Plugging a wall wart into an outlet is a pain. You’ve got a thing dangling from the wall that drains power whenever it’s plugged in, you have to plug a cord into a thing, then plug that thing into the wall, and those wall warts are prone to pulling out part way because many of them protrude from the wall quite a bit. The solution is in-wall USB outlets.

Five years ago I installed my first in-wall USB outlet. It did it’s job (and still does), but in those several years the way power is delivered over USB has changed. Both voltage and amperage have been upped. A good example of this are tablets that have big batteries (compared to smartphones) and want a 2A charger to recharge them. Phones of the day were 0.5A – you could plug your tablet into these phone chargers but charging them would take lot longer. A. lot. longer.

To address this, various standards were proposed: Qualcomm’s QuickCharge, Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charge, OPPO’s VOOC Flash Charge, and more. But they all required wall warts – not in-wall USB chargers.

Due to this fact, and not wanting to replace in-wall USB outlets every 6 months, I relapsed. Everything went back to wall warts. I know. I’m ashamed.

Now, however, you can pick up an in-wall USB outlet with Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0 (even though QC 3.0 is already out). That’s why I finally picked up the TOPGREENER Quick Charge 2.0 TU1152QC 36W 2-ports USB Charger Outlet. Unlike the one I review previously (another brand), this one has quick connect terminals, doesn’t require an extra wire and wire nut, and isn’t nearly as deep. It also is available in black, white, and “faded yellow” (does that color even have a real name?) – all those faceplates come in the same box. Unlike that other in-wall charger, this one takes standard Decora style, rectangular face plates (sold separately).

Installation was really fast and it works just as well as expected. You do lose a power outlet using this product (there’s only one AC outlet and two USB outlets), but I think that’s a fair trade. So far, I’m loving it, and I would recommend this one to anyone who wants an in-wall USB charger.

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We just built our new home, and being the geek that I am, I’ve been equipping it as a “smart home”. I can open and close my garage doors from the internet, I get an alert if there’s a water leak in the basement, my exterior lights are programmed to turn on and off automatically, and I even have a plug that will turn the TV off with a tap from my smartphone.


The whole process started when I picked up a Nest Learning Thermostat for our previous home (we’ve got two in our new home). If you’re unfamiliar with the product, it’s a thermostat that’s connected to the internet via your WiFi network and is designed to save energy – and save you money. Since it knows what the forecast is, it knows when to turn your HVAC system on and off to optimise your heating or cooling based on the exterior conditions. (It does a lot more, but that’s what’s relevant to this article.)

I purchased a smart sprinkler controller in preparation for putting in the yard at our new home, and wrote up an article about it for Pocketnow. Since the new house doesn’t have a yard (yet, I’m still in the planning and acquiring mode), I haven’t been able to install that controller – let alone put it to use to report on its features and utility.


After publishing the article at Pocketnow I was inundated with people asking why I’d chosen that one to review, rather than Rachio. Even a relative in Colorado took me to task for not reviewing Rachio.

Aubrey with Rachio even reached out and asked if I’d like to review their second generation Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller. Of course I wanted to, but it was going to take a while to get the yard in. Knowing that it would take a while, Aubrey still wanted me to try it and sent one out to me.

Installation: Hardware

My mom is in her eighties and lives about 90-minutes away from me. Before Dad passed away, he was the guy who took care of the yard. After his passing, a lot of that responsibility has fallen to me.

Mom has a pretty big yard – something like an acre-plus, and has been getting some dry spots over the last few years. Dad would spot-water with a sprinkler on a hose to help mitigate the issue, but Mom has a hard time pulling the hose around the yard.

To help out, I replaced her old, mechanical sprinkler timer with a fancy electronic one from Toro. It did the job and was easy enough for Mom to turn on and off, but the process of making seasonal adjustments is difficult for her to understand, and the controller was in the cellar, which isn’t easy for her to get to.

Rachio to the rescue!

One Saturday I made the trek to my childhood home, Rachio in-hand, and set out to replace her “old” controller with a new one – a smarter one.

