Episode 331: HomeKit Panel Part 2

We had a lovely conversation with Bob Gendler, Steve Yuroff, and Tim Pearson about home automation and specifically HomeKit and the Home App in a previous episode, but we didn’t get to everything. So we decided to have a second one! In this episode we’ll get more into onboarding of devices, Siri voice control, security, automation, and troubleshooting.




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Speaker 2 (00:01:28):
Hello and welcome back to the Maced Men’s podcast. We’re here for a fun one this week. I’m really excited to talk about HomeKit and more HomeKit and yet more HomeKit. Marcus, how is your digital home this week?

Speaker 3 (00:01:41):
My digital home is probably a little more analog than digital, but those bits that are digital are mostly working. So with this being version two, is this HomeKit two electric boogaloo or is this what was back to the Future Two or Hot Shots Part Dear?

Speaker 2 (00:02:02):
Yeah, hot shots part dear. Yeah, that’s right. No, I think those all work out really well, but we’ve got our HomeKit panelists back, so welcome back to the MCAD Men’s podcast. Steve, you’re off. It’s great to see you.

Speaker 3 (00:02:13):
You too. Glad to be back here.

Speaker 2 (00:02:15):
And Bob, how are things in your world? You’ve got some fun stuff for us to talk about today. Yeah,

Speaker 4 (00:02:20):
Yeah, yeah. Since last time there’s now a new human in our lives over here, so that’s fun. End hiring.

Speaker 2 (00:02:31):
Yeah, for sure. And Tim Pearson, welcome back to the MCAD then podcast. How’s your digital home doing?

Speaker 5 (00:02:37):
Oh, I mean it works most of it

Speaker 3 (00:02:40):

Speaker 2 (00:02:43):
I mean, that’s how we all feel a little bit, right? We all feel a little bit like we are there, but for the grace of technology go we. Yeah,

Speaker 3 (00:02:50):
A hundred percent. It’s a Sisyphean problem to solve, isn’t it? It just keeps evolving. I do

Speaker 6 (00:02:58):
Feel if everything in my house works all at the exact same time, it’s kind of like if all my three D printers are printing at the exact same time, then someone’s going to go kick Prometheus in the gnats. Yeah, it’s divine at that point. But I feel like in part one, we covered a bunch of stuff and Bob as a new dad and me as a semi new dad, there’s something to be said about. So I have a 15 year old and a one year old, and there’s something to be said about how much technology has changed and started to impact parenting. And this might be apps that say, Hey, the kid might be grumpy today because it is the exact day that we suspect that they’re going to be teething or going through a growth spurt. It might be Bob and I, before we hit record, we’re talking about the Sno and Bob, why don’t you tell the listeners about the Sno, because this is magical.

Speaker 4 (00:04:05):
For those that don’t know, the Sno is an AI smart robot, bassinet, whatever you want to say, and don’t look up the price because it’s very scary the price for a bassinet. So I think most people buy it used. I know I bought it used on I did too. Facebook, Mars Marketplace.

Speaker 6 (00:04:25):
Just don’t forget to have the person who you bought it from release it because for sure, because it’s locked to you as a human. And if the person who you bought it from doesn’t release it, they will not release it. And I sold mine on Facebook marketplace too. So did you release it, Charles? Oh, I did, and I sold it for a hundred dollars more than I bought it for. So it appreciated in the six or seven months that we used it. Is this something going

Speaker 4 (00:04:58):
Back to I’ll ell for? I’ll probably resell it for the same price, so I’ll be just a zero

Speaker 6 (00:05:05):
If I remember being a new parent. Anything that makes being a new parent easy, especially around sleep. New parents are generally here, take my money. Right. And good investment. Yeah. I do feel like vendors can almost be predatory with new parents because they know that that nesting phase kicks in and it’s like, yeah, you need bumpers for the crib. Six months later you’ve come to find out, oh, bumpers are not cool anymore. Babies die, whatever. But the snoo smart bassinet, it monitors the baby and when the baby starts to wake up in the middle of the night, it starts moving and it turns up the volume on the train sounds or whatever sound set you have on it. And it is magical. I got five times more sleep than with the first kiddo with the

Speaker 4 (00:06:04):

Speaker 6 (00:06:05):
Smart bass.

Speaker 4 (00:06:05):
Our kids is eight weeks old here in a couple of days, and we’ve had a few completely sleeping through the night already at

Speaker 6 (00:06:14):

Speaker 2 (00:06:14):
Weeks. That’s amazing. Yeah. Oh my gosh.

Speaker 6 (00:06:16):

Speaker 2 (00:06:17):

Speaker 6 (00:06:18):
Unexpected for the win

Speaker 4 (00:06:19):
And usually it’s one wake up.

Speaker 2 (00:06:21):
Yep. Yeah, I was going to say if that had been the case for Charlie, he might have a sibling

Speaker 4 (00:06:28):
Now, see, the funny thing is I’m a new enough first time dad though. The other one is only two and a half, so the SNOO was around then, but I was big thumbs down on the SNOO because of the price and thinking this can’t be that great or whatever. There’s no magic. No, there’s magic. Enough friends. Enough friends had it between then and now that I was sold.

Speaker 6 (00:06:56):

Speaker 2 (00:06:56):
The MCAD men’s podcast brought to you by Snoop this week

Speaker 4 (00:07:02):
By Happy Baby I think is the name of the

Speaker 6 (00:07:05):
Yep, that was definitely a magical one. I do feel like two or three of the smart things, like there was a smart baby sock that was supposed to,

Speaker 4 (00:07:16):
So we have that

Speaker 6 (00:07:17):
Babies kick socks off, they refuse to wear socks. They’re like, this is not natural. Screw you, I’m not doing it. I don’t know, maybe yours is different but my

Speaker 4 (00:07:26):
Baby. So when number one moved to a crib, then that was a necessity for the misses to feel safe.

Speaker 2 (00:07:36):

Speaker 4 (00:07:36):
Does it do? It monitors their blood, oxygen and heartbeat or something. So just make sure they’re alive. As I had said, what would’ve happened if we’re asleep and it did stop? Would we have known even really doesn’t add anything?

Speaker 2 (00:07:59):
Well, I was going to say, I was talking about this with one of my scout’s friends, he has a now three-year-old who started using the sock when they moved to transition to the crib and they had a couple of false alarms where, I mean, your phone starts making noise in the middle of the night. You go up and you’re like, oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh, they’ve kicked the sock off. So yeah, you got to deal with a little bit of false alarm there, but he said overall, would I have done it any other way? No, probably not. He says technology solved this worry for us in ways that were practical for us.

Speaker 6 (00:08:35):
I do think that’s a thing specifically about babies is technology solving a worry as opposed to a lot of this stuff I have in my house where it’s a convenience factor. Oh, totally. And there’s a huge convenience factor around the baby not waking up four times in the night. But I would say most this stuff is either about reducing my bills like the Eco B or smart thermostats. And really the smart thermostat is the only thing I’ve found that actually reduces my costs. But a lot of the other things are just about convenience because turning country to what my parents told me when I was a tween, turning the lights off doesn’t actually really save that much money. Maybe a dollar a year with all the lights. Definitely not worth yelling at me as much as they did 11 or 12 and dimming the lights. It’s like no cost difference.

Speaker 3 (00:09:34):
And also a lot of the smart automation around lighting for example, probably costs significantly more than the money you would then save for not running said lighting for an hour a day maybe.

Speaker 6 (00:09:47):
Yeah. Fun fact, there’s a trickle of electricity going in all those dimmers when they’re off. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (00:09:54):
How many raspberry pies do you have to run in your house to control?

Speaker 6 (00:09:57):
Well, they don’t require any power. It’s like when I got the three D printers, now I’m up to five and my electricity bills are still trending downwards, especially when I moved to the L E D printers because resin printers actually just take almost no electricity. But anyways, now we’re getting off topic.

Speaker 5 (00:10:23):
Wait a second. So are you saying that the baby home kit stuff works compared to how all of our other experiences are with all the other home kid stuff?

Speaker 6 (00:10:33):
Well, I mean the home kid stuff tends to go in and out in my experience. Is that true for you guys?

Speaker 7 (00:10:40):
Oh, it goes out of connectivity and such.

