Smart Home Solutions

Whilst a holiday break brings a well-deserved sense of relaxation to individuals and their families, you do leave your home vulnerable. Considering that more and more families are turning nuclear due to numerous socioeconomic reasons, implementing smart home solutions that conveniently let you monitor your place of residence whilst you enjoy your holidays is a must.

From the homeowner’s perspective, an ideal holiday home monitoring solution should be convenient to install, simple to operate from a remote place, have a short response time during untoward events, and most importantly, minimize the probability of burglaries. Only when all the above parameters are met, the home monitoring system can real sense of security into the minds of the family when they are on holiday.

Well-engineered and intuitive smart home solutions feature a master panel, also known as a control hub, which remains wireless connected to a host of devices ranging from motion detectors, door alarm units, wireless smoke detectors, IP video cameras, and remote light switches. This control hub can be configured to be operated by your smart phones, tablets, laptops, and remote PCs using software applications specific for that device.

As a result, such a plug-and-play functionality provides homeowners simplicity to control and monitor critical peripheral devices. One most important feature of smart home automation solutions is that you receive push notifications on your data-enabled smartphone in response to events, including motion being detected, door getting unlocked and smoke being detected. However, one important point to note is that these devices require an active wireless data connection when you are away from home.

For extended flexibility, intuitive home monitoring solutions also give an option to receive text alerts in addition to web-based push notifications. Besides requiring no internet connection, these phone text alerts can be configured to be sent to more than one recipient. Accordingly, when you add your friends/neighbors to the ‘text alert’ list, they can take the necessary action whilst you are away with your family on holiday.

Whilst push notifications and text alerts are responsive methods to notify the homeowners when certain events take place, modern home automation systems also provide preventive security. These include being able to constantly keep a check on your house via the IP camera connected to the central hub. In case any unexpected movement is detected outside your house, you can immediately notify your neighbors or the police. Alternatively, you can schedule the light timers to automatically switch on and off for a predetermined length of time to give the impression that someone is at home.

I Just Learned That Snapchat Can Be Hacked

I was looking around on the internet the other day and I ran across this article which was talking about the top ten snapchat hack programs. I was surprised that this sort of thing was openly available, so I tried to research how the laws looked at something like that. Obviously technology is always going to be in front of the law, there is always going to be some new thing that is not quite covered by existing laws. At the same time laws about electronic eavesdropping vary a lot from state to state. The main concept that you find when you look into these things is ownership and that makes a lot of sense when you think about it. For example if you record a conversation it makes a huge difference where you do it. Specifically something that would be illegal in another person’s home, might be legal in your own home. Continue reading →

Old Metal Brought to Life

I get a lot of ideas from the do it yourself channels on a video sharing site. People take scrap parts and make all kinds of creations. I had the idea of making a walking mechanical dinosaur just for fun. I looked at some scrap metal prices and bought some sheets to complete my project. I had a design planned out on paper of how I wanted the dinosaur to look. Coming up with the frame for the dinosaur was easy, but figuring out how to place the electronic components on the inside was a harder task. Everything had to be aligned just right for the dinosaur to be able to walk without falling over.

I scavenged some motors from devices that I found at the thrift store. People get rid of old printers all the time, and the store sells them for a cheap price. The same goes for old VCRs, since people mostly stream their movies over the Internet and don’t need them anymore. Continue reading →

Enjoy a Stress-Free Holiday Using Smart Home Solutions

Whilst a holiday break brings a well-deserved sense of relaxation to individuals and their families, you do leave your home vulnerable. Considering that more and more families are turning nuclear due to numerous socio-economic reasons, implementing smart home solutions that conveniently let you monitor your place of residence whilst you enjoy your holidays is a must.

From the homeowner’s perspective, an ideal holiday home monitoring solution should be convenient to install, simple to operate from a remote place, have a short response time during untoward events, and most importantly, minimize the probability of burglaries. Only when all the above parameters are met, the home monitoring system can instil a real sense of security into the minds of the family when they are on holiday.

Well-engineered and intuitive smart home solutions feature a master panel, also known as a control hub, which remains wirelessly connected to a host of devices ranging from motion detectors, door alarm units, wireless smoke detectors, IP video cameras, and remote light switches. This control hub can be configured to be operated by your smart phones, tablets, laptops, and remote PCs using software applications specific for that device.

As a result, such a plug-and-play functionality provides homeowners simplicity to control and monitor critical peripheral devices. One most important feature of smart home automation solutions is that you receive push notifications on your data-enabled smartphone in response to events, including motion being detected, door getting unlocked and smoke being detected. However, one important point to note is that these devices require an active wireless data connection when you are away from home.

For extended flexibility, intuitive home monitoring solutions also give an option to receive text alerts in addition to web-based push notifications. Besides requiring no internet connection, these phone text alerts can be configured to be sent to more than one recipient. Accordingly, when you add your friends/neighbours to the ‘text alert’ list, they can take the necessary action whilst you are away with your family on holiday.

Whilst push notifications and text alerts are responsive methods to notify the homeowners when certain events take place, modern home automation systems also provide preventive security. These include being able to constantly keep a check on your house via the IP camera connected to the central hub. In case any unexpected movement is detected outside your house, you can immediately notify your neighbours or the police. Alternatively, you can schedule the light timers to automatically switch on and off for a predetermined length of time to give the impression that someone is at home.

Smart home solutions can offer you and your family peace of mind when you are away from home.

Conserving Natural Resources With Green Home Solutions

The need to conserve natural resources and energy has raised the awareness all across the globe to practice simple eco-friendly improvements in the home. Green home solutions have always been there but not being utilized for quite a while. People tend to look for solutions outside, where in fact, there are many of them within the four corners of the home.

Green home solutions do not necessarily mean revamping your house from the roof down to the foundation. It is advisable to start by reusing or recycling the items that could have been thrown away such as appliances, large furniture and building materials.

One of the basic green home solutions that you can implement and has a big impact in conserving is recycling water. By upgrading your home’s piping system, you can reuse gray water from your washing machine and dishwater, reduce your consumption and wastage of gallons of water every day. Use gray rinse water to wash up your lawn and to flush toilets in your home. You may also have a reservoir for rain water which you can use for the same purpose.

Whatever green home solutions you use, green energy solutions always complement them. These two make a good pair especially in conserving electricity, minimizing pollution and costs. It is ideal to use renewable energy if you have plans of implementing green energy to power your home. Some of the best natural sources of energy that can be used and reused without resulting to drastic effects on the planet are solar, wind and hydro electric energy.

It is best to use sustainable building materials for your green home so you too can help protect the planet. Instead of using oak and other expensive and already depleting hardwood products, it is best to switch to alternative wood products. Bamboo is a species of wood that can grow quickly and do not leave damaging results.

Maximum levels of natural resources such as air and sunlight can be utilized when planning and constructing new homes. Make sure that your home has enough windows and doors where these natural elements can penetrate through.

No matter what green home solutions you’ll use, it is important that you implement them to help reduce the harmful results of human activities on the planet. And starting at home is the ideal way to encourage family members to help out, become aware, and spread the word.

Notable Carpet Cleaning Home Solutions

With high costs of living nowadays, having professionals clean your carpet can be too much for a homeowners’ budget. This is why carpet cleaning home solutions is considered by many as the next best alternative they have to remove those stubborn dirt and stains.

Your carpet can be a pool of messy stuff especially with kids and pets around the house. Even if you try to be as tidy and as neat as possible, you will still end up with dirt on your carpet. This is inevitable. The best thing you could do is accept this fact and look for solutions that would quickly help you out of this problem. Believe or not, it is actually the dirt that gets trap on your carpet that reduces their life expectancy. This is why the importance of have your carpets clean cannot be stressed enough.

There are a number of do-it-yourself home solutions that can be bought in local grocery stores or DIY shops. You can have a look around and see what your neighborhood store has to offer. Carpet cleaning techniques usually involve application of foam, use of dry methods, shampoo, and even the use of steam to remove dirt and stains.

However, if you find these over the counter products still expensive and would settle for real home solutions then start reading stuff about carpets, dirt, and stains. Specific stains need specific solutions. Not all dirt and stains can be removed by a single home-concocted solution.

For example, if you have tried shampooing your carpet before and have dried out shampoo remains on your carpet, these can be removed by a simply applying a mixture of vinegar and water onto the carpet. However, the technique starts with you applying warm water on the carpet to reactivate the shampoo. Then apply the mixture of water and vinegar, usually a cup of vinegar per 2 1/2 gallons of water would be enough, on the carpet’s surface. The vinegar would pull out the old shampoo and clean the carpet.

For removing stains, you need to be a little patient. First thing that you need to remember is that to never, never rub stains on your carpets. You are doing more harm than good by doing so. Rubbing would only spread the stain. What you should do is blot the area with various cleaning solutions instead of rubbing it with brush or cloth.

