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Several weeks, a few dozen photos and four thousand words later, we’ve finally made it—the Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad 2017 wrap-up, filled with stories aplenty of 365 days spent in my not-so-orthodox life.
After wrapping the year up on a quiet note (because two sick children under five will do that to you), I still felt it necessary to do this. These year-to-year changeovers offer a lot of perspective for me—with so much happening all the time, I often forget what I had for breakfast, so I write everything down. And if the height of the pile on my desk is any sign, 2017 was quite the year. But it’s also the time where I’m the most transparent, looking back objectively at everything I’ve done and celebrating successes, owning up to failures, hoping all the while that I’m somehow growing from the process.
But yeah—let’s do this as we did in 2016: look at the year in excruciating detail, figuring out what’s worth taking with me into 2018 versus what just don’t feel part of my world anymore.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me present—the 31 things I did well in 2017! Let’s get it!
Okay, everyone, it’s not too late. I know you’re stressed out—there’s not enough time to buy all the gifts, bake all the treats, see all the people and wrap all the things… but we’re a species that’s all too good at overcomplicating stuff for ourselves.
Ladies and gents, I’m here to show you a better way.
It wasn’t so long ago that people just knew TELUS for its phones. They’ve always had more services out West, but it’s not like you’d think to give the gifts of a mobile plan when Christmas came along.
But things have changed. Now you have the TELUS Connected Experience Stores and plenty of offerings online from their many brand partners. It’s a brave new world my fellow last-minute shoppers, and TELUS might just be the ones to help save your Christmas!*
(*Perhaps your Christmas doesn’t need saving at all and you just like cool stuff. If that’s you, don’t worry—this post’s for you, too!)
Zach Bussey put it well; to paraphrase: “if you’re going to be a serious influencer, you should be using serious tools.” As someone whose phone’s fused to his hands, it’d better be a good one!
I haven’t rocked a flagship model since my Lenovo Moto Z a little while back, and man do you notice a difference! The phones I’ve had since were okay, but there was always something not quite right when I used them. The camera wasn’t sharp enough. They lagged a little when I gamed. Enough of these imperfections and I knew—my next phone needed to be as close to perfect as possible… and that’s when I spied the Google Pixel 2 XL!
— Casey Palmer to basically everyone he talks to, gushing over how awesome his phone is.
In the beginning, I wondered what was so cool about a phone without a headphone jack.
When Apple announced the iPhone 7 in September, people lost their minds—what’s the point of having a device with access to millions of songs if you can’t listen to them? Buy wireless earbuds, they said. Change up the charging port with a dongle, they said. It took a feature everyone knew so well and did away with it—for a number of good reasons, mind you (waterproofing and Bluetooth redundancy to name a couple), but for all the negative hoopla they got about it, people failed to note two things:
We must embrace better methods to make better phones, and
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“No more Mr. Nice Guy—hello, Mr. Nice Watch!”
— J. Cole, “Mr. Nice Watch” (featuring Jay Z), Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)
What Dick Tracy dreamt up in the ’40s and Inspector Gadget toyed with in the ’80s is something I’m finally getting to play with myself in 2016! Replacing my regular wristwatch, the Moto 360 smartwatch1 is my latest device from TELUS that just might change everything.
Like much new tech, when we think of the smartwatch, the first word that usually comes to mind is “gimmicky”. In a world where the smartphone’s changed our relationship with tech so much we barely remember life without it, who wants yet another device? And one with less functionality, a smaller screen, and—frankly—isn’t all that smart without a phone to pair it to?
Busy people, that’s who! I never saw myself needing a smartwatch before rocking one on my wrist, but between raising my family, my 9-5, and managing a growing digital brand, I keep finding new ways to work the Moto 360 into my life—with everything going on, I need all the help I can get!
It’s a big, bad digital world we live in, and sadly, many are poorly equipped to deal with the perils and pitfalls that’re all too abundant on the Web.
I sadly saw it all too often in my days as a banker—the customers who fell victim to online scams, either too caught up in their hubris to think it’d ever happen to them, or those so desperate to get rich quick that they turned blind eyes to red flags that’d be glaringly obvious otherwise.
I’d cringe a little every time someone handed me a dubious-looking form, but no matter how much I’d try to warn and dissuade them from what they were about to do, it often fell on deaf ears, and you know what they say—”the customer’s always right.”
Except when those same customers would come in months later seeking consolidation loans or information on their accounts for the bankruptcies they wound up filing due to their unwise decisions.
But this doesn’t need to be everyone’s story—one can learn to navigate the murky waters of the digital landscape, no matter who they are or where they come from.
I can still remember it vividly: it was a nippy day in January 2000, and I left home in the morning—as I often did—to go write a midterm exam at school. The Mississauga Palmers followed their routine in suit—my brothers went to their school; Mom went to work; and Dad was the last to leave to open the restaurant for 10. I don’t remember the exam. I don’t remember what I wore. I just remember how odd I found it when I called home and all I got was a busy signal instead of the answering machine.
This next part is still crystal clear to me—reaching the front door of our house and trying the key… only to find the door already open.
In the space of something like 3 hours, my family had been robbed.
It’s hard to understand what it feels like to be the victim of a home invasion unless you’ve suffered it yourself. Though the main floor was left largely untouched, I’ll never forget the sight of our bedrooms upturned, drawers piled on the beds yanked loose from their cabinets, and piggy banks devoid of their change. They took the wedding rings, computer, MP3 players and more—they even emptied the suitcases my Mom had packed for a trip to Jamaica, using them to cart away their ill-gotten goods with no one being the wiser. Even after we’d given our police statements, bought an alarm system and replaced what we could when our insurance claim went through, things didn’t feel the same for a long time thereafter. The home we’d once taken for granted didn’t feel quite so cozy anymore, and we were left with more questions than answers: Why us? What could we have done differently? How could we make sure it wouldn’t happen again?
The place that was supposed to be our safest was violated, and it’s really hard to come back from that.
More than 15 years later with a family of my own, the memories still ring vividly in my head, inspiring me to do whatever’s in my power to keep them all safe—and fortunately, 2016’s technology gives us options that simply weren’t around back then, with plenty of choices for how we can make our homes smarter at a fraction of what it used to cost to do the very same thing!
And the August Smart Lock with its companion—the August Connect—are two little devices that’ll do just that: change how you think about home security and the things you can do to stay a step ahead of those who might not have your family’s best interests at heart.
But what makes a smart lock so “smart”? I mean, we all know how locks work—you either have a key to open your door or you don’t. It’s that simple. I mean, of course, if your lock doesn’t get jimmied. Or, I mean, there’s also the fact that keys can be lost—they’re so dang small, after all! We worry about whether we actually remembered to lock our doors in the first place, wasting our time doubling back to check; we get accidentally locked out; we fumble for keys in the dark to get in… I’m sure our ancestors meant well all those millennia ago, but it’s probably time we put a little more thoughts into the thing that keeps the wrong people out of our homes and lets the right ones in whenever they need it!
Which is why the August Smart Home Access System turns the very idea of locks and keys on its head with features you can’t get from a simple chunk of metal.
Using the power of the August App, the smartphone software that does everything from determine whose phones can open the door to automatically giving you notifications and logs on who’s coming and going, the August Smart Lock will protect your home in ways you’ve likely never even thought about.
The door automatically locks behind you and opens upon your approach. It lets you create virtual keys for your guests that expire when you want them to expire. It connects to the Apple Watch. It takes 15 minutes to install and keeps your existing hardware so you can still use your keys if the batteries run out. It’s literally designed to help you put worrying about your home’s safety squarely at the back of your mind.
And when you pair it with an August Connect, you don’t even need to be home to open the door! If you’ve got a dog walker, cleaner, or anyone who’s going to need entry, all it takes is an alert and the push of a button to let them in! Sure, it probably feels like this is all straight from a sci-fi movie, but we’re finally hitting a point with technology that truly challenges what we can demand of our lifestyles, and I for one embrace it!
And a recent study commissioned by TELUS tells me I’m not alone—while only 34% of Canadians currently own a smart home device, 68% predict they’ll own at least one by 2018, and half of those think that number will be three or more! Rob Currie, vice-president of Mobile Devices at TELUS notes that while today “we’re seeing basic functionality like controlling lighting or thermostats from our smartphones”, this is just the beginning to get us used to new technologies—can you imagine biometric security systems like you see in Mission Impossible? Kitchens that sort their functions through learning your preferences and habits? The future’s coming fast, folks, so we’d better start getting used to its ideas while we still have the chance!
So if you’re looking to make your home a little smarter, a little more convenient, and—most importantly—a lot more secure, you’ll likely want to try your luck at my giveaway with TELUS where one reader will walk away with the August Smart Lock and August Connect, two prizes with a combined value of $360 CAD! Just make sure that if you do enter, you know that the August Smart Lock will only fit single cylinder deadbolt locks—if you have a home with a Mortise, rim cylinder or integrated lock, this prize is not for you!
(Contest open to Canadians living outside of Quebec aged 18+, and ends June 2nd, 2016 @ 11:59 PM ET! Good luck to all who enter!)
The August Smart Home Access System—Keep the Wrong Ones Out and Let the Right Ones IN.
