The 2021 Review

Another year, another sunset. I can’t believe it’s almost 2022…

It took me a while to get going this year. It was a tough winter – the cumulative stresses of lockdown, adjusting to working from home, and a new role at work, all took their toll and I wasn’t motivated to work on my personal projects.

Once I got going, the first part of the year was finishing off my finance project. Although I said that projects like that are never really finished, I haven’t been back to tweak anything since I got it to the point where I could start using it. I may have to make some changes to cope with the change of the calendar year, but it’s been serving me well and helping me to track my spending.

Not that it stopped me spending…

Home Automation

Back in June I finally got around to making better use of my Hue lights instead of just turning them on and off via automations. I set up a slightly convoluted method of managing the colour brightness and temperature according to the time of day. I set it up in the summer, and that meant I had to make some changes once it started getting dark early. I’d set my office light to switch to a dimmer and warmer tone after sunset but hadn’t accounted for the fact that I’d still be working after sunset in the winter. I now have it remain bright until after work. Perhaps my code needs a new feature that would allow me to change the settings at either sunset or 5pm, whichever is later.

In July I upgraded my home server system to an Intel NUC. It’s running a VM for Home Assistant, a separate VM for a web server that acts as a proxy, and a couple of local apps running on the base OS. I have a list of things I need to tidy up. I’m taking backups, but I want to improve my regime, especially for taking clean backups of the VMs.

I’ve much preferred running Home Assistant in a VM, as opposed to a Docker instance, as it makes updates so much easier to manage and gives me access to the various add-ons that I’d otherwise have to install and manage separately.

One application that I am running separately is Frigate, which has replaced Zoneminder as my CCTV application. I run it outside of Home Assistant on the base OS in order to give it full access to the USB port. It’s been more or less flawless and the object detection is fantastic. It means that the cameras can do double duty as motion sensors even when I’m not interested in the actual pictures, as well as removing the need for 24×7 recording.

Which watch – revisited

Last year I was torn between the Fossil Watch and my original Samsung Galaxy Watch. I thought the Galaxy Watch 4 would be the best of both worlds, and a good trade-in offer sealed the deal.

It’s just as good at being a Samsung watch as its predecessors, but I was underwhelmed with the WearOS implementation. I was particularly disappointed by the lack of options for customising the hardware buttons and the absence of Google Assistant.

For the most part, I use it for activity tracking, which still works better than the Fossil Watch did. I have also been able to extend the capabilities using Tasker, which has been the main benefit of using WearOS.


Photography was my main hobby before home automation took over, and I’m starting to get back into it. The S21 Ultra prompted it, and I was impressed by what it could do. After a day out in Cambridge, where I took quite a few photos with it, I was curious to see how it performed compared to my old DSLR.

More than the quality difference, it was the process that felt better with a DSLR. I enjoyed feeling more involved in the picture taking. It’s a very different experience compared to taking snaps on a phone. That did culminate in a new camera purchase, and I’m currently in the process of rebuilding my old photography website and sorting through old photos to get it started. There is a tech aspect to that as well – I’m back to doing battle with WordPress.

Over the coming year, I hope to be blogging on the photography site as well as this one – I’m not giving up on the tech, and there are considerable tech aspects to digital photography, but I’ve decided to split out a separate site for photography. I’m not sure how well that will work out in practice. My interests tend to be all-consuming, so that I’ll be entirely occupied with one hobby for a while until another takes over, often for months at a time. I seem to find it hard to balance multiple interests and tend to cycle between them instead. I’m going to try to keep more of a balance this time.

I expect the first part of next year will be quiet – the usual winter doldrums combined with getting the new site ready – but I’ll be back when I have things to say.

As always, thanks for reading and a happy new year to you all!

in Random Musings

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