Just got a 4K Ultra HD TV/monitor and looking for things to watch/test your new monitor/TV? Try these YouTube videos.
The smart home has gone through quite a convergence in the last few years. Modern protocols like Z-Wave & ZigBee, along with mart hubs, and smart assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home & Apple Siri are finally bringing everything together to make the smart home a practical and reliable reality.
What had been still missing from the picture for me, is the ability to log, analyze, and visualize all the data that my smart home generated. I use Splunk (data capture and visualization tool) at work so I decided to give it a try at home and it’s worked out great.
Here’s a Splunk dashboard I created for my home, showing current and historical data from multiple data sources: energy meter, contact sensors, switches, weather data feed, Windows event logs, and some custom PowerShell scripts.
My SmartThings-based smart home setup:
- Samsung SmartThings Hub 2nd Gen
- Amazon Echo Devices
- Various ZigBee/Z-Wave devices
- Samsung SmartThings GP-U999SJVLAAA Door & Window Multipurpose Sensors
- Samsung SmartThings GP-U999SJVLBAA Motion Sensors
- Samsung F-OUT-US-2 SmartThings Outlets
- Other ZigBee/Z-Wave switches, dimmers, and plugs
- Samsung ST-CEN-MOIS-1/FTR-US-2 Water Leak Sensors
- Aeotec HEM G2 whole house energy monitor
- First Alert ZCOMBO 2-in-1 Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm, Z-Wave
- PowerShell scripts to pull data from openweathermap.org & run/log periodic Internet speed tests.
- Splunk Free
Installing Splunk Free Edition
Download and install Splunk. You will start with the Enterprise version which comes with a 60-Day Trial. After that you can switch to the Free edition. Splunk Free allows indexing up to 500 MB of data per day which has been sufficient for my home logging needs. For my setup I installed Splunk on a 14-year old Windows box with a Intel Core2 Quad CPU Q6600 @2.40GHz – Splunk indexing/query performance has been pretty acceptable.
If your install was successful, you should be able to log into Splunk web by navigating to http://localhost:8000 (or replace localhost with your Splunk server hostname).
If you want to monitor other computers, install Splunk Universal Forwarder on each of those computers. I’ll go through how to configure the Universal Forwarders in a future post.
Verizon Wireless is running a promo until 1/6/2016, that will give you 2 GB of free data for life if you are on an XL plan or larger, and you upgrade an existing device or add a new device.
Here’s how to you can take advantage of this promo and add the 2 GB of bonus data per line for life by spending about $50, even if you don’t have an upgrade available. To me, $40 for 2 GB of data per month for life is more than worth it.
- “Upgrade” your device to the cheapest smartphone available. Right now for me it would be the Droid Mini. The full price is $108.
- If you are ordering online, make sure the confirmation page says you are getting 2 GB data bonus. If via a Verizon rep, confirm with her/him.
- Activate the new Droid Mini.
- Wait a day or two, and reactive your original phone, and sell the Droid Mini on eBay or the marketplace of your choice. You should get about $90 for it.
- Total cost to you, excluding shipping, etc is about $40.
Disclaimer: while I believe this to work based on my own experience and available information. I cannot warranty that this will work for you.
3DTV is here! This message shows up on my DirecTV receiver/DVR yesterday:
Wow! 25 World cup soccer games in 3D! Wait a minute, I think I see some dead pixels on my current HDTV.
Once in a while I come across a new product that solves a problem so elegantly that I just have to ask myself, why didn’t think of this before? It’s been very cold recently in the East Coast and when it gets very cold, my house’s gas heating system goes completely nuts. If I set the thermostat desired temperature to 70 degrees, the temperature in the bedroom will be in the roasting 80’s. The temperature differential depends how how cold it is outside, so I can’t just simply set the thermostat to a specific offset and forget either. I constantly need to get up in the middle of the night to adjust the thermostat downstairs when it gets cold outside. Why do I have to do this? I guess nobody told my house that we are in the 21st century.
So, the first thing I thought of is a remote control for the thermostat. Well, no surprise, they do make them. Apparently, my problem is fairly common for two-story homes with a single HVAC system. This Lux TX9000RF Programmable Thermostat with Remote looked very promising to me. A product like this would allow adjusting the thermostat temperature from anywhere in the house.
That still requires some work however. Hmm… what if there is a thermostat that can read the current temperature from a remote sensor? Bingo: they make those too. There are not many to be found, and after searching around, I decided to go for the Honeywell YTHX9321R5003 Prestige HD Thermostat Kit and I’ve been very happy with the result so far. This kit is expensive, but very well made and it works as advertised. It also looks very nice. The kit includes the thermostat, a remote control/sensor, and an outdoor sensor. This kit is in Honeywell Pro Install line, which means it’s sold mainly through HVAC contractors and installers. I found the installation process only slightly more complicated than a regular programmable thermostat. The only thing you need to watch out for is that this thermostat requires a 24vac Common wire (commonly black in color), which may not be available in your setup. If that is the case, then you will need to run/fish a new wire from your furnace – a pretty big job.
Now with this cool new gadget hooked up and everything humming, all I have to do is bring the remote with me to the bedroom and push the button on it named “Read temp from this device” and I am set for the night. If I ever want to tweak the temperature for some reason, I can do it right there with the remote. If only everything else was this easy!
Good news for i760 owners: Windows Mobile 6.1 update is now available.
This update fixes one major annoyance: support for SDHC cards with more than 2GB. I use my i760 as a music player and it’s kind of tough to have to fit my music selection into 2GB (or 4GB if you use the hack but didn’t want to use a hack).
