End of home improvement project…(finally)


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The last non-family history blog for awhile. We recently finished two projects in the house. The first is we ripped up and replaced all the carpeting in the basement. We added a laminate tile with cork backing. The cork backing is so the sound is deadened in the home theater. Carpet is really good at that so is the new flooring. We also replaced the carpeting on the riser.

You never really realize how much better non-carpeted floors are until you get rid of the carpeting. We are down more than 1/2 the carpeting in the house from when we bought it. We replaced the carpet in the living room/family area upstairs. This project replaced the carpeting in the basement and the stairs. All that is left is the carpeting in my office and the four upstairs bedrooms. All other rooms in the house do not have carpeting. Carpeting in the kitchen is always the one that get same. It is so much harder to clean carpet than hardwood or tile flooring. I don’t know about you but I spill when I cook. Spilling on carpeting leaves a stain in the end!

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Part one of this project was replacing the carpeting on the stairs. These are the stairs going from the basement to the main level. When we lived in Cincinnati Ohio I did some carpet squares in the basement. Laying that was awful and took me days. This crew was in and out in 2 days for both sets of stairs. It was three days to do the entire basement.

That is the end of home improvement projects for awhile. The problem I see with home improvement is you have to be really careful. Some things really add livability to the house, but the next owner may not care. Redoing the kitchen (upgrading appliances etc.) is always a good deal for resale. Redoing or adding things to the bathrooms (steam showers and large master tubs) are always value add. It used to be that indoor Jacuzzi tubs were a big deal but now those add more cost than value. So you have to remodel while watching the market. So like I said our last projects for awhile. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of the market!

We added a pool to our house in Indiana. That was a renovation that we should have probably not done. Pools add value to those living in the house, but not when you try to sell the house. A lesson learned about paying attention to the market so you don’t get killed when you sell!

Starting tomorrow back to the remembering things about mom series and the last Carousel of Dad’s slides. From there we move into some of my Grandfather Andersen’s slides. I wish I had scans of my Grandfather Johnston’s pictures, then the history project would be complete on both sides.

.doc

Home Remodel Survivor

Shameless Review Logitech CC3000 e Video Conferencing system…


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I do a lot of video conferences. It seems every year the number of those increases by 2 or 3 times. The first thing I would like to note about the new Logitech video conferencing system is that it adds gray hair to your picture. Well at least I think it added gray hair to mine.

http://www.logitech.com/product/conferencecam-cc3000e-business?crid=1545 

The system is compact with a speakerphone and camera connected to a hub and then to your computer via USB. Works best with a USB 3.0 port but I did also use it with a standard USB 2.0 port and it was fine. Set-up was straight forward and easy. The hardest thing actually was finding the right height and spot to mount the camera. It comes with a nice wall mount for the camera.

What I loved:

  • No software required. They have drivers for Lync, Jabber and others but you do not need specific software to actually run the system. It is truly a plug and play addition to your home.
  • Speaker phone is wonderful. Crystal clear, easy to mute and unmute (which as everyone known is the number one reason  for dropped calls in a conference – I was trying to unmute my phone).
  • System looks nice – lights up blue on the edges when connected to your PC. Lights up red on the edges when on mute.
  • Camera is amazing – other than adding gray hair to my head it is quite impressive in both ease of use (panning, zooming) and displays wonderful pictures on both end (my end and the remote view).
  • Integrates with Skype – I like that. I still use Skype to connect with a few friends over seas.

What I don’t like

  • Well the cost is a bit high actually.
  • Diagnostic software is really required. It is a download option it should just be included with the device on a CD and say install me.

Long term Logitech continues to create better and better devices in their fields of excellence. The little brother of this unit is a lot cheaper and also highly effective although in terms of video and audio quality not as good. The link to the smaller unit is here http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/conferencecam?crid=1545 .