When removing food stains from your carpet, shaving cream would work well. Apply shaving cream on the stained areas and let is set for about 15 minutes or so. Afterward, you need to rinse the cream with a vinegar and water solution. You will find that the cream would have removed the stain. You could re-apply the cream if you can still see some stains remaining.

If, however, food stains are not removed well by shaving cream try using conventional brake cleaners. Get a piece of cloth, apply a small amount of break cleaner on the cloth and start blotting the stain on the carpet. Break cleaners contain some chemicals that are used by commercial carpet cleaners that is why they are effective. Do not pour break cleaners on the carpet, however. The cleaner can dissolve the adhesive holding the carpet fibers together. Just use small amounts on a piece of cloth.

Carpet cleaning home solutions can be a little time consuming to prepare. Plus the actual process of getting down on your knees and applying for solutions can take up your time. However, these home remedies can be very helpful and cheap overall.

Types Of Mounted Mailboxes And Their Benefits

Keeping belongings safe is a must. Because of this, more and more homeowners invest in storage items like cabinets and drawers. Apart from that, individuals can also make use of other storage units to secure their items. For instance, when receiving mails and packages, it is best for homeowners to own a mailbox.

There are numerous types of mailbox individuals can choose from. These include freestanding, brick in and even mounted mailboxes. As of now, homeowners prefer to make use of mounted mailboxes. Of course, installing such box can be stressful. However, this type of letterbox can provide wonderful features that can benefit you. To know more, below are some of the most popular mounted mailboxes and its benefits.

Post Mount

One of the most common mounted mailboxes homeowners make use of is the post mounted letterbox. When using such letterbox, individuals are required to use a post and mounting board. As of now, post mounted letterboxes are made from galvanized steel for maximum rust resistance and durability. Apart from that, these boxes also feature a powder coat finish to make it more appealing. With regard to security, it is equipped with a lockable rear door. And, it is very visible which helps individuals send your mails and packages to your home easily.

Fence Mount

Another popular mounted mailbox is the fence mount. This type of letterboxes can be mounted into wood, brick and steel fences. Other than that, fence mounted boxes are made of sturdy galvanized steel and powder coated for added durability and style. These mailboxes also feature a stainless steel face-plate to make it more visible. Finally, a fence mount letterbox also has a key lockable rear door for better security.

Wall Mount

Finally, homeowners can also make use of wall mounted mailbox. This type of letterbox is installed into walls. With this mailbox, homeowners are rest assured that their mails are secured since it is created from sturdy 304′ grade stainless steel construction for durability & rust protection. Plus, it also features a weather shielded wide mail slot for all your A4 mail & documents.

Of course, there are cases when installing mounted letterboxes can be difficult most especially if you do not have the right fitting items. Fortunately, reliable providers can provide you with fitting items to help you make tasks easier and more efficient. Some providers also offer other home improvement products to make homes more appealing and valuable.

Best Trees for Indoors

Trees are great things to have in your yard. They clean the air, they give shade and privacy, they are great for climbing and they are beautiful to look at as well. While many trees are just too big to think about growing inside, there are many trees that make wonderful accents to the inside of your home. Here’s just a few:

If you are a fan of the Victorian Era you may have seen pictures or seen movies of the time with parlour palms sprucing up the, well, parlour. The adapt well to low light and humidity and they are on the list of NASA’s 50 Plants That Clean the Air. And face it, they’re breezy and fancy and who wouldn’t want one in their living room in a large ceramic pot?

If you want a touch of Christmas in your home year round, what about a Norfolk Pine? They are essentially baby Christmas trees that love bright light and moist soil. At Christmas time you can decorate them with little bows or fairy lights, but they make a great addition to any room year round.

If you like big bold statements you’ll want a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree in your living room. These trees have large sculptured leaves that give the air of the tropics without being weepy or wispy. These trees love light but don’t like drafts so keep them away from windows and doors and you’re good to go.

The Ficus is perhaps the most popular indoor tree there is, heck, they even make a fake version that you just dust once in a while and forget about. The real version is actually a weeping fig tree if you want to get technical, and they come in different textures and heights so they’re perfect for any room, any where.

Love the tropics but live where there seems to be perpetual winter? Then what about adding a Majesty Palm to your home? They are fan shaped and have that tropical feel to them and best of all they are slow growing if they aren’t getting strong sunlight. Throw on the heat, watch the palm tree and pretend you’re on the beach, even if it is January and there is a blizzard waging outside.

