Reasons to use social media

I’ve been away from social media* for a month now, and I’m wondering whether to go back. I’m not convinced I should. I just don’t know whether I find it valuable enough to compensate for the downsides that it causes for me.

Here’s what I find valuable about social media:

  1. It helps me keep connected with friends.
    I actually met some of my closest friends (hi @dylanreeve, @parsley72) thanks to social media, and keep up with others using it. It’s not that I can’t catch up with people without using Twitter, but I do miss that ambient intimacy. I’m not convinced it’s as good as real intimacy though.
  2. It’s (currently) the best way to advertise your company and connect with your industry.
    With Codemania looming, I’m wondering if the lack of last-minute ticket sales is partially because I’m not spamming away on Facebook and Twitter. Possibly? Probably? Also we have some open roles at Vend that I’d normally tweet about to spread the word.

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Building a Multisensor for Home Assistant – Part 2

In part 1, I was building a light sensor, but now it’s morphed into a multi-sensor

Running against my recent terrible Aliexpress streak, the remaining bits actually arrived. Here’s the items I’ve used to build a great little multi-sensor that pumps data into Home Assistant:

Total: US$8.38
Item Details Price
Main Board Wemos Mini D1 (probably a clone). ESP8266 chip with integrated Wifi US$3.30
Luminosity Sensor TLS2561 I²C module US$1.11
Temp/Pressure/Humidity Sensor Bosch BME280 I²C module US$3.97

It’s a little surprising that the triple sensor is the most expensive part of the whole thing, but Bosch make nice electronics, and the BME280 is the current pick of the crop for these sorts of sensors. Probably total overkill for my use case. If you don’t care about air pressure and you wanted to save a dollar* you could get away with a DHT22.

*I bet you complain about $1.99 iPhone games too.

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Building a Light Level Sensor for Home Assistant – Part 1

(This turned from a light sensor into a light/temperature/humidity/pressure multi-sensor in Part 2. By Part 3 it might be sentient.)

I’ve been mucking about with Home Assistant for several months now after buying wifi lights (and shamefully haven’t been blogging about it). Home Assistant is a hugely configurable, Python-based home automation server. I recommend checking it out.

The first thing I set up is automation of our main lights. They turn off when we go out, and turn on when we arrive home. This works fine, but I’d also like the lights to turn off when not required during the day. Home Assistant natively knows about sunrise & sunset, so the obvious thing is to turn the lights off maybe 45 minutes after sunrise. This is fine on sunny days, but on rainy day the lights end up turning off while it’s still quite dim inside.

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Here One: Wonderful Tech That Could Kill You

There’s a couple of hours in my day that are tricky, and I was hoping Here One could solve the problem.

Anyone who has cycled at anything above walking pace knows the omnipresent flutter of wind in their ears. It’s invigorating most of the time – the faster you go the more whoosh in your ears. When wearing regular earphones like Apple’s Earpods, the wind noise is present but not intolerable. The frequency of the noise is low and constant, so it’s possible to listen to speech or music at a reasonable volume while your brain tunes out the wind noise, but it’s far from ideal.

The more critical issue is safety. When cycling you need to be listening for sounds within the general drone of the streetscape that signal impending death. I’m lucky that 90% of my commute is on a separated cycleway, so listening for cars and sirens is not much of an issue. For the on-road parts of my commute, I always drop out my road-side earphone (and sometimes both sides) so I can stay alert. But again, adding music to my commute comes at the cost of some safety. Continue reading

How to disconnect from Social Media without deleting your accounts

I’ve thought about taking a break from Social Media several times in the past. It was this video that finally pushed me to give it a crack, at least experimentally (thanks Rowan). It’s not that the chap had anything groundbreaking to say, but more that it was a handy summary of all the reasons why I’ve considered leaving before.

There’s no dramatic reason why I’ve tuned out right now, but thanks to the couple of people who checked in. I really appreciate it.

The break might turn permanent, who knows? But in the first instance I wanted to reliably and definitively disconnect, but also keep my accounts around just in case*.

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