you to know many shortcuts.

        But if you work in Excel every day, sorting huge tables and managing with tons of data, then shortcuts will help you to reach the next five goals:

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        1. Work efficiently and faster in Excel
        2. Manage big amounts of data easily and fast
        3. Stay calm and concentrated even while doing a tedious job
        4. Make your work accurately and properly without errors
        5. Get a better understanding of Microsoft Excel

        Who can use Excel shortcuts?

        There are a lot of people who can simplify their life with Excel shortcuts, and here are the groups that will definitely love using them:

        • People who work in banks, finance organizations, etc.
        • Businessmen who make tons of various reports and presentations in Excel for meetings and briefings.
        • Students who usually are lazy and impatient to make their homework because they don’t want to waste a lot of time working in Excel.
        • Private entrepreneurs who keep various data in Excel tables.

        Whether you are a student who hates Excel because it seems a time-wasting and boring application, or you are an accountant who must recalculate huge worksheets every day without making errors, we recommend reading and learning these Excel shortcuts to make your work simpler and save some time.

        With these simple but useful tricks, it is so easy to finish your job and get more time for yourself.

        25 Excel shortcuts to increase your productivity

        Here are 25 great Excel shortcuts you should learn and use for work or studying to make your job faster and simpler. Try to use them all and you will realize you were totally blind before while working in Excel:

        1. Format whatever object fast with Ctrl+1

        If you select any object in Excel – a cell, a chart, a chart axis, a drawing object – then press Ctrl+1, and you will get the Properties dialog for the certain object. This shortcut offers a very quick and easy way to format whatever object you’re working with.

        2. Use range names with Ctrol+G or F5 key

        If you use range names (which we strongly recommend to do) and you want to choose the range with a specific name references, press either Ctrl+G or the F5 key, which launches the GoTo dialog.

        If the name is simple, you can click on it in a list in that dialog. But if it’s at all unusual, Excel won’t list it; so you will need to type in the name. Then press OK.

        3. Use a range name in a formula with =sum( and F3

        Suppose you want to use a range name in a formula. For example, you want to sum the Sales range. Enter…

        =sum(

        …and then press F3.

        When you do so, Excel launches the Paste Name dialog. Just choose “Sales” from the list, press the OK button in the dialog, then enter the SUM function’s closing “)” to complete the formula.

        4. Launch Function Arguments dialog easily with Ctrl+A

        Suppose you want to check the help topic for a worksheet function. For example, you want to read about the MATCH function. In a cell, type…

        =match(

        …and then press Ctrl+A, or click the Insert Function (“fx“) button to the left of the formula bar.

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        When you do so, Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog, which might offer all the help you need.

        But if you still want to see the complete help topic, click the blue “Help on this function” hyperlink in the lower-left corner of the dialog. This technique works with all documented Excel functions.

        5. Copy stuff down the column without scrolling with Ctrl+D

        If you added a formula in a new column on the right of a huge dataset, and you want to copy that formula down without scrolling, do these steps:

        • go to the right to the column that has data (the column to the left of the new column with the formula);
        • press Ctrl+Down – to get to bottom;
        • move one cell to the right (with arrow key naturally);
        • press Ctrl+Shift+Up to select the new column, at the top of which is the formula you just created;
        • press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.

        6. Quick access to any function with Alt+

        By customizing the quick access toolbar, you can create simple shortcuts to commands that you would otherwise have to find in the Ribbon tabs, or macros you have created yourself.

        The keyboard shortcut is simply selecting Alt+ (the number of the command you wish to select).

        For example, if you have customized your quick access toolbar to have Calc Sheet, Save, Open. To calculate sheet you would hit Alt+1, for save Alt+2, and for open Alt+3.

        A lot of people are unaware of this useful function, and it’s a great time saver.

        7. Format cells with Ctrl+1

        When you need to format cells, use Ctrl+1. Most people know this as the shortcut for the Format Cells dialog, but you can also use it to format almost anything in Excel, without a care about the state of the ribbon. Try this amazing and simple shortcut!

        8. Choose visible cells with Alt+

        When you need to choose visible cells only – use Alt+. This is the trick to copy only what you see. It is a priceless shortcut when you’re manually hiding rows and columns in the table.

        9. Use filtering

        Filtering – it is a powerful way to slice, dice, and sort through a huge table of information.

        It’s amazingly effective when you’re participating in a meeting to discuss something like a sales forecast, and everyone is looking in real-time at your spreadsheet projected on a screen (or on their monitors).

        To some people, you will be seen as the God of Spreadsheets, and this is not a joke!

        10. Insert or delete column/row easily with the Ctrl key

        Some people waste a lot of time even for simple operations, for example, when they need to insert/delete columns and rows in Excel.

        Use this shortcut to insert: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl+Shift ++.

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        To delete: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl + –.

        11. See formula results with F9

        If you want to check formula results within multiple formulas, highlight the formula and select F9 to see formula result.

        Don’t forget to undo before exiting the formula.

        12. Use ALT+Enter for more text within a cell

        If you want to add a second line of text within a cell, use ALT+Enter.

        13. Use EDATE to move a date on by a full calendar month:

        Here’s how to use EDATE:

        =EDATE(15/01/16,+1) = 15/02/2016 (15th Feb 2016)

        =EDATE (15/01/2016,-2) = 15/11/2015 (15th Nov 2016)

        14. Use EOMONTH to move a date onto the end of the month:

        Here’s how to use EMONTH:

        =EOMONTH(15/01/2016,0) = 31/01/2016 (31st Jan 2106)

        =EOMONTH (15/01/2016,-2) = 30/11/2015 (30th Nov 2015)

        15. Remove spaces with TRIM

        TRIM is a useful function known by few people. It removes any spaces at the beginning of a value. This is useful if you are pulling in values from somewhere else.

        16. Repeat commands with F4 or Ctrl+Y

        In many cases, you may need to repeat your last action. Use F4 or Ctrl+Y; you can repeat many commands like applying the same borders, format, or insert a worksheet again.

        17. Quick access to cells with the Ctrl key and Shift key

        When you need to go to the first or last cell of a worksheet, no matter where you are, use Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End combinations.

        And here is a pleasant bonus for you: add the Shift key to select everything on the way!

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        18. Use Ctrl+ to create a timestamp

        If you need a date stamp and/or a timestamp in your document, there is no need to type a date and time! Use shortcuts Ctrl+ ; (date) Ctrl+Shift+ : (time). It works like a magic and helps to save your time and nerves.

        19. Use autosum shortcut for sum function anywhere

        Autosum shortcut – use Alt =. It is a “magic” shortcut of Excel to automatically insert a sum function.

        You can use this shortcut to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step without wasting your time.

        20. Use data validation

        This is an amazing but underutilized tool in Excel, which can be used for a variety of things:

        • Create dependent drop-down lists;
        • Create drop-down lists;
        • Protect/restrict data input of specific cells (without the need for VBA macros).

        21. Use conditional formatting

        It can be used for various purposes such as color format or cell format of cells, rows or columns based on dependent cell values or formats.

        22. Use formula auditing

        This is a great tool to analyze and trace precedent or dependent cells, check errors and evaluate formulas.

        The “Watch Window” is a feature to keep a snapshot of an area of the spreadsheet, and then move to another area of the workbook – particularly valuable if you’re managing large spreadsheets or don’t have a second screen.

        23. Use Scenario Manager to generate summary outputs of a spreadsheet

        Scenario Manager (under “What-if Analysis”) enables users to generate high-level, summary outputs of a spreadsheet – without the need to replicate the entire workbook.

        It will present multiple scenarios of a spreadsheet in a succinct, high-level summary worksheet.

        24. Use INDIRECT to set up large tables

        INDIRECT makes it easy to set up tables which reference larger tables without a lot of referencing work or cutting and pasting; especially for dynamic spreadsheets.

        25. Use OFFSET for complicated calculations or formulas

        OFFSET can be useful for things like calculating YTD numbers or creating formulas that take data in rows and using in columns.

        The bottom line

        As you can see, when you have a boring or tedious job to do, the best way to do it fast is not looking for a way how to avoid it, but searching for the shortest variant to do it!

        That is why we suggest keeping in mind these Excel shortcuts that will help you to save a lot of time and nerves.

        If it seems hard for you to remember all them, you can print out the list of shortcuts and keep it on your worktable. Use it to search for some help when you need it, and over time, you’ll remember all shortcuts easily.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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