#2: Why blog?
Automation

#2: Why blog?

William Zink

Thanks to Reddit I got a lot of positive feedback and the main question I was faced with is why blog?
I also got a lot of feedback surrounding the current state, broken links, subscribing, email lists, maybe better comments. Stick with me, time and positive support will make this better I promise!

TL;DR - I want to have a similar format through my blogs. A lot is under construction! I answer why this blog is different. And I touch on my favorite home automations!

How is this blog different though?

So this was a very deep and philosophical question, or at least I took it that way. In short, I want to build a community of people to challenge me and to each other to make better solutions. My goal is to create the smartest condo ever. Although I feel like I have that now, I want to maintain this moniker. Additionally, some might feel that home automation is this big undertaking with little or no support. I want to provide a stable resource for them. Any question is fair game!
Using my engineering hat if you give me an idea I can typically get to a desired outcome. My struggle is coming up with initial idea in the first place. I want to write this blog for people like me, on your side of the screen. If you are an engineer, or maybe you struggle with creativity. This might be an outlet where you see what I have done. Hopefully this resource will inspire a few of you to do what I have done but better. Which in turn will make both of us better. Sometimes this world can make it feel like you are fighting it alone, but with the power of the internet and blogs, know that we are fighting it together. But, if I don't share how will you know what I'm struggling with?

Quarantine has also given me plenty of time to think... I have identified some areas that I need to improve, and one of the top on my lists is writing. I have never been a strong writer and I contemplate many times before making my writing a reality. (I type this as 2:29AM strikes the clock on December 13th re-reading for the 4th time). I digress... Becoming a better writer would be my ancillary benefit.

Everything is a learning experience. I write software for a living but have never setup a blog before! This is a self-hosted blog, hosted in Azure; which for you means no ads and it's free for me! But unfortunately that means if there is an issue, guess who it's on to fix! THIS GUY! I hope that you will join me on this journey from today, a broken blog and some ramblings, to the future... A place where there will be a multitude of posts and comments that a newcomer or an advanced engineer can find helpful.

Do what you can't
-Casey Neistat

What's coming?

Ok! So the fun stuff! I have a lot slated for this blog... Keep in mind this is my very first blog! SO half the fun is knowing what you don't know. As Casey says, do what you can't... but here's what's next on my to do list.

  1. Email subscriptions
    I want to add the ability for you to get emails when I publish new pages! It's coming, I just have some things I need to figure out. Figured it out!
  2. Adding / fixing the author page
    I will fix the author page in the next few days. It's been a bit of a struggle to talk about myself. Haha! But I promise it's under construction. Kind of?
  3. Home Assistant Installation Post
    I recently migrated to Linux (Debian) using Docker and want to talk about my setup and see what other home lab software I could be using! So share your ideas with me
  4. Fixing any other miscellaneous things you tell me about
    That's what I'm here for, feedback and improvement. So if you find something off, or not working let me know!
  5. Contact Page

And if you have a specific blog post you want me to write about leave it in the comments below!

So how do I contact you in the meantime?

Email – thesmartestcondo@gmail.com
Reddit – u/thesmartestcondo
Instagram – @thesmartestcondo
GitHub – ZinkNotTheMetal
Hopefully soon my contact page!

Enough blabbering, talk about some Home Automation!

So, in my next post I will be talking about installing Home Assistant on a Computer using Docker, and the benefits that I have found using Docker.

My Home Assistant configuration GitHub - this is a link to my GitHub where I keep my Home Assistant configuration in a public repository. I try to keep things pretty organized.

If you like my layout and need a template for my secrets file, let me know and I can add one into the project.

Some notable other resources

  1. The Hook Up
    Excellent for reviews and DIY projects. Even though DIY is not my strength either ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. Dr ZZs

  3. Reddit - Home Assistant

  4. Reddit - Smart Home

  5. Reddit - Home Automation

Comment down below if I missed any of your favorites!

Conclusion

So this will be the format of the blog moving forward. TL;DR, meat and potatoes and a conclusion. My goal with this post is to give you a better understanding of my thinking and what will be coming in the future. It's difficult to personify the idea in my mind after 1 blog post. But I want to thank each of you for the kind words and positive feedback that I have received so far. I want to end each blog with a question to get the conversation going and also answer the question myself.

Question?

What is your all time favorite automation? Why?

My answer?

I have two:

  1. The one I'm most proud of is my automatic blinds. It uses Home Assistant sun integration and Node-Red to ensure that sun isn't in my face but doesn't just go all the way down. Node-Red also makes sure that they are up in perfect time for the sunset! This integration uses an OpenWeather API to check what the current cloud coverage is to make sure that the sky is clear (why lower them if it's raining)
    Picture of my nodes below. I'll dive into this in greater detail in a future blog post!
Node Flow
Function Node

  1. INTERNET SPEED MONITOR - oh man, this is a fun one to talk about. So, living in a condo has it's ups and downs (there is an elevator joke in there some where). And one of the downs is inconsistent internet speeds. I have a SpeedTest monitor that monitors and puts a dashboard in Home Assistant. Cool... but not unique... So to add my own flare as I do, if the speeds drop to unacceptable levels (below 5Mbps, as I pay for 1Gbps) then it will email the support with the current speeds and my information. I also throttle this to only send 2 reports a day if it happens. Support has called me thanking me, and a few times I was out of town and didn't even think about it.

CAVEAT: Be careful if your ISP institutes Data Caps!
List of ISPs that institute Caps in case you need the list or are not sure if yours does.

Home Assistant Internet Grid