Speaker 5 (00:10:43):
Sometimes it just responding

Speaker 6 (00:10:45):

Speaker 7 (00:10:45):
Responding, yeah. I’ve got a light strip that’s home kit that’s just in a loft lights and it’s been fine for the last three weeks and we came home from weekend travels today and it’s just stuck on red and not talking to the wifi, it wasn’t because anything anybody did in the house, we were all gone so well pissed. I don’t that’s what you did. I had to go climb up on a ladder and rejoin it to the network.

Speaker 6 (00:11:08):
Marcus’s cats can tell you if you go out of town for a couple days and come back, things are wrecked sometimes

Speaker 3 (00:11:16):
Even if you just go out of the room for an hour. But I’ve had exactly the issue you’re talking about. Well, a different kind of issue where, so the main automation we have is a sensible that we can use to shout at the air conditioning and heating rather than get up off the couch. And it used to be that if somebody in the house who is philosophically against home automation has used the remote to turn the air con on or off, that the lady in the little round ball would be able to deal with that. Whereas of a sudden now, no, if the remote has overridden it, the automation with HomeKit is struggling to cope with that and it’s like that hurts. When did that change? Which particular update broke this? Is there a setting I need to go in and change to fix this? Where was the notification in Appleseed for it or whatever sensibles beta testing portal was to let me know that this was going to happen. Do I need a profile to delay updates to my home automation so I can test this stuff? This is another thing for me to get angry about, which is good. I

Speaker 6 (00:12:34):
Have a couple of observations on this specifically. So when I used Bridges and I was bridging X 10 or ZigBee, it worked flawlessly. It was not wifi based, it wasn’t talking to some rest a P I off in the interwebs and then coming back down and it just, the bridge got a command and the bridge told the other stuff to do the stuff that the bridge told it to do and X 10, as long as it didn’t exceed the number of feet that it could be or what have you, it always just worked and X 10 and ZigBee both. And I would say since we started moving into more wifi, I have a lot more moments where I have to remove devices and re-add them in order to get them to, for example, we have some of those same lights that are stuck on red or blue or green or what have you, and now I have to remove them from the app, re-add them to the app and then they magically show back up and you’re like,

Speaker 2 (00:13:44):
What’s really wild is that I feel like there’s two classes of HomeKit devices or bridged in devices from other protocols. There’s the kind that never die and work always and they’re the kind that are a lot like your college roommate after a little bit of a bender, not reliable in any way, shape or form.

Speaker 6 (00:14:08):
My college roommate wasn’t reliable unless he went on a bender

Speaker 2 (00:14:15):

Speaker 6 (00:14:15):
Then he was reliable in a way you might not want.

Speaker 2 (00:14:19):
Yeah, there you go. What’s really wild for me is that I feel like the devices that work best are the ones that are bridged in to HomeKit from someplace else. I have both HomeBridge and a Starling device, Starling I use for my Nest devices. My Nest thermostat is never a problem. My nest cameras are also never a problem. The front door lock, the back door lock, the basement door lock also never a problem. They’re always online, they never don’t respond. The light bulbs that I have everywhere are constant sources of frustration. Hey lady, turn on the living room lights. And I get lights one and two, three comes 30 seconds later and four decides depending on the day of the week whether or not to respond. Sometimes it’s totally nuts.

Speaker 6 (00:15:17):
I have similar issues with the lights and again, I do still have maybe a dozen ZigBee light switches around the house and they still work flawlessly, but I also have a Starling and a home bridge in my house. So speaking of the bridges, I guess, do you guys find that A, they work better like Tom mentioned, and B second part of that question that you have devices that need that other than maybe Google because the Google device, if you’re using HomeKit and Google, you need a startling, it’s 89, 90 bucks, whatever it is that pays for itself and frustration.

Speaker 5 (00:16:01):
Well, so I want to ask about that. Does anybody have, so we bought first alert smoke detectors. I have one of those because they were all home kit enabled and we have a few rooms with 25 foot ceilings and the really smart people put the smoke detectors at the top.

Speaker 6 (00:16:24):
They always do. They always do. I’ve noticed

Speaker 5 (00:16:27):
It’s because that’s where

Speaker 6 (00:16:28):
Electric is. Electrical is for the life.

Speaker 5 (00:16:31):
Yeah, right. But I mean most people who are very lucky, we’ve never had an actual incident where we needed a smoke detector. It’s always been somebody burnt popcorn or something and that’s what sets it off.

Speaker 6 (00:16:45):
Or the teen takes a 50 minute shower. Why do teens do that?

Speaker 5 (00:16:49):
Right, right.

Speaker 6 (00:16:50):
I’m sure. I

Speaker 5 (00:16:51):
Just forgot that’s a different show, different meeting. That’s a

Speaker 2 (00:16:54):
Different podcast. Thank you. Yep. We’ll keep that one for another time.

Speaker 5 (00:16:59):
But we, we’ve had instances, so now we’re switching all our, this will be our second round of smoke detectors pulling all those out because the first link ones, while they’re in HomeKit, they don’t update quick enough. And so you have, what we had was we had a smoke detector malfunction at three 30 in the morning and it starts going off. There’s eight throughout the house. They all speak at the same time or they all speak on different intervals. Interconnected. So you can’t hear it saying, it’s telling you there’s a problem with there’s a fire in some bedroom, but you can’t tell which bedroom because it’s blaring or speaking over the top of each other. Long story short, I went, found it, couldn’t get it. The app said everything’s fine, everything’s cool. So I climbed on top of a stool, a foot stool in a bedroom,

Speaker 6 (00:17:57):
Which was very safe I’m sure at

Speaker 5 (00:17:59):
Three 30 and we know what happened from there. I fell

Speaker 6 (00:18:00):
Right. Oh

Speaker 5 (00:18:01):

Speaker 2 (00:18:02):
Oh no.

Speaker 6 (00:18:04):
I’m so been there when fire alarms go off in the middle of the night

Speaker 5 (00:18:09):
And we have a five-year-old and it was the bedroom next to his bedroom. So it’s blaring and you’re like, I just need this to stop. I want him to go back to sleep. We want this to be done. Anyway, so we now have seven first alerts and one nest, and then we’re still trying to decide because we had made the decision that we weren’t going to do Nest except for we know that Nest works very reliably.

Speaker 6 (00:18:40):
It really does. It’s the most mature of all of them.

Speaker 2 (00:18:44):
They work until they don’t. We have seven of them in the house, and what we found was that the older the smoke detector was, and they do have lifespans. I also want to make clear. Yeah,

Speaker 6 (00:18:55):
It’s a chemical reagent.

Speaker 2 (00:18:56):
That’s exactly right. It’s got to have breakdown. You’ve got to deal with that. And so the whole situation that we’re in is we had one start to get old and it started to get faulty. It started to false positive. And so we had to wake us up in the middle of the night a couple of times, and I will give the Nest people a lot of credit. That is the most pleasant sound that can cause my blood to run cold than the chime that it does when it chimes and then it chimes three times and then it says Caution. There is a smoke detected in this room. And that’s one of those things causes the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck. I was doing that once

Speaker 6 (00:19:42):
A week. Every time takes a 45 minute shower.

Speaker 2 (00:19:44):
I mean it wasn’t even that often. I mean it was going to say we have it happen just randomly sometime in the middle of night in your house

Speaker 6 (00:19:49):
Course. And that one is stuck on Spanish. I have one because with the Nest, when you set it up, you have to hit a button at a specific time to lock the language and I haven’t figured out how to get it back to English. So it’s like Ingo, Ingo. It’s like lingo for emergencies. So does anyone else use the Starling? Because Tom and I guess do or HomeBridge, and we had a whole episode with HomeBridge, one of the developers from the HomeBridge project, and it’s a really great project, but I do think it was annoying to have to have another device, but one of them that I used for a while, it was a sys router that you would buy a specific version that had a U S B in the back and the u b would have an X 10 adapter and it took 40 minutes to get it loaded up with to explode an ISO on it that would load up a custom firmware. But I feel like it’s way easier now. I set up HomeBridge in 15 minutes. I don’t know.

Speaker 2 (00:21:06):
Yeah, stupid easy to set up. I was expecting it to be way harder and what’s been wild has been, I’ve been keeping it up to date using Node. Now I use Node for this. I mean I was doing it all command line for a very long time, more than a year now. It has a fancy web interface and stuff like that. Holy crap. It’s great. They’ve really made it into a great tool.

