April 2014 Favorites

It’s nearly May, and I cannot wait for summer. In any event, it’s time for April favorites!

 

1. WeMo

Oh boy. I’m addicted. In fact I bought a WeMo Switch and ended up buying another one the next day. For those of you who aren’t familiar with WeMo, it’s Belkin’s line of home automation devices. You can connect various devices and control them via your phone. I’ve been having so much fun with mine that I’m already planning what else to connect. For now, I have the lamps behind my bed and the LED strips behind my TV plugged into my two Switches. With Belkin’s app, I’ve created a rule that turns my lamps behind my bed on when I wake up in the morning and off around the time I leave. {No more stumbling out of bed in the dark every morning… well most of the time provided I don’t trip…} IFTTT also has a Wemo Channel where you can set things up like when I wake up (with my Jawbone Up) turn on my lights. I even have my lamps blink 10 minutes before I need to leave in the morning. The LEDs behind my TV is more of a convenience thing at this point, but I’m enjoying having them connected with WeMo. I may set up an IFTTT rule to turn the LEDs on when it rains. I have them set to be blue after all.

2. LocateTV

Somewhere along the line, I developed a weekly habit of checking the local TV listings to see what movies I wanted to watch on Netflix were coming on TV. It’s great in theory. I’m not spending money on movies I could see on TV, but every week, {and yes this makes me sound crazy, I know} I would open up my Netflix queue and search for every movie in the list on DirecTV’s site. It was a pain, and I searched high and low for a website that would just say “Hey! A movie you want to see is coming on TV!” Well after way too much searching, I’ve found LocateTV. It lets you add movies and TV shows to a “my picks” section and then shows you if and when they come on TV. You can hide channels you don’t get, and my favorite part, it’ll send you an email weekly too. Problem solved and a lot of time saved.

3. Taco Bell Breakfast

I don’t get out of the house before noon on non-work days too often, but when I do, you can be sure I’m stopping somewhere to get breakfast. My go-to breakfast has usually been an Egg McMuffin combo with orange juice from McDonalds, but I decided to try out Taco Bell’s new options this month instead. I ended up getting a Bacon AM Breakfast Burrito combo and the Cinnabon Delights. I was pleasantly surprised. The Cinnabon Delights are like heaven. Think warm cinnamon sugar Dunkin Donuts Munchkins with the amazing Cinnabon cream cheese icing inside. The best part, they serve breakfast until 11. That gives me a whole extra 30 minutes to get my butt out of bed and ready for breakfast. I’ve managed to do it twice in the past few weeks. Go me! 🙂

4. Back to Work podcast

I may be a bit addicted to listening to Merlin Mann speak. Where do you even start with Merlin? He’s probably best known in the internet world for Inbox Zero and 43Folders but now a days he’s not all about productivity. In any any event, he’s a bit of productivity, a bit nerdy Mac user, a bit person who tells it like it is, and a whole lot of random hilarity. If you’re looking for something random to listen to I highly recommend Back to Work.

 

5. Wireless Whiskers

If my LocateTV rant didn’t make you think I was crazy, this one will. This puts me in crazy cat lady territory. Wireless Whiskers is an insanely overpriced, not very great quality, solution to an absurd problem. I have three cats. The oldest is overweight and will eat everything in sight only to immediately throw it back up. Another is incredibly timid and will wait until the others have eaten everything before she eats. For years, I decided I would never be one of those cat owners who could just put a bowl of food out all day. So every morning and evening, I’d go on the inevitable search for the cat scoop I never remembered to put back, nearly tripping over 3 meowing cats anxiously waiting for food. I wanted nothing more than to save those 20 minutes spent frantically searching and tripping over cats to feed them every day. So what’s a girl to do? The obvious solution was to get one of those self-feeders, but the fat cat would eat until he was sick over and over like the people at the party in the Capital in the Hunger Games. I could get one of the timed self feeders but again, he’d eat it all and the other cats would starve. So get ready for nerdy crazy cat lady mode… enter Wireless Whiskers, the intelligent self-feeder. Every cat/small dog gets their own tag (up to 8 I believe). The bowl has a wizard mode that calculates how much each cat eats. Once it’s done analyzing, should fat cat decide he wants to eat and eat and eat, it will shut doors over the food if he’s exceeded his allotted food for the hour and then reopen when he leaves so the other cats can eat. Even better, you can choose to reduce a particular cat’s food allotment should you want them to lose a few pounds. There’s even a mode to keep the doors closed all the time unless an animal with an allowed tag comes to the bowl which is handy if you have dogs that like to eat kitty food or if you have a cat that has a special diet. Again, this is totally unnecessary but I’ve gotten a kick out of watching all the pets jump at the doors closing. I’m also appreciating not having to find that silly cat scoop or clean up after the fat cat who ate all the food in 2 minutes.

UPDATE: Shortly after writing this review, I noticed the part that holds the food for this bowl was cracked. After a long battle with their terrible and snooty customer service, they agreed to not make me pay to have a new plastic tube shipped for the product I’ve only had for a little over 3 weeks. They likened their support to better than Apple at which I had to laugh at. I imagine their customer base for those interested in this product is pretty small because the$150 for a cat bowl is utterly ridiculous, but they seem uninterested in keeping their few customers happy and do not seem to stand by their product even insisting that defects like the several I had are to be expected. I would avoid this company at all costs.

So there you have it. My favorites for April.

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