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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Best PC monitors for each user

When it comes to monitors, reliability can be hard to judge.  Panels can have good batches and bad ones.  Certain makers have a pretty good track record of reliability and if you do happen to get a bad panel the warranties are usually long enough to get you through it.

PC users pretty much come in two major user groups: performance users and production users.  The performance user would covers the gamer, and anyone who requires a graphics card.  The production user covers anyone who uses the PC to look at digital stuff be it on the internet or on a hard drive. I will give a brief overview of the requirements of both and the XcerptShow Top Pick of each.

Performance User

A performance user will need a very low response time(ms), a high refresh rate(Hz) and some built in syncing software couldnt hurt(G-SYNC[Not to be confused with 1990s boy band NSYNC]).  G-SYNC is software that tracks what the GPU is putting out and the monitor is displaying to enhance fidelity in quickly moving application like games.  Software like this can really help with eye strain while gaming for extended periods.  It helps reduce or eliminate headaches. Learn more
G-SYNC is supported on hit games like Rainbow Six: Siege



ASUS PG278QR 27" $680
It is a 27in monitor(no need to buy 2 which despite its hefty price could actually save you money) with a 1ms response time, G-Sync and refresh rate of up to 165Hz.  This is the XcerptShow Top Pick for obvious reasons. 


Production User

A production user is similarly looking for the performance specs of performance users, but there is a balance between price and performance.  The most important aspect is reliability from a well reviewed model.   
ASUS VE248H 24" $145
This is a 24in monitor with a 2ms response time, and a high contrast ratio for excellent video and word processing viewing.  The price and almost 2800 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars on Amazon make this the XcerptShow Top Pick.



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What is the BEST smart hub for home automation?

As home automation has become more mainstream, smart hubs have come and gone.  There are still a few options left.  Figuring out which is the right one can be a little daunting.  After careful analysis and testing of multiple systems we have done all the hard work for you. I have included links to items to make sure you get to the right products. Some products have multiple versions. They still sell old versions. It is important that you get the right product.  No company has influence over the content here. This is true, unbiased analysis.


What is a smart hub?
A smart hub is your first and most important step in home automation.  It is the piece that makes everything else work and most often the interface you have to deal with when using your house.  The interfacing with your house is what makes it crucial. If you don't like that then you will be very unhappy.


Here are the current mainstream options to choose from:


Wink ($100) - Wink’s ownership has moved a bit but is really pushed by Home Depot.  The problem with that is Home Depot isn't really the place you think of when it comes to home automation.  What initially got me interested in Wink was that it worked with a lot of the ecosystems that I already had MyQ, Wemo, Kwikset, ect.. The problem was the under-powered hub.  It was a problem from the start.  They shipped their “new” units without enough memory to download their updates.  After many attempts and no luck I returned the unit unable to even update the firmware. Their tech support wasn't in India and was always available, but it can't fix a hardware issue.  Wink was gone in a blink.  




Iris ($70) - Iris really only exists if you shop at Lowes and to directly rival Home Depot’s Wink.  Other than that, they have some low priced reliable Iris branded motion sensors.  I didn't bother testing the unit because it doesn't offer anything the top pick does.  Iris is more like a pupil, just an empty space.




Vera ($90) - This hub died a few years ago limited by weak hardware(notice the trend?). It ran into some problems.  Also, the interface became overwhelming for new users.  Vera is very old.





SmartThings ($80) - The hub for everyone.  From beginner to advanced programmer user this hub can do it all. The interface is refined and simple to use.  It also is backed by Samsung.  So all of their smart TV’s, dishwashers, speakers, Fridges, ect work with it seamlessly.  SmartThings initially started out as a Kickstarter campaign.  It did exceptionally well.  Samsung invested in it and people were skeptical at first, but the partnership turned out to be a great thing for the hub.  More and more device ecosystems partnered with SmartThings and today is by far the best choice. SmartThings is the Smartest choice.  SmartThings is the XcerptShow Top Pick!


Here are the not-quite-hubs you don't want to not confuse with the above:


Google Home -  Google Home can connect to certain smart devices, but is not a true hub.  GH essentially uses other products ecosystems to control them.  So products like Nest, SmartThings, Phillips Hue and of course Chromecast devices work with GH.  It is more of a voice controlled interface to turn activate products within self sufficient ecosystems.  Pair it with SmartThings and you have a winning solution.  Imagine all the options available to your voice if you have a SmartThings hub.




Amazon Alexa - Amazon Alexa products (Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot) can connect to certain smart devices, but is not a true hub. Alexa is similar to GH in that is provides an interface to products that function by themselves. It works with Nest, Wemo, Phillips Hue and a myriad of others.  It even got integrated into Ford’s Sync.  Pair it with SmartThings and you have a winning solution.  The one nice part about Alexa is the Echo Dot.  Read more about how to economically integrate it into a home automation system HERE.