Speaker 4 (00:21:26):
The web interface is awesome. I’ve never used it previous to that. I only know the web interface and I can’t imagine any other way.

Speaker 7 (00:21:35):
That’s all I’ve ever touched. Yeah, I’ve got HomeBridge that brings in my home security system and my garage door into HomeKit.

Speaker 4 (00:21:42):
Yep. Garage Door

Speaker 3 (00:21:43):
Main. It does make me laugh that we talk about, oh, I don’t want to bring another device into my house and connect another device. Now if we need to step outside of our own mind for a minute and look at how many devices we all have in our house.

Speaker 6 (00:21:57):

Speaker 3 (00:21:58):
That’s not,

Speaker 6 (00:21:59):
It’s just better if we don’t. Yeah, when my D H C P pool has to be expanded past a hundred,

Speaker 2 (00:22:07):
Oh man, we’ve almost had to go to a slash 23 in our house for the number of devices that are out there. I mean just to keep the D H C pool alive past where it is. I, but we got a bunch of random crap. I mean every one of these devices takes an IP address. Of course you need a,

Speaker 6 (00:22:24):
Not the X 10 device got

Speaker 2 (00:22:25):
Lights all over the place. Well not the X 10 devices there, you just need the bridge. But

Speaker 6 (00:22:31):
If you get past a class B, you have a real problem at home. Just throwing that out there.

Speaker 2 (00:22:38):
Even at Merriweather, when I was managing the network at Merriweather, we never needed more than a couple of Class Cs even with all of the crazy stuff we were

Speaker 6 (00:22:47):
Doing with even with the concerts and

Speaker 2 (00:22:49):
Oh totally. Yeah, yeah. Mean, yeah. Class B is like 256 Class Cs so mean squared. You really got problems that

Speaker 1 (00:23:00):
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Speaker 6 (00:24:27):
Okay, so one thing we haven’t talked about, so we have all these devices and we have to get ’em into HomeKit. So I found personally one of the more reliable ways is when they come with a QR code of all things. So I guess when do you rely on those QR codes on products versus kind of in-app integrations? As an example, my Eco B I can do either. I can either hit the QR code or I can link the ECO B app to HomeKit. So I guess when do you choose to do these? Because especially if you have the option to do both. I’m like, well, which one do I want to do? I don’t know.

Speaker 7 (00:25:13):
When I had to add that light strip that just went south on me back into my system today, I went straight for the QR code on it. And what I found was interesting is that HomeKit saw it as a completely unique device. I ended up with two devices listed in there, same serial number, but if I went to the vendor’s app, it was automatically linked back together. So I got an interesting difference in behaviors between HomeKit and the Moras app. I can’t explain it.

Speaker 6 (00:25:44):
I’ve had that happen with A L E X A before, but I never thought that she was as smart as HomeKit to be honest. Even though she can be a little more reliable at times, but not quite as smart like the Samsung appliances, she always remembers that the washer has done HomeKit like eh maybe remembers if that makes sense.

Speaker 5 (00:26:12):
I just think it often depends on the quality of the app too. Some of those, I don’t remember when we did the Samsung app, it wasn’t stellar, but then some other apps are actually pretty good for what they do and so then if you do ’em there and then add ’em to home kit from there, it seems to work okay, but

Speaker 6 (00:26:37):

Speaker 5 (00:26:38):
Got there’s no right

Speaker 7 (00:26:41):

Speaker 3 (00:26:43):
I think about it that if people like us are struggling to manage all of this, how do people who really don’t care for worrying about tech, it’s just going to be too hard and they’re not going to bother. So we recently bought some connected Dyson heaters getting away from using our gas heating at home and wasn’t really going to be easy to get split systems put in the kids’ rooms and we worked out, we could just get these Dyson heaters and then sort of automate them turning on and turning off, have a little bit of heating at the right time in the morning and the app for that was absolute garbage. Not to mention having to then create a 2.4 gig network for them to run on all of these sorts of things. And it was just a nightmare to get them working Once they were set up and working, it’s fine. They’ve worked flawlessly, but even things like in a family house as well, that application and that control exists on my device and other people don’t have access to that. And it also does this bizarre two-factor authentication every time you sign in as well. Oh, I hate that. So it’s not even something where I can just create a shared login for everyone to use. And it was like, great, I understand what you’re trying to do with security, but

A lack of understanding as to how families are going to use these devices was. Yeah,

Speaker 6 (00:28:21):
I feel like one thing I’ve noticed, so take Samsung as an example when the app gets removed because I haven’t used it in a long time, and once you get all this stuff set up, it’s like, well, I never need to open the app. It flows events between all the platforms, but then every now and then I need to get into the app and then when I open it, it wants me to reauthenticate and I’m like, what was that password? And I wrote a password manager. So for me to not be able to find a password is kind of ludicrous, but there’s this whole jumping around that you have to do where I’m like, when I bought that one appliance from that one vendor and that other appliance for that from that other vendor and these appliances are what, a thousand $1,500? It’s like I should have just, I know that it was a hundred dollars cheaper to buy it from that one vendor, but it’s not worth the hassle of having to do this jumping around rigamarole thing of authenticating here and there.

And I guess that’s a teeny bit of a privilege maybe, but also the fewer vendors that you have, the better, even if they don’t have the greatest app. Another thing I’ve noticed is a lot of these vendors use electron based apps, so it’s like a node jss app and are Python and compiled for multiple platforms. And I’ve noticed that the node apps actually work better than the native Swift apps. So if the app’s like 20 megs, it’s a Swift app, you can’t compile node that small, but if it’s like 800 megs, you’re like, geez, this doesn’t actually do much. There’s no video or anything that should make it 800 megs. And then you look at it and you realize it’s a flask gap that’s wrapped inside electron or something, and yet it actually works better in a lot of cases than the native Swift apps.

Yeah, it’s big and takes up space on my phone or whatever, but at least I think maybe there’s something to be said for the developers only having to write once and compile for four different platforms maybe, and so they can spend more time making a nice app, even though that’s definitely not what worldwide developer relations would want me to say. And hopefully they don’t choose to not be on the podcast anymore or just delay your apps getting notarized from here on in trust. Oh yeah. I had one that I tried to post to the app store and you required an open AI key and it got rejected because no foreign a p i keys can be used and I was sad, but moving on. Oh, bummer.

Speaker 2 (00:31:26):
Yeah, I’ve been having my own adventures with the leaf panels that I’ve got. And it’s funny because I’ve got a set of really great leaf lighting panels that are here in my office that make me look.

Speaker 6 (00:31:37):
And for the listeners, he’s pointing at them, so it looks like he’s pointing at point at them right in front of me.

Speaker 2 (00:31:43):
Very well lit. I’m very well lit. This is spectacular. It does amazing. But I also have those elements hexagons that look like wood panels and oh my god, I want to love them, but they’re finicky. We’ve had to reset both the sets in my office, or excuse me, in tiff’s office and in our bedroom more than five times full on factory resets in order for them to start responding again. And one of them has just given up the ghost. And so now we just hit the button on it instead. And it’s a great concept, but it’s just not awesome.

Speaker 6 (00:32:22):
That brings up an interesting point. I’ve found that there’s no correlation to how much money I spend and the quality of reliability. Let me rephrase that of what I get. You can spend a grand extra and get zero extra reliability. I don’t know, have you guys noticed that as well? Or

Speaker 3 (00:32:44):
Do you find there’s any correlation between the complexity of what it’s trying to do and reliability if something’s just a simple off on No. Yeah, that’s the same thing I’ve experienced

Speaker 6 (00:32:58):
Because the complexities I feel like the less it has to do, the worse they perform. Sometimes the complexity is in the app. It’s not like the logic processing is happening. I don’t know that there’s a connection there. It feels like sometimes the most popular vendors have the bigger problems and maybe that’s because they’re just getting pounded with this flood of events that their rest controllers can’t handle or I don’t know. But yeah, I don’t find that to be the case

Speaker 5 (00:33:35):
To. So do you think, and I mean maybe of us, I’m sure none of us know, but the apps a lot of times on these smart devices feel like an afterthought to the product even though it’s probably not. And so your idea here is kind of that they built it, they had the app built, they allotted so much server space and so much network to it and that worked in testing, see you o Vista and then, oh, it’s the most popular product in the world. Cool. We’re not adding any bandwidth. We’re not adding any server. We’re not any, that’s kind of what it feels like sometimes, right

Speaker 6 (00:34:21):
Aside from Google, that is kind of how it feels. I feel like Google, I mean how they own Google Cloud functions, it should scale. They seem pretty solid. I have had almost no issues with any of my Google devices. They just work. Especially if I’m using H E Y Google, sometimes the bridge to A L E X A or SS I r I can be problematic. And I feel like I’m talking about a three-year-old right now.

Speaker 5 (00:34:56):
We, because SS I r I has a goodnight command and we play the goodnight betting game when we go to bed every night and it’s just no, it’s just the curiosity of which lights is she going to leave on? Oh yeah. Right. Because she’s supposed to turn ’em all off, lock all the doors, whatever. And it’s always that it was that one. It’s

Speaker 3 (00:35:23):
Rule in

Speaker 5 (00:35:25):
It is, it is really. It’s fun now. It’s never ending entertainment.

Speaker 6 (00:35:33):
And to Tom’s point earlier, sometimes it just takes three minutes and then it does go off. But

Speaker 5 (00:35:43):
That won’t work in our house. If it is time, it’s time.

Speaker 6 (00:35:48):

Speaker 5 (00:35:48):
Yeah, kids, but it’s fun.

Speaker 6 (00:35:50):

Speaker 5 (00:35:51):
Now that we know, we also had one, and this is way off track, so we could, sorry James if we need to, but I have an old first gen home pod in the garage and about twice a month for three months in a row, we’d wake up in the morning and I could hear it playing and I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

Speaker 6 (00:36:16):
Those older pro pods, man,

Speaker 5 (00:36:18):
It was a mouse.

Speaker 6 (00:36:19):
Oh, no kidding. It was touching something was

Speaker 5 (00:36:22):
Touching something. Yeah, it ran over the top.

Speaker 3 (00:36:25):
Wow. Oh

Speaker 5 (00:36:26):
Wow. The only reason, so we recognized just before I recognized that out of the corner of my eye, I’m in the garage one day and I see this guy and I’m like, oh, we have a problem we need to solve. We started and then the next day I actually saw him go over it and the music started up and I was like, oh, okay, well thank you. Mystery solved. It wasn’t bad Siri. It was.

Speaker 6 (00:36:59):
And some Apple engineer right now is going, yes, I told you it wasn’t me.

Speaker 5 (00:37:05):
Well, I was trying to, how do I get the logs to find out what’s making this start? You’re like, how do I, anyway,

Speaker 3 (00:37:12):
I’ve got a similar problem to that. I think I might’ve discussed this on the podcast before, but we’ve got our home pod MIDI mini sitting in front of the television, which is this big 65 inch plasma, and then there is a plant next to it, us as well with leaves. And every time we press the Apple TV remote button to turn it on, the HomePod Mini starts playing the radio and it’s a random radio station. It will play. And I’ve sort of looked through and it’s unrelated to the Apple tv, I thought, oh, the Apple TV is triggering something or something’s going on. I’m at the point now where actually think, like you were saying, it may well be the light from the plasma turning on, reflecting off the leaves of the plant or something or making the leaves of the plant move slightly and it’s actually something physical that is turning on this. Wow,

Speaker 6 (00:38:09):
That’s crazy. Chlorophyll is bending IR requests. Exactly. I have a semi crappy physics, like the way OV has connections with these things, explanation in my head that will never make real sense. So

Speaker 3 (00:38:32):
The plan that I have to get around to doing now, because the wiring behind there is just frightening is if I move it to the other side of the console that’s on there and get it away from all of this, is this actually going to solve the problem? It’s weird. We found the volume had gone right down on the home pod mini and every now and then you could just hear this strange noise and then you realize it’s been on some obscure radio station for playing for the last two days, but the volume was so low no one had noticed and providing mysteries for us to solve in houses.

Speaker 6 (00:39:10):
I do feel like some of these mysteries are really interesting interpretations of automation and the word automation in home automation is always kind of interesting. So I guess since we’re talking about accidentally daisy chaining events, how is intentional triggering of events to daisy chain other series of events or scenes working out for you? I mean, Tim, you mentioned the go to sleep. It’s the end of the day and you have one thing that’s always kind of not answering, but other than that, because that’s a pretty large atomic operation to have unfold. But I guess how are you guys seeing multi-device scenes and the reliability of them other than Steve, your lights that are stuck on red?

Speaker 7 (00:40:10):
I’ve got one that I set up. I did this automation through home assistant and it’s basically if the front door is opened after dark, then turn on the entryway lights that are away in and that part stays working reliably. But I had a second half. That was something the nature of when doors closed after time, then auto lock door and turn off those entryway lights. That second half fell apart at some point and I’ve never dug into why it stopped.

Speaker 4 (00:40:48):
So you mentioned home assistant since our last podcast. I set up a home assistant but only got that far, but that kind of logic is why I set it up. I want to get to the, if that then kind of things that home assistant can get to versus just Siri or home kits of your group of objects turn on and off.

Speaker 7 (00:41:10):
Yeah, it’s definitely a great way to do it. I run mine on Docker on a sonology.

Speaker 6 (00:41:15):
Wow. That’s one of the more interesting ways that I’ve seen anyone else using Docker because I don’t, I have a VM for HomeBridge, like the

Speaker 3 (00:41:29):
Docker. Yeah, I had Docker in HomeBridge for, I’ve got Raspberry Pie and HomeBridge, which is off because I’m currently not needing it for anything. But yeah, it made it a lot easier than having things dotted all over the place. I’d love to say I knew what I was doing with Docker when I’m turning it on, but it was literally just copy and pasting from a really helpful

Speaker 6 (00:41:53):
Blog tutorial site.

Speaker 5 (00:41:56):
Copy, paste, hope, don’t

Speaker 3 (00:41:58):
Touch it.

Speaker 5 (00:41:59):
Yeah, we have a couple of those little, if nobody’s home, run the vacuum and have it go clean the kitchen, some of those little, send the robot to the kitchen and clean them. I have that

Speaker 6 (00:42:15):
One. I have that one

Speaker 5 (00:42:16):
Too. And I think it works. I don’t know,

Speaker 6 (00:42:21):
The kitchen seems clean. I don’t

Speaker 5 (00:42:23):
Know. I’m never there. Right. Yeah, we, I have one that I just set up. We were traveling and so I set it up to link our, we’ve got ubiquity stuff or unified stuff, so we’ve got the doorbell. And so if the doorbell notice, because we are down a live dirt road and then we’ve got a long private driveway, and so if there’s something in the driveway, it better belong there.

Speaker 6 (00:42:58):
I mean trees fall. Trees fall.

Speaker 5 (00:43:00):
Yeah, right. Yeah, yeah. So if something gets in front of the camera, it should be something real. So I set up some stuff just that if it notices a car and it’s after dark, then it turns on all the lights in the dining room, which is facing that area and my office and stuff. So it just kind of blares everything out. And I don’t know if it actually works. It hasn’t been tested in real life, but other than my quick little tests here and there, but again, and we’re using HomeBridge right now, I get those all confused. We’re using home assistant. So I’ve got home assistant running in a docker on a sonology and it’s fine. I forget it’s there. I forget where the automation is. That’s the bigger problem. It’s like, what is it that’s turning this on or that off? How do I go change that? That’s been an issue. I need to document my own stuff.

Speaker 6 (00:44:06):
That struggle is real. So along those same lines, we have a ring doorbell on the front door and it came with me from the last house. I’ve had it forever. It’s an older one, but the sprinklers were running rachio sprinklers, by the way. It’s 16 zones for $230 sprinkler controller. Super easy to install as well. But last night it was about midnight and I was the only one up. And I’m up here working and I hear there’s someone at your front door and I go to the front door, open it, and I almost didn’t because I was fiddling with the light switch and I should have just said, turn the door on. But that’s one of the things about light switches to me and smart things we’re instinctively after however old I am, many years of using light switches, it’s hard for me sometimes to remember to say, turn the light on.

Speaker 3 (00:45:17):
Especially in a situation like that where it’s going straight to the back brain and it’s just like,

Speaker 6 (00:45:22):
Yeah, I mean my lizard brain in general doesn’t go off. I’m not, oh my God, I got to go grab a gun because there’s someone at the front door. It’s more like why is, what the heck? So I go over there and I get sprayed in the face with a fricking sprinkler, the sprinkler activated and the door fell and then I’m soaked. So I

Speaker 3 (00:45:46):
Is rising up against you is what you’re saying, Joe.

Speaker 6 (00:45:49):
And I’m the nice one in the house to the home automation assistance. Everybody else they say mean things and I’m like, don’t say mean things. She’ll be the first to go when it right, they’ll remember whatever. So I do think the customization aspect is really interesting and I have not delved into this and I think in an episode or three we have someone who’s been writing some really complex shortcuts, but I feel like you can get even more custom, but kind of maybe not really. Have any of you written your own shortcuts or triggered something that didn’t have native capabilities where you’re scripting stuff?

Speaker 3 (00:46:33):
I’ve been trying with the senso and the real challenge I’ve been having the

Speaker 6 (00:46:38):
Scripting language.

Speaker 3 (00:46:39):
Well, it’s more you can use shortcuts to trigger different things in the app, but the real challenge I’ve found with that is that’s on my device and I can trigger it. So it’s seems like wanting to change the split system, be able to heat cold, very hot, very cold to be able to get that sort of granular control, which the HomeKit automation is basically just turn off, turn on to last setting. But now it’s at the point of trying to work out how I can then allow other people in the family, and this is where you start to get into the real complexity of home kit as to whether it’s something that’s going to work on the device of the person who set it up or whether everyone can have access to it

Speaker 6 (00:47:26):
And if they need the password, even if that’s a whole thing, I don’t want to, I’m like, okay, well now I have a family password that doesn’t rotate because, and this

Speaker 3 (00:47:41):
Is something where I know Apple’s Apple solution to this is you need to expose more of that control to HomeKit or

Speaker 6 (00:47:48):
Shared pass

Speaker 3 (00:47:50):
Keys and do it that way. And it’s also one of those things, this is where I’ve been finding is as the app evolves and as HomeKit evolves, this is where things start sliding in and out of functionality and functionality changes on a daily or weekly basis. But I know that for that complex automation, apple has shown that shortcuts is the way. So that’s where I will probably want to go with that, but I’m definitely not at the stage where I’m as comfortable as other people I know who have got some really cool stuff happening.

Speaker 6 (00:48:28):
And I look forward to having Damien, I think Kavanaugh as our guest to talk about that. But in the meantime, I know enough JavaScript to be able to bang these things out. But I don’t want to have to, I think I struggle with that. The shortcut, automator looking wizard is interesting enough, and I can bake some logic in there, but as a programmer you start being like, well, am I passing a floating point? It’s like I don’t feel like I trust it that much. And this is one thing that I remember from the early days of having Plex servers in the house and stuff like that where you’re like this, it always works for me and it never works for anybody else in the house. So rather than have the hassle of being tech support for the house, just I’m going to skip that. I don’t know.

Speaker 5 (00:49:35):
We got a house iPad, that sole purpose is this stuff. It only it has its own Apple id. It has its own email and it has just those apps on

Speaker 6 (00:49:49):
It. Oh, that’s an interesting,

Speaker 5 (00:49:52):
I mean I don’t know if it’s smart, but I’ll take interesting. And we use it and it mostly gets used by guests to play dj, but it’s plugged into all the systems and you could turn lights on and off and it’s not mounted on a wall because there’s not a spot that makes logical sense for it. But it’s also great because people can come out on the patio and play DJ and do that and also turn the lights up or turn the lights down or flip. Kids will come and turn 15 lights on and off and on and off and on and off, but whatever. But it has all of the systems are on it and that’s just it. And it’s not smart on my part because it was like there’s not a passcode on the iPad. But at the same time it’s like, well,

Speaker 6 (00:50:44):
It’s physically in the house.

Speaker 5 (00:50:46):
It’s physically in the house and it’s a trusted people. And like I said, it has its own Apple id, which I think is not okay.

Speaker 6 (00:50:53):
And there’s not that much different about that technique than having a J W T that’s shared between several Google Cloud functions or something like that. Yeah, I can definitely see the logic.

Speaker 3 (00:51:10):
Are we getting to the point where Apple will announce a home pad mini or something like that where I can imagine that is probably not a new iPad and doesn’t need all of the functionality of the largest iPad Pro or anything like that. So having a Just

Speaker 6 (00:51:28):
Take all my money. Yeah, it’s fine.

Speaker 3 (00:51:32):
Thinking back on a comment about reducing the number of devices in the house, it’s like Apple create a new product we can buy, please. I’ll line up for it. But yeah, that idea of simplifying what you’re doing and embracing the fact that physical access to this device are all

Speaker 6 (00:51:49):
Of the hairs on the back of your head just going bonkers, Bob work you’ve done on

Speaker 4 (00:51:56):
I was going to say, I can’t wait to virtually be flipping switches to turn off lights in the house when I’m wearing a vision Pro.

Speaker 6 (00:52:05):

Speaker 3 (00:52:07):
I thought we were going to talk about the idea of a shared device from a nest standpoint and compliance. Exactly. Just be like a big Nope. Unless it’s got a smart card. Yeah.

Speaker 5 (00:52:19):
My business insured does not listen to this podcast.

Speaker 6 (00:52:23):
You’re cyber insurance. Yeah, right. I mean luckily those aren’t connected, I don’t think.

Speaker 3 (00:52:35):
It may also solve the problem of having that device on the unprivileged network and being able to talk to all the things that you don’t want, talking to all of the other things and just

Speaker 6 (00:52:48):
Oh, that’s an interesting point. So I do have an IOT network. Do you guys?

Speaker 4 (00:52:56):
I try, yeah. But found that a bunch of devices wouldn’t talk to HomeBridge because the Apple TV and the home pod wants to really be on your main network.

Speaker 6 (00:53:11):
That struggle is tough.

Speaker 7 (00:53:13):
Yeah, I’ve generally put mine all on the same network, but then I had to do a little troubleshooting. My eco bee had been really reliable for years, but then it just went into a random, I don’t have a network anymore, had to put it back. And the trick I’ve Googled up somewhere is whip up an SS S I D, that’s 2.4 only exclusively, and I haven’t had to fix it since I introduced it to that network.

Speaker 6 (00:53:39):
So the net for

Speaker 7 (00:53:40):
That solve, I do have a separate network, but everything else is on my main production network.

Speaker 4 (00:53:45):
I do have a 2.4 for the occasional device that won’t talk to a five gigahertz that can also live outside the,

Speaker 6 (00:53:53):
So I think one of the most annoying thing about having nests from different generations in the house is that they all try to talk through the newest nest in the house. They’re doing their own closed proxy, not proxy, that’s not the right word, but sometimes relay. Maybe relay. And I think Amazon might be trending into this direction. Neighborhood was a huge PR fail I think. But the nests, if you have all if second gen nest stats, then you add a third gen nest at now, they’re all going to try to go through that. Or the third gen will try to go through the first of the second gens that were installed. There’s a weird, so you might have to wipe ’em all and start over has been my it. It’s like A B M W motorcycle and zen and the other motorcycle maintenance. They won’t fail when they’re up, but then when you change something and add one, now all of a sudden you might have to wipe them all and start over with your entire Nest experience. So that’s been a struggle I’ve had in three different places now because they do try to communicate through that first one or that primary one if it wasn’t the first

Speaker 5 (00:55:30):
One that was tied to the account that started whatever. Started it

Speaker 6 (00:55:34):
All. Yeah, whatever. Yeah, that has not been fun. So I guess other than shortcuts or other than IOT shortcuts, just as an aside, have you guys done much with them in general?

Speaker 7 (00:55:55):
I’ve done a little bit of just some personal automation, but I’ve never tried to do household things. Just like, Hey, S I R I workout shortcut. We’ll go set the lights in the room and turn on the Apple TV over to Apple Fitness and start there. A similar one on my stationary bike too.

Speaker 6 (00:56:15):
Yeah, kickoff a deep link in an app. It seems so simple, but it might not be. And the reason I want to be able to do that is because Siri, so since Tim mentioned Siri earlier, I guess I haven’t had the best of experience with this and I keep kicking back to A L E X A in my house for this reason specifically. But how’s your experience been with the voice control of products through Siri

Speaker 4 (00:56:46):
Mixed bag? I think I personally in the house have better luck than the misses. She’ll say something and it just ignores her and I’ll say the same thing and it’ll turn off. It’s kind of a mixed bag or I find the wrong device is responding, like set a timer and I want the home pod, but somehow my watch picked it up. So that’s been the biggest pain with that

Speaker 2 (00:57:22):
For me. I think that it comes down to exactly which of my devices is going to fight over this and saying anything in our, we don’t have, there’s a home pod in my wife’s office, there’s a home pod in my office and then go into the primary suite. There’s all of our devices and which device is going to respond when I ask the lady in the canister or in my case the Australian lady in the canister, because I’ve set my S I R I to be Australian lady and sometimes I swap it up. I tried South African for a while, I like the different accents. It’s a lot of fun, but figuring out which device is going to pick it up is almost impossible and it’s so confusing.

Speaker 6 (00:58:03):
So for A L E X A, I do have it where I’ve named each room. So because I ran into that because A L E X A enabled devices have been a thing for a while, so I have a microwave, a coffee pot, the eco bee. Actually, there’s an enabled eco bee that I have in one room. And so the last thing you want is the eco bee answering when you ask for fart sounds instead of the canister, because that’s not where you want fart sounds to come out of because that happened earlier today.

Speaker 3 (00:58:46):
I’m intrigued to know if the changes coming in soon with the removal of the word hay from the requests is going to allow. I thought

Speaker 6 (00:58:53):
They said it was.

Speaker 3 (00:58:55):
Yeah, I thought they

Speaker 6 (00:58:56):
Specifically said that. Oh,

Speaker 3 (00:58:57):
They did. But I’m interested to know if that’s going to

Speaker 6 (00:59:01):

Speaker 3 (00:59:01):
It cope with more natural language. Because the challenge we’ve found in our family is my brain understands that the assistant deals with specific commands set in a certain way and other members of the family who are less inclined to really give a shit about how it works will get angry when

It doesn’t do what it’s told to in perhaps a more ambiguous way and whether more natural language is going to be available as a result of that. Because that’s sort of our main problem is, see, this doesn’t work. It’s a waste of time. Well, it does work if you ask it in a certain way. Well, if I have to change the way I talk to get this thing to work, well then that’s another person’s interpretation of what just working is and they disagree. And so that will hopefully address things. The other thing I’ve found is its ability to be able to detect, do voice recognition of different family members is an emerging functionality in its early days, possibly more alpha than beta or production.

Speaker 6 (01:00:17):
And that might not be a bad thing. Yeah, yeah. I mean I have noticed bills, I mentioned the fart apps. You can get a fart app expansion pack through A L E X A for an extra $1 and 99 cents. Now I don’t really care about a $2, but

Speaker 8 (01:00:38):
Really guys, I don’t even know who did this. And

Speaker 6 (01:00:46):
When A L E X A was like, oh, it’ll be an extra $3 a month to stream music and then somehow that’s now $18 a month I think, or 17. And I’m like, when did I start spending so much money on all of these things that just add up? And then the next thing I know there’s a 10 pound bag of gummies showing up at the house

Speaker 8 (01:01:17):
Who ordered a 10 pound bag of gummies through A L E X A guys? I don’t know. Can I have some though? Everyone in the house says,

Speaker 6 (01:01:29):
So I don’t know those in-app purchases and games app games that you might play on the app store, maybe it’s better if we don’t go down that path, I guess because voice games I’m finding aren’t compelling luckily in the house. So no one’s actually done that. But we have had a couple of issues with family sharing where people did those things. But going back to the 1960s, Eliza was a natural language processing computer program according to Siri and Tom, you probably remember this from school created from 19 64, 19 66 by MIT’s Joseph Weisbaum. And I don’t know how much we’ve progressed since then in some ways, but in other ways we’ve gone way past. Right. So that’s a thing. So I feel like the usability of Siri is potentially arguable and dunno if my home pods picked that up that I said that I’m quite happy. But let’s talk about security. So I guess how secure do you guys feel like all this stuff is? I mean, Bob, you and I both had a snoo, right? And so now you’ve got a baby with an internet connected device where I don’t know. So how do you,

Speaker 4 (01:03:07):
I don’t know. I guess

Speaker 6 (01:03:10):
Don’t think about it. No. Yeah,

Speaker 4 (01:03:13):
With the move it hack and all that stuff, everything’s out there. Doesn’t kind of where I’m at with it just to stop caring.

Speaker 6 (01:03:23):
I do that at the day job,

Speaker 4 (01:03:29):
But yeah, I’m also not worried or concerned in that situation. It’s talking to an A P I and I trusting in them to have it all secured properly and everything. I’m not about to audit it and there’s no way I could, so you just have to kind of trust in it.

Speaker 6 (01:03:49):
Yeah. Could you send me your SOC two compliance paperwork? Right,

Speaker 4 (01:03:54):
Right. Yeah.

Speaker 6 (01:03:57):
I don’t know. How about you, Tom?

Speaker 2 (01:04:00):
Between using it for exterior surveillance, door locks and security of doors, I’m awfully trusting of this stuff and maybe that’s a bad plan. Yeah, me too. I mean that’s kind of the whole deal, right? Here’s the thing, since we put in a real honest to God combination lock system where I can make up guest codes on the fly and I can make up contractor codes that expire at 7:00 PM and don’t work until 9:00 AM the trade-offs have been worth it for me. I think if anything, I would replace the old nest cams that I have now with a better set of unified cams and maybe use scripted to do the kind of home kit work for those cameras. But that’s mostly to do with the fact that these cameras are now somewhere between five and 10 years old and the technology has moved so much. Yeah, the

Speaker 6 (01:04:58):

Speaker 2 (01:04:59):
On the quality,

Speaker 6 (01:05:01):
Well the

Speaker 2 (01:05:01):
Quality is where the difference is. I

Speaker 6 (01:05:03):
Do have to say with the Nest cams, I have code level experience trying to use their A P I and they do not mess around. No,

Speaker 2 (01:05:14):
Their A P I is very good.

Speaker 6 (01:05:16):
In order to communicate with the Nest IOT APIs, you have to talk to a human. You have to explain your business case. I was surprised, annoyed, and later approving they’re strategy where this stuff comes into play.

Speaker 2 (01:05:40):
That also hasn’t always been the case fair. I had a Nest a p I key fairly early on for my own account that I had to do nothing but just get,

Speaker 6 (01:05:49):
Oh, I was using the multi-vendor key. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (01:05:52):
Yeah. See the multi-vendor key stuff, that’s where things get a lot more interesting, and I am really thrilled with their way in which there’s APIs work. But I will say that I don’t relish buying the same camera that I already have. I’d want

Speaker 6 (01:06:08):
A little bit,

Speaker 2 (01:06:10):
That’s kind of it. I’m saying that they’re mostly feature for feature. The same cameras that I bought when I bought the just for two

Speaker 6 (01:06:19):
K video instead of four 80 p or something.

Speaker 2 (01:06:22):
Well, yeah. Honestly, and the kind of things that I want to try and gather the intersection near our house, so I sit maybe 120 feet from an accident prone spot in the district and the number of times where it would’ve been helpful to have a camera on that to make trouble. We want to try and get the intersection fixed, right? I mean, the city should adjust the traffic flow in the intersection either by realigning around different kinds of stop signs or aligning around different site lines for the intersection that we have. I’d love to be able to catalog all of the incidents and show the actual incident instead of just saying, oh yeah, I heard the cargo screech, and then there was a bang and then we had to call the ambulance again. That happens, I don’t know, twice a quarter at least. And that’s just the ones that I hear. I would much rather have put a mast camera up on my roof and get an intersection camera going for that and get license plate information as well as traffic directional information. I need a better camera than I can provide today out of nest for that.

Speaker 5 (01:07:32):
Okay, but what about the overall privacy discussion about that? I don’t want you having a camera that’s filming

Speaker 2 (01:07:41):
Me coming. You’re driving down a public road. There’s no privacy for you. Yeah, you’re already recording by somebody else.

Speaker 6 (01:07:48):
Dash cams. It’s just a matter of where the camera is. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (01:07:53):
That’s a hundred percent it.

Speaker 6 (01:07:54):
Probably a hundred cameras on every trip you make now. I mean, I’ve noticed at least half the people in my neighborhood have smart door doorbells. So if you’re driving down my street, according to how many people actually pay for the subscription rather than just the live view.

Speaker 2 (01:08:12):
Well, and at least if you’re doing it with your own camera with A D V R on your environment, it’s not going to the cloud, it’s not going anyplace else. And so you want my footage, great, come back with a warrant. But if I want to turn that over to the city to say, here’s the trend of all of these particular accidents, well, that’s my prerogative because it’s direct line of sight from the top of my house. That’s a little different than a license plate reader camera that you might buy as an H o A to watch who’s coming and going. That’s the creepy

Speaker 6 (01:08:46):
Stuff. And then posting the license plates that you didn’t like on the Twitters or something or the

Speaker 2 (01:08:52):
Come on. It’s always next door. It’s always next door.

Speaker 6 (01:09:00):
Can we just take a vote and shut that one down?

Speaker 2 (01:09:03):
Yeah, hard pass on that one. Maybe you can get that

Speaker 4 (01:09:05):
Home automation to do it.

Speaker 6 (01:09:07):
Oh yeah. So you said quote unquote the cloud, and that’s to me a funny term because with a lot of these cameras, you can either record to the cloud or maybe your own iCloud. Is anyone saving video to iCloud as opposed to

Speaker 3 (01:09:26):
I am. I specifically went for the, I think it’s the eve camera as a result of it, saving to iCloud for that very reason where, and it was also interesting because that then meant I wasn’t tied into ongoing charges where you have a look at most of these cameras and if it’s saving it to their cloud,

Speaker 6 (01:09:46):
Yeah, the 20 bucks a month to nest or whatever. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (01:09:49):
All of a sudden you’re paying for that. And my real concern was who the company may get acquired by or turn into or who might actually be behind it or just

Speaker 6 (01:09:58):
What their privacy policy is. Not just who’s driving down the road, but

Speaker 3 (01:10:02):
Or security. They may have the most admirable goals, but somebody leaves an a p I key sitting somewhere where they shouldn’t or doesn’t patch a vulnerability and all of a

Speaker 6 (01:10:14):
Sudden, like in LastPass,

Speaker 3 (01:10:16):
Sorry, too. Exactly. My bad. Somebody’s in there. So yeah, mind saving to iCloud, which I’m a lot happier with because I also don’t like the idea of my stuff within the house, my sonology, all of those sorts of things are not publicly accessible because I’m not confident in my own security to make sure that it’s not people other than me getting into access all of those stuff. So for me, iCloud was, I trust Apple, but I’m also at the stage where if Apple gets popped, I’m screwed in so many more ways than just my footage from inside the house. So come at me. Yeah. And I’ve been happy with that so far.

Speaker 6 (01:11:01):
Well, I feel like we’re now, man, I feel like we’re far enough along and yet we still have a bunch of questions in the script. And I don’t know if I just got way over zealous when I wrote this script six months ago, but we’re maybe three quarters of the way through, and yet I feel like I could add another double the question.

Speaker 3 (01:11:25):
Well, just getting a bunch of opinionated nerds on a call together is going to drag on.

Speaker 6 (01:11:33):
So one quick Boolean question, because I think we can get through this in about a minute, and this isn’t in the show notes, but who would use this stuff in business? Or is this just pure home stuff?

Speaker 2 (01:11:49):
Oh, we use this stuff in business all the time. When I was in consulting, there would be a small office with a bunch of lights that they set up an apple ID for and set up home pods and did the light control

Speaker 6 (01:12:02):
Small business with light controls or HVAC cameras, cameras, door locks. I got to say, some of the camera systems that are really expensive cameras like the four K cameras that pan and tilt and zoom and all that stuff, they’re all made. And I hope this doesn’t come across as a xenophobic comment because it’s very much not, but they’re all made with super suss Chinese factories where I’m like, I am not down with this, sending all of this stuff back to China, not xenophobic super. Just like I’m not down with

Speaker 3 (01:12:44):
It’s also’s understanding what is happening in certain countries and whether you can prove it or not, it’s about risk. Are you going to introduce something where there is a risk that could happen? I’m also interested here, Tom, when you’re saying, and Tim, you’re saying you’d use this in a business perspective given the challenges we faced, what sort of SS l a would you set around said devices?

Speaker 2 (01:13:15):
What SS l A? Well, there you go.

Speaker 6 (01:13:19):
I’ll take a quick stab at that. And they can override or add or flourish or whatever when it was ZigBee X 10, and those are protocols that can’t be accessed from other places. I was totally fine doing that at my old company for customers. We did that for the Osborne family. Famously it made it on TV as not a great experiment in home automation perhaps. But

Speaker 3 (01:13:53):
You made it on tv,

Speaker 6 (01:13:57):
Or at least my work did. And not the best way, but I think the differences back then it was you had to be within physical range of an X 10 camera or an X 10 light switch or pool control or whatever. And now it’s like you don’t need any physical range. In fact, a poorly designed a P I where you can just swap the device ID with another device ID and watch some other family’s kid is creepy.

Speaker 3 (01:14:34):
Has anybody tried to submit a home kit ticket to AppleCare for Enterprise?

Speaker 6 (01:14:42):

Speaker 3 (01:14:44):
That’s a

Speaker 6 (01:14:45):
Fascinating challenge. Accepted to the listeners

Speaker 3 (01:14:50):
Know how that’s going.

Speaker 6 (01:14:52):
Yeah, that’s interesting. Alright, so basically small business, we’re not talking about door locks. And Tim, you mentioned Unify. I’d be super curious what your experiences are there in another episode later. But in the meantime, I feel like the net net is, yeah, maybe in small business according to the use case,

Speaker 5 (01:15:17):
It’s according to the use case. And I think there’s a lot of rapid in, yeah, we think this is going to work. Yes, it did work at your house. I get it, but you remember the problems that you had and you’re likely going to have these problems here too. So it’s never going to be perfect and we’re going to charge you by the hour for it. And even though we don’t charge you by the hour for anything else, we do this. We are, and by the way, sign this. We understand that there are, I’m going to warn you about as many loophole or potential security issues and everything else. And also I’m going to say I probably don’t have them all listed here, but we agree, right? I’m doing this. You want me to do this for you? You think it’s going to help and it’s maybe not the advice I would give you, but

Speaker 6 (01:16:10):
Not as together a

Speaker 5 (01:16:11):
Long time.

Speaker 6 (01:16:12):
Exactly. So

Speaker 3 (01:16:13):
It would be on the convenience side of home automation or business automation rather than the business critical side of things. Look, I know temperature sensors and water sensors and everything like that. There is a whole bunch of business critical things where organizations will do alerting for that, which is fascinating, but they seem to be very different to the sort of things you’ll see elsewhere.

Speaker 6 (01:16:39):
And yet when the US wants to ruin nuclear materials in Iran, that’s what we attack. So I don’t know that that infrastructure is as great as maybe we think it is on that side no matter what the new NIST standards are for connected devices, IOT devices. So I think maybe we just have a bonus question and maybe we have a part three at some point, but maybe not because it’s hard to get all of us together at one time. So bonus question, Tom, do you want to fire this off

Speaker 2 (01:17:20):
Here at the Mac Admins podcast? We want to say a special thank you to all of our Patreon backers. The following people are to be recognized for their incredible generosity. Scca, thank you Adam Selby. Thank you. Nate Walk. Thank you. Michael S thank you Rick Goody. Thank you Mike Boylan. You know it. Thank you. Melvin Vives. Thank you. Bill Stites. Thank you. Anush. Stewartville, thank you. Jeffrey Compton, m Marsh, McDonald, Hamlin Cruin, Adam Berg. Thank you. AJ Reka. Thank you. James Traci, Tim Perfi of two canoes. Thank you. Nate Sinal, will O’Neill, Seb Nash, the folks at Command Control Power, Steven Weinstein, Chet Swarthout, Daniel McLaughlin, Justin Holt, will Smith and Weldon Dodd. Thank you all so much and remember that you can back us if you just head out to patreon.com/mac ADM podcast. Thanks everybody. Yeah, I’ll fire up the bonus question. And this one’s a great one because this one’s near and dear to my heart. And for each of you, how much background research might you do on every brand that you’ll let in your home, especially around the IOT front? And Steve, I’ll pick on you first.

Speaker 7 (01:18:30):
Okay. I guess I would say, I know how do you measure the amount, but I’d probably go hit up some Reddit, see what people say on Reddit, and of course our own Mac admin Slack. I would always go look and see if there’s any conversation about products going on in there and completely disregard everything I see in Amazon reviews.

Speaker 2 (01:18:55):
That is the single best advice I think I just heard. How about you, Bob?

Speaker 4 (01:18:59):
Probably pretty similar to be honest. Yeah, because I’ve seen some stuff that is like HomeKit, but it’s clearly Amazon knockoff products that are very sketchy, but then you have, why am I blanking on the which spot? Which is probably a pretty sketchy company in itself, but I’ll happily buy that stuff and bring it into the house.

Speaker 2 (01:19:24):

Speaker 5 (01:19:26):
When we moved here, and I think I said this on the previous episode, which nobody remembers hearing, it’s been so long, but we made a home kit only decision, like anything that comes in had to be HomeKit, and then we kind of went away from that pretty quickly. But I think that we do spend a little more time thinking about what it is, what it does. Also, because my office is technically a branch of our business, and so business insurance and cyber insurance and all of that stuff comes into play, so we have to be a little extra more thoughtful about it than at least we pretend to be a little more thoughtful about it. But it’s the same thing, right? I mean, you talk to your peers, you read some of the reviews, go to the wire cutter if that’s still a thing, and do the best you can. And then I think we also, we have certain countries blocked on our firewall. You can’t get in or out to data interactive, easy

Speaker 6 (01:20:30):
To do on a Ubiquiti,

Speaker 5 (01:20:33):
Right? We try to also protect ourselves that way, which I don’t know if that actually works, but it makes me sleep at night.

Speaker 6 (01:20:45):
Yes, you can publish a rest endpoint as a lambda to Amazon from Russia to their Fairfax, Virginia location. What is where? I don’t know. No, how about you, Marcus?

Speaker 3 (01:21:07):
Yeah, I’m a big fan of something that’s going to save me maybe 10 minutes a year in terms of automation, spending a good six months researching it to try and work out it if it is the right product or not, and then at the end of it, buying something else because doing whatever shiny thing.

Speaker 6 (01:21:27):
Right? I love that answer. It’s pretty much accurate for most people. Yeah. How about you, Tom?

Speaker 2 (01:21:36):
For me, I go to look at privacy policies. I want to go take a look and see if they’ve got a published privacy policy. I want to see if they’ve got a published security policy. I worry a little bit, I mean, because honestly, the thing that bugs me more than anything else is like how long has this company been around? How long will they be? Because my big role is the company must be in business for me to have the product on my network. I’m not going to keep something around after they’ve disappeared. And I have a friend who recently inherited through a neighborhood listserv, a van mof bicycle. It’s an e-bike from the Van Mof company, which is in receivership, which is to say not operating. Their unlock service is offline. There’s somebody who reversed engineered their unlock service and has published their way to do this, which is totally wild, but that’s not something I’m going to do for any major product.

The second that somebody sunsets that brand or thing that’s getting ripped out, so I want to make sure they’re going to be there a minute. So those are the kind of things that I’m looking for. I’d love to see terms and conditions that doesn’t read like it’s written by Igor, the Ukrainian lawyer, and translated into English, and that is a little bit of an adventure, and so that is one of the really important parts for me is I want to make sure that this is a company that does what it says on the tin is going to be around a minute, and that’s what I go look for, for looking for,

Speaker 5 (01:23:08):
Sorry, I know that was the last question. So we can nuke this, but how does that affect or kind of rolling off of that? I think about this a lot with all of these things now that are really important and integral to our stuff. When my parents bought a door lock, or 20 years ago when I bought a door lock for my house, right? A sl, probably that era era, it was going to last forever. That was the last time I was ever going to buy a door lock. Now, if I buy a door lock for my house, I’m on a, what, 3, 5, 7 year maybe,

Speaker 2 (01:23:44):
Probably longer than that.

Speaker 6 (01:23:46):
Maybe. I

Speaker 2 (01:23:46):
Was going to say 10 to 15

Speaker 6 (01:23:48):
What Tom’s cameras last, but yeah, at this point,

Speaker 2 (01:23:52):
I mean, honestly, go ahead. I bought some quickset locks that were dumb, locks that jam or that become misaligned or that I have to spend all day realigning the damn door, the indoor hardware.

Speaker 6 (01:24:08):
Well, it does get cold in DC and it gets hot in

Speaker 2 (01:24:11):
Dc, hot and cold,

Speaker 6 (01:24:14):
Not the quickset spot. I don’t want,

Speaker 2 (01:24:17):
In this particular particular case, the Quickset was not very well made. This was a cheap lock set for clearly contractor grade, but

Speaker 3 (01:24:26):
That’s also something to factor in as well where, and it sort of comes back to what we were talking about with the quality of the app. Where is the quality of their iot technical integration there in line with the quality of the actual hardware? So is the lock a really good quality lock with an awesome quality app, or is it a really great app with some junk that’s going to wear out quickly when you’re buying a heater? As we looked at, are we buying a really energy efficient heater that

Speaker 6 (01:25:03):
Has with a crappy app,

Speaker 3 (01:25:03):
Crappy integration and app, or are we going to buy somebody that’s come along and put a lot of development into the app, but they’ve just thrown it on whatever they could get hold of and put it in a nice pretty case? What’s crazy,

Speaker 6 (01:25:18):
The history doesn’t even almost matter of sch. Legg’s been making locks for a god awful amount of time and they’ve been making apps that manage locks for a long time, and yet they don’t make better combinations of the two factors than Yale. It’s wild.

Speaker 3 (01:25:39):
That’s where they’re doing the research, so we can open a whole can of worms. If we start going into, there is a subsection of the Mac admin Slack who worship Bosch dishwashers because they are in fact the best dishwashers you can have. However, some of the Bosch dishwashers are made in Europe. Some of the Bosch dishwashers are made in India, some of them are made elsewhere, and it’s the same with the washing machines and dishwashers. So the brand on it is not enough these days. It’s actually working through which

Speaker 6 (01:26:08):
Channel. I got to go find this channel now. Yeah, I replaced all of my boses with Samsung’s regrettably, because I wanted you did to Charles. You’re dead to me. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (01:26:19):
Yeah. My dishwasher is not smart,

Speaker 6 (01:26:21):
But my house came with fascias from the seventies and they were great. They still worked, but they were yellow. They’re from the seventies. Everybody hated them and they weren’t energy efficient and all that. The

Speaker 3 (01:26:32):
Only smarts I need in my dishwasher is warnings that go off like the smoke alarms when people have not packed the dishwasher properly.

Speaker 6 (01:26:40):
Well, or when the dishwasher’s done and you’re like, Hey, teenagers, come unload it. It’s not my turn. Every turn turns off their internet access until the

Speaker 3 (01:26:51):
Dishwasher is unpacked.

Speaker 6 (01:26:52):
Yeah. Yeah. I should, there’s a shortcut idea. Yeah, I like this one. Yeah, let’s ize this. Writes this.

Speaker 2 (01:27:08):
Yeah. Well, thank you all for joining us on another round of the HomeKit panel. It was a great pleasure to talk with you all, and we’ll have a ton of links to stuff that we talked about today in the show notes, including links to all of our colleagues who’ve joined us who want to share with us their best tips and social media handles for the various platforms which exist today. Thanks of course, for our wonderful sponsors. That is Kanji and collide, and thanks everybody. We’ll see you next time.

Speaker 9 (01:27:38):
Next time. See you later.

Speaker 10 (01:27:44):
The M Men’s Podcast is a production of M Men’s Podcast L L C. Our producer is Tom Bridge. Our sound editor and mixing engineer is James Smith. Our theme music was produced by Adam Coga the first time he opened. GarageBand sponsorship for the Mac Admins podcast is provided by the mac admins.org Slack, where you can join thousands of Mac admins in a free Slack instance. Visit mac admins.org and also by teary L c. Technically we can help. For more information about this podcast and other broadcasts like it, please visit podcast dot mac admins.org. Since we’ve converted this podcast to A P F Ss, the funny metadata joke is at the end, I.



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