Alexa in Your Home

There are many things in my home that I wish I could yet at and get it to do exactly what I wanted, ideally those good for nothing kids. That may be a few years off until the technology is there buy thankfully there is one thing that I

home automation ideas

know will always answer when I ask and that is my dear Alexa, and no that’s not a person I’m talking about the Amazon Echo processor and the Alexa system that is changing the way we live in our homes and get things done. We are beginning to make the home of tomorrow, today. 

It has been just over a year since this thing has hit the market and its now its getting the response it seemed it was expecting when it was first released. The Alexa system is a voice controlled connectivity thing that allows you to control both your house controls and as well as your daily search engine things. So you can say “hey Alexa, play some Smash Mouth” and when things get a little to hot from all the dancing you can say, “hey Alexa, why don’t you turn the thermostat down a few degrees, I’m getting hot.” Soon it has plans to make a cross over with a refrigerator company that will allow you from work to say, “hey Alexa, what can I have for dinner tonight?” and it will say something considering what is in your fridge and how it should or could be prepared. There is very little that the Alexa is not posed to be able to control within a few years, but that is kind of the problem when we condenser what it can do today its really kind of limited frankly, or at the very least it doesn’t do enough at would make someone want to go out and get one. The reason being is that it initial set up actually takes a fair amount of time, and thus there is something that would make you not realize that there is very little you would want to do that would justify the move to get one. When it comes to connectivity this is simply the way of the future, and it is going to be a big change to the way we do this. Another thing that is pretty impressive about Alexa that is also a reason to who you might not want it in your home today is the fact that it learns from what everyone is imputing into it and thus is learning from the collective. This is a great strength for the service, but lets just consider that they are putting them selves at a very real risk like Microsoft and their Tia program that was suppose to be a tweet bot and essentially was meant to speak like a young girl. The problem was that it got high jacked by a bunch of internet trolls and quickly became a essence and had to be shut down given the repeated inappropriate things it would say on a regular basis.

3D Printing the Homes of Tomorrow

With aid of their 12 meter high Big Delta 3d printer the people over at WASP technology village in Italy are inviting makers to come out and print their own homes with the aid of this incredible machine. If you don’t know what makes this so special think of a convention 3d printer on steroids, then make it 12 meters in the sky and you can start to get a picture of what this baby can really do when pushed to the limits of design and creativity in the bright age of new burgeoning tech frontiers. The thinking behind this project is simple and can be understood as operating within the framework of 3d printer today in so far as it goes up layer by layer and slowly builds an entire structure one bit at a time. This is pretty incredible when you consider both the scale and the scope they are trying to get awhen they set out on this mission. Unlike traditional 3D printers that have to exist in a very controlled environment and have to be guided under the constant control of human supervision what they have over at WASP is nothing short of a break through. For one it is intended to exist outside, and can be put to the test against many weather conditions including rain and relieved its end product with ease. The conditions that give it some problems are high winds and driving rain, but do we really need to be constructing all the time anyway ? This is just the tip of the tech make over of homes. 

The beauty of this product is its simplicity and its rapid set up. Essentially it goes up quickly like any scaffolding in a matter of 2 hours and when completely set up can print out an entire house by days end. Anyone who has ever been around the home building process knows that this is nothing short of magic and is going to fundamentally change the cost of living as well as re imagine what is possible from our homes and places of pleasure.  Another fascinating aspect of the project is the sheer fact that it uses a cheap mud based synthetic plaster that goes up for next to nothing. Moreover, when it comes to the testing and structural diagnostics of a design, we see that they can put things up and analyze them in real time before ever breaking ground. Another aspect of this that is so fundamentally brilliant is that when we get ones on a scale that is somewhere a bit larger than the small craft ones you see in hacker spaces today, and a bit small than the WASP it self to deliver and produce the goods and services we come to expect from our home repair care we will effectively seize the means of production and give people the opportunity for obtain financial autonomy and individual liberty in a way like never before. The science is still very much in its infancy, I do not deny that. But even that being the case, what we do have today proves we are going to have an amazing tomorrow.