MyQ - MyQ is a hub for your garage door and a few light kits made by Chamberlain/ LiftMaster.  It doesn't do anything else.  Wink claims compatibility, but the service still relies on the MyQ servers to function which means if they ever quit, like many companies do, then you won't be able to use the device remotely.  I recommend the Go Control/Linear device attached to a SmartThings hub so you aren't reliant on a company's server.  


Wemo - Wemo is similar to MyQ but the few devices it has operate without the company's centralized server.  The only decent product is their wall plug, but I would recommend Leviton plugs over theirs. This can be good in the fact that they should always work, but it is bad that reliability is spotty.  I have had to return multiple in wall light switch units because they would not reliably connect.  For in wall units GE has the best reliability. They are also easily connected to a SmartThings hub.  

If you have any questions feel free to head over to the Facebook page and ask under the link post.  :)
Home Automation:
SmartThings
Amazon Echo
Sonos
Garage Doors


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Why your home needs the new Amazon Echo Dot


Home Automation is a great way to make your home more efficient and in the long run save you money.  One of the concerns was multiple users or how the automation was tied to a phone or a  switch.  Amazon Echo changes all of that.  Now anyone can control the house with their voice instead of their phone.
The Amazon Echo Dot is a great addition to a home automation system for the following reasons: price, performance and persistence.
Currently there are only two real options in voice control. Google Home and Alexa products.  Google Home is brand new and excels in some aspects but lags in others.  For the purposes of this article we are going to stick with home automation basics.

Price:
The Echo Dot is only $50 and is primarily for voice commands.  The Amazon Echo ($180) has built in speakers and is for voice commands and music playback.  The Google Home ($130) is similar to the Amazon Echo in that it has a built in speakers and a higher price tag.

Performance:
The Echo Dot works wonderfully by itself for the simple light user and even better with a SmartThings Hub.  If you have begun building a automated system then you probably have a hub.  If you don't have a SmartThings hub then you need to switch.  Why do you need a SmartThings hub?

Persistence:
The Amazon Alexa line has been around for a few years now.  Google Home only recently came out and until they release a smaller product without speakers the device can be redundant.  That being said, I would not go out and buy a Dot and Echo for every room of the house.  Google is slowly coming around to the home automation world and will most likely take over.  Amazon's lack of cooperation with Google is a little frustrating.  I can see a world where the two work together and benefit the consumer...but that might be in a parallel universe.

Hope this helped.  Be sure to use the links on this page.  To make sure you are getting the right products.

Home Automation:


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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Top 3 Kodi digital content streaming boxes

Top 3 Kodi digital content streaming boxes on Amazon.
All boxes have Android OS, Netflix capability and minimum 1080p output, but only one gets the XcerptShow Top Pick!


3.  Zenoplige Z9  $35
The Zenoplige Z9 has the basics you need to stream Android, 1080p and Kodi.  It is the lowest price on our list, but also the cheapest.  It has a 3.5 star rating from 181 customers with 66% being 4 or more stars on Amazon.







2. KD Links A300  $220
The A300 is the highest priced box it also boasts the highest specs.  It operates on Android, outputs up to 4k and offers Kodi.  It has a 4.5 star rating from 226 customers with 89% being 4 or more stars on Amazon.







1. Matricom G-Box $100

The G-box is a moderately priced box that can output 4k is android and was built for Kodi. It supports Amazon Prime Video and Android TV 5 OS.  It has the best warranty.  1 year unconditional regardless of hacking or modding warranty. It has the largest rating pool.  It has 4 stars from over 3100 customers with 69% being 4 or more stars on Amazon. The G-box is also the XcerptShow Top Pick!  


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Friday, January 6, 2017

What really happened in the Chicago kidnapping incident


There are a bunch of different labels being placed on the Chicago kidnapping incident.  It has been called everything from "bad home training" by CNN buffoon Don Lemon to hate crimes against(get this) retards(not whites but retards.).  The one label that I haven't seen associated with the incident is  to me the most obvious one: TERRORISM.


The definition of terrorism is "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims". The four black suspects sought to affect the politics of the United States by intimidating someone for their political action.  This wasn't a protest or a riot(those riots should have been characterized the same way), it was a deliberate act of terrorism.  These animals took pleasure in torturing this man like the animals in ISIS take pleasure in the creative ways they torture their victims.

Terrorist love social media.  From ISIS to this small domestic cell, they all want to make their deeds known.  Terror only works if people know about it.  They were trying to get other people to fear or join their cause against Trump.  The election is over and the ignorant and simple minded still believe there is something that can be done.