When it comes down to it, the August Smart Lock won’t solve all your home security woes—when we were robbed those 16 years ago, the thieves jimmied a window open at the back of the house, taking advantage of an absent security system to have their way—but I can imagine that things would’ve gone far differently had my family received alerts on our phones that all wasn’t as it should be at home!
You never know when something like this might happen to you—if that’s not incentive enough to keep up with the ever-changing times, I don’t know what is.
But the August Smart Home Access System—I’ve gotta admit, its possibilities have me excited. Even if home security’s not something you often think about, I assure you it’s not to be taken for granted—it’s just like insurance: it seems like quite the investment up front, but if you don’t do it, you won’t truly appreciate what it offers until it’s too late.
Thanks for reading, y’all, and may you always choose to invest in peace of mind!
Until the next,
Disclaimer: While TELUS originally compensated me for this post with an August Smart Lock and August Connect of my own, it turns out that our house is old—like 100 years old—and they probably didn’t design homes with smart home technology in mind back then.
But good thing this isn’t our forever home, right?
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
There’s nothing sexy about smoke detectors—we put them in our homes and often forget about them until we cook smoky food without remembering to turn the exhaust fan on or start enjoying our fireplaces with the chimney closed. (That said, you should check your smoke detectors at least once a month to make sure that the batteries are fresh and that the detector can detect if you find yourself in a situation where mere seconds make all the difference.)
Smoke—and these days, carbon monoxide detectors—often play merely a background role in the life of a modern home, just something we expect to be there rather than tools to be kept up to date, ensuring we’re doing everything we can to take care of our homes.
But what if your home got ravaged by a fire tomorrow? Have you taken the necessary steps to protect the things you hold dear if the unexpected happens? Are your valuables in a fireproof safe and your files stored in another location should your computer get torched in the process? Do you have your possessions catalogued in an inventory and made sure you know what your home insurance covers? When it comes down to it, too many of us are woefully unprepared for the curveballs life’s all too ready to hurl at us, and we need to be smarter about the tools we keep around us if things go wrong.
And that oft-overlooked ancient smoke detector collecting dust on your ceiling’s an amazing way to start.
“In the 1970s, it would take almost 30 minutes for a fire to take over a room. Today, it can take less than 5.”
It’s scary how quickly things can go wrong. In a quest to make things cheaper to manufacture and accessible to everyone through mass production, we’ve turned our homes into fire traps. The fires burn faster, the smoke’s more toxic, and the longer we continue relying on outdated technology to keep us safe, the more we leave ourselves open to calamity happening without a way to defend ourselves in time.
The second-generation Nest Protect is packed with features to give you a leg up against disaster, and if used in the right way, it can do far more than just detect smoke.
The industrial-grade smoke detector is just part of everything the Nest Protect has to offer—if you’re one of the 90% who fail to check their smoke detectors monthly, imagine a smoke detector with a built-in microphone to quietly test its horn monthly at a time of your choosing, and you need to do little more than key your preferences in on the Nest App to make it happen. Or putting the days of an overly sensitive smoke detector far behind you, with one you can hush with a press on your phone instead of frantically waving at it with a dish towel until it gets the picture. In an age where our phones may as well be extra limbs, having devices like the Nest Protect connected to them doesn’t just make sense—soon enough, it’ll likely become the norm.
A recent study commissioned by TELUS found that smart home technologies are on the rise—while 61% of people believe that they’ll definitely benefit their lives, only 34% currently own a smart home device. But that gap’s looking to shrink—with 63% of people predicting they’ll own at least one smart home device by 2018 (with half that crowd thinking they’ll own three or more), the world around us will continue to morph to accommodate the possibilities that simply didn’t exist before smart home technologies began making their way into the mainstream.
Think of a smoke detector capable of telling you when things are awry at home, with every family member able to get alerts through their Nest Account no matter where they are? Or one that knows how to react based on how bright the fire is to know if it’s fast- or slow-burning? One that checks its batteries and sensors 400+ times a day; whose carbon monoxide sensor lasts a decade; can tell the difference between smoke and steam (for y’all who love your long showers); and will broadcast immediate evacuation steps to your phone in the case of an emergency so you can get your family out safely—and quickly.
It’s time for us to stop fixating on the smoke detectors we used to know and start looking to a future that’s a lot smarter.
So if you’re up to the challenge of making your home a tad more intelligent (and I’m pretty sure you are with 57% of people believing smart home tech will save them money, and 44% believing it to increase security and safety), then I’ve got news for you—thanks to TELUS, one lucky reader will walk away with a battery-powered Nest Protect to watch over their home, with a retail value of $130 CAD! As with pretty much every contest on the blog, it’s open to Canadians living outside of Quebec aged 18+, and will run until May 18, 2016 @ 11:59 PM! Many will enter and it’s simple to put your name in the running, but you’ll stand a far better chance if you take advantage of the options available for extra entries! Good luck if you choose to enter!
