Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Nest Hello is up and running!

OK, you like a challenge if you are reading this. And installing the Nest Hello Doorbell is definitely a challenge, but worth it in the end.  I found the real issues were more with the doorbell than the doorbell system.

Nest people: please come up with a way to set this up using a wired connection. The Bluetooth version had too many problems.  I was able to set this up, but there were far too many headaches associated with wireless in a highly congested frequency band.

But it was worth it in the end.

I can see events. So, if someone were to be a porch pirate, or worse, I wouldn’t have to scroll through hours of footage to find it. The segments would be highlighted. I also signed up to have my video stored for 10 days in “the cloud”.

Personally, I find that CCTV is far more of a crime deterrent than a firearm. Toss in how many people have been killed by CCTV as opposed to family members killed with a gun.

Two high profile crimes were solved through CCTV in my neighbourhood. I can name a lot more where the CCTV being backed up to a remote location foiled criminals (including bent cops).

So, keep your gun. I would rather have big brother watching out for me.

What they don’t tell you about installing the Google Nest Hello Doorbell.

All the videos out there that show how to install the doorbell using the app neglect something very important about how to set up this unit: you need a Bluetooth device which is connected to your wifi.

Highly important since one of the design flaws in this unit is that this is the ONLY way to set it up to work with your wireless network. Yes, even though the Nest Hello Doorbell has a USB port on the back, you can’t set this up using a computer: only some sort of tablet or phone via bluetooth.{1}

That neglects that there are so many wireless devices out there in the 2.4GHz range that there is a high likelihood of interference. I literally had my phone on top of my nest when I was setting the thing up. People who do this professionally and have advanced degrees in electronics/electrical engineering complain.

I am but a mere technician (and end user), but I can see a serious design flaw!

Toss in that you have to restart the app (and start at the beginning and go through the installation process again REPEATEDLY) to pair the unit. No way to jump to pair my device and skip all the other steps in the installation process.

Also, they only give you one tool/key. So, don’t lose the thing or you will end up using a small hex wrench to try and pop the unit out!

I would also add that having a multimeter is useful for this process: especially if you are installing a new transformer.
Anyway, the easy stuff.

I ended up putting the chime connector on this doorbell. I put the white wire where the white wire is in this pic. The grey wire replaced the red.

It worked like a charm. Both bells make noise!

Only complaint about the chime connector is that the Nest people should have used something darker than grey. I was using a flashlight to do the wiring. It was a little difficult to differentiate between the white and grey in low light situations.

This video: Use Nest Hello With Nearly Any Incompatible Doorbell was interesting, but not really appropriate for my situation. I’m linking it for people who might have an “incompatible” chime they like.

In my case, all I needed to do was to put the chime connector between the two screws above.

Whatever, the Nest Home people aren’t really good at explaining what all needs to be done.  You can download an installer’s manual here: It isn’t more detailed than the app, but worth a look.

Oh, yeah, and something which should have taken me maybe 45 minutes tops has taken about 9 hours altogether because of poor design. You read the literature and it leaves a lot to be desired. Especially if the Bluetooth won’t pair.


[1} I ended up buying a chepo android tablet since my iPhone 6S was having difficulties pairing with this device. I had to balk at spending the price for an iPad if my only reason for getting it was to set up the Nest hello!

Installing the Nest Hello Doorbell

OK, I decided to get a Nest hello Doorbell. Not so much for the security aspect, even thought CCTV is probably the best crime stopping tool out there. Nope, I’m doing it because I can’t hear my doorbells: especially when I am out back.

The Nest people have instructions for what they are worth out there, but the gist of it is like:

As long as you have “front”, “trans”, “rear” connections on the main chime you should be fine. Swap the Hello with the front doorbell button and put the chime connector/puck on the front and trans terminals/screws. If you have multiple wires on a terminal then only use one of the wires, leave the others connected.

