More Vacation with Less Tech

by Barrett

For once, the rusted nut I found wasn't the one in my head. Although my noggin did slide into vacation mode about six hours earlier than I would have preferred...

For once, the rusted nut I found wasn’t the one in my head. Although my noggin did slide into vacation mode about six hours earlier than I would have preferred…

I’m just back from a ‘relaxing’ family beach vacation at a cottage in the North Fork of Long Island… And let me just quickly admit that along with my favorite pair of flip-flops, I accidentally left most of my tech smarts at home.
(It doesn’t help when you pack your tech at the last minute, and you’ve got a ferry to catch!)

Not to pass the buck, but some bad Tech Karma also played a role in what was to come next…

Movie Night Cancelled
I brought along our brand new Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter to conveniently stream videos from my iPhone onto the cottage’s resident HDTV. But it ended up being an older TV without an HDMI output. So my plan to project videos onto a big screen for a larger crowd was foiled…

No Rocking the House
Then, I realized I had forgotten to bring my portable Bluetooth speaker (Logitech UE Mobile Boombox) to stream Pandora tunes off of my iPhone.

That said, the house did have one of those formerly-cool clock radios with an iPhone dock, but again, it was an older model with the old 30-pin connector…not the current Lightning connection my iPhone 6 Plus uses.
(Foiled again!)

Dangerous Beach Exposure
I also forgot to bring my son’s cheap, but waterproof ‘family’ COOLPIX S32 Nikon camera to use on the beach.
(When a typical pocket camera with a motor-driven zoom lens gets exposed to a sandy environment, it can get destroyed by a single grain of sand jamming into the wrong spot.)

Instead, I threw caution to the wind and brought along my aging Canon S100 advanced point and shoot.
(On the upside, it survived and took much better pics than the tough but mediocre Nikon ever could.)

I should also admit my iPhone 6 Plus satisfactorily handled its share of beach-time photo taking… The camera functionality was amazingly zippy, which was useful when my five year old brought over the latest hermit crab he just caught!
(But I was careful not to go too close to the water with my iPhone… An accidental drop in the drink would have really ruined the day!)

Home Alone
Even though my limited vacation brain and a touch of bad luck sidelined a bit of fun, all of my smart-home gear thankfully remained fully on duty. Back at the homestead, this tech did a stellar job keeping me informed that our home was indeed comfortable without any resident humans.

Nest Thermostat Keeps Its Cool
I’m always conflicted about whether to leave the windows open or closed before leaving on a late August vacation. Warm days and cool nights can be a perfect combination for a few open windows to successfully ventilate your house. But if a thunderstorm rolls through, those open windows will welcome in some damaging moisture you’re not around to wipe up…

And if you decide to batten down the hatches, you have to choose between letting your house get all hot and humid without air conditioning or running your AC and feel like you’re throwing money out the (closed) window…


With my smart Nest Learning Thermostat, I was able to monitor my house’s internal temperature on my iPhone and remotely turn on the AC at night for a couple of hours if I felt my home needed it.
Sure, any programmable ‘dumb’ thermostat can handle that directive, but I’ve got to admit that having the flexibility to manually control the AC from the Nest app on my iPhone felt amazing.

Nest Connect Glows Green
My Nest app also showed me the happy ‘green circle’ status of my Nest Connect smoke detector. So I was pretty sure my house wasn’t burning down in my absence…

Foscam Camera Keeps Track
And while we’re talking about managing a few ‘irrational’ fears while vacationing…
Remember that Foscam Wi-Fi BabyCam I installed when my now kindergarten-bound boy was just a wee lad in his crib? Well, I’ve given my Foscam a new mission…

Now, the BabyCam just serves as a resident pair of digital eyes (well, just one) when nobody’s home. The FoscamPro app on my iPhone allows me to quickly take a look about whenever I want.

No, I couldn’t see throughout the entire house while simultaneously viewing the beach sunsets.
(I could if I had multiple Foscam cameras set up.)
But it’s still another data point that my house was remaining healthy all by itself.

Vacation Scoop
So I’m pleased to report my house had a wonderful vacation.
And as for me…?

I’m writing this final paragraph on my last full day away…

  • The sun is rising as I look out over the magical inlet in front of me.
  • The warmth of the sun joins the crisp morning beach air.
  • I’ve got my cup of Joe.

(I have found my Vacation Zen.)

Cup of Beach Joe









And I’m happy to admit there was absolutely no technology connected to the moment above.
…Except for the little detail that I was tapping away on my iPhone…

It’s good to know that you can be at home without tech.