December 2021 Tech Projects/Gadgets

A quick rundown of my current personal projects and gadgets I’ve been toying around with.

  1. Reolink – These cameras are surprisingly good quality for low prices. I’ve got a RLC-520 (Amazon, $50) mounted viewing the back drive, and a RLC-410W (Amazon, $68) temporarily positioned viewing the side patio and yard. The app integrates all of the cameras and presents the feeds in a nicely done UI/UX. My cousin setup a Reolink GO on the site that their new lake house is being built on, and even on a 4G cellular connection the stream is really good. Incidentally, the Synology has an NVR application that supports the Reolink cameras, which made for a bonus feature of the system. If Reolink came out with a doorbell, I’d be very tempted to ditch the Ring and consolidate on the Reolink platform altogether. Sample pics at the end of this post.
  2. TeslaUSB – This open source project uses the Raspberry Pi Zero platform, and Tesla’s open API, to connect your Tesla vehicle to a network and easily transfer any Sentry Cam videos off the car, and sync music files to the car. On Tesla’s, you can mount an SSD and have video automatically recorded and stored from the various cameras mounted around the car. Unfortunately, there’s no real easy way to move those videos off the car short of unplugging the SSD and using sneakernet to transfer them to another location. In place of the SSD, you plug the Raspberry Pi Zero in and when you pull into the garage the Pi connects to your home network and offloads any new videos. It also will sync .mp3’s from a configured location to the car, for accessing and playing from the entertainment system. The only downside I’ve experienced with this is that it renders the in-car Sentry Cam viewer useless, as accessing the stored videos while in the car painfully slow. (I’ve just purchased the newer model Rasperry Pi Zero 2 W to see if this downside is remedied.) And yes, the videos are automatically syncing to the Synology NAS.
  3. Apple 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max – After many years of wandering in the desert of bad features, Apply finally released a great update to their MBP’s, so I jumped at the chance to upgrade my mid-2015 MBP. I’ve had the laptop for about a week now, and it’s great. This screen is amazing. Do I need all of this horsepower? Not really, but I opted for the lower config of the M1 Max as a way of future-proofing. I was really surprised at how the old laptop held up, so I think I’m going to try and do the same with this model and keep it for 5+ years. I missed out on the Touchbar era, and I can’t say if that was a feature I’d be negative or positive on, but missing out on the butterfly keyboard is a good thing. I had heard reviews that the speakers and sound on this laptop was really good, but I was shocked at how good. Sure they’re still laptop speakers, but the bass and fidelity are really surprising. Already I can see how great the battery life is, but I’m also coming from a laptop where the battery was in dire need of replacing. All in all I’m very happy with this laptop.

Reolink RLC-520:

Reolink RLC-410W:

Updates

House

We’re in the home stretch, so to speak. That stage in home construction where you wonder, “What else is there left to do?” – but there’s still two months left until closing. I’ve been through this before, but it’s still a grind.  I’ve exhausted all my “pass the time” techniques – window shopping and planning on furniture, planning the network/home automation, etc. All the lists are made and waiting on closing. Dog Days of Summer, indeed.

Moving

In preparation for the move, I’ve been trying to find the cheapest yet most efficient way to move the wine collection. Yesterday I discovered BungoBox – and I think that will work out perfectly. Lay a towel in each crate and stack the wine. I’ll be handling the moving of the wine myself. For everything else we’re hiring movers.

With travel, etc., July was a big month. We’re happy to lay low for August.

Weezer & Pixies Concert

Last night was the Weezer and Pixies concert – two bands that I really love.  When I saw the announced tour I immediately jumped onboard.  VIP tickets, merchandise, and Pit access.

They didn’t disappoint – Pixies were great, song after song was yet another favorite. Weezer, as well, though their part had more showmanship and pyrotechnics.

The venue, Austin360 Amphitheater, was pretty nice. All in all it was a great evening out.

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Austin Home Update!

The rep for our builder sent an update email today. The rough-in for the HVAC is going in, and the external sheathing has completed. Also, they said right now it’s looking like a 9/12 closing (but of course that will probably change). Exciting!

I’ve added the photos to the Austin Home album.