Steve and I have been moving very cautiously into having a smart home. We started with a smart smoke detector with the Nest, then a couple of Hue lightbulbs came on the scene. We added a couple of Wemo switches somewhere along the line, and eventually a couple of security cameras, as I’ve told you about before. The one thing that really gave us pause was the idea of a smart door lock.
But then I started talking to that crazy Joe Dugandzic of Smarter Home Life, and he talked about his cool August Smart Lock. I was jealous, but I still didn’t jump. Then I listened to a podcast (and I wish for the life of me I could remember which one) where they talked about someone testing a whole pile of smart locks and determining which had good security models. The August Smart Lock was on the good list. Additionally, the August Smart Lock is HomeKit-compatible. It isn’t the only smart lock that’s HomeKit compatible, but that definitely played into our decision. If you’re a fan of Alexa, she can play with the August devices as well.
By now you’re either sick of hearing about HomePod, or you’re so curious about it you’re paying attention to this. I thought it might be fun to talk about what has surprised Steve and me about HomePod.
I’ve read the reviews, I’ve heard the hype, and I’ve heard the naysayers. I would suggest to you that you think about HomePod as a speaker. A really awesome speaker that has great sound. And it also comes with a frequently recalcitrant, always myopic, and slightly dimwitted assistant. How about we avoid the word “smart” altogether?
Bart’s tutorial for this lesson is at bartbusschots.ie/… starting where he inserted the line, “Note: This is the point in the notes where the first podcast episode ends and the second begins.”
When Steve and I were retiring, many people asked us if we were going to travel. I said, “no plans at all to travel.” Evidently I was wrong! It seems we travel an awful lot these days, to both foreign lands and locally to go see the grandson.
I’ve gotten so that I can pack in my sleep, grabbing all of the necessities. There are of course two lists in my head. Silly things like clothes and toothbrushes, and the more important list of things like laptops, tablets and of course chargers.
The one thing I often seem to forget though is my Apple Watch charger. I even have two of them, one on my desk and one by my bed, but every 3rd trip I forget to bring one. My theory on why I forget the Apple Watch chargers is it’s because the little charger pucks are threaded into a stand and so they’re not so easy to make easily portable.
In a pinch, you can usually drum up a lightning cable and a USB-charger block to charge your phone, but there’s no way to piece together a charger for the Apple Watch.
All the cool kids are moving to Discord for podcasting and chat, and so is the NosillaCast. We’ll hear a CES interview with August about their smart locks (spoiler, I’ve got one). TJ gives us his review of the HiFi ELITE Super66 headphones. Back to CES with the Velco Connected Handlebars for bicycles, and the new fleet of Jabra wireless headphones. In Security Bits, Bart Busschots brings us up to date on Spectre and Meltdown, along with an interesting lesson about spareness and density of data collection regarding how the exercise app Strava showed military installations.
In this week’s episode of Programming By Stealth, Bart had intended to work on improving our Cellular Automata, but we ended up spending a lot more time on reviewing the challenges from last week that we stopped before getting to the new stuff. The good news is that we’re going to do the Cellular Automata improvements in only one week (it will be PBS 49B), and we have no homework for the week! As always, Bart’s excellent tutorial shownotes are available at bartbusschots.ie/….
Sometimes I think that the Podfeet Podcasts are just an elaborate ruse to allow me to try out new gadgets and software. It is most evident in how I can’t seem to stop refining how I produce both the recorded and the live show. If you’ve never taken a look at the live show diagram, it’s worth a peek to see the madness. It needs to be updated a bit as a few things have changed, but the fundamental structure of it is still the same.
What never changes though is my desire to swap out one tool for another. In fact, that’s why it’s out of date!
Usually I’m trying to solve a problem, but sometimes I experiment with a tool just to learn about it to find out if it solves any problems. In the last couple of weeks I’ve started playing around with a tool called Discord. Discord is a free, dedicated app for the Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android, as well as a web-app from discordapp.com. If my early testing is right, it could replace a lot of apps for me, reduce the complexity, and make it easier to connect with people for Chit Chat, all while actually giving you an enhanced experience during the live show.
Nite Ize Taglit might save my life, CES interviews with Mira ovulation monitoring system, Spartan radiation-blocking boxer shorts, Lynky Smart Home Hub and TRAE lamps made by geeks. I also talk about my disappointment with D-Link security on the Omna Webcam and tell you about an awesome new webcam called WyzeCam that’s only $20.
When Steve and I were at CES, we had the opportunity to hang out with fellow NosillaCastaway Joe LaGreca. While we were talking about the disappointment of the security model for D-Link and their $150 Omna webcam, he mentioned that he uses a little camera called the WyzeCam.
We were intrigued because Joe said the WyzeCam is only $20 plus $5 shipping. But how good could this camera be? Joe showed us a live erityideo feed of his kids’ playroom – and it was pretty darn good. For $20, it was amazing.
Joe cares as much about security as we do (if not more) but since a $150 HomeKit-compatible webcam from a big-name networking company doesn’t guarantee us great security, I have changed my expectations.
One of our goals in Home Automation has been to buy HomeKit-compatible devices whenever possible for security reasons. I’ve even created an elaborate network setup to isolate non-HomeKit (and Windows) devices from the rest of my gear.
Last year we bought the first HomeKit-compatible webcam, the Omna 180 Cam HD from D-Link. At $150 it wasn’t cheap but buying from a reputable company like D-Link who clearly have been in the business of network gear for ages gave us peace of mind.
The camera hasn’t been a huge success for us for a few reasons. The video isn’t as sharp as we’d expected. It was supposed to be 1080p but it’s pretty fuzzy. It doesn’t store information anywhere but on its own SD card, which might be a plus for some people but for us it limits the usefulness. It gets pretty hot which concerns us, and it is simply offline sometimes and we have to unplug it and plug it in to get it running again.