A Dumb Guide To Making A Smart Home

HomeAutoFeature2

Look, some dads are tech masters who are always on top of the latest thing, but I just hadn’t thought about home automation before. I had Alexa, and loved it, but I figured smart lights and everything would mean rewiring the whole house. But then I was part a “favorite things” gift exchange and someone gave me a pack of four smart outlets, and it was a huge “Oh, duh” moment.

To have a smart home, you don’t have to reprogram your whole house’s electricity…you just take remote control of an outlet. I downloaded the Smart Life app, plugged in one of the outlets and held down the button until it blinked.

smartoutlet

With my phone connected to the wifi, they synced up and were good to go. I grew up with frustratingly slow tech, and had to deal with computer virus hell in the 90s, so it’s still crazy to me how intuitive and quick most things can work now! I could plug in anything to this outlet: a lamp, the Christmas tree, a surge protector connected to all devices in the room, and control it all from my phone.

Anakin
(GIphy/)

Now, the next phase of any conquest is delegation. I enabled the Smart Life skill in the Alexa app so I could use it to control the smart outlets. Fun Pro tip: You can reprogram Alexa’s response word to be “Computer.” So for a while I could say “Computer, lights” and the lights would go on or off! It was basically like being a starfleet captain all the time. Word of caution though: you say the word “computer” way more often than you think you do. It’ll hear you, man. It’ll hear you.

Of course once I got started, I became hooked. I wanted to connect full rooms and the outdoor lighting. I wanted to control the thermostat and the garage door. I wanted unlimited power! So, my next step was buying several smart switches.

smartswitch

These work the same way the outlets do, but for the internal stuff, and even the nicer ones only run for about $20. They allow voice, remote and timed control of anything that isn’t plugged in – ceiling lighting and fans and so on. I installed them myself, but it’s a little more complicated so no shame in hiring a professional for this part. It was still way easier than the complete rewiring I’d always imagined, and setup with Smart Life was just as easy as the outlets.

Now I have 6 smart outlets and 4 smart switches on the grid. With Alexa, it’s super easy to create groups for different rooms, like: Family Room, Kitchen, Outside, or larger groups like: Whole House.

Alexa Groups

From here, I was basically set to go. Smart Home: Activate! But I tend to dive…deeper.

There’s a section in the app called “Routines,” and it’s key. With it, I schedule all of my groups to turn on and off depending on day and time. For example, the box fans in all our bedrooms (#whitenoise4lyfe) are programmed to turn off, while the lights all turn on just before alarm time every morning. This is usually enough to wake up my kids without an alarm!

 

Alexa Routines

All of the downstairs lights are on when my wife gets up at an ungodly hour for her workout. My outdoor lights turn on and off at the appropriate times. The customization possibilities are awesome. Routines can also be voice-controlled, and you can make your voice commands whatever you want by typing it in the app.

So when I say “Alexa it’s TV time!” she says, “Heck yeah let’s get this party started” and turns on the Family Room.

AlexaCommand

You can also use these routines to mess with your kids. When I ask “Alexa, who is the best?” she responds with “Joel is the best” and that is an airtight argument from an omnipresent computer controlling our entire lives. 

Now I have a Nest thermostat, a Roomba, and a Chamberlain garage door opener, all controllable through Alexa or by a schedule.


I was really impressed by how simple and easy it was to get all this up and running. The big takeaway for me was realizing that having a smart home wasn’t something that’s just for super rich people living in future homes. I know there’s more that could be done, and as prices on the tech come down, I’ll probably automate more stuff. Eventually, I will achieve the ultimate goal of an automated breakfast machine, like from Back to the Future III.

 

 

The Dad loves cool stuff, and we want to share it with you. We are a part of the Amazon Affiliate Program, so we may earn a fee if you buy stuff from links featured here. But this was a true story, and it happened mostly before that whole arrangement, so no bullshit. 

Joaquin Phoenix Names Son ‘River’ After Late Brother

Joaquin Names Son River
(Getty/Dianna Whitley)

There are plenty of “what could have been” stories in Hollywood history, many of them focused on casting what-ifs, but some of them are based around a tragedy.

What could have been if Heath Ledger, after his iconic performance as the Joker, hadn’t accidentally overdosed? What could have been if James Dean hadn’t died in a car crash after starring in a mere three movies?

What could have been if River Phoenix, one of the most promising young actors of his generation, hadn’t died at the Viper Room at the age of 23? Maybe his career wouldn’t have been similar to the one his little brother Joaquin has made for himself. Unfortunately, we’ll never find out.

Over the weekend, Joaquin and his partner Rooney Mara welcomed their first child and named him River. Director Victor Kossakovvksy revealed the name after a screening of his documentary Gunda, which Phoenix produced, telling the crowd, “He just got a baby by the way … A beautiful son called River.”

It’s clear Joaquin had much admiration for his older brother, and naming his first-born after him is a touching tribute to a talented young actor who never had the chance to have a full career. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been all that unlike Joaquin’s impressive resume.

Joaquin won an Oscar for his role as the Joker in last year’s Todd Phillips movie, and he’s consistently been one of the most interesting and acclaimed actors of the decade. His older brother died before he had a chance to win an Academy Award, but his performances in Stand By Me, Running on Empty, and My Own Private Idaho suggest it wouldn’t have been long.

He may have never won an Oscar, but his memory lives on.

Chadwick Boseman Donated Salary So Sienna Miller Would Get Equal Pay

Chadwick Donates Salary
(Getty/David Livingston)

Whenever someone dies, it’s customary to say nice things about the person. Even if there aren’t that many nice things to say. When a celebrity dies, many of the stories that get told are a surprise to the public, most of whom have only known the deceased via their public personas, not their private lives.

When Chadwick Boseman died after a private four-year battle with cancer, it seemed that everyone who worked with him had something nice to say, and the sheer number of tributes and positive stories of the man makes it clear that he was truly special, not only as an actor but also as a human being.

The latest story to break only serves to further illustrate his goodness.

In the new issue of Empire Magazine, which was dedicated to Boseman, included a story from Sienna Miller, who costarred with Chadwick in last year’s action movie 21 Bridges. The actress revealed that Boseman, who was a producer on the movie, pursued her for a role.

“He was a fan of my work, which was thrilling, because it was reciprocated from me to him, tenfold. So he approached me to do it, he offered me this film, and it was at a time when I really didn’t want to work anymore. I’d been working non-stop and I was exhausted, but then I wanted to work with him.”

But negotiations stalled on the basis of salary, so Boseman stepped in.

“This was a pretty big-budget film, and I know that everybody understands about the pay disparity in Hollywood, but I asked for a number that the studio wouldn’t get to,” Miller said. “And because I was hesitant to go back to work and my daughter was starting school and it was an inconvenient time, I said, ‘I’ll do it if I’m compensated in the right way.’ And Chadwick ended up donating some of his salary to get me to the number that I had asked for. He said that that was what I deserved to be paid.”

Boseman gave her some of his salary so she could get what she deserves and appear in the movie. That’s not the kind of Hollywood story you hear very often.

“I think it’s a testament to who he was,” Miller said.

It’s becoming clear with every such story that Boseman wasn’t just royalty on screen. He was a true king.

Mario Kart Event Recap: The Dad Gaming League, Sponsored By Planters

(The Dad Gaming League)

Hey gamers. We did it. AGAIN. We’ve completed the second event for The Dad Gaming League, which we couldn’t have done without our sponsor, Planters.

We had 200+ people sign up for the Mario Kart event, which is outstanding!

Thank you to all the racers who showed up to the track, and shout out to our streaming hosts, Joel and Bayesic.

On September 18, we ran private tournaments for three categories. Battle Mode (6 battles), 150cc (12 races at high speed), and 200cc (12 races at ludicrous speed), streamed on The Dad Gaming’s Twitch channel.

We invited the top 12 of both the 150cc and 200cc categories back for the Grand Finals and the results were decisive, to say the least! Your 2020 The Dad Gaming League champion Mario Kart-er is: Mc (Brad McCaffrey).

We gave away prizes for the top three racers in ALL categories. As always, in the spirit of casual dad gaming, we also gave away a handful of random prizes, prizes to the first and last place racer in the first race with Joel (in both 150cc and 200cc), and possibly even some other surprise winners!

Prize winners are getting an epic loot box, with an official The Dad Gaming esports jersey and delicious Planters snacks. (First and second place in the Grand Finals also get $100!)

Congratulations to the champ, Mc, and all of the prize winners!

This was so much fun, everyone brought their A game and we saw some fantastic racers out there on the track.

Our next event is Super Smash Bros on October 9. Sign up now at thedadgaming.com. Then we have Rocket League (November, go here for a great Rocket League primer!), Apex Legends (December), and more!

If you have suggestions or ideas on how we can continue making these events better, we’d love to hear them. Email [email protected]. The Dad Gaming community is the best.

