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Monday, January 21, 2019

Smart Home Part 1: Selecting a Smart Home Controller

It's been two years since I have moved into my new apartment. I took the effort to plan and design my home automation system. Saving big dollars from those that provide the services.

The total material I calculated, cost me about SGD$5,000. But it is worth it. Having to integrate it with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, everything is almost complete.

I have not been updating this blog much as I am busy with my life and having another technology blog going one as well.

Now I am going to start a series of Home Automation series articles to help those who are planning to start this journey decide on their own.

I am an IT professional and do not co-sell or own any Smart Home company. What I share here is my own journey and advice to those who intend to do it yourself. I can try to answer as many questions as I may but I do not guarantee you a solution. Some have asked me to provide my service, but it needs some help from your electrician or interior designer who you are working with. I, myself cannot complete without working with these people.

First stop, selecting a Smart Home controller. Before you start with your Smart Home planning, you need to choose a smart home controller. There are many controllers on the market and there are many pros and cons to the one you picked.

I started off with Vera Plus. This is what I call a cheap man solution. I didn't want to spend too much on my automation. Later on, I needed more to be work on. I started to write the LUP code which Vera use to program more complex logic. It didn't work that well. In the end, I switch out from Vera to Homey.

So what do you look for in a controller? It will depend on what device do you want to integrate with.

What are the things you want to control with your smart home? E.g. lights, switches, motors, aircon, etc.
You need to decide what are the items you like to control. As the controller that you choose must be able to work with all these devices or support these devices. Smart Home controller typically support a few protocols (just like your Wifi signal at home use to have B, G, and now N). The most popular ones will be Zwave and ZigBee. Some also support RF, Bluetooth, etc. The devices that support such protocols ranges. They may be available in Singapore or you would need to import them e.g. Amazon. Also, there is two frequency that these protocols runs on, mostly US and EU. The official one that is supported in Singapore is neither. Surprisingly Singapore uses Korean frequency. The among of device would be so limited. However, I started off with the UK so I just stayed with it. Choose the protocol that supports the devices you want to control then find the right controller.

Do you need to integrate with Voice systems like Google Home and Amazon Echo?
If the above is yes, make sure you check out the controller that support either one of them or both. I started with Vera Plus which only support when you run a bridge to integrate them. However, the bridge is no longer needed using the latest firmware from Vera for Amazon Echo and Google Home has also stopped allowing the bridge. In such, my voice command ended up with Amazon Echo and no more with Google Home.

Where do I start and which device manufacturer for devices I want to control do I look for?
This is a good question. I often ask my friends to start with On/Off switches to control lights. So I do not use expensive light bulbs such as Philips Hue but rather use the normal LED lights and have the switch to control it. But, do note that if your lights are dimmer lights, do get a switch that supports it. Also if you choose to use back your normal switch due to most reason as it looks good or fit your home, you can purchase a switch module to make those switches smart. E.g. are Fibaro Zwave modules. This includes motor roller switches for blinds or garage doors, dimmer lights, etc.

Where do I start?
Do your research. What devices do you want to control? Are those controlled by infrared (IR), Radio frequency (RF), Zwave, Zigbee, Wifi, etc.? Decide on one that can do the majority of your device and see if it can integrate to complement those that can't to start doing. Giving you an example, for my TV and Media player, I use Logitech Harmony Remote/Hub, this control all my IR device and it can integrate with Vera Plus as Vera wasn't able to do IR. Currently, have switched to Homey.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Logitech Mouse Scrolling Bug on Mac Mojave

Recently encounter the scroll bug where my Logitech Bluetooth mouse works but without scrolling capability.

Doing a quick search this also happens on other models.

The solution to this is to allow Logitech to have accessibility permission which makes sense as scrolling is now part of accessibility. In Mac Mojave, security is enhanced and any requirement on accessibility requires specific permission.

So just hate over to Settings and Allow Logitech Options. That's it the mouse scroll will work immediately.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Windows 10 Windows Update Not Working As Expected

"Your device is missing important security and quality fixes."

Is that what you see on your Windows Update on your Windows 10 machine? And no matter how many times you click, it will return the same and find no update.

