Talking Amazon on The Smart Home Show

The Smart Home ShowNobody’s really surprised that the Amazon Echo is suddenly able to control connected lighting and other smart devices in the home. But market analyst Michael Wolf believes that there’s much more to it. Drawing some lines between the dots (and Dashes [I couldn’t resist the bad pun]), Mike believes that Amazon is making small, but calculated moves to support the smart home. While I wouldn’t today call the Dash Button a smarthome device, I do agree that it’s a piece of the larger picture that ultimately leads to Amazon’s stake in the smarthome market.

You can find the episode at Technology.FM or in iTunes. This show comes on the heels of Mike joining me on the latest episode of Home: On.

My Current Podcast Subscriptions

As a podcaster, I’m periodically asked what shows—podcasts—I listen to. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and with a few exceptions, most of the shows I subscribe to are about technology—news, topics like home automation, consumer tech, etc. And since I also host and produce shows of my own, I’m pretty picky about production quality. I have little patience for bad audio, poor editing, or sloppy production. So if you’re interested in similar topics, check some of these out…I expect you’ll enjoy them. Some of these have faded or are currently on hiatus, but it’s well worth checking out past episodes. Also note that some are explicit and will not be safe for family or workplace listening.

CordkillersDaily Tech News ShowEntertainment 2.0Eye Chart RadioGet It Done GuyGrammar GirlHome: OnHome Server ShowHomeTech.fmInside the MagicThe IoT PodcastIt's a ThingMac OS KenMac OS Ken Day 6Marketplace TechPodcasters' RoundtableReply AllThe Ritual Misery PodcastSerialThe Smart Home ShowStartupTech's Messagetell it anywaythEndUsrThrowing ShadeUXpodWait Wait...Don't Tell Me!Windows WeeklyWired UK PodcastYou Look Nice Today

The Ritual Misery Podcast

The Ritual Misery PodcastIf you have any interest in catching my lighter, less filtered side, check out my latest guest podcast appearance, this time on episode 27 (beta) of The Ritual Misery Podcast. Amos and Kent are two military guys who invite you to listen in on their weekly conversation about life, tech, and TED talks. I first met Amos at a CNET Buzz Out Loud event at SXSW several years ago. Speaking of which, we talk a lot in this episode about our plans to attend events at SXSW again this year (which, BTW, turned out to be pretty awesome). We also discuss Shwood-isms, thought plateaus, Amos’s misguided beliefs about gold iDevices, and my guilty TV pleasures.

You can find the episode at RitualMisery.com or in all the usual places, including iTunes. Note that this podcast is explicit and is not safe for work. Oh…and if you’re [any segment of the human population], we may offend you.

Talking TiVo on Popular Technology Radio

cover170x170On Saturday, 2/28/15, I appeared again on the syndicated radio show Popular Technology Radio, this time talking about TiVo. TiVo is rolling out a new feature for TiVo customers called OnePass, which integrates traditional and streaming video more tightly. OnePass replaces TiVo’s popular SeasonPass feature, now giving customers season-by-season access to show episodes, regardless of whether they’re recorded or available online through Netflix, Hulu, VUDU, or Amazon.

The show is available now in iTunes and online at poptechradio.com.

HomeTech Podcast

Screen+Shot+2014-04-13+at+8.09.56+AMI had the honor of filling in for Jason Griffing on the HomeTech podcast this week. Jason’s co-host Seth Johnson invited me to join him in discussing a recent Kaspersky Labs post about IoT security, the benefits and dangers of smart locks, and one of my favorite smarthome technology topics: Insteon. Seth is in the process of renovating a home, and he’s evaluating different technologies for lighting control and security. Do I think Insteon is up to his standards? Absolutely.

You can find the episode at HomeTech.FM or in iTunes. But why just record one show when you can do two? Seth also joins me as my guest co-host this week on Home: On.

Popular Technology Radio

cover170x170On Saturday, 1/31/15, I appeared on the syndicated radio show Popular Technology Radio. We spoke about home automation technology for general consumers. A bunch of differing “standards” are still evolving, and early adopters should be careful about picking compatible products and technologies. A point of note is that integration is becoming important to many manufacturers, ultimately getting us away from this trend of needing an app for every new device. One such integration announced recently is for SNUPI’s Wally sensors, which are now Works with Nest certified to provide your Nest thermostat with much needed remote room temperature monitoring.

The show is available now in iTunes and online at poptechradio.com.

