Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

One of my favorite options in the latest round of home automationry is the ability to voice control all the things. The Wink has a pretty substantial list of supported home automation devices. The Alexa can control the Wink. Therefore, the Alexa can do all the things, even though integrations with Alexa were not built for most of those devices by Amazon.

The beauty here lies in the ubiquity of APIs these days. Alexa has a recipe-style option called a Skill (further humanizing her). Basically, you add the Wink skill, then scan for devices that are connected through the Wink, then viola, tell Alexa to do something to them. To get started, open the Alexa app and tap on Skills. Search for Wink and then tap on Enable.


At the Wink screen, enter the username and password for your Wink account and then tap on Sign In.


Provided all goes well, you’ll then be told that Alexa linked with Wink (there’s a joke there… anyone?).


Alexa doesn’t know about your devices that are connected through Wink yet. So now tap on Discover Devices.


The app then shows all the devices connected. Mine will have about 20, but I’ve only got two setup for now.


From the Wink app, let’s add another device.


Then let’s tap Discover Devices again from the Alexa app.


Any new devices are then displayed.



Different devices have different voice commands. For example, a thermostat can change the temperature whereas a light switch can turn on and off, a dimmer can be set to a certain percentage of power, or a garage door opener can open a garage door. Now, if I can only find the dip-switch controlled coffee pot and hook it up to an automated receptacle so Alexa can make me a cup of coffee…

July 7th, 2016

Posted In: Alexa, Home Automation

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Here’s a little app to sync data from a DynamoDB database to an iOS device. Includes the ability to search. Simply edit the constants file to link it to your source. Enjoy.

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June 6th, 2016

Posted In: iPhone

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The Amazon Echo can’t control a FireTV. I guess they’re different groups at Amazon. And not all the music you want is available on Amazon Prime. Royalties, contracts, etc being what they are, sometimes Amazon can’t find something you want. But, even if an artist or song isn’t available, you can often hook into a channel that fills the void on iHeartRadio. So, let’s connect the two.

To get started, you’ll want to log into Then, click on Music & Books and then scroll down to the listing for iHeartRadio and click on the logo. If you haven’t linked an account, you’ll only have the option to “Link your account now” so click there.

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When prompted either enter your username and password, or, if you initially setup your account with Facebook or Goolge, click on those.

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No matter which account you select, you’ll be prompted to give access to Alexa for your account. Click Okay, or OK, according to the system.

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If using Google or Facebook, you’ll also be asked if you want iHeartRadio to be able to post on your behalf.

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Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, tell Alexa to play some Paula Abdul. That’s not available in Prime Music, so you’ll default over to an iHeartRadio station. Enjoy!



June 5th, 2016

Posted In: Alexa, Home Automation

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Merry Christmas ya’ll!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me one 32 gig iPad

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two bash one-liners

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three Red Hat servers

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four email blasts

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five retweets

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six regular expressions

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven lines of perl

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight app store apps

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine AWS instances

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten Active Directory forests

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me 11 crappy python scripts

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 craft brews


December 25th, 2014

Posted In: iPhone, Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment

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When I was in college, at the end of each semester we’d go to the book store (you know, that place that fleeced us with $100 used books) and we’d sell back those books for about one tenth to one quarter what we bought them from. We’d then use that money to help fund one of our books for the next semester (or beer). Well, Amazon is doing something similar now. Although it has to do more with when new editions of the book are released. Each edition of a book allows you to trade the book in for new editions.

Take Practical C++ Programming, from O’Reilly. Apparently I bought the chipmunk book at some point. In fact, considering the fact I can see it on my shelf from where I’m sitting I am certain of it (unless I am hallucinatin’ again – in which case I would really hope for something better than a freakin’ tech book). When I go to the page for that book on Amazon, they know I bought it (they sold it to me after all) and they’re kind enough to offer to buy it off me for about a buck and a half (about 1 / 20th what I bought it for) and sell me the new edition for about $25.30 (or $6.53 used).

I know I’m poking at this just a little bit, but that’s just because it makes me think of college. I honestly think it’s a really great feature. There are so many options for things like books and this is just another that will keep me going back to Amazon!

April 14th, 2012

Posted In: Articles and Books, Business

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Back in November of 2008 I did an article awhile back on a way to use Amazon’s S3 to hook into Final Cut Server. At the time though, S3 had a pretty big limitation in that it wasn’t really suitable for backing up large video files as an archive device for Final Cut Server. But today, Amazon announced that S3 now supports files of up to 5 terabytes using multipart upload (previously the maximum file size was 5 gigabytes).

This finally means that files do not have to be broken up at the file system layer in order to back up to Amazon’s cloud. However, this does not mean that traditional disk-to-disk backup solutions can be leveraged to provide a good target for backups and archives as backups need to be performed using the multipart upload. The ability to now use S3 for large files allows us to finally use Amazon S3 in a way that is much simpler that it was to do so previously, although it is still not as transparent as using a file system or URI path.

Overall, this represents a great step for Amazon and I hope to see even more of this in the future!

December 10th, 2010

Posted In: cloud, Final Cut Server

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As my most recent information seems to now be on Amazon I have wrapped that into an easy link with links back to this site. It can be found at

February 20th, 2010

Posted In: Business

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Updated the Amazon Author Central page with some new information. This includes a little video, a little Bio, a little rss integration and a schedule of speaking events. Also, it includes what appears to be another book… Hope you enjoy!

January 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Articles and Books


I now have an Author Page at Amazon. Not sure why I’m just now getting around to setting this up:

January 14th, 2010

Posted In: Articles and Books

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The books page had been pulled down for a little while due to some issues I was having embedding images. So I went back to the drawing board and found a way to get a carousel of images. So the page with the books I’ve done is back up and online. Hope you like (and yes, I know they spin too fast, it’s still a little bit of a work in progress).
My Books

December 24th, 2009

Posted In: Articles and Books, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment

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