At Home with Tech

Figure out which consumer tech you need, the right gear to buy and how to use your new gadgets.

Tag: GoPro

My Favorite Photos from our Maine Vacation

I used a couple of guidelines to help me spot my favorite images during our road trip to Acadia National Park. And here’s the result…

What did my family and I do this year for a pandemic-influenced summer vacation? We drove to Maine, camped in Deer Isle and hiked in Acadia National Park. It was a spectacular experience.

Bringing the right tech to complement our camping gear was an important step to keep us on the grid. Here’s my checklist to make sure you bring enough portable power.

Of course I snapped a number of photos along the way. I was really struck by Maine’s rocky topography. (That created some really cool contrast in my shots.) And depending on the weather, Maine’s shoreline imagery vacillated between bright beauty and eerie fog.

We happened to spend a fair amount of time driving during low tide. And those moments revealed a damp, almost alien-like, brown and green rocky landscape… begging to be photographed.

Keep your Shots Wide

I quickly found that using a camera or a smartphone with a wide-angle lens is critical, especially if you like to take family selfies at the summit of a hike. That’s because you’ll want to capture enough of the environment around you in the shot to show where you are. (I used my GoPro for that.)

Tight shots can be great, but I feel this type of vacation photography is all about the wide. If you hope to capture a fraction of that feeling you get when you look around after you’ve climbed a thousand feet up, you’ll want to focus your camera wide. (And the same goes even if you’re walking on a beach.)

Let the Natural Beauty Tell the Story

So, here are some of my favorite shots from our trip to Acadia National Park and Deer Isle. I hope you like them!

How to Enjoy a Rainy Day with an iPhone and a GoPro during COVID-19

If you’re concerned about social-distancing challenges at the beach, consider this strategy to avoid the crowds.

Everything is the opposite these days. Well, it certainly feels that way with all of the new anti-social norms that are fusing into our daily lives.

I’ve got just two words to say about this right now…

It’s complicated.

But general human avoidance does seem like a best practice for the foreseeable future.

Practicing the New Art of Avoiding Humanity

It’s all about figuring out where lots of folks aren’t go be. 

Doing the opposite.

So when the Saturday weather forecast predicted lots of rain, that was my cue to activate our family beach-day plan (or at least a brief visit).

Fortunately, the storm took its time arriving, and there was wasn’t a drop of precipitation until after we returned home. But the threat was enough to keep the throngs of beach-deprived, COVID-19-weary people away. 

And that’s exactly what I was counting on. I brought my GoPro along to capture our moment in the happy emptiness.

Raining on your Parade?

When the downpour finally arrived, and I heard the sudden impact of a thousand rain drops on our roof, I closed my eyes and searched for another opposite reaction.

Then, I grabbed my waterproof iPhone and raincoat and ran outside as the deluge was still at its early peak.

My goal?

…to explore what I usually try to avoid.


Getting soaking wet isn’t so bad if that’s part of the plan.

Especially when the other part is attempting to snap a few shots of rain in flight and after arrival. 

Enjoy your Opposite

In times like these, you’ve got to get a little creative to hold onto your own balance. And that might involve getting out of your comfort zone.

So, try spending some time examining the opposite and chasing your own raindrops.

You might discover your own private beach.

Four Ways Technology Changed My Life this Year

I’m happy to report that my use of these tech devices has indeed improved my day-to-day life. Here’s why…

Technology is usually meant to make your life better. While it can often be more frustrating than anything else, I find that it does occasionally have a clearly positive impact.

Here are the four tech innovations that made a meaningful difference for me this year…

Apple Pay on My Apple Watch Replaced My Credit Card

I didn’t really feel the impact of Apple Pay when I had access to it on my iPhone. I still had to pull my iPhone out of my pocket… so the physical exercise was mostly the same as sliding a credit card out of my wallet.

Plus, I was still locked into the mindset of having to use my credit card and chipping/swapping it. The concept of contactless payments still felt foreign, and I just couldn’t get comfortable with it.

Then I tried Apple Pay with my new Apple Watch, and I finally experienced my ‘breakthrough.’

By simply double clicking the side of my Apple Watch to activate Apple Pay and then holding my wrist near the payment terminal to complete my payment… that simplicity and convenience really opened my eyes to the obvious benefit of Apple Pay.

It’s so fast. Plus, I don’t have to play roulette with the payment terminal to see if my credit card’s chip (or the payment terminal) is going to malfunction again.

GoPro Became My New Family Vacation Camera

My GoPro allowed me to finally go on vacation with my family and not stress over the possibility of destroying my camera if I tried to snap a photo.

I used to treat the beach like the landscape of a hostile foreign planet. The corrosive nature of salt water was clear and if nothing else , the salty, moist air would quickly cloud the lens. A tiny molecule of sand could fly by and wedge itself into the lens mechanism, immediately immobilizing it.

In short, the beach was a clear danger zone for my vacation photography.

But my new GoPro was essentially impervious to these threats.

  • Sand? HA!
  • Underwater? Now we’re talking!!
  • How about some slow motion video? Yes, please!

I should mention it’s a good idea to wash your GoPro with fresh water after a day of action at the beach.
(Dried salt moisture can seal the little watertight doors in place, making it difficult to pop the battery or memory card out.)

This year, I was finally able to capture some fun family shots at the beach and also have fun while doing it…

Thanks, GoPro!

I Generated Whole-House Wireless Internet Using Mesh WiFi

I lived for years with spotty WiFi in our house. The weakest WiFi signal was actually in our bedroom. That’s such a bummer, right?

I thought about extending the signal of my Apple Airport Extreme many times, but I was concerned about degrading my WiFi. So, I did nothing…

Until I read that Apple had exited the WiFi router business. And I finally decided to make a change…

I retired my Apple Airport Extreme.

And upgraded to a new WiFi mesh system:

My Orbi consists of a base unit, which essentially replaced my Apple Airport Extreme and a satellite device, which I placed in the center of my house. Together, the two devices successfully created a large enough WiFi bubble to reach all corners of our little house.

Suddenly, whole-house WiFi became the standard throughout the Lester universe.

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to check your email before your head hits the pillow and see strong WiFi bars.

YouTube TV Made Me Cut the Cord

I cut the cord this year.
…Can I say that again?

Yep, I cut the cord this year.
(Thank you.)

I replaced my cable service with YouTube TV, which is an app that streams all of the cable networks I want for just $40/month.

Yes, I’m still paying Cablevision for my internet… so technically the cord is still technically tethered.

But I returned my cable box, and my decades long relationship with an industry that helped to define my existence finally entered a more enlightened reality.

I’m saving money, only paying for what I want, gaining a sense of control and successfully trying something new.

I highly recommend it.

Don’t Forget the Human Factor
I know these ‘headaches’ that technology has helped to alleviate are First World problems.
(I do understand that.)

And I’m thankful I get to complain about these particular issues.

That said, if you’re fortunate enough to have the resources to play with technology, then technology should simply play nicely with you.

And sometimes, you’ve got rely on the human equation to figure out how to really make technology work… for you.

%d bloggers like this: