Thursday, May 25, 2017

Product Review: Belkin Wemo Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch

Belkin’s latest design of it's Wemo Wi-Fi Dimmer switch, is a great idea for those home automation enthusiasts. Upon receiving the unit I realized that your switch that you are replacing, needs to have a neutral wire passing through it. I have rewired almost our entire house and the method I use to wire switches actually eliminates the use of a neutral to each switch unless it is a three way. Fortunately I had easy access to the switch I was replacing with the Wemo Dimmer. Other then the extra requirement, the install was a breeze, and Belkin’s Wemo application works well with its remote switching, timer or options and some other extra stuff. Where I run into problems is when I connected it up to Google Home. It does not turn on and off every time I try to do it via a voice command. It may not be Belkin’s problem and could be Google's. If you are looking to solely try to switch it off and on with voice command via Google Home, you might want to see how it stacks up using Google's competition, Alexa,  Amazon's version of Home.

When I tested it with this video that is below, it actually worked well. Google home has updated recently, maybe they fixed it.



*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or it's manufacturer*

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My Story (Updated): God snuck into my life. #dutilhshares

As a church we are celebrating this season of Easter, by concentrating on sharing the good news of Jesus. So I have been reflecting on this throw back to a Thursday eight years ago, when our pastor of the church we attended at the time, asked us to share our story.
This past Sunday our Pastor presented part four of Just Walk Across The Room Sermon Series, “The Power of Your Story”. He concluded with a request to email him our individual Story of coming to Christ. I figured I would use this as an opportunity to share:
My story is pretty simple. I grew up in a Christian family, we went to Church some, we practiced what was preached most of the time. I got married. We had kids. I went to Church because I felt the kids needed it. About six months into it, it hits me upside the head like a brick. I realized that this is what I had been missing. A genuine belonging, a sense of hope, a desire to be what God wants me to be. With this I know that there will be ups and downs on this bumpy road we travel on this earth, and I struggle with things in life just like the next guy. But what I have now is hope of an eternal or everlasting life in heaven with God. For me this hope is something that is tangible in this broken world. Something to live for, without it life could be pretty darn depressing.
To update this entry, Of course it started with my parents introducing me to God, through Sunday School and Youth Group. But it wasn't until being hit upside the head with that brick...I feel like God snuck into my life with such precision. My relationship has grown quite a bit since then, and we are still working on some rough edges, I'll admit that some fine tuning will always be necessary as long as I am a part of this relationship.

When we did our family Church Adventure, it reminded me how much I rely on not only attending but participating in a weekly worship service. It was fun and educational to see how other denominations worship, but it was a relief to find where we felt called to serve. When we joined the Dutilh Mars campus, my prayers were concentrating on bringing more people to our little congregation, focusing on the numbers...Insert God's subtle nudge, my prayer now, is to let the Holy Spirit shine so that everyone can feel God's love, not only in this place, but in this community and surrounding communities. I have times when my focus is so far from where it needs to be, to productively be His hands and feet. It is those very moments when he gives me that gentle nudge to steer my ship from sinking. That tangible feeling of hope will never be lost, if I keep my eyes on Him!

This time of reflection has given me pause, reminding me how much my walk with Him by my side is so important. How our relationship has become more intimate, and that I depend on His ear a whole lot more then I realize. A day does not go by, where we don't have a conversation, sometimes it may seem one sided, but I know He is listening to my every word (even when I'm babbling).

This dance, could not have happened without His persistence, or without Him planting some amazing Pastors, family, and friends in my path, to guide and mentor me, into this relationship. I am positive  I would not survive without it. For His persistence, I am forever grateful.

In the photo above are just a few of the amazing people God has brought into our lives, while serving and sharing the good news of Jesus!

Thanks for taking the time to read about my story. It would be great if you would share yours. You don't have to be a Dutilh member, we would love to hear your story of  how you came to know the good news of Jesus. You can do it by commenting to this blog or your can share on facebook or twitter. Just use the #dutilhshares.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Product Review: Polk - Bit Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Sport blue

This little unit has quite a punch for such a small footprint. It's a perfect companion for you if you want to share your music while on the go. It's rugged, but not waterproof. Its battery will last up to 3 hours, and charges easily with any USB A-type connection, (a usb port on a pc, on a charger, and or on a portable charger). I plan on using this unit while camping, but will be with me at all times since it is so small and can be stowed away in my pocket or my bag.


