If the first thing you think of when you hear the term “smart home” is a programmable thermostat, but it’s time to update your concept of what makes today’s homes so, well, smart. Today’s smart home technology has evolved to be accessible, adaptable and portable, making it perfect for renters.
Here, we’ll take a look at how you can outfit your apartment with smart essentials to make renting significantly more convenient and safe.
If you’re not already using a digital assistant (also known as a virtual voice assistant or smart speaker), these devices may be one of the easiest ways for you to introduce smart technology into your home. Digital assistants, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, respond to voice commands and are designed to make your life a little simpler.
You can ask your digital assistant to perform a number of tasks, such as play music, read you the news, order groceries, place a phone call or add appointments to your calendar. When synced with other smart devices in your home, digital assistants allow you to adjust lighting, turn appliances on and off and even activate security cameras.
Smart plugs are an inexpensive, easy way to integrate smart home tech into your rental. These devices allow you to remotely control anything that plugs into a wall socket — all with a tap of your finger on your smartphone or tablet. At home, you can even use your smart speaker to activate smart plugs with a voice command.
When paired with lighting, smart plugs make your apartment more secure. Plug in your lights, then program the plugs to activate them at random times while you’re away. This gives the appearance that you’re home and helps deter would-be thieves from breaking into your apartment.
Smart outlets can also optimize energy savings by turning off appliances — such as your washing machine or television — when not in use. With smart plugs, you never have to worry about leaving a light on all day or forgetting to turn off the oven, since you can manage all your devices and settings from your mobile device.
Smart Window AC Unit
You can’t necessarily install a smart thermostat, but you can but you can have more control over cooling costs with a smart window air conditioner unit. The smart AC units are controlled by Wi-Fi. You can activate them remotely and program them to fit your schedule — meaning you can walk into a perfectly cool apartment after work without running up your utility bill.
Ready to go to smart apartment extremes? Consider a smart mattress. These futuristic beds provide sleep tracking, so you can keep track of how many hours you slept. They can also detect optimal wake time based upon your sleep patterns and set an alarm for you. And a smart alarm is only the beginning — smart mattresses can also regulate their temperature throughout the night, adjusting constantly to keep your body as comfortable as possible.
If you connect your mattress to a smart home hub or digital assistant, it can kick off your morning the right way. For example, you can set your coffee maker to begin brewing as your smart alarm goes off, and program the lights to turn on as you step out of bed.
This is 2018, there’s pretty much nothing you can’t do without the assistance of technology. The same holds true for something as simple as spring cleaning. There are all kinds of gadgets to make the work easier, and apps to make the job organized. Take a look at the ones we’ve gathered below and choose your favorites when tackling the dreaded (or anticipated) deep clean of your apartment:
Cleaning Checklist helps you organize and manage household cleaning tasks and activities. Pick a room, select the task, and check it off when complete. Voilà!
BrightNest is for those who don’t even know where to start. This app is full of useful tips for cleaning specific parts of your home, like how to remove toilet stains or what essential oils keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh.
ChoreBank is great if you have kids that want to help. Assign a monetary value or activity reward to each chore and make virtual deposits to your child’s account. You can even text reminders to your kids!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Roomba, the house-cleaning robot. These bad boys can run upwards of $900, but critics claim it’s well worth the price.
Allergy sufferers: this one’s for you. Nothing says spring cleaning like purified breathing air. Molekule is the latest in air purification systems that is not only effective, but smart and innovative.
We stumbled upon a nifty little (affordable!) gadget that attaches to any standard household vacuum. The Dusty-Brush consists of dozens of tiny vacuum tubes that pick up dust and debris while leaving behind the important stuff, like nuts & bolts, craft supplies, and other small objects. Perfect for those hard-to-reach places like vents and the back of the pantry.
