It does MATTER but will it work?

Matter is supposed to unify and simplify home automation for consumers – but haven’t we been here before?

Later this year and alliance between Google, Amazon, Apple and a whole host of home automation companies such as Phillips Hue, Wyze, Yeelight and Nanoleaf is set to revolutionise the industry.

This alliance is caller Matter.

Matter, in a nut shell, is supposed to allow any compatible device (such as a smart bulb) to talk to any other compatible device or smart assistant over your Wi-Fi with no extra bridging hubs (looking at you Phillips Hue bridge and Samsung Smartthings).

This sounds marvellous! All your devices working together without any bridge hubs over Wi-Fi under a standardised protocol…..

Only thing is we have already had this! It was called ZigBee And it’s been around since 2002!

Zigbee was the same principal to use a standard protocol that all devices could talk to simplify home automation and open the market up with non-proprietary systems (albeit with a hub due to the frequency of the signal agreed upon). Guess what? It was the same group of companies and manufactures who agreed and signed up to this standard!

In practise there are many devices which support ZigBee, but far from being an open protocol, in reality we have different manufacturers with their own hubs which do not talk to each other without the use of advanced integration services such as Home Assistant.

You have to ask why they would even agree to an open system from a business point of view?

What would be the incentive for a customer to choose a Phillips Hue bulb at twice the price of a competitor under the new Matter Alliance?

Seriously, why would they make it work? The current model is to lock the consumer into a company ecosystem and this alliance (just like ZigBee before) would un-do this model.

I am maybe being cynical, but I feel this new alliance is a re-hash of the previous ZigBee alliance, which will not be enforced in the same way.

I really hope the home automation industry will adopt both the technical standards and the spirit of the alliance and truly open up the market to mixed devices over a network. But until I see the results, I won’t hold my breathe!

Wanting help deciding on the best consumer kit for your home automation? Why not call HAS today on 07867697464 or click below and let us take the hassle out of home automation.

#matter #wifi #zigbee #amazon #google #homeassistant #apple #smarthome #phillipshue #simplesolutions #homeautomationsolutions #HAS

Parental Filters

Ever wanted to just switch off your kids internet?

A few years ago I invested in Ubiquiti’s Unifi Access Points to provide house-wide wireless internet access in my home. Whilst this prosumer/commercial system is overkill for most people’s needs, it is a fantastic, rock steady and surprisingly affordable system which is centrally controlled through their own UI.

Unifi’s Controller UI

I already have my children’s WIFI access on a separate guest network and scheduling on the availability of the WIFI access for bedtimes for example. I also use the (excellent and free) Google Family Link software installed on their devices to effectively “block” the whole device at bedtime. Combined, these pieces software give a fairly granular level of control over devices but it can take multiple level of menus to block a device’s internet access “on the fly”…

And that’s the crux of the issue – sometime you just want to be able to immediately shut off their internet access

So, I started looking into the automation software I use at home, called un-surprisingly – Home Assistant! I won’t go into details in this post as Home Assistant is a rabbit warren of potential, but in one of their integrations is the Ubiquiti Unifi integration. There is a great guide here to set this up.

This allows you to make the internet access of a single or group of devices effectively a switch

Now, if I need my children’s total attention, or they need to take a break, or I’m feeling a bit mean 😈 I can just switch off their internet access with the click of a button!

I love technology! 😁

If all this sounds a little too complicated… Why not call HAS today on 07867697464 or click below and let us take the hassle out of expanding your storage.

#WIFI #ubiquiti #unifi #familylink #google #homeassistant #internetsafety #parentalfilters #simplesolutions #homeautomationsolutions #HAS

It’s Cloning Time!

It’s cloning time! It comes to us all at some point but having stored my virtual machines on an internal SSD drive for some time, the drive is now showing the dreaded “low storage” warning.

Thankfully the process of making a carbon copy (or clone) of an SSD/hard disk it much easier these days with a wealth of paid and free software (I personally like Macrium Reflect) to choose from.

So choosing my software, it’s relatively straight forward to shutdown the computers, remove the SSD, plug into my desktop computer and clone the drive.

