Robotic Lawn Mowers

 

Over the years we have seen automation and robotics change the way that a number of things work in the home.   Did you know that robotics and automation work outside your home as well? Robotic lawn mowers are starting to change the way that people approach lawn care with modern robotic lawn mowers that were introduced in recent years, however the devices have a longer history than you might think.  If you have grass on your property you should keep reading.

Hard to believe the first robotic lawn mower was actually created and patented in 1969. Called the MowBot, the robotic device was self-propelled and capable of making random turns within an area defined by a signal wire that was used to create a boundary. The MowBot was a battery-powered device that was primitive compared to today’s robotic lawn mowers however its approach to lawn maintenance wasn’t that far off from how today’s devices work. It had some staying power and MowBot Inc. is still producing robotic mowers today that are more modern takes on the original MowBot functionality.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the more modern style of robotic lawn mowers began to emerge. A solar-powered mower was developed and introduced in 1995 by Husqvarna, and it was followed for the next 10 years by other niche robotic lawn mower designs. The development of smaller-scale robotic mowers occurred in the United States and the UK in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the first widespread commercial release of a robotic lawn mower occurred. Interestingly, these mowers used the same sort of signal wire that the MowBot had; combined with a few more modern features.

Since then the use of robotic mowers has really taken off with a variety of solar-powered and self-charging robotic mowers hitting the market with innovations such as programmability, autonomous obstacle avoidance and even the ability to program or control the mower remotely from a smartphone or similar device. Some modern robotic mowers are even designed to only trim a small section of the grass blades at a time, opting instead to mow more frequently (often without any input from their owners) to keep the lawn in optimal shape.

Robotic lawn mowers offer a number of benefits over traditional push mowers or riding lawn mowers. A few of the benefits of these mowers include:

  • Electric-powered robotic mowers reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions
  • Smaller, more frequent cuts prevent excessive strain on your lawn that could result in browning or other damage
  • Lightweight units that use random movements while cutting the lawn prevent damage caused by mowing in the same pattern repeatedly
  • Electric units with smaller motors significantly reduce noise pollution while cutting
  • The mulching action of robotic lawn mowers recycles clippings to feed your lawn throughout the year
  • Using a robotic device gives you the benefit of more free time and consistent lawn heights, plus eliminating the danger of injury from traditional lawn mowers.

Robotic lawn mowers have seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years. Models can range in price from $400 to $3,500 or more, with higher-end models offering greater coverage and more programmability features. Robotic lawn mower sales are growing at a faster rate than sales of traditional mowers, with analysts believing that robotic mower sales will continue to increase by approximately 11 percent each year through 2024. Technology is moving at a rapid pace so expect more automation and other types of gadgets for you home – inside and out.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Optimize your 401K Planning

People are living longer, which has become a problem… in that we risk outliving our retirement income. Pensions are all but unheard of outside of heavily-unionized industries and the government, and both these entities have increasingly transferred more and more responsibility to the individual worker as far as their retirement account is concerned. When it comes to employer-sponsored plans like 401(k) s, it is vital for workers, savers and investors (and you should see yourself as all three) to make the most they can out of the plans. While there are some differences with other plans, like 403(b) s, most of this advice applies fairly well across the major plans in the United States. Below is a list of ways to get the most benefit out of your 401(k).

Work Backwards – For folks who have the ambition and the financial wherewithal to truly make the most of their 401(k), one of the best ways to begin is by working backwards. Take your maximum allowable contribution (your 401(k) plan documents should make this number relatively clear, or you can ask for help), divide it by the number of pay periods in a year, and see where that leaves you.

Make the Match – Fully exploiting employer matching is one of the most vital strategies in getting the most out of a 401(k) plan. Matching is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – subject to certain rules and limits, your employer will contribute the same amount of money you contribute, effectively doubling your retirement savings without decreasing your salary or increasing your tax burden. Many employer matches kick in at 3% of your pay (or higher), so try as hard as you can to at least contribute this much. Afterall, who doesn’t like free money?

Watch the Costs – As part of some employee retirement plans, workers can avail themselves of investment advice from independent professionals. Be advised that this advice is rarely free and it may cost up to 1 to 2% of your funds to get this help. It’s understandable that many workers feel overwhelmed when it comes to calculating their contributions, and then investing that money in a relatively fixed menu of investment options. However, if the advice really is from someone who does not stand to directly gain from the advice they give, and they are qualified to help you understand the options, it may be well worth it.

Consider Borrowing – For workers who save some funds in a 401(k) but find that they cannot contribute more, because they are saddled with expensive debt, there may be a counter-intuitive option. Most plans have provisions that allow employees to borrow funds from their own account. This money comes relatively free of strings ( as what the funds can be used for), and it is possible to use it to repay much more expensive debt, like credit card debt. This money does not come free, but the good news is that the interest charged is basically being paid to you.

Additional Options – What do you do if you have maxed out your 401(k) or you really hate the investment options offered? In most cases, it is allowable to have a Roth IRA and 401(k) and contribute to both in the same year. The Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but the money put aside this way can still accumulate tax-free over decades.

Once you have contributed as much as possible to these tax-sheltered accounts, there are still other ways to save for retirement. People who are lucky to have maxed out their 401(k) or IRAs in a year can consider buying and investing in annuities. There are a lot of problems with annuities – they can carry high sales loads, they typically have high expenses and sponsors have continually transferred more risk to the investor. All of that said, money in an annuity can accumulate without year-to-year taxation, and it is a worthwhile option if protecting even more retirement savings from the taxman is important.

Additionally, you can invest in real estate. The gains are not calculated until/unless you sell, and your tenants pay your mortgage, adding to the wealth created by the appreciation.

Speak up 
– Notifying your employer about a deficient plan can be an effective means of improving your options (and those of your co-workers). If you do not like how a plan is organized or the investment options on offer, say so. Keep in mind that many employers choose 401(k) plans on the basis of what is cheapest and most convenient to offer, and they may not even be aware of its deficiencies. While it is true that many workers do not like to be a squeaky wheel, and some companies are certainly apt to be more responsive than others, doing nothing is a pretty good way to ensure that the plan will get no better.

Careful savings is not likely to be the gateway to becoming a millionaire or independently wealthy, but it can at least go a long way towards ensuring a more comfortable and desirable retirement. Whatever the specific plans being offer to you, be it a 401(k), a 403(b), an IRA and so on, make sure to contribute as much as you can afford and take full advantage of your opportunity to save money for the future.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

 

UNLV report says economy will remain strong

Campus Beauty shotsFebruary 2, 2017(Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

Dr. Stephen Miller, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV released his economic forecast report on Nov. 29 at Park MGM during a breakfast hosted in conjunction with the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.  This event was attended by more than 400 business and community leaders

According to Dr. Miller’s report the Las Vegas economy will remain strong over the next two years with business optimism high, however the “softness in tourism” will continue when it comes to visitors and hotel occupancy. He was more subdued and concerned when speaking about in tourism.

“Based on our assessment of national and Nevada trends in 2017 and 2018, we believe that the Southern Nevada economy will continue to see improvement in 2019 and 2020,” Miller said. “The data are telling us a very positive story about the Southern Nevada economy. It’s on an upward trend, and the economy is on solid ground.”

CBER (The Center for Business and Economic Research) projects the economic growth in the Southern Nevada economy will generally outperform the national economy, since it started the recovery later and from a much deeper hole than faced at the national level, Miller said.

Miller went onto say that the economy has been bolstered by an increase in construction and will be aided in part by population growth, which will increase just above 2 percent in 2019 and 2020. Job growth will remain strong through 2020.

Dr. Miller also stated “On the negative side, the level of uncertainty as expressed in the gyrations of the stock market and the potential for policy errors by the Fed in responding to the expansion in economic activity promulgated in large measure by the corporate and personal tax cuts.  The Fed’s concern about an overheating economy could lead to pushing interest rates too high, too quickly and plunging the national economy into recession. The risk that this occurs seems small at the moment, but it is a risk all the same.”

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

UNLV and other organizations team up for free Christmas tree recycling

UNLV and community organizations will team up this holiday season to help turn Christmas trees into mulch. This free recycling service will be available at more than 30 locations around the valley beginning Dec. 26 and run through Jan. 15.

The recycled trees are chipped into mulch and used in public gardens and parks across the community, according to a service spokesperson. The trees will help conserve soil moisture, dust control and keep plants healthy.

UNLV recycling manager Tara Pike-Nordstrom stated “Recycling trees is a great way to give back to the community as they stay local and beautify our parks.” More than 15,000 trees were recycled last year into 136 tons of nutrient-rich mulch. Local landfill volume was spared the equivalent of ten school buses.

This community based program was started in 2001 and since then over 227,000 trees have been recycled. The organizers of this event suggest removing all non-organic materials such as lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, tree stands and any other items that are not part of the tree before recycling it.  Also, flocked trees cannot be recycled, and trees more than 5 feet tall should be cut in half.

Las Vegas Cub Scout Pack 219 and Boy Scout Troop 96 will be collecting trees to recycle for residents who want to recycle but are unable to drop off their trees. The scouts earn a conservation badge and raise funds for their organizations.

The Southern Nevada Christmas Tree Recycling Committee is a partnership of local businesses and community agencies, including UNLV’s Rebel Recycling program and the Springs Preserve.

Check here for the closest available locations.

Also, mulch from the trees will be available for free to community members at several valley locations from Dec. 28 to Jan. 14. These spots include Pecos Legacy Park, Acacia Park, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, North Las Vegas Research Center, Demonstration Orchard and its Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas.

Pickup times vary, and residents are encouraged to call UNCE’s Clark County office at 702-222-3130.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Why are you still having packages delivered to your front door?

Do you also still leave your house and car unlocked? Do you leave your purse or wallet on the front porch too? Come on people! There are pirates out there (and I’m not talking the Pirates of Penzance or the Pirates of the Caribbean) Being a porch pirate has become as trendy and cool as the Keto diet and many of you are still hoping you won’t be next, instead of doing something intelligent about it. I regularly see posts on Nextdoor and Facebook about packages being stolen… with a video of the thief! For Pete’s sake, people, stop being a victim!

When it comes to having packages delivered, here are some DO’s and DON’Ts;

DO mail it to a neighbor/friend who is home during the day (make sure you check with them first)

DO use an Amazon Locker [use this link for the words Amazon Locker https://www.amazon.com/primeinsider/tips/amazon-locker-qa.html%5D

DO mail it to your job (make sure you ask permission first – this will not work for every employer – I’m sure the casinos, for example, do not have the resources to allow for this – but smaller business might).

DO get a mailing address at a local UPS Store or Postnet (you can also get a PO Box, but understand that only the US Postal service can deliver there, so that will eliminate deliveries from FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.)

DO look for other options – I assure you they exist! I can’t remember where I was recently (I think in a grocery store) – they had an advertisement “Have your packages delivered here… safely” and the reason I don’t remember where I was is because when I read the sign I thought to myself, “I already get my mail at a UPS store, so that is not important for me to remember”

DON’T think your video camera will thwart the attempts – it’s such a low impact crime, the police don’t really have the resources to chase after them and (based on what I see on social media) it’s not slowing anyone down… probably because they know the police do not have the resources. Plus, let’s be honest, if you would just choose a different way to get your packages, the police would have more time to devote to other, less-preventable crimes.

DON’T just build a fence and put a lock on the gate… I have seen many videos of fence-jumping-porch-pirates.

If you feel you MUST have a package delivered to your house when you are not going to be there, at least create some kind of visual barrier for the delivery person to hide the package behind or in… this will at least ensure that the package is not super visible from the street like a neon sign that says “I got this for YOU”. It’s not a great solution, but it will improve your chances, at least slightly. Have you ever heard the saying “locks keep honest people honest”? Do you know what that means? It means, that even a weak lock will protect your items from people who are opportunists, but not career thieves. When the package is visible on your porch, like it or not, you are actually tempting people who might otherwise be reasonably respectable to grab an easy opportunity.

DON’T whine about your missing packages… seriously… if you are not willing to take steps to prevent porch piracy in 2018, then,  you’re basically asking for it (I know I’m gonna catch heat for saying that, but),  you wouldn’t leave your wallet on the front porch would you? And if you did, you really couldn’t be surprised that someone took it.

One last DON’T… DON’T booby-trap your packages… as much as I completely feel that the porch pirates (and all thieves) should feel consequences, in this country, you can be held civilly & criminally liable for hurting these people… that means they could sue you (and win) and you could end up with jail time. It’s just not worth it!

AND… if you want me to, I will accept your packages safely at my office near Summerlin… just call me in advance so I know to expect them and I can call or email you when they arrive!

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

The Fall is a Great Time to go to the Valley of Fire

Fall is the best time of year in the Las Vegas Valley – the summer heat is over and there is crispness in the air.  Take the family on a day trip to the Valley of Fire.  It’s a short 58 mile drive northeast of central Las Vegas.

Valley of Fire is located in the Mojave Desert and is the oldest Nevada State Park dedicated in 1935.  Valley of Fire State Park covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres.  Valley of Fire was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago (Mesozoic Era).  These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays.  Other important rock formations include limestone, shale, and conglomerates.

Valley of Fire is marked as Nevada Historical Marker #150 (Nevada’s First State Park).  Valley of Fire Road is the main road through the park.  The 10.5 mile road connects the east and west entrances of the park and was designated as a Nevada Scenic Byway in 1995.

Some of the prehistoric people of Valley of Fire included the Anasazi – they were farmers from the nearby fertile Moapa Valley. Their visits to Valley of Fire probably involved hunting, food gathering, and religious ceremonies.  There are fine examples of rock art (petroglyphs) at several locations throughout Valley of Fire.

Areas to look for at the Valley of Fire include Arch Rock, formed over many millennia to the natural arch you see today. No climbing is allowed on this rock as it is very fragile. Atlatl Rock named for a device that shoots spears.  The ancient Indians used these weapons and they are depicted in the petroglyphs (rock carvings).

The Beehives are sandstone formations that not only demonstrate the unique design that can be created by nature, but is an excellent representation of geologic cross bedding.  The Petrified Logs consist of wood that has laid outside long enough to become a fossil. The logs are several colorful tree trunks lying close to the road, safely fenced off for all to enjoy. Balanced Rock is located near the visitor center is another one of the famous Valley of Fire formations.

Mouse’s Tank is a natural balanced-rock basin in the rock where water collects after each rainfall.  A half-mile round trip trail leads to Mouse’s Tank from the trailhead parking area.  There are excellent examples of prehistoric petroglyphs on the trail.  Mouse’s Tank is named for a Southern Paiute Indian renegade (“Little Mouse”) who used Valley of Fire as a hideout in the 1890’s after he was accused of killing two prospectors and other crimes in the area. Rainbow Vista is a viewpoint in Valley of Fire State Park, where the road reaches the top of a low ridge revealing a vast area of multicolored rocks stretching for many miles northwards, rather different than the dark red cliffs found further south.

The White Domes are sandstone formations with brilliant contrasting colors and a one-mile hike.  The White Domes Trail is a moderate loop that combines sweeping desert vistas, a slot canyon, colors galore, windows, caves and a historic movie site.  Also look at the Seven Sisters is a group of 7 tall, red, eroded boulders surround by the sandy desert. You also must see Elephant Rock is a wonderful example of an arch in the shape of an elephant and its right next to the road.

Other sites to see are the Clark Memorial named for John J. Clark.  This is where his body was found on June 30, 1915. You should also try to visit Fire Canyon/Silica Dome.

Don’t miss the Visitor’s Center -Information, books, souvenirs, and exhibits on Valley of Fire and the surrounding area.  The exhibits include geology, ecology, prehistory, and history of Valley of Fire.  Valley of Fire Visitor Center Hours:  8:30 AM-4:30 PM daily.

Heck, it’s even an amazing place to get married! I have a wedding planner friend who has planned several weddings out there! Go check it out this weekend! Tell them Jeff sent ya! (just kidding – they don’t know me by name… yet)

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Don’t Fall for Home Repair Scams

Home repair, renovation and improvement scams can be costly so beware of con- artists looking to take your money and then disappear.  Protect yourself from these unethical people by looking out for common schemes.

Do not trust a person that just arrives at your home and says “Hey I was doing a job in the neighborhood and I have some extra materials left over, so I’ll give you a good deal on a driveway sealing project.” A good and reliable contractor usually knows how much material they need for a certain project and if they have leftover material will not peddle it door to door. If you really think you like the deal, ask for the name and address of the person they just did the job for and ask that neighbor how satisfied they were with the job that was done.

Another potential red flag for a home improvement project is the contractor stating, “We won’t need to pull permits.”  Of course, not every home improvement job requires a permit, but if you think this one should, contact the city and ask. Improvements that should have had permits, but do not, can cause trouble when you try to sell your home.

Be careful if you are speaking with a contractor that states “I’m going to need you to pay the whole job up front”.  A reasonable down payment is part of the process – usually about one third of the price of the job.  Never pay for the entire project up front – if you do that person will just take the money and run.  Check for regulations that are in place as a guideline to protect you.

 

Don’t hire a contractor that says “We don’t need to put anything in writing”.  You should have a written contract – that protects you and the contractor for very good reasons.  Make sure the contract specifies a dated work schedule, payment terms, cost breakdown, as well as proof of licensure, bonding & insurance, and any concessions for work not completed on time.  This is the strongest legal protection you can have.

Remember a good contractor will not pressure you to make up your mind on the spot.  They know this is a costly investment and you will need time to think it over.  You should also think about speaking to more than one contractor before making your decision and checking local jobs they have done similar to yours.

Finally, go the extra mile and contact the Nevada State Contractors Board (http://www.nvcontractorsboard.com) about the license # they provide you (a truly legitimate contractor will have no problem with that.) I had a client a couple of years ago hire a contractor who was using the license number of a company he used to work for. A few extra minutes to verify him would have prevented what ended up costing my client over $70,000…

I have a list of people I refer to my clients for specific jobs and am happy to recommend these contractors to any reader since I know their work and reputation. Feel free to reach out to me any time for recommendations.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail space? We can help you with that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff