After twenty years of reading about smart homes I decided to finally make mine smart(-ish) as well. I’m working to reuse as much of existing infrastructure, so I can spend as little as possible.
At the moment my system consist of:
* four google assistant speakers
* hive thermostat
* cctv camera
* two electric switches
More will follow shortly (they are on their way from China).
My hub is based on QNAP NAS TS-453A, which I had already. I wouldn’t buy it just for that, Raspberry Pi would work as well. This NAS drive runs a QTS operating system, which is basically a linux machine with very convenient web UI. Among many features it offers a “Container Station”, which is a docker subsystem with large set of packages ready to install. I’m running two:
* Home Assistant – opens source hub for home automation hass.io
* Eclipse Mosquitto – MTQQ broker working as a transport layer between switches and the hub
Note: the container station offers three ways to connect the docker deployed apps to the network. I’m using the “Host” mode, which mean the apps are binding directly to the network interface of the NAS. You want to set it as such, so the devices on the network can easily connect to both apps.
Home Assistant is available as a service for Google Assistant. There’s currently a limited set of accepted commands – currently they support lights and thermostat only. Hass.io service in assistant directory.
All switches/lights can be renamed from Google Home app on Android.
I’m using cheapest Sonoff Basic switches (less than £4 on Banggood) flashed with custom firmware Sonoff-Tasmota.
This week I’ve attended meeting of London-GTUG (Google Technology Users Group). Main themes of the meeting were Chrome Extensions and HTML5. First part was interesting, but not inspiring – the Firefox plugins are widely available, Chrome Extensions just close the gap between the browsers. I like the architecture of Extensions and reasonable restrictions Google put on available APIs. All information are available on Chrome Extensions Lab page.
Is HTML5 a flash-killer? If you compare capabilities, it may seem so, but the battle is not lost for Adobe yet. At the moment there are no IDEs that let developers use full potential of new capabilities. And the browser support is still quite poor with Internet Explorer in lead in department of ignoring new standard. Adobe has some time to make a leap forward and run away before HTML folks produce something stable and popular enough.
Btw: Someone took a decision to stop numbering HTML, so we should not talk about HTML5 – it’s just HTML now. How do you tell what capabilities are supported by your browser? IMHO it will make some mess in two or three years. I don’t understand why they did it.
For some time now Google is running Google Forms service which allows anyone to create web forms using extremely simple creator. Just log in to your google account, go to documents to try yourself:
Then follow on-screen instruction, there’s nothing that can cause any trouble to anyone. When you save the form, you will get email with two URLs – one to the form itself, second one to Google Spreadsheet which to which all data typed to your form will be saved. Clean and easy!
I’ve used Google Forms to gather feedback from my recent presentations and I’m more than happy with results. I’ve created anonymous forms with no required fields not to put any pressure on responders. The turn-over was higher than expected, I got both positive and negative responses. Some people used “other comment” field to provide their email.
My tips for using Google forms for feedback gathering:
- use open questions
- ask for positive and negative sides separately “what did you like… / what didn’t you like…”
- if you had several separable parts of presentation, ask for each part separately to make the answers more straight forward
- do not make fields required – you will see that most people will fill all fields without you pushing them!
- make the survey anonymous
- add “other comments” field
Good luck! :)