The Nest Protect — A Great Way to Keep the Things You Care About Most Safe From Harm’s Way
It’s a brave new world out there.
With technology continuing to evolve, so do our expectations for what’s possible from our devices. Don’t be surprised to eventually see insurance companies giving reduced premiums for households linking security cameras to their smoke detectors that can automatically record video in the case of an emergency. Or if you suddenly find smart home devices integrated into your kids’ school curriculum, like advising them to get a thermostat that speaks to their smoke detectors, shutting off the heating system in the case of a fire so the smoke doesn’t spread further!
In a world where the challenges change faster than we can keep up, it’s the little tools like the Nest Protect that at least point us in the right direction.
If you want to see the Nest Protect for yourself up close and personal, feel free to check it out at one of TELUS‘ “Connected Experience” stores in the Cadillac Fairview Toronto Eaton Centre or Edmonton’s Southgate Centre. And if you don’t happen to live near, don’t worry—TELUS has more Connected Experience stores in the works, and they’ll be introducing their smart home portfolio to 50 retail locations across Canada this year!
All that said, I hope I’ve inspired you to think about the steps you can take to build a smarter home. With enough in our lives that’s utterly irreplaceable, it’s worth the investment to make sure we protect the things we care about—before we regret not having done so sooner.
Hope to see you on the right side of the smart home revolution!
Until the next, I remain,
Disclaimer: As compensation for this post, TELUS sent over a battery-powered Nest Protect to review and see how it could make our home a little smarter! But since we need a wired version to replace our current system, I decided to pass the device on to you—but believe you me, when we move to our forever home, I’m installing these suckers all over the place! Good luck if you choose to enter ????
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
The 2016 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship came and went, Canada’s dreams of a golden repeat gone along with it. We still had the #AllHeartCanada hashtag (which won one lucky tweeter a trip to Finland to catch a game), which was not only used more than 12,000 times, but also inspired TELUS to give $10,000 to the Hockey Canada Foundation to help support our future stars. Canadians were still glued to their TVs to see how Team Canada would fare in their trials abroad. Our nation still cheered as our under-2o men played the Helsinki out of the game overseas*, but it was nothing like having them here at home to see them show their opponents how to really own the ice!
While my family didn’t personally grow up with much hockey in the house, I learned to appreciate it a little more from friends who bled it through and through, rhyming stats and plays off like a second language. I know hockey’s no joke in this nation. If 2015 was any sign of how far this city’s willing to go to show Team Canada some love, I expect Toronto to go absolutely ballistic when the World Juniors come back at the end of the year!
It’s been the hottest minute since I put out a Week That Was, so much so that I needed to roll ’em up into a month’s worth of material to catch up on the stories! A bit of a fail, I admit, but when you’re simultaneously preparing for Christmas, scribing a lively giveaway series, and trying to keep the rest of your life in order, things are gonna fall between the cracks. But with Christmas over and done with and the new year just around the corner, I’m jonesing to start 2016 with a clean slate, taking everything I learned this year to push the blog in exciting directions!
But enough jabbering about the future when you’re here for the past — let’s take a look at my last five weeks and all the antics that took up my time!
Any blogger who writes a post like this asking “Where do I start?” obviously doesn’t store enough of their moments on Google Photos. Scrolling through a quick search of 11/21/2015-12/26/2015 gave me everything I needed, and jeez was it a lot!
Photo courtesy of Brian Fryd
Though I don’t quite know how I made it this far through 2015 with my sanity intact, November was closing itself off solidly with events like Read for the Cure courtesy of TELUS (where we sat in the closest possible seats to the authors thanks to their status as Platinum Plus Sponsors and Ian Brown gleefully called my wife a “little shit”*), and emceeing DECA’s Festival of Lights, an annual event in my ‘hood to help ring in the holiday season by lighting the trees on the edge of East Lynn Park. I made a new friend — a potential Dad blogger who was visiting town, and reassured me there’re others out there looking to parent how I parent through an enlightening conversation! I won a FitBit Flex and promptly gave it to a coworker, knowing I couldn’t make as solid use of it as some of my gym-going colleagues could; I succumbed to the hype and tried Hot Star Large Fried Chicken to discover it was little more than that — a bit of pounded white meat covered with tons of breading and even more hoopla; and we continued tradition, getting Little Man a snowboarding Elmo to hang on the tree amongst the various Christmas accessories we’d ordered in to jazz up Casa de Palmer!
November was busy, without a doubt, but there’s no way I was ready for what’d come next.