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Stories Tagged - Digital Downlow


May 25, 2017 | Miles Durie

Future ready

milesStaying one step ahead of the consumer technology bubble

"Everything you see here today will be totally obsolete in four years."

Those words of wisdom came from Bill Gates, spoken to Alberta-based technology commentator Steve Makris just before Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft.

"Count on everything changing every few years," said Makris, whose reviews and analysis of consumer technology can be found in Postmedia newspapers, on Global TV and at

"The cycle of technology, even smart technology, arriving to consumers and disappearing altogether is getting shorter."

Courtesy Crock-Pot and LG Appliances

May 11, 2017 | Miles Durie

Connected appliances


Devices that allow you to monitor everything, from cooking progress in your Crock-Pot down to the forkful of food you just ate

Chances are at some point in the past five or six years you've heard the phrase, "the Internet of things." In some industrial tech circles it's even being shortened to "IoT" these days.

Sounds cool and acronym-y, right? And like a lot of the buzzwords that propagate online today, you have to wonder sometimes if the people using it even know what it means.

I'm going to talk about kitchen appliances in a minute here, but because connected appliances are prime examples of the Internet of things in action, let's get clear on the term first.

Gardening sensors can make managing a garden much easier. Photo courtesy of Edyn

April 27, 2017 | Miles Durie

No rain? No problem


Gardening technology can automate the watering of your garden and can even tell you when your plants need nutrients

When it comes to gardening, there are three kinds of people. First, there are those who have zero interest in getting their hands dirty. They wouldn't know a hosta from a hydrangea, and are happy with a house full of artificial plants.

Then there are the hard-core green thumbs. They start flowers and vegetables indoors in March. Their favourite channel is HGTV, and they listen avidly to radio call-in shows whenever gardening is the topic. Their idea of a perfect winter afternoon is hanging out in a garden centre greenhouse.

Photo courtesy of Whirlpool

April 13, 2017 | Miles Durie

It's hot to be cool


Ventless heat-pump dryers dry clothes more efficiently at cooler temperatures

It may seem like the last place in your house you'd look for cutting-edge technology, but the laundry room is a pretty cool spot these days. No, seriously.

An exciting innovation that's reached our shores in recent years is the ventless heat-pump clothes dryer. They've been available since the 1990s in Europe, where the higher cost of electricity is a major incentive toward using less of it, but are just now developing a presence here.

The Berry Architecture & Associates Building in Red Deer features a green roof where people, birds, flowers and bumblebees can cohabitate in harmony. Photos by Cynthia Pohl

April 13, 2017 | Miles Durie

Roof Positive


With a long list of ecological and economic benefits, green roofs are picking up in popularity

Imagine looking down on an urban centre from above and seeing nothing but verdant green. Stark rooftops are now overgrown with grasses, shrubs and trees. Here and there, sunlight glints off small ponds. The outlines of streets and roads are just visible through the greenery.

This may sound like a vision of a post-apocalyptic future in which nature is reclaiming abandoned cities. But in fact, it's a modern technology that proponents of green roofing would love to see become a widespread reality. The sooner the better.

Photo courtesy Samsung

March 09, 2017 | Miles Durie

The 411 on 4K


Advancements in screen resolution come at a cost. Is it worth it?

When it comes to television, more pixels are always better, right? Higher resolution, higher definition, bigger numbers are good. It seems so obvious.

Yet, as is often the case when talking about technology, it's not quite that simple.

Stuart Rudolph, president of Rudolph Plumbing & Heating Inc. says tankless water heaters and power direct-vented tank-type models are increasingly being installed in Calgary homes. Photo by Tyler Klinkhammer / For CREB®Now

March 23, 2017 | Miles Durie

Getting in hot water


New water heater technology and incentives are making tankless systems feasible for more Calgarians

here's nothing better than being in plenty of hot water. Not the metaphorical kind, the real stuff. If you've ever felt the shower go cold while you're still covered with soap and shampoo, you know what I mean.

But new water heater technology is helping reduce the likelihood you'll run out of the hot stuff, while providing environmental and money-saving benefits.

According to Toronto-based Convergence Consulting Group, almost 26 per cent of Canadian households today do not have a traditional TV subscription.

Jan. 28, 2017 | Miles Durie



More Canadian homes are abandoning conventional TV services

If you're the New Year's resolution-making type — and more than half of us are, statistically speaking — it's likely that better financial decision-making is one of your goals for 2017.

You're not alone; spending less money was one of the top three resolutions in a survey done earlier this month by the Statistic Brain Research Institute in the U.S.

So it follows that you'd be interested in saving anywhere from around $50 to $100-plus a month by making a simple change that would have virtually no impact on your quality of life, right?

In lighting systems like Philips Hue, the light bulb itself is smart. These bulbs talk to each other via the short-range, low-powered communication standard called ZigBee, allowing wireless control of a lighting system as big or as small as you want — up to 50 lights on one network, in most cases. Photo courtesy Philips Hue

Dec. 21, 2016 | Miles Durie

Year of the smart home

New programs could see homeowners coming out ahead

milesIf 2007 was the year of the smartphone, then 2017 might be the year of the smart home.

Before 2007, there were cellphones that connected to the Internet, sure. But that year, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. It was the company's biggest innovation since 1984's launch of the original Macintosh, and its ripple effect on the entire technology sector continues.

Enthusiasts waited in line all night to get an iPhone and for a tremendous number of people, seeing one was wanting one (although the initial high price tag held a lot of us back until the next year).

Blincam has a sensor that watches the user’s eye. When it detects an eye-wink that’s any longer than your natural blink, it takes a picture and sends it instantly via Bluetooth to a Blincam app on your smartphone. Photo courtesy Blincam

Nov. 28, 2016 | Miles Durie

Blink of an eye

Hands-free camera technology offers applications for homeowners

milesIf you had a camera that was always on, aimed and focused on whatever you're looking at, ready to shoot a photo, would you take more — and better — pictures?

Shota Takase is betting you would. That's why the young entrepreneur invented Blincam, a small, glasses-mounted camera that will photograph anything you're looking at, literally in the blink of an eye.

And it's completely hands-free, meaning you can take photos while riding a bike, carrying groceries, cooking or doing just about anything else you can think of.

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