Productivity Booster

The Sauna at Sand Springs

I have a neighbor who is living abroad and I keep him up to date with the restaurants and other businesses in town because that’s what we do. I told him I’ve become a sauna regular and he said “The sauna is like the popular new kid in a John Hughes movie, everyone is talking about it!”

For those who are not my townies, Sand Springs in Williamstown is a warm springs that has been used for hundreds of years. The story from my family is that one of my wife’s aunts sang for Tommy Dorsey when he played there in the 1930’s and asked her to go on tour with them. I have no idea if that’s true.

When I was a kid it was a public swimming pool, apparently there were years where it had owners who considered making it a spa but since we moved back it is again a community pool. I’ve always loved that for less than the price of shocking a pool (if I had one), I’m able to get a summer membership and enjoy evenings poolside from June to September.

Executive Director Henry Smith arrived in 2023 and at the end of the swim season announced that they would try running the sauna through the winter. What started in October as a few nights a week became popular enough to get up to 6 days a week, expanded hours, with days of 30-40 people coming in for the sauna.

And please keep in mind I am a random guy who goes there, there is nothing official about this post.

So, questions I’ve been asked:

What’re the rules? You show up and can buy a day pass or a membership. It’s a single sauna that is co-ed, everyone wears clothes. Showering before entering is appreciated. Some days/times are designated quiet hours where conversation is kept to a minimum. There have also been Women Only days, for a Bro-Free experience.

You should ask the crowd before pouring water on the heater to increase the heat/steam. There are two levels of benches, you can sit on either, the higher one is hotter. There are also wooden stools you can use for your head if there are few enough people inside that you can lie down.

You can buy a stylish Sand Springs Sauna Hat (or at least stylish if you are a garden gnome), which keeps your head cool so you can stay in the heat longer. These are not required.

How long do people stay? Do they go in groups? Or just run into people there? There are two general approaches – there are hippies that go with the flow, and performance athletes that probably have at least one time running, but the approach is similar, 10-15 minutes in the heat, and then take a cold plunge in the pool. Repeat around 3 times. There are many variations and a lot of sauna lore, I’m not going to get into that here.

What’s the capacity? With both levels of the benches being used it starts getting crowded with more than 10 people. It’s really a roll of the dice, I’ve had days where I’ve waited in the lobby for seats to open up, and days where I have it to myself.

Are there snacks? Drinks? Do people bring edibles? There’s always Tea and most of the time clementines. Wild Soul River on Cole Ave. got me into Barley Tea which I didn’t know anything about until they stocked the tea station.

A lot of people bring their own water. I bring my stainless steel teacup because I’m psyched to finally have something to use it for. While sauna season has been “adults only” (high school staff are considered adults here as Sand Springs trusts them with the lives of our children during the summer as lifeguards). I’m pretty sure drug use is not allowed at the facility, this is a family kind of place.

Who goes? Why do you go? As one sauna guest said: “It’s the only activity for adults in Williamstown after 6pm that isn’t drinking.” One of the big surprises to me was that it’s been a hit with Williams College athletes. Up until this point I’ve never seen a Williams kid at Sand Springs because it didn’t open until they had gone home for the summer and closed before they came back in the fall. That has been great for me because I don’t work at the college so it’s been fun meeting the athletes from the tennis, lacrosse, soccer, football and hockey teams.

There are summer members who are regulars and follow updates on Facebook. I’ve been surprised that there are people who have found out about the warm spring and drive an hour or more to visit.

When we were living in Boston I would use the steam room at the gym which helped my rickety bones after a workout, and I was up for trying the sauna just because it’s something to do in the winter months and right around the corner. I normally have a lot of problems with my sinuses and allergies year round. My winter kickoff ritual is getting NyQuil to prep for 2-3 winter colds (and I’m talking buying at the warehouse club, not at the drugstore.) This winter I had no sinus problems for the first time in my entire life. I also didn’t have any of the dry skin that I’m normally stealing my wife’s crazy expensive face lotions for. Not getting sick is a huge game changer for me, the sauna will be part of my winter from now on.

What’s next? Sauna season is closed and there is work being done on the clubhouse so they are ready for the upcoming summer season. Henry has mentioned the possibility of a second wood fired sauna outside. The demand is there for more hours, that’s for sure. Given the success of this year hopefully Sand Springs will be open again for the winter!

Geek Stuff

Holiday Guide 2023

Back again with the list for all the family CTOs out there. I’ve been putting this list together every year so when I get tech questions from the family over Thanksgiving I can just send them this link. Hopefully it helps you too, feel free to send me any suggestions!

Easy Gifts

I’ve been doing more and more with MagSafe, this is the iPhone feature where magnets can attach to the phone allowing you to wirelessly charge, mount in the car with no work, or add a popsocket.

I’ve also switched to using my phone as my alarm clock so that opens up chargers as gift ideas.

I use this popsocket at events, the QR code is my Trust Insights business card so no more wasted paper or running out.


If you have anyone that needs glasses there are two interesting things: I like Maui Jim sunglasses for the beach/running and they are great for boating/fishing. They now come in readers. The other thing is being able to make ski goggles (or any other glasses) bifocals for less than $25. I have just refused to pay the $400+ for prescription goggles because that would just guarantee they would get lost/stolen/broken, nevermind the fact that they get used maybe 20 times a year. Add the lens in the reading zone and boom, I can see my phone again when trying to find my kids.


Trello is a great tool for managing your holiday tasks. Create a card for each person or task that you have to take care of, and I have three columns: Parking Lot which is where the cards stay and during the year as I get gift ideas I can add them to the checklist for that person, In Progress for the items that I am currently working on completing, and finally they rest in Done.

TV and Home Theater

Everyone here is still in love with the projector setup built during Covid lockdown, that full story is here.

It’s interesting, maybe it’s the current chip shortage but the original projector I installed has not dropped in price since last year. It’s 1080p and as of today is $229.

I have a savings account that receives the cash when I sell stuff on eBay and this year for my birthday I decided I was going to try a 4k Projector. I got a good deal on a BenQ TK850 and quickly learned that you should not be looking at anything with an old school light bulb in it. It was nowhere near as bright as my $229 1080p projector but the good news was I was able to flip it on eBay, breaking even after shipping and fees.

Nebula was recently acquired by Anker and I was able to get this Nebula Cosmos Max for under $1,000. My jaw just dropped when I saw that it’s gone up to $1,395. One thing, the first one I got was defective and I had to return it so I was very glad that I bought it from Nebula directly. I also added a subwoofer to the setup, that was a crazy McGuyver job that I won’t go into here but will update my home theater post, or feel free to ask me about it on Threads if you want to nerd out.

The end result is that the picture is much sharper at 4k, it’s worth doing. It’s still not as bright as the 1080p, in mid light scenes but anything outdoor or with special effects looks amazing.

Video Games

The Nintendo Switch still rules the house here, my previous post on that hasn’t changed. H Bomb has been using an old PS4 and playing Spiderman Miles Morales and Star Wars Fallen order, both of which are a ton of gaming for around $20. Sorry, but I’ve got no Xbox or PS5 tips. When I don’t know where to look I start at GameSpot.

If you play Fortnite check in with me, PhilDunphey247


Last year I took the gutpunch of laptop upgrades, this year, thankfully, there will be no hardware under the tree. Just the standard opinion here: Macs are great for people that don’t know what they are doing, I’m so excited not to be Anti-Virus police for my family. But if you have any gamers or people who want to venture outside the controlled garden, you may be PC shopping.

Marketing Over Coffee fan Jennifer N. said she’s getting an Elgato Teleprompter. This reminded me that I’ve played with a couple of them and finally settled on a Plexicam. It’s not a true teleprompter, it’s a clear bracket that lets you hang your webcam on the center of your monitor. It’s less expensive than a teleprompter, and is a lot less stuff to be moving around and have on your desk. If you do a lot of web meetings I can heartily recommend it.

Audio Gear

Beats Fit Pro are still the earbud champions but one interesting note – I have been able to find some Jabra 75T earbuds for less than $30 and I was finally able to side by side test. The Beats are better for sports, better bluetooth connection, better for calls, better noise cancellation BUT even though the Jabra loses in most categories… the music is just a little bit better, and it has an EQ.

Bluetooth Speaker: Bose has killed the Soundlink Mini a couple of times and it just keeps coming back. I drag mine nearly everywhere except for construction sites, where I have an old Jambox that I don’t care if it gets destroyed.

For podcasting I love my RodecasterProII, but you can now get the Duo which is smaller and has all the features I need so I may do the eBay downgrade at some point to get some desk space back. For microphones I still love the VModa boom best, but with wired headphones slowly vanishing for everyone except hardcore audiophiles, I’ve stopped making Sony 7506 mods and use Beats Fit Pro for day to day, and recommend Shure SM7B for the office/studio.


