Getting Smart at the Crystal Palace


Barb and the kitten enjoy the afternoon glow.

It has been a couple of months since move-in day and we are settling down. The house is beginning to feel like our home. It is taking time, but the neighborhood is beginning to feel like our neighborhood as well. The neighbors, all very friendly, have been stopping by, bearing gifts and eager for the house tour. With the arrival of warmer weather and the imminent delivery of our pond swans, we will feel even more in touch with our surroundings.

The last month has seen the IQ of the house rise dramatically. Not the IQ of the inhabitants, our brains are no longer adding neural networks, but of the house itself. First I discovered that our garage door opener was more than a motor and lights switch.I can check my phone and find out if once again I have forgotten to close the garage door on my way to work in the morning. The opener also tells me for exactly how long the door has been closed, a feature whose necessity I have not yet fathomed. Maybe if we had teenage kids trying to sneak out of the house in the middle of the night...

Next I got tired of switching on five different lights switches scattered all around the house to turn on our outside evening lighting. Sure, I could have installed individual in-wall timers for each of those, but resetting each of those as the days become longer is more than my slightly past middle-aged eyes can handle. So while our low voltage/wireless/wi-fi/cable team was tweaking our alarm system we asked them to install a smart controller system for the outside lights, and then, in for a penny in for a pound,  added in controllers for the inside lights that Barb likes for ambiance. It has taken me a while to master the "scenes" and "schedules" the controllers provide for, but I am well on my way to becoming a smartphone lighting impresario.

Our wireless house sound system is doing just fine as a smart feature on our phones. It is the hard-wired stuff, the interface between Comcast and some of our TV's that has been an issue. Some online research has revealed that we are not the only ones having problems with Xfinity boxes not behaving well with newer Sony sets. So far neither Abt Appliances, Comcast, or our cable team have a solution to this one. A swap out may be the answer. Any suggestions on the best brand to replace our Sony's with?

Yesterday we had a long awaited walk-through with our HVAC contractor, a nice young man, rightfully proud of the job his company had done in the house. We reviewed furnaces, humidifiers, air balancing, and the new thermostats. Of course, the 'stats are also much smarter than mere mortals, anticipating our needs and wants, calling for service whenever they feel the need, and changing colors to match our wall paint.  When starting this project two years ago we didn't dare dream we would have chameleons on the wall with brains bigger than IBM's Watson.

The crystal is shining, prismatically fracturing the rays of light into rainbows on the dining room walls. Shades and shutters are being installed,  and we are making plans for our first ever holiday celebration in the new house. The grass is growing greener, and every day we, and the house, grow a little bit smarter.


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