Kwikset 910 Z-Wave SmartCode Electronic Touchpad Deadbolt

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A while back I decided to purchase a Kwikset 910 Z-Wave SmartCode Electronic Touchpad Deadbolt for one of our properties so I could remotely lock and unlock one of the doors there, which is very useful when you’re trying to sell a house or if Terminix decides to just schedule a day for an inspection without actually confirming that you can be at the property on that day. The 910 currently retails for about $130 though you can find less expensive ones, typically used, on eBay (make sure that it includes the Z-Wave radio module).

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Accessing a Remote Network with a TP-Link SafeStream TL-ER604W Router

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Back in December I started using a TP-Link SafeStream TL-R600VPN Gigabit Broadband Desktop VPN Router to be able to login to the network at a remote property. It provided most of the functions I needed but unfortunately the client/server mode of the VPN service only supported PPTP. While not every secure it would have been fine for my purposes but unfortunately Apple dropped support for PPTP VPN connections from the newer Mac OS and iOS versions. I was able to purchase a program called Shimo to use PPTP from the Mac but there wasn’t really a good solution for iOS and being able to access the network from my phone was a critical need.

Frustrated that I couldn’t use my phone to connect to the network I eventually purchased a TP-Link SafeStream TL-ER604W Wireless N300 Gigabit Broadband Desktop VPN Router, which provides PPTP, L2TP and IPSEC client/server connections and so far it has worked great.

Both routers have, on at least one or two occasions, each hung up and required a manual power reset. The NetReset device I purchased recently seems to have eliminated that infrequent problem.

The Forgotten Role of Technology: One Step Away from Magic

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I’ve noticed an increasingly more prevalent theme this year. The core theme is the concept of technology that is so ubiquitous and elegant that it appears to work like magic. For most of us that is rarely our experience. Often technology, whether we’re using an electronic tool that performs some physical work, or a piece of software that executes a virtual action, rarely seems like magic.

Some of this is simply due to the fact that most of us have developed a specific level of expectation over time through gradual changes that occur across the span of decades. There are certainly many things that might be perceived as magical to someone from an earlier time, whether it was someone from five hundred years ago or only a decade ago.  Perhaps magic, in this context, might be defined as something that is done for you that you didn’t even think about when you made it happen. Like turning on a light switch or opening a door, except the level of interaction is subtler.

Earlier this year I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join a college at a conference where Josh Clark, a user interface design expert, presented along with several other experts. While there we also had the opportunity to speak with him directly at one of the lunches, where he joined our table. Much of our discussion was on this very subject as was his presentation. His topic, of technology functioning like magic, was engaging and, in my opinion, a change heading toward us rather quickly.

I love technology. I enjoy learning about new innovations and gadgets and I have spent several late nights and weekends just tinkering with devices and software, sometimes without a defined goal. Some of those projects were dead ends. Others were successes. I learned from each one.

Yet, over the years, I continue to notice one problem with much of the technology that we have at our disposal.

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Using a Philips VOIP 080 Skyp VOIP Travel Phone (VOIP0801B/37) with a Mac (Mountain Lion)

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Philips-Skype-Phone

The Short Version: The Philips VOIP0801B/37 Skype Phone is not fully compatible with Skype and Mountain Lion. The microphone and speaker work fine but the keypad does not.

I’ve had a Skype account for some time though I’ve never used it very often. In general, it serves as little more than a backup calling system. I’ve been thinking about using the service more often at home so I decided to try to find an inexpensive device that would serve as a dedicated Skype phone.

Earlier this week I received a Philips VOIP 080 Skype VOIP Travel Phone (VOIP0801B/37) that I purchased from Amazon for about $30. Unfortunately, I should have read several of the reviews more closely when trying to determine whether or not this would actually work with my Mac (10.8 Mountain Lion).

It partially works. The Mac recognizes the device connected via USB and the Skype software can be configured to use the microphone and speaker. However, the keypad appears to be useless. Dialing, etc has to be done from the Mac.

Before I purchased this I was well aware that Macs were not officially supported but I had the impression it would actually work. Perhaps I’ll stumble upon some trick to get the keypad working with the Mac but for now I’m stuck with a device that doesn’t work as I had hoped because I didn’t research it adequately.

Updated 07/06/2014: In the end I was never able to use it as I had intended. It’s now in our collection of yard sale items.