Per the instructions, I took a picture of the wiring on the old controller, unplugged it, then took it down.


I was able to reuse one of the screw holes from the old controller, so I only needed to mark and drill one hole. Once that was done, two screws held the main panel of the Rachio to the cellar wall. (It should be noted that the cellar is an interior space. If your location will be exposed to the elements, you’ll need to pick up a weatherproof box.)


From there I matched up zones with the picture that I’d taken previously, and using a small flat-head screwdriver to push down the spring-loaded zone connectors, and inserted the several wires. Once that was done, I plugged in the power, and switched over to “programming”.

Installation: Software

I hate programming sprinkler timers – with a passion.

Identifying zones means making several trips from the cellar to the yard or recruiting an additional person to holler back and forth. The controller I had previously wasn’t terribly difficult to program, but it was a pain.

Rachio first has you set up an account through their iOS or Android app, which then walks you through pairing the controller to your account. This was my only area of frustration – not because it was hard, but because it took a while. Installing the app, creating an account, and pairing the controller took me about 10 minutes. That’s really not a long time – unless you’re stuck in a dank, hot cellar with spiders crawling down your neck.

Once I had the controller paired I hightailed it out of the cellar and started configuring everything. The app asks you to identify and name each zone (you can even take a picture of the zone to help identify it on), and runs the zone for a minute. It asks what you’ve got growing in the zone (trees, shrubs, flowers, and what kind of  grass), what kind of soil you have, and even the slope and solar exposure of the zone. Lather, rinse, repeat for each zone.

Another part of the setup process is telling the app where you are and picking a nearby weather station. These weather stations report temperature, solar exposure, wind, and rainfall. Taking all these into consideration, Rachio can intelligently schedule your watering. If it’s extra hot or extra bright, Rachio might give your yard more water. If it’s windy, Rachio might postpone watering to help reduce evaporation. If it’s raining, Rachio might skip the watering completely. Our old sprinkler controller had a rain sensor input (so does Rachio), but we didn’t have a rain sensor, so occasionally we’d end up watering during rainstorms (Utah doesn’t get a lot of rain in the Summer, so this wasn’t a big faux pas, but it was wasteful nonetheless). Rachio gets information from weather stations and predictive models via its internet connection rather than expensive in-yard sensors.

Real-World Use

  • After running the system on the old controller for half the Summer, the regular dry spots were starting to die off. Since switching to the Rachio for a month or so, those dry spots are going away. I’d consider that a major win!
  • We’ve had one substantial rainstorm since the installation – Rachio automatically postponed watering for quite a few days following the storm. Another win.
  • Mom has a local boy mow for her, and he complained that the grass was too wet to mow on Saturday mornings. Apparently Rachio was watering early in the morning on Saturdays, making mowing troublesome. Mom called me and within a few minutes, from almost 100 miles away, I was able to adjust the schedule to stop watering on Saturdays to accommodate his mowing schedule. Without Rachio that would have taken me 3 hours of driving, plus 15 minutes of re-programming. With Rachio it took only a few moments and it was done. That one instance alone would be worth the purchase of this smart sprinkler controller!


Rachio comes in 8-zone and 16-zone configurations, and has an optional weather-proof box for exterior installations. All three are available on Amazon (affiliate links throughout this article) and from other online and brick-and-mortar resellers. It’s designed and built in the USA, and has met or exceeded all of my expectations so far!

If you’re putting in a new sprinkler system or upgrading a pre-existing one, you’ll definitely want to give Rachio some serious consideration!

