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This switch is completely quiet – USW-24-PoE

My Unifi network is at a point where it is maturing rather than expanding. Don’t get me wrong, I am still adding devices where I can and where needed, but I am starting to upgrade as well. One thing that has been on the list for a while is to get a gen 2 switch for the office both so I can use the fun AR feature, but also to get rid of the noise of the gen 1 switch which has its fans on constantly.

Unifi very kindly provided the USW-24-PoE for this upgrade and review, so enjoy. It’s so quiet….

 


A smart lock that doesn’t need internet nor an app

Every once in a while a new product in the world of smart devices comes along that is just a little bit different. For me it has been the Shelly Wifi module, and the Unifi OS launched with the Dream Machine Pro. These aren’t necessarily things that will change the world, but devices that goes a bit against the grain to create either a better experience or fill in a niche gap somewhere. They are creative approaches to existing issues and solutions.

Recently I was sent two smart locks from Brad at sticklabs.io, a tiny company in rural America. It was a year long process from first contact with Brad until I installed the locks on the farm, but it was worth it. These locks don’t require an internet connection, nor a smartphone app, yet are still considered “smart”. It is an approach to cater for scenarios that are remote and provide access to people that you might never meet in person, yet still need access.

I liked the idea so much I filmed the entire install and setup process, which you can see below. I am very keen to hear your thoughts on how you could use it (or not).


Bluetooth in Home Assistant – It’s easy!!

Although I have added dozens of sensors to my farm measuring temperatures, water levels, light, weather and much more, I have done it all with Wi-Fi, Zigbee and cabling. Until now. I have been wondering about Bluetooth connections for a while, mainly because I was sent some SwitchBot devices by Oz Smart Things. I couldn’t get my head around how it would work with Home Assistant and the Raspberry Pi 4 I use. I thought I would have to somehow install more hardware, until I realised that the RP4 comes with Bluetooth out of the box, and Home Assistant just knows about it. I realised this when the integration showed up automatically a couple of months back.

Because I couldn’t get my head around it, I thought I would document how to do it all, from installing a Bluetooth extension cable for better coverage to using the SwitchBot temperature sensor. It is all in the video below. It is super easy. Enjoy.


Mapping WiFi signals with Unifi and WiFiman

I am up to 15 Unifi access points now on the farm. That is a lot. However, I use the network more and more for various projects and devices, and that includes outside use to a large extent too. At times the signal drops out, gets weak, behaves weirdly or in some way throws me off. I have been using all sorts of (broken) tricks to figure out where the coverage was good and not so good. I even made a video about using the Unifi Design Center, which is a great tool for a building or other defined space. However, it was very limited for outside use.

Based on a tweet by my mate Troy, I learnt about the augmented reality signal mapping feature in Unifi’s WiFiman, which creates a heat map of your Wifi signal strength as you move around.

That gave me the idea to use it outdoors for my farm and figure out where my blackspots are. If you are using the Unifi products and have a UDM/UDM-Pro/UDR/UDM-SE on your network and you have enabled the WiFiman feature, you can also use it. So I made a video about how it all works. Enjoy 😊


I Am Writing a Book! Microsoft Azure in Action – Early Access

TL;DR: I am writing a book, Microsoft Azure in Action, which is now available in early access.

I don’t know about you, but I have goals I want to achieve and barriers I want to break down. It is like an itch that won’t go away. You can ignore it for a while, but no matter what ideas and remedies you come up with to subdue it or make it go away, nothing works like scratching it. I have it like that with writing a technical book. It is a goal I have, it is an itch I need to scratch. In the past 10 years I have started writing a book twice and not finished it either time. And the itch is still there. I have tried coming up with excuses that it probably isn’t for me and that I need to focus on other projects. And the itch is still there. I have told myself that no one buys books anymore, and to stick to creating video content that I am good at and do every day. And the itch is still there.

So, I am at it again. This time I am signed on with Manning Publishing to write a beginner to intermediate book on Azure that covers fundamentals, practical examples and a whole bunch of services and features. Microsoft Azure in Action has virtual machines, storage and networking of course, as they are the foundation of any cloud platform, but also security, DevOps, databases, serverless, performance, big data, caching and much more, is covered.

As important as it is to cover all the most fundamental things in Azure, it is equally important for me to write a book that doesn’t bore you to death. I use humour, amazing diagrams, annotation and any other kind of trick I can find, to make sure the reader has a both educational and enjoyable journey. As I am finding out, writing a book is crazy hard, and I am way out of my depth. I have taken forever to write the first few chapters, as my mental space battles other projects, Lego, procrastination, family commitments and many other things. But it is out now for you to buy in an early access preview, and I need your help. The more people that invest in the book, the more I will feel the urgency to not only get the chapters done on time, but also to write the most engaging and educational book on Azure on the market, just for you.

If you want to get involved by joining the Manning Early Access Program (MEAP) and tell me what you like and don’t like, I’d be extremely grateful for your support.


Installing Starlink with Dual WAN on the UDM Pro

I finally got Starlink! Yes, the revolutionary Internet service from SpaceX has arrived at the farm. I have been using a Skymuster Plus connection for about 4 years, which is a service provided by the Australian government through retailers. While it isn’t terrible, it definitely isn’t amazing. The ping of 600ms kills a lot of apps, I talk over people on video calls, I always wait for things to load or happen etc. I got used to it, but never should have.

In a nutshell, Starlink operates through a super constellation of satellites in low earth orbit. Because they are only 350-550km up, the ping for the service is very low, but they are not stationary. Each satellite connects to a ground station that connects the user (me) to the Internet.

Getting Starlink meant I had to make a few choices though:

  • Determine the optimal installation point for “Dishy”, the user terminal, on my roof (or other place).
  • Either discontinue my current ISP connection, or use it as a backup

Finding the optimal place for Dishy is a lot of trial and error. The main problem I have is trees blocking the view of the sky, thus the connection to satellites. Luckily the Starlink app provides a feature to scan your preferred installation point and tell you if it’ll work or not.

Second, I decided to use my existing internet connection as a backup, or failover, for Starlink. Because Starlink is still in beta, I am not sure I 100% trust it just yet. Having another connection to fall back on could be very beneficial. It turned out that the UDM Pro supports dual WAN natively, and I went down that path. It didn’t quite go to plan though. Check out the video below for the full story.


10 Tips for Getting Started With Home Automation

I have been dabbling a lot with home automation in many areas over the past 18 months. I have automated lights to come on a certain times or for certain events, installed water tank level monitoring, set up temperature sensors all over the place, integrated local weather with alerts, used motion sensors to monitor our gate and much more. Over that time I have learnt a ton. Some of it I wish I knew before I started, so I thought I’d help out anyone else just starting out with home automation. There are 10 tips, which I think are important to consider or carry out to get the right start. I put them all together in this little video. Enjoy 😁



YubiKey – How Does It Work?

Have you ever wondered just how a USB security works? Yeah, I did too for the longest time. I just couldn’t get my head around why it was more secure, more convenient, or just better than other multifactor authentication options. So, Yubico sent me two YubiKeys to test out, and I made a video out of it, which is below.

TL;DR: USB security keys are harder to compromise than authenticator tokens (in an app), and easier to use as you just touch them when inserted. Anyway, find out more in the video 😊


What is Unifi Access? – Complete Overview

I installed Unifi Access some months ago, both to add some security but also because swipe cards. Why would I not want that on my office? Anyway, Unifi Access does a whole bunch of things, some of which I don’t use with a single door lock, but also some that I keep getting questions about. So, as an add-on to my first installation video I thought I’d do a full run-through of what you can do with Access. Enjoy.

 


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