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Thumbs Up: A Google Street View Surprise


The City Apartment via Google Street View

The last time I looked at the Google Street View of our city apartment, it was a scene from a few years ago. I know this because a car that we used to own, a 1989 Volvo station wagon, was parked in front of our building. Sometimes when I would get lost in regret about selling Beverly, as we called our trusty old wagon, I would pull up our address on Google and stare wistfully at her.

To help guide some relatives who might be staying at our apartment over the Christmas holidays, I once again visited our neighborhood using Google’s satellite technology. It was immediately clear that the Street View car had visited our again quite recently. For one thing, the big old tree that used to live in front of our building is gone in the new Street View images. That tree was cut down this past summer, much to my chagrin, so that was my first tip that the new images are fairly recent. For another, the interminable utility work that has been happening on our block is visible in the Street View images. And for one lucky member of that road construction crew, this was his chance to be immortalized by the Google cameras:

Hi Mom! Getting Snapped by the Google Street View Camera

I can practically hear the worker saying “Hi Mom!” as the Google Street View mobile passed by. I’m a little disappointed he didn’t do something a little more outrageous but he probably didn’t have a lot of time to think of a post before the car passed him by.

If you’ve never seen the Street View mobile in action, it’s a site to behold. The brightly painted car has a big red ball affixed to the top of it. It kind of looks like a lady bug on a stick attached to the car. I’ve seen the car in action a few times but I’ve never been in a position to strike to funny pose. If you’re curious about the Street View car, Google has a site with information about where the car is currently mapping, as well as some background information about how they turn photographs into 365 degree maps.

Google Street View Mobile

Go practice your pose, folks. You might be captured by the Street View camera any day now!

Images: 1-2. This American House. 3. Google.

product review, setting up home, technology

Nest Protect: Making Our House a Little Smarter (and Safer)


Nest Protect | This American House

Maybe it’s because I love gadgets or because I grew up watching The Jetsons but I’ve been obsessed with smart home technology for years. One of the first things I did when we moved into our house was install the Nest Thermostat. And we love it. Not only can we monitor the house’s temperature from our phones, we can also turn up the heat when we’re on our way home. Now it’s time to start bringing in some other smart home products. Next up: the Nest Protect smoke detector.

Nest Protect Packaging | This American House

The folks at Nest have definitely taken a cue from Apple when it comes to design and packaging. The Nest Protect is packaged quite handsomely and includes easy to read instructions. I appreciated the fact that there’s a label instructing you to set up the Nest Protect using the app before installing it. I’m totally the kind of person who would get the smoke detector completely installed on the ceiling before realizing that I should have set it up first.

Installing Nest Protect Smoke Detector | This American House

My initial desire for installing Nest Protect is because we’re away quite frequently and I wanted to be able to monitor the house from afar. The fact that Nest is a whole lot more stylish that old yellowed smoke detector that has been attached to the ceiling for what seems like a couple of decades is just a bonus.

Old vs. New Smoke Detector | This American House

Installing Nest Protect was a cinch. Since we had previously installed the Nest Thermostat, we already have the Nest app on our phones. Syncing the new Nest Protect with the Nest app took just a few minutes. Then it was simply a matter of switching out the old smoke detector with the new one.

You know what’s even better than a stylish smoke detector? A smoke detector that talks. And a smoke detector that warns you that it’s about to get loud.

It’s alive! And very friendly. I love the @nest lady’s warning. “The alarm is loud.”

A video posted by Jason Loper (@jasonloper) on


The fact that the Nest Protect has this charming female voice helps me feel like we’ve adopted a robot or something. Although it also makes me worry that she’ll someday go crazy and start to self destruct.

I hope that we never have occasion to use our new smoke detector. I hope she gets to just hang out on the ceiling and occasionally ask to be tested.

Images: This American House

DIY, how to, making do, technology

How to Make a 1 Dollar Photo Projector


How to Make a $1 DIY Photo Projector | This American House

Back in the old days a couple would return from vacation and invite all of their friends over to their house for a slideshow of the amazing shots of far flung destinations that they the snapped. Drinks would be served and merriment would ensue as the guests would live vicariously through their traveling friends. And then digital photography came along and instead of getting together to see each other’s photos, we simply swipe through Instagram and Facebook feeds. Sure, it’s a little easier, but I miss the social aspect of slide shows.

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cleaning, technology

In the Event of a Water Emergency, Please Have a
Shop Vac and Dehumidifier on Hand


How a Dehumidifier and Shop Vac Became Our New Favorite Things

Judging by the amount of rain we’ve had lately, we should have bought an ark instead of a house. Over the past few weeks, it has rained more days that not. Some of the storms that have passed through have been quite powerful, with torrential downpours coming in waves. While this has been great for the grass seed we sprinkled in front of the house, it hasn’t been very good for the basement.

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garden, landscaping, product review, technology

Test Lab: Does the Pocket Hose Really Work?


Does the Pocket Hose Actually Work? | This American House

I tittered at the name splashed across the package. “Pocket Hose. The House That Grows.” My inner thirteen-year-old boy found the sexual innuendo absolutely hilarious. I snapped a photo and put it, along with a witty caption, on Instagram months ago. Beyond the seemingly obscene name, does the expanding Pocket Hose actually work? Now that we have a house with a lawn and garden, I decided to find out!

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