I'm sure I can do it cheaper..

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
That's what I thought until, on a whim and OOIC, bought a couple and installed one in the bedroom. Bloody Brilliant(!).

I leave the light switch on all the time and just turn it on and off by the ever-present Ms Alexa. I usually run it 100% Bright White, but when the arms of Morpheus should be calling me, I set it to 5% Red (to minimize that sleep-depriving blue light) and that actually helps. All I then do is whisper "Alexa, turn the light off" when I'm ready to sleep, and that's that. Previously, the act of reaching out to turn the bedside light off usually woke me up again. Ms Alexa also kindly turns the light on in the morning at a preset time.

Most of the time, elder lad and I use Alexa as a glorified cooking timer, and that's certainly helped as we're both somewhat organizationally challenged. It's also useful for adding things to the shopping list. Plus the sound quality on my Alexa Echo Show is better than that of my laptops, so I Bluetooth it in as an external speaker.

I installed a front-door camerabell to allay Mrs Excog's security concerns following some local incidents. That's a bit of a curate's egg. Useful when it connects instantly - we can just glance at our phones (and/or Alexa Echo Show in my case) and see whether we need to get up or let whoever it stuff some paper through the letterbox. If I'm busy in my lair, I can also use the microphone/speaker to let the postie/whoever know that I'll be with them in a minute.

However, the wifi link isn't always reliable enough to connect the camera in real-time, leaving us to rely on the stored video to determine who was there.
my sister in law lives up near to the Hereford gun club
her wi fi is awful ( perhaps they are using it ??)
I had to run a cable from the camera to the hub thingy
 
Just before chrimbo (23rd to be precise) our washing machine gave up the ghost. Phoned up the excellent local white goods guy, who said if you get here in the next hour and buy one, we can deliver and fit it today...Winner! Got to his place at 1240, selected a good machine and he even took tax-free forms. They were at our place by 1430 and by just after 1500 we had a working washing machine again. Less than 3 hours flash to bang. Truly outstanding.

Anyway, the new one is net enabled. You can programme it and start it from your phone, check progress and then it will inform you when it is finished. Unfortunately it will not go upstairs and take the right stuff from the laundry basket then load it into itself. Nor will it empty itself and hang the stuff up to dry. As you actually have to be physically present for both those actions and put all the right liquids in, the whole 'connected' thingy is entirely pointless. It also has a menu-driven control and management screen, which allows you to do anything you can think of. It isn't particularly difficult, but I doubt my wife will ever use it, so it is also largely redundant.

Still, it's quiet and it looks nice.
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Quite brilliant! I may borrow that!


On a related note, a friend's wife was home alone in bed, in their big house in the countryside when she heard voices... in the house. Cr4pping herself, she got up only to find Alexis up to something.

You've not lived until you've used the drop-in function on Alexa to speak through the one in the living room whilst your wife is in bed reading a book, home alone, and said in best disguised voice 'If she screams, kill her.'.

I'm dedicated to the cause. Old tenement flat, girlfriend at time who was flat sharing. I've got home early and when I heard her coming in, hid in the cupboard in the bedroom. She came home, I stayed in there for a hour or so before I started scratching at the door. She got her flatmate, also a girl, and I could hear their terrified whispering on the other side of the door before they opened it and I burst out screaming.

She split up with me the next day. Go figure.

On a side note, the new roof that I didn't need, until everyone realised I needed one, is now complete. Chuffed to bits with it.

The velux are new and the roofer (who was outstanding) also left the scaffs in place so my plasterer could get up there and sort out some old, spalled render. It's all coming together nicely, finally.

IMG_20220114_151125.jpg
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Just before chrimbo (23rd to be precise) our washing machine gave up the ghost. Phoned up the excellent local white goods guy, who said if you get here in the next hour and buy one, we can deliver and fit it today...Winner! Got to his place at 1240, selected a good machine and he even took tax-free forms. They were at our place by 1430 and by just after 1500 we had a working washing machine again. Less than 3 hours flash to bang. Truly outstanding.

Anyway, the new one is net enabled. You can programme it and start it from your phone, check progress and then it will inform you when it is finished. Unfortunately it will not go upstairs and take the right stuff from the laundry basket then load it into itself. Nor will it empty itself and hang the stuff up to dry. As you actually have to be physically present for both those actions and put all the right liquids in, the whole 'connected' thingy is entirely pointless. It also has a menu-driven control and management screen, which allows you to do anything you can think of. It isn't particularly difficult, but I doubt my wife will ever use it, so it is also largely redundant.

Still, it's quiet and it looks nice.

Now this is something I don't get. Washing machines have for years now, had basic timer controls built in on almost all models. So you fill it, set the timer to come on in five hours which is two hours before you're home, or for 0030hrs when cheap leccy kicks in (tariff dependent). This IOT functionality brings nothing to the table other than a different way of doing the timer stuff.

It does however bring a lot more points of failure.

It's pandering to a generation who have forty apps on their phone for everything in their lives.
 

Mrs Slocombe

War Hero
That's what I thought until, on a whim and OOIC, bought a couple and installed one in the bedroom. Bloody Brilliant(!).

I leave the light switch on all the time and just turn it on and off by the ever-present Ms Alexa. I usually run it 100% Bright White, but when the arms of Morpheus should be calling me, I set it to 5% Red (to minimize that sleep-depriving blue light) and that actually helps. All I then do is whisper "Alexa, turn the light off" when I'm ready to sleep, and that's that. Previously, the act of reaching out to turn the bedside light off usually woke me up again. Ms Alexa also kindly turns the light on in the morning at a preset time.

Most of the time, elder lad and I use Alexa as a glorified cooking timer, and that's certainly helped as we're both somewhat organizationally challenged. It's also useful for adding things to the shopping list. Plus the sound quality on my Alexa Echo Show is better than that of my laptops, so I Bluetooth it in as an external speaker.

I installed a front-door camerabell to allay Mrs Excog's security concerns following some local incidents. That's a bit of a curate's egg. Useful when it connects instantly - we can just glance at our phones (and/or Alexa Echo Show in my case) and see whether we need to get up or let whoever it stuff some paper through the letterbox. If I'm busy in my lair, I can also use the microphone/speaker to let the postie/whoever know that I'll be with them in a minute.

However, the wifi link isn't always reliable enough to connect the camera in real-time, leaving us to rely on the stored video to determine who was there.
Why would you do that? It's like the Stasi in 1980 DDR, only worse.
Why would you let Evil Corp bug your house and then hoard and flog your details to data pimps?
 

PFGEN

GCM
I truly feel your pain! I'm a semi-Luddite. Our house is as free as possible from the Devil's WiFi 'enabled' crap. SWMBO bought herself a massive Sonos thing, but spends as long farting around trying to get it to spit out music as she does listening to it. I'm too busy to help, though I find if she switches it on it usually works.

Alexis, Siri and her mates can do one as well in our house, even the TV gets disconnected from t' web when not being used for casting. As you say, WiFi enabled fridges, ovens etc - WTF? And the prices of them! An elderly friend has just been persuaded to upgrade her oven to a north of £800 all singing and dancing WiFi one. She then waited several weeks (with no oven) as the fitter didn't do what it said on his box.

Bring on the first EMP. I can use a map. ;)

Sitrep: Fridge delivery is now planned for week 7. To be honest I've given up hope. Managed to get the Sonos working again after a spot of soldering and threatening it with a hammer. Tooth is still knackered; dentist had a good year last year and is lying somewhere in the sun.

Anytime I see that something is suitable for use with Alexa I give it a swerve. Siri sometimes pipes up on the computer and is promptly told to bugger off. She gets a strop and shuts up. I did try using it a couple of times to look for information, it was next to useless.
 
Why would you do that? It's like the Stasi in 1980 DDR, only worse.
Why would you let Evil Corp bug your house and then hoard and flog your details to data pimps?

We live in a web-enabled world that is increasingly becoming more so as mobile devices become cheaper and more prevalent, and as the Internet of Things becomes (literally) more embedded in the things we buy. Shops (online and physical), banks, webcams, other people's phones, you name it, already gather and distribute shed loads of data about me.

My wife's and children's lives, educationally, socially and in employment, revolve around the datasphere. COVID has made such reliance even more entrenched. My wife used to be very physically face-to-face with her students, both at home and out and about - she hasn't physically seen anybody professionally since lockdown started. My two boys did all their college/school work online (iPad provided in younger one's case) until recently. I think tomorrow is one of the very rare days that my elder one has to actually go into university for his course - and only then because it's lab work.

If you've got cameras or microphones in the devices you carry around or interact with Arrse on, then you already have probes into your life that may be usurped. There is a never-ending stream of data breaches from organizations that ought to be up there at the leading edge of cybersecurity. And, having been involved in aspects of the field, I have a healthy streak of cynicism about any such devices or your environment being unhackable.

IMO, there is very little more that Alexa-enabled and other such devices gather that isn't likely to be known one way or another. That being the case, I may as well use such technology to my advantage.
 
