Consumer Real Estate News

    • Voice Command Craze Continues

      15 November 2018

      It’s no surprise. We are in more in love with our smartphones than ever, with an estimated 270 million Americans viewing our mobile devices about 14 billion times per day. And according to Deloitte's U.S. edition of the "2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey," smartphone penetration rose to 85 percent in 2018, up 3 percent from 2017, with the strongest growth among U.S. consumers aged 45 and over.

      According to the survey, we’re looking at our phone an average of 52 times a day...even though 39 percent of us say we would like to cut back. But turns out what we’re most interested in are voice-assisted technologies, the next big movement in the world of human-computer interaction.

      Here are some interesting findings to consider:

      - Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents have used the voice assistant on their smartphones, up 11 percent from last year.

      - Nearly half (46 percent) have used the voice assistant within the last week, if not in the last day.

      - Market penetration of voice-assisted speakers has nearly doubled over the past year (growing from 12 to 20 percent).

      - Sixty-nine (69) percent of respondents who own voice-assisted speakers report using their voice-assistance capabilities weekly, and 47 percent do so daily.

      Of course, as Americans demand and expect their mobile devices to do more, they’ll also want it done faster, so expect a rise in 5G-enabled devices. Consider the following survey results:

      - Overall, 60 percent of respondents indicated that 5G is either "fairly" (34 percent) or "very" (26 percent) important to them now, compared with 55 percent who felt that way a year ago.

      - That interest rose across all age groups over the past year — even among those aged 65 and over, who saw a 9 percent jump to 31 percent.

      - The perceived importance of 5G is highest among the 25-34 age group (77 percent believe it's either fairly or very important).

      - Interestingly, 29 percent of respondents said their current 4G/LTE network speed at home is either a little or much faster than their home Wi-Fi, compared to 27 percent in 2017.

      Of course, if you’re among that growing percentage trying to reduce smartphone usage, there are ways to make it happen! Try leaving your phone in the kitchen when you go to bed at night or scheduling a phone-free outing once a week. This will help balance out our growing dependence mobile world.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 3 Common New Parent Questions

      15 November 2018

      (Family Features)--Almost every new parent knows the feeling: It's 2 a.m., you're bleary-eyed and you want nothing more than everyone to get some sleep. However, you're up, and so is your new baby.

      Though most parents wish their little one could tell them what's keeping him or her awake, sometimes there's no clear answer.

      To help parents who are looking for answers to the questions that keep them awake, including those regarding poop, sleep and tummy time, the experts at KinderCare, who've been caring for new babies for almost 50 years, offer this advice.  

      1. Why is my baby's poop a weird color?

      Flashback to before your baby was born: You probably never imagined you'd be searching the internet for answers to questions about poop. Yet here you are, and many new parents know how you feel.

      When you have questions about poop, however, you may find there's an app for that. Many apps also track sleep, feeding, pumping, weight and more, making them useful tools to add to your new-baby starter kit.
      If you see a change in your baby's poop, track it. It might be no big deal, but it's easier to remember what happened a week or even a day ago when you have all the data right at your fingertips. Also remember, if you see anything out of the ordinary, it's worth a quick call to your doctor's on-call nurse hotline to make sure it's nothing to worry about.

      2. What's the big deal about tummy time?

      You've probably read how important tummy time is for developing your baby's muscles to get ready for all of the crawling, rolling, scooting, sitting and walking ahead. While your baby's back is still the safest place for him or her to sleep, awake and supervised tummy time is important, too.

      Tummy time doesn't have to be long to be effective. Talk to your doctor to see what's recommended for your baby. Though tummy time can be any time, you might be more successful right after a nap or diaper change when your baby is well-rested and comfortable.

      If your baby just won't take to tummy time, try making it fun with toys and make sure you're getting down on the floor to play, too!

      3. What if my baby just won't go to sleep?

      It's never easy to hear your baby cry, but Dr. Elizabeth Super, a pediatrician and children's sleep specialist with the pediatric sleep medicine program at Oregon Health & Science University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital, has some advice for sleep-deprived parents.

      According to Super, by around 6 months of age, many babies no longer need a middle-of-the-night feeding and are ready to start learning how to self-soothe. However, about 25 percent of 1-year-olds still have problems waking up in the middle of the night.

      "They should be sleeping through the night and can be doing it, but it's very common that they're not," Super says. "Know that lots of kids have sleep issues, and sleep issues will come and go as they grow."

      In other words, if your baby has trouble sleeping, you're not alone. There's no one-size-fits-all solution, and it's important to choose an approach that fits your family. That might mean adjusting your schedule to accommodate an earlier baby bedtime (Super recommends 7-8 p.m.) or coming up with a simple bedtime routine like taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading a book, and going to bed.