Just the Tip of the Appliance Iceburg


Lets face it, the tech iceberg’s waters run deep as a matter of speaking. But how deep is something that is always not always immediately understood by us, or for us. What remains unseen is the vast array of change and uncertainty that looms on the horizon for our most innovative and cunning tech pioneers of tomorrow. What is interesting is the reality that for the first time ever the rate of change is outstanding our policy changes by leaps and bounds, and what can happen technically has a very real chance of becoming a reality within this framework. That said we need to consider where tech is going to go when the local natives become the engines of change within the future of our tech future. The reason being is that for the entire existence of modern tech there has always been the engines of change have been people who can remember when it became a thing. That being the case tech has necisarily held a tether to the past given the drivers of industry have long been operating within the mindset of integrating and using tech to be encapsulated within an old framework rather than letting tech spread its wings and fly into the future it was born to become. This being the case many futurists have predicted that the year 2037 will be a vital time for our future and will offer a glimpse at the moon shot predictions that we cannot fathom today. This time-frame has been given in relation to the fact of the age of many people who were born right at the turn of the century and have grown up on the internet as we know it today. The earlier millennials are still going to miss out of certain things in terms of their comfort to the mechanisms at work, as Tech guy now say sosowowowwell as being affected by the prior generation to a larger extent. When we look to this future with bright eyes and pure optimism we should never the less keep a inquisitive and suspicious eye on the state of affairs and tabs on what this generation values and how they operate in this regard; I mean if Skrllex is any indicator they are off to a pretty bad start. Non the less what is going to happen when this generation matures into working age is that the age of the tech super salary for programmers and engineers is going to to the way side.This is going to be a fundamental change to everything especially our home appliances. The very fabric of the American home is going to fundamentally change forever, and there will be no going back. When we think about ease we usually apply that concept to highly technical operations or processes, but for the digital natives this is going to be fundamentally different. What is going to be interesting in this regard is when the notion of things being “tech products” goes to the way side and people see the market as a singular entity that just so happens to be driven by technology as a matter of fact. 

So Much Saving, So Little Time

Lets face it the dream of having the great fixer upper house that you do work on the weekends is largely a thing of the past considering the work loads we have. Today many workers are being forced to work longer hours for less pay, and what this means a lot of the time is that our living quarters usually suffer and end up eating maintenance costs very rapidly. You don’t want to be that person, and you want the place you live to be a sanctuary from the monotony of your daily life and is a place that inspires and puts you at ease and justifies the sacrifices of working so hard to have it. 

We all have a deficiency of personal time, but when it comes to making your house a home there are quick and cheap solutions that will make a big difference to the look of your home and make you feel more connected and pleased with your home.

One place we often look is to our floors which is a costly fix to your home no matter what material you decide to install, it will be costly given the sheer amount of time and the hauling and demo costs of the old material. But you can get just as much of the wow factor to your home by working on your walls. This can be done for much less and you can really improve the quality of your walls by patching any old holes that stand out whenever you look at bland white walls. A fresh paint job can give your house a total 180 and be the center piece of the design in the areas of your home. You can make an array of different feelings and moods when it comes to your house by improving the physical space and outlook of it. By changing the lighting with a consideration of the colors you can turn your old tense and claustrophobic areas into, warm and inviting works of art that you feel welcome and inspired in.

wood baby woodAnother way to add some character to your homes walls can be done by extremely small improvements. One way is to add some wood paneling. This will be a very unique improvement and will make your home feel much more warm and inviting. Moreover depending on your needs you will do a lot when it comes to the acoustic insulation of the home whether its in an apartment or home, your neighbors will thank you.

Another way you can really do a lot with a little for the feel of the physical lay out of your room is to play with the conventions of the lay out itself and down playing the right angles of the space. What I mean by this is that you can make the room feel less sharp by the addition of some tapestries or fixtures in corners that will give your space a total makeover in terms of the feel, and look. This is a quick and small one and can be changed very quickly depending on your changed sensibilities.

Power Your Appliances with an Auxiliary Battery

auxiliary batteryWith the tiny home movement in full swing and gas prices at an all-time low, a lot of people are finding that mobile homes fit their lifestyles unexpectedly well. Mobile homes, especially ones meant to travel wherever, whenever like RVs and tow-along trailers, offer a fun and flexible lifestyle for the spontaneous traveler… if maintained and equipped correctly. You’re not going to have a lot of fun living in a trailer that doesn’t have the basic amenities of a home, and that means appliances and the electricity to run them. If you’re interested in purchasing or living in a trailer but you’re not sure how to tackle the problem of setting up a reliable electrical system for your home appliances, this article will lay out the basics of the project.