Squad up. Join The Dad Gaming FB group and Discord. Follow The Dad Gaming on Twitch, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Mario Kart Results

Battles:

12. 1genxer

11. TootLaRoo

10. M.A.T.

9. Solace

8. TJ

7. Matthew

6. Bayesic

5. MickyWinz

4. ElRey

3. SharkBait

2. Kaokoo333

1. Mc

 

150cc:

12. MickyWinz

11. Snock73

10. Kristie517

9. TootsLaRoo

8. Hunna

7. Josh

6. CampBean

5. SharkBait

4. GmrDad

3. Bayesic

2. MrTeets

1. Mc

 

200cc:

12. TootsLaRoo

11. Hunna

10. ElRey

9. Trey

8. thedadJOEL

7. Rhino

6. Kristie517

5. GmrDad

4. Bayesic

3. SharkBait

2. Mc

1. MickyWinz

 

Grand Finals – 150cc:

12. Ruben

11. CampBean

10. Snock73

9. GmrDad

8. MrTeets

7. TootsLaRoo

6. SharkBait

5. Hunna

4. Kristie517

3. MickyWinz

2. Bayesic

1. Mc

 

Grand Finals – 200cc:

12. Ryan’s Dad

11. GmrDad

10. ElRey

9. thedadJOEL

8. Hunna

7. TootsLaRoo

6. Kristie517

5. Rhino

4. MickyWinz

3. SharkBait

2. Bayesic

1. Mc

This post was sponsored by:
Planters

Father Figures: Died a Hero

“Just want to write to tell you guys about Timothy Ebert. Tim served as a Marine and fought overseas for this country.

When he met Lindsay she had two sons from a previous marriage. Without hesitation Tim stepped up and raised them like they were his own. Lindsay and Tim were able to have a child together, a a beautiful girl named Tinley.

Tim was such a great dad that my kids grew to love him in a very short time. He would go out of his way to make sure everyone was taken care of. It’s just who he was.

Tim was tragically killed on his way to work last month stopping to help a motorist who had just gotten into an accident. This signifies who he was as a person, even in his last moments always trying to take care of someone else. Please share Tim’s story as he truly was and died a hero.”

– Ryan Roberson

Landmine Sniffing “Hero Rat” Wins Gold Medal for Bravery

Hero Rat
(Twitter/PDSA_HQ)

One of Britain’s highest honors has been awarded to a rat. That’s kind of where we’re at in 2020, a rat gets awarded a medal for bravery, but the vermin definitely deserved it. Magawa is a mine-sniffing rat who has been trained to sniff out explosives, and he’s been saving lives in Cambodia.

Magawa, our hero rat, has helped clear more than 1.5 million square feet of land from mines, sniffing out dozens of explosives in the process. The British nonprofit PDSA awarded Magawa the gold medal for his bravery, making it the first time a rat has won the most prestigious honor for animals in Britain.

The relationship with animals usually goes one way, with people going out of their way to care for them in times of need or hang with them as a drinking buddy. Yeah, you see stories about dogs doing something cool, but there aren’t too many medal-winning badass rats out there. Magawa may be a tribe of just one when it comes to that.

In the virtual award ceremony (thanks COVID), the charity director called him a “hero rat”, which are two words that don’t go together much. “Pizza rat”, sure, or even “Pixar Cooking Rat” when you can’t come up with the title of Ratatouille, those make sense. “Hero rat” is a phrase that hasn’t been uttered since Splinter trained mutant turtles in martial arts.

“Magawa’s dedication, skill and bravery are an extraordinary example of this and deserve the highest possible recognition,” the charity said in a press release.


The charity said they use rats to help detect landmines because they are so fast. A rat can screen an area of 200 meters in a half-hour, which would take manual deminers four days.

In this case, it makes sense to give their high honor to Magawa, whose bravery is much bigger than the adorably small gold medal rightfully adorning his neck.

Twitter Shares the Annoying Jokes They Keep Using on Their Partners

Annoying Jokes
(Getty/killerb10)

Long-term relationships often need a little spicing up. It’s not easy being with the same person every day, year-in and year-out, and sometimes you need to find ways to keep things fresh. Even if that means annoying the shit out of your partner.

I’m an incredible husband, which is why I spend a few minutes every day irritating my wife. I have a variety of terrible jokes I use to poke at her, jokes I know she mostly can’t stand, but because I’ve been doing them for so long – years, in some cases – have become affection reminders of our bond. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Now, thanks to a tweet from writer Sophia Benoit, aka @1follwernodad, I know I’m not alone. She suggested that horrible, long-standing jokes – like when a random actor appears onscreen and I call my wife into the room so she can see her “favorite actor of all-time,” despite the fact that she almost never has any idea who the person is and it makes her angry – are a delight, and countless people responded with their favorite bits.

The responses are, quite simply, the best thing that’s ever happened to me:

There are SO MANY MORE. Sometimes, your best intentions backfire:

I beg you to go check out the threadcheck out the thread, and I leave you with this classic:

Buy an Actual T. Rex Skeleton and Dominate Your Neighborhood This Halloween

T-Rex Auction Christie's
(YouTube/Christie's)

The time to pimp out your property for Halloween is nearly here. You could “accidentally” order a massive reproduction of a dinosaur, or even bid on an animatronic one. But come on, it’s 2020, it’s time to kick things up a notch.

On October 6th, Christie’s will be auctioning off a full T. Rex skeleton, of the kind you might see at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

I won’t lie, I haven’t spent a lot of time at auctions. Back in the early 2000s, I dabbled in some eBay stuff, but that’s about it. I have zero experience with those fancy auctions they hold at Sotheby’s and Christie’s and that screw desperate Adam Sandler characters out of the fortune he needs to pay off gambling debts. (All of my experience comes from repeatedly outbidding people in a fruitless attempt at landing a vintage Dwight Evans jersey.)

From what I understand, most of the stuff they sell at the high-end auctions are expensive artifacts and priceless (bids notwithstanding) works of art.

Now, for the first time, they’re auctioning off something unique that can be considered both an artifact and a work of art, though not exactly one that you can hang on your wall.

“This is one of the best specimens discovered,” Christie’s head of Science & Natural History, James Hyslop, said on Christie’s site. “There simply aren’t [any other] T. rexes like this coming to market.”

That doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. You don’t typically see T. Rex skeletons for sale on eBay, and trust me, I’ve looked.

The specimen, which is named “Stan” after Stan Sacrison, who discovered it, comes in at 37 feet long and 13 feet high, and is expected to go for a whopping 6 to 8 million dollars when bids are placed next month.

Somebody is going to walk away with one hell of a Halloween decoration.

Check out the video:

Denver Broncos Fills Stands With Cardboard Cutouts of the Entire Town of South Park

Denver Broncos fill stadium with South Park characters
(Twitter/Broncos)

Oh my god, they built Kenny!

You know, out of cardboard. In fact, the Denver Broncos made the entire town of South Park out of cardboard and filled their stadium seats in the coolest possible way. The Denver Broncos are far from the first team to get creative with their empty stadiums, trying to fill the void left by formerly packed arenas and energetic crowds. They aren’t even the first to jump on the cardboard cutout train, but they took a different (*ahem* cooler) route than many other teams.

No matter where you live, South Park is iconic. Going into season 24, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have created one of the most consistently funny animated shows in the history of TV. What really sets South Park apart is that it somehow manages to weave complex social issues in with poop jokes, and it works.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone grew up in Colorado, even meeting and coming up with the idea for South Park while attending the University of Colorado. Both are big fans of their home team, throwing Denver Bronco references into their hit show on a fairly regular basis.

Now, it’s the Denver Broncos’s turn to make a South Park reference – and they freaking nailed it.

“Gang’s all here,” the Broncos tweeted with an incredible video panning the stands. They even created the South Park backdrop for full effect.

South Park tweeted out a message of support for their favorite team, taking a clip from season 3 episode “Spontaneous Combustion,” where a priest leads his congregation in a prayer for the Broncos. This time, they wove in clips of the cardboard South Park characters as if they were all praying for the Broncos to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

The only small detail amiss is that Randy is fully clothed and not trying to start a fight – though maybe that’s only a little league baseball thing.

Netflix Teases Their ‘Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness’ Animated Series

Resident Evil Teaser
(Netflix)

Recently, Netflix announced that they were entering the Resident Evil business.

We shared the news that the streaming platform was developing a new Resident Evil TV show that would feature an original story set within the Resident Evil world, an eight-episode series that will take place over two timelines.

But before we see frame one of that, we’re getting an entirely new Resident Evil movie, but not with Mill Jovovich. Unless she lends her voice. Because this new Resident Evil movie is an anime one, and you can see a trailer.

There’s not much to it, and there is precious little info about it, but the movie, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, features Resident Evil 2 protagonists Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy.

“[Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness] is scheduled for a global launch in 2021 exclusively on Netflix. Three years after 2017’s CG film Resident Evil: Vendetta, technology has further evolved, creating the groundwork for a new series in unprecedented full 3DCG animation,” Netflix said about the original series in a new statement. “Since the first game was released in 1996 on Sony PlayStation, the Resident Evil series is nearing its 25th anniversary. With the series continuing to evolve even now, a new title carves itself into the series’ history. This series is entitled RESIDENT EVIL: Infinite Darkness.”

The movie is set to hit Netflix in 2021. Check out the trailer: