Skip to main content

What I learned from automating my house during the pandemic

An empty mind is an engineer's workshop. That saying is as old as time. Two things happened simultaneously in 2020 - The Pandemic hit, causing many jobs in IT to move from working from the office to working from home. We were expecting a baby and therefore had to take additional precautions, which meant a complete disconnect from human civilization, barring the occasional video calls.

The second thing during this period was moving into a brand-new flat. As you scour through manuals from Ikea, you start understanding the patterns. You can see which manual is copy pasted from other manuals; you can empathize with the manual-making team and how overworked they are to churn out new assembly guides for every new piece of furniture in the market.

That was when I looked at the house carefully and asked a pertinent question, why in the 22nd century, do we need switches? The light control is a stone-age activity; you move from your position, drop what you are doing, reach this non-descript mechanical plastic breaker circuit, and hit it with a click, causing the course to complete, and electricity passes through. Humans came to the moon in 1969; we have Voyager about to go to the outer edges of the solar system. Humans now can launch not one or two but 104 satellites in orbit with the mathematical precision in mm, so why on earn should I drop my cup of frothy coffee, rise and walk to the small plastic thingy on the wall to get more light in the room?

So I went complete hardware mode and picked up intelligent devices. 

  1. For GU10 Spotlights, I used the INNR multi-coloured bulbs for living areas connected with Hue Bridge.
  2. For the Screw Bulbs, I used TP-Link TAPO Yellow bulbs for the bedroom.
  3. For the smart blinds, I used Louvolite electronic blinds that can be configured and used the Louvolite hub.
  4. I have a Cubo AI camera for the nursery with motion sensing that detects when the baby moves closer to the edge of his cot.
  5. Everyone has a robotic hoover in the house, but if you haven't, I recommend you get one. For the robotic hoover, I have used the Ecovacs Deebot 920 for automatic cleaning and mopping the house.
  6. For orchestration, I had Alexa Echo for ages, but I decided to upgrade to Alexa Show, which is wall-mounted for the new house. Having Alexa Show, which is mounted on the wall, gave a sense of a control panel for the whole place when we did not want to use the voice command.

Here are some of the most comical takeaways I experienced along the way:

Compatibility is Key (But Not Always Easy): I quickly learned that compatibility is crucial for a smooth-running smart home. But, when I thought I had everything set up perfectly, one of my devices would suddenly go rogue and refuse to play nice with the others. It was like trying to herd cats, but with technology.

The Joy of Voice Integration (or the Lack Thereof): Integrating my smart lights and blinds with Alexa was much fun - when it worked. But, when Alexa refused to listen to me or misheard my commands, it was like talking to a stubborn child who wouldn't listen.

Scheduling and Automation: Setting up schedules and automation for my smart lights and blinds was a real hoot. I felt like a mad scientist, coming up with elaborate plans to outsmart my devices. Of course, they usually didn't follow my commands, but it was still a good laugh.

Debugging and Troubleshooting: This was where the real fun began. Debugging and troubleshooting my smart lights and blinds was like trying to solve a mystery, complete with red herrings and false leads. As a result, I learned to be creative in my troubleshooting methods, like shaking the device, shouting at it, or even trying to bribe it with treats (kidding, of course).

In conclusion, automating the lights and blinds in my home was a hilarious adventure filled with laughs, frustration, and much learning. 

And as I write this article, I can ask Alexa to turn on my living room lights or close the blinds without moving an inch from my seat; that gives a sense of power.

P.s. Many of my devices happened before Matter protocol came into being. Therefore, my devices were already orchestrated before 'matter', and consequently, it didn't affect me.


Popular Post

The unofficial guide to become a Certified Salesforce Administrator (ADM 201)

In my attempt at maximum certifications in 60 days, I completed Salesforce Certified Administrator exam on February 11th 2013 So you have decided to ramp up your career and take certifications in your hand. Good choice. It is also likely that this is the first time you have heard of Salesforce, certification and since your company has a vision of you completing the certification you have decided to do it. At this stage it is likely that, You have done extensive googling. You have received countless brain-dumps. And you have received plenty of advise from different types of users which ranges from Admin certification is easier than making coffee to Admin certification is tougher than building a rocket-ship to fly off to the moon. The purpose of this guide is to give you a clear understanding of what to expect when you are expected to become Certified Salesforce Administrator. To bring sense to all the things you have seen so far and to clearly explain what to do and what

Some PDF tricks on Visualforce: Landscape, A4, page number and more

The beauty of Visualforce is simplicity. Remember the shock you received when you were told the entire page renders as PDF if you just add renderAs=PDF to the Page tag. For those who thought I spoke alien language right now, here is the trick, to render a page as PDF, we add a simple attribute to the <apex: page> tag <apex: page renderAs='pdf'> This will render the entire page as PDF. Now, say we need to add some extra features to the PDF. Like a page number in the footer or we need to render the page in landscape mode. Faced with this problem, I put on my Indiana Jones hat and went hunting for it in the vast hay-sack of the internet (read: googled extensively). Imagine my happiness when i found a big big page with many big big examples to solve the problem. The document I am referring to is from W3C, paged Box media . Long story short, I now possess the ultimate secret of rendering the page in any format I want. So here are few tricks I learned from the p

The Basics of writing a Apex Trigger

One of the most important and common asked question on Forums and everywhere is how do I write a trigger. Coding in Apex Trigger is like going to a dentist for a root canal, you keep dreading the moment until you realize it is actually not going to hurt you. If you plan to write an Apex Trigger this quick guide will help you doing so. The first and foremost rule in writing a trigger is to remember the oldest suggestion given to the most comprehensive Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, ' Don't Panic. ' Writing a trigger is not a rocket science, in-fact we should thank the team at Salesforce and ForceDotCom for making everything so simple, that anyone can do it. Enough of talk, lets code. So you want to write a trigger. Let us have a glimpse of what we are going to build. The problem statement is as follows Problem:  When the User is entering the Opportunity, check for the Opportunity Amount. If the Opportunity Amount is greater than 50,000. Mark the Parent Account as