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4 Electrical Safety Tips to Improve Efficiency at Home

Electrical Efficiency

Not a single day would go by without you using an electrical appliance at home. Since they are so common and using them would feel like second nature, people tend to forget the electrical risks associated with using the appliances carelessly. Here are some tips to maintain electrical safety at home and minimize the associated risks.

  • Update Aging Electrical Appliances

Check the age of your electrical appliances and electrical panels. When they age, the wiring gets frayed, there will be overheating issues and the components will get worn out. These factors are responsible for increasing the risk of electrocution and electrical fires in your home. These signs may also indicate that the appliances would run less efficiently than they are designed to. The issue will amplify if the appliances do not receive routine maintenance over an extended period of time.

You must conduct timely repairs and service the appliances regularly as it will ensure that your appliances run efficiently for a long time without presenting any risk of an accident. If you want to limit the energy wastage even more, consider upgrading the appliance with a new, Energy Star-rated model. Not only will it help you save money but assure you that the new appliance operates safely for many years.

  • Consolidate Webs of Extension Cords

Are electrical wire and cables running haphazardly on the floor or behind the furniture at your home? If yes, then the risk of electrical fires will go up. You can take preventive measures to make your home more energy-friendly and safe.

Swap out multiple extension cords with a single power strip. This will ensure that the room doesn’t consist of crisscrossed wires and people don’t trip on them. At the same time, the power strip will also ensure that the outlets do not get overloaded and affect the energy efficiency.

Invest in power strips that have a surge protector as it will further limit the chances of a house fire. Be aware of appliances that continue to drain electricity even when they are turned off. You can corral such appliances to their own surge protector as it will make it easy to cut off the low-key energy wasters at the source.

  • Investigate Light Flickering

If the lights flicker a lot, it indicates that there is an electrical issue. Generally, loose wiring splices, worn light fixtures and deterioration of light fixtures are responsible for the inconsistent flow of power and such wiring types need to be replaced.

Apart from interrupted power flow, flickering lights also indicate that the wiring setup within the house may need repair. Consider all the possible solutions that you can implement in order to protect your home and family from combustible consequences of wiring failure in the future.

  • Focus on the Outdoors

Don’t just focus on the wiring inside the house. It is equally important to place attention on outdoor electrical safety as numerous electrical hazards can be found outside the house too. Here are some ways to ensure safety outdoors:

  • Prune the trees away from the power lines overhead
  • Avoid flying model aircrafts, kites or balloons near the power lines
  • Avoid swimming or playing in water during an electrical storm, even if there is no rain
  • Don’t approach a downed power line to determine if it’s live or not, because even if it looks ‘dead’ it may be live and extremely dangerous. If you have a downed line, call the concerned authorities.
  • Inspect the surrounding areas carefully when you use a ladder or construction electrical products to ensure that they are free from power lines.

Don’t take electrical safety lightly! Instill safe electrical habits amongst your family members — you won’t lose sleep over their safety.

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Author Bio: Jeson Pitt works with the marketing department of D&F Liquidators and regularly writes to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas. He’s got the industry insights that you can count on along with years of experience in the field. Jeson lives in Hayward, CA and loves to explore different cuisines that the food trucks in the Bay area have to offer.

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New Developments in VR Will Change the Way You Use the Internet

VR HeadsetIt’s fascinating how virtual reality trends in recent years have paved the way for a reimagined future for all kinds of businesses. The mere fact that you can put on a VR headset and transport yourself to anywhere without budging already screams limitless possibilities.

Decades ago, virtual technologies cost a fortune and were only assigned to certain scientific practices as well as military simulations. It was only with the sudden release of consumer VR headsets like the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and the PlayStation VR that companies called for an innovation in their current practices. According to a survey published by Education Technology, three quarters of people believe that VR will positively impact their lives.

Nowadays, you can see virtual reality being marketed in different industries, the gaming sector most especially. Since video games are an interactive medium that lets you escape to alternate worlds, incorporating virtual reality makes sense. Although, sometimes, depending on the game’s narrative, virtual reality can be a hit or miss.

A writer for TechRadar shared her thoughts on playing Rise of the Tomb Raider in virtual reality. She said that virtual reality brought a different experience to the game’s story elements. Since you literally play through the eyes of the protagonist Lara Croft, some emotional scenes weren’t as impactful, compared to when you see a visibly shaken Lara Croft onscreen.

For context, Tomb Raider was one of those 20-year-old classic games that long-time gamers hold dear to their hearts. The game’s reboot in 2013 made it an even bigger franchise, because it appealed to a new generation of gamers. Because of its widespread success, several other companies have adapted their signature games – partnering with the franchise because of its notoriety among gaming circles. For instance, Slingo launched a Tomb Raider-themed slot game to appeal to fans of the franchise. Similarly, Warner Bros. recently released a trailer for the live-action adaptation of the 2013 version of Tomb Raider, with the intent of introducing it to a much more mainstream audience. Since many fans have emotions attached to Lara Croft, who is now a household name, it was imperative for developers to provide other innovative ways for audiences to connect with her better.

