0Cheap WiFi SmartPlugs with SmartThings

SmartTh­ings com­pat­ible smart plugs are annoy­ingly expens­ive — typ­ic­ally around £40. This is far too expens­ive to con­sider buy­ing many of. There are how­ever WiFi plugs avail­able online for around £10 that don’t offi­cially work with SmartTh­ings. Most of them are based on the ESP8266 chip which can be reflashed with new firm­ware that will work with SmartTh­ings. Below I doc­u­ment my tri­als and tribu­la­tions with hack­ing these plugs
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0Set up “home assistant” on a windows PC

As I’ve writ­ten about before I have a range of “smart home” devices that I’v ebeen gradu­ally exper­i­ment­ing with. One of the greatest frus­tra­tions of link­ing some of them is that many force you to go via “the cloud” which even with high speed inter­net can lead to delays of mul­tiple seconds for some tasks (“ok google, mute kodi”) for example. I’ve decided to give the free “home assist­ant” a try. As usu­al with any­thing linux based, get­ting it up and run­ning just isn’t straight for­ward. Here’s how…
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0Problem with playback in Emby for Kodi

A couple of weeks ago I had a sud­den prob­lem play­ing loc­al media in Kodi via the Emby plu­gin. I fixed it tem­por­ar­ily by rolling back to an older ver­sion of the plu­gin 2.3.57. There were briefly issues with a new­er build of the plu­gin but these have now been resolved in ver­sion 2.3.61, at least accord­ing to the only thread I could find with the same issue on the emby for­um.
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0Optimising WAN MTU for BT Infinity

Since switch­ing from my BT SmartHub to a pfsense router I’ve had a few minor teeth­ing prob­lems. One of which has been the squid proxy ser­vice caus­ing a prob­lem where I can’t access the BBC web­site with an error. Whilst I did even­tu­ally fix this through a slightly strange meth­od, I encountered a pos­sible source of the prob­lem which was worth fix­ing on it’s own
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0Fixing a slow Amazon Fire HD 8

A couple of xmases ago I bought my bet­ter half an Amazon Fire HD 8 tab­let as she wanted a budget tab­let to read books on at night, and to play free android games like clash of clans. The Fire seemed an ideal option as it would link into her Kindle account without any hassle, and is also android based. It was also pos­sible to get a good sized device with­in the price lim­it we set each oth­er.
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0BT Mesh WiFi

After repla­cing my BT SmartHub with a pfsense router, I’ve been look­ing to upgrade the house WiFi as well. Most devices are wired as most rooms have wired con­nec­tions I fit­ted for my par­ents years ago when wire­less was barely a real­ity. How­ever phones, tab­lets, e-read­ers, and laptops really do work best with wire­less (or only with wire­less in some cases), and to work well need a wire­less sys­tem that enables mobil­ity.
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