Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Automating and securing your house with AT&T Digital Life

Have you ever left your house and only after a few miles away, started to wonder if you locked the front door? Lay there there in bed wondering if you (or your kids) remembered to close the garage door.  AT&T recently launched a new product, AT&T Digital Life, in 15 metropolitan areas that can help with these problems.  I recently got to see it in action at a home in Seattle.

While enjoying appetizers from Lark, the homeowner showed us how is house had been secured with Digital Life, from a camera and keypad lock on the front door, to automated lights in his backyard and living room, to a water alarm in his laundry room.

Just about everything in his house could be monitored and automated. At 7 PM, the lights in the living room turned on - twilight was setting in at that hour.  We were able to tilt and pan the camera in the downstairs to find where the dog was hanging out.

Through a web (or smartphone) application, we were able to review who walked up to his front door.  A novelty for a social gathering, we were able to see how fashionably late we were, but great to see who came to your door during the day. I'm lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where stealing mail or from open garages is the biggest crime, and this could help.  An Amazon package, could sit on my doorstep all day and Digital Life watches it, the motion activated camera turning on when my kid comes home and brings it in, or the nefarious thief comes by and snatches it from the front door.  I might not catch them in the act, but I'd get their smiling mug on camera.

On top of scheduled automation, there is even based automation. Your kid comes home after school, lets themselves in with their code on the keypad and you get an email letting you know they came home. Using the camera, you could see who they brought home and if they forgot to lock the door, you can do that from your smartphone or computer at work.

Many of us have timer thermostats, turning on just before you wake or come home, saving money not cooling or heating an empty home, but keeping it comfortable when you're there.  With Digital Life, you can adjust it remotely if you're coming home earlier, so its warm and inviting when you get home.  Weather in Seattle is always changing and a day that starts out cool can end up rather warm.  With Digital Life, you could reset your thermostat so your air conditioner kicks in, if you didn't set it just so before you left in the morning.

I've been awoken at 2 AM by the police just to let me know that my garage door was open. It happens all the time that my kids forget to close the garage door. With Digital Life, I could check it from my smart phone and from the comfort of my bed, close the garage door using my smart phone.  I could go as far as schedule an email of the door's status at 10 PM every night.

If you follow my wife on Instagram, you've probably seen our old dog, Sebbie. Most of the time, he lays in the family room, but he's old and sometimes his legs give out and he falls in the middle of the floor.  With the pan and tilt cameras, we could ensure that he hasn't fallen down. If he has, we could call a neighbor, unlock the door for them and lock it after they help him up. See what your pet would say.

I love the idea of being able to automate and remotely control things in my house, along with the sense of security that comes with a monitored alarm solution. The typical door and glass break sensors are available, though in a much smaller form factor.

I frequently shop for dinner on my way home from work and it would be really awesome if I could remotely pre-heat my oven as I leave the grocery store. But alas, that feature isn't available yet.

How would you use Digital Life to make your life simpler and safer? Learn more about AT&T Digital Life and let me know your favorite feature in the comments.

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Disclaimer: Besides yummy appetizers from Lark and Dry Soda, I was not compensated for this post. The opinions are all mine, as are the crazy ideas on how I'd be checking up on my kids!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Always Moving Forward - 10 Months of CrossFit

One of the foundations of CrossFit are named Work Outs of the Day (WOD). Some are purely benchmarks and some, Hero WODs, pay homage to those that have given their life in service to their country and community.  Cascade CrossFit does our benchmark WODs on Mondays.

This week, the Hero WOD JT was in our training.  This WOD honors Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor, a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan in 2005, along with 16 other soldiers and sailors when their helicopter was shot down.  From

Taylor was part of a dedicated Naval Special Warfare team fighting the Taliban, a fundamentalist regime that a U.S.-led coalition knocked from power in Afghanistan in 2001, but has continued to conduct guerilla operations, particularly along the Pakistan border. Taylor worked to help ensure al Qaeda terrorists could not train in, nor launch strikes from Afghanistan since their lethal attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.Jeffrey Taylor enlisted in the Navy in 1994 and became a Hospital Corpsman. After graduating from BUD/S, Taylor was assigned to SEAL Team EIGHT, the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, and SEAL Team TEN. He deployed to Afghanistan in April 2005.
Jeffrey Taylor was one of 16 troops killed when a MH- 47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan on June 28, on a daring daylight mission to reinforce a four-man SEAL reconnaissance squad that had been ambushed in 8,000- foot mountainous terrain.
Taylor, seven other SEALs, and eight Army “Nightstalker” Commandos died in their heroic attempt to rescue their fellow SEALs. LT Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson, and Danny Dietz fought on courageously, providing protective fire for a fourth squad member to escape, before they were killed in the fierce firefight by overwhelming Taliban forces.
A total of 11 SEALs died that day in the Global War against Terror. It was the biggest single loss of life for Naval Special Warfare forces since World War II. To a man, these SEALs embodied the Navy’s core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment, and took care of their teammates to the end.
Jeffrey Taylor is remembered with the greatest respect and gratitude by his fellow SEALs, the Navy, and our nation. is remembered with the greatest respect andgratitude by his fellow SEALs, the Navy, and our nation.
This WOD consists of
21 Handstand push-ups, Ring dips and Push-ups
then 15 Handstand push-ups, Ring dips and Push-ups
then 9 Handstand push-ups, Ring dips and Push-ups

Its pretty tough. Hero WODs are that way, paying homage to how tough hero are.  It was also my first benchmark WOD when I started CrossFit 10 months ago.

That first day, I remember thinking that this WOD was going to kill me and I just had to finish it.  I had to modify every exercise, pike push-ups instead of hand stand push ups, thick rubber bands on the ring dips, push ups on my knees.  It took me 23 minutes to get through it.

Sunday night, I saw it posted on the blog that our WOD the next day was JT.  I knew it was still going to kick my butt, but it was going to be exciting to see how my time has changed.  I've come along way since I started, but these are pretty tough exercises.  I can get up into a handstand and hold myself up, but no push up, about 1 in 4 attempts.  I still use a band for the ring dips, but its the smallest one we've got.

But it took me just under 17 minutes this time around.

Ten months of dedication to a CrossFit lifestyle is paying off.  Every (weekday) morning, I get up and head to Cascase CrossFit for the 6AM workout. I push myself everyday and I'm always moving forward.  I competed in the CrossFit Open, comparing my performance to other CrossFitters world-wide. There were olympic lifts I couldn't do, but there were also times when I put more weight over my head than ever before.  You won't see me in the CrossFit Games with these elite athletes, but you will see me pushing myself to be my best.  I'm competing with myself.

 What do you do to challenge your self?  Do something today that makes you better than yesterday.