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blu rants about IoT

Started by bluaki, September 20, 2018, 10:38:01 PM

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bluaki

September 20, 2018, 10:38:01 PM Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 10:41:37 PM by bluaki
tldr: Philips Hue is alright but expensive, other Zigbee and ZWave based stuff is fine too with a lot more flexibility, and everything else is trash.

The problem I needed a fix for: Heavy sleep. It was to the level of my phone and another alarm clock sounding a combined total of ~14 max volume alarms spaced 5 minutes apart, 10 hours after I went to sleep, and me still sleeping through it all without waking up until a couple hours afterward. I figured automated lights are what I needed. A heavier dose of antidepressants helped too but that's beside the point.

I looked at some "dumb" options, like dedicated wake-up light clocks, but they're either so inflexible that they're a hassle to use, way too overpriced (like $300 for a single alarm clock levels of expensive), not bright enough, or most likely some combination of those issues.

So I needed something computer-controlled like this "IoT" trend. Since I'm literally a professional hacker I'm kinda cognizant of the fact that connecting a ton of poorly-designed garbage to the Internet is a terrible idea, so I wanted to stick with LAN options. LAN-based IoT basically means sticking to Zigbee or Z-Wave mesh networks, since they depend on a bridge you can firewall off from the Internet and the bridge itself can be controlled strictly over LAN. It's not like there's any reason to manually turn on your lights while away from home (and I can use a VPN if I'm crazy enough to ever want to).

So I went with Phillips Hue. I got the 4-bulb colorful starter kit, four table lamps, and put them all in my bedroom with a schedule to simultaneously gradually adjust to maximum brightness in the morning while keeping my sound alarms too. That worked sometimes, but a lot of other times it's still not bright enough to get a reaction out of me and I still slept through it.

Hue doesn't scale well in price to a ton of bulbs and isn't bright enough per-bulb, so I looked at the other smart lights options and they all suck. None of them actually get brighter than Hue ones, most have poor color temperature options, and a ton of them are labeled "No hub required!" which is another way of saying "This connects directly to your Wi-Fi, has to be controlled over the Internet, and won't even work if your Internet or our servers go down"

Then I found smart outlet switches, which seem perfect. I got a 5-bulb lamp, plugged it into a Z-Wave controlled outlet, and filled it with non-smart LED bulbs for the equivalent of 330W incandescent (4700 lumens) with all of the bulbs pointed directly at my face in bed. Combine that with the Hue lamps I already had in my bedroom for 7000 lumens (500W equivalent) total, basically nuking my face with light every morning. And it works. I set it up so the Hue lights gradually get brighter over the course of 30 minutes, then right after they hit max brightness the other 5 bulbs all light up. Since the Hue hub can't actually handle anything that isn't Hue, I got some USB Z-Wave+Zigbee adapter and made my home server act as a hub for the others. There are other dedicated hubs that would work, namely Samsung SmartThings or Wink, but they cost a lot more than a USB dongle and I really didn't want to keep two dedicated hubs set up for this.

Then I thought "since I finally caved and bought into an IoT setup, are there any other IoT things that have any use?" and the answer is no. Since smart junk doesn't play well with outlets controlled by a light switch, I think using ZWave controlled lightswitches would be pretty nice but they require extra wires that I don't have in my lightswitch panels, so that'd be too costly to get installed for me. Appliances like refrigerators and laundry washing machines have no justifiable reason to be "smart" despite manufacturers believing otherwise. I kinda like the idea of a "smart" lock that has secure proximity keyfobs similar to a lot of modern cars, but none of them seem to actually do that and instead the options that actually exist just add vulnerabilities like a 4-digit PIN or poorly-implemented smartphone bluetooth or internet-controlled unlocking. All the smart thermostats need a direct internet connection and in particular I hate Nest/Google's approach of "machine learning" trying to predict what you want.