Which isn’t really helpful in my circumstances. I have a house that is nearly 200 years old (which isn’t that old for these parts) and wiring which is antique. This is a picture of the transformer and one of the bells (“chimes”). Actually, these suckers are bells that go “zing”, which was really grating. These must be early since there was a movement in the 1930s when the manufacturers started pushing “Chimes”.  Anyway, this is a two bell system with an old transformer. I was able to find markings that tell me the system is at least 70 years old!

The joy of the internet! I was able to track down the transformer. I found similar doorbells. There is even a modern version of this bell being sold which takes 16VAC 10VA.

120-240 isn’t really an issue as much as dealing with electrical antiques. So, this is applicable pretty much all over the world.

It’s also the standard 10VAC system found around here, which means I need a new transformer to up the system to 16VAC 10VA required by the Hello. That’s the easy part. I know I can push the power to 16VAC, but not so sure about the higher 24VAC. Anyway, the transformer I bought can do both 16 and 24 VAC, which means I am covered.

I’m not going to get into which transformer I bought since there are a few ones out there that will do the job. The real issue is whether I am going to go with 16 or 24 VAC. Also, I don’t have “Chimes”, which means where do I put the Nest Chime Connector.

I’m going to start with the 16VAC and see if it works. I may go higher if things don’t work out well. the issue is that this system runs two doorbells. I have a feeling that the 24VAC would work if needed, but I am not keen on running more than twice the power that this system has run under for 70 odd years.

Second issue is where to put the Nest Chime Connector. Not only don’t my “chimes” have F,R,or T markings: they don’t have any markings. Fortunately, doorbell systems are AC which means there is no polarity involved. Nevertheless, I’ve decided I can tell which wires are Transformer (T) and which is Front (F) in the wiring diagram. I will then put the connector right on the new transformer using the chime wires.

Nest has its tech manual for the doorbell online, which goes into a bit more detail, but not that much more, than the app’s install.

However I found the most useful item was this: .

Anyway, the  fun will begin when everything is brought together. I am currently waiting for the Nest Hello to show up.

OK, personal opinion on transformers: get one which does multiple voltages from your region to make sure it is either 120 or 240 as your needs go.  Getting a 120 transformer for a 240 household would give too much power. Likewise, a 240 would give too little power in a 120 situation

Technology Death Watch

Two things I can’t seem to avoid are US elections and the Superbowl.  The last one I have been in far flung parts of the world only to have the BBC World Service provide me with the results.  Since then, I have switched to Radio Nederland when abroad.  Unfortunately,  US politics tends to be harder to avoid as reading White Rabbit will demonstrate.  WR’s fascination with Christine O’Donnell is a bit beyond me other than she is an aspect of Tea Partydom which is truly frightening.

Fortunately,  I am being amused by the failure of technology all around me.  The Palm Pilots are moribund and won’t sync.  One of the office computers has died with me performing a post mortem upon it to scavenge any useful bits and to retrieve our data from the hard drive.  The upstairs computer has been wonky since I set up up as a SATA RAID machine in the hopes of getting mega storage.  Now, it’s hung in the bios post mode.  Several options exist to fix the thing including reinstalling the IDE drive as master.  The only “truth” is that it’s stuck due to some hardware problem.  I’m too cheap to pay someone else to fix it and can usually do it myself: although it will take much longer than paying someone.  Although, when the laptop died, I knew more than the tech who told us it had died.  Laptop is now in a new incarnation with a new, larger hard drive and Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat OS which is super (Hint: if computer is browsing from North Wales with that configuration, there is a high likelihood it’s me).

All this has me looking at new toys, but being unsure as to what to do.  Despite the fact that I am “the Go To Person” for technology, in this case I am totally stumped at what to do.  Part of me wants to just get a new MOBO, Memory, and case and let rip.  Toss in a new flat screen monitor since the one upstairs is acting bizarre which I haven’t figured out if its the computer or the monitor.  Again, more work than I want to put in here.  Second laptop is setup in the upstairs with Playon media player software which means I’m in no rush to get a new computer, but I would like the tower fixed.

