Cataloging our smart-home devices

Last week, I provided an overview of how I’ve introduced automation and control to our apartment by combining various smart-home devices with a robust platform to manage those inputs. My earlier post described, in broad terms, the hardware and software I’ve leveraged, and some of the automations I’ve implemented. Today, in anticipation of releasing the software configurations that make this possible, I’ll inventory the devices used and explain their roles in the overall system.

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Controlling SmartThings’ Smart Home Monitor from Home Assistant

Until recently, one of the few things I couldn’t control from Home Assistant was the “Smart Home Monitor” (SHM)–or alarm–feature of the Samsung SmartThings platform. With the exception of our locks, controlling this was the only other task that required the provider’s app.

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Getting started with home automation

Until a few months ago, I’d suppressed any interest in home automation by assuring myself that, by living in an apartment, I had few options. I also knew myself well enough to recognize that I’d probably become a bit obsessed. An unrelated trip to Best Buy, which landed me in the home automation section, changed things.

I’d gone to Best Buy to pick up something I’d ordered online, and while I waited, I meandered through the section of smart lights, thermostats, and so on. The Philips Hue options caught my attention, but only enough to start me subconsciously planning how they might suit the apartment.

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Facebook does an interesting thing with the browser console

I accidentally left my browser console open a few days ago, and ended up on Facebook.com at some point. Suddenly, my console was filled with this message, one for each request:

Facebook's browser-console warning

It’s an interesting way to (attempt to?) protect users, and I can only think that Facebook must be such a target for these “paste this text into this window for awesome features” scams that a bold notification was worthwhile.

A different type of financial insecurity–cyberattacks

There’s been much attention paid to an article in this month’s issue of The Atlantic that looks at financial insecurity in the US: “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans.” It’s both a great and terrifying read.

This morning, Reuters reported on a different type of security concern:

SWIFT, the global financial network that banks use to transfer billions of dollars every day, warned its customers on Monday that it was aware of “a number of recent cyber incidents” where attackers had sent fraudulent messages over its system.

The disclosure came as law enforcement authorities in Bangladesh and elsewhere investigated the February cyber theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. SWIFT has acknowledged that the scheme involved altering SWIFT software on Bangladesh Bank’s computers to hide evidence of fraudulent transfers.

How confident are we in the safety of the money we do have?

Five Reasons Why I Love Developing with WordPress

I’ve been using WordPress for a few years now, and since March, I’ve worked at C. Murray Consulting, where I primarily develop websites on WordPress and BuddyPress. Originally designed for blogging, recent upgrades have transformed WordPress into a full-featured content management system. Thanks largely to its humble roots, WordPress has a number of advantages over its competitors. Below are the top five I’ve identified as both a user and developer:
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Introducing WordPress 3, Featuring Custom Post Types, A Native Menu Editor, and More

The following first appeared on my employer’s site, cmurrayconsulting.com.

Today’s release of WordPress 3.0 brings some exciting enhancements and new features that strengthen the software’s position in the realm of content management systems. For developers such as us, two sets of features in particular should prove invaluable in implementing WordPress-based solutions for our clients.

First, version 3 expands WordPress beyond the traditional blogging constructs of posts and pages by allowing users to specify custom post types. These custom types can function either like posts, organized linearly, or like pages, having a hierarchical structure. This feature builds on the custom taxonomies introduced in WordPress 2.9, which let users expand the organizational options for content beyond just categories and tags. Now, combining custom post types with custom taxonomies, users have complete control over how content is organized and displayed.

Custom post types don’t just let users segregate press releases from product pages, for example, but also simplify the addition of fields specific to each post type. A product post type could include pricing and availability, whereas a press release could hold media contact information. Following this example, separate taxonomies can be assigned to each, reaffirming a clear organization of content.

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