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Rachio WiFi Smart Lawn Sprinkler Controller, Works with Alexa, 8-Zone (2nd Generation)

Features: MOST 5-STAR RATINGS. Amazon’s most- and highest-rated WiFi sprinkler controller is the Rachio Generation 2 Smart Sprinkler Controller., UNBEATABLE USABILITY. Download the Rachio app to care for your lawn remotely with your smartphone, tablet or laptop, use a connected home system or run zones directly from the controller itself., ADAPTS TO YOUR LAWN. Set your own schedules or input details like plant type and sun exposure to let Rachio automatically water your lawn with exactly what it needs to thrive, and not a drop more., ONLY WITH RACHIO – RAIN AND WIND SKIPS. Rachio Weather IntelligenceTM uses comprehensive weather data to automatically adjust your irrigation schedule based on the latest local forecasts., SAVE WATER, SAVE MONEY. Reduce your water bill by up to 50% while keeping your garden healthy. EPA WaterSense certified – eligible for utility rebates of up to 100% off (check your local water provider)., MOST-CONNECTED CONTROLLER. Works with top smart-home platforms, including Amazon Alexa and Google Home – more than any other smart sprinkler controller., EASY INSTALLATION. Install it yourself – no special tools or expertise required., BEST-IN-CLASS CUSTOMER SUPPORT. Help is available whenever you need it (yes, even on weekends).

New From:$141.00 USD In Stock

Remember that Hydro Flask water bottle I told ya’ll about yesterday? It’s got a nice drink cap on it, but I prefer the straw with a nice finger loop.

Do I like it? This is that lid that I have on my water bottle, the bottle I got for my mother-in-law, and the bottle that’s on its way for my wife.

Downside: You’ve got to cut the straw to the height of your bottle, but that’s not too difficult.

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Glink Straw Lid/Cap for Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Sports Water Bottle with 2 Plastic Straws, Fits Hydro Flask Water Bottle – Black/Gray

Features: MULTI COMPATIBILITY: Straw Lid fits Hydro Flasks wide mouth sport water bottle,Water Vault wide mouth Bottles,Klean Kanteen wide mouth Bottles,Takeya wide mouth bottles and other brands wide mouth bottle as product picture describes.Perfectly fits Hydro Flask wide id 12 oz,16 oz,18 oz,20 oz, 32 oz,40 oz,60 oz, PRACTIAL ACCESSORY: ONE insulated plastic lids & TWO plastic straws & ONE brush included that can be cut to fit any length of Hydro Flask, EASY TO DRINK: Durable rounded finger loop/clip design can provide easy hand-free carrying while using it.Excellent design-Flip top spout can help you drink easier than ever, EASY TO CLEAN: Dishwasher Safe and health with the BPA-Free for Glink Straw Lid, 100% FREE AFTER-SALES GUARANTEED: 100% money-back guarantee & Lifetime Warranty Against Manufacturer Defects.

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Package content:
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1 x brush
2 x Plastic Straw-You can cut it to fit your bottle

Straw Cut Guide:
Remove 2.5″ off the straw on the 18 oz wide, 1.5″ on the 32 oz, just a hair on the 40 oz, and one inch off for the 64 oz.

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Compatible brand bottle:
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Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Bottles
Takeya Wide Mouth bottles
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I recently cut soda and caffeine out of my life and needed something to drink in its place. The obvious answer was water. Soda and energy drinks brought convenience with them – water didn’t.

To address this I picked up a 20-ounce Hydro Flask. It’s a metal bottle with a double-wall – similar to the Thermos that my dad used to carry to work with him every day. According to the manufacturer the bottle can keep hot things hot for 6 hours and cold things cold for 24. Not too shabby.

What’s better, I’ve dropped this thing several times – and it’s none the worse for wear. A traditional glass-vacuum thermos would have broken several times over. Not the Hydro Flask!

The downsides: If you want a flip-straw, it’s extra. If you use the FitBit app to log your water intake, this is 20-ounces (not 24).

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I’m a webmaster by trade. As you can imagine, that requires a lot of typing and a lot of mouse clicking. I use an ergonomic keyboard to clack away, but not long ago I started developing a “tiredness” in my right wrist. Over time that “tiredness” turned to numbness and eventually pain.

That’s when I picked up a new mouse. It helped a bit because of its unique shape – but the pain didn’t go away entirely.

