Actually, I *do* want IoT kitchen gadgets


Photo of a fridge with a circuit board and sensors plugged into it.

There's a popular meme that Internet connected domestic appliances are a useless fad that no-one wants. I disagree. Obviously, a crappy oven with an app that upsells you cleaning products is a bit shit. As is a dishwasher that borks on firmware update and lets itself be hacked by the Eurasians. But those are just […]

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Why are there no PowerLine Smart Plugs?


A plug in unit with two ethernet ports.

Another blog post which is a long and complex search query. I have a bunch of smart plugs. Some use WiFi, some use Zigbee, some use Bluetooth. None of them use PowerLine Ethernet. Why is that? I have a bunch of PowerLine Ethernet adapters. They let me use my home's electrical wiring as a network. […]

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My Underkill Home Network


A complex graph with dozens of devices connected by a tangle of coloured lines.

There's an absolutely delightfully bonkers post doing the rounds called "My Overkill Home Network" - which is a look into what happens when a computer geek goes feral and stuffs as many Internet connected thingamajigs in a living space. We're talking professional grade, rack mounted, doubly redundant, over-specced, equipment. Overkill is underselling it. I wondered […]

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Zero Interfaces


R2D2 interfaceing with the Death Star.

The best gadget I got in lockdown was a set of motion activated lights. They have no user interface. I walk by them in the dark and they turn on. Midnight piss? No fumbling for a light switch, no shouting to a digital assistant, no logging in to an app. Simple. I love it. It […]

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Adventures in home automation - Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi 2


Screenshot of a website with loads of toggle switches.

They say that The Best Camera Is The One That's With You - the same is true of Raspberries Pi. As much as I'd love a 4B, they seem permanently sold out. So I dug through my scrapheap of old tech and resurrected an ancient Pi2. It's old, outdated, slow, with limited RAM, and has […]

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Lessons learned from a power-cut


Photo of an MCB - a small electrical switch. It is in the off position.

The first indication I had that anything was wrong at home was my solar panels's cloud service casually emailing me to say they hadn't generated any electricity that day. We were on holiday - literally on the other side of the planet - and there were reports of snow at home, so I didn't think […]

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Gadget Review: Yet another WiFi enabled smoke alarm


A small smoke alarm in the palm of someone's hand.

After reviewing the X-Sense Home Security Kit, I decided to also review their wireless smoke alarms. As I said at the time, the interlinked alarms were great - but didn't connect to the hub. That means you have to be physically present in the home in order to hear the alarm. Well, X-Sense were listening! […]

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Inside a smart Infrared heater


A circuit board with springs.

I've been experimenting with Far Infrared heating. The panel itself is fairly boring technology. A large solid-state "thing" which turns electricity into Infrared energy. But what's the "smarts" in it which allows it to be controlled? TO THE SCREWDRIVERS, ROBIN! There's a single board hiding in the boring grey shell. It's a QNQ010W - which […]

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Gadget Review: ASAKUKI Essential Oil Diffuser - with WiFi!


A diffuser lit up blue and bellowing smoke.

All gadgets have to include WiFi now. That's the law! Does your home smell horrible? Would you like it to smell lovely? Well, friends, the good folk at Asakuki think that I'm the sort of person who knows lots of putrid people. So they sent me this Essential Oil Diffuser. It's pretty plug-and-play. Pour some […]

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Experiments with Far Infrared Heating


LED display with lit up buttons.

What with the situation in the world, I've been trying to reduce our domestic gas consumption. Looking through our smart meter readings, our biggest usage is heating (in winter) followed by hot water (showers and baths) then cooking. We have a Tado smart thermostat which turns the heating off when we're out - but I […]

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