Category Archives: Technical

The Deep State is Watching You

I bought a bunch of Echos for my house on Prime Day. My daughter asked me if I wasn’t concerned about the Deep State, as recently the government subpoenaed the Alexa records of an Arkansas man from Amazon.

I considered that before buying Alexa, but I figured what the Hell. They already have all of my texts and phone calls. All of my emails and banking transactions, All my movements from cell phones and facial recognition from city street and toll cameras. All of my credit card charges. All of my facebook posts. All of my medical records from Obamacare. Their satellite cameras can look in my bedroom window. My cars and trucks have black boxes that report my car’s diagnostics, and a microphone they have control of. They have every Google search I’ve ever made and every site I’ve ever visited. They can take over every camera, phone computer and TV; smart refrigerator and washer; door bell or flood light camera; or anything else with a camera or microphone. My electric smart meter tells them how much electricity I’m using in any given moment. How much more help can Alexia give them on what channel I watch or what music I’m listening to?

If you think you are free from Deep State tyranny, you’re pretty stupid.

You might pass this along to your family and friends. You are far from Free!

Home Automation Part Two – Smart Locks

This is the second a series of articles I am posting on Home Automation. You may want to first read the post Home Automation Part One – What is Home Automation?

In this article I’ll cover the installation and configuration of Smart Locks. I’ve installed four so far. At the race shop, I have a retired helper that keeps the shop clean and maintains the property for me as a handyman, a friend that works for me one day a week helping me getting my car collection in salable condition. and my daughter works for me a couple days a week washing cars and trucks. With a Smart Lock, I can send them “invitations” to install a pass key on their smart phones, so the can get into the shop, and lock it up. I can restrict when they have access, get a text when they lock or unlock, and delete them should they no longer need access. I have installed two of these locks at my lake house. Housekeepers come every other Wednesday and they’re set up to access the house only then. Each of my kids can use their phones for access if they were to arrive before us. I have a guy who will be coming to install blinds and Plantation Shutters while I’m out of town, but he can call me when he gets here and I can open the door and lock it when he leaves. You can also use a Smart Assistant (Like Alexa) to lock and unlock (with a PIN) the locks. This converts an existing deadbolt by replacing the inside with a computerized motor, while retaining the outside lock that allows the option of using your key.

That’s some of what you can do with with a Smart Lock, but this article is about installation and configuration of the lock. The instructions are good if everything goes well, but in the four locks I’ve installed, none of them has gone well, all for different reasons. I was able to figure it out, and I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so others might have an easier time of it.

First off, there are quite a few brands, and a wide range of prices. The most popular, and the most expensive is the August. This is pretty new technology and I don’t need to be bleeding edge just to save a couple of bucks. The hardware is not rocket science, its the app that is going to be used more often, and the money spent there for a good one is important to me. The newest version is the Third Generation and its the way to go. While its not needed to use the lock within Bluetooth range, there is a version package with the “August Connect” option. This bridges the lock to your WiFi. That will give you the ability to receive activity texts and have remote access to the lock. It’s $30 more, and the connect bridge needs to be plugged into an outlet.

A couple considerations:

The lock is about twice the size of the inside knob it will replace, and it has wings that open up to fit to the lock mount, and the close to clamp around the mount. You need to make sure that you have enough space around where the lock will go.

The existing lock needs to be properly adjusted to lock with door closed, without having to push or pull a little on the door to engage the deadbolt. If it isn’t perfectly adjusted to smoothly lock when the door is fully closed, make the adjustment first.

If you’re going to use the connect you have to find an outlet to plug it in having the right balance of being close enough to the lock for a bluetooth connection, and close enough to a 2.4ghz WiFi. Also have your iPhone logged into a 2.4ghz WiFi. It won’t work with 5ghz.

The box comes with the lock, a mount, plastic adapters, position sensor, and the connector bridge. Download the August App from the Apple store, and go to install new device. It will walk you through these steps?

First tape the outside of the lock so it doesn’t move around when you remove the inside portion.

Remove the two screws holding the inside of deadbolt and remove.

Using the two screws you removed, attach the mount as in photo above. Stop as soon as you feel resistance and don’t tighten further as it will be too much resistance for the lock motor.

