Granddaddy Knows All (reprinted from the Metro Spirit 9-24-15)

CMA-Technology-SolutionsMy father has a number of different sayings that he uses from time-to-time.  By far, his favorite is “Stay out of the way of crazies.”  This saying requires no explanation, and the number of times that we’ve applied this principal is incalculable.  This saying has proven so valuable, Dad gave it a name – “The First Rule of Life.”  He’s even generated a couple of corollaries to further refine its application.  The first corollary relates to interaction between crazies – “No two crazies can occupy the same space at the same time.”  The second describes a crazy’s state – “A crazy in motion tends to stay in motion, but a crazy at rest is still a crazy.”

Another one of my Dad’s sayings would always be heard when we were involved in a labor-intensive project.  We would be out in the summer heat clearing brush, digging trenches or something, and my Dad would pause, look at me and say, “You know, son, everything that has a handle needs a motor.”  We would then head off to my grandfather’s and borrow the powered version of whatever we were using.

Looking back, I find it interesting that my grandfather always seemed to own whatever power tool we needed.  He spent his life in construction, so it should be no surprise that he would have a large number of tools.  However, I suspect the breath of his inventory resulted from the application of another saying, a saying that my father and I relearned every time we started a project  – “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”

Household projects are becoming more interesting as our homes are invaded with Wi-Fi enabled devices.  Perhaps you’ve heard about the next wave of technology; they call it the Internet of Things.  The futurist paint a picture of all these devices swarming around us, coordinating with each other to remove all physical labor from our society.  I don’t think it’s that grandiose.  Plus, that kind of sets us up for Skynet, yes?  I prefer to think about the Internet of Things in far simpler terms – “If it has a button, switch or dial, it needs Wi-Fi.”

Everyone should take a minute and inventory every item in their house that has a button, switch or dial.  [BTW – The chances are good it already has a handle and a motor. If you cross-reference this household inventory with the recently released Internet-enabled products, you will see an amazing correlation.  Wi-Fi stove and refrigerator – Available.  Wi-Fi coffee maker – On the market.  Wi-Fi thermostat – Pick up at any hardware store.  Wi-Fi smoke detector or security system – Well, duh.  About the only things I haven’t seen is a Wi-Fi enabled electric toothbrush, curling iron or vacuum cleaner!

Hold it, scratch that last one off – the just released Roomba 980 robot vacuum cleaner has Wi-Fi.  You know, just in case you need to vacuum the house while on vacation.

A major obstacle to the Internet of Things is connectivity within the home.  Everyone that has configured a home network understands that more than one access point is needed to eliminate all the dead spots in the house.  For example, given where I put the access point in my house, a dead spot exists in my kids’ bedrooms.  Every few weeks they complain that the Internet keeps dropping while reading in bed.  And every few weeks, I tell them that I know how to fix it.  I just need to find some time to do it.

Fortunately, necessity continues to be the mother of invention.  In this case, I believe that the solution will be the combination light bulb/access point.  The first time I heard this idea, I thought it was pretty loony.  After a few minutes of thought, however, I began to see its brilliance (no pun intended).  What other item is located in every location a person might occupy and already connected to the power grid?  And by the way, this item is almost always in an unobtrusive, overhead location that is conducive to great signal strength.  How would it not work?

Like all great ideas, someone is already doing it.  The Sengled Boost is a LED-bulb that integrates a Wi-Fi booster into the design.  BTW – They also have another light bulb that plays music.

The Internet continues to change the way we live, and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.  I’ve got to believe that in the near future, fathers and sons laboring in the summer heat will discover that everything would be much easier if they could just connect the ditch witch to GPS or the sprinkler system to the Weather Channel.  Now most people say there’s a technology gap between the youth of America and the rest of us.  I don’t believe that is true.  I know for certain that when those fathers and sons call granddaddy for help, he will have everything they need.