Some features of note in WM 6.1:
- Support for SDHC cards beyond 2GB. 8GB cards seem to be working fine for people.
- Threaded SMS reader.
- View YouTube videos (m.youtube.com).
Download the update from Verizon here.
More information here.
A word of warning: the upgrade utility provided by Verizon/Samsung looks like a major piece of rushware. Many people reported no problems with the upgrade, but others reported of bricked phones, partially upgraded phones, and having to try the upgrade process multiple times to get it to work.
- Borland Turbo Pascal was my favorite language in my early days of hobby programming. I feel a little sad to hear that Borland recently sold their CodeGear division to Embarcadero.
- Day-to-day with Subversion is a good and detailed write-up on procedures most developers need to perform daily. By Bil Simser.
- The evil sou file – fighting and winning with Visual Studio. By Brian Noyes.
- Joshua Flanagan had an interesting idea on a Readable Regular Expressions framework.
- Derik Whittaker posted a tip on how to share config files between projects.
- Jon Galloway: //TODONT: Use a Windows Service just to run a scheduled process.
- You can throw away your own TitleCase method now. Because there’s one in the framework. Via ASP.NET FAQ.
- Operator~ and BinarySearch. By Shahar Y.
- Steven Harman detailed a hack to get Visual Studio to use more than 2GB of RAM.
- Frank-Leonardo Quednau: Lazy instantiation one-liner of instance fields with the coalesce operator.
Software and Tools
- Google Maps Street View is in Richmond.
It looks like the Street View images were taken around September 2007 because according to IMDB, the movie Game Plan was playing in the US starting 9/23/2007:
- Google Maps adds user-created photos, videos, maps. Via CNET.
.NET, C#, Programming
- ScottGui made the long awaited announcement: .NET Framework Library Source now available.
- Roy Osherove raised a attention grabbing question: Dependency Injection – Is it relevant beyond unit testing?
- From the folks who brought you Best C# Blogs, a List of best C# Web Sites. By Tim Martinn/DevTopics.
- Sandcastle January 2008 Release Available. Via John Mandia.
- James Carr’s TDD Anti-Patterns is a fun and enlightening read on of Test Driven Development.
- It’s possible to write your own ASP.NET Web Service help page. Shahed Khan has the details.
- Tobias Hertkorn posted a great tip on how to measure memory consumption of objects in C# right in the code.
Software and Tools
- Jeff Atwood shared the Top Five Browser Shortcuts Everyone Should Know. I didn’t know about the middle mouse button browser shortcut. Very useful.
- Reading Nazmul Idris’ post on Microsoft OneNote 2007 prompted me to try it myself…. and I loved it. It’s a great application to keep track of notes, journal entries, work logs, etc. It’s going to be an essential app for me from now on.
I especially like offline mode support for USB flash drives. You can keep your Notebooks on a flash memory card. OneNote automatically synchronizes its local cache with the flash card when the card is inserted. When not inserted, you can still work on the local cached copy.
What I don’t like: no VBA macro support. One of the first thing I tried was pressing ALT+F11 to bring up the VBA IDE… nothing happened. A quick search in Online Help confirmed my sinking feeling: no VBA support. Supposedly, you can write add-ins.
Windows Mobile/Pocket PC
- The coolest applications on the Windows Mobile platform, by Mike Riley.
- Scott Hanselman did a extensive review of Verizon FIOS TV.
- Watch dolphins blowing circles made of air bubbles.
- For Richmonders, this article on InRich.com forecasts that IT salaries in Richmond will climb faster than U.S. averages.
- Understand the Impact of Low-Lock Techniques in Multithreaded Apps by Vance Morrison, via MSDN Magazine
- Dustin Campbell wrote about F#, specifically how to borrow some of its neat features to use in C#.
- Derik Whittaker commented on the unnecessary and bad practice of leaving commented code around.
- SqlBulkCopy is a technique to insert a large number of records to SQL Server efficiently. Via .NET Tips of the Day.
Software and Tools
- Scott Hanselman shared tips on how to plan and build a new house using Google Earth and Sketchup.
- Fun with Outlook Date Fields, Kristel Leow, via Microsoft Office Outlook Team Blog. Not mentioned is my favorite: “now + x days/hours/weeks”.
- Microsoft has released a free tool to count Lines of Code. Via Stefano Mapelli’s Scattered Notes.
- Mike Walker provided initial impressions of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Via MSDN Blogs.
- More VHDs available. Ben Armstrong (Virtual PC Guy’s WebLog).
- IE to remove the annoying “Click to Activate” “feature”. Sean Lyndersay (MSDN Blogs).
Tech and Gadgets
- Dish Network enables ethernet ports on ViP622 HD DVRs. The main feature that the broadband connection brings is video on demand. The ethernet connection also allows the box to call home via the Internet instead of using the phone line.
- View popular “sightings” on Google Maps, Windows Live Maps, and Yahoo Maps at Virtual Globetrotting
And Now, Something Different
I cut a kiwi fruit in halves the other day and this was what I saw:
The i760 is now available for order through Verizon Wireless web site. The retail price is $519 but if you can take advantage of various discounts (New Every 2, 2-year contract, data plan), the price will go down to $99.
The SCH-i760 is a Windows Mobile Pro (Pocket PC) 6 phone, featuring a backlit QWERTY keyboard, 1.3 Megapixel camera/camcorder, microSD, WIFI, and bluetooth.
I still have a few more months to go before my New Every 2 discount will kick in :-(.