With all of the family building music libraries and having their own playlists I finally buckled and went all in on Spotify – please add me, I’ve got a bunch of holiday and other playlists, feel free to send me your info. The unintended consequence is that it I didn’t realize how bad Amazon Music in CarPlay was until we switched. The lovely Carin is thrilled that she can easily fire up playlists in the car now.

If you are into DJing or setting up online listening Turntable is back after being gone for nearly a decade. If you want to throw a virtual holiday party this would add the music.

I am thinking about upgrading the PC speakers I use in the kitchen with an Amazon Echo Studio with Subwoofer, I’ll report back if Santa agrees.


I’m messing around with adding CarPlay to our older vehicles. It’s entered the under $200 category and I’m reaching the point where I refuse to have any vehicles without backup cameras. This requires some wiring though so it’s not for the faint of heart. I’ll post more after experiments have run.

Happy Holidays!

I’ll update this as things change, and I hope you have a restful holiday!

Daily Life

2022 in Review

Another year in the rear view mirror. So how did it go? The interesting thing to me is the halo effect – looking back at all 12 months it’s been a great year, but the wonky economy has made Q4 and the Q1 outlook weak, which is disappointing.

As part of the sandwich generation, keeping track of kids and elders went well. The only big miss was not going out to visit my family in Michigan at some point. I had a weird lockdown rebound, I thought that I’d be itching to travel once things were open again, but instead I just wanted to take advantage of everything here and rest. The Berkshires is a tourist destination so I was sold on the idea of a vacation where I didn’t have to spend any time driving. And it was great. We got a family pass to the town pool and I really enjoyed taking a couple hours after the work day to swim and then chat with my neighbors. The kids are both healthy and doing well at school, which is very satisfying, especially with H moving up to Greylock for Grade 7.

There was one home improvement project that we didn’t get done but the scoring on that is a little weird – we thought it was going to be a massive project but it turned out foundation work was not required, so even though it’s not finished we are farther ahead than we thought we’d be at this point without doing much of anything. So with that, just over 80% complete for family stuff.

Given the insanity of the past handful of years I had beefed up the mental health and fitness goals and then got it all done. Some points off for coming up 5 bike rides and 7 yoga classes more than I wanted, but I joined the local gym last winter because I was tired of not running as much in the cold and I more than made up for that excercise, including putting lifting back in the rotation which even with The Ultimate Warrior telling me I had to do, I never got around to it until this year.

I also managed to hit my weight goal as part of Falmouth Road Race training. The race was part of our Cape vacation which looking back was probably our best vacation ever. Bonus for getting to grab ice cream with Sarah, Mike and Lachlan! Concerts, gaming with cousins and skiing were all fantastic last year.

I’m not sure if I’m in for Falmouth again, Michigan may be the big summer trip but we’ll see.

Financial goals also went very well, the wrinkle is that I could have hit the investment goals but I’m keeping the cash on hand with all of the current weirdness.

And the financial goals are 99% dependant on the work goals. It was another growth year for MoC listeners but the ad market for Q1 is the shakiest I’ve seen in more than 6 years. Trust Insights breaking growth records solves all ills, as usual for a growing business. Since I decided to take 2022 off from writing there was no miss there. The only problem was that I wanted to do a live event for MoC in 2022 and that was not feasible. I at least finally got back to MarketingProfs B2B Boston in the 4th quarter after missing INBOUND because I did not stop testing positive for Covid early enough.

That makes it an 84% year from the numbers. When the big gaps are because I should have taken one more vacation and save more money (and funny that these are counter to each other) I have to admit that I’m truly fortunate and grateful for all that I have.

So my first wish for 2023 would be that it goes as well as the past year. A book has to go back on this list this year, as well as a Michigan trip. I do need to pick a road race so I don’t get lazy. I’ll spend the rest of the week kicking around some ideas before putting them on paper.

I hope your year went well, and all the best to you in 2023!

Productivity Booster

Holiday Gift Guide 2022

Last year’s post was a big hit. If you are your family’s CTO you know how it goes, this time of year your opinion is valued as everyone is running around trying to figure out what gear to buy. I’ve found that if I take notes on what I’m asked and add it to a post now I can just throw the link around. That way when people ask me questions at Thanksgiving we don’t have to go through the same thing over again two weeks later when they are doing their shopping.

