At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: carbon monoxide detector

It May be Time to Say Goodbye to your Nest Protect

No tech lasts forever. Here’s what I did when my Nest Protect let me know that its ‘life’ was ending.

My Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm recently informed me that it was about to reach the end of its life and cease all operations. I received the sad message via the Nest smartphone app that communicates with it. My Nest Protect has been stationed on the ceiling outside our bedroom for the past six years.

It has glowed reassuringly green as I passed by it every night on the way to bed. (A yellow color ring would suggest that all was not well.)

Feeling like You’re in a Movie
When I got the news, I felt like I was in a slick sci-fi flick, and my trusted AI bot had informed me that it was time to say goodbye. Its makers had programmed its end, and there was nothing I could do.

Wait. Scratch that.

The year is 2048. It’s my grandson’s bot. They’ve been inseparable over the years, while my son was away for long stretches conducting critical science experiments on Moonbase Alpha. The bot walks up to the eight year old and presents the bad news. There are tears and a huge hug. But my grandson can’t accept it. There must be a way to save his life-long friend!

Cue the opening credits…

My Next Protect Experience
Costing $99, my battery-powered Nest Protect was an expensive investment as far as smoke detectors go, but it has provided peace of mind over the years. And the fact I could check its status on my iPhone was pretty cool.

It would also talk to me in a friendly voice as opposed to projecting angry chirps like most smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Of course, it did possess the important capability to project a mind-melting alarm if needed. (Thankfully, I’ve only been exposed to that dimension-ending sound during tests.)

One of its big selling points, that it wouldn’t chirp when it was time to replace its batteries, didn’t quite work out for me. My Nest Protect was simply supposed to tell me that. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but over the years, I still got that blasted chirp… more than once.

And you should know that the Nest Protect is picky regarding what kind of batteries you feed it. It requires six Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries, which are super powerful and can keep the Nest Protect happy for long stretches.

So the Nest Protect does need a little extra love. You can’t just treat it like a cheap, throwaway detector. And yes, eventually it will be time to say goodbye.

But not for long.
I’ve decided to re-up my commitment to this tech relationship.

Time for a New Google Nest Protect
I just bought the second generation model. And it’s now part of the Google product line.
So, it’s the Google Nest Protect.
$119 on Amazon

  • It has a split-spectrum sensor. (I think that’s like a warp drive upgrade for smoke detectors.)
  • You can turn off a false alarm from the smartphone app.
  • Its ‘pathlight’ is brighter.
  • This model is supposed to last for up to a decade.

Return to the Happy Green Glow
I’ve got my new Google Nest Protect in place, and tech balance has been restored in the Lester home (for now).

If all goes well, our home’s new guardian will be around past 2030.

That said, something tells me a newer model will show up before the decade is out to attract my attention. We’ll talk more then!

5 Packing Tips for Your Tech When Traveling Overseas

When you’re packing your carry-on bag, here are a few tips to help you focus on the tech you really need to bring along. (Or you can ask your cat.)

My family and I just got back from a fun holiday in London. In preparing for our trip overseas, I asked myself two questions to help decide what technology to pack.

  • How much tech do I really have to bring along?
  • How am I going to protect it?

Of course, you really don’t want to pack anything more than you need. That said, if you want to play with some of your gear while on vacation…well, isn’t that what vacations are for?!

So, it’s a balancing act of sorts.

If you find yourself confronting similar questions, here’s one traveler’s tech packing list to consider…

Portable Power Strip and Surge Protector
It’s likely you won’t have access to as many power outlets in your room as you’d like. Bringing along a portable power strip will certainly help you get all of your tech powered and charged up overnight. And electrical surge protection is a really good idea when you’re staying in a strange place. Finally, make sure the unit can handle different voltage standards.

Compact Portable Charger to Throw into Your Day Pack for On-the-Go Power Back Up
You certainly don’t want your smartphone to choke when you’re traveling through a long day in an unfamiliar land!

New SDXC Memory Card for Your Camera
Yes, standalone compact cameras can still get certain shots that a smartphone will have trouble with… especially in low light.

  • SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-1 Card, 64GB
    $20.49 on Amazon Prime
    (Sure, you can manually delete videos and photos from your existing SD card to free up space for your trip. But for only twenty bucks, you can start with a fresh card that’s instantly ready to store as many media files as you can possibly create on your trip!)

Portable, Battery-Operated Carbon Monoxide Detector
You never know, right? If you’re not sure if your room has one of these, it makes sense to pack this.

RFID-Blocking Passport Wallet to Prevent Data Skimming
There’s some controversy as to whether you really need this level of protection, but I say better safe than sorry.

Additional Packing Prep to Consider…

Do You Need a Voltage Converter?
Of course, you’ll need to bring adapters to fit electrical outlets when you’re traveling overseas. England uses Type G electrical plugs, and the voltage in the sockets is 230v.

Since the voltage in U.S. power outlets is 120v, consider the need to take a voltage converter in addition to your plug adapters.

The battery chargers for all of the mobile tech I pack happen to all work in dual voltage modes… 100 – 240 volts.
(Listed on the battery charger in really small print.)

So, I didn’t need to bring a voltage converter to England.
(But the power strip I brought still required plug adapters.)

Add International Service to Your Wireless Plan
My iPhone has AT&T Wireless service. The easiest way to adjust my AT&T plan while overseas is to go with the $10/day “International Day Pass.”

For the ten bucks, you’re essentially mimicking the same plan as you use when you’re home in the United States. You don’t have to worry about data limits or the threat of any additional usage costs. It may not be the cheapest way to use your phone internationally, but I still think it’s a great deal to give your smartphone full functionality.

Bring All of Your Gear Home
It may be an obvious point, but don’t leave any of your expensive tech behind! Stay organized and keep track of all of the little support pieces like battery chargers and cables.

And when you get home, make sure you quickly get to work organizing and sharing the photos and videos you shot on your trip. Family and friends want to see them!

Happy travels!

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