Anyway, I have loads of distractions to keep me amused until I have to actually make the jump here.  This is filed under Luddite since I am tempted to just say forget it, but the computer is useful for some things (as in keeping my entertainment system running).

Posted 01/11/2010 by lacithedog in Luddite, Luddites, technology

The writing is on the wall…

Despite my reputation as being a technology whiz, I tend to not jump on the bandwagon for every new gizmo that comes on the market.  For example, I stood by Betamax well after that format was termed officially dead.  I refuse to get on the Blu-Ray bandwagon preferring upconverting DVD players.  And I love my Palm E2 enough to refuse to replace it with anything else.

Not that the propect of having to replace it isn’t looming quite glaringly in the face.  I bought the E2 to replace my m515 because the E2 is easier to read and has a much longer battery life.  On the other hand, the E2’s digitiser is notorious for being wonky which is truly annoying when you need to add a diary entry whilst standing next to a deranged and violent criminal client.  Seriously, it’s hard to be prepared to jab the stylus in a sensitive body part if you are trying to get the effing thing to let you input his next court date.

But the real annoyance is when the desktop eats your diary information for the last six months whilst trying to synch the thing.  The backup on the palm is horrid and one needs to manually reconstruct that information.  The latest cause was the synch cord, which has been run over hundreds of times by my chair at the office.  I believe the input socket on the palm was also a bit grotty.  Blowing out whatever was in the socket got the bugger to finally sync.

The upshot of this is I know that something has to replace the E2, but what.  This is a problem which troubles the mass of the Palm addicted world.  Well, not really addicted, but I don’t want or need something which is a telephone, web browser, and so forth.  I just want a datebook, address book, something for notes, and most importantly the games necessary to while away the time I’m sitting being bored in court waiting for my case to be called.  The Kindle would be super if it had datebook capability, but it doesn’t.

The main reason for my having this blog is to be able to hear from people who share an interest in topics such as this: such as this post from Jumptuck.  The problem again is that most of us die-hard plam users DON’T want Blackberries or iPhones: even if the office will pay for the thing.  The phone alternatives are just way more than I want: especially when browser phones tend to rack up the cellphone bills.  That’s the whole idea is to make you SPEND more.

As I said, the writing is on the wall that I will need to replace this thing, but the question is with what?

Posted 25/10/2010 by lacithedog in Palm E2, technology

Wanna see how smart you REALLY are?

Take Bang Goes the Theory’s Brain Test Britain. I did mention that I like taking tests. I’m not sure why, but I do. I should have been tested enough in school to be petrified of anything like a test. But isn’t life a test anyway?

Bang Goes the Theory is according to presenter Dallas Campbell, a show for “anyone who is remotely curious about life, the Universe and pretty much everything.” It’s a science show where they do more than just experiment. The only special episode I caught was where they powered a house inhabited by a “nuclear family” for a day by 80 bicyclists. Which may sound odd to you, but was absolutely fascinating in how much energy it takes to run our appliances. It also pointed out ways to cut back on energy use. Which although switching lightbulbs may seem like a small thing, as someone told me at the Centre for Alternative Technology combining just a lightbulbs worth of energy can add up. That is made more apparent when you watch a team of bicyclists power a house!

Unfortunately, Season one is over. So, you would have to wait until season 2 in 2010 to catch the show

Anyway, these are all sorts of weird little tricky tests to see if training your mind will improve it. They are sort of Kim’s Game in spirit where you guess where things are. Also, they had one test where I had to put things from high to low, which sounds simple until you have to deal with negative numbers along with written (six) and numeric (6) numbers. One test gave me grief when I had to count items going into a box ancd compare them to items coming out. My internet connection screwed up that test. Also, there was one test/game where I had to do simple math calculations whilst balloon floated up, but I couldn’t figure out which balloon I was supposed to be calculating.

If training your mind isn’t enough, there are weird little science challenges that take me back to the quickie radio electronics class I was subjected to in the army (What was ohms law? (V=IxR)).