TV and Home Theater

This is the same as last year, the best thing I’ve done on the tech front is switch from a TV to a projector. It was crazy, I’ve been getting Black Friday emails talking about “Saving $1,200 on the latest TVs” which is absurd. For less than $700 you can have a 120 inch screen that is jaw dropping. There hasn’t been any real changes in projectors over the year. The one I have does 1080p and as of today is $229. With an Apple TV and Bose TV speaker that’s around another $400 and it’s bluetooth so you don’t have to run any wires for the speaker. Full story here.

Video Games

I am still a fan of the Nintendo Switch because it’s the only console that also goes portable so your kids will end up logging a million hours a year. Maybe that’s not a positive. On the downside the Joycon controllers are fragile, I just have a drawer filled with replacement parts and screen protectors. It’s worth the $70ish dollars to get the pro controller which is what you’d get from other consoles. Last year’s post has more on the Switch if you are going that route.

GameStop has a Black Friday deal if you buy a Switch get Mario Kart 8 for free

If there’s specific games your recipient is looking for then you may have to get an Xbox or PS5. Both are great, the only new info I learned this year is that if you spend the $20 to join the GameStop thing where you get their magazine you also get emails about members only sales. I was able to score a PS5 for a friend this year, which was pretty cool.

Also, my son and nephews got me into Fortnite this year. We have fun spending time together even though the nephews relocated this year. If you play, ping me at PhilDunphey247


The only news here is that Apple is having some Black Friday deals, get a $250 gift card if you buy a Macbook (I’m a little sore on that having bought last week.)

Otherwise same story here: Macs are great for people that don’t know what they are doing, I’m so excited not to be Anti-Virus police for my family. But if you have any gamers or people who want to venture outside the controlled garden, you may be PC shopping.

Audio Gear

This year’s most astonishing thing is that I got a pair of Beats Fit Pro earbuds and they are amazing. Up until now if you had told me I would spend my own money on Beats I would have said you were a moron. It’s been kind of a joke that while they are good, the premium pricing is out of hand. I’ve said that their headphones are fantastic $50 headphones, the problem was they charge $299.

Having been acquired by Apple it seems like they are using similar noise reduction as AirPods, and using the M1 chip in the iPhone makes it less wonky than other Bluetooth earbuds I’ve had.

I bought them because the Bose Pulse that I’ve used for running finally died this year after 5 years and they are no longer made. I was not expecting them to be so amazing but there’s a reason why The Wirecutter has them as their number one pick.

Some tips on these – the Apple store has them in Black, White, Gray and Purple. Black isn’t the greatest choice because if you drop them at night or they slip out of your pocket they can be the most difficult to find. If you go to the Beats site they are available in skin tone colors which is fantastic if you’re going to use them for work zoom meetings.

Also, I prefer memory foam tips to the silicone ones they come with, Comply makes a great set here (I cut out the foam screen over the opening because I thought they sound better without it.)

Updated: I’ve written a lot about my favorite Over Ear Headphones for work, the Sony 7506. I haven’t talked about my favorite over ears that I wear for fun: the 1More Triple Driver. It just bumps up the music enough to shine on every front. They may be coming to their end of life because they are on sale now, get a pair before they are gone!

Smart Watch

I’ve resisted these for years. I tried fitness trackers many years ago and after a couple of years said “I sleep ok, my phone gives me alerts and measures steps, I don’t need this.”

Forward to this summer when my earbuds died, I started looking at Apple Watch as a heart rate monitor. Bose stopped making the earbuds that were great for heart rate, and I was not going back to a chest strap. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the Apple Watch SE is a lot more useful that I thought it would be. It is great for running, I can see my splits and it measures heart rate. It took some fiddling to find the right app but I like how it’s working. The bonus is having another tool in the Apple stack – I can use my watch as a TV remote for the projector that has Apple TV, great for when the kids left the remote someplace weird yet again.

It’s also very cool when using Apple Maps in the car and the watch vibrates when I should be making a turn. I hate the audio voice queues and end up missing turns now and then. This takes care of that. And for true geeks having altitude and bearing with a sweep second hand is satisfying for the watch aficionados.

Smart Home

Nothing new here, I’m still a fan of Philips Hue bulbs which integrate well with Amazon Alexa. Being able to say “Alexa turn off Christmas tree” from upstairs when you forget is very cool.

