A tale of three deliveries

The things you learn from Arlo:

3:00 PM, USPS: large box left in middle of porch, visible from street.

3:01 PM, ONTRAC: medium box left on top of first box.

4:28 PM, UPS: previous boxes moved out of sight from street, neatly restacked with new box.

Netgear Orbi from Costco

Just picked up the smaller Orbi bundle at Costco. This is the SKU they’ve added recently (RBK22-100NAS) that only has two units (“router” and “satellite”, both with ethernet backhaul); I didn’t really need a 3-pack of the original model, just one on each floor.

The hardest part of the setup was switching off the builtin NAT and running it in AP mode; you can’t do it from the iOS app. The second hardest was discovering that the app artificially limits you to short passwords; the web GUI will let you enter up to 63 characters, as expected for WPA2-PSK.

Preliminary results look good. I may tweak the placement of the units (I just grabbed the first available power and ethernet, since the old wireless is still running), and turn on the optional beamforming, etc. At the very least, I should get better performance on my front porch.

I figure it’ll take me a few days to find all my wireless devices and switch them over. :-)


The optional beamforming is off by default for a reason. It apparently has disconnect issues.

Hueification nearly complete

Pro tip: if you plan on integrating your Philips Hue bulbs with Alexa, give every bulb a name that can’t easily be confused with your room names, so that “Alexa, kitchen lights on” does not result in a question about which one you meant.

Guest tip: buy the Hue motion detectors or dimmer switches rather than expecting visitors to learn your naming scheme. Especially if they’ll be staying the night.

eBay tip: even a vendor with a long positive history can do stupid things like buying returned merchandise at a Wal-mart and not checking inside before putting it up for sale. The refund will go more smoothly if you don’t accuse them of fraud.

 Back       1-porch-back
 Driveway   1-driveway, 2-driveway
 Entry      1-entry, 2-entry
 Front      1-hall-front
 Garage     1-garage
 Guest      1-bedroom-guest
 Hall       1-hall-main
 Kitchen    1-kitchen, 2-kitchen, 3-kitchen, 4-kitchen
 Master     1-bedroom-master, 2-bedroom-master
*Nook      *1-nook (bri=67%, ct=313)
 Office     1-office
 Porch      1-porch-front
 Side       1-porch-side
 Stair      1-stairs-landing, 2-stairs-landing, 1-stairs-top
 Upstairs   1-hall-upstairs, 2-hall-upstairs, 3-hall-upstairs

Once the refund gets processed on eBay, I can buy bulbs for the family room and sewing room1, and then come up with a plan for the 21 G25 bulbs in the bathrooms. I’m thinking standard warm white LED bulbs and dimmer switches, because replacing the actual fixtures would involve some painting, and I don’t see the need to remote-control the lights in there. Also $3/bulb on Amazon.

1: well, more of a kumihimo/library/music/ironing/ammo room, really.

Note to self...

The automatic cat feeder on the front porch is sturdy enough to survive an assault by a raccoon, but not so heavy that he can’t drag it six feet across the porch and give it the old college try. I was wondering what the hell was going on out there in the wee hours this morning, and a quick check of the Arlo cameras cleared it up.

I already knew not to let it dispense food at night, since I caught a pair of possums on video a while back, but I didn’t know we had raccoons in the neighborhood as well. I’ll have to scoot the heavy bench over to wedge the feeder into the corner more firmly.

In related news, Whitefoot has claimed the cat bed on the bench, relegating Scrawny to her old chair cushions. The coup must have been recent, since she was using it last week. I think I upset the balance when I threw away the bench cushion that somebody used to register their dislike of the turkey flavor wet food.

Also, they’ve pretty much forgiven me for leaving them with only the dry food while I was in Chicago for Christmas; Scrawny actually purrs while she’s getting her morning skritches, and will delay eating until she’s had enough affection.

"Alexa, let there be light!"

I bit the bullet and started moving to LED lighting at home. While I’m generally opposed to the Internet of Things, a few people I have reason to trust spoke well of Philips Hue smart lighting (in particular, the fact that it gets updates), so I picked up a starter kit on Amazon and gave it a try.

After playing with it for a while, I picked up some White Ambiance flood lights at Home Depot to start replacing the mix of incandescents and fluorescents in my ceilings, and some more White ones for outside. I also added a wireless dimmer switch (for the stairs) and motion detector (for the garage), and set up the Amazon Alexa integration. I’ll probably add another motion detector and a few more switches before my parents come out in March, since they won’t be used to calling out the names I’ve given to each lighting area.

While planning out the number and type of lights I’d need, I realized I had a way to use my most peculiar Christmas present: an eBay gift card. Sure enough, a number of dealers with good histories have new-in-box Hue lights, so I ordered some floods and A19 bulbs.

The floods arrived yesterday, in new-looking packaging, but the seal on one of the boxes looked like it had been opened and resealed. Sure enough, both boxes contained Hyperikon LED bulbs rather than the promised Philips Hue, and no, they weren’t even smart bulbs.

I have done the seller the courtesy of assuming that this was not an act of deliberate fraud (by them; obviously someone’s a scammer), and requested a “wrong item” return, sending them pictures of the shady seal and the bulbs. If they haven’t responded appropriately in a few days, I’ll post their name and start the dispute process with eBay. Fortunately this only affects the family room, so as long as the other eBay seller doesn’t screw me, the rest of the place will be done.

…except for the bathroom lights, which have these stupid multi-globe-bulb fixtures that will need to be replaced; no way I’m buying 21 LED smartbulbs to light 2.5 baths. In fairness, though, I haven’t had a single one of them burn out in 18 years.


Good: family, good food, prezzies, white Christmas.

Bad: high temperatures in Chicago less than half the low temperatures at home. Update: how could I forget my sister playing Christmas music all day long. And, yes, it included this. All of it. I hadn’t heard any of it in forty years, and wish it had stayed that way. Sorry, Nellie.

Also, there’s a perfectly good reason that one of my presents was a 5-pound bag of rice. And it’s completely unrelated to the four cookbooks I got.

Porch Cats: Tortie Reform

(previously, etc)

I’m down to two regulars, Scrawny and Dumas, although Whitefoot did show up for dinner last night for the first time in a week.

Scrawny and Dumas are now almost fully J-tolerant. They rush the front door whenever I open it, to try to enter The Place Food Comes From, and rub against my legs while I’m opening the containers. They accept any amount of petting and skritches, for as long as I’m willing to keep at it.

Dumas, with his bouncy kittenish behaviors, was never as skittish as any of the others, so it wasn’t too surprising that I’m now able to pick him up and cuddle him for about 30 seconds before he wants down.

Scrawny’s the real wonder. Even though she still flinches ever-so-slightly every time my hand comes near her head, yesterday she not only allowed me to lift her up onto her bench cushion, but also accepted 5 minutes of two-handed petting afterwards, including tummy rubs.

Dear lawn maintenance crew,

You are so fired. The four potted bamboo plants on my front porch that were up to a lovely arching 8 feet in height are now horrifically topped like a cheap shrub.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”