My Entry into the World of the Internet of Things

I have been following home automation every since returning from the 4th Annual Home Server Show Meetup. On the return trip home from the meetup, my mind was swimming with ideas of different projects to automate my townhouse. As I researched the topic and options, it became clear that home automation was in its infancy. What I mean is there is many companies that offer different products from door locks, light switches, thermostats, cameras, and other products which only worked with their products. I became aware there was no common standard of communication for the different devices to communicate with each other. I decided at the time to keep reading home automation articles and wait for the products to mature.

Fast forward to 11 months. During the July 2015 and August 2015, Concord North Carolina had some very hot temperatures. The hot weather eventually caused my air conditioner to fail. I called Christian’s Heating & Air Conditioning Services and talked to Ron about my failing air conditioner who came out to my house the next day.  He inspected my air conditioner and gave me the news that I expected that my air conditioner is failing. I was not surprised as the unit was 10 years old and came with the townhouse when it was built in 2005. With a fews days Ron Christian had quotes for four different air conditioners and I decided on an AIREASE. While I was having my air conditioner replaced, I decided to do some research for smart thermostats. Nest thermostats came up during the research but I wanted a smart thermostat that had sensors, generate reports, and overall easy to use. I discovered ecobee thermostat. The more I researched the thermostat the more I liked what I read. At the time, ecobee was getting ready to update their smart thermostat to support  Apple HomeKit. I was able to purchase the ecobee3 Wi-Fi thermostat at a $25 discount for $222.18. This thermostat does not support Apple HomeKit but I did not see myself using it as it seemed too much of a overhead for a smart device. Ron Christian installed the devices in my townhouse.

The ecobee3 Wi-Fi thermostat was easy to setup. It consisted of following the directions on the thermostat and before I knew it, volla it was setup. I ran into a small problem with setting up the two ecobee sensors but a call to ecobee customer support resolved my issue in a matter of minutes. The ecobee customer service representative listened to me explain my issue and had a solution within minutes. It took me a few hours to program each ecobee3 Wi-Fi thermostat due to looking at all the options and getting the programed temperature just right.

I have been using the ecobee3 Wi-Fi thermostat since July 9, 2015. I have been satisfied with the performance and the different features it has to offer.

The next home automation product that I am looking at is ring.

Installing Prey on a MacBook Pro

Sunday afternoon I installed the Prey software on my MacBook Pro. I discovered this software on Saturday and curious to learn more about Prey Project and the software product Prey. I created a video PC Eddie Installs Prey On His MacBook Pro which describes how to install Prey on a Apple laptop and review the different settings. I will test Prey and post my results later this week.

Since Prey is a open source project, you can view the code on their web site. Below are the featuresthat come with the free version.

  • can be installed on Windows, Apple, Linux, and Android devices
  • 100% geolocation aware
  • take a picture with your web cam
  • lockdown your computer or laptop
  • Wifi auto connect
  • ability to take screen shots
  • scan your hardware
  • Prey does not leave a memory footprint
  • hide Outlook and Thunderbird data
  • remove stored passwords
  • automatically update Prey software

The Prey Project offers a pro account that has more features.

  • Prey active mode which allows you to keep track of your computer or laptop when it is not stolen
  • 100 reports per device
  • Prey on demand which allows you to request new reports or perform actions in real time
  • increase the reports to 2 minute intervals
  • full SSL encryption
  • automated Prey deployment

The price of the pro account ranges from $5 per month up to $399 per month which offers a price range to suit everybody’s budget. The Prey Project offers a 10% discount for people who pay annually.

If you are thinking about securing your computer, laptop, or Android phone try Prey.

 

 

 

Prey Software

I just finished reading a Lifehacker article about a software product called Prey. You can use this software for free or choose the paid version. I have not tried this software yet but I will install it on my MacBook Pro this weekend.

Prey tracks your laptop or Android device in case it is stolen. You can read more about Prey at their website. This is a good idea for mobile devices as they are easily stolen from libraries, colleges, universities, or coffee shops to name a few places.