It’s getting a little weird with my universal remote, the Logitech Harmony, which also integrates with Alexa – “Alexa tell Harmony to turn on Projector” makes all the remote problems go away. The issue is Logitech has stopped making it so I’m not sure where that will go next if something dies. The crazy part is since we use voice control the remote getting lost or destroyed is not a factor.


Last year was upgrades for everyone so no purchases this year. The big learning though was changing carriers has been life changing. I did not realize how garbage our last carrier was until spending a week with the new one. This is worth checking out if you have a friend on another carrier if you are complaining about dropped calls and poor signal. Another tip – our library lends wifi access points, another way to check another carrier (or for my wife to set up a camera in the barn to keep an eye on horses having babies instead of having to sleep in the barn. This has improved my life considerably.)

Trusted Review Sites

This hasn’t changed from last year. I’m a paying member of Consumer Reports for appliances and cars. The Wirecutter is fantastic for trying hundreds of products and recommending the best (Lauren Dragan on headphones!)

That’s all I’ve got for today, but Thanksgiving isn’t until tomorrow so I’ll have updates over the next week. I hope you enjoy your holiday!

Daily Life

What Happened in 2022?

Here’s the latest: Marketing Over Coffee continues to roll along so that’s the majority of stuff that I’m putting out in the world. The format is basically me and Christopher Penn talking marketing and tech, and then every second or third week interviews with authors and business leaders doing interesting things. I had a great interview a couple of weeks ago with the team from The Mailworks, it was a lot of fun to talk direct mail which was a big part of when I was at DCI, which is just a bonkers story.

The Marketing Over Coffee Newsletter underwent a major upgrade, and that’s where I’m posting a lot of the interesting links that I come upon. If the stuff here is to your liking definitely check that out.

For the past year I’ve also been playing around with a text service. I’ve learned a lot of interesting stuff about how it’s different from email and some pitfalls to avoid. The thing with this is it’s the fastest way to get things out there so this is where I’ve been doing all the giveaways of audio gear and books that come from doing the show. If you’d like to get real time alerts when things are happening, and the chance to win free stuff just send a text to 617-812-5494

Trust Insights has been doing very well, we’ve been busy providing analytics and actionable insight to our clients. I’m thankful to be working with a team that I respect and we share the same dedication to improving both the tech and personal strengths for our clients and ourselves.

If you are on social I’m always on LinkedIn (who’s been a fantastic MoC sponsor over the years – get $100 in free ads here), and it’s been an insane year for twitter but I’m still there as of today /shrug/

That’s the latest, just wanted to get the update out there so I can now start working on my annual holiday gift post! Happy holidays to you, and if you’ve seen Spirited “Good Afternoon!”

Daily Life Productivity Booster


This is the week where it’s quieter and I look back on what happened this year and start to think about what 2022 might be about. There’s the things I have to work on, the things I want to work on, financial goals, family things, and some recreation so I still feel like I have a life in spite of pandemics, coup attempts, etc.

On the family front it was a good year, managing everyone’s heath issues is not a lot of fun as part of the sandwich generation but we’re doing ok. We did not get to go to Michigan this year thanks to the pandemic so hopefully that will happen in 2022.

Financially it was mostly good, which I rate as absolutely fantastic as everything else was bonkers. Of course the kids’ college fund could always be better funded so that’s a goal not completed. The only big work thing was that I wanted to start writing my next book on a concept I’ve been kicking around but I never made time for that. Like many people my cooking game has leveled up on a number of fronts and I’m not sure if I’d trade that for having a manuscript done. This past year has clearly demonstrated that time around the table with family is never guaranteed so I’m going to think hard over the next few days about what’s next for writing but maybe that could be shelved to post pandemic. On the other hand, the idea of doing some kind of MoC Conference (live unless the pandemic requires virtual, and I’m starting to think it’s going to be virtual) does have me excited so I’ve got to think about that too.

Personally it was a good year for preventative medicine, I caught up on all the doctor appointments that had been override by toddlers, then pandemic. I was about 75% as active as I wanted to be, I did get plenty of excercise but the Falmouth Road Race was not in the cards and I really need to find a Yoga class, I’ve reached the point where I can no longer stand the videos I’ve used for years so that needs to change in 2022 before I’m so stiff and inflexible that I break a hip or something.

Overall this year was a B+ and then factoring in all the turmoil, pandemic, and struggles I’ve seen my neighbors go through, it reminds me how fortunate I am and hopefully we can continue to succeed on our own fronts and help others do the same in the new year.