If you like more of a desert type tree then the Yucca is for you. They have thick woody stems and pointy leaves that come in a variety of blue to blue green colors and have yellow, cream or white tones to them too.

8 Tips to Consider Before You Buy Plantation Shutters

If you want to buy plantation shutters, you may want to consult an experienced professional. They will help you buy the best plantation shutters to help you meet your needs. However, if you are going to purchase plantation shutters for the first time, you may want to consider the following tips.

1. The type of wood

Since poplar wood is light, straight, and smooth, it’s a great choice for plantation shutters. The average height of a poplar tree is 160 feet and the trunk can be as much as 80 feet in diameter. So, it’s a good idea to opt for this type of wood.

2. Poly or Wood

Most of clients go for wood shutters because of their advantages over the artificial material known as poly.

As far as strength goes, wood is stronger and lighter. So, wooden shutters can be up to 37 inches in width. So, you won’t need more than a few panels for the window openings. Aside from this, wood gives you a lot of other benefits as well.

3. Louver Size

The size of most of shutters is 3.5 louvers. But there is a rise in demand for louvers that measure 4.5 louvers due to sliding glass doors and bigger windows. Actually, people want modern interior design as well as openness.

4. Midrail

If you don’t know, midrail is a horizontal plank. Over the midrail, the louvers open and close without relying on the louvers that are under the midrail. Many buyers like midrails since they leave the upper section open to let more light in and leave the lower section shut for privacy reasons. Moreover, a midrail is an ideal choice should you have metal casings.

5. Vertical Tilt Bar

You will find shutters that feature “hidden tilt”. In this type of shutters, the frontal wooden tilt bar is missing. In its place, you can see a metal tilt bar, which is almost invisible. So, you can have more visibility and open space.

6. Sliding Glass Doors

As far as sliding glass doors is concerned, plantation shutters are an ideal choice. For a consistent feel and look, your house should have shutters. Actually, plantation shutters are fixed on a track to let the panels open without any hindrance.

7. Cost Of The Shutters

Usually, plantation shutters are sold by the square foot. However, by paying a bit more, you can benefit from other options, such as hidden tilt, stain finishes, and specialty shapes. You should be ready to spend a good deal of money to get the required shutters.

8. Procedure

Plantation shutters are also made to order. First of all, the sales representative will visit your house to measure the doors and windows to give you a proposal. Then the installers will do a detailed measurement. Once the product is made, it is handed over to the finishing department. In this department, the product is sanded, primed and painted. Finally, they are installed.

If you are going to buy plantation shutters, consider the tips given above.

Quick Home Maintenance Tips

If you have been looking for some home improvement tips that won’t take more than a few minutes from your precious time, you are on the right page. This article is for you, especially if you are a busy homeowner. Read on.

Fixing a chair

Are you trying to fix an old chair? If so, we suggest drilling pilot holes and driving screws via the rungs bottom and into the chair legs.

Vinyl Door or Window

If your vinyl doors or windows don’t open properly, the channels may have accumulated gunk. At times, even clean doors and windows may bind. You may spray dry spray lubricant on the target areas and then use a rag to wipe it off. Using oil lubricants is not a good idea as they can catch dirt damaging the vinyl.

Repairing a Shutoff Valve

If the shutoff value is faulty, you can get it replaced. But if you can’t, you should go to the nearby hardware store to buy a good replacement washer. Remove the grit from the valve and fit the new washer. This will fix the problem.

Loose Showerhead

If you want to fix a problematic showerhead or a wobbly pipe, you can use some expanding foam. With the foam, you can encase the pipe and fix it. This will remove the wobble.

Use a Smoke Detector

If you don’t have enough time or money, you may want to cover the ceiling hole with a smoke detector. You don’t need to patch the hole.

Cabinet doors

If your cabinet doors don’t stay shut, all you have to do is use a magnetic door catch. You can also go for a roller-style one.

Squeaky Floors

If you want to repair a squeaky floor, use a stud finder to find the floor joists. Next, you can drive in a screw via a pad, carpet and the subfloor to reach the floor joist. Just make sure that the upper part of the screw has no threads. Ideally, you may want to use trim screws since they have bigger heads. If this is the case, you may want to pull up the screw and then tighten it again.

Remove Water Stains

Before repainting the ceiling, you may want to try out this trick. You can use a mixture of water and bleach and then wait for a few days. If the stain is old, you can try a mold and mildew product. The stain will be gone within 24 hours. This trick may work both on textured and flat ceilings.