I picked up a new mouse, this time from Anker (rather than Microsoft). It’s shaped such that your wrist can “stand up” rather than “lay down” when you’re using it. It feels great, and after my initial break-in period of about two days, it’s no longer “weird” to use… and my wrist pain is gone. Completely. No numbness or “tiredness” either.

The only downside, although it’s wireless (comes with a USB 2.4GHz dongle), it’s not Bluetooth, so I can’t easily use it with my Android phone or tablet.

I don’t know if it’ll do the same for you, but for under US$20, it’s worth a try!

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Anker AK-UBA 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse, 800/1200/1600 DPI, 5 Buttons for Laptop, Desktop, PC, Macbook – Black

Features: Scientific ergonomic design encourages healthy neutral “handshake” wrist and arm positions for smoother movement and less overall strain., 800 / 1200 / 1600 DPI Resolution Optical Tracking Technology provides more sensitivity than standard optical mice for smooth and precise tracking on a wide range of surfaces., Added next/previous buttons provide convenience when webpage browsing; the superior choice for internet surfers, gamers and people who work at length at the computer., Enters power saving mode (power is cut off completely) after 8 minutes idle, press right or left button for it to wake. Product dimensions: 120*62.8*74.8 mm; product weight: 3.4 oz., Package includes: 1 Anker Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse (2 AAA batteries not included), 1 2.4G USB receiver (in the bottom of the mouse), 1 instruction manual. 18-month hassle-free warranty.

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Dear Mayor Stevenson and City Council Members,

I grew up in Layton, Utah. I went to elementary school, junior high, high school, and even some university classes there. I spent 21 years of my life living in Layton, Utah.

Now I’m embarrassed to be associated with Layton City.

Why? Layton City Police just victimized the victim of a car crash!

I don’t care if you’re “by the book” or not, here you’ve got a woman who was just involved in a vehicle crash – she was rear-ended, so it’s clearly not her fault. When she calls the police for help they had HER – the victim – do a field sobriety test?

They claimed her “balance is off”? Fresh bruises to a person’s knees and feet will do that to a person, not to mention the “shaken up” state of mind and adrenaline dump that happens post-traumatic event – like a car crash.

After that, they arrest HER (the victim), feel her up (sorry, they prefer the phrase “pat her down”), and take her to jail.

THEN, after she PASSES two DUI tests (blood-drawn, no less), they have the gall NOT to drop the charges?!

Do they want people to stop calling the police? To stop trusting them? To “take care of things on their own”? Because that’s how you get people to do just that.

Charges need to be dropped. Apologies need to be given. Public apologies. VERY public apologies. Soon.


  • Joe Levi, former resident

Layton City Mayor

Layton City Council Members


  • Layton City Victim Advocate: Karen Arroyo, (801) 336-3599,
  • Layton City Police, Internal Affairs Office, (801) 497-8300
  • Layton City Police Chief, Allen Swanson, (801) 336-3477


State Rep. Rich Cunningham voted against SB54 two years ago, indicating that he “disliked” the legislation which would allow candidates to “get around” the traditional Caucus and Convention system by collecting voter signatures. But that didn’t stop him from doing it anyway.

Then he lost at Convention. His competitor, State Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, by winning more than 60 percent of delegate votes, should have eliminated Cunningham in their Senate race at the Utah Republican Convention. That’s one of the advantages of the Convention system – when your neighborhood representatives (delegates) clearly favor one candidate over the others, they save the State quite a bit of money by eliminating the need for a Primary Election (remember, the State gets its money from you).

However, in this and other races across the state, candidates who obviously lost at Convention will still force a taxpayer funded Primary because they thumbed their noses at you and your neighborhood representatives, negating your voice for their entire terms of office.

That’s the other advantage of the Caucus and Convention system – and why so many “establishment” and incumbent candidates are afraid of it – your voice is heard, loud and clear, through your neighborhood representatives (your delegates) for their entire term of office. By gathering signatures and going straight to a Primary, sure, your individual vote is counted at the election – but your voice (and the voice of your neighborhood) is silenced until the next campaign season.