Using Technology in the Blizzard of 2013

Three items I was thankful to have this winter.


Schlage makes a variety of keypad-enabled door locks.

This weekend, most of New England was completely covered in snow. This wasn’t just a prime time to break out the sled; it was brutal snow that left a good portion of the state powerless. Even as I type this, many of my friends and family are still braving the cold and darkness.

On Friday, my family was advised to evacuate because we live in a high flood plain. There have been many times where my backyard completely disappeared under water. However, in the 11 years we’ve lived here, we’ve never received this type of call, so we frantically started packing.

We retreated to my mother-in-law’s house — and promptly lost power. Having my iPhone was absolutely a godsend (for lack of a better word). Not only did it keep me in touch with friends and family and entertain me; it also allowed me to keep in touch with my house — and possibly save a few things.

The Dropcam HD provides a peek at your home from any web-enabled device.

Right as I ran out, I made sure I had the Dropcam HD hooked up. While I wasn’t too thrilled with the $149 camera’s performance when I first reviewed it, I do still use it. After this weekend, I may be singing a different tune, too. That 720p wireless web camera allowed me to look into my home, to make sure everything was ok. Of course, if we had lost power, I wouldn’t have been able to use it. That said, I never did lose power — and I knew that because of the Dropcam. It even sent me “movement” messages when the lights flickered.

If I had been smart, I would have set the thing up to look at my backyard. It would have produced some really cool imagery and put my mind at ease. However, I was in a hurry and was just hoping that I didn’t position it to look directly at the floor.

Even better, we had the Nest Learning Thermostat. At $249, it’s a pricey investment, but absolutely money well spent after this weekend. Since the thermostat is hooked to our Wi-Fi and has an app component, I could check in and adjust our temperature and even get extremely jealous that it was a toasty 69 degrees in my living room.

However, at one point, I checked in to see the temperature set to 69 and my actual temperature a frightening 38 degrees. Brrrr! It turned out that the high winds and other weather extremes had blown out our pilot light. No one likes coming home to busted pipes, right?

The Nest shows both the set temperature and current temperature in your home.

Thankfully, we also have a Schlage Electronic Keypad. This meant that our awesome neighbors could come over, easily enter the house (with our door code), and turn on our water, so that the pipes wouldn’t freeze. Thankfully, they did us one better, by re-lighting the pilot light — all while we watched on the Dropcam. It would have been even better if we had one of the newer automated locks, so we could have unlocked the door for them, but it was another piece of tech that I was very thankful to have.

Another quick shout-out goes to the new DISH Network Hopper with Sling, which allowed me to watch the local news on my iPhone. It wasn’t life-saving, but it was certainly cool. That’s how I typically look at a lot of my gadgets. In this case, however, some provided wow factor in a way I had never dreamed.


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