Fun! fun! fun! Now, I can’t wait for the annual Financial Times Christmas Quiz!

Makes one want to become a Luddite.

Citygirl at Mudflap Bubba’s had some criticism about her Blackberry. This follows on that line.

My Senior has been trying to get me to buy one of the things. There is indeed a temptation since my Palm pilot is totally wonky. The digitiser makes using it quite interesting. Fortunately, I am clever enough to have some work arounds for this problem.

I really only need the thing because I have to keep a diary of court appearances. And, it amuses me whilst sitting in Court. Despite the Courtroom dramas, being in Court is boring as fuck.

There are disadvantages to reading in court. One being that some tipstaffs will tell you that you can’t read (unless it’s a brief). Of course, you can only read a brief so many times. The other problem is if the book is engrossing in anyway, you will lose attention to what is going on in court.

That means play games on the old palm. I usually play Solitaire (Bristol is my fave version since it is pretty easy), but I have Nine Men’s Moris, Go, Tetris, Chess, Monopoly, Scrabble, and Dope Wars. The last one was given to me by someone who was representing the prosecution, which seemed ironic. Scrabble using my rules can be too amusing for court.

I refuse to give up my toy!

Anyway, I had this computer security panic that my Senior’s (the QC I trail after) e-mail account was compromised. That meant I decided to change his password, which buggered up the e-mail being sent to the Blackberry. Thus, I was sent to the mobile phone shop where QC is a “regular” (he has 20 phones and a seriously addictive personality).

The rep sorted us out. But it was far more complicated than I would like.

Not to mention I see the new phones on the market. It seems that the iPhone is becoming the trend. I just want a bloody phone and none of the other crap for chrissake. I’d probably get rid of the mobile altogether except it is useful when traveling.

Otherwise, mobiles are the bane of modern existance: especially the morons walking down the street or elsewhere texting. I could go on a long rant about mobile phone rudeness.

Here is a nice fantasy from Mobile to end this post.

A thought

Part of this is something I am working on for my Michael Bellesiles vindication which is there is a technological and political argument for there not being many firearms manufacturers in Colonial North America.

One is that the Navigation Acts. These acts were a limitation on trade with the Colonies. The acts demanded that most raw materials be imported into England from the colonies in order to support British manufacturing. Particularly saliently to this matter, Iron was found in all the colonies, and forges and furnaces were established in many places (e.g., Batso, NJ). In 1750, Parliament enacted a law declaring that “no mill or other engine for rolling or slitting iron,” “nor any furnace for making steel shall be erected in the colonies”. After this only pig and bar iron could be made.

That would rule out one possibility for local North American firearm production since they lacked the technology to do so. Additionally, Britain wanted to make sure any manufacturing of ANYTHING took place in England: that wasn’t just firearms.

The War for American Independence provided some impetus for North American Firearm production, but a fair amount of muskets used were either the British Brown Bess or the French Charleville Musket. Major North American firearms production didn’t begin in strength until after 1794.

In 1794, the new Federal government decided to manufacture its own muskets so that the United States would not be dependent on foreign arms (got that “dependent on foreign arms”). President Washington selected Springfield as the site for one of the two Federal Armories, the other being the Harpers Ferry Armory at Harpers Ferry), Virginia (now part of West Virginia). Production of weaponry at the Armory began in 1795 when 220 flintlock muskets were produced.

Wow, in case you missed it, the first target of Shays’ rebels was the Springfield Armoury! Now, shouldn’t a bunch of Revolutionary War vets just pull their muskets from the mantle? Somehow this crew felt the need for firearms from the government stores.

I happen to believe that private ownership of firearms up until the early 1800 was pretty rare. That would point to a lack of concern with private firearm ownership at the time of the ratification of the Constitution and the drafting of the Second Amendment. This is even more important when we think of the civic aspect of the “right to bear arms”.

Personally, I think this is something for a historian who is much more prepared for the fallout such a revelation will have on the US mindset than I am or Michael Bellesiles was.