      Source: KinderCare

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Swimming Pool Maintenance Errors--and Solutions

      15 November 2018

      Pool owners understand how delicate swimming pool maintenance can be, and even the most seasoned pool owners can have a misconception regarding pool maintenance. To help, LOOP-LOC has compiled 5 common swimming pool plunders many pool owners make, below, along with how to avoid and fix them.

      Letting a robot vacuum up algae is becoming a more common mistake as pool automation systems grow in popularity. However, these robotic vacuums are equipped with a mesh bag to push debris through, and when that debris includes algae, it clogs the bag and takes the algae gunk around your pool. Essentially, even though it seems like it's helping your algae issue, letting a robot vacuum it up really doesn't remove it at all.

      What to do instead: It's time to fish out your manual vacuum from the shed and put it to work to fully remove the algae out of your pool.

      Skipping a good pool scrub is not only inviting algae to spring up in the darkest corners of your pool and spread, but also letting your pool and its liner look dull and drab instead of sparkling clean. Many experienced pool owners become increasingly complacent when it comes to pool maintenance, but don't let the laziness talk you into deciding you can go another few weeks without brushing your pool.

      What to do instead: A thorough pool scrubbing will make your pool look brand new, along with keeping any unwanted invaders at bay.

      Shocking your pool in the daytime, while the sun is shining on your pool water. Shock works effectively to clean your pool of any chloramines and balances chlorine levels. However, shock is unstable, concentrated chlorine, and burns off at 1 ppm every hour it's under the sun. So, while you think getting your shock done in the day will free up the rest of your day, it's actually making your shock less effective.

      What to do instead: Clearly, the solution is obvious: shock your pool in the evening and let it work all night long for cleaner pool water.

      Pouring shock directly into your pool water is a common mistake made by new pool owners. Shock is a super concentrated chlorine, which is great for sanitizing your water, but chlorine is also a strong bleaching agent. Pouring shock directly in the water leaves your precious vinyl liner victim to bleach staining and deterioration. Besides not being a good look, the increased brittleness of the liner could possibly cause tears or leaks, two repairs you don't want to face mid-summer.

      What to do instead: Dissolve the shock in a bucket of water prior to putting it into your pool to protect your liner's integrity and beauty.

      Over-backwashing your pool may seem like you're just keeping things clean, but in reality, you could be doing more harm than good, on top of wasting money. Backwashing cleans the media inside your filter, but if there's little to clean, you could be reducing the life of your filter media.

      What to do instead: Keep an eye on your pool's pressure gauge; when it's 10 PSI over the normal pressure, proceed with the backwash.

      Source: LOOP-LOC

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Ways to Find Your Morning Workout Motivation

      14 November 2018

      (Family Features)--For many people, hitting the gym in the morning leaves less time for excuses or interferences.

      However, finding the motivation to get up and workout first thing can be a huge hurdle. If you're looking to make your early workout successful and one you'll actually stick with, consider these tips:

      Get Out of Bed, No Matter What. Making the first move may be the hardest part. Try setting two alarms and keeping them away from your bed. Walking across the room immediately after your alarm sounds gets you up and helps deter you from pressing snooze. Even sleeping in your (clean) workout clothes can make it easier to get going once you're up.

      Find a Workout Buddy. Having a partner can be motivational and help hold you accountable. It's often easier to push through a tough workout when someone else is keeping you in check.

      Commit to a Class. There are many ways to work out in the morning, and it's up to you to decide what kind of exercise is best suited for your fitness goals. Consider the potential benefits of a scheduled class: working out with a group gives you an appointment to keep, a set time and place and an instructor and team to push and encourage you even when you feel like giving up.

      Refuel for the Day (and Workouts) Ahead. Post-workout nutrition is critical to refueling your body after a tough workout, allowing you to take on the day ahead.  

      Give Yourself a Break. Keep in mind that after exhaustive endurance exercise, your body needs rest time (24-48 hours) to adequately replace your depleted glycogen stores. Take some time to let your body and mind prep for the next workout.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Veteran? Stay Vigilant for Scams

      14 November 2018

      If you're a veteran, it's important to be aware of several veteran-specific scams that have been surfacing as of late. According to a recent AARP survey, veterans are twice as likely to fall victim to scammers as the population at large. To help, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and its Operation Protect Veterans gives us a rundown:

      "Secret" Veteran Benefits Scam: Veterans are told they qualify for "secret" government programs or benefits that offer thousands of dollars—but first, scammers attempt to collect personal information or a fee.

      Fake Charitable Giving Request: Scammers are running bogus charities that claim to help fellow veterans.

      Benefits Buyout Offer: Veterans in need are being taken advantage of by scammers who are offering a quick, upfront buyout—usually at a fraction of the value—of future disability or pension payments.

      VA Loan Scams: Scammers are offering to refinance VA loans at very low rates.

      Bogus Employment Scam: Scammers are posting fake job descriptions to collect personal information from a veteran's job application, or they are charging veterans an employment fee.

      Source: U.S. Postal Inspection Service

      Published with permission from RISMedia.