Home Server (Part 1 of ?)

The purpose of this series is to document what I have done for my home automation, and to also perhaps share some information I’ve learned in the process. This first post is an overview, and the subsequent posts will delve more into the details.

I recently have been working on setting up a home server in preparation for the new home. The goal of this server will be:

  • Central hub for the various home automation components.
  • Media server (music, movies, photos, etc.)
  • Backups repository.

I thought I would write a post on what I’m using to accomplish these functions, and what changes I’ve made on the journey.

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IoT and Security

I had the privilege to see Dr. Vinton Cerf speak last year. If you don’t know who that is, go read up here.

Anyway, when an audience member asked Dr. Cerf what his biggest fear vis-a-vis internet-releated aspects was, he said high up on his list was the insecurity of IoT devices. What’s IoT, you may ask? Internet of Things – and it’s the defacto descriptor used for anything that has an internet connection.  Your smart light bulbs, digital assistant, sprinkler systems, and even thermostats.

Which brings me to this little gem:  “Hackers stole a casino’s high-roller database through a thermometer in the lobby fish tank.”

The internet is still the Wild Wild West…

Apple’s WWDC 2015 Keynote

Today was Apple’s Keynote for WWDC 2015 – and it was chock full of information. I thought I’d throw up a post on my thoughts on a few things:

  • iOS 9 – The multitasking is incredible and I cannot wait to get it. And Picture-in-Picture! More battery life is awesome. Renaming Passport to Wallet is cracking me up – since Google just renamed Google Wallet to Google Pay. More stability enhancements, too.
  • Apple Music – Looks like a decent foray into a streaming service, and I plan to drop Pandora and get a subscription to this. I like that there’s a family plan. The Siri integration is exciting, I can’t wait to request the top 50 Alternative songs from 1993, and various other searches like that. And it’s coming to Android – wild!
  • watchOS 2 – Native apps! And new features like Nightstand Mode, more fitness capabilities, and third party complications. Seems like a grouping of features and capabilities that were (justifiably) delayed in order to get the watch launched on time in April. Looking forward to these coming.
  • Swift 2 – While I haven’t gotten my feet wet developing (yet), I can recognize that Swift going Open Source is huge. Awesome!
  • Apple Maps – More improvements, and a new view called Transit, which assists users with public transportation. I’m looking forward to that since I’ve moved into San Francisco and using Muni/BART for the majority of my traveling around.

New Tech

This year I’m doing my best to boost AAPL. In the recent weeks, I’ve picked up the Watch with a black leather loop and blue sport band. I’ve also gotten the latest refresh of the Retina MacBook Pro 15″. I wanted to get back to having a Mac as my main computer, and while I almost went with a Mac Mini, decided it was better to have a mobile option. The main purpose is to work on this blog more, and also support a side project I’m working on.

My thoughts on the Apple Watch – I agree with what most of the respected tech reviewers have said: the device isn’t a must-have, but has definitely become useful. A couple of my favorite uses: Activity monitoring, timer setting when cooking, remote camera action, and quickly reviewing and dismissing or acting on notifications. There are some annoying bugs, though, with how iMessages handles message queueing. But it’s a version 1 device…

The new rMBP is great. I’m in love with the screen. It’s one of those things where I now hate working on anything else – such as my work laptop. I’m also rediscovering how I hate Windows.

Vinton Cerf – The past, present and future of the Internet

Last night I had the privilege to see Dr. Vinton Cerf* interviewed as part of the California Academy of Sciences “Conversations on Science” series. If you’re unaware of who Dr. Vinton Cerf is, let me put it succinctly: he’s widely known as a “Father of the Internet”. Without getting too technical, he and a couple of others, invented the language that made it possible for computers to talk to each other – known as TCP/IP. And while inventing it was important, he and his group also made released it for anyone to use. That was critical for wide adoption and becoming the de facto standard. He is why we are so technologically advanced today, and why the United States of America started and is succeeding in the Digital Revolution.

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