Geek Stuff Productivity Booster

Answering Nerd Gift Questions

It’s the most wonderful time of year! My friends and relatives ask me questions about HDMI cables and memory cards, stuff they want nothing to do with for the other 11 months of the year.

Here’s the most common questions I’ve been getting so that I can just email this link around.

What video game system do I get?

The PS5 is still in short supply, but for hardcore fans of the platform they may not consider anything else. If your gamer is into playing Halo then Xbox may be an option, I would not assume so unless they say so.

I’m suggesting the Nintendo Switch for most people. It’s not as powerful as the previous two but the killer feature is that it is both a console (looks great hooked up to a TV) and can be used as a handheld game (fully portable for creating silence in the car. You’re welcome.)

There are multiple versions of the Switch so it can be confusing. The newest version has an OLED Screen and it’s the one I recommend. The original version is $50 less most places I’ve seen it and that’s not much of a discount for what’s basically 4 years old. The Switch Lite is smaller and cheaper but does not output to a TV which is a dealbreaker for me.

What Do I Need To Buy With A Nintendo Switch?

Games of course. An important point here is you can now choose between buying games from the store in memory cards or just downloading them.

I prefer download because they never get lost. They cards are only the size of a postage stamp and that’s just asking for disaster in my house. If your gamer is a neat and tidy person there is the upside of being able to resell games on memory cards when they are done with them if they like to trade up. For downloaded games that’s the end of the line, you have no access to the used market.

You can buy Nintendo eStore cards all over the place, good games that are new tend to run around $60. Target is currently running a buy one, get 15% off the second on a bunch of video game platform gift cards.

A tip here – our local library network does lend Nintendo Switch games. It’s always great to try them before buying, some games just suck, others can be completed before it has to go back to the library. This can save a huge pile of cash.

Nintendo Switch also has a gaming network, this allows you to play with other gamers online and gives access to a library of a bunch of games from previous Nintendo systems (current Wii games are not in there though.) This is $20 a year for an individual or $35 for the family. This is a cheap way to have a ton of games right from day 1 without breaking the bank.

Nintendo Switch Controllers

The small controllers are the weak point on the platform. They work but they can’t handle the long term abuse that controllers normally get. If your gamer is tough on controllers (like ragequit throwing) a Pro Controller is a required upgrade. It’s very much in the platform gamer standard, strong enough to easily break a TV when tossed and will survive.

I have tried a few upgraded controllers that attach like the stock ones. This Kinvoca Joypad has worked well and not broken as fast as the original. Updated July 2022: I’ve tried two upgraded controllers, one lasted 6 months, the other 9. Forget these, get the Pro Controller.

If you have the original controllers and they are not working, most commonly by “drifting” where things move without you touching the stick, or if you can’t move in certain directions, they can be repaired if you are a little bit handy and not afraid to void your warranty. I have used more than one of these joystick replacement kits that come with all the tools and parts you need.

Get A Memory Card and Screen Protectors

If you are going the downloaded games route you’ll want to add more storage. This is a good memory card.

My kids manage to crack the screen protector every 3 months or so, making screen protectors the best purchase I’ve made with the system, these come in a three pack so we’re never without one.

Smart Light Bulbs and Smart Home

There are a lot of Smart Home Options, we use Alexa for everything since it works with Smart Outlets (Alexa, turn off Christmas tree is a big win.)

Phillips Hue Light Bulbs are expensive compared to the competition but they have a good app and integrate with Alexa. Note that there are bulbs that do different shades of white and brightness and then more expensive ones that can do the full color spectrum. Phillips has a starter kit on sale for the holidays, and my local warehouse club has them.

I have a Google Nest Smart Thermostat, it is only ok. It’s limited if you want to use sensors to adjust the temp by room (at night I want the heat to go on based on the bedroom temp, not the temp downstairs.) If you have one you like please mention it!

TV and Home Theater

This space is crazy, everything has become so cheap. I like buying TVs from the warehouse club (or Best Buy if you still have one close to you) so you can see them to pick, compare, and make sure it fits in your house (also confirm it will fit in your car/truck to go home before you pay.)

TV’s are cheap but the LED revolution has made projectors affordable too. Adding a projector to our living room has changed the game, I don’t like watching the TV anymore and because of the scale it’s better than going to the movies. I’ve already done a post about that if you want to see how I got it together for a screen over 100 inches for less than the price of a 47 inch TV.


