At Home with Tech

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

Tag: Netgear Orbi

6 Ways to Protect your Data and Tech at Home

If you’re looking to beef up the reliability of your digital resources, here’s a list of the gear behind my tech.

With so many daily norms shattered as a result of COVID-19, I’ve discovered the act of online holiday shopping to be a comforting activity. Of course, it’s no less frustrating trying to find the actual deals. But that’s always been a part of the challenge, right?

Right now though, what’s most important to me isn’t what shiny new tech to buy. It’s how to make sure the gear I own continues to work properly. And that’s often about the tech behind the tech.

I thought it could be helpful to share some detail on the support gear that helps to keep my tech going every day. This list isn’t about the coolest hardware. It’s simply about what helps maintain order with my tech at home as well as a sense of stability for my (digital) existence. 

It all about protection and reliability.

1. Backup Drive for your Computer

Cloud storage should now be a major player in your backup plan, but having dependable external drives is still a good strategy. I’m a big fan of G-Technology Drives (owned by Western Digital).

The G-Technology 4TB G-Drive USB 3.0 goes for $129.95 on Amazon.

It’s what I use for my iMac’s Time Machine backups.

2. Portable Backup Drive

Yes, I’m sticking with G-Technology for the portable choice. My go-to drive is the G-Drive Mobile USB-C.

The 4 TB version costs $139 on Amazon.

3. Wireless Mesh Router

If you’re like me, your home WiFi is now tasked with supporting multiple family members throughout the day…and in every corner of your home. To help make sure that your WiFi reaches your entire family perimeter, you need a mesh WiFi system in place.

When I replaced my old Apple AirPort Extreme WiFi router, I went with the two-unit RBK50 mesh WiFi system made by Netgear Orbi. Next to my Sonos speaker in the photo above, it costs $295.19 on Amazon.

4. Smartphone Case

Holding Pelican Shield Case for iPhone XS Max

You really don’t want to deal with a cracked smartphone screen if you can avoid it. I’ve always felt that a solid case is critical to maintaining your smartphone’s structural integrity. 

I’m partial to Pelican cases. The company is best known for its equipment cases that protect gear worth many thousands of dollars. Its smartphone cases are also tough, and the “Shield” model looks like it comes from the alternate universe in the TV series, “Fringe.” 

5. Portable Power Bank for your Smartphone or iPad

You know what happens when one of your portable screens runs out of juice, and a power outlet is nowhere to be found. A little portable power can really save your day.

RAVPower 16,750mAh Power Bank USB External Battery Pack is
$27.99 on Amazon
(This model also comes with a built-in flashlight.)

6. Cloud Backup

I’ve been using Backblaze after CrashPlan broke up with me. So far, so good.

As I mentioned, cloud backup should always be a part of your data protection strategy.

Maintaining Comfort
As we enter this season that promotes comfort and joy, it’s always a useful reminder to have some boring supports in place for your important tech. I’m not sure that will specifically generate joy, but it certainly will maintain comfort.

That’s always on the top of my list.

Essential Tech I Use and Why

Here’s my list of ten technology purchases I’ve made that creates my foundation for living and working in today’s digital world.

I see myself as an everyman (person) who successfully uses his tech (usually) throughout most days in life. I’ve done my research and also have a decent track record on my specific gear choices. While I’m hardly an authority… I’d like to think I offer an informed point of view.

There is also an ever-increasing amount of choice out there, and figuring it all out can be a complete time suck. The ‘best choice’ is an elusive and always-changing equation. So, my strategy has always been to find what works (at a competitive price where possible) and stick to brands that hold up over time.

Most of all: Keep it simple…

If you think that reading about the essential tech I’ve chosen (or covet) for myself might be useful towards your own tech-selection process, then I’ve got a little list to share…

Ten Technology Choices to Help Get You through Your Day

1.  Smartphone

I upgraded from my old iPhone 6 Plus and finally convinced myself there was no need to supersize it to 512GB. So far so good…

2.  iPhone XS Max Case

It’s tough and looks like it comes from the alternate universe in the TV series, “Fringe.”

Plus, I like saying it’s made with Kevlar.
Holding My Pelican Shield Case for iPhone XS Max

Enough said.

$41.73 on Amazon Prime

3.  Watch

After three years of self-control, I couldn’t stand not trying one of these out. It was an instant success… Not only have I been loving my Apple Watch, it’s also focused me on ‘getting my steps in.’















And now, I don’t have to think about what watch I’m going to wear tomorrow!

4.  Computer

I began using Macs fifteen years ago due to the advanced multimedia applications, and I never looked back.

Do I feel the need to upgrade to the 2019 model?
Nope. Not yet… I’m doing fine with what I have.

5.  Back-Up Drive for your Computer

I’m a big fan of G-Technology Drives (now owned by Western Digital).

The G-Technology 4TB G-Drive USB 3.0 goes for $129.95 on Amazon Prime.

It’s what I use for my iMac’s Time Machine backups…

6.  Portable Back-Up Drives

  • G-Drive Mobile USB-C

Yes, I’m sticking with G-Technology again…
My go-to choice is the G-Drive Mobile USB-C.

I always grin and shake my head at how digital-storage pricing continues to drop…

7.  Cloud Backup

You do have a cloud backup plan in addition to your local backups, right?

I’ve been using Backblaze after CrashPlan broke up with me.

Offsite backup should always be a part of your strategy…

8.  Premium Point-and-Shoot Camera

Compact cameras that use 1-inch-type sensors can capture better photos than your smartphone…especially in low light.