This one is a little harder on the buy/don’t buy. If you do frequent video conferences get the CC3000e. If you only do the occasional conference call from home then get the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam. I got the BCC950 about a year ago and my wife uses it now in her office. Overall you can’t go wrong with either unit.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

*All shameless reviews sponsored by Creative Technology & Innovation

Random Saturday thoughts…


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Busy weekend – carpet cleaning and preparing for the new floor in the living room. It will be nice to get rid of Raven’s launching pad (she uses the carpet to gain speed when playing downstairs.

I am cleaning the floor in the basement today so the carpet cleaners can come in and get rid of all the leftover urine. Poor Fran near the end peed almost every time she got up (not her fault and no blame) so there was a lot of urine in the basement. Hopefully the dry system will remove the odor and the stain although you really can’t see the stains due to the basement carpet being so dark.

Still, it will be nice.

Landscaping team is cleaning up, mulching and getting the front yard presentable.

Its so much easier to hire someone else to do that than it is for me to do it. My father loves that kind of stuff, me not so much. I would prefer to write my blog than be outside doing yard work. The boys and I will mow the lawn and trim this year but other than that not much more. I like being outside for walks and hanging out with the pups but not so much for all the miscellaneous who ha of yard work.

I’ve transitioned off my old Kindle to my new Kindle. Now what I need to do is work with AT&T to add the new Kindle to the wireless account. I like the separation of functionality that having a Kindle affords me. I use different devices for the one or two things they are really good at. Now, that said my office is pretty full of technology but oh well.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Weekend wrap-up with Scott…(its better and actually funny with Chevy Chase but he was busy and not able to be involved this week).


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We are at T-Minus 5 and counting.

Raven and Dylan has had two spats so far. Nothing horribly ugly just a little over zealous playing. Right now they are walking around the house (best buddies) trying to get humans to pet them. The boys are off to school and I am burning up my floating holidays for the year.

We are getting rid of the play yard in the back and putting in a fence instead. We didn’t have to remove the play yard but in the end we have older kids now and it just add value. A fence that keeps Raven and Dylan secure is more in the end important. We will continue to use the dog collars to securely open the back door.

The window on Jaki’s car is repaired now. She is parking in the drive way that way Dylan can better guard the car. Plus in the driveway I have automatic lights that will kick on. It’s the price you pay to live near a big city. Although I do love the more country feel of Germantown. The greenways are nice. Interestingly though we saw more animals when we live in the Kentland’s (on the West side of Gaithersburg) than we do now in the more country setting of Germantown.

For some reason Barb was stuck on saying “x” and then “puny humans.” Prior to that all the way to Richmond on Saturday Barb and the boys were practicing George Takei’s “ohhh myyy.” Which could have been a fun car ride – I think George Takei is a genius but frankly after 3 hours stuck in Oh My land I was ready to jump out of the moving car.

I wonder what Hulk would sound like saying “oh my puny humans.”

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Improving my home office.


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I don’t have enough desk space. I realized that yesterday when I was thinking about cleaning up my office. Each of my tables has a specific function in my office and frankly I need to get rid of a couple of PC’s and add another table. I can run everything I want on my big laptop and the desktop systems haven’t been on in a year – which by my wife’s rule means they need to go away.

Murphy’s law corollary: work on something long enough to improve it and it will break. Hopefully that doesn’t apply to my entire office.

Its going to need a day spent running the P to V tools for the machines but then I suspect the best thing to do is retire all three. I don’t use the home server except for backups of one machine anymore. I really only use the AD boxes to play on occasion – I haven’t built a VM on Hyper-V in more than  year.

Having a lab used to be critical for my job. Now its just taking up floor space.

There was a time when I had three server class machines, and several desktops running the server OS in my basement. I spent roughly 90 bucks a month on electricity alone for those devices. My how things have changed.

A lot of that is the improvement in virtualization. With a laptop, an SSD drive and enough memory you can easily house and host any number of systems. From UNIX (I have Redhat and Ubuntu running), Windows (I have 8.1 and 2012 running – testing and seeing if I am ready to upgrade). I also have a VM with ChromeOS and one with Android running. I had one with Windows Phone, but I didn’t keep it.

Sometimes it is amazing what you can do.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow