SLEEP TIGHT

A reader wrote to say his bed no longer communicates with the Internet. It’s a modern problem.

He and his wife have a “Sleep Number” bed with “Sleep IQ” sensors that tell them how often they toss and turn, how they’re breathing and what their heart rate is. This baby costs anywhere between $499 and $5,199, depending on the model. Some models raise the head of a snoring spouse, saving their life and marriage. They also warm feet, and offer “zero gravity” positions. This prepares you for your next trip to the moon.

Our reader’s first Sleep Number bed was so great he bought a second and then a third. When the new one wouldn’t connect to the web, however, its sleep IQ fell to moron level. The couple thought  it was the router, but they already had the recommended kind, which is either single “n-band” or “dual n-band.” They tried disconnecting the first Sleep Number bed and Ah-Ha! The new one came online.

Tech support has not been great. They suggested unplugging, replugging and trying again. Still, the couple is satisfied for now, as long as their guests on the number two bed don’t demand their sleep IQs. The number one and three beds are OK.

As savvy consumers, they wondered if a “mesh” router might fix the problem. We wondered that too. We use one ourselves, called “Google Wi Fi,” to boost the signal to our bedroom. Previously, it wasn’t getting any Internet at all. Now it works most of the time.

App Happy

We’re trying out the free “Acorns App”, which rounds up your credit card purchases and puts the remaining cents into an exchange-traded investment fund, or ETF.  So if your bill is $10.70, it adds 30 cents to your investment portfolio. Or you can start out with a deposit. We invested $50 and made 71 cents by the next day. A 3.5 percent return, not bad. If the market continues at this rate, we will reach a million in only 3,859 years. Things are looking up.

The app has 3.5 million users  and the Wall Street Journal says the company is going public soon, for an expected valuation of $860 million.

We first heard about Acorns when it came out in 2012, but were put off by a few things. You have to give them your Social Security number, for one. You have to link a credit card, for another. But Joy likes the idea that professionals and Nobel Laureate economists choose wise investments, based on your preferences. So we decided to give it a shot. Bob is worried that professionals and Nobel Laureates are choosing the investments.

What companies do they invest in? Find out by going to acorns.com/invest. They don’t list the companies, which are a broad collection of firms in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S& P 500, but they will tell you their approach depending on the style you choose. We chose “moderately aggressive.” (The most conservative position is 80 percent government and corporate bonds.) We wondered immediately how to get our money out, so we Googled it. To withdraw, go to the app and tap “Invest for your Future,” and then “withdraw.”  This is Bob’s favorite feature.

They’ve added lots of new features since the company began, including a way for them to make themselves some extra money. Tap “found money,” and buy something from one of their partners, such as Apple, Airbnb, Amazon and Macy’s; they’ll add three percent or more to your account. Tap “Grow” to read interviews and news. They are rolling out a “spend” feature which lets you round up debit card transactions, and invest 10 percent of purchases from retailers that aren’t among their partners. They also offer $25 gift cards to let  you help someone else start investing. The “Later” feature lets you invest in an individual retirement account (IRA).

If you don’t think the pennies are adding up fast enough, you can invest a set amount every month, or add a multiplier effect to the amount you round up. The average contribution is $60. The commission they charge is $1 a month for any amount under a million. That sounds reasonable, but if you’re only investing $10 a month, it’s a ten percent charge, which is too high.

 Premium TV on Roku

If you have an iPhone, you can try out a new feature from Roku, which makes a stick you plug into the back of your TV to get extra channels. Now, you can get premium Roku channels on your iPhone without the stick. Android owners can get the channels later this month.

The feature is called “Premium Subscriptions,” and if you guessed that “Premium” means you pay for each subscription, go to the head of the class. Currently, they have Showtime, Starz, EPIX, CollegeHumor, Curiosity Stream, FitFusion, The Great Courses, Smithsonian Channel Plus and many others, each with their own price and free trial period.

If you already have a Roku stick, which starts at $29 for Roku Express, you’ll be able to start watching a movie or TV episode on your TV and finish it up on your phone.  To see the offerings and sign up for free trials, go to TheRokuChannel.com.

 Too Darn Loud

Have you ever wished you could whisper something to Alexa and have her answer back in a whisper? Now you can do it. It might be handy if your baby is sleeping, and you must know the weather outside, Tom Cruise’s age, or the year Cortes met the Aztecs.

Here’s how to do it: Say to Alexa, “Turn on whisper mode.”  Don’t forget to turn down Alexa’s volume first, or her response might wake up the whole family.

Blockchain Trends

Despite the crash of Bitcoin, the digital currency, at least one state government is forging ahead. Which U.S. state is farthest ahead in e-cash? According to DECENT, which runs digital currency conferences, it’s Wyoming.

DECENT reports that Wyoming is a crypto-friendly haven for individuals and businesses. Several months ago, the state legislature ruled that virtual currencies are exempt from money transmission laws and regulations. Wyoming does not tax virtual currencies as property.

Comments are closed.