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Home Automation

I don't think I've written about it before, but I've been into home automation for a really long time. I can't remember exactly when I started automating things, but it was definitely no later than 1999, seventeen years ago.

Back then I used something called X-10. It was flaky, and if you wanted more than just remote switches for your lights you needed to have a windows computer running some fairly janky software.

I very optimistically bought a couple dozen motion detectors and programmed my place such that I would never have to hit a light switch. As I walked around lights would dim up and down based on where I was. I even had a sensor under the bed so that if I got up at night the bathroom lights would dim up a little bit.

Unfortunately there was also a bug I never solved that would occasionally turn all of my lights up to full brightness in the middle of the night. To cope with this I began to sleep on my stomach with my eyes in the crook of my arm. This went on for so long that it conditioned me to continue sleeping that way, even today.

Using Evernote to Plan a Trip

On Mike Dariano

Goodbye TripIt. It took some time for me to delete this service. This was the first services I signed up for that made me think my iPhone was awesome. All your travel details in one place along with check-in times, weather, and other things you may need like car rentals, food, and more. The best part was that it was all automated. I gave them authorization to scan my email for trips and then they would automatically populate my trip list. The service was great but I found a better one* - Evernote (collective gasp noted).

I used Evernote to plan our recent trip to Cincinnati and was really pleased at how well it worked. It wasn't automated like TripIt but that was good because I considered our options ahead of time to make a list of the best choices. How to do it then?

For traveling via car - air travel I add the flight number, departure time, parking information and so - I always include the hotel name, phone number, and address at the top of the note, that way I can call or get a map with one tap. I also include the room rate so it's fresh in my mind and the confirmation number. All of this takes 10 seconds of copy paste from the confirmation booking screen to the Evernote note.

Below lodging I have a list of attractions. This is structured the same way, name, address, phone number and any confirmation numbers or details. During our Cincinnati trip we pre-purchased King's Island tickets and had that confirmation number listed but our trips to the Newport Aquarium and museum didn't have any. For each of these places I also listed their hours and ticket prices. The hours of operation were very helpful on that trip because we finished walking through the aquarium around 2PM and weren't sure what our next stop would be - another attraction or the hotel - but I pulled up the note which listed the museum closing time as 5PM and after tapping the address link we saw it was only fifteen minutes away. Done and done.

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