Node-Red (with Ring and HomeSeer)

“Even with my tendency to tinker, adding yet another system on top of Homebridge seemed like too much to me.” – me, two months ago

Yeah, I said that back in late May (in reference to Scrypted) after getting Homebridge set up and integrated with my HomeSeer home automation system. But here I am, two months later writing about another integration to my system. This time, it’s Node-Red.

NR is “a flow-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways.” I had read about it on the HomeSeer forums (back when I was re-organizing my home automation setup and switched to Ring from ADT Pulse), and made some notes to look into it later as it seemed like a lot of people were using it to extend and integrate their automations with other systems. Last weekend I had some free time and decided to poke around and tinker with it.

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Kia EV6 GT-Line

Kia EV6Back in March when we replaced my Highlander with the RAV4 Prime, we figured that would buy us (literally) some time for the Ford Mustang Mach-E we had on order to arrive before the late summer/early fall when we would again require two vehicles. But as the weeks passed it became apparent that the Mach-E was not going into production any time soon so we were also started looking around for my wife’s second choice, the Kia EV6.

Again, it’s not a great time to be buying a car (new or used) and we were casting a wide net, talking to local dealerships and ones as far away as Michigan looking for a) an available EV6 GT-Line, and b) the lowest over-MSRP dealer markup we could find. Luck turned out to be on our side again when one Friday evening I found a new Urban Yellow First Edition just a few miles north of where we found the RAV4 (the person who had originally placed the order for the FE apparently didn’t want it after all). We drove out first thing Saturday morning, test drove it, and decided to buy it (and we had to decide quick because when we got back from our test drive, another couple was waiting to check it out, sorry folks!). Actually finding the car notwithstanding, this was our easiest, smoothest car purchase ever, spending just under three hours total at the dealership before driving my wife’s sweet new ride home.

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Memorial Day Weekend at Disney (2022 – Cosmic Rewind!)

It’s the start of summer, time for our (now) annual Memorial Day Weekend trip to Disney! We had planned this back in January before my daughter went back to school since this would be our only opportunity to all go together before our annual passes go into the summer blackout period and my daughter heads to a summer language program in Vermont at the end of June.

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Homebridge (and HomeSeer)

A few weeks ago while browsing the Homeseer forums (which have been inundated with Insteon users lately, after the sudden shutdown of the service), I came across a thread about integrating Homeseer with Apple’s HomeKit using Homebridge. Everything in my home automation setup has been working fine, but I’m always looking for new ways to tinker and expand. I use HSBuddy on my iPhone to control my HS devices, but I thought it would be cool if I could use Apple’s Home app instead, which would also make it easier for my wife to use.

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Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4KBack in early 2020 (pre-pandemic!) when I left TiVo and cut the cord, I switched to YouTube TV and Amazon Fire TV Sticks as my media streamers. They’ve been working fine, but recently I’ve tinkering with integrating HomeKit into my Homeseer setup (using Homebridge, a post will be coming soon on that) and wanted to try using an Apple TV as a HomeKit hub. Thus, I’ve replaced the 4K Fire Stick in the family room with a 32gb Apple TV 4K.

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Fitcamx Dash Cam

Hanging out in the RAV4 Prime forums over on RAV4World is dangerous: people are always posting the cool accessories and customizations they’ve made to their vehicles. Based on some threads there (and in the Facebook group), I decided to try installing a dash cam!

The recommended model was the Fitcamx Dash Cam but according to their web site (and the item page on Amazon) the current model wasn’t compatible with the 2022 RAV4. The photo they had showing the incompatible camera housing didn’t match mine though (it had vents, mine has no vents) so I sent them some photos asking if it would indeed work. They said it would, so I ordered one.

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Jamming with the Jammy Jellyfish

Tomorrow It’s “gonna be May” which means it’s time for my annual spring sports update and Ubuntu upgrade!

  • wrapping up their season, the Cavs exited the play-in tournament (losing to both the Nets and Hawks (who in turn were both eliminated in the next round))
  • the newly renamed Guardians have started their “inaugural” season 9-12 (delayed by the lock out, with no spring training trip for me, and even a few snow-cancelled games)
  • the Rays are the exact opposite, off to a 12-9 start and hoping to capture their third straight AL East championship
  • the Lightning clinched a playoff spot and on Monday will start their quest to a third straight Stanley Cup championship facing off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round
  • after a retirement scare 🙂 Brady will once again be back with the Bucs looking to take them back to their second Super Bowl in three years
  • finally, the Browns have no first-round draft picks but of course are as usual, a constant source of quarterback controversy

Now on to the latest Ubuntu release, 22.04 LTS (Jammy Jellyfish), which came out last week.

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2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Toyota RAV4 Prime

At the end of February my (until now) trusty 2013 Toyota Highlander had a sudden and unexpected engine failure which, no longer having a working car, sent us on a stressful week and a half of decisions, research, and frustrating shopping (it is really not a good time, supply-chain wise, to be buying a new car). 

I’ve been driving Highlanders (well, two of them anyway) since 2003. Now that my daughter is off at college (and almost done, at that) I knew my next vehicle was going to be downsized: we no longer needed the cargo capacity, V6 engine, or towing capacity of a large SUV, but still wanted an SUV (or crossover). Since I am pretty fond of Toyotas (we’ve owned two Highlanders, a Camry Hybrid, and a Prius) I was already considering the RAV4 as my next car. 

I won’t go into the details of that stressful time but suffice it to say we had a stroke of luck near the end of our ordeal and wound up with our fantastic new SUV: the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE.

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Spring Training 2022 – no, actually a week in Seattle

[ posting this late/out-of-order since I apparently started it and never finished ]

Mid-March would typically find me out in Arizona for my annual spring training trip to see my Cleveland Indians Guardians but the past two years have seen my trips cancelled (first for the pandemic, and now the MLB lockout). This year’s trip was also planned around a side-trip to Seattle to see the Lightning play the Kraken (my sister is a inaugural season ticket holder for the new NHL franchise). With our planned baseball games cancelled, I decided to just spend the entire week in Seattle with my sister.

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hp Spectre x360 16 laptop

hp Spectre x360 16

I thought I tended to upgrade my home PC roughly every 5 years but looking back I got my Dell mini-tower in 2008, then built my current desktop, the Intel NUC in 2015, a gap of 7 years. And now in 2022, another 7 years later my new desktop is … a laptop.

I don’t know why it took me so long to decide to make my daily driver a laptop. I got the NUC primarily because I had just gotten a standing desk and wanted something small to sit on top. And when I was away from home, I usually had my work laptop/Surface with me. But as I was considering my next “desktop” PC I realized a big laptop as a desktop replacement made sense. I’m not a gamer so I don’t need an extreme graphics card (which are hard to come by now anyway), I have a good multi-monitor setup since I work from home so I wouldn’t need to stare at a laptop screen all the time, and a docking station could easily make up for the extra ports I use.

After performing my usual research, I decided to go with the hp Spectre x360 16 2-in-1 convertible laptop.

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