It's been a year 'at home' - how tech has helped me

Okay, we're coming up to that '1 year anniversary'  - I recall the early days at the office starting to hear about it and the suggestions of working from home; and we had cancelled a pipe band performance to discourage 'gathering' ... and then it just spiralled from there.

Being home and remaining there - not going out unless we had to - has meant the opportunity to really look around the house and ... well, some did renos, some baked, I dug into tech.

Here's what kind of tech I had around the house that really get me through this, alleviating the cabin fever.

Phone / Tablet / Laptop / devices

This was essential.  Until the Pixel 5 came out I was rocking the Pixel 4 XL.  I'm still surprised how I said how much I preferred the 4XL ... but now I have the 5 daily in my hand and when I move the 4XL around on my desk I don't remember it being so big, or so heavy.

Having a good device to play games, to message, to look up recipes, etc... became even more important and just an extension to my hand.  When I would leave the house for a good bike ride having the device handy for music and to take a good photo (and track the activity).

An important thing for these devices will be some 'connecting' hub.  I've found as we try to set up a video conference that making sure we can connect external webcams, microphones, speakers, chargers etc... having a good hub.  I found using it for our hybrid practices with band, or our family video chats that a hub like this one from OWC was a must have.

Audio accessories

Having music is my have to have, especially for runs and bike rides.  For that I've been having my Pixel Buds (being able to skip music by tapping the ear buds makes it's my preference over the originals when running or biking, but when walking where it's easier to change tracks, the originals are my favourite as they just have better sound).

But having a good set of headphones for the home office's virtual meetings is important for a good meeting without echo - and for me having something that's comfortable for hour long meetings for several times a day - you have to go with the AIAIAI headphones with the soft cups (I like the E04).  Speaking of a good virtual meeting a good microphone is also important, and my Yeti pulls double duty for some of my review narratives or Stadia live streams.


Speaking of streaming games, I've really enjoyed the ability of Stadia to play on my phone with the controller, on my laptop with mouse and keyboard, or upstairs on the Chromecast ... so no having to bring devices around, plugging in and out all over the house.  AND, the ability to just plug in a set of headphones and you can game in silence.

Other Distractions

Early on in the pandemic, a show came into our life to help distract us of the stress and that show was Tiger King.  So we need a way to watch these streaming platforms, so for me I used my Roku or Kodi box.

But for the most part I used our Hub Max way more often for watching videos or listening to radio.

I have it set up with special cues to launch activities when I wash dishes, or I can pull up recipes, or watch Netflix.  We can broadcast through the house. ... in fact the whole Google Home system is just a treat.

Smart Home

Yeah, it has been such a treat to be able to connect the devices in my home.  Whether it's pairing up some of the minis, or just setting the speakers on a 'bell pattern' - these are so much more than just asking the Assistant the answer to a question.

Plunk in your logins for other services, like Philips Hue, or Wiz, or our new favourite is the Roomba (will be having a longer review of Spot after it hits the 2 months mark). 

Controlling the temperature when I'm working from home and it thinks I've gone to the office is as simple as just asking politely.  And it's been fun watching more and more people pass by on the Nest Hello doorbell camera getting at eleast the opportunity for a good walk - even more useful as we had packages delivered lately and as they no longer do the signature thing - so packages are just being left and the camera was nice to alert me with the zone notices - I even was able to spot and catch up to a porch pirate (that was a stupid move on my part).

Having all these connected items in our home to turn on lights, to set alarms, to with a word have a thing clean an area really helps makes you feel like you're in charge of your home and better connected with it.

There are definitely more tech items around my house that play some minor roles in how I spend my days, specific apps to help me while away the hours, but I thought I'd just keep this discussion to the main points.

Being home a lot more this past year (and I mean a lot more, my Google Maps 2020 timeline in review was just sad) had me really looking around the house and making the most of it with the tech I had.  If I'm going to hang out here and not leave unless it's essential, I might as well make the most of it.

C'mon vaccines (there's some of the real