Everyone here is getting upgraded because we are in a rural area and some carriers shutting down 3G is going to be a problem so everybody is getting a 5G upgrade. The real fun here is that I won’t know if this will make life better or worse until we try. It astounds me every day that I live in a town with a top rated liberal arts college and have crappy cell/internet, but here we are.

Headphones, Earphones, Earbuds

There’s a lot going on in this space but the short version is that the Jabra Active Elite 75T are ranked #1 by many review sites and I can agree. Better sound quality than AirPods, great microphones for calls. But, remember there’s no one size fits all, there’s a bunch of reasons why you might want to use something else (number one being not wanting to force something into your ear canal.)

Unfortunately the Active Elite 75T is being phased out and I have not tried any of the new line to know what the best successor is. Right now I would suggest the 85T until the new stuff has been reviewed.

Always happy to talk this topic or…

Trusted Review Sites

I’m a paying member of Consumer Reports for appliances and cars. The Wirecutter is fantastic for trying hundreds of products and recommending the best (Lauren Dragan on headphones!)

Geek Stuff Productivity Buster

Building a Home Theater for Around The Price of a Good TV

A little more than a month ago a neighbor of mine said “Here, have this projector.” I was astounded at the generosity because having worked virtually for more than 10 years now, the last time I had to get a projector for the office it was around $2,000 to get something that looked decent.

What I missed is that while I’ve been all about LEDs for home and my toolbox, I didn’t realize that they’ve completely changed the projector market too. My brain melted a little bit when I looked this projector up on Amazon and saw it was $90. When it started acting a little weird the company told my neighbor “We’ll send you another one, don’t even bother shipping the wonky one back.” Regardless of the price I was thrilled to get to mess around with a new toy.

The projector was good enough to be impressive in a dark room but our TV was sharper and didn’t require a darkened room, so the trade off of size vs. picture was about even. After a couple of weeks I started to have the same problem with it, not powering up or shutting off randomly so I recycled it but the damage had been done. I had a taste of a huge screen in the house having my own little movie theater was just too cool.

So, here’s where I went from there and links for you if you want to check it out. For the projector I went with this Yaber Y30 ProjectorYaber Y30. It’s 1080p so it’s not going to compare to a 4k image (4k projectors currently starting at $1,200) but it currently retails around $200 and it went on sale with a coupon for $150 and then I had some Amazon credit so I got it for $100.

What really got me and Carin was that we had an open wall large enough to hit a sweet spot. It was like having a 110 inch TV and it was a magic point. At that size, in many movie scenes the characters were “Actual Size.” It wasn’t like TV where you focus on the actors and that’s really where your brain is, or that it was a movie screen where everything was huge. It was like looking into the next room. It hit us in a restaurant scene where were we listening to the actors but it felt like we were in the same restaurant.

I have a few speaker sets around and I was trying to see what I could make work but realized that with a Soundbar that supports Bluetooth, Apple TV could connect and then I’d only have to plug it in, I wouldn’t have to run any wires across the room (or drill into the floor which is the only safe thing to do.) Bose TV SpeakerBose had their TV Speaker as a refurb for only $150 (sorry, looks like it’s gone up a bit) and it’s good enough for the small room. The wall mount was separate but this Amazon one is a better deal than the official Bose.

For the wall we are projecting on silver is the color you want (I naively thought it would be white, but that ends up being too bright.) Home Depot sells it and I got it online but it took about 10 days, I don’t know if they can mix it on site. A gallon was $60 and that was a huge mistake. We will do the whole room with it but if you are only doing one wall I did two coats and some touch up and I barely made a dent in the bucket.

The only thing I went full retail on was the Apple TV. Years ago I gave up on the whole media server thing and just went all in on Apple. Movies, music, TV shows, phone apps, it’s all in their cloud. I’m trapped there and it’s not cheap, but I don’t have to do any work to maintain anything. I throw the hockey puck in the bag with an HDMI cable and we can go anywhere with our media library.Apple TV

And you can see the three remotes, which is a pain, but the good news is that the Logitech Harmony programmable remote runs the TV and stereo in the same room, and I had enough open devices (limit 8) that I was able to add it all. So I hit the movie screen button and the projector, speaker, and Apple TV all fire up. The Harmony is fantastic but it can be a pain to program, I suggest using the PC/Mac App to program it, the phone apps seem to crash when under heavy load. Here’s a link and it should be $149 but it seems that perhaps too many people have gotten into smart remotes during Covid so they are out of stock and folks are tacking on an extra $100 if they have them.Harmony Remote

