Monday, 31 October 2016


So my first smart home "investment" was a new sound system for my new house.  I was looking for something that would allow me to listen to my music in a way which reflected how I used my home and so a multi room system looked worth investigating.

After much research online I plumped for probably the best known name in this space, Sonos.  Obviously there are a number of similar systems on the market, some of which have become available since I started "investing" in my system but as little as 18 months ago there weren't a huge number of choices.

Why a multi-room system? I picked this approach as I don't just listen to music in one place. I like to have music playing as I go about my chores, in the kitchen when I am cooking and then following me (and my food) into the lounge diner. Sonos offered a good entry point with their Play 1 speaker which allowed me to try out their system without breaking the bank (of course it is really addictive so you may find yourself, like me, buying quite a few speakers - but it does help spread the, not inconsiderable, cost).

The Sonos system revolves around their controller applications (which are available for various platforms) and I found the whole thing really easy to set up. It allows me to stream my digital music collection, radio stations and streaming music services (I ended up subscribing to Spotify as I was buying quite a few albums each month as I used the system more and more).

The ability to group speakers together so that I can have my music running in the ground floor rooms whilst my daughter has hers running upstairs; and then be able group all the speakers together when I am going around cleaning on my own means you can have the music you want where you want - all synchronised.

The Play 1 does have its limitations but I find the sound quality certainly good enough for most of the house and I have now added a Play 3 for one of the bigger rooms.

Other than the somewhat steep eventual investment, my only real quibble is the lack of connectivity.  Sonos doesn't really work with any of my other smart home systems (this isn't quite true as I can do some limited things but you don't get anything like the full potential).  I haven't yet felt the need to pair speakers but may be in the future...

Saturday, 29 October 2016

My Smart Home Project

So why would anyone want a "smart" home?  Well, I can only answer that from my perspective.  What I am looking for is (a) something to make my life easier (saving time, reducing chores, that sort of thing), (b) something that actually makes me feel like this is the 21st Century (come on now, where's the increased leisure time and flying cars I was promised?).

In technology terms I am actually coming to this relatively late as smart home tech has been around for many years.  But it's only that it is beginning (note I said beginning!) to be accessible and require a sensible level of time invested to make it work.

So each time I look for a "smart" gadget to add to my life I try to ask myself three basic questions:
(1) How is it going to make my life easier or better?
(2) How much is it and is it worth that much to me?
(3) Is it "cool" (yes, I used cool, which makes me old!)

A whole number of gadgets fall at the first hurdle as they are solutions looking for a problem.  Some just appeal to my "ooohhh shiny" but are actually worse in many respects than doing things old school (simple is usually better than complex - the less there is, the less there is to go wrong!).

So my next few posts will take you through my smart home journey and allow me to share my thoughts and what I have learned so far.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Motors by the Moat

Earlier in the summer a few friends and I visited Leeds Castle when they had their Motors by the Moat car event. Here are a few photos (unfortunately only iPhone 5C):

A brace of Astons:

A blast from the past:

The Dark Knight's chariot (a replica anyway):

My favourite of the day, a Sussex Sportscar SS100:

Saturday, 8 February 2014

TP Link Update

One of my original TP Link ethernet over power adaptors has given up the ghost.  It is completely non responsive.  The others two remain fine but it's a bit of a pain as I wanted to try a third to connect with one of the upstairs bedrooms which has rather inconsistent wi-fi reception.  Since the budget won't stretch to upping the throughput to the next level I'm just going to pick up another two pack (with the new smaller design) and see how that goes.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

More Ethernet over Power

Since the first pair of TP Link Powerlink adapters had proved successful I decided to add a third to feed the new kitchen PC (more of that later).

I picked up another single adapter from Amazon and it arrived quickly and set up was an absolute breeze.  Just plug the adapter into a vacant 3 pin socket, plug in the supplied ethernet cable and push the sync button for a couple of seconds on the new adapter and do the same for one of the existing ones.  Hey presto all works.

It's still not as fast as full blown ethernet but it has improved the video streaming quality and reliability significantly - plus it's much easier to chuck files around the network.

Darling Buds Car Show 2012

Pop Larkin's 1926 Rolls Royce

We visited Buss Farm for the 2012 Darling Buds Classic Car Show today and, despite the weather's best efforts, had a good day out.  Here are a few more photos to give a flavour of the event:

Kent Air Ambulance

The Mainframe Computer (in the barn)

Military Vehicles
M35 Deuce and a half

Hot Rods

Some Earlier Classic Cars
 Riley Kestrel
 Ford Model A

Some Jaguars
E Type (Series 3)
Mark 2

Land Rovers

Some Minis


GT5 Mark 2

Some Sporty Fords
 Escort RS2000
 Sierra XR4i
Capri 3.0S

Plus a couple of Lotus Cortinas

More Modern Classics
 Fire up the Quattro!
VW Golf GTi (Hairdresser's Special?)

And Some Bikes

Sunday, 24 June 2012


As a fan of the character here's hoping this will be good when it's released in September...