If your machine is on Windows build 1803 similar to mine, yes this is a known issue.

I was getting frustrated with that warning message on my new Microsoft Surface Go, after 7 years not using any Windows OS machine. My last used OS was Windows 7.

Using my 7 years ago knowledge of Windows, I bet Microsoft never change. So did a restart and still didn't help. So decide to google for it since it could be a bug and a separate patch is required.

Not surprising this was still true after 7 years. Following the guide here, I downloaded the Windows 10 October 2018 Update to move up another level of Windows 10 Build 1809.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Singapore Huawei Mate 20 Series Registration for Interest

For those who love the camera on Huawei Mate and P series would have followed the launch on 16th Oct here.

The Mate 20 series has little information on the launch date, price and what is in the free gifts for Singapore. Also little details of whether is it for telco sign up or retail purchase available.
Happen to be watching Youtube and chance upon the interest registration pop up. Here is the details:

Singapore, for those who wish to get the Mate 20 series, you can register for interest. Telco and retail purchase are available and gifts apply to both series.

Do note at launch for the colours available:

Mate 20 Pro: Twilight, Emerald Green, BlackMate 20: Midnight Blue and Black

Free Gifts:
a JBL Link 10 Speaker, HUAWEI NM Card (128GB), 2-in-1 Memory Card Reader and Wireless Charger (total worth $463)

Register your interest here:

Monday, January 29, 2018

New EZ-Link App

EZ-Link has release a new app to replace their old one. You can now easily add multiple cards into your account in a quick glance.

What's new is in the recent update, it allows you to add your credit card for performing reloading on the fly. There is also a tied up with FWD insurance for a free coverage for your EZ-Link card u to $15 value in a year. You can also link up your NTUC Plus! membership to earn points when you use EZ-Link app to pay for your rides and purchases.

Now head down and download the app and sign up an account and activate your free coverage.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Receipts for Warranty Are They Important?

Earlier this year, visited US Premium Outlets in San Francisco.  Went to Dunhill and purchase a wallet and a belt.  The staff as friendly and reminded me to keep the Authentication Card which stated the purchase date for warranty purpose.  With a countercheck with them, are receipt still needed, they mention as long they have the authentication card, their system can verify it.  So in case you are giving it to someone as a gift, they won't know how much you have pay for it.  That makes sense. So trusting their words I didn't keep the receipt.  I paid in cash so the only form of payment would be the receipt.

Further down the road, in Sept this year, the belt gave way, not because I grew fatter on my waistline but the pin that whole the buckle came off.  The belt has been worn less than 10 times and obviously, this is a build issue.

I wrote into their customer service, they mention I would need the item, authentication card as well as the receipt.  I told them didn't their authentication card state the date of purchase and don't they record this in the system?  Apparently, they do not care and they don't even trust their own authentication card which they ask for.  In fact, to them the system is useless.  They need the receipt to prove that the record on their system if genuine.  Ironic right?  Either their system is a been hacked or completely unreliable for them to trust.

So end up my belt is useless to me now.

Learning from this case, never not keep your receipt.  Always have it in the original packaging that comes with the item.

One time experience with Dunhill is all I need to ever make a purchase from them.  Even companies like Samsonite is able to verify from their system and yet a company with such premium brand cannot.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Nikon Keymission 360: How to get it upload to Facebook and Youtube to work

Yes I made a 360 camera purchase but no those that most people would have got their hands on.  I decide to give Nikon a try though I am very attracted to Ricoh Theta.

I did a couple of review read online though Nikon does not support out of the box upload for Facebook 360 app, YouTube 360 video, it does support Facebook 360 video.  Strangely not the photo but video.  For 360 photo, Facebook have a list of compatible 360 cameras listed here.

So how do I get my picture on my Keymission to work on Facebook and video to work in YouTube?  For a start you just need to add a parameter in the picture for Facebook to allow the picture to work.  Found this article that mention it.  Basically to use a EXIFTOOL to add a ProjectionType.
  • exiftool -ProjectionType="equirectangular" photo.jpg

For Youtube to work with 360 video, you got to download a metadata tool from YouTube here.

I have tested it on both Facebook and YouTube with picture and video and it works.