Real Estate Story
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Photo courtesy Lara604 via Creative Commons

With the fresh start of January, take the next two weekends to make the rest of the year run more smoothly. These nine tips will save you time, energy, and money, and make you feel better about where you hang your hat every night.



1. MAKE BETTER USE OF YOUR CLOSETS

While this is not a photo of my closet above, it almost could be. Come January every year, and my closets tend to be a mishmash of clothes from all four seasons, piles of give-aways that I haven’t gotten around to giving away, and just general wrecks of disorganization.

Start the new year by decluttering a closet. Pick just one and organize with vengeance over one day (trust me, you’ll appreciate the major improvement in a short time). Save, sell, donate, or chuck everything in there, then vacuum, neaten, and dust. Job done!

2. TAKE A PHOTO INVENTORY OF YOUR HOUSE

If, God forbid, your house is ever burglarized or there is a fire, having photo records of the interior and all your possessions will make the insurance process infinitely easier. I speak from experience here: my house was burglarized a few years ago, but I had taken the time to snap photos of all my art, electronics, and jewelry and put it on a USB drive, which was locked in a file cabinet. I was so glad to have done so. Today, I store my photos in the cloud on Dropbox, which is even more convenient. Jump to read the next seven tips!

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Photo courtesy Lara604 via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy Lara604 via Creative Commons

With the fresh start of January, take the next two weekends to make the rest of the year run more smoothly. These nine tips will save you time, energy, and money, and make you feel better about where you hang your hat every night.



1. MAKE BETTER USE OF YOUR CLOSETS

While this is not a photo of my closet above, it almost could be. Come January every year, and my closets tend to be a mishmash of clothes from all four seasons, piles of give-aways that I haven’t gotten around to giving away, and just general wrecks of disorganization.

Start the new year by decluttering a closet. Pick just one and organize with vengeance over one day (trust me, you’ll appreciate the major improvement in a short time). Save, sell, donate, or chuck everything in there, then vacuum, neaten, and dust. Job done!

2. TAKE A PHOTO INVENTORY OF YOUR HOUSE

If, God forbid, your house is ever burglarized or there is a fire, having photo records of the interior and all your possessions will make the insurance process infinitely easier. I speak from experience here: my house was burglarized a few years ago, but I had taken the time to snap photos of all my art, electronics, and jewelry and put it on a USB drive, which was locked in a file cabinet. I was so glad to have done so. Today, I store my photos in the cloud on Dropbox, which is even more convenient. Jump to read the next seven tips!

(more…)

Nest Protect

More and more buyers are opting for “wired” homes that fully integrate alarms, media, and safety, but it’s not accessible for all price ranges.

Until now that is.

Today Nest, the creators of their gorgeous interactive programmable thermostat, launched “Protect.” It’s a full-featured smoke detector that not only works with Nest thermostats, but can send push notifications to your smartphone when something’s up. It also has a motion detector, and in case you like your bacon crispy, it can be deactivated with a gesture instead of furiously batting a spatula or tea towel at it. And it’s gorgeous, too.

Nest Protect and thermostat

Here’s the dish on how it works from Gizmodo:

Protect is packed the the gills with sensors—for smoke and CO of course, but also for heat, light, motion, and ultrasonic waves. These sensors aren’t slapped on to add shelf appeal, or turn your home into a life-streaming Big Data experiment gone wrong (see your home’s microbe count visualized!). Rather, they’re all part of a use case in which Protect is a truly heads-up device.

Nest Protect Push NotificationLet’s pretend for a second that you’ve screwed up a grilled cheese (again? You doofus!). After detecting smoke, Protect will issue a vocal warning that smoke has been detected, rather than going off at full blast. (A fascinating aside: The voice is female because, according to Nest, studies have shown that young children are more easily woken by a female voice than by an alarm). If you’re in another room, the motion sensor will sense it and beam the warning to the nearest Protect via Wi-Fi. The newly-overhauled Nest app will also send a push notification to your phone, along with the option to call emergency services. The ring of LED light at Protect’s center turns a vibrant yellow—something’s up.

Then, since it’s a false alarm, you can silence Protect by waving your hand nearby, or dismissing the push notification. If the smoke doesn’t clear up, though, the warning escalates into a full-blown horn alarm (and the LEDs flash red). After the danger has passed, Protect’s voice system lets you know everything is back to normal, and the LEDs glow green.

All this for just $129 — quite a bit cheaper than retrofitting a ranch with full-featured wired home automation. What do you think?