Newsletter 2023-01-06: happy new year, home automation, a book tip and a synthy music tip

Newsletter 2023-01-06: happy new year, home automation, a book tip and a synthy music tip

Title 'Koen's Bi-montly Mailing' against backdrop of white binary digits on blue background

Narrow snow covered road winding its way through pine forest.Happy new year!

I was going to write a pessimistic bit here about how 2022 was pretty shit, as far as the state of the world goes, and 2023 will be even worse, so why celebrate this arbitrary moment in time? I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions anyway. Mind you, I do some goal setting now and then, and take stock of where I am with respect to those goals periodically, but it generally happens around spring time.

Anyway. I realized pessimism is hardly going to entertain my dear readers now is it. So without further ado:

All the best for 2023!

Despite not having new year’s resolutions there are some things I look forward to in the coming year. One of those is publishing my current WIP: The Ein Particle. I’m so looking forward to sharing that with you all. I’m wrapping up the first round of edits after the feedback from my editor, and will send the revised manuscript off to her for a second pass exactly ten days from now.

Something else I’m looking forward to is extending our family of three (my husband, myself and our kitten Wifi) with another pawed critter. We’re planning on getting a dog this year to complete the farm-house experience. Expect cute puppy pictures somewhere along the line.

What about you? Do you have anything to look forward to in the (near) future to brighten up your live? Let me know, always eager to get to know my readers!

Screenshot from home assistant app showing a graph of the heat pump's supply and return lines and brine
          in/out temperatures.

Home Automation

I thought I’d let you in on one of my (many) hobbies: home automation.

Over the years, I’ve installed little gadgets all over the place to switch on and off lights, appliances and what more, connected together through Home Assistant, a free, open source and self-hosted home automation solution. It knows when we leave (by checking whether our phones are connected to wifi) and switch off the soldering iron in case I forgot, or starts to simulate our presence by turning on lights in the evening to thwart burglar’s attempt at figuring out the coast is clear for them to plunder our stuff.

We recently had a heat pump installed to keep us warm during the winter. I have that integrated with the home automation setup through the manufacturer’s cloud server. What that means is that the heat pump will connect out over the internet to someone else’s server somewhere in the world to upload its readings and download instructions. My home automation, in turn, goes out over the internet to connect to that same server, collect the readings (so that I can have pretty graphs) and sends instructions, such as setting the desired temperature (which, by the way, it bases on sixteen wifi-connected thermostat valves on the radiators in the house).

This is all very round-about, and if the internet breaks, so does the whole thing. Also, I’m keen on keeping everything local for privacy reasons. I’m not interested in Amazon Echo’s that record everything we say and relay that to Amazon’s servers, nor do I want the heat pump’s manufacturer to see when we take a shower or when we’re on vacation.

I was delighted therefore to find out that the heat pump has a secret menu, reserved for the company that installed the thing, in which I could enable a local protocol (modbus-tcp, if you’re interested and into these things) that lets me cut out the middle man. With this, my in-house home automation server can connect directly to the heat pump over the local network without a need to involve the internet. Not only that, it offers far more detailed insights into the heat pump’s operation and finer grained control of its functions.

It’s little things like this that get me excited. I agree, it all sounds a bit nerdy, but hey.

As I said, I’m always curious to hear more about you and learn about my readers, so therefore I’ll end with a question (or two). Are any of you into home automation? What does your setup look like? Let me know!

Space-suited man against backdrop of planet and space

J. Scott Coatsworth

It’s time for mankind to go home. Diverse hopepunk sci-fi.

Over a century after the end of the Earth, life goes on in Redemption, the sole remaining Lunar colony, and possibly the last outpost of humankind in the Solar System. But with an existential threat burrowing its way into the Moon’s core, humanity must recolonize the homeworld.

Twenty brave dropnauts set off on a mission to explore the empty planet. Four of them—Rai, Hera, Ghost and Tien—have trained for two-and-a-half years for the Return. They’re bound for Martinez Base, just outside the Old Earth city of San Francisco.

But what awaits them there will turn their assumptions upside down—and in the process, either save or destroy what’s left of humanity.

Get this short story for free!

Gray background with album and artist names in futuristic font

Music Inspired By Mega-City One

Alex Ball’s latest video on Oberheim’s first synthesizers made mention of a soundtrack composed for one of the Judge Dredd movies. The soundtrack was never used, but released as a stand-alone album.
What makes this album intriguing is the exclusive use (if you discount the drum tracks that are present in some of the compositions) of the Oberheim Two Voice. Three of them to be precise.
This is not background music. It’s music to sit down for, dim the lights, close your eyes and imagine the narratives that could inspire this soundtrack. It’s full of analog arpeggio’s (recently re-popularised by the Stranger Things’ theme), gloomy drones and gritty sounds.
I’ve never seen any of the movies, nor have I read any of the comics, but this soundtrack does it for me.

Check it out on Bandcamp or Spotify.


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