Smart Home Hackers Set Couple’s Thermostat to 90 Degrees

Thermostat Hijacked by Hackers
(YouTube/FOX6 News Milwaukee)

In many ways, the frequent advances in technology are a godsend. We have better TVs, access to unlimited information, an astonishing level of convenience, and touch screens and voice-activated devices generally make it seem like we’re living in the future.

There are drawbacks to this increase in technology comes the occasional drawback, like access to too much information, an obtrusive dependence on our devices, and the constant looming threat of loss of privacy. All of these things are trade-offs most of us are willing to make, or, at the very least, too far down the road to reverse.

But there are some things a man simply can’t stand. One of them is when someone tries to touch his fries, another is when someone messes with his thermostat.

A Milwaukee man and his wife faced that very threat recently when his newly installed Google Nest thermostat was compromised by hackers, who promptly began messing with their home.

Samantha and Lamont Westmoreland at first suspected a glitch when they saw that their thermostat was turned up to 90 degrees. Soon it became apparent that something else was going on when a voice began speaking through one of their home’s cameras and playing vulgar music.

“So I unplugged it and turned it facing the ceiling,” Westmoreland said, before telling Fox 6 in Milwaukee how terrifying the situation was. “It’s supposed to make me feel safe, and I didn’t feel safe,”

Eventually, the couple regained control of their newly installed $700 smart home system by changing their network ID, and Google insisted in a statement to Fox that their system wasn’t compromised, but the network was.

“Nest was not breached. These reports are based on customers using compromised passwords (exposed through breaches on other websites). In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of security risk. Nest users have the option to migrate to a Google Account, giving them access to additional tools and automatic security protections such as Suspicious activity detection, 2-Step Verification and Security Checkup. Millions of users have signed up for two-factor verification.”

Regardless of how it happened, those hackers better watch their backs, because you simply don’t mess with another man’s thermostat.

Watch the video:

Deployed Dad Wrote Lunchbox Notes for His Daughter, One for Each Day He Was Gone

Deployed Dad Writes Lunchbox Notes for Daughter
(TikTok/kris10grayyy)

Being deployed in itself is one of the bravest and most challenging things a person can do, but when you’re leaving behind your family and young children, it adds a whole new layer of difficulty. When Staff Sgt. Philip Gray found out he was being deployed to Afghanistan, he wanted to make sure his young daughter remembered every single day just how much he loved her.

On October 7, 2019, Staff Sgt. Philip Gray left Fort Drum, New York for his 10-month deployment. His wife Kristen and 7-Year-old daughter Rosie remained at home, but both were constantly at the forefront of his mind. To make sure that Rosie knew her dad was thinking about her, Kristen Gray came up with a brilliant idea.

Before Staff Sgt. Philip Gray left, he wrote 270 notes for his daughter, one for every day he expected to be overseas. Every morning of his deployment, Kristen slipped a single note into Rosie’s lunchbox. Sometimes they were holiday greetings that he couldn’t give in person, others were words of encouragement, but they all had one thing in common – each note was written with a whole lot of love.

“He wrote anything from, ‘You are super girl’ to ‘Smiling makes everyone else smile,'” Kristen Gray told Good Morning America. “He was very big on feel-good words for her and girl power. He made sure to tell her how smart she was, and run fast in P.E. and things that would really make her happy.”

Kristen shared some of the heartwarming notes on TikTok, each one signed “-Dad.”

@kris10grayyyReposting the original this Veterans Day. 🇺🇸 Thank you to @kellyclarksonshow for finding our story and sharing. 🤍 ##militaryfamily ##deployment

♬ original sound – Kristen Gray

Staff Sgt. Philip Gray’s deployment ended up being extended, but fortunately, this loving army dad made it home just days before his daughter’s birthday. Gray’s lunchbox notes helped him show his love for Rosie even from thousands of miles away. And when Rosie found out her dad was home, well, it’s abundantly clear how much she loves him right back.

@kris10grayyyHit 10k followers & wanted to repost my first video that brought me to TikTok. Wait for her reaction. 💙 ##happylife ##positivity ##militaryhomecoming

♬ original sound – Kristen Gray

Release the 3-Hour Cut of ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ and We’ll be Thankful

#ReleaseTheHughesCut
(YouTube/ Hats Off Entertainment)

One of the best Thanksgiving perks is the long weekend it creates, if you’re lucky enough to have the Friday after the holiday off from work. Sometimes, the entire week is slower than usual at the office, leaving families with plenty of time to bond, eat, and watch movies. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many Thanksgiving-themed movies. I always make sure to watch The Last Waltz, the classic concert film that was filmed on Thanksgiving (a bit of a stretch but it works), and this year we added Planes, Trains and Automobiles to the mix.

The late-80s road trip buddy comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy is funny, real, and a little sad, a combination director John Hughes does well. It’s also only 90 minutes, which, these days, seems like a rarity, and is a little disappointing. We need more Thanksgiving movies – or at least a longer version of this one.

If this story about a dad’s ill-fated attempt to get from NYC to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving dinner were made today, it would probably be at least two hours.

Especially considering that Hughes left so much material on the cutting room floor. Another entire movie’s worth, apparently! And now the internet wants to #ReleasetheHughesCut of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Earlier this week, Hats Off Entertainment posted a video to their YouTube Channel in which outtakes, still photos, and more are combined to recreate some of the missing material from the 3 hours and 40-minute version of the movie that was originally shot.

Check it out, and join the growing chorus of people who want to #ReleasetheHughesCut. Especially if there’s a longer scene of Steve Martin cussing out Mrs. Poole!

‘Family Ties’ Cast Reunites To Reminisce and Speculate if Show Could Work Today

Family Ties Cast Reunion
(YouTube/Stars In The House)

This may sound shocking to many of you, but years ago, way back in the 1980s, people with different political opinions could actually get along. Even people in the same family!

This was so common that there was even a TV show about it. Several, in fact! First, we had All in the Family, in which an incorrigible racist slowly broadens his worldview when he learns to empathize with other people, and in the 80s we had the delightful comedy Family Ties, in which a couple of hippies find themselves raising a charismatic young Reaganite.

That Reaganite (he was a big Nixon fan too) was Michael J. Fox, and his role as Alex P. Keaton on the popular sitcom launched a stardom that lasted decades and even persisted through his fight with Parkinson’s Disease. Fox is making the media rounds to promote his latest book, and he recently reunited with the cast of Family Ties.

Fox and fellow cast members Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Tina Yothers, Brian Bonsall, Marc Price, and Scott Valentine gathered on the YouTube show Stars in the House to raise money for the Actor’s Fund. While there, they discussed memories from their days on the show, and whether or not it could work in a world of MAGA hats and BLM supporters.

“I just want to say one thing and that is, I loved the time that we were together,” said Gross, 73, who played patriarch Steven Keaton. “That was, I think as you’ll all agree, a kinder, gentler politics, when Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan could sit down over a glass of Irish whiskey and these two guys could hammer out compromises. And it was a great time. In the same way, we hammered out our compromises in the family and I think that’s one of the things that people loved about us.”

Watch the video:

‘Jeans Guy’ Is The Mandalorian’s New Breakout Character

Jeans Guy
(Twitter/SubCity_Comics)

Baby Yoda was the breakout star of season 1 of “The Mandalorian” on Disney+. He took over pop culture, becoming a cocktail and even a cereal, in addition to being a crazily in-demand toy. And now, season 2 of “The Mandalorian” has given us another breakout star: Jeans Guy.

Who is Jeans Guy? Where did he come from? These are stories we don’t have yet, that hopefully the rest of season 2 will fill in. The mysterious new character made his debut in episode 4 of season 2 and was spotted in the background of a shot of our heroes (the titular Mandalorian and his bounty hunting pals) shooting up an old Empire base. The crew member (or mysterious new character???) was spotted in the background of a shot and is clearly something that was missed in editing.

But the internet is having fun with it, as we should. Sub-city comics already turned the character into an action figure, which would probably be the hit of the Christmas season:

It quickly had fans reminiscing about perhaps the most famous editing snafu, the Starbucks cup that made it into an episode of Game of Thrones.

If you’re not an action figure collector, perhaps the Jeans Guy Lego set is more up your alley.

Jeans Guy quickly went viral, and as season 1, The Mandalorian would be served best by embracing it. They are currently working on the production of season 3, so hopefully, they are carving out a much larger role for mysterious Jeans Guy from the weird Empire base lab.

Also, having denim as official Star Wars canon opens up a ton of costume possibilities in future seasons.

And since we can’t see the face of Jeans Guy, it’s a possibility that it’s actually a character we’ve seen before in the Star Wars Universe.

With half of season 2 still ahead, we hoped to learn much more about Jeans Guy and how he fits into the Star Wars Universe. Sadly, it was recently announced that he was edited out of the episode.

RIP Jeans Guy, yet another casualty of 2020.

Alex Trebek Recorded an Inspiring Thanksgiving Message Before His Death

Trebek Thanksgiving Message
(Twitter/Jeopardy)

We lost a true gem in Alex Trebek’s passing, but the iconic Jeopardy host recorded an inspiring Thanksgiving message in one of the last episodes he recorded. Our collection of new Trebek episodes is quickly dwindling, but his witty outtakes will always be are timeless.

One of the episodes he recorded before his passing aired on Thanksgiving, and it included an uplifting message we all could hear right now (a few times).

“You know, in spite of what America and the rest of the world is experiencing right now, there are many reasons to be thankful. There are more and more people extending helpful hands to do a kindness to their neighbors, and that’s a good thing.

“Keep the faith,” Trebek concluded. “We’re going to get through all of this, and we will be a better society because of it.”

It’s impossible to watch that without the room getting a little dusty, as we savor every last special message from Trebek, with each taking on new meaning and importance after his passing.

There’s a reason Trebek was so beloved, and there’s no question we could all take his message of helping one another, being thankful, and keeping the faith to heart right now, as we endure what’s supposed to be a difficult winter before turning the corner on our global pandemic.

Sealed Copy of Super Mario Bros 3. Breaks World Record by Selling for $156,000

Sealed Super Mario Bros. 3 Sells for Record-Breaking Price
(Heritage Auctions)

Collectors and fans of nostalgia alike clamor for unique pieces of memorabilia and rare consoles to fill their shelves and their hearts. I mean, there’s a reason that collectibles exist – we simply cannot get enough of the things we love.

The Super Mario franchise is one of many that has not only withstood the test of time but grown exponentially throughout the years. Though the franchise is undoubtedly excellent, a big part of what makes Super Mario so great is the nostalgia that comes with it. It reminds us of simpler times, and of the games, we fell in love with as kids. The people at Nintendo know just how much nostalgia plays into the love of the game, and even re-released a celebratory Super Mario Game & Watch for the franchise’s 35th anniversary.

On November 20th, the price of nostalgia was steep – so steep, in fact, that it set a world record. A sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 went up for auction and sold for a staggering $156,000. Prior to the sale of this spectacular piece of history, the record price of a video game sold at an auction was $114,000. Surprisingly, the previous record was set earlier this year. Somewhat unsurprisingly, given the popularity of the franchise, the record-setting game was yet another of the Super Mario variety.

It’s fitting, really, that the same record was broken multiple times with games from the Super Mario franchise. Over 330 million copies of Super Mario games have been sold over the years, making it one of the top three best-selling video game franchises in history. The characters are iconic, and even 35 years after the original Super Mario hit shelves, new versions are still being released.

In the sale orchestrated by Heritage Auctions, multiple records were broken. With the bidding starting at $62,500 and 20 bidders duking it out for a chance to take home the prize, not only did this pristine copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 sell for a record-breaking price, but the bidding war led to the first-ever million-dollar video game auction.

“While the condition of the game is remarkable, what makes this copy even more singular is the layout of the packaging itself: Exceedingly rare are sealed copies with the word ‘Bros.’ formatted to the left, covering one of Mario’s signature white gloves,” A press release from Heritage Auctions stated. “Collectors have spent years looking for such a version — the earliest in the Super Mario Bros. 3 production history – and usually come up empty-handed.”

Father Figures: Caretaker

“My husband John is father to our three girls. Ages 5, 3, and 1!

He is a grilling connoisseur, an avid World of Warcraft player, king to three beautiful princesses, and an amazing husband.

He is an only child and has taken on the role of caretaker of his dad as well. He has been working from home since Covid started and takes care of our kids while I work at the hospital.

I’m so blessed with how much he steps up for our family.”

– Amber Sroka

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

12 Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week 11/27/20

Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week 11/27/20
(Getty/Cavan Images Twitter/dadmann_walking)

According to my records, we are quickly approaching The Season To Be Jolly. No matter what holiday you’re celebrating in the coming month (though we’re all united in the celebration of a Happy Honda Days), the lead-up is full of anticipation. This year, as we’ve grown tired of saying, things will look a bit different. As always though, we can count on our kids to remind us what’s really important – making the best of every moment, because they really do grow up too fast. Here are 12 of the funniest parenting tweets this week, from Twitter parents who certainly know how to make the best of things.

The Thanksgiving dinner our ancestors intended

I see no problem with this

Ho Ho Ho

Thoughts and prayers

Heartbreaking

It’s almost impressive

A true inspiration

Sounds unhealthy

Might as well buy stock in Duracell

You know they’re kept in my room

There goes the rest of your day

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing

Did you miss last week’s funniest parenting tweets?

Deployed Dad Stays In Touch With Kids Through Ring Doorbell

Kids Use Doorbell for Deployed Dad
(YouTube/Ring)

Though there are certainly drawbacks to living in a world run by technology, advancements in technology provide incredible solutions to many of life’s problems. Especially during the era of COVID, technology has allowed us to stay connected when other modes of communication are no longer an option. Even before the pandemic, communication was a challenge for many – particularly members of the Armed Forces deployed overseas. Being deployed means leaving everyone and everything behind in order to bravely defend your country, and sadly, it often means missing out on some of your kids’ milestones and celebrations.

While stationed in the Middle East with Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, Peter DeCrans bought his family a Ring doorbell, assuming it would help him keep his family safe while he was away. For those who don’t know, a Ring doorbell is equipped with a camera that connects to the homeowner’s devices. If someone presses the button on your Ring doorbell while you’re away from home, you can see the camera’s video feed from wherever you are.

This feature brings peace of mind when you’re away from home, knowing that you’re able to keep a virtual eye on your house from anywhere in the world. But for Peter DeCrans, this feature gave him an incredible gift – one that no doorbell in history has been able to provide (a very odd sentence, yes, but they’re just going to keep getting weirder as technology evolves).

Every morning before school, DeCran’s 7-year-old son Zerick and 5-year-old daughter Petroula recorded a video using their Ring doorbell. And throughout his 10-month deployment, Peter DeCrans was able to receive them – over 100 videos of his adorable kids to keep his spirits up and remind him why he’s doing what he’s doing.

The videos became a highly-anticipated part of DeCrans’s days, something he eagerly looked forward to and cherished enormously during his time away from home.

DeCrans told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, “It was one of the best things ever, a little slice of home. When you’re gone that long, you miss your kids, and you want to see them. It’s a way to feel connected to what’s going on.”

From thousands of miles away, DeCrans got the latest news from his kids. He heard about their days, new dances they learned, skills they proudly mastered – DeCrans was kept up-to-date on it all.

“It was just part of the routine,” he explained. “They’d get dressed for school, and then they’d swing outside and leave a quick message telling me about their day. … One day Zerick had really long hair, and the next day he had a buzz cut because he had a wood tick in his hair, and he didn’t want long hair anymore.”

In return, DeCrans recorded his own videos. Using a Kindle app he read stories to his kids, continuing a beloved activity the family did together while he was home. DeCrans was able to remain a big part of his kids’ lives from thousands of miles away, and it was all thanks to a doorbell.