 






*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or it's manufacturer*

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Product Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

I recently received a Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 to review. This unit came with an S-Pen and a Samsung
Keyboard/Cover. Opening the box to a glass covered 9.7 inch Android Tablet with specs that deliver was such a pleasure. I have owned several of the lower end Android tablets, so comparing this to them really is like comparing apples to oranges. Starting with it's 4 Gig of ram, you can launch application after application, and switch tasks, and there is absolutely no lag. It's Snapdragon 820 processor is ready at attention to go, when you need the horsepower. This unit is my first Android tablet to have 32 Gigs of memory, which allows me to install pretty much any application I want without worrying about the storage. It also allows for an additional Micro SD Card up to 256 Gb. If you are into using tablets to snap still shots or videos, Samsung did not forget you with this tab S3. It's front camera is a 5 megapixel sensor and it's back camera is a 13 megapixel sensor, and from just playing around with it a little, the captured images and video are outstanding.

Now onto some pros and cons as I found them during my typical use of this device for a week.

  • Keyboard - This unit came with it's Samsung Keyboard Case in Gray. Upon first use, I was afraid it might be too small. But after getting my bear-paw/hand acclimated to it. It is very comfortable to type. I had to adjust how far I reached with my left fingers, each time I went to type a W, I touched the screen, thus disabling the keyboard and looking for more input from the touch screen. But once my reach remained within the keyboards playing field, it has been a pleasure use. I did find one slight caveat, I noticed that when using the physical keyboard, it would not do predictive text or offer spell check. I did some poking around, with this unit being brand new on the market, and in pre-order status, I did not find an isolated resolution. If I am missing a setting please enlighten me and comment with the "Samsung Solution". I did find a work around that works really well. I wish I would have saved the blog that I found it on, so I could give credit where credit is due. Anyways, I downloaded SwiftKey for an additional keyboard, which allows enabling spell checker/predictive text on a physical keyboard. I am pleased to say, I may stick with this work around, due to it working so well. The predictive text appears at the bottom of the screen, within reach of my fingers, so as the choices came up, I can quickly tap them without having to re-home my fingers on the keyboard. I actually appreciate it not being a Bluetooth device, leaving all of it's juice for it's robust processor and beautiful screen. It obtains its connection via a well designed pogo connector at the base of the tablet, and stays attached quite well with some strong magnets. This accessory is an added expense, but I think it is totally worth it if you are looking to make this a portable machine, much like a Chromebook.
  • S-Pen -  This unit comes with the S-Pen and is pretty self explanatory, with the ability to sketch, draw, write or use it as a pointer. If you download an app from Google called Google Hand Writing Input: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.handwriting.ime  You can easily use the S-Pen for every input you do. It's pretty neat, I just don't know if it is completely efficient.
  • Usb-c Charger - This unit is yet another device being powered/charged by a USB type C cable, which offers to top off it's 6000 Milliampere hour battery in rapid fashion.
  • Screen - It's 9.7 inch screen is relatively comfortable size for both tablet use and pc use (with keyboard) even while on your lap. It is very crisp and clear with precise auto brightness function. Some tablets really don't utilize auto brightness very well. I think Samsung got it right this time around.






This unit gets a 5 out of 5 stars, and would suggest it to a friend.


Thanks for reading my review, and have a blessed day!!

This unit is available over at BestBuy.  If your quick, their including a 64Gb Micro SD card with your purchase.


*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or it's manufacturer*

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Product Review: Dyson V8 Animal Cord-free Vacuum

If you are responsible for vacuuming your dwelling, you know the steps are the hardest thing in the household to clean. We have three flights of them, and they are all carpet. I have always lugged my full size Dyson up and down at times my shoulders would struggle to maneuver the weekly task. I do love my original Dyson, even at it's old age of eleven years. I was excited to get the opportunity to test this unit out for a review. I have always had my eye on these models, but had a hard time parting with the cost of them. They seem to be a bit pricey, but...once you get one in your hands and experience the thoughtful design, and true (no gimmick) 40 minute, fade free suction, you realize that Dyson had their stuff together. It's so lightweight and easy to use. From it's wall hanging charger base, that also holds two of the included attachments.  I love the fact that it has two 100% powered beater bars. It revitalizes the nap of the pile in the carpet much more then I anticipated. It also has the turbo switch that of course will reduce the 40 minute runtime, but gives you a noticeable boost in suction. I am glad this unit has the battery indicator built into it, giving you a quick idea of how much more charge there is left, before you need to refuel at it's charger base. This unit is also ultra quiet. One feature I miss from other vacuums I've tested, is LED headlights, but I understand Dyson's reasoning. I would rather the power be isolated to suction, giving me more runtime, so I can do all my steps in one charge cycle.




I give this unit an undeniable 5 out of 5 stars. 

I would suggest this to a friend!!!

Go grab one at BestBuy.

*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or it's manufacturer*

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Product Review: Shark Rotator Lift Away Speed Upright Vacuum in Gray

I have been searching for the perfect vacuum cleaner for quite a while. Let me present you with some detail of our dwelling to help you understand my plight with finding the right vacuum. We own a 150 year old plus home which has four levels if you count the basement. Our floor coverings range from old linoleum, hardwood, ceramic tile, carpet (berber and pile) and cement. All of the three flights of stairs are carpeted. Our ceilings range from 8ft to 10 ft, depending on what floor you are cleaning, and almost all of our windows are dawned with 2 inch wide plantation like blinds. That sets the scene for what I have to clean on a weekly basis. Let me add that we are renovating our Master Bedroom, so there was a constant flow of construction dust while we tested this Shark Rotator Lift Away Speed Upright Vacuum System.

This unit was packaged well, and in more pieces then I figured it would be. But it was super easy to assemble, I didn't even crack the manual. 

One of the first things I notice in a vacuum is it's weight, I'm quite sure it's because the amount of steps I clean weekly, and our original vacuum of 10 years weighed a ton, we will call it the Beast. This unit weighs almost a third of the aforementioned Beast. It's base also has the swivel design making it easy to navigate a house full of furniture. I love the Lift Away feature, it makes doing the crevice work around the living space and stairways so easy, but I did notice while doing this crevice work that the cord seems a little short, I was repeatedly having to search for a closer source of power. Even with the Beast's long cord, I still could not go with out switching power sources. I measured the difference, The Beast's power umbilical is 31 foot, versus the 25 foot of the Shark's, not a huge difference, but enough that I noticed...several times. I appreciate that it has onboard tool storage, the only thing, is that one tool will always feel left out. It only stores two at a time, for us the hardwood attachment is only needed on the first floor anyways, so it will just be left to be lonely. The greatest Feature of this particular vacuum, is it's flexibility, all readily available to you as you are vacuuming. The wand can be used in a short version for steps or you can add the extension wand for cleaning the walls, ceilings, and windows. It also has sufficient suction for a unit that is so small and lightweight. 

I would recommend this unit to my friends, family and Blog Readers.

This unit is available over at BestBuy. It's regular price of $219.99 is affordable, but as I work on this blog post it's on sale for $169.99.

Here are some pictures I snapped once it was assembled.





*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or it's manufacturer*


Friday, January 13, 2017

Product Review: Linksys Velop Whole Home Wi-Fi system

I have setup my own personal mesh network and several of the prepackaged mesh networks. This Linksys Velop System by far is one of the easiest to install and so far it seems to be rock solid as a stand alone mesh network. It's app is easy to navigate, watch video and change settings. It's node system with two Ethernet ports on each node is very versatile, and looks pretty slick in case you need to have them sitting on an end table or out in plain site. It's throughput of data is much faster then any of my mismatched mesh networks have ever been. If have a large house or even a older home with lots of high density materials used while it was constructed, this   Wi-Fi System is a must.

I would suggest this to a friend, but I would have to mention that it is a little pricey at $499.99 over at BestBuy, here is the link.

*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or it's manufacturer*