The app helps you select the right color plastic adapter for your lock. It is keyed with a big and small tab on the center of the adapter. If it isn’t clocked right for the lock, switch ends.

Clamp on the lock like the app instructs you. The app tells you to mount the sensor within an inch and half of extended dead bolt and screw down. I just attach using the tape until after running setup, in case you have to move it a little. After it passes the setup then I screw down.

Now you’re ready to run the configuration on your phone. You’ll need to have your phone within 5′ of the lock. Select configuring both the lock and position sensor. It will walk you through locking and unlocking, opening and closing the door so the lock learns what it needs to know to work properly.

Once the lock it set up, select set up Connect. Plug it in an outlet close to the lock, but is also in distance of a decent WiFi connection.

Setup will let you know if you have a decent bridge.

If all goes well, you can new lock and unlock the door using your phone.

Now two of the locks I’ve installed were too big for the area because of molding around the center glass.

I had to chisel the molding to make it fit.

I hope this helps you understand what a smart lock can do, what’s involved in installing, and the potential problems.

Home Automation Part One – What is Home Automation?

I ordered a new motorhome in 2014, and there was a $5000 option for Home Automation. I took the option and was able to control all of the coach’s lights, drapes, security, generator, locks, awnings, slideouts, heaters, air conditioners, hot water heater, water pump and entertainment system through an iPad. This began my interest in all things Home Automation.

It’s true that I’m an old man on Social Security who isn’t suppose to be interested in high tech crap, but I’m a little different in that I got into the computer industry in the early 80s, and I love learning new stuff. While I’m far from an expert, I’m currently automating two homes and my race shop.  I will post a few articles to try to make it easier for others interested in automating their home to cut through the confusion.

In this first article, I want to explain in general terms what Home Automation is, and some of the devices that can be controlled, monitored, and notified. Most of these Smart Devices can be controlled and  monitored remotely with an iPhone. Below are some of the items I control with my iPhone. All of these devices are available to and easily installed by the home owner.

The above monitors security cameras I have set up. They record to an on-site recorder and to the cloud. If motion is detected, I immediately receive a text as to which camera detected motion, and I can go to that camera from anywhere in  the world that has cell service or data.

Smart Locks. The above is for the monitor for smart locks. These locks can be locked and unlocked by a smart phone within Bluetooth range, by Alexia with a voice PIN code, or remotely by WiFi. You can “Invite” those you want to have permanent or temporary access to your lock and restrict when they have access. You can limit when they have access to and remove their access at anytime.

Smart Garage Door Openers. Most modern garage door openers can be controlled and monitored through WiFi. Again, you can control remotely.

Smart Alarm Systems. You can add or remove monitoring devices for entry, motion, temperature, water, smoke, carbon monoxide or more. You can even use these in locations without WiFi with a cellular controller.



Smart Pool. I can remotely control everything having to do with my pool. The lights, the waterfall, spa heater, bubblers, jets, filter, cleaner, scheduler, etc. It also monitors water condition.

Smart Alarm System. Another brand of a security system at my little cabin on the lake.

 Smart Cable Controller. Since it is hooked to a WiFi, I can use my iPhone to control the TV, or even remotely record the ball game if I’m running late getting home.

Devices that can be part of Home Automation include:

  • Smart TV’s
  • Smart Door Locks
  • Smart Light bulbs
  • Smart Ceiling Fans
  • Smart Window Shades and Drapes
  • Smart Thermostats
  • Smart Wall Switches
  • Smart Outlets
  • Smart Speakers
  • Smart Cameras
  • Smart Vacuum Cleaner
  • Smart Refridgerator
  • Smart Hubs
  • Smart TV Controllers
  • Smart Garage Door Openers
  • Smart Sprinkler/Watering Controllers
  • Smart Music
  • You name it, and it ain’t smart it soon will be

In the home these devices can managed by your iPhone, iPad, Computer, tablet, Alexa, or Google spot.

Then there’s software that can interface different brands of smart devices together. For instance turning off you alarm could signal you Smart lock to unlock, and to turn on a light. Text me when my garage door is open more than an hour. Don’t water the lawn if there’s more than 50% chance of rain in calendar day. Turn inside cameras off if alarm is disarmed.

Well that’s the general gist of home automation. Check back often as I get more specific, device by device.