While an electrical system in an RV may seem daunting and complicated, it can be understood at a basic level pretty easily. First things first, any RV has three separate electrical systems, including a 12-volt DC automotive system, a 12-volt DC coach system, and a 120-volt AC coach system. DC stands for direct current and AC stands for alternating current. The most important systems to keep in mind in terms of lighting and heating your home are the 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC coach systems.

electric toothbrush120-volt AC power sources are necessary for powering things like microwaves, roof air conditioners, refrigerators, and any other standard kitchen appliance that you would plug into a regular outlet. Often times there are appliances and lighting systems made for campers that work of 12-volt DC power. These could be overhead lights, electric toothbrushes, furnace fans, over-range fans, vent fans in the bathroom, water pumps, LP gas leak detectors, stereos, and refrigerators if they’re in the LP gas mode. An RV’s power distribution is likely laid out in a power distribution panel complete with circuit breakers.

Given that you’re not hooked up to a 120-volt power source at a campground or outside of a home, you can always use your 12-volt DC system so long as you have as 12-volt deep cycle marine battery on your unit. If the battery or batteries are charged, you can use everything in the RV with the exception of the microwave, roof air conditioner, and anything that uses electrical outlets.

microwaveAnother system common to motorhomes is for the car itself to have its battery, and then an auxiliary battery to be included that charges whenever the automobile is running, the generator is running, or its plugged into an external electrical source.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are a variety of electronic devices and appliances that can drain your coach battery when you’re not actually using them. These include everything from antenna boosters and LP gas leak detectors to clocks, radios, and lights left on.

Motorhomes can provide an additional source of 120 volt AC power using only an onboard power generator. A lot of people love this option because it enables them to use standard appliances and keep their units fully self-contained.

The Backyard of Your Dreams

Hey everyone in case you haven’t noticed the snow is melting and summer is right around the corner! Now to get the most out of your summer you don’t want to do another 3 months of kicking back in your back yard with a cooler and lawn chairs and wonder why you aren’t really enjoying your back yard. This summer be a change and turn your boring back yard into a hangout worthy of your and your friends. wrsgsfg

This could mean a lot of different things and there is no right answer for everyone. So before you begin there are a few questions you should ask yourself and bear in mind through out the design process. Do you wanna barbecue? awesome! If so, for how many people ? Do you want it to be an entertainment center or a hick back paradise, a medication oasis or a man cave deluxe. All of these things should be considered and remembered throughout the your process and even maintenance of the physical space of your yard.

This is huge to take most of the time living the space in your head for weeks or months before hand. Those who do not know what they want to do in the yard will often over compensate by getting way more stuff than they will ever want or use and the result is an over crowded cluster yard, that is neither inviting nor easy to navigate. Know your climate and what is going to be best to get the most out of your space such as shade structures or heating capabilities.

Photography for Belgard Hardscapes, projects located in Minnesota and Wisconsin.


This is going to be a crucial part for your budget twofold. For one you are going to have a much better understanding of what you need and how long it will take and more importantly cost. And two, you are going to benefit from saving on doing work yourself and not passing it along to a contractor who is going to charge you a lot. Finally, if you yourself know what you want and do not just pass along to a contractor they will not be able to keep up-selling you and you will be more prepared to understand a timeline and what needs to be done on your terms.

Now this is where it gets tricky because you can run the gamut of usasdfsadfging no money and just use recycled materials to build out some gardening and sitting areas. Or you can pay big money and turn your outside into a living space as comfortable as inside. The trick is just know what you want and how you dream about the space.

Two Crazy Kitchen Appliances That Will Blow Your Mind

bacon bowlThe American consumer loves any new gadget that promises to make the easy life a little easier. Here’s a list of new age kitchen appliances competing for control over the American mainstream.

1. Bacon Bowl Molds

Bacon in any form is generally a welcome addition to all meals, but only recently did someone to think to incorporate it directly into American dishware. Bacon bowls were first introduced to the American populace through televised infomercials, but have since found a place for themselves within the heart of many Americans, literally.

noodle shield2. Noodle Shield

In America, only a select elite can eat noodles with dignity… until now. This one-size-fits-all noodle shield offers support, comfort and peace of mind to any noodle amateur seeking an opportunity for personal growth but intimidated by their potential to belly-flop right into their pho.

