Get vocal with voice controlled home automation

Want to control your home automation system hands-free? Voice controlled home automation allows you to do just that.

There are only a couple options currently available:

  • Amazon Echo
  • Apple HomeKit

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Amazon Echo

This smart speaker which plays music when asked, now integrates with your smart home devices. “Alexa,” the cloud-connected AI that powers Amazon Echo, turns things on and off with simple voice commands.

Syncs with WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, and Wink and also has a channel on IFTTT.

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Apple HomeKit

Siri, Apple’s AI assistant, has voice-control power with HomeKit. You can control “Works with Apple HomeKit” smart home accessories by giving Siri voice commands.

Syncs with ConnectSense, Ecobee, Elgato, iDevices, iHome, Insteon, Lutron, Philips, and Schlage.

The options listed below are all available for pre-order. Continue reading Get vocal with voice controlled home automation

4 smart telescopes for observing the super blood moon

Excited for the lunar eclipse tonight? A supermoon lunar eclipse like this won’t happen again for another 18 years; with the last one happening in 1982, and the next in 2033.

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What is a “super blood moon?”

Casually dubbed a “supermoon” because the Moon appears larger, since it’s at its closest orbital point to Earth, called perigee, while also at its brightest, appearing 14% larger and 33% brighter respectively.

Additionally, it will be the last full lunar eclipse in a tetrad, a rare series of four lunar eclipses in a row, since April 15, 2015. A lunar eclipse happens when Earth lines up perfectly with the sun and the moon, causing the moon to fall completely into the Earth’s shadow. Because limited light will pass through the Earth’s atmosphere during the eclipse, the Moon will appear dark red, making it a “blood moon.”

4 smart telescopes

Want to observe the astrological event closeup? These smart telescopes might be for you.

Equipment for amateur astronomers is better than ever with inexpensive robotic telescopes and high-grade optics. Paired with astronomy apps, users can choose a target by tapping on a smartphone or tablet screen, controlling the telescope to zero in. The most important feature of a telescope is aperture; the wider the lens (8- or 10-in) or mirror, the brighter and more detailed views.

1. Celestron COSMOS 90GT WiFi Telescope – $358.79
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This 90mm refractor is a completely wireless, computerized telescope. Hold up your iOS or Android device to the sky, and using the Celestron app, find your target and tap on the screen to send the scope in the identified direction using Wi-Fi. The 90GT comes with two eyepieces for wide-angle and zoom-in views.

2. Celestron NexStar Evolution 6 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope w/ WIFI, Black 12090 – $1,199.00
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A step up from the 90GT is the Evolution 6 with a 6-in (150 mm) mirror-and-lens system. Also wi-fi equipped, it’s the first consumer telescope to use a built-in lithium-ion battery so it can run for up to 10 hours on a single charge.

3. Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope – $658.74
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Even though its equipped with 80mm of aperture, this refractor’s glass minimizes distortion and color flaws to nearly imperceptible levels, resulting in beautiful, crisp images. Thanks to the tracking capabilities of the Sky-Watcher AllView Mount, capture the views with DSLR astrophotography, videography, and time-lapse photography.

4. Orion 10069 StarSeeker III 127mm GoTo Mak-Cass Telescope (Metallic Burgundy) – $617.99
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Are you a sucker for social media? Attach your smartphone to Orion’s eyepiece via Orion’s optional accessory, the Orion 05306 SteadyPix Pro Universal Camera/Smartphone Mount (Black), so you can share snaps on Instagram. Locate a celestial object with the vast GoTo database, and the Star Seeker II automatically will track as the object moves across the sky.

When to observe the super blood moon

The event will happen Sunday, September 27 from 9:07 p.m. to 12:27 a.m. on Monday morning (Eastern time). The best time to see the moon will be at 10:11 PM ET, with the full eclipse (reddish tint) lasting 72 minutes, from 10:11 to 11:23 PM ET.

If you don’t have perfect viewing conditions or might miss it, there are livestreams:

DIY abstract art the smart way

Bare walls make a home feel unfinished as if there’s a missing piece in a puzzle. Sometimes all it takes is a well-chosen, bold piece of wall art to turn a room into yours.

But you don’t have to buy art to have art. Instead, make it!

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Not only will you have something you can be proud of, but creative work causes you to secrete dopamine, a hormone that can make you feel absorbed and fulfilled. People are most creative when we’re happy and relaxed, and conversely, by undertaking a creative task, we can steer our brains into happiness.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a trained artist to create wall art that makes a high impact. Continue reading DIY abstract art the smart way