Beachcombing

By: 
Jay Beeler

Our home doorbell has a new “Ring” to it. Normally it will play a variety of seasonal tunes, but the new version offers video and audio of whomever approaches the front door, plus peace of mind.

The Ring Doorbell – what I call the greatest invention since sliced bread – replaces your existing doorbell button and uses that low-voltage power source to perform a wide variety of functions. If everyone had one the problem of package thieves would be a thing of the past and jail cells would be filled with people intent on performing illegal acts at your home.

The device first senses movement, sending an alert to your Android or iPhone or Windows 10 tablet via your home’s Wi-Fi system. If the preceding sentence is over your head, then read no more because you are officially “old school.”

A jingling sound on my Android phone tells me that someone has entered one of several programmable zones at the front of our house and displays a fish-eye photo of that activity. It is important to set the activation zones so that passing cars or pedestrians do not get included.

If they push the doorbell button I can talk with them from anywhere in the world – unless they are selling something.

Each event gets recorded to “the cloud” and is retrievable from your Ring Doorbell account at any time on any computer. The cloud function costs $3 per month and is money well spent in comparison with other home security services.

I purchased my device for $199 from Amazon after learning of its features from my daughter, Mindy, who lives in Rancho Mission Viejo. It is a very simple matter of connecting the doorbell wires to Ring, then downloading the app to your smart phone. Mindy and her husband, Bryan, can respond to any visitor via their phones from anywhere – but only one at a time.

Even without activation, Ring allows you to see and hear what’s happening now in front of your home. You can purchase additional units for placement at the back door or even the workplace.

Go to www.ring.com for further information.

Another high-tech device was purchased for my wife, who has vision problems that make things like surfing the web and reading small print very difficult. The Amazon Dot costs $49 and works from voice commands after using the activation word “Alexa” or any other unique name you choose for this purpose.

Now my wife can request information, play music, read the news or a book, set alarms, control smart home devices and much, much more. About the size of a hockey puck, Amazon Dot’s internal speaker is fine for most purposes, but it can be synced with external speakers if needed. Just tell Alexa to lower the volume if you need to answer the phone and she’ll do that as well.

I’ve been testing our Amazon Dot by asking it for the time of day, temperature, what “CIA” stands for and whether Alexa is a CIA agent. She responds by saying that she works for Amazon.

Hmmm. Maybe the Trump Tower was actually being “bugged” by an Amazon Dot.

Self-driving cars and parcel delivery by drones … what’s next? Amazon is shaking up the retail business model like nothing we’ve seen before. Businesses without an internet presence are playing with becoming extinct.

We hear similar predictions for newspapers and, yes, I read my LA Times online and only receive the printed edition on Sundays. But many of the Beachcomber readers are older homeowners who prefer to sit down with their morning coffee to enjoy our stories. We get that feedback all the time.

So when the electricity fails, we will be there, explaining why it happened and who should get the blame.

publisher@beachcomber.news

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