New York Times: The Rise of the Smartbulb

nytimes-logoI recently spoke with a reporter from the New York Times about connected bulbs, and how the landscape for consumers can be pretty confusing nowadays. A brief quote from that discussion appeared on the front page feature of the Times’ 1/22/2015 Home and Garden section.

…if you buy a set of smartbulbs and you’d like them to flash if your smoke alarm is triggered at night or your webcam detects an intruder, for instance, you may be out of luck.

As a result, said Richard Gunther, a consultant with Universal Mind, a Denver technology firm, smartbulb buyers have no choice but to do some research before they buy. “You can’t just buy a bulb and screw it in and expect it to work with your connected system,” he said.

Nadarajah Narendran, a professor and director of research at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., agreed. “If you want the additional convenience that can come with the new LEDs, you need to be ready not just with your money but with your time,” he said.

Both men expect things to get easier soon, perhaps as early as this year, as the industry coalesces around wireless standards the way the home-video industry ultimately settled on the VHS standard. The difference, they said, was that the smart-home industry will likely find ways to bridge the varying technologies, rather than leaving some consumers stranded on Betamax Island.

The full article is available online at nytimes.com.

Sad to See Tom Leave

Leo Laporte, the head of the TWiT network, today announced that he is ending TWiT’s contract with Tom Merritt, host of Tech News Today (TNT) and for all intents and purposes the network’s news anchor. I doubt any of us will ever know or understand the details of Leo’s seemingly short-sighted decision or understand the motivations behind it. Particularly given Leo’s weak statements about the remote situation not working. As an audio listener—part of TWiT’s largest audience—I perceived absolutely no difference after Tom’s relocation to L.A.

What I do know is that the TNT that Tom and Becky Worley started at TWiT about four years ago brought me to TWiT as a daily listener. And the evolution of the TNT team and show, though never topping that original formula, yielded a professional and respectable tech news source. Tom didn’t fall into morning zoo antics; he didn’t don an artificial radio voice, smile, and guffaw for the mic and camera; and he didn’t chow down his lunch while recording and on camera. Tom has added a level of professionalism to the TWiT studio that some have emulated and others should aspire to.

Change is hard. I get that. And maybe it’s time for a change for me, too. Maybe for all of us. I’ll likely leave TNT behind and look forward to Tom’s next endeavor—just as so many of Tom’s fans and followers did when he left CNET and dropped a ready-made audience in Leo’s lap. That audience will likely have something new and exciting to look for in the days ahead.

All my best to you, Tom. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

I Started a New Show

HomeOn tileI’ve started a new podcast over at The Digital Media Zone about home automation and control. Despite all the recent growth and swell in smarthome interest, there aren’t many podcasts about the space. Home: On is a biweekly podcast in which we’ll run through industry news, take a closer look at interesting products, share project ideas, or present topics for information and education purposes. I’m joined by a rotation of co-hosts and guests from the industry, including consumers, industry experts, and executives from companies offering smart products of their own.

If you’re interested in smarthome technology, give it a listen at The Digital Media Zone or in your favorite podcast software like iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

BBB Complaint Filing about UPS Service

UPS: We ♥ Logistics*  [*It's just that sometimes they're not very good at it.]

Over the past week’s time, I’ve had three delivery failures from UPS, each mis-handled and reported differently. Last week, a package was reported as delivered when it actually wasn’t. UPS refused to address the issue for me when I called because it was a package from Amazon. Amazon graciously resent the products at no additional cost, then days later the original (purportedly already delivered) UPS package mysteriously arrived. It was dropped on my doorstep with no attempt to communicate with me, even though I had a clear notice on the door for the UPS carrier to ring the bell and talk with me.

Days later, another package doesn’t get delivered. It’s reported in UPS’ tracking system as not delivered due to “Emergency conditions beyond UPS’ control.” UPS followed up on my rants on Twitter, telling me that, in fact, that status was used because they didn’t have a status to properly represent the actual situation—that they just couldn’t get the delivery done in time that day.

Today: another failed delivery. UPS’ tracking system reports that “the customer was not available on the 1st attempt.” That’s a lie. Someone was home all day. Nobody rang the bell, no notice was left, and this particular package does not require a signature anyway. 

I want UPS to fix the rampant delivery problems they appear to be having in my neighborhood this holiday season. I want the dispatch office and drivers to be held responsible for failed deliveries—not Amazon. I want UPS to stop fabricating false excuses for why they’re not delivering packages on time. “Couldn’t deliver on time” is bad, but it’s better than the fabricated statuses they’ve been reporting.

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