Being Manan

5 Smart Home Devices on a Budget (Updated 06/04/21)

Internet of Things and smart home is exciting. It’s the culmination of years of hardware and software advances enabling you to interact and control your surroundings through touch/phone/voice. It is truly fascinating and magical. My first, and for the longest time only, smart device has been a WeMo plug. I was using the phone app to turn the room lights ON/OFF, I no longer had to get out of bed to control the lights of my room. It was great!

Then came Alexa. While I wasn’t an early adopter, the affordable Echo Dot was intriguing. During 2016’s Black Friday sales, I got myself the Philips Hue Starter Pack + Echo Dot combo; my rooms have never been the same. My Alexa-powered room setup was:

  • WeMo plug to control the AC
  • Hue bulbs for the room

I could control my lights and AC through voice commands via Alexa. Since I had to move, I had a few enhancements in mind. My current smart home setup includes:

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Sync Windows 10 Edge Bookmarks with iPhone

I’ve had the new Microsoft Surface Pro 2017 for about a month and I’ve been enjoying it as a laptop more than a tablet. One of the new additions in Windows 10 is the next iteration of Internet Explorer – Edge. As I elaborated in my lengthy Surface Pro 2017 review, I’ve stuck to Edge on the Surface. It took some initial humps to get my Chrome bookmarks synced and setup as I’d like them but I got it working. One of the key things for me is having my bookmarks on my iPhone. I no longer have a Linux or a Mac PC so Chrome wasn’t necessary.

In order to get my bookmarks on iPhone and Edge synced, it was 1 unnecessary step more than what it should be (you can blame Apple or Microsoft for this, you can choose). Read the full story »

Surface Pro 2017: Work in Progress Validation of Microsoft’s Vision

surface pro 2107

The last laptop I bought was in 2011. It was a mid-2011 13″ MacBook Air, something I bought after years of being a vocal non-believer in OS X (my first true use of OS X was Tiger on a Hackintosh). The Air was an upgrade from a back breaking, heavy, overheating, but spectacularly gorgeous screened Dell XPS 16. The decision to switch to Mac came after walking around Manhattan attending TechCrunch Disrupt with a 10 ton bag on my back. During the 6 years since my last laptop, life happened. I was spending most of my time with a work laptop; my need for a personal laptop started to fall drastically, coupled with my iPhone, I hardly used my personal laptop. But I still needed one, and that led to me getting a Surface. My use case for a personal laptop switched from a machine that I used for gaming, reading, writing, movies, Photoshop, video editing, podcast editing etc., to browsing, reading, and writing a book on my dating life; primarily, having a device more versatile and more like a laptop than my iPhone, not necessarily as powerful as my work laptop.
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The Economical US Cable TV Subscription Option

The short answer is that cord cutting is a lie. The cord has changed. The most economical TV subscription service if you want on-demand iPhone and Apple TV support for a good mix of legacy cable TV shows, sports, and  news, is your Internet Service Provider bundle. Here’s my detailed spreadsheet comparing:

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The Microsoft Band Will Eventually Be Disbanded

microsoft band

In hindsight, sticking with Windows Phone was the worst technology decision I made. While I say that, the Microsoft Band has been one of the better ones. Band 1 was nothing but a prototype that became an accidental hit leading to Band 2 which is a more polished product. I love it.  Read the full story »

Introducing The Netflix and Chill Entertainment Control Center

I’m on vacation back home eating good food and avoiding work as much as I can. Also, bored. While streaming Netflix on VPN, I was reminded of the Netflix and Chill switch. Quite intrigued by the idea, I wanted to make it. However, the more I read into it, the more it seemed like a Rube Goldberg Switch; there had to be a simpler way of invoking some of the elements that constitute to a Netflix and Chill night.

If I was on a Netflix and Chill date night, there need to be at minimum:
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Journalism In India Is Failing Us

Every now and then I come across an article or video from a legitimate news organization that only makes me feel sad about the state of journalism in the nation. As a citizen I want my news source to inform me, raise intelligent and intellectual questions about policies, and engage decision makers to trigger good social change.

Here are 3 examples where journalist fail to this: Read the full story »

Microsoft Band: The Polished Prototype

Update: My take on why the Microsoft will be discontinued.

microsoft band

An earlier draft had a lot of words on how very few gadgets excite me anymore given the frequency at which new features are added, and how the Microsoft Band had me sold on it being cross-platform and having a Heart Rate monitor. I deleted the part where I had a friend in NC traveling to NYC grab me one on her way back as chances of getting one on Thursday in NYC were slim to none. I deleted all that as none of that matters as far as the capabilities of the device. [See what I did there?] Read the full story »

3 Things Cortana Can Do Better

Cortana is conceptually an amazing tool. Based on what I’ve read it’s a Google Now meet Siri on Windows Phone. A year ago I wrote the following:

The bigger problem with Microsoft is that while Apple & Google are perfecting Siri & Now, MSFT is busy figuring out whether Windows Phone is part of Windows or stands by itself, what core code it uses and who owns it. By the time MSFT figures this out, it’ll be too late to be relevant for at least a few years.

Cortana changes all that. Bing changes all that, that’s for those idiots who’ve been telling MSFT to abandon Bing. I’ve been playing with Cortana on 8.1 dev preview and here are 3 things I’d want from Cortana.

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Xbox LIVE Gold: A Waste of Money

Microsoft would like you to buy Xbox LIVE Gold subscription at $3.34 a month this Black Friday. I got myself a TV, setup my Xbox and realizing that I can’t do much without LIVE, I bought it. Then I realized, Comcast Xfinity won’t work since I don’t have Comcast’s internet. So, fuck you Comcast for that.

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