The inclusion of virtual reality was one such method. But as previously indicated, good game design as well as a VR-friendly narrative would be integral.

Virtual reality is still in its infancy anyway, as companies are still exploring ways to utilize it. Aside from games, the Internet seems to be the next biggest beneficiary of this technology.

Google has just announced a new feature where you can browse the web through virtual reality (VR). Now most websites rely heavily on text, so it doesn’t seem very exciting to visit them in virtual reality. But other web pages will definitely take advantage. This new feature poses great opportunities for browser video games, hotels and real estate websites.

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made headlines in 2014 when he acquired the Oculus for 2 billion dollars. He noted in a Facebook post, ”This is a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life.” Zuckerberg’s aim is bring virtual reality to a more personal and social level. Just imagine a social media platform that gives an organic experience. Instead of browsing through your friends’ photos of their travels, you can be present with them, albeit virtually.

With Google and Facebook both investing in VR, it seems like the Internet is gradually entering a virtual reality revolution. Next thing we know, we’ll have virtual online dinner parties with relatives stationed all over the world.

The future is indeed bright.

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Making the most of the Google app

Google Search

 

This post was originally published in the September 22, 2015 edition of the Southwest Journal.

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Hello, Journal readers! Gadget Guy here.

I wanted to share about a not-so-secret weapon that I use to solve problems and answer many questions. You may have heard of it before — Google, the search engine that has spawned loads of cloud-based productivity software.

While there are still legions of fans using Yahoo for search, I would be shocked to learn that you don’t use Google to search for websites or restaurants. However, how many of you are using the Google app on your phones? There are specific Google apps for both Android and iOS/Apple. If you aren’t using it, you should be.

Some people refer to the Google app as “Google Now,” but that is only a part of this fantastic virtual assistant (some call the app Google Search, some Google Voice Search). The Google app allows you to ask a question either via voice or type it in. With voice, it can be set to automatically begin listening to you when you say, “OK, Google.” The app can answer questions directly or send you to specific websites, just as a normal Google search from your desktop would. You can also tell it to call someone, set a timer, set a reminder, open a specific app, or bring up your calendar or set an appointment.

I should point out that Apple has Siri and Microsoft has Cortana. Both are capable virtual assistants that can help you find information and answer questions for you, but Google’s virtual assistant is built on Google’s search engine and we all know who the king of online search is. Compared to Siri, the Google app is very utilitarian, without much of a personality — that is not necessarily a bad thing though, if you just want functionality. There are a few Easter eggs thrown in. For instance, when you ask the app to make you a sandwich, one of the responses is “Poof; you are a sandwich.”

In addition to searches, the Google app includes Google Now which is contextually aware and learns from your searches, calendar, calls, and more to create a landing page filled with useful information. If Google Now sees you have a calendar appointment, it coordinates with Google Maps and your location to give you a notification of when you need to leave to arrive on time. It will even make you aware of any traffic hold-ups enroute to your destination.

I check Google Now in the mornings and see my appointments for the day, upcoming birthdays or anniversaries, tracking information for packages that it recognizes from my email with shipping information, events near me, sports scores that I am interested in, and important news related to searches that I have performed or shown interest in. You can continue to customize Google Now by responding when the app asks if the information it is displaying is useful or not.

While I love Google and have built most of my digital ecosystem around it, depending upon your device, you may want to stick with the native virtual assistant: Google on Android, Siri on iOS, and Cortana on Windows Phones. The native assistant will work the most seamlessly with your internal operating system. With that all being said, I do recommend trying the Google search app on any device.

As I shared in my last article, it is fun to bump into people in the neighborhood and discuss my articles. Please continue to send me questions that you would like me to answer in my column, please email me at paul@gadgetguymn.com. Thanks!


Paul Burnstein is a Tech Handyman and Digital Dad. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul focuses on optimizing personal and business use of technology. He can be found through gadgetguymn.com or email him at paul@gadgetguymn.com.

photo credit: Vielleicht… via photopin (license)

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A New Launch for the Gadget Guy MN Blog

Welcome to the Gadget Guy MN Blog! This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my thoughts on how technology can help create more efficiency and consistency in our lives – and through that have more time to do the things we like, such as spending time with family and friends or doing hobbies.

I like to share that “technology makes our lives easier… until it doesn’t.” When technology stops working it can be very frustrating. I can’t say that I never have to deal with that frustration, but some of my tips and tricks can help minimize the dark side of technology.

I have cut the cord on cable and set up wireless sound systems in my home. Rather than replacing a proprietary video system for watching babies, I installed a more versatile, nonproprietary multi-camera system that is now viewable at home as well as when out and traveling.

Join me with this blog as I share some of my tips and tricks as well as articles, products and opinions from others that I feel are worth your time to view.

Thanks for stopping by!

– Paul Burnstein, aka Gadget Guy MN


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