By Casey Liss

It started when Belkin released a firmware update for their Mini Smart Plug which enables HomeKit. I happened to have a couple of these devices already; after I updated them, I suddenly had my first couple of HomeKit devices.

At first, this was mostly a novelty. I could use Alexa to control our lights, which was often far more convenient and reliable than Siri. However, being able to turn lights on and off using my Watch made me feel like I was living in the future.

HomeKit fell onto my mental back burner until I noticed a tweet by Ryan Jones. Ryan was wondering aloud about installing Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi. Ryan’s tweet reminded me that I’ve been meaning to kick the tires on Homebridge since Jason and Federico had been talking about it.

Homebridge is a software bridge that allows you to put devices that are not HomeKit compatible onto HomeKit. It has a plugin-based architecture that allows you to download plugins for a ton of different IoT devices. Homebridge can be run on most any computer; that’s why Ryan was looking at running it on a tiny, low-cost, Raspberry Pi.

Ryan’s musings had one key piece that I hadn’t considered, however: Docker. Docker is sort of two things rolled into one: virtualization and downloadable containers (much like virtual machine images) that effectively bootstrap the installation of applications. These applications are then sandboxed into their containers, so they can’t [easily] mess with the rest of the system they’re running on.

Though I’d never used Docker before, I understood the basic principle behind it, and thanks to a link in Ryan’s tweet, I realized I could get a Docker container that has Homebridge pre-installed on it.

The final piece that really opened everything up for me was realizing that my Synology has Docker support. Furthermore, after but a moment of digging, I was able to find instructions specifically for setting up Homebridge on a Synology in Docker.

Following those instructions, within about 10 minutes, I had a Docker container on my Synology, running Homebridge, and allowing me to see my not-yet-updated Wemo devices in HomeKit!

Unfortunately, I have yet to find Homebridge plugins for my thermostat nor my garage door opener. However, with less esoteric devices, you may have far better luck. Furthermore, if you have a Mac or PC that is always on, there’s no reason you couldn’t run the Homebridge Docker container on that device as well.

So, here in early 2019, I’m finally enjoying the fruits of 2014’s technological advances.


Appearance: Fusion #22

This month I appeared on Fusion, which is a show that is exclusively for Relay FM members. I joined fellow guest Alex Cox and host Stephen Hackett to discuss our TV watching habits in

I always enjoy talking to both Alex and Stephen; this conversation was a lot of fun. If you’re not a Relay FM member, I strongly suggest becoming one. Between Fusion and a newsletter every month, as well as the summer bonus episodes, it’s a no-brainer. If you do sign up, may I suggest you choose to support Analog(ue)? 😇


 

Tyler Stalman jumped into my world — seemingly out of nowhere — a while ago when he sent me an incredible set of tips about filmmaking. That 50 second video blew my friggin mind.

Here it was I thought Tyler was some nobody with a good eye, but turns out I could not have been more wrong. Well, he does have a good eye, but Tyler is a prolific photographer, filmmaker, YouTuber, and Instagram whatever-word-I-use-for-influencer-that-doesn’t-sound-stupid. I’ve gotten more and more exposed to Tyler’s work over the year and I’m constantly impressed with all of it.

Plus, he’s a Canadian, so naturally he’s annoyingly impossibly nice.

Anyway, I say all this in part because I’m trying to call attention to things and people that are cool and deserve it. I say it in part because I think you should give Tyler a chance and check out his work.

As with all things, I also say it in part because I have a selfish motive. I was on Tyler’s podcast this week. On this episode, my ATP co-host Marco Arment and I spent some time with Tyler discussing what it’s like trying to break into YouTube in 2018. I really enjoyed the conversation; I think there’s a lot to learn in it, even if YouTube isn’t your bag.

I always learn something whenever I chat with Tyler (or Marco!); I bet you will too.

 

This week I joined Florence Ion, Jason Snell, and Stephen Hackett on the weekly wrap-up show, Download. On this episode, we discussed the 💩show that was Sundar Pichai’s visit to DC, Instagram’s new management, an Apple grab-bag, fake [technology] news, and the Mother of all Demos.

Download’s a fun show, and this one in particular I thought came out really well.


 

Mac Power Users is an institution.

Just recently, my ATP co-hosts and I celebrated our 300th episode. We spent a little time discussing the run we’ve had, and congratulating ourselves for showing up every single week for around five years.

Katie and David have been doing Mac Power Users since 2009!

As recently announced, Katie is leaving Mac Power Users at the end of the year, so I’m overjoyed she and David asked me to join them for one last guest spot before Katie goes.

On this episode, we discussed my new working life, my transition into becoming a YouTuber, my rekindled love for iPad, and my Go Pack, and more.

Being on MPU is both great fun and a great honor. I’m sad to see Katie go, but I’m also super excited for what Stephen will bring to the table.


Nik's Minimal Wallets

I freaking love Tom Bihn bags. I have a Cadet, which was my daily bag when I carried a 15" MacBook Pro. I have a Co-Pilot, which is what I use now that I’m flip-flopping between the MacBook “Adorable” and my 11" iPad Pro. I have various and sundry other smaller things that Tom Bihn makes, because I like bags in my bags. Yo dawg.

In addition to bags, I’ve always been pretty opinionated about wallets. I prefer to have as tiny a wallet as possible, despite wanting to carry a fair bit of stuff in my wallet:

  • Joint credit card
  • Joint debit card
  • Personal credit card
  • AAA card
  • Driver’s license
  • Medical insurance card
  • Dental insurance card
  • Some cash

Yes, there are arguments that some of the above could be pared down — I’m looking at you dental insurance card — but that’s the situation as I write today. (Yes, I carry cash. Yes, I judge you for not carrying cash. No, you’ll never know when it comes in handy. Yes, it does more often than you think.)

Nik has come up with four different designs for his Minimal Wallet:

  • 1: Two interior pockets, enclosing strap, and nothing else.
  • 2: Two interior pockets, enclosing strap, but one pocket is see-thru.
  • 3: Two interior pockets, one exterior pocket, enclosing strap, one pocket is see-thru.
  • 4: Two interior pockets, one exterior pocket, enclosing strap, webbing loop for attaching the wallet to a clip.

Tom Bihn was kind enough to send me samples of wallets 1-3, and I do quite like all of them. They’re all extremely light and thin, and available in (as I write this) nine colors.

For my needs, I prefer wallet #3. For 99% of the purchases I make with a physical card, I use our joint credit card. That card lives, conveniently, in the exterior pocket. On the interior, I have my ID and medical cards on the left hand side, and other cards on the right-hand side. Finally, the cash gets pinched in the middle.

Wallet #3

Everything I want. Nothing I don’t. Light, easy, simple. No fuss.

At prices that range from $24 → $32, these wallets won’t break the bank either. In fact, they’re quite a bit cheaper than my previous wallet, in no small part because they’re from here in the good ol’ US of A.

The holidays are fast-approaching, and a Minimalist Wallet from Tom Bihn would make for a great holiday gift.

 

One of the beautiful things about podcasts is that there’s room for a zillion of them. If you want to talk weekly about anything — even pens — you can do that.

On Double Density, your hosts Angelo and Brian discuss tech news… and also explore the world of the paranormal.

In this episode, I join the boys to discuss the travesty that is Montreal “bagels”, iPads, ARM-powered Macs, podcasting, and internet comment culture. Then things take a turn for the weird, and we discuss superstition and where I sit on the scale of paranormal believers.

Double Density was a fun show to do; you should check it out.


 

Speaking of guest appearances, this fortnight I was the guest on Miha Rekar’s interview show, Parallel Passion. On this episode, Miha and I discussed my origin story for both podcasting and cars, how I do a poor job of responding to trolls, and more.

I had a lot of fun talking with Miha! I think you’ll find the show is well worth your time.

 

Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining Heather Kelly, Dan Moren, and Mikah Sargent on this week’s episode of Clockwise.

On this episode, we discussed what tech products we’d like to see reinvented, what it’s like to live in Dongletown, how tech changed voting in midterms, and what strongly-held decisions we’ve eventually reversed. I also did a DuckDuckGo search for old man hat.

I know how hard it is to make time for another podcast, but Clockwise is short and always enjoyable.


 

As mentioned on his excellent video review, I joined my buddy Tyler Stalman on his podcast, the eponymous Tyler Stalman Podcast. On this episode, we discussed Tyler’s sneak preview of the iPhone XR, which just went up for presale overnight here in the States.

Come for the iPhone XR review, but stay for the really wonderful and meandering discussion of being a creator — both podcast and YouTube — in 2018.

I had a blast turning the tables on Tyler for this episode; I suspect you’ll probably enjoy it too.