Smart Home Diary Stories December 11, 2020

When I saw that Flic HomeKit-compatible smart buttons were available, I had to take them for a spin.

Second-generation Flic smart home buttons now have HomeKit compatibility, along with multi-color LEDs to indicate the status of the device they control.

The original Flic buttons from Shortcut Labs could control a reasonably wide range of devices — including Ikea, Nanoleaf, Lifx, Lightify, Philips Hue, Sonos, Spotify, and WeMo — but HomeKit support now makes them suitable for a much wider range of smart home products…

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Smart Home Diary Stories November 5, 2020

I recently wrote a Feature Request calling for the ability to enable HomeKit presence detection via Wi-Fi network, as a more reliable approach than Location Services. In particular, I wanted a way of automatically unlocking our front door on connection to our home Wi-Fi.

Here’s what I’d like to see. Identify your home Wi-Fi network, and have iOS remember this. Then be able to set a variety of automations as soon as your phone connects to it. These would include HomeKit automations (unlock door, switch on lights, etc) …

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Smart Home Diary Stories April 27, 2020

Upgrading broadband isn’t something any of us do often, but when I found that gigabit broadband had finally reached my building, I found it impossible to resist, despite having no real justification for such speeds. But hey, gigabit broadband is a gadget, right?

Sure enough, I now get very close to gigabit speeds on an Ethernet connection in my office (see above), and 5Ghz Wi-Fi delivers 2-300Mbps for both uploads and downloads elsewhere in the apartment.

There was, however, one aspect of the upgrade I was dreading…

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Smart Home Diary Stories April 2, 2020

The Danalock has filled the last remaining hole in my smart home armory: a smart lock.

You could say I’m something of a home automation fan. I had near-withdrawal symptoms when briefly forced to live without it for a while after moving home back in 2017. Getting things back up-and-running was a great relief!

Lights and smart sockets were followed by window blinds (later given HomeKit compatibility), smart(ish) heating (though more on that another day), and even a control panel.

But I’d avoided a smart lock for three reasons …

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Smart Home Diary Stories September 26, 2019

Writing user guides used to be part of how I earned my living. But this week I’ve been creating a smart home user guide on a purely personal basis.

When you’ve lived with smart home tech for quite some time, it all becomes second nature. But it’s easy to forget just how much there would be to learn for someone new to it all.

That’s a discovery we made when arranging for a friend to cat-sit later in the year. He’ll be living in our apartment while we’re on holiday, and it was only when we were showing him around that I realized quite how much there is to know – and he’s a tech guy by profession…

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Smart Home Diary Stories May 24, 2019

A conversation this morning got me thinking about the different categories of smart home tech.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love gadgets for their own sake. If there’s a low-tech way of doing something and a hi-tech way of doing it, I’ll tend to favor the hi-tech option even where the benefit is marginal.

My partner is not of the same view. She’s not a Luddite by any means – she has an iPhone, iPad, Mac, and appreciates some hi-tech solutions – but for her, the default option is the traditional way of doing things. Any technological wizardry has to justify itself.

This results in some negotiations about the devices we have in our apartment, which led me to the conclusion that there are three categories of smart home tech …

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