Articles in Personal Tech

Home Automation Part 4: Phillips Hue Starter Pack, Friends of Hue Bloom Lamp, and LightStrip

Friends of Hue LightStrip mounted under the cabinet (set to red)

In the fourth part of our Home Automation series, we now look at a very specific application: lighting.  The first new piece of gear that I acquired for this was the Phillips Hue Starter Pack.
This system provides wireless control over the color and intensity of household lighting using special Phillips LED bulbs, a hub, and an app.  At first, I thought it would be just a toy, but the system …

Home Automation Part 3: SmartThings Know and Control Your Home Kit


In our continuing series on home automation, we now turn to specific products that centralize and automate control of lighting, doors, appliances and other devices, making life more convenient, energy efficient, and comfortable.  Today we’ll take a look at SmartThings’ Know and Control Your Home Kit.
While the concept of home automation is nothing new, practical solutions are only recently beginning to gain traction and popularity.  The SmartThings Know and Control …

Mobile Hotspot Rentals: How to Stay Connected While Traveling


Today, more so than ever before, there is an expectation that your circle of acquaintances will remain connected, regardless of what time zone one may be in.  Connected to what, I hear some of you cry.  Well, to the Internet, of course, the tangle of wires and cables and routers and switches that enables your reading these words right now.
The idea of ubiquitous connectivity is not new.  Well before everyone …

Braven 850 Bluetooth Speaker – Review


How does a product stand out in a market that is already overflowing with devices that perform the same functions?  In the case of the high-end portable Bluetooth speaker market, you dial in gorgeous industrial design, superb sound quality, long battery life, and the ability to jump start myriad devices.
A futuristic-looking Bluetooth-equipped speaker with an outer shell of aircraft-grade aluminum, the Braven 850  also functions as a portable electronic device …

Dyson AM06 Desk Fan – Review


With winter long gone and summer temperatures fast approaching, people are coming home anxious to cool off, and a desk fan is bound to help. For those who believe that it is sometimes better to be seen and not heard, a quiet desk fan may be an even more desirable solution.
James Dyson, a British industrial designer who is perhaps best known for his bagless vacuum cleaner, is a pioneer in …

LoungeBuddy Airline Lounge Locator App – Review

Air Canada's arrivals lounge at London-Heathrow

For frequent travelers, the most important thing next to getting one’s preferred seat on the plane is having a few minutes to relax and check e-mail in an airline lounge before or after a flight.  If you have a long layover, finding the “right” lounge becomes critical.
Enter LoungeBuddy, a travel app that locates and recommends airline lounges at specific airports based on user-defined criteria.
Setting up LoungeBuddy is simple.  First …

How to Build Your Own ‘Internet of Things’ – Part I


If you haven’t come across the term “Internet of Things,” don’t worry. You will.
The term refers to taking everyday objects, such as light bulbs or door locks, and giving them network connectivity through which they can be controlled.  But it doesn’t stop there – companies are actively developing standards and platforms that enable users to turn on and off lights, unlock doors, close shades, play music, and more – all …