Which may be irrelevant if the system configuration has sufficient redundancy and if the individual devices within the system are individually more reliable.
Both of which are mighty big 'IFs'.

For starters, people are cheap-skates and don't buy multiple devices to do ostensibly the same job; hence there is little or no redundancy. Secondly, the devices used are built to minimise the number of parts: when one fails the whole lot goes. Added to which, the parts are all built in China and don't meet decent specification anyway.

Reliability and high-integrity cost more for a reason.

John Glenn said:
"I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract."

My cynical view is the image presented of IoT is pure fantasy. As folks have said up-thread: designed for the mobile age and the critically-challenged.

[FWIW, I still cringe at the early adverts for "web-surfing" on 28k/56k dial-up modems. Or the nightmares of spotty-faced kids discovering a TCP/IP-enabled AMRAAM in flight and wresting control from the fighter or AWACS controlling it.]
 

TamH70

MIA
Both of which are mighty big 'IFs'.

For starters, people are cheap-skates and don't buy multiple devices to do ostensibly the same job; hence there is little or no redundancy. Secondly, the devices used are built to minimise the number of parts: when one fails the whole lot goes. Added to which, the parts are all built in China and don't meet decent specification anyway.

Reliability and high-integrity cost more for a reason.

John Glenn said:
"I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract."

My cynical view is the image presented of IoT is pure fantasy. As folks have said up-thread: designed for the mobile age and the critically-challenged.

[FWIW, I still cringe at the early adverts for "web-surfing" on 28k/56k dial-up modems. Or the nightmares of spotty-faced kids discovering a TCP/IP-enabled AMRAAM in flight and wresting control from the fighter or AWACS controlling it.]

I saw WarGames as a kid. Sod nicking control of an AMRAAM. How about a nice game of chess?
 
My cynical view is the image presented of IoT is pure fantasy. As folks have said up-thread: designed for the mobile age and the critically-challenged.
It depends on what you have and what you use, like anything else.

I installed Hive heating a while back as I needed to replace the old boiler controller, and added a couple of smart bulbs too. I can control that with an app (and the bulbs are on smart timers), which is handy, but it needs a login so I'm not giving that to others. Adding an Alexa allows someone else to control them easily.

Since then I have added several smart sockets - useful for various automation (if the temp reaches xx turn a fan on. Turn lights on at sunset. Turn all lights off at sunrise (bloody kids), etc).

Alexa works great as an integration hub - you can control devices from different systems from a single point.
 
It depends on what you have and what you use, like anything else.

I installed Hive heating a while back as I needed to replace the old boiler controller, and added a couple of smart bulbs too. I can control that with an app (and the bulbs are on smart timers), which is handy, but it needs a login so I'm not giving that to others. Adding an Alexa allows someone else to control them easily.

Since then I have added several smart sockets - useful for various automation (if the temp reaches xx turn a fan on. Turn lights on at sunset. Turn all lights off at sunrise (bloody kids), etc).

Alexa works great as an integration hub - you can control devices from different systems from a single point.
Glad it works for you. I don't have the need for it and won't be investing in it for its own sake. What I really object to is having to pay for it when I don't need it or want it. New devices are stuffed full of this sort of thing by default.

Reminds me of the analogy of how technology is viewed by successive generations:
- technology that existed when you were growing up is regarded as quaint or old-fashioned
- technology developed at the peak of your working life is cutting edge
- technology that comes later in life is usually deemed unnecessary and pointless

- your kids view your cutting edge as quaint or old-fashioned
- your kids can't live without stuff you deem unnnecessary and pointless
- what your kids regard as unnecessary and pointless is, to you, science fiction.

Circle of life, and all that. And it's only Monday morning...
 
Both of which are mighty big 'IFs'.

Yeah. I guess my background makes me a little naive when it comes to these things. A few decades working as a systems engineer and having to do systems reliability calculations, including a spot of mathematical model development in the area, gives a guy some strange notions.

For starters, people are cheap-skates and don't buy multiple devices to do ostensibly the same job; hence there is little or no redundancy.

You probably need to get out more. There used to be a time when 1 TV, 1 (landline) phone, and 1 car was the norm (for the relatively affluent). Now? Even the dog has probably got its own TV and beer fridge. "Can I borrow your phone? Mine's out of battery".
.
Redundancy occurs where it's needed. Eg, domestic mobile phone, GPS, and wifi networks usually have signal redundancy built into them (whether it be multiple nodes and/or frequency-band switching).

Secondly, the devices used are built to minimise the number of parts:

Which should please MrBane immensely as, all things being equal, it removes failure points ;-)

"Part" is such an inclusive word. It covers everything from that bulky 10 ohm, kiloamp resistor (used as a voltage dropper on greatgrandad's thermionic valve power amp for his turntable) to the 3 GHz, 16 GiB RAM, octa-core, microcontroller unit with 32 programmable, interruptable, multipurpose, tristate (digital/ADC/DAC/PWM/I2C/SPI/CANBUS/UNAMEIT) I/O pins, Improved reliability was one of the major drivers for moving from analogue to digital circuitry.

Added to which, the parts are all built in China and don't meet decent specification anyway.

I have to confess that I've got quite a few bits of Chinese and Malay kit hanging around that are probably a couple of decades old. I've also been cheerfully surprised at how good some of the dirt-cheap Banggod/Alibaba electronics stuff is.

Reliability and high-integrity cost more for a reason.

Reliability and high integrity cost less with time as economy of scale kicks in and consumers get more screechy.

People make the same kind of cost-benefit analyses they've probably always done, and will certainly vote with their wallets where reliability is concerned. Anybody here remember a thing called the British domestic consumer electronic industry?

There was a time when it behoved a man to learn to fix a car and wield a soldering iron. Neither are deemed generally-useful skills today. Sure, there are a fair number of even young people who have decent mechanical and electrical/electronic knowledge, but they have these skills for either jobs or hobbies.

The *average* car owner doesn't remember the days when you'd hear folk saying "I've had this car from new and it hasn't let me down once since I drove out of the showroom last week.". My wife's Fiat hasn't needed anything beyond the trivial and consumables doing to it in over 11 years. Modern engines easily run up mileage that was almost the sole preserve of Volvos when I was a kid. What percentage of people get the new, swizzy SamGoogApple phone because their old one broke, rather than because "Ooh! Shiny! Look at the specs, street cred and conspicuous consumption on that!"? (Having said that, I generally don't get new a new phone/PC until the old one runs out of capability)

That isn't to say that you don't get what you pay for, but you get a lot more for your money than you used to.

OTOH, I am well aware that, particularly at the low end of the price scale, the final stage of product test and inspection is consumer purchase - it's cheaper overall to give the few who moan a new one. Many examples of cheap (for values of cheap) binoculars and monoculars are damn near useless, even if you get one that is correctly assembled, aligned, collimated, etc.

John Glenn said:
"I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract."

And, oddly, I seem to recall John Glenn surviving into ripe old age. Of course, not all his colleagues were that lucky but now we're largely into a different discussion about human behavioural failures.

[FWIW, I still cringe at the early adverts for "web-surfing" on 28k/56k dial-up modems] ...

[I joke with my children about the days of 1200 kps modems, 16KB RAM packs, and 75 baud teletypes. However, often forgotten is that our PCs couldn't easily handle kilobytes or megabytes, let alone, gigabytes, of data, and many used text interfaces with character-based block graphics - VGA was cutting edge.

Sure I cringe now, but I didn't then coz we didn't have anything better. I also cringe at what people used to think constituted "fast" or "good handling" in cars]

[... Or the nightmares of spotty-faced kids discovering a TCP/IP-enabled AMRAAM in flight and wresting control from the fighter or AWACS controlling it.]

[Security was almost non-existent and far too easily compromised back in the day. Almost the first thing I did on any new system was hack myself into administrator/root/superuser/whatever status. And it was usually very difficult to boot me off a system without a fresh system reload. Fortunately, I outgrew such childish amusements at about the same time people started to penalize such things rather than just rolling their eyes (if they even noticed, which they usually didn't unless I telegraphed it)]
 
Glad it works for you. I don't have the need for it and won't be investing in it for its own sake. What I really object to is having to pay for it when I don't need it or want it. New devices are stuffed full of this sort of thing by default.

Reminds me of the analogy of how technology is viewed by successive generations:
- technology that existed when you were growing up is regarded as quaint or old-fashioned
- technology developed at the peak of your working life is cutting edge
- technology that comes later in life is usually deemed unnecessary and pointless

- your kids view your cutting edge as quaint or old-fashioned
- your kids can't live without stuff you deem unnnecessary and pointless
- what your kids regard as unnecessary and pointless is, to you, science fiction.

Circle of life, and all that. And it's only Monday morning...

Ah, the downside of having read science fiction and being able to extrapolate - what my kids regard as science fiction or "I'll never do that" is old hat or inevitable to me ...
 
Glad it works for you. I don't have the need for it and won't be investing in it for its own sake. What I really object to is having to pay for it when I don't need it or want it. New devices are stuffed full of this sort of thing by default.

I think that's a separate but valid point. Some of the stuff I have was bought to play with, and I use what works. I certainly don't need it integrated into everything I buy - apart from paying for unwanted features (although the incremental cost these days is tiny), there are security and other implications (not the "oh no the government/chinese are reading my fridge contents" type, but the "designed by idiots and thus open to access by anyone" type).

I think some of the possibilities home automation has is useful, and some intriguing, but then I am a bit of a tech geek, and work in a related industry.
 
Yeah. I guess my background makes me a little naive when it comes to these things. A few decades working as a systems engineer and having to do systems reliability calculations, including a spot of mathematical model development in the area, gives a guy some strange notions.



You probably need to get out more. There used to be a time when 1 TV, 1 (landline) phone, and 1 car was the norm (for the relatively affluent). Now? Even the dog has probably got its own TV and beer fridge. "Can I borrow your phone? Mine's out of battery".
.
Redundancy occurs where it's needed. Eg, domestic mobile phone, GPS, and wifi networks usually have signal redundancy built into them (whether it be multiple nodes and/or frequency-band switching).



Which should please MrBane immensely as, all things being equal, it removes failure points ;-)

"Part" is such an inclusive word. It covers everything from that bulky 10 ohm, kiloamp resistor (used as a voltage dropper on greatgrandad's thermionic valve power amp for his turntable) to the 3 GHz, 16 GiB RAM, octa-core, microcontroller unit with 32 programmable, interruptable, multipurpose, tristate (digital/ADC/DAC/PWM/I2C/SPI/CANBUS/UNAMEIT) I/O pins, Improved reliability was one of the major drivers for moving from analogue to digital circuitry.



I have to confess that I've got quite a few bits of Chinese and Malay kit hanging around that are probably a couple of decades old. I've also been cheerfully surprised at how good some of the dirt-cheap Banggod/Alibaba electronics stuff is.



Reliability and high integrity cost less with time as economy of scale kicks in and consumers get more screechy.

People make the same kind of cost-benefit analyses they've probably always done, and will certainly vote with their wallets where reliability is concerned. Anybody here remember a thing called the British domestic consumer electronic industry?

There was a time when it behoved a man to learn to fix a car and wield a soldering iron. Neither are deemed generally-useful skills today. Sure, there are a fair number of even young people who have decent mechanical and electrical/electronic knowledge, but they have these skills for either jobs or hobbies.

The *average* car owner doesn't remember the days when you'd hear folk saying "I've had this car from new and it hasn't let me down once since I drove out of the showroom last week.". My wife's Fiat hasn't needed anything beyond the trivial and consumables doing to it in over 11 years. Modern engines easily run up mileage that was almost the sole preserve of Volvos when I was a kid. What percentage of people get the new, swizzy SamGoogApple phone because their old one broke, rather than because "Ooh! Shiny! Look at the specs, street cred and conspicuous consumption on that!"? (Having said that, I generally don't get new a new phone/PC until the old one runs out of capability)

That isn't to say that you don't get what you pay for, but you get a lot more for your money than you used to.

OTOH, I am well aware that, particularly at the low end of the price scale, the final stage of product test and inspection is consumer purchase - it's cheaper overall to give the few who moan a new one. Many examples of cheap (for values of cheap) binoculars and monoculars are damn near useless, even if you get one that is correctly assembled, aligned, collimated, etc.



And, oddly, I seem to recall John Glenn surviving into ripe old age. Of course, not all his colleagues were that lucky but now we're largely into a different discussion about human behavioural failures.



[I joke with my children about the days of 1200 kps modems, 16KB RAM packs, and 75 baud teletypes. However, often forgotten is that our PCs couldn't easily handle kilobytes or megabytes, let alone, gigabytes, of data, and many used text interfaces with character-based block graphics - VGA was cutting edge.

Sure I cringe now, but I didn't then coz we didn't have anything better. I also cringe at what people used to think constituted "fast" or "good handling" in cars]



[Security was almost non-existent and far too easily compromised back in the day. Almost the first thing I did on any new system was hack myself into administrator/root/superuser/whatever status. And it was usually very difficult to boot me off a system without a fresh system reload. Fortunately, I outgrew such childish amusements at about the same time people started to penalize such things rather than just rolling their eyes (if they even noticed, which they usually didn't unless I telegraphed it)]
Sounds as if we have very similar backgrounds ;)

Complexity vs part count is what I was trying to get at earlier. Hugely complex computing engines on a single chip - one element of that goes, the whole lot goes: there is no 'run degraded' option.

Now where did I leave my wire-wrapping tools....
 
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