It is shameful that the authorities have not properly labeled this behavior.  Just another indicator of a feckless President that failed to do anything positive, and has grown terrorism all over the globe.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Which PC gaming headset should you buy?

The question is which gaming headset should you buy?
There are headsets that look cool and have flashy lights(which is kinda dumb because you cant see them) and all sorts of features, but which one is right for you?  What do you need in your gaming experience and what is marketing nonsense.
We have narrowed the field down to our top 5 gaming headsets and of course that includes our XcerptShow Top Pick!

So what do you need in a gaming headset?
The requirements are actually quite simple.

Good Sound:
You need 7.1 surround for tactical games like Rainbow Six: Siege and other shooters.  You never realize how much sound impacts your daily life until you hear a guy walking on the other side of the wall, turn and shoot him through it.

Bad Sound:
This isnt necessarily noise cancelling but plenty of sound dampening to at least block out most environmental sounds in your gaming space.  Bad sounds are usually case fans, ac units, pets, parents, siblings, vibrating sex toys, ect...

Comfort:
Imagine how long you typically game for.  Now imagine that with something digging into your head or ears for hours at a time.   Good padding around the ear cup is crucial for this.  Also, take into account the top of the head pad. It can make or break the experience as well.
With the above in mind here are our top picks. The wired options are noted next to price.




5. Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma V2 $100 wired
This barley made it in but the large drivers cant be denied.  The ear cups were my holding point. The sound is very bold. Only comes wired. On Amazon it has 4 stars across 1100 reviews.


4. TB Earforce Stealth 450 $90
A proven headset maker.  The wireless option in this device is great for tv gamers that sit back far from the pc. A very adequate choice.  On Amazon it has 4 stars across 284 reviews.


3. Sennheiser Game One $163 wired
This didnt make the top of the list mainly because of the price and the lack of wireless option. Amazing sound, great padding and quality all around.  It is the highest priced set on our list.  On Amazon it has 4 stars across 442 reviews.


2. Logitech G933  $153
The second highest priced device, but it is a commonly used product and has that Logitech quality.  Wireless and wired(wired is slightly cheaper).  It has lights...cool. On Amazon it has 3.5 stars across 1100 reviews.


1. Logitech G930  $60  
By far one of the more widely bought and used devices on the list.  Logitech did it right with this one.  The price, the sound, the comfort, it has it all.  Not the best sounding, remember, you get what you pay for, but this is more than adequate to hear sounds move around you. On Amazon it has 3 stars across 8000 reviews this is the largest user pool on this list.  This is also the XcerptShow Top Pick


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The unknown history of the Poinsettia

Where does this “tradition” come from?
The poinsettia wasn't introduced into the US until the early 1800’s.  It was introduced by Joel Poinsett.  Poinsett, a Charleston, SC native, was ambassador to Mexico and curious botanist.  The Poinsettia, then known as “flor de la noche buena” meaning “flower of the Holy Night(Christmas Eve)”, is indigenous to Mexico where it can grow over 10 feet tall.  The poinsettia Poinsett found would have looked nothing like the Christmas decoration we know today.  Poinsett brought a sample back and no doubt the legend behind it.


Legend
It was said that a poor girl had nothing to give baby Jesus on Christmas.  She found some weeds and placed them at the alter.  They happened to be poinsettias, blossomed and everyone thought it was a miracle.


Poinsettia and Christmas
When Poinsett brought the flowers back to the US, they quickly received the name “poinsettia”.  In the early 1900’s a farmer named Ecke began growing the plant in the US.  His family later began to associate it with Christmas in order to sell more.  The Ecke family even developed a special grafting technique that made the plants more compact and more full which are the flowers we know today.  With this special grafting process the Ecke family maintained a near monopoly on poinsettia production.  Today that same family controls 70% of domestic flower production and 50% of global flower production.

Poinsettias are displayed on December 12th for “Dia de la Virgen”.  December 12th is also  Poinsettia Day in the US a day to remember Joel Poinsett’s death. Poinsettias are, contrary to popular belief, not poisonous. Poinsettias were used in Central America as a dye and medicine. The plants do, however, produce a latex that can irritate the skin of people with a latex allergen and pets. A curious botanist and ambassador brought back a plant that was marketed to consumers with a legend from Mexico and that is how we got the tradition today.  


I hope you were informed, entertained and educated. It is your world in XS. Check the links below for easier access to the information in the site.  Or just add “xcerptshow” to your google search for some fun discoveries.

More on Christmas :
Mistletoe
Carols
Poinsetta
Nativity


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Monday, January 2, 2017

What you dont know about Nativity scenes


Where did it come from?
The most agreed upon originator of the first live nativity was St Francis of Assisi. St Francis was from Italy and wanted to transform Christmas into a celebration with a focus on Jesus instead of drunken pagan celebration of the winter solstice by adding singing and a live nativity.  He essentially put on a show.  It makes sense now why we always have Christmas plays.  St Francis tried to unite all celebrations of winter under Christmas and Jesus.  


It is interesting and significant.  St Francis was the co-founder of the Seraphic Order in 1209.  He wanted to “unite all mystics of all time” under the Catholic umbrella and accepting all beliefs.  His goal was to make his religion as acceptable to as many people as possible in an effort to bring people together or at least make religion one less point of division.


Live nativities today are not so popular.  They require a lot of effort.  Static nativities have become the norm in front of churches and some residences.  Where once these displays were a point of drawing people in they have in more recent days become yet another divisive point.  Every year there is a news story of some local government getting sued for setting up a nativity on public property.  In Ohio a man was taken to court for putting up a “Zombie Nativity”. He used the spectacle to promote his haunted house.  It has been the focus of repeated vandalism and fines by local officials.  If only St Francis could see what his idea has evolved into.


I hope you were informed, entertained and educated. It is your world in XS. Check the links below for easier access to the information in the site.  Or just add “xcerptshow” to your google search for some fun discoveries.

More on Christmas :
Mistletoe
Carols
Poinsetta
Nativity


As always leave comment via G+ on the website or like the Facebook page and comment on the post with the site link in it.  What do YOU think?

Links:

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Why do we sing carols at Christmas?

Christmas as we have learned was a pagan holiday adapted by the church to unite countries under religion and make the transition more easy for new subjects/converts.  What better way to win a  popularity contest than to throw a party?
There aren't many holidays that have their own songs.  No one sings joyous tales about the Easter Bunny.  Christmas is one that has a song list that just doesn't seem to go away.  But why does Christmas have its own songs known as carols?  The person who thought of Justin Bieber and the Chipmunks singing at Christmas, should be sent to Guantanamo under terrorism charges. From religious to secular, Christmas has a core of songs that everyone attempts to put their mark on...over and over and over again.


Etymology:
What does “carol” mean?
The standard definition on Google is “a religious folk song or popular hymn, particularly one associated with Christmas.” Of course the definition is normalized for modern day interpretation.  It doesn't tell us much about the word.


Where does “carol” come from?
It is from the Old French (around 1300’s) “carole” which means “joyful song” and “dance in a ring”.  This dates back to the origins of the Christmas tree, mistletoe and pagan religions that the Christmas date originated from.  If we go back even further to Medieval Latin there is a word “choraula” which means “dance to the flute”.  This communicates two ideas, a simple repetitive tune and dancing both of which are communicated in “carole”.  “Choraula” goes further back to the Greek around 5 BC of “khoraules” which is a form of “khoros”.  “Khoros” is represented in our modern day “chorus” another simple tune.  With a firm understanding for the evolution of the word, it will help us uncover more about the practice as the word and practice evolved.(S)


How did the practice evolve?
Early Christians would gather together on a particular day early in the morning and sing scripture to God like pagans would sing to their gods. This reminds me of popular sunrise services or morning mass on specific holidays.
As Christianity grew and Catholicism(Remember, at the time, most of the Western world was Christian with a background in Catholicism) took over, singing carols were largely still pagan and looked down upon by religious officials. Catholic officials tried on at least two occasions, 7th and 16th century, to ban Christmas carols.  Scrooge much?

Puritans in England wanted to purify their religion of its unnecessary Catholic and largely pagan influence.  In fact, in the 17th century Puritans banned all Christmas celebrations in England.  This distilled version of Christianity is what pushed the first settlers of North America to give up the security of where they were, brave the unknown, risk their lives in the voyage and cross a vast ocean to start over.  Their beliefs were so strong many early settlers didn't celebrate Christmas. The Christmas celebrations of the time were less about shopping and gift giving and more about getting drunk, think more Mardi Gras and less Santa Claus. A far cry from today's “traditional” Christmas.
Mainland Europe further developed the Christmas traditions we know today (carols, Christmas trees, Santa, live nativity).  By the 19th century almost no one celebrated Christmas in England.  It wasn't until literature of the Victorian period revived the “spirit of Christmas” in “T’was the Night Before Christmas” and “A Christmas Carol”(This one especially!) amongst other works.  Caroling also became popular and was practiced to replicate the angles that appeared to the shepherds at the night of Jesus birth.(S)

It was literature of the recent past that gave us many of the “traditions” that make Christmas what it is today with family, feasts and singing.
I hope you were informed, entertained and educated. It is your world in XS. Check the links below for easier access to the information in the site.  Or just add “xcerptshow” to your google search for some fun discoveries.


More on Christmas :
Mistletoe
Carols
Poinsetta
Nativity


As always leave comment via G+ on the website or like the Facebook page and comment on the post with the site link in it.  What do YOU think?

Links:

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