Stuff I’ve found that you might like

Health Related


If you get lots of UTIs these first three products may help.  Contact your doctor before trying any homeopathic solutions:



Zika / West Nile / ChickenGonnaGitcha !!!

I don’t know about everyone else, but we live at Ground Zero for all these mosquito-borne life-changing diseases in the U.S. – aka “Dallas”. I am not exaggerating when I say there are times when they attack in squadron formation. All last Winter we still had mosquitoes. December, January, yessirree. Open the door and you’re under attack. In my search for tools to defeat these airborne micro-terrorists, I finally settled on blending essential oils. I mix small quantities with rubbing alcohol and put it in a sprayer. A liberal coating before going outdoors works great for me. Karen needs a different blend, as she is at the very top of the mosquito food chain.

My blend is about 1/2 oz each Lemon and Eucalyptus oils to about 2 cups of rubbing alcohol.

Karen has found Tea Tree Oil to work better for her.

She applies it directly (undiluted) to her exposed skin.

Your mileage may vary.

How about a negative ion generator?

These are felt to improve your healing, remote dust and pollen from the air and are generally a nice addition to any room.  I used to sell a different brand that we used in all the recording studios I built in another life.  Some hospitals have been using these in patient rooms to speed healing.

I like this one.  It’s very quiet and adds lots of negative ions to a room.  I have this one in my office.

Need more than one? Save a few bucks here:


Useful Items to make your life easier…


We were looking for a new pitcher that was NOT glass (therefore HEAVY).  We love this one.

Do you like olives and cherries?

But hate the pits?

This will take care of that problem for you.

Looking for a great stud finder?
(no I’m not offering dating advice)

This is great!  Small and magnetic, it will hold itself to the wall where a screw or nail is found.

Do you have a dog?

Of course you do…

So you need these

Are you an artist?

Or do you have an artist in your life that could use a really nice easel?

This one is really nice, has locking casters, a storage drawer and rotates from fully horizontal to fully vertical.

My iPod died recently and when I looked at the cost of replacing it I thought “WTF”…

This MP3 player is a fraction of the cost of an iPod and sounds a LOT better.  It is technically not compatible with the Apple OS, but that’s easy enough to get around.  Data is stored on a micro SD card.  Take out the card, plug it into a USB adapter and plug that into your Mac.  Find all your music – drag and drop it onto the card.

Plug the card back into the MP3 player and tell it to index your music.

It’s that simple.

How about some earbuds that ACTUALLY sound good?

These ROCK!

Want to document where you go and what you do?

I use this to record walking Slick.The.Dog – or any art deliveries I need to make.  Evidence is a great thing to have sometimes.  And pretty cheap.  HD recording for 10 hours.

Surge protection.  This is what we use and sell to our clients.  You should too if you live in Texas or Florida.

Want some more screen real estate for your laptop?  I use this when I’m working on client computers.  It’s got great resolution and built in speakers.

More money.  More bells and whistles.

Need more USB outlets?  This give you 8 USB3 outlets plus a high current charging port on the front.  Each port can be individually turned on or off with the adjacent buttons.

One of our installations uses the Sonos distributed sound components. These are easy to install and control from a single computer or phone.
This is a link for the amplifier module. They really sound pretty decent.




Mounting a Big Screen TV?

This will handle up to 70″

I’ve used several of these. They are HEAVY, well made and versatile. This mount makes it easy to get access to the back of the TV if you need to change connections or add something. One person can move it out and back or swivel it easily. We have two of these. One for a 52″ TV and the other for a 65″.

I highly recommend these.

Don’t need anything quite that heavy duty?

This is a great, affordable option. I’ve installed quite a few of these.

It’s good for up to 70″ TVs as well.

Mounting something REALLY Big?

This is good up to 90″ and has the articulating arm design.

It supports up to 176 lbs

Battery Backups

We only use APC battery backups.

They are very simply the best product, especially in Texas.

In case no one has told you, Texas gets a LOT of lightning. Lightning is a completely different animal from electrical surges.

See the surge protector listings below.



If you only need to keep your network up

(router, switch, broadband modem, etc.

This is the perfect choice. Affordable and compact.

On the other hand…

If you have a large server to protect, you need something on a different scale.

This is the monster you want for a server.


Surge Protectors

The more joules the better.

here are only 3 brands we consider remotely acceptable in Texas.
APC, Panamax and Tripp Lite

Regardless of the brand, joules matter. Lightning is a fact of life here in the Lone Star State. I could tell you horror stories about data loss and lightning damage and I have the photos to prove it.

But I digress…

Surge protectors should be considered mandatory. It’s CHEAP insurance.
The job of a surge protector is to “throw itself on the grenade” during a surge and protect your valuable electronics.
EVERYTHING you have that is worth more than $50 should be connected to a surge protector.

Network protection by APC.

You NEED one of these at the point where your broadband puts a signal out on an ethernet cable. This keeps a lightning spike from going right down your network cables and laying waste to every computer, switch and printer you own.

The highest Joules rating

At over 4,000 joules this is the one you want.
This is the high end of the range for protection. It is available in different configurations (number of connections) and will offer the best protection.

Save a few $$ by going to the next model down.

At 3020 joules, this still offers very good protection at a decent price.


If you want the Cadillac of surge protection

You buy Panamax

They include 5 million dollars of protection for your equipment.

Beat that.


To protect your home theater system…

This is the best you can buy.

3 models to choose from



For your computer equipment

6 outlets plus charging station



8 outlets

No charging stations


Surge Protection by Tripp Lite

Rack full of equipment?

This is great protection


Heavy duty surge protection in a variety of configurations.

3330 joules rating

2, 4. 6, 8 outlets


Ready to cut the cord?

Tired of paying for cable TV you don’t watch?

Put in your own antenna and get HD TV for free

A few years ago I got tired of paying nearly $200 a month for 350 or so cable channels I would never watch.  So we put in this antenna.

You need to be line of sight to the area where the broadcast towers are for these to work.

I put this one in our attic and fastened it to a vertical support pointed South.  We get the 4 major networks, PBS, Cozi TV, a handful of other channels and about 100 Spanish and Arabic language channels.  We only have the occasional outage with VERY heavy weather conditions.

Now all we pay for is broadband, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

And we get better reception.


You’ll need this amplifier too if you have more than one TV:

How’s your WiFi signal?

<this could be an ad for Flomax>

Frequently the WiFi signal from the router provided by your Internet company will be entirely inadequate.
Add this router to the system and flood your home with much better WiFi.



Looking for a new Tablet but don’t want to take out a mortgage to get the latest iPad?
Try Samsung. The most popular phone manufacturer also makes great tablets for a LOT less than the Apple equivalent.
We like these a lot.

The 32 GB version.

All of these have micro SD slots so it’s easy and cheap to upgrade the storage.

Need more storage?

How about one with cellular in addition to WiFi?

Want to spend some more money?

Get the one with the S Pen.



Here’s are Some Little Home Security Tips

Home burglaries in our area are on the rise.

A common technique for breaking into your home is for thieves to break into your car first, and steal your garage door remote. Then they wait until your car is gone, open the garage door and take everything they want from your home while you are away.

To thwart the bad guys I recommend these tips:

  1. If you have an alarm system, USE IT.
  2. If you don’t have an alarm system, GET ONE – and USE IT.
    (This will not stop the bad guys from emptying your garage…)
  3. Lock the door from your garage to the house and put a key for this door on a key ring stashed someplace discreetly in the garage so you can’t lock yourself out.
  4. Put the garage door remote that clips to your visor in a drawer someplace in the house in case you ever need it.
  5. Buy a keyfob remote for the garage door opener that will always be on your keychain – and therefore, always with you.
    (note to men – don’t keep this in your pocket when you are home. You can inadvertently open the garage door and leave it that way.)
  6. Put your vehicle registration papers in your purse, wallet, or better yet, photograph them with your phone and file them safely away at home. NEVER keep these in your car. It’s an easy way to get your address.

This is what we have done recently just for this purpose.

Here is the one we have and it’s a better deal from Amazon than the local hardware stores.


Or buy a pair and save:

If you’re going to use the above keyfob openers:

I also recommend installing the Skylink Wireless Garage Door Monitor.

We put this in shortly after going to the keyfob opener to alert us when the garage door is open. It’s about a 5 minute install and beeps continuously to let you know the door is open. This is absolutely invaluable. If you are like us – and some of our neighbors, you have occasionally left the garage door open for extended periods of time.

Thieves are opportunistic and always looking for this situation. This is a very inexpensive and easily implemented solution.


In addition to the garage door monitor, Skylink makes a motion detector to alert you to activity around your house or in your driveway. Add this device to the above and you have improved security. It’s easy to set up and configure. The receiver supplied with the kit above will support up to 4 individual sensors. We have this one in our carport to alert us to tampering.


If you don’t have the full Skylink kit – or don’t want the garage door monitor, you can get the motion detector with receiver in a kit for only a few dollars more.


Let me add a couple of other recommendations for home security while I’m at it.


Motion Sensor Lights

Burglars work day and night. At night, they prefer to work in the DARK. Therefore, if you light up the exterior of your home like DAYLIGHT, they will move on to someplace less bright to do their dirty work.

  1. Keep your porch lights on.
    (if everyone in your neighborhood does this, but bad guys will go to another neighborhood)
  2. Put in the brightest LED bulbs you can find.
    (this makes it less desirable to the bad guys while cutting your electric bill)
  3. Light up your driveway / carport with the brightest LED fixtures you can find.
    (motion-sensing is OK, but always-on is better)

I have several of these installed. I have bypassed the motion detectors for the ones in our carport so they are always on. You could do surgery in our carport.


Replacement Porch Lights, etc.

Most people still have 25 watt incandescent bulbs in their porch lights. The original concept was to not use any more energy than possible, and make the front porch look inviting and pretty. For today’s security demands, more light is better and white light or blue-white light is a better deterrent. You want to push light as far away from the perimeter of your home as possible.

These are 100 watt equivalent bulbs that only consume 15 watts each and are 5000k blue-white light.



For architectural / security lighting

These little weatherproof LED downlights are perfect for architectural lighting or security. They only use 9 watts of energy while producing the light output of a 65 watt floodlight. You will need 120 VAC wiring to each of these. We retrofitted our home for architectural lighting when we resided it in early 2016, putting these in all the horizontal soffits.

Night Lighting Example

Night Lighting Example

Automatic Controls For exterior lighting

You need something to turn your lighting on and off. A photocell is best, but you need to interrupt your wiring and place it in exactly the right location for it to work reliably. The next best choice is a timer. Honeywell makes a great timer that fits in place of a standard Decora wall switch. I’ve used these for years and they work great.



This is the one I used to control our entire exterior lighting grid.

Surveillance Camera Systems

I have designed and installed surveillance systems for over 30 years. My equipment is strictly commercial grade and comes from a wholesaler in Florida that I have worked with for a long time. My opinion of the do-it-yourself camera systems is that they are worth a little less than what you pay for them. These inexpensive systems make you feel good, but when the rubber meets the road they fail. Under low light conditions (like when your car is vandalized in the dark) you will have no remotely usable footage to help the authorities locate the criminals.

The elements that make a difference

  1. DVR frame rate (anything less than 30 fps is useless in the dark)
  2. Number of channels (cameras) it the DVR will support
  3. GUI or Interface for your DVR (some are terrible and it will take you DAYS to find an event)
  4. Storage space for your DVR (you need enough to go back in time and find historical evidence)
  5. Interface format (IP camera or conventional Video) – video is better than IP
  6. Internet accessibility
  7. Smartphone app interface and functionality
  8. Camera sensor size (bigger is better)
  9. Sensor sensitivity (measured in lux)
  10. Low-light capacity (same as lux)
  11. Mechanical zoom range (digital zoom is worthless in low light)
  12. Mechanical focusing ability
  13. Weatherproof design
  14. Infrared capabilities (Infrared cameras are mandatory in low light)
  15. The amount of artificial light present and the distance before fall-off

The location of your cameras, where they are pointed and how far they are zoomed in – along with where they are focused will play a big role in gathering evidence. Overhead cameras at your doorway only help you determine the kind of hat worn by the person who just broke into your home and emptied it out. Chest level entryway cameras are mandatory if you want to be able to ID someone.

You need to provide LIGHT for your cameras to work well at night. Counting on infrared is not a great solution. You cannot tell colors or even get great facial recognition with infrared. Full color with lots of light is your best choice. This is what I provide for all my installations.

Cable quality is also crucial when doing these installations. The newest HD cameras require high end cabling or they simply will not work. You cannot buy cheap prefab cables for these cameras. If you do, you’ll get it all installed only to find nothing works. Then you will need to re-pull all the cable.

Cable should be run through the attic. It is very time consuming and more expensive, but cannot be tampered with. Smart criminals will case your home and come in through any blind spot to cut exterior camera cables stapled up against the walls. This leaves you blind.

You’ve always wanted to modernize your fireplace?

We’ve converted 2 fireplaces to fire glass.

Here’s what you need.

You need a new burner that is the right size for your fireplace.  Our fireplace is almost 4 feet wide so we used a 30″ H frame dual burner.  It gives off a LOT of heat.

Then we added 200 lbs of fire glass.

Our current fireplace looks like this.


Fire Glass Fireplace

Fire Glass Fireplace

Here’s what you need:

Assuming you have natural gas.  LPG requires a completely different burner.

The burner comes in different sizes:

Fire glass is here in a variety of colors:

#DIY #recommendations #health, #supplements #HDTV #computers #tablets #protection #WiFi #CutTheCord #HomeSecurity #security #lighting