The rippled fabric is complimentary to all major face shapes and shields the wearer’s hair, forehead and neck without chafing or limiting peripheral vision. Those viewing your culinary experience from behind your shoulder will also benefit from the protection of the noodle shield, though the very comfort it offers may also impede their view of the action. Periscopes are recommended for any watchers interested in the splash guard effect of the noodle shield but hoping to bypass the visual obstruction.

noodle2While the noodle shield may seem to exist as a response to a request made throughout the ages, it has sizable short comings that should be understood by any potential buyer before the time of purchase. For example, the shield only stretches to approximately three inches under the chin, leaving the wearer’s chest, arms, shoulders and crotch helpless to any noodle spills that may come their way. In addition, there’s no clear fastening rod, buttons, or straps that keep the noodle shield on, meaning it may have the tendency to fall off the wearer’s face and into the soup that the wearer was attempting to eat, a tragedy that would not only ruin a meal but likely have ironically messy consequences for the wearer’s clothing, hair, and forehead. Finally, the noodle shield comes in a limited color scheme and is unlikely to match the wearer’s skin tone.

Whether there are noodle shields for infants, children, and the malformed seems to vary depending who you ask; the noodle shield producing company continues to be a mystery and there are few to back up their claims regarding the matter with cold hard facts. All one can hope is that the masks are somehow adjustable, perhaps through a draw string that is also responsible for the shield’s ruffles.

The textured nature of the shield, by the way, is not merely an aesthetic choice on the part of the engineers responsible. The sinusoidal fabric shape forces Noodles and soup particles to collect in the grooves of the mask, where they can be drawn out with a single finger after the meal is over. The scraps can then be either consumed or disposed of depending on the quality and original quantity of the noodle soup involved.

The Right Grill For You

When considering what grill you want there are many questions you need to consider it and it can seem daunting. dadBut if you break the question down into several small questions the window can quickly narrow and the choice becomes much easier. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you’re getting the grill that right for you.

What type of Fuel should I use ?

Grills need to considered the type of fuel you want. This is probably the most important factor in terms of determining the eventual flavor and range of food you will be making with it. Depending on your needs you can choose: propane, natural gas (this is gas that is diverted directly from your house line), Charcoal, or wood pellet fuel.

Next you’ll need to consider

What size BBQ should I get?

Grill dimensions are usually determined in terms of their cooking surface space, so consider that when measuring

De barbeque van Jord Althuizen. Foto: Peter de Krom

De barbeque van Jord Althuizen. Foto: Peter de Krom

our your eventual cooking space. You need to consider who you imagine you will be using the grill for, will it be a weekly or even daily companion or is it going to be used for larger, less frequent gatherings?

What accessories are important to me?

Are you going to expand your skills and go adventurous with different recipients ingredients, and techniques ? or are you more interested in going bare bones hot dogs and hamburger just use it for basic recipients and easier use and clean up ? There are so many accessories you can get that will fundamentally alter your layout and grill space in general so it is good to talk to a specialist and blue print your entire lay out before you buy rather than trying to add on later and work around potential frustrations.

What is the general aesthetic I am going for ?

Today grills have a wide range of colors and styles you can get to work around the style of your home or deck and have come a long way from the iconic standard black. From sleek stainless steel to rustic shiek, to bright vibrant colors you can find a grill for just about any need or style you are going for, so bare that in mind before hand, you don’t have to settle for drab dab aesthetic styling.

How much and I willing to spend on this?

This is the big one, and will determine the breadth of exploration you are allotted when navigating the grill of your liking corridor. Grill can range from your basic backyard grill can go from $50 dollar little portables, all the way up to $5,000 monstrosities that are not only very expensive you need to invest in altering the lay out of the physical space of your home to accommodate them. So when you’re making the choice you gotta ask one question, “how much mullah am I willing to spend.”

Where am I going to put this grill ?

shawWill I put this grill on a balcony of my apartment or is it going as a center piece of my back yard as an installation. It is also always important to consider the environmental implications of your purchase as well.

What is Caloric Cooling?

caloric coolingBefore you get to know your toilet, take that time to learn about some scientific advances in the refrigeration sector. Magnetic refrigeration is quickly emerging as the future of cooling; an important development considering the fact that it’s much more energy efficient than conventional types of cooling and that cooling is responsible for 20-30% of the U.S.’s energy use. Indeed, according to scientists, the conventional cooling process utilized by most cooling appliances has gone largely unrevised for the past century.

Twenty years ago, a new potential method of cooling became increasingly interesting to research and development teams: caloric cooling. This method utilizes the process of magnetic refrigeration, which is a cooling technology based on the magnetocaloric effect. Although the magnetocaloric effect was first observed as early as 1917, the fundamental principle was suggested in 1926, and the first magnetic refrigerators were constructed as early as 1933, the process hasn’t neared commercialized potential until around now due to issues regarding the reliability and longevity of the materials required.