I actually have not one but two Google Home devices. I didn't even want them, Google just gave them to me for free with my phone and my laptop, and I have no use for them at all. Even though it has Hue integration I can't actually control my Hue lights with it because it's so poorly-designed that it needs to go through the Internet to control them instead of just working over LAN.

Magyarorszag

Quote from: bluaki on September 20, 2018, 10:38:01 PM"since I finally caved and bought into an IoT setup, are there any other IoT things that have any use?" and the answer is no.

lol

i honestly just don't see the point, my refrigerator and home lighting system don't need to be connected to fakeblock or tw@ter and i can't imagine how they could be improved by any sort of internet connection

suggestions i've heard using the fridge as an example:

-digitized food expiration dates
-news
-weather
-digitized grocery list

but expiration dates are printed onto every single perishable item by law already, and nobody's going to manually input the dates of every new item into their fridge once the iot novelty wears off after two days lol

the rest i can do much more conveniently on my phone, and after a year or two the fridge's computer will be too outdated to handle any if those basic tasks competently anyway

oh, and of course, an iot appliance would also stop getting firmware or security updates of any kind after three months, lol

also do the lights now actually wake you up in time myface;

you shouldn't need to frustrate yourself with dumb technologies to resolve this, it's really a physiological issue that you're probably best off addressing directly

don't let's

Last year I just got a switchmate thing that fits over the light switch and is Bluetooth controlled and have it run on timers for the most part to turn my light on in the morning when I need to start waking up.

reeper

IOT things are like the plague when it comes to subscription fees or software updates.

I'm interested in Philips Hues because of the RBG colors and smart IOT capabilities but they're so god damn expensive.

I got a Smart Plug (HS110) for my tortoise, it's really nice to be able to rely on a consistent timer (unlike those unreliable analog ones). I can't suggest them enough or a similar product, to anyone with reptiles that need timers.

bluaki

September 26, 2018, 12:30:13 AM #4 Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 12:36:53 AM by bluaki
Quote from: Magyarorszag on September 25, 2018, 03:27:40 PMsuggestions i've heard using the fridge as an example:

-digitized food expiration dates
-news
-weather
-digitized grocery list
I actually like the idea of a smart display that shows stuff like weather and whatnot, but not built into a fridge. That should be its own separate device. They need a lot of flexibility to really justify themselves like to show you custom notifications/information, with anything from personal calendar events to current Amazon orders to the various readings from your "smart" sensors.

Something I thought would be nice to use IoT for, but the actual devices don't really support that well: having temperature/humidity sensors in my house and porch to get a record of temperatures over time to make sure my AC is cooling the house properly and to get better current weather data for the area around my home than weather forecasting sites give me.

Quote from: Magyarorszag on September 25, 2018, 03:27:40 PMalso do the lights now actually wake you up in time myface;
Yes.

Quote from: reeper on September 25, 2018, 11:01:48 PMIOT things are like the plague when it comes to subscription fees or software updates.

I'm interested in Philips Hues because of the RBG colors and smart IOT capabilities but they're so god damn expensive.

I got a Smart Plug (HS110) for my tortoise, it's really nice to be able to rely on a consistent timer (unlike those unreliable analog ones). I can't suggest them enough or a similar product, to anyone with reptiles that need timers.
Yeah, Smart Plugs really are the most useful IoT option around. The switch thing I mentioned that I use with my 5-bulb lamp is one. The key difference is that I picked a Z-Wave one, which like Hue requires a hub and a bit more setup but still works during internet outages and doesn't rely on the vendor's servers staying online forever. And they never are directly controlled from the internet so they're not as hackable.



Some smart plugs are dimmable too, so the main reason to get smart lights instead is just for the color-changing features. Being able to change color temperatures from "warm white" (2700K) to "cool white" (5000K) is actually legitimately useful (like the Hue White Ambiance bulbs), while being able to change from blue to purple to red is mostly a gimmick that seems kinda neat but most people won't actually want to use (like the Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs).

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