Well, it’s finally here. The time that everyone has been waiting for. Every basketball fan’s dream. Yup, March Madness is upon us. This blog is being written the day after Selection Sunday, everyone’s first taste as to what this year’s tournament will look like. There were some interesting seeding situations, but for the most part I think the NCAA did a nice job. The four #1 seeds for this year’s tournament are Kansas, Xavier, Villanova and Virginia, with Virginia being the #1 overall team in the country and the tournament. Speaking of Virginia, I do have to give a major shout-out to their first round matchup, the #16 seed UMBC Retrievers. As a Baltimore native it is great to see UMBC back in the tournament after a ten year hiatus. A major congratulations to Coach Ryan Odom, star player Jarius Lyles, and the rest of the team.
As for the rest of the tournament there will be no shortage of must-see games in the first round. As I sit here filling out my bracket, there is a lot of thought that must go into this. It’s hard for me not to fall in love with Oklahoma and Trae Young as a #10 seed in the Midwest. With player of year material written all over him I actually took Young and Oklahoma as the team to take down Duke in the second round (as much as I love coach K you have to root against Duke as a Maryland native, right?). For me, there were a few no brainers. Such as Virginia and Kansas making it to the final four. However, there were a couple tough choices I had to make besides the Oklahoma/Duke matchup. Although I have them making it to the elite eight, it’s still a struggle for me to see Xavier making a lot of noise past that, as I have them losing to UNC. Another one was in the sweet sixteen where I have Villanova and West Virginia in the East region. I am a huge fan of Coach Bob Huggins so it was very difficult for me to pick Villanova, even with their #1 seed. But I do have faith in Coach Jay Wright and the Wildcats.
All in all it was as tough a bracket to fill out. After a long afternoon I came out with my picks, a few upsets, a few non-upsets and everything in between. I came out with a final four of Virginia, UNC, Texas Tech, and Kansas. I then have Virginia advancing to the championship over UNC and in the other game I have Texas Tech advancing over Kansas to avenge a loss just a few weeks ago. It was a tough decision in the champion game, but my choice for the 2018 NCAA champion is…. TEXAS TECH!! I am sure that is not the choice you were expecting, as Tech has struggled a bit as of recent, with key injuries to star player Kenan Evans. However I feel like if Evans and the Red Raiders can get back into form with a first and second round win, they will get back to early season form and make a serious run. Besides, who doesn’t love a feel-good Cinderella story? Team comes out playing really well in the beginning of the season, then some key players get hurt and they struggle for a while, but then they get it together to win a National Championship? The Red Raiders are all in!
Everybody who loves college basketball loves upsets and loves Cinderella stories, and I feel like this year will be no different. With the first few games looming it’s going to be a great year for March Madness. Put on your seat belt folks, because it’s going to be another wild ride in March!
No, this isn’t a leap year, no need to panic. The next leap year will be 2020 when we see another election and the Summer Olympics.
We simply thought: why leap year?
The origins of the leap year date back to 46 BC, when Julius Caesar—under the influence of Sosigenes of Alexandria—introduced the Julian calendar. According to them, a year was considered to be not just 365 days, but actually 365.25 days (hence the need for a leap day/year). But what they didn’t realize is that the Tropical year (the time it takes the planet to make one revolution around the sun) is actually slightly less than that—about 365.242 days. And over a period of 400 years, the Julian calendar would end up with a surplus of 3 days. This meant certain astronomical events, like the Vernal Equinox, and festivals associated with such evens, like Easter, occurred out of sync with respect to their fixed dates.
Fast forward many centuries to 1582, when the surplus was finally realized by Pope Gregory XIII. The difference in time had accumulated, and the Julian calendar had fallen so out of sync with the Tropical year it was off by 10 days! As a resolution, Pope Gregory XIII—under the influence of astronomer Christopher Clavis—produced the modern Gregorian calendar we know today and simply omitted those 10 days. Which meant that after Thursday, October 4, 1582, the next day was Friday, October 15, 1582. Which meant October 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, in 1582 never happened. Google it! Riots ensued shortly after because many Europeans believed 10 days were taken away from their lives.
To compensate the 3 day surplus every 400 years, the Pope added a rule that every century which is not divisible by 400 will not be a leap year.
Note: even today the Gregorian calendar is still off. Every 3236 years, the calendar gains an extra day.