Being able to freeze that July 4th fireworks moment is priceless!

Yes, these premium compact cameras are expensive, but if you’re serious about capturing great photos without blur and don’t want to carry around a big DSLR, this is the camera category for you…

I use Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX10. It’s a couple of years old, but still on the market and now at a discount…
$497.99 on Amazon Prime

I enjoy using my LX10, but If you’d like to know the camera I really covet, and what I’d buy today…
It’s the Sony DSC-RX100 VA… $898 on Amazon Prime.
(No… not the newer VI model. That’s because even though the VA has a smaller zoom, it‘s got a faster lens that can better capture action in low light.)

This is my friend’s new Sony DSC-RX100 VA.

The RX100 series has always seemed to set the gold standard for this category. Yes, it’s expensive, but I think it’s worth it.

9.  Action Camera

I picked up a GoPro last year as a family vacation camera, and I found that it really can enhance your vacation’s fun. A GoPro is small, durable and waterproof… so you can take it to the beach without worrying about a grain of sand crippling a retractable zoom lens. Plus you can snap great underwater shots!

It’s also incredibly fun to use during pool time!

The GoPro HERO7 Black is $343.68 on Amazon Prime.

10.  Wireless Mesh Router

When I replaced my old Apple AirPort Extreme WiFi router, I went with the two-unit mesh WiFi system made by Netgear Orbi.

The Orbi RBK50 (next to my Sonos speaker) costs $279.79 on Amazon Prime.

Mesh WiFi is a game changer… bringing new meaning to the idea of whole-house WiFi.
(I highly recommend it.)

If It Fits Your Budget…
I imagine some of you might be questioning whether all of this gear appropriately belongs on an ‘essential’ list.

While it would certainly be difficult today to operate without a smartphone or computer… does anyone really need the always more-expensive devices made by Apple? Of course not.

But I would also add that there’s value in working within one digital ecosystem. And not that you couldn’t also do that with other brands… but, hey… Apple’s always been a good bet… Period.

And no, you don’t specifically need home WiFi or a GoPro to survive, but I think it’s fair to say they’ve contributed to maintaining a level of digital homeostasis in my life.

That’s a fragile equation and always worth acknowledging… and enjoying when you can.

Try This Instead of Revealing Your Wi-Fi Password to Friends

If you feel like you’re divulging something secret when a guest asks for your home Wi-Fi password, well… you are. You may think you only have two choices in how to respond, but, in fact, there is a third option…

How many times has a guest in your home asked you for the password to your Wi-Fi network? And how many times have you coughed it up? If you’re like me, that’s usually a one-to-one relationship, right?

And when I haven’t, let me tell you, the response always creates an awkward moment.

I call it the ‘Wi-Fi Faux Pas.’

It’s simply a little rude to refuse someone access to your internet connection for their smartphone. What are they really going to do with it that’s so nefarious?

The answer is… probably nothing, but you don’t really know what could come from the password travelling forever on that mobile device. And over time, and depending how many friends and acquaintances come to visit, your private Wi-Fi password will get entered into more and more smartphones that you don’t control.

How does that feel?

One choice in trying to stem that flow is to simply say that you forgot your Wi-Fi password. I must admit I’ve done that. The irony, of course, is that I actually do sometimes forget the password… especially when I need to log into my own network.
(Don’t worry. I’ve got it written down on a fraying piece of paper.)

The Solution to Keep Your Party Happy
So, why have I really become the ‘Wi-Fi Grinch…?’

Inviting in an ever-growing number of mobile devices to feed off of your Wi-Fi bubble must carry its risks. I don’t really know the cumulative negative effect on my Wi-Fi network security. And yes, I worry about it. There’s a lot of scary news out there about internet security.

And changing my Wi-Fi password every so often as a precaution is time consuming with so much tech in my ‘connected home.’
(In fact, it’s a major project, even to remember all of my hungry IoT devices that will need reconnecting!)

There’s got to be another way to address this issue.
Well, there is!

…Create a guest Wi-Fi network.

Guest Wi-Fi for Your Visitors!
I was so excited when I upgraded my old Apple Airport Extreme to the Netgear Orbi RBK50 mesh Wi-Fi router ($298.97 on Amazon) and then realized I had the option to create a guest Wi-Fi network. My guest Wi-Fi would live right alongside my main web bubble.

That sounds useful, right?

Being able to create another access point with a different login password that I could easily change (once and done) was the perfect solution to my ‘Wi-Fi Grinchness.’

So, I quickly set up my guest network on the Orbi app on my iPhone, and I was in business and ready to handle “the question.”

I’ve got to admit it does feel a bit like I’m running my own B&B, but I certainly feel much more comfortable now sharing my guest network password along with crudités.

Etiquette problem solved.

No More ‘Wi-Fi Faux Pas’
At the end of the day, I’m not so sure my home Wi-Fi network is technically any more or less secure with the addition of my guest Wi-Fi.

My online research turned up several heated Orbi conversations about the guest network option led by clearly knowledgeable IT types. They all expressed different concerns… all of which included geeky details I couldn’t follow.
(The essence of the threads question how ‘separate’ the guest network is from the main network.)

For me, the giant leap forward is to simply hand out a separate password to my guests. I know that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to truly maintaining a secure network, but it’s an important start.

And for now, I’m also avoiding the ‘Wi-Fi Faux Pas’ with my family and friends.

My visitors are happy.
I’m less nervous.

Let the party continue…

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