Amazon Alexa Map View Review and Setup Experience
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
7M ago
One of the big Alexa features Amazon announced at their conference this year is the ability to create a map of your house and add all of your devices to said map.  This feature is slowly rolling out to users who were on the waitlist (like me) and ultimately will be a standard feature for all users.  My assumption is that this will be fully released alongside the upcoming Echo Hub home controller. The start of my Map View experience was a little clunky, but thankfully it wont be this way when it is rolled out as a standard feature.  I was alerted that my access was enabled via em ..read more
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Govee WiFi Water Sensor Review
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
10M ago
The Good: The GoveeWiFi Water Sensor kit (2 Pack as reviewed) is a cheap and easy way to monitor critical areas where water damage is likely to occur.  Setup is relatively simple* (bit asterisk here on the wifi portion of the setup).  It is expandable and is sold in sets from one to five with the ability of hooking up to 10 to a single hub.  Each sensor also has a 100 dB alarm built in which will alert you in the event of wifi connectivity failure.  They also have leak sensors on both the bottom and top if you need to catch an area where water is likely to drip from ab ..read more
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My Home Assistant Journey – Part 1
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
1y ago
This has been a long time coming.  For many years I have been frustrated with the lack of interoperability between many of my smart home devices. I’ve tried all of the high level stuff, like Echo routines, IFTTT, Yonomi, etc.  While I’ve had some success using those applications, they have always come up lacking.  This whole time I’ve known that Home Assistant was out there, lurking, but it always felt like too much of a commitment to me.  Until now! I can’t say there was any one smart home related issue that drove me to finally take the plunge.  The biggest catalyst w ..read more
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Alexa Still Has a Skills Problem – Hijack Skills Edition
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
1y ago
“Alexa, good morning.” “Good morning, on this day in blah blah blah, someone important did something special.  Insert funny pun.” Every morning as we unload the dishwasher my daughter and I ask Alexa what the weather is going to be for the day, and follow it up with a “good morning.”  Every morning is the same routine.  Alexa spouts out the fun fact of the day followed by some kind of quip.  It’s corny and basic, but my daughter loves it and sometimes I learn something new.  This happens every day until just last week. “Alexa, good morning.” “Good morning, you look gre ..read more
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Zombie Insteon Returns! Why You Should be RUNNING!!!
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
2y ago
It’s been almost two months since Insteon mysteriously shut down their servers with no notice.  It’s been about a month and a half since Insteon owned up to what they did and changed their website to a weak apology letter, blaming everything but themselves for the sudden shutdown.  And now it’s been about two days since Insteon servers seem to have risen from the dead and started responding again. As of this post, no one has taken ownership for the sudden resurrection.  If you’ve been sitting around wondering what to do about your broken smart home, and it’s suddenly started res ..read more
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Fresh Hell: Amazon Echo and Asus AiMesh Team Up to Ruin My Day
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
2y ago
A few years ago I wrote about a budget backyard audio solution I’d come up with after discovering cheap 4-channel amplifiers and the now discontinued Echo Input.  Since the writing of that article some things have changed.  Of the four rock speakers I bought, two lost their ability to produce lows.  Either their woofers died or the wires disconnected. I’ve since replaced them with Monoprice omnidirectional outdoor speakers (that don’t seem to be available right now so I can’t link to them.  It also turned out that the speaker cable I’d used was not outdoor rated, and had I ..read more
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The Hell that is Buying an Asus Router Today
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
2y ago
Nearly ten years ago, when I moved into a house with some property, I upgraded my old Linksys wireless N router (the classic blue and black that was the standard at the time) to an Asus RT-AC68u that could cover my whole spread.  The Asus RT-AC68u wound up becoming the new benchmark router that would be as the router of choice for most tech blogs, and had the ability to support everyone from casual to professional users.  It’s still recommended by many today.  Only I didn’t exactly buy an Asus RT-AC68u, I bought an Asus RT-AC68w for $10 less, and this was my first indication tha ..read more
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Insteon Life Support Via Home Assistant
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
2y ago
As explained in my post yesterday, it looks like Insteon was unceremoniously switched off on April 14th and users are scrambling to keep their smart home alive until they can find a replacement.  Many r/Insteon users have turned to Home Assistant to keep Insteon running on life support. If you’re not familiar with Home Assistant, check out my series documenting my journey from setup to configuration to see if its for you.  If you are familiar with Home Assistant, it should be no surprise to you that Insteon devices can still work, kind of, if you have the Insteon integration configur ..read more
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The Slow…and Then Very Sudden Death of Insteon
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
2y ago
On the evening of April 14th, 2022 I was headed to my kitchen to cook and asked Alexa to turn on the kitchen lights.  After a brief pause she reported “Kitchen lights isn’t responding.”  I’m no stranger to device outages, they annoyingly happen all the time when you have so many connected devices in your house.  But it’s rare when the device that isn’t responding is a hard wired switch that uses both radio frequency and powerline to communicate back to its hub.  Was my Insteon hub fried again? I checked my hub and sure enough there was a red light in place of the normal, ha ..read more
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You’ve Gone Too Far Homeplenish!
Smart Home Reviewer
by afterbyrner
2y ago
Every few weeks I take about 30 minutes of boring Zoom call time to pretend I’m listening to the meeting while I scroll through the new smart home devices section of Amazon.  Just yesterday I was a few pages into my search when my face lit up.  Briefly forgetting I was on camera I started laughing like a hyena and feverishly scrolling through the product description to see how Homeplenish planned to change my life with this smart toilet paper spindle (Hint: it wont).  Of course I then had to explain myself to my colleagues, but thankfully everyone loves a good toilet paper laugh ..read more
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