Wallpaper Seams

To fix a wallpaper seam, you can soak a rag in lukewarm water and then apply the paste around the seam. You may want to hold the rag for a couple of minutes and then open the seam a bit for more space for the seam sealer. Put the liquid into the gap and then push the paper against the wall using a roller. Then you can use a sponge to remove the sealer.

So, these are some quick and easy home improvement tips.

Better Sleep Means Knowing These Top 5 Things About Your Bed Sheets

Chances are we’ve all gone to bed, waking up either sweaty or miserable in the middle of the night. Most of us don’t realise that our bedding could be the culprit.

Reason why it is essential that you these 5 things in mind when purchasing your bed sheets to help you sleep better.

1. Natural, toxin-free materials:

Truth is your body breathes better with natural fibres. Be it organic cotton or hemp, there’s enough reason to buy a sheet set that does you good than any harm. Polyester and other materials not only make your body hot but are cloaked in a variety of chemicals that lead to acne, wheezing and a host of respiratory disorders including asthma among others. Volatile Organic Compounds found in petrochemical products have an adverse effect on your body.

To stay away from these, opt for GOTS certified organic cotton sheets which are well worth the small premium.

2. Colours:

If you get hot too much too often, chances are you’re sleeping on a multitude of dark colours. Opt for pastels or neutrals that leave your body calmer and your mind in peace before hitting the sack.

3. Weave:

Most people don’t understand that cotton itself is divided into a number of weaves. Weave refers to the way the threads are intertwined in crafting a sheet.

While Sateen has a luxurious feel and has a slight pearlescent sheen, percale is cool and crisp.

As a matter of fact sateen feels lovely in both warm and cold climates. However by culture, most in the western part of the world use Sateen more often than Percale while people in India by tradition use more percale.

4. Fiber properties and yarn

Did you know that sheets made of short, brittle fibers (read multi-ply sheets) feel coarse and brittle? The perfect analogy would be sandpaper. On the other hand, sheets with long-staple fibers in a single-ply yarn always, always feel heavenly because they’re smoother and longer. This also means that your sheets won’t pill unlike shorter fibres.

Do ask your retailer about whether your sheets are single-ply or multi-ply yarn.

5. Thread Count:

Don’t get fooled by this term for it most certainly means incorrect things to buyers. Thread Count is simply a measure of the number of threads weaved in a square inch and not the quality of the sheets. Most retailers inflate and put these out as 900 and 1200 TC which is nothing but a bluff.

A single-ply yarn sheet with 300 TC will feel much softer and lustrous than a fake 900 TC one.

Now that you have these handy questions to shoot to your salesperson, you’re bound to find the perfect bed.

4 Tips for Maintaining Vinyl Siding

We all know that vinyl siding is a great choice for one’s home due to its low maintenance and longevity. But that doesn’t mean that it is totally without basic maintenance needs or steps to be taken to see that it looks its best. Some of the common issues one might deal with are cracking, puncturing or perhaps pulling away from the house.

Thankfully, these proactive measures do not take a great deal of skill or a toolbox full of special tools.

Tips for Maintaining Vinyl Siding

1. Be sure to keep any shrubbery around the home trimmed back so that the branches cannot poke or scratch the siding. Failing to do this will result in the coating on the siding being scratched, nicked or punctured thus making the siding susceptible or mildew and mold.

2. No matter what type of siding you have on your home. It is important to take time to clean it, at least once a year. With vinyl, you can do this by using a soft scrub brush, soapy water, and a water hose for rinsing. Yes, you can use a power washer but be sure to keep it at the lowest setting and take care not to use excessive force.

3. In the event that you do discover dents, punctures or scratching, replace the piece as soon as possible. Be sure in doing this, that you use a siding removal tool so you can avoid damaging the surrounding pieces of siding.

4. Make time to clean your gutters- especially during the spring and fall or after a heavy storm as this will help keep the siding clean and prevent risk of damage to the siding.

It is also worth noting that while most people opt to have vinyl siding in a color they like, it you purchase a home with siding in a color you do not like, it can be painted. It will take two coats of 100% latex paint and the paint will need to be re-applied every two years in order to always look great.

Maintaining your vinyl siding is not a full-time job, but it does need the occasional repairs or cleaning. Don’t just assume that your home’s siding is a one and done aspect of ownership. Take time throughout the year to ensure that your siding will last as long (if not longer) than you were promised at installation. If you are new to vinyl, then be sure to talk to a local siding company and find out what they recommend for your particular type and style of home siding.