So long Apple. Hello Retirement

Yesterday was my last day at Apple and I’m calling it a day on a 30+ year career (HP and Apple). I’ve been very fortunate to work in an area that I have really enjoyed (Software Engineer). I’ve also been fortunate to work with some amazing people over the years. I very much look forward to moving into this next phase of my life with my lovely wife doing.. well.. who knows what.

I’m definitely going to continue to program, and folks can always see what I’m up to at my Github Profile

Aphantasia and Reye’s Syndrome

So I’m reading the article Aphantasia: Ex-Pixar chief Ed Catmull says ‘my mind’s eye is blind’ and my mind wandered.. heh.. Aphantasia, Pixar/Disney.. Phantasia was their first animated movie… Then, I hit the Wikipedia article about Aphantasia, I was dumbstruck.

Quick aside for folks who don’t know me. I had Reyes Syndrome when I was 17 years old. I will not go into great detail here, but suffice it to say, it’s a miracle that I’m alive and have my mental faculties.

Back to Aphantasia; the Wikipedia article describes the test for it like this:

This questionnaire invites the person to visualize a series of images (a relative, a rising sun, a shop they know, etc.) and rank how vivid the image is, from “perfectly clear and lively as real seeing” (5 points) to “no image at all, you only know that you are thinking of the object” (1 point). It is categorized as aphantasia if they score a total of 30 or less across 16 questions.”

I got sick to my stomach reading this, it was as if somebody reached across 35 years and dropped me right back in my 17 year old self after I awoke from the coma and said.. “oh.. guess what.. you have aphantasia”. I literally lost all images of my life before 17..   but now, for some reason, it feels oddly comforting to know it’s a real *THING*, like I’m not crazy for not remembering things before Reyes.

My Home Automation Setup

I’ve been delaying writing anything about my current home automation setup because I’m never really completely satisfied with it. Well, that’s been the case since I started to dabble almost two decades ago. With that out, I’ll use this post to just give an overview, and possible dive deeper into individual components at another time.

Starting with Insteon, most of my frequently used switches are Insteon. The reliability has been solid, and from what I’ve heard/read, smart switches are a mixed bag whichever technology you choose. The biggest complaint that I have is that they are quite large and really fill an electrical box, so installation/repair can be a pain. They integrate with openHAB through the Insteon PLM (USB)

Other devices each have their own integrations with openHAB (Harmony, Tesla, MyQ Garage Doors, etc…) and all the bindings actually work quite well.

OpenHAB: This is the heart of the system. Open Source, and a multitude of well-maintained integrations are key. The idea of using a system like openHAB is that you end up with a single point of access for every possible “smart” thing you have, and might get in the future. There might be times where you get something that doesn’t have an integration, but typically, writing your own, or using a shell script integration will do the trick. In that sense, it kind of ‘future proofs’ your home automation.

One note about HomeKit. I *REALLY* like being able to control my devices with Siri, so the HomeKit integration with openHAB is fantastic, but can be buggy at times. I think at some point there are just too many moving parts to get the whole thing working perfectly, but it does work most of the time, and when it does, it adds the finishing touch and makes all the technology behind it disappear.

StreamDeck Plugin for Keyboard Maestro integration

I’m a huge Keyboard Maestro fan, and I have been wanting to use the StreamDeck for integration with Keyboard Maestro. Elgato recently released their SDK for StreamDeck which makes this kind of integration possible. I know I can just use ‘buttons’ straight in KM, but a plugin will provide so much more flexibility.

StreamDeck from Elgato

I have created a Python plugin that allows you to specify a Keyboard Maestro Macro UUID in the properties inspector, and pressing the button will run the macro.

I have a lot of things on my todo list for this plugin, primarily to allow two-way communication with KM for status, icon updates, etc…

But for now, this is a good starting point.

NOTE: This is NOT a redistributable plugin as it requires a Python installation with specific packages, or a virtual environment. But it’s a great start for tinkerers.

What’s new

As you might have noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog. Back towards the end of 2009, I made a job switch. The first couple years at my new job were demanding enough that a lot of my side projects dropped to the wayside. I couldn’t stay away from tinkering with things for long though, mostly my attention has moved to automation, home, Mac, and iOS automation. I thought this would also be a good time to start the blog back up again.