I need my caffeine fix. It also needs to be very readily available when I wake up. Before home automation, I used to load my Moccamaster KBGT741 Thermal Coffee Maker with water and ground coffee before bedtime so all I had to do was to hit the power button to get caffeine flowing. But why not schedule it to before I get up so that there is always fresh coffee available the instant I get up in the morning? Add an IKEA Trådfri Smart Outlet, and I can schedule my fix! Since the coffee maker brews into a insulated carafe, it doesn’t get burned if, I sleep in, while at the same time keeping it hot. That’s a win-win! I know, this method doesn’t provide the absolute best coffee experience, but as far as I’m concerned availability beats quality in the wee hours of the morning.

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In my hallway there are a few Phillips Hue White and Color Ambiance Bulbs that I’ve had some fun with the last couple of years. Originally automated through IFTTT, they change color if one of my favorite football teams play a match. This has been working well for quite some time, but with IFTTT recently starting to limit the amount of Applets you can create, and the fact that they only run every 15 minutes, I decided to try and emulate the functionality I used with Home Assistant and Node-RED instead.

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I’ve been running Home Asssistant (HA) in my network for well over a year now, and it’s primary use case has been connecting devices from different ecosystems into one management interface. Lately I have been migrating a few automations from native HA to Node-RED, which has been a fun exercise, and I’m looking to expand the usage of automations in the time to come.

My mantra for this setup is that everything that can be automated, should be automated, while at the same time keeping it as simple and unobtrusive as possible for everyone in the household.

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Misleading title, I know, especially considering most of this post is actually looking back at 2020. It’s been a few years since I did one of these posts, and with the havoc of 2020 close to be firmly in the rearview mirror, why not try to pick it up again?

Since I didn’t post a list of goals for 2020, it’s hard to review it item by item, but it’s safe to say that 2020 has been one hell of a year. A lot of people have been much more adversely affected by the whole COVID-19 pandemic than I have, but being confined to the Home Office of Isolation™ since March has taken it’s toll, at least mentally.

I’m lucky enough to have my own dedicated office, grown kids that doesn’t need home schooling and an employer who facilitates, and embraces, remote work. I know everyone else doesn’t have that luxury, given their role, but for those of us who has, it is a blessing.

2020 has also shown us who the real heroes are, the front line workers who can’t do their job from a comfortable and safe home office. Health care workers, teachers, public transport, shop workers and others who provide crucial services. On behalf of us lucky ones, thank you for beeing there. Thank you for caring, and thank you for making it possible for the rest of us to continue working. Hopefully 2021 will be better, at least eventually, as the vaccines become available, and we can start to slowly return to a new kind of normal.

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Since I recently got an Elgato Key Light Air for the Home Office of Isolation™, I’ve been playing around with how to automate it. I’ve seen a lot of people using Elgato Stream Decks for automating these lights, but I don’t really have the need for a dedicated device for this. At least not yet. As it turns out, it’s actually pretty easy to automate these lights via other means. The light itself runs a http server on port 9123, and via /elgato/lights it’s possible to connect to it’s internal API for remote control. There is even a Postman Collection available, which makes it very easy to get started with connecting and changing settings around.

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Ryan Johnson who works on VMware Validated Design, has created a GitHub repo for VMware stencils. The repository contains the stencils used for VMware Validated Designs in SVG, Visio and OmniGraffle formats, as well as a very nice Powerpoint presentation that shows how to use the stencils. Great work Ryan, and team!

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Happily I ordered the Elgato Key Light Air, as that should provide the light that I was lacking. Assembling and connecting it was very easy, but when it came to adding it to my home WiFi I ran into some unexpected issues. As is customary with this kind of IoT-ish device, the setup is to connect to it’s own WiFi through a management app, in this case the Elgato Control Center, and then use that to connect it to the WiFi of your choice. For the life of me, I couldn’t get the Key Light to connect to my home WiFi, it just timed out with an unexpected error—which is very unhelpful.

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In case you weren’t aware, applications for VMware vExpert 2021 is now open. See the official announcement for details. The applications are open until January 9th 2021, and the announcement of the class of 2021 is scheduled for February 19th 2021.

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After working pretty well for many, many months, my external mic, a Blue Yeti, suddenly started having issues in Microsoft Teams on macOS. The issue was isolated to Teams, other video and audio solutions worked fine. For some reason, Teams had decided to start auto-adjusting the input level on its own, rendering it pretty useless. While some might say it’s a blessing that I get auto-muted, seemingly at random, but for me at least it’s pretty annoying.

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VMworld 2020 is soon upon us, and due to the current world situation it’s an online only event this year. Personally I think this is a big loss, mostly because I usually spend most of my time at VMworld networking and speaking to people I often only see once a year, something that simply will not happen this year. Thankfully Nick Howell and Jeramiah Dooley took the baton, and has tried to recreate or even re-invent some of the social aspects of the conference experience, on Discord.

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About the author

Christian Mohn works as a Chief Technologist SDDC for Proact in Norway.

See his About page for more details, or find him on Twitter.

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