Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Upgrading While "Covid19-Safe" at Home

Many of us are upgrading our living space while being confined to home for safety from covid-19.

Having done this extensively, I may be able to save others some mistakes.

Here we go:

I upgraded our light bulbs throughout our living space with smart bulbs.My mistake was an upgrading too early.  Some bulbs got obsolete quickly.

It is safe for me to say that there is only one choice anybody should make. That choices for Wyse smart bulbs that work without a hub.

They work remotely by voice to adjust schedule and hue and brightness. What a difference in our living space.

I upgraded our computers in four different ways to find the best solution.

Simplest and cheapest and most efficient in space usage was the addition of a 24-in Insignia TV from BestBuy, which also serves as a computer display or monitor.A primitive browser even comes with it, but a cheap Intel Windows 10 PC stick makes the most of it. A caveat is that the stick has somewhat limited memory. That just means you need to store most things in the cloud.

Meanwhile I upgraded our router and moved it centrally.

Then phone arrangements needed to be upgraded to avoid nuisance calls.

Why? Because we all pay triple for our phone service. We pay for the landline, we pay for internet, and we pay for ourselves service. What a waste.

I bought it cheap VOIP device which gives me equivalent to landline service for $50 a year as compared to my previous over $300 a year cost.

I put in a Panasonic cordless system which extends cell service throughout the apartment.

I changed my cell service to Tello at $8 a month.

Next, I upgraded our printers with a Brother wireless laser at about $70 open box.  Less than buying a replacement toner for an older printer.

I also obtained a Dymo label printer now available at $50.

So I did spend some money, but the savings offset all of the costs by a wide margin

It was also pretty cheap to obtain the latest Roku and Amazon sticks which enable us to watch a lot of movies absolutely free.

I did subscribe to Peacock and CBS services, along with Acorn TV. We do use Tubi a lot which has a lot of great movies and TV series free with very limited commercials.

If we had over the air TV service here I would have done away entirely with our cable service which costs only about $30 a month anyway

I did not need to upgrade iPhone or iPad. Older Chromebooks also still work quite well.

Both Windows and Chromebooks have some really severe limitations which I found a way of overcoming.   Windows has very annoying problems with constant upgrades and exposure to viruses, while Chromebooks do not work well at all with printers.

The simple solution was to install Endless Linux which immediately recognizes any printer automatically and has painless upgrades.

With more time to play piano, I obtained fake books and sheet music collections free on the Internet Archive.

To avoid the moving cost of upgrading the whole place with repainting, I simply had touch-up done, with partial carpet replacement.

I also went through everything and disposed of things we just don't need or use anymore. I sell what we do not need on eBay.

And finally, I rearranged so that everything has a place and there is a place for everything. Things we always need in hand are now close by, and other items are in storage.

Closet type drawer storage units helped with all this rearrangement.