PSA for 1Password Customers »

I came across this 1Password blog post in the Mac Power Users Facebook group:

As a result of an expired provisioning profile and format change in the developer certificate, customers who downloaded 1Password for Mac directly from our site will need to manually update to the latest version. Those using 1Password from the Mac App Store are not affected.

AgileBits’ blog post goes into the details of what happened. Like with the recent Instapaper outage, the honesty makes me feel better about the issue.

Update: Other Mac developers are dealing with this as well.

The State of iBooks »

Michael Cohen at TidBits, after outlining a myriad of problems with Apple’s iBooks apps:

I cannot see into the heart of Apple to judge the depth of its love for iBooks, but, from external appearances, whatever affection it has seems to become ever more shallow with each passing release. And, for an ebook lover like me, that is heartbreaking.

My Smart Home Setup 

There’s something obvious I should state up front: no one needs this stuff. My exploration in this area has been under the guise of “I need a cool backdrop for YouTube videos,” but even that is probably not a great reason to spend a bunch of money on lights that change colors.

That aside, this stuff is fun to play with, and I like what I can do with it.

I should probably have titled this “My Smart Studio,” as most of the smart home devices I have are in my office, not our house, but here’s what puttering around my network.

Studio

I have two sets of Hue lights in my studio.

The first is a series of three Hue Lightstrips attached the undersides of my heavy-duty shelves:

Collection shelves

Like the full-blown bulbs, they can change color, but I usually leave them white. They allow me to light up the Macs in my collection in a nice, pleasing way. Each strip has its own plug and controller that I’ve stashed away in one of the legs of the rack.

The second set is visible in that three-light floor lamp. Here, I’m using Philips Hue Lights. Buying the starter kit I’ve linked to includes the Hub, which plugs into my Ethernet network.

I’ve named the devices in both of these sets by their placement. This is critical in my mind; clear labels lead to less frustration later.

Lastly, also have a Canary security camera watching the studio door. I went with this because it offers push notifications for activity and includes a built-in alarm. If I get a notification and see some troublemakers are here to steal my 20th Anniversary Mac, I can blast them with the 90 dB siren.

Canary can be managed with the Echo via IFTT if Wink is setup with the Canary, but I haven’t gone down that road yet. I know people who have, so I probably will at some point.

(The item showing the weather in that photo is the LaMetric Time clock. It was cool Christmas present.)

Desk

On my desk — which is in the same space as that rack of old Macs — I have two lights.

One is a regular, old-fashioned lamp that my wife has had for years. I adopted it as my own when I finished my office, but just screwed in a regular bulb. This became frustrating at night or if I came in to the office with my hands full and couldn’t turn on the overhead lights. I didn’t need the flexibility of the Hue system in the lamp, so I picked up a iHome Control Smart Plug for it. The iHome plugs into the wall, and the lamp plugs into it.

This device is binary; I can turn it off and turn it on. The simplicity is great, but I have a few complaints. In setting it up, I attempted to connect it to my 5 GHz wireless network, which failed with a weird error. It seems to be unsupported, but the iHome app should have told me that in a more clear way.

Secondly, the plug makes an audible click when triggered. It sounds like a lamp going on or off, but this causes problems if I want to turn it on as I’m recording a podcast at my desk. From what I’ve read, other smart plugs do this too, so perhaps its a relay or something in there making noise.

The iHome does have a stand-out feature, though, that I really like. On the device, there’s a physical button that will turn the switch on or off without network access. If my Wi-Fi is out for some reason, I can still turn this light on.

The second light is a Hue Bloom I picked up on a whim. It’s not real bright, but it lets me throw a splash of color on the wall. I’ve used it in the background of a couple of videos now, as it’s much easier to move around then that three-light lamp.

House

Years ago, I knocked our old-school thermostat off the wall getting Christmas decorations out of the attic. I replaced it with a Nest thermostat in a bit of nerd lust at Home Depot.

We also have an indoor Nest Camera that watches the front door from the living room.

Nest Hardware is top-notch. The company’s roots in Apple show. However, compared to the Hue lights, Nest is a pretty closed system. I do have the thermostat hooked up to the Echo, but Nest is incompatible with HomeKit. The Nest app works well enough, but I wish I could stick my Thermostat in Control Center. If I had to do this over again today, I’d probably pick up an Ecobee.

Ecosystems

With the exception of the Nest Thermostat and Camera, everything I’ve added to my network can be controlled with both Apple’s Home.app and my Echo:

Home and Alexa

HomeKit has come a long way in recent months. Home.app is easy to use and set up, and Siri does a pretty good job and knowing what’s going on. However, my favorite part about it is that I can put my favorite items in Control Center.

However, in my house, the Amazon Echo reigns supreme. We have one in our kitchen, and I have a new Echo Dot that sits atop a G4 Cube on my desk. (Yes, really.)

Setting up devices in the Alexa iOS app is pretty straightforward. I had to learn that everything works a lot better if your groups have different names than the individual components within them.

For example, I initially set up the group for my shelves as “Shelves.” When I asked Alexa to turn off my “Shelves,” it would ask me which one, as I had multiple things with that name in my account. I renamed the group of shelves and now all three shelf lights come on when I say “Turn on my Collection.”

Some will say that the best assistant is the one you have with you, and that until Amazon is in your pocket, Siri wins. I’m not sure I agree with that, but through the combination of Alexa and HomeKit, I can control my stuff with my voice or my thumbs. At this point, I’ll only be adding things that work with both systems.

WWDC 2017: June 5-9 in San Jose »

Big news this morning out of Apple:

Apple today announced its 28th annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) — hosting the world’s most talented developer community — will be held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose. The conference, kicking off June 5, will inspire developers from all walks of life to turn their passions into the next great innovations and apps that customers use every day across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and Mac.

The city is historic for Apple, as John Gruber points out:

The San Jose Convention Center is the original home of WWDC — that’s where it was held from 1988 through 2002. (WWDC 2002 was the year Steve Jobs held a funeral for Mac OS 9 during the keynote.) San Jose is way closer to Apple headquarters. San Francisco is about an hour drive from 1 Infinite Loop. The San Jose Convention Center is only five minutes away from Apple’s new campus. Schiller emphasized to me that this is a big deal: more Apple employees from more teams will be present, simply because they won’t have to devote an entire day to being there. (This could be a particular boon to WWDC’s developer labs, where attendees can get precious face time with Apple’s engineers.)

See you there.