This will produce a carbon copy of the drive but will also copy the size of the original drive – not ideal when the idea is to get more storage space!

Fear not though! It’s just a case of adjusting the partition size to utilise the empty space of the drive. For simple volumes you can use the built-in Windows Disk Management software. However, if you have more complex needs I still recommend EaseUS Partition Master (see my previous post – Plan Twice, Do Once!).

If all this sounds a little too complicated… Why not call HAS today on 07867697464 or click below and let us take the hassle out of expanding your storage.

#planning #futurerequirements #lowstorage #pcupgrade #ssd #harddrive #simplesolutions #homeautomationsolutions #HAS

Plan Twice, Do Once!

Never underestimate the need to plan for future requirements with your personal computers

In my infinite wisdom I set up my home server some years ago (in my naivety) with a 24TB RAID disk array in only ONE VOLUME WITHOUT ANY PARTITIONS….

Yes…. I know now….

TLDR – See last paragraph!

Now that Windows Server 2012 R2 is reaching end of life, I decided it was time to update my trusty old server to at least Windows Server 2016 as my hardware still suits my needs (I have a lovely workhorse ex-enterprise rack server that still packs a punch… and an electricity bill to match!)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do an in-place upgrade (like you would get on Windows 10 going to Windows 11 – keeping all your documents and settings). In my case this would mean I would have to wipe the entire disk volume, install Windows Server 2016, setup and install all services and restore all my documents and files from my backup. This also carries significant risk!

I decided the slower (but safer in my case) option was to partition the volume and move the files to isolate the Windows Server Operating System to a small partition. This way I was safe to install a new Operating System without risk of loosing my own files and documents.

Windows built-in Disk Management software cannot handle moves of this nature so I used EaseUS Partition Master (I’m not affiliated by the way – just have used this software for many years). Cue a few days of shuffling data and I have isolated Windows Operating System to a single partition and all the data, files, documents and virtual machines to other partitions.

TLDR – In my excitement to setup the Server, I didn’t consider future upgrades or my changing requirements (or for that matter, my own increase in knowledge). This lack of planning could have trapped me into an impossible and risky upgrade and also cost me some considerable time to resolve. We all make mistakes and learn from them. But in the words of my first boss, “Plan twice, do once”

If you need help planning your PC requirements for Windows 11 or any future upgrade requirements you may need (from someone who has learned the hard way!), please contact us now!

#planning #futurerequirements #windowsserver2016 #windowsserver2012r2 #windowsupgrade #easeus #partition #simplesolutions #homeautomationsolutions #HAS

Upgrading Windows

Upgrading Windows – With all the talk of Windows 11, it’s important to remember that many still haven’t upgraded to Windows 10!

I was talking with a customer a couple of weeks ago and they asked me if I could upgrade their laptop from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10….

“No problems!” – I thought. Then I remembered that Microsoft had a “window” (sorry for the pun) of opportunity to upgrade for free and that has passed some years ago. There was a work-around to do with “assistive technologies” a while ago but that seems to be dormant now too.

So not wanting to give in that easily (if you know me then you will know that’s not my style) I set up a virtual Windows 8.1 machine and tested upgrading it to Windows 10 using the Microsoft Installation Media for Windows Tool.

Low and behold – It automatically upgraded the machine using the legitimate Windows 8.1 license key.

The top and bottom of it is that although the upgrade is now officially no-longer free, no-one seems to have told Microsoft’s servers!

Although we may be in the transition to Windows 11, with it’s hardware restrictions many of us will be continuing to use our older PCs. Having an upgrade route still available to Windows 10 is at least a way to secure some level of future updates until the end of support date of October 2025.

If you need help upgrading your PC hardware or software, please contact HAS today.

Shiny New Website!

Welcome to our new website

Well, after over 4 years we finally have a shiny new website! Same address but this one is more modern, much easier to read and will allow us to make changes much more easily in the future.

Feel free to have an explore!

One thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to providing the best service and simple solutions to all your consumer tech needs… Don’t hesitate to call to see how we can help you with your digital home.

#NewWebsite #SameGreatService #HomeAutomationSolutions #HAS #SimpleSolutions #UnlockYourDigitalWorld #FreeConsultation