But let’s back up; what is the magnetocaloric effect? It’s a magneto-thermodynamic phenomenon in which a temperature change of a suitable material is caused by exposing the material to a changing magnetic field. The decrease in the strength of an applied magnetic field makes it possible for the magnetic domains of a magnetocaloric material to become disoriented. There are thermal energy phonons in this magnetocaloric material and, if the material is isolated in such a way that no energy is allowed to migrate into the material during the time that field is applied, the temperature of the material will top as the magnetic domains absorb the thermal energy to perform their reorientation.

One example of a functioning magnetocaloric material is gadolinium and some of its alloys. Its temperature increases when it enters certain magnetic fields and drops when it leaves those magnetic fields. One alloy of gadolinium, praseodymium, has such a strong magnetocaloric effect that it can be manipulated to allow for scientists to approach within one milliKelvin of absolute zero.


caloric bla blaIt’s a difficult process to understand, but perhaps looking over the way this technique is applied will elucidate it somewhat. Basically, a strong magnetic field is used to control the entropy of a sample material, which in this case would likely be called a “refrigerant.” Entropy is a thermodynamic quality representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work. The magnetic field contains the orientation of magnetic dipoles in the refrigerant and, the stronger the magnetic field is, the more aligned the dipoles become. That means lower entropy and heat capacity on the part of the magnetocaloric material because it has lost some of its internal degrees of freedom. If the refrigerant is then kept at a constant temperature through thermal contact with a heat sink (a part that is usually played by liquid helium), the magnetic field will be switched on and the refrigerant will be forced to lose energy as it is equilibrated with the heat sink. If the magnetic field is then switched off, the heat capacity of the refrigerant rises again in a reverse process. The system becomes insulated when the magnetic field is switches off, meaning it can no longer exchange energy with its surroundings and the material’s temperature then decreases below its initial value.

In fractie, the magnetic field isn’t completely shut of but instead lowered slowly in order to provide continuous cooling and keep the sample at about the same low temperate. At some point, the cooling power of the ADR will vanish according the properties of the refrigerant.

A Closer Look at Your Garage Door

garagedoorIf you have a garage, chances are you take it for granted that it will cooperate with you when you want the door to open and close. However, every so often garage doors do break, and hiring someone to come to your house and fix it can be costly and unnecessary. Here’s an overview of how your garage door works so you can be prepared to diagnose and fix whatever hiccups may occur.

Whether your overhead garage door rolls up in segments or in one piece, it most likely operates using spring tension. The door moves on metal tracks installed on either side of the opening, while springs allow for the door to be easily adjusted from either up or down positions.

Ok, so if it’s not working, there’s a few things you can check to see if you can figure out and fix the problem yourself. First things first, check out those metal tracks I mentioned earlier. Look at the mounting brackets that hold the tracks to the walls and see if they happen to be loose. If so, tighten the bolts or screws that has come loose. Then examine the tracks for dents, crimps, flat spots, or anything that looks irregular and like something changed for the worse.

gdoorIf there are any damaged spots, pound them out with a rubber mallet or with a hammer and a block of scrap wood. If the tracks are badly damaged, you’ll probable have to replace them. Also make sure they’re properly aligned by using a level. Horizontal tracks should slant slightly downward towards the back of the garage. If you have roll-up doors, the vertical sections of the track should be exactly plumb. Both sides of the tracks should be the same height.

If the tracks aren’t at the same height, loosen but don’t remove the screws or bolts that hold the mounting brackets and tap the tracks carefully into position. Recheck the tracks with the level to make sure they’re in the right position and if they are, re-tighten the screws or bolts at the mounting brackets.

If you’re still having trouble pulling the garage up and down, try to clean the tracks with concentrated household cleaner to remove any dirt of grease that may have built up. It could be as simple as that.

If you think you might have an issue with a central spring, it’s time to call a repairman. Those springs are powerful and tend to carry a lot of tension; fooling around with them could cause that energy to be released unexpectedly and possibly do some harm to you.

Does your garage door sag a bit in particular places? This issue is a little more manageable; it’s often a problem with hinges that need servicing. Replace or fix the hinges as you see fit.

Sometimes garage door problems can be traced to the opener. Make sure the radio signal receiver isn’t dusted or cloudy and check if you can see any interruptions in the circuit. If you want to get a closer look, be sure to not electrocute yourself.