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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

How to Have a Stellar Staycation

June 21, 2016 2:27 am

(TNS)—Finding your finances have fallen short of your vacation goals, but still want to have fun during your time off from work? Don't worry. Staycations don't have to be dull or dreary. By strategically balancing day trips and a few overnight splurges, you can still enjoy your down time and return to work feeling refreshed. Here are some of my favorite ways to do so.

Hikes

Easy-to-moderate day hikes are a great way to grab some quality family time, especially if the trails are acceptable for four-legged children to be included, as well. Recently, while staying at an exotic wildlife sanctuary outside of Tampa, we were invited on a day trip with the sanctuary founder and several seasonal college interns majoring in biology, zoology and other fields related to animals and the outdoors. Our destination? The Circle B Bar Reserve in the town of Lakeland for a day of trail hiking and wildlife spotting.

With the majority of the group being on a college budget, we pinched pennies by packing a picnic lunch and collecting digital photos as our chosen souvenir. The reserve has no entrance fee, and plenty of restroom options and covered pavilions. We were there for hours, spotting birds, turtles, snakes, alligators and more in their natural habitat. It was refreshing to see a group of young people so thrilled with a nature outing that they couldn't stop talking about it for the entire drive, especially since the only costs associated with the day trip were gas and picnic supplies, such as ice and bottled drinks.

History

It's always fun to learn a little something while you enjoy a day trip. Within striking distance of the house we recently sold in Florida, a number of historical tourism options exist for interested travelers. For example, St. Augustine's Castillo De San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monument are each worthy of a day trip in their own right. Similarly, the Tampa Bay History Center and the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park in Homosassa offer fun day outings for the whole family, as well. Hanging close to home for reasons of school schedules or air fare budget constraints doesn't mean you have to sit home every day. Period mansions, battlefield sites and historical re-enactments all make great excursions for enthusiastic staycationers.

Hotels

Overnights or multi-day getaways can easily be incorporated into a staycation, particularly if you book your accommodations midweek to avoid weekend price hikes. The money saved by traveling on less expensive days can be redirected for fun splurges such as spa treatments, happy hour snacks or even outlet shopping. By carefully choosing a hotel with plentiful amenities, breakfast service and evening manager's receptions, you can easily maximize the value of your expenditure for greater wow factor. During a two-week vacation, even one brief trip out of town can be incorporated for less than the cost of a single plane ticket. This splurge, combined with a few day trips and at-home indulgences, can help even the most modest budget feel more luxurious.

TrekHound.com founder Myscha Theriault has sold her home, all her furniture and most of her other belongings to travel the world full time with her husband. You can follow her adventures on Twitter via @MyschaTheriault.

©2016 Myscha Theriault
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Smart Home Wars: Is Google's Brillo Gaining on Apple's HomeKit?

June 21, 2016 2:27 am

When it comes to following the complex world of developing smart home technology, I rely on a pack of savvy experts to stay plugged in to the latest news.

There was a bubble of excitement in recent weeks, with Jordan Novet at VentureBeat.com reporting the launch of an early access program for Google's Brillo, an open-source, Android-based operating system intended for low-powered, Internet-connected devices.

Now that developers can sign up to try Brillo, it's pretty certain widespread usability won't be far behind. As Jamie Carter at TechRadar.com commented: "Who wants separate apps to control lighting, heating, security cameras, the TV and the hi-fi?

"Whether we need yet another wannabe 'Internet of Things' (IoT) platform promising to be the unifier is questionable," Carter says, "but there's no doubt Google's Brillo could be the platform that at last brings standardization to the IoT."

Another of TechRadar's contributors, Jamie Hinks, defined IoT as a growing network of objects that can communicate with each other and complete tasks without any human involvement.

Of course, Google is never far behind a smart new Apple development (or ahead, depending on the day/hour).

A recent Forbes.com feature unpacked Brillo's early access invitation while reminding readers that Apple still has quite a headstart with its HomeKit platform.

Forbes contributor Janakiram MSV recalled that the HomeKit SDK and developer program was announced almost a year ago, and that mature home-automation platforms such as Insteon already support it.

But Android users could be enticed by one of Brillo's pre-eminent components, Weave, which helps devices securely connect to networks while enabling users to connect and collect usage data from mobile and desktop hardware.

Data can be viewed and analyzed in the console to understand consumer usage patterns; crash reports can be analyzed to debug remote devices deployed in the field; and administrators can push patches and the latest version of the software through over-the-air (OTA) updates.

We'll continue to keep an eye on Brillo and touch base again as new developments with this, Apple's HomeKit and other smart home platforms vie for consumer, homeowner and home builders' attentions.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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