Valentine’s Day can be expensive. The flowers, the chocolates, the romantic dinners. But at least you can save yourself some cash by making your own card. Just grab some construction paper and a set of markers (or, use plain white paper and a pen to really drive home your lack of enthusiasm for the holiday). We’ve found the perfect greetings for your significant other or your BFF, but feel free to use any of these from one category to the next:
This Rose is way better than any wilting flower.
May the inhaler be with you.
You’re the [Christmas] light of my life.
Or at the dinner table. Or in the car. Or at my parents’ house.
Most people anyway. Tom Hanks may have a leg up on you, but he’s the only one.
When worlds collide.
I feel like I can communicate with you with simply a look.
Downsizing ain’t easy. Moving from a house to a new apartment can provide you with a brand-new start, but it may also come with many changes that can feel foreign or overwhelming. Change doesn’t have to be scary, though, here are a couple of the biggest things you can expect when you make the leap from house to apartment — and a look at how you can make the most of these opportunities!
Planning to Downsize
All you need to do is go on Pinterest or browse the magazine rack at the local market to find thousands of ideas about how to improve your life through downsizing. Lucky for you, downsizing is just part of the deal when you move from a house to an apartment. Here’s a closer look at how your new lifestyle embraces this trend.
One of the most obvious changes you’ll encounter when you move from a house to an apartment is less living space. Apartments are designed for efficiency, which means that overall square footage will be less and individual rooms will be smaller.
Rethink your furniture —that oversized sofa may need to be traded for a sleeker version that fits better in your new space. The upside is that you have the perfect excuse to go shopping and play with a whole new look for your new home.
You’ll probably have to take a good, hard look at everything that’s currently living in a closet, cupboard, or drawer, and decide whether or not you can live without it. Some new renters use this opportunity to declutter their lives, while others learn to love the world of storage units.
It can be revitalizing to get rid of extra baggage you’ve been holding on to simply because you have a place for it to hang out. But if you have items you can’t bear to part with (Grandma’s china), it’s pretty affordable to rent a storage unit where your precious mementos will be safe and sound.
Consider Community Perks
If you’re conflicted about saying goodbye to your house, our sweet apartment bonuses may help you greet apartment life with open arms.
A pool, hot tub, fitness room, and someone else to worry about landscaping and lawn care —what’s not to love? One of the biggest perks of going from house to apartment living is the resort-like amenities that many communities offer.
Be prepared to take full advantage of these extras. Community amenities provide the chance to relax, stay in shape, and make new friends who live just down the hall.
Living in close quarters with neighbors adds a lot of extra safety. It’s easier to get to know neighbors and spot when someone is lurking around who doesn’t belong.
In addition, some rental communities have security guards or extra measures like pass cards or security codes to enter buildings and communal areas. Ask the landlord what sorts of security is in place when you take a tour of the premises; you may be pleasantly surprised at the safety measures you’ll get for little to no added cost.
No matter the reason you’re moving from a house to an apartment, this change can be exciting. Prepare yourself to embrace apartment living and know what to expect by doing some thorough research before signing that lease.
Thinking about adopting a dog? If you didn’t already know, we are a pet friendly community; in fact, we LOVE our furry residents. We have a few restricted breeds, however, so be sure to check with us before bringing home Fido. While almost any dog can potentially make a great apartment dog, we’ve narrowed down the breeds that, based on generalized demeanor, will be the best fit for your apartment.
These adorable little “hot dogs” are expert snugglers who love burrowing beneath blankets and cuddling up to their loved ones. The smallest of the hound breeds, they do enjoy a good run – but the bonus here is that with legs just a few inches long, you can give them all the toy-fetching exercise they need right in the house!
Fluffy, French and altogether fashionable in appearance, Bichons shed very little, though they will need regular grooming to stay kempt. Energetic, loving and bright, the Bichon makes a wonderful companion. While they do enjoy a walk, they’re happy to be little movie-watching couch potatoes, as well.
These interesting-looking little love dogs come in a powderpuff and hairless variety. The hairless are very easy to maintain, as you might imagine – though they can get cold and should own a few sweaters! Weighing up to 12 pounds, they of course need regular walks but don’t require a large amount of exercise and do very well in apartments.
These dogs are like giant Dobermans that have been hit with a shrink ray! Miniature Pinschers (or Min-Pins, as they are often called) have a similar appearance to the Doberman, but are actually a distinct and older breed. Standing roughly 10”-12” tall at the shoulder, these tiny titans average out to about 11 pounds, and make wonderful watchdogs, as they’re alert and suspicious. Also adorable.
Are you an experienced dog owner who loves taking your dog out for exercise? If so, the foxy-looking Shiba, which hails from Japan, often makes one of the best apartment dogs! Shibas have lots of energy, so if running – either in tandem or turning your pup loose at the dog park – on a daily basis sounds like you, this is definitely a breed to consider.
We know. You’re probably thinking, ‘How can these dogs – with their racing backgrounds – be one of the best dog breeds for apartments?!’ But they are! Long, lanky and content to be lazy, the only thing greyhounds may demand of you is more couch space. They actually need very little exercise or grooming, and they’re wonderfully easygoing and quickly trained. What’s more, greyhounds are plentiful in rescues nationwide, and thus affordable to obatin.
Want a true couch potato? These wrinkly little lovers may not look like lap dogs, but as far as they’re concerned, they definitely are. Quiet, friendly and loving, bulldogs enjoy a good romp, but they’re fairly low-energy and very content loafing about with their loved ones . . . and a cozy apartment would suit just fine.
With identity thieving at an all-time high, securing your personal information is more important than ever before, and it can start with something as simple as ensuring that your apartment’s wifi password security, as well as your other passwords, are strong enough. But how do you create a secure password?
The Three Essential Rules to Creating a Secure Password
Though passwords may seem like a hassle to remember, they’re a hugely necessary inconvenience. According to cybersecurity company IdentityHawk.com, they’re essential in the fight against someone stealing your data or even your identity. In order to ensure your password security, start by keeping these three rules in mind:
Passwords should be complex and long While this may make your password more difficult to remember, it also makes it more difficult for a hacker to guess. Aim for a password that’s at least 8 characters long, includes both upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters such as %, # or &.
Passwords should not be easy to guess It’s always tempting to use something simple like “password1” or even “123456,” but that’s one of the worst things you can do. Sequential numbers are actually the worst for hacks, according to SplashData, who collect information on data breaches. In fact, in 2015, “123456” was the most commonly used password found in hacks for the 5th year running.
Use a different password for every account Using the same password for all of your accounts is just asking for trouble. Oftentimes during major data breaches, hackers will try using acquired passwords on other accounts just to see if they’ll work, meaning they could possibly gain access to your important financial information. If your memory just isn’t built for that kind of thing, try using one of the top password managers to ensure your password security.
How Do I Know If I Have a Bad Password?
Here is SplashData’s top 25 list of most commonly used–bad–passwords. If you are using any of these, change it. Now.
Instead, use these 3 simple tips for a better password:
Use passwords or passphrases of twelve characters or more with mixed types of characters
Avoid using the same password over and over again on different websites
Use a password manager such as TeamsID to oranize and protect passwords, generate random ones, and automatically log into websites
So what’s the best way to choose a secure password?
Choose a phrase with at least 8 words: This is my favorite sandwich in the world
Take the first letter of each word: timfsitw
Switch one (or two) to an uppercase: TimFsitw
Switch one to a number: T1mFsitw
Switch one to a special character: T1mF$itw
Add something unique from each site (i.e. add a “b” for banking, and “f” for Facebook, etc.)
If there’s one meal at which family drama is on full display, it’s Thanksgiving. Expectations and emotions run high, and there are a lot of moving parts to cause friction. Even Anthony Bourdain, who is seemingly immune to the criticism of others, feels the pressure to pull off the most anticipated meal of the year. If you’re hosting (and taking seriously) The Big Meal this year, you’ll need to read this before tackling anything related to it. There’s a lot you’re just plain doing wrong.
