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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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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Indoctrination of the Impish Indri

Note: found this in my drafts … guess I forgot to post it back around October 17th, oops!

It’s October … time for cooler (?) weather, fall sports, and a new Ubuntu distro!

After a winning a franchise record 100 games, the Tampa Bay Rays’ season ended quickly in the ALDS losing in 4 games to the (ugh), wildcard Boston Red Sox. My Indians finished their last season as the Indians and although I’m still not enamored with the new Guardians name, I am looking forward to getting back out to Spring Training in March! Brady and the Bucs are sitting at 5-1, and after a 3-1 start, unfortunately Baker and the Browns are at 3-3. The Lightning’s season is just getting started but the 2020 and 2021 defending Stanley Cup Champions are 2-1 and both wins were in OT. Almost forgot about the Cavs … their season starts this week.

Ubuntu 21.10, Impish Indri, was also released this week, so it’s time to upgrade! This one was a bit problematic and almost all of the problems were due to the inclusion of PHP 8:

  • MySQL was broken until I installed php8.0-mysql
  • my primary Piwigo photo site was completely broken since it was still running Piwigo 11.5 so I had to upgrade to the 12.0.0RC2 release candidate
  • even after upgrading, my Piwigo site was filled with ‘undefined array key’ warnings (I had to update the local config to ignore E_WARNING messages)
  • the Search Everything plugin for WordPress was broken due to PHP. the plugin is no longer maintained but I found a manual fix that got it working again
  • and not PHP-related, but for some reason phpMyAdmin was removed, so I had to reinstall it

The list looks short, but it took me a while to work through everything. This is what I get (and I accept it!) for upgrading right away without letting a few days pass and see what kind of problems other people have.

Anyway, that settles things until April, by which time I’ll have hopefully spent some time watching baseball in the Arizona sun before the next upgrade to Jammy Jellyfish!

Building the Altair-Duino

It’s been over two years since my last classic computer kit build and I was getting that itch to add more blinkenlights to my collection. Chris Davis’ Altair-Duino kit has been on my radar since last December when I saw it on episode #797 of Steve Gibson’s Security Now! podcast (which also introduced me Oscar Vermeulen’s excellent PiDP-8 and PiDP-11 kits) and I decided it was finally time to pull the trigger.

I went with the Standard kit over the Pro due to its smaller footprint (more flat instead of the boxier acrylic case) and, though the VT100 emulation calls back to my days as a VAX lab monitor in college, I probably wouldn’t really use it that much. The kit actually arrived the last week of July but I just recently had some time to sit down and build it in an afternoon.

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