Since the projector is blocking the top of a window I went with cable runs, which are plastic tracks you can wall mount and snap on the cover so the cables are out of sight. With a white run on the window molding it’s difficult to even spot. Cable Run on Window

Here’s the image, and this is in the middle of the afternoon with the room half darkened:Screen

One thing I learned more about than I wanted to was ceiling mounting and image keystoning. Many projectors have keystone correction, the ability to correct the image if the projector is too high or low, or even not straight on. My first thought was to mount the projector up on the ceiling so it was totally out of the way of the window. After I set it up and went through the keystone correction (you just hit a couple buttons until the image is straight on all sides again) it was obvious that you pay a price in image sharpness by doing it. It was still watchable but out of focus in the areas where the light was traveling the farthest to hit the wall. I’ve learned that this is one of the things that make the $10,000 commercial projectors what they are, for big bucks you can keystone correct and still look great. For my budget… not so much.

So, much to Carin’s chagrin (drilling another 4 holes in the ceiling) I ordered another mount, this one with an extension arm, so that the projector was shooting straight at the wall at the right height. This was kind of a pain, but she did admit it was worth it when we fired up the next movie.

The good news with this is you can tell people are screwing up the mounting job all the time and so Amazon has no shortage of open box specials. I got the first ceiling mount for $5 down from $20, and the second with the arm for $10, down from $35.

So end of day I’m going off to the movies to see the new Star Wars stuff on Disney+ and with my random coupons and credits I got there for around $470, which is almost exactly what we paid for our TV about 3 years ago. I recommend it to any TV, movie, concert or sports fan!

Daily Life

Now Hear This

I got a batch of NFC stickers and I’m playing around with that. The first use case is setting it up so somebody can tap my phone with theirs and they’ll download my contact info. After that who knows, but it’s cheap and easy to play with. The other killer app there is Apple supports passing WiFi login via NFC so tapping to get on the network is a whole lot easier than somebody typing nectarinem0nkey5785.

At the recommendation of Tom Webster I started looking at the Jabra line of earbuds when I was looking for full Bluetooth and checking out the latest from Bose and Apple Earpods. The Jabra 75t won, pushed to the head of the pack by great microphones and an Equalizer so I can tweak the audio so it sounds best to my ears. And it works, they’re the most fun I’ve had listening to earbuds.

Earlier this year I had a fantastic discussion with Joshua Cohen of TubeFilter. If you want to know how people are making piles of money on YouTube it’s worth the listen.

I don’t watch much TV, Carin and I usually have a single show we’ll watch a couple nights a week. We’ve never watched a season of anything more than once. That is until we found Ted Lasso back in the spring. It looks like it’s a sports show, but in reality it’s a workplace comedy. The producer of Scrubs brings a mountain of experience to it and the rapid pace is just a touch of Gilmore Girls. If you feel the world has been lacking kindness in the past 5 years, it will calm your mind and heart.

Marketing IT Dept.

I’m on the Internet!

For the past 4 months or so I’ve been digging through a bunch of server logs to try and figure out why my site was getting hammered 6,000 times a day driving my hosting prices up to $299 a month. I still don’t understand exactly what the problem is beyond that it’s some kind of podcasting client looking for a podcast. I haven’t done an episode of The M Show in what feels like 10 years so this is very bizarre.

Regardless, I finally scuttled as a web address which is fine, I still use it for mail but has been the URL I pass around when needed.

So, aside from that incredibly exciting story the big news is that Trust Insights and Marketing Over Coffee have been very busy and ski season is back upon us. I was not overly impressed with the sound quality of my Sony 7506 Ski Helmet but that all changed when I added the EarStudio ES100. It’s a Bluetooth DAC, you can plug in any wired headphones and now they are Bluetooth. Also great for adding any Bluetooth to your car or home stereo. The big win is that you also get a full equalizer app so I was able to boost the sound (surprise, the preset I have to make earbuds sound better makes the helmet sound fantastic!)

One other thing on this setup, Chubby Buttons 2 have been released. The only difference is you can access your Smart Assistant with them now. When they came out I said “I can get by without that” and then after the first day skiing when I got 15 test messages and had to pull out my glasses to read them I went home and ordered it that night. Review to follow.

That’s it for now, just wanted to check in now that I’m finally back on the internet!