Below, a list of exactly what you’re doing wrong, according to Anthony Bourdain:
1. You start cooking on Thanksgiving Day.
Preparing your whole meal in one day— even two—is a recipe for system failure. Order your fancy farmer-raised turkey now. Or, if you are going to buy a more plebian bird from a regular market, get your hands on it no later than the Monday before Thanksgiving.
2. You’re not planning well enough.
Plan for three days—that’s right, three days—of full-on Thanksgiving prep. Make a list of everything that needs to get done and follow it. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, you should be organizing your supplies and tools, making sure you have enough roasting pans, mixing bowls, and storage containers ,and banging out advance vegetable prep.
3. You’re not giving yourself enough time to thaw everything out.
Do not wait until Thanksgiving to lay out your non-perishables and frozen items. The vast majority of holiday turkeys are sold frozen, and it takes about six hours per pound to defrost in the refrigerator. No amount of prayer, salting, or hastily applied hairdryers can speed up this process if you’ve waited until Wednesday to thaw a 12-pound bird. Your microwave isn’t big enough. You can jolly it along a bit with a cold water bath, which thaws the meat at approximately 30 minutes per pound, but do not float your turkey in your bathtub.
4. You’re not saving the stock when it’s all over. It’s liquid gold for cold weather.
Stock is the underrated superhero of the Thanksgiving meal, the product that comes out of nowhere to save almost everything except your pie. You should make stock out of your Thanksgiving turkey carcass—but the use of a good, dark, gelatinous-when-refrigerated stock that you have on hand before the meal is what’s going to upgrade your stuffing and gravy. Buy about five to seven pounds of turkey wings and necks as the base for a deeply-roasted stock, or invest in a couple of quarts of the best-quality turkey stock you can find a few days (or weeks) before the holidays. Use the stock made from your Thanksgiving birds for winter soups and stews.
5. You only make one turkey? That’s cute.
Prepare a stunt turkey and a business turkey. To impress guests, roast and artfully arrange a small turkey, using any and all manner of garnishes and props, including (but not limited to): chop frills, rainbow pinwheels of skewered citrus fruit slices, maraschino cherries, curly kale, lit sparklers, and crisp, new $100 bills and/or gold leaf. While guests admire your artistry (and drink your Burgundy), carve the larger, roasted business turkey in the kitchen. The stunt turkey should be edible, of course. Use it to supplement the meal as needed, or lean on it entirely for care packages and day-after leftovers.
6. You’re throwing away the fat.
Do not discard the copious amounts of grease your bird has generously provided you with; use it to boost flavor. Butter is good, but turkey fat is better for delivering quintessential flavor. Save the grease that runs off the roasted birds and use it for the gravy and as a moistening agent for your stuffing.
7. Don’t try anything crazy. This is not the time for wild experimentation.
Stick with tradition on Thanksgiving. You have 364 days of the year to experiment with the cuisines of the world, your dehydrator, and your sous vide machine. Give the people what they want on Thanksgiving: the likes of buttery mashed potatoes, savory stuffing with mushrooms or chestnuts or oysters, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry relish, bacon-enhanced Brussels sprouts, creamed onions, pumpkin or apple pie with real whipped cream, and above all, a straight-ahead bronzed turkey, roasted in the oven.
8. You’re giving it all away at the end of the meal.
A good turkey sandwich, enhanced with a layer of stuffing and gravy, eaten in peace after your guests have gone, is the whole point of hosting Thanksgiving in the first place. By all means, send your friends and family home with care packages—but first, make sure you’ve tucked away enough additional stuff for yourself.
Traditional Halloween treats include all oour obvious favorites: Snickers, Reese’s, Twix, Skittles, and the (yummy) list goes on and on. But this year you should stray from tradition and pick up some not-so-typical treats for the youngsters in your building. Trust us, they’ll get plenty of the tooth-rotting goodness, but they’ll welcome the alternative Halloween treats we gathered here. Many of these items can be purchased in bulk for an affordable price at your local dollar store: