Smart Home Hacks

The O’Reilly series of “Hacks” books, in their own words ‘reclaims the term ‘hacking” for the good guys–innovators who explore and experiment, unearth shortcuts, create useful tools, and come up with fun things to try on their own.’, sounds like a pretty good description of a UK Home Automater to me, so I was a little excited to see O’Reilly had published 2 books in the series for home automators.

The first of these is “Smart Home Hacks”, by Gordon Meyer, a collection of short, quick descriptions of how to automate certain tasks, a quick discussion of the theory, then ideas on how to extend the idea. I really like this approach, and those familiar with the C/C++ Developers Bible will recognise the style. Because of the way it is written you can either read the book from cover to cover and learn the subject, but it’s equally good if you know what you want, and just want to know the best way to achieve it. It’s the kind of book you can take to the toilet, open it at a page and learn something new…

Neither of the two books on review is for the complete novice, new to Home Automation, but this book does quickly skim over the basics, introducing you to the concept of X10 and the various pieces of control software, however, it doesnt dwell on the subject and quickly moves on to remind readers that WAF (or SAF as the book calls it), is important, and gives several pointers on how to achieve this.

O’Reilly has a section on their websites for hacks, and some of the examples in this book are taken from the website. The author also suggests ways in which the hack can be extended and leaves you to go and figure out how yourself.

If I have one gripe about the book, its that the software chosen to illustrate the various hacks is Mac based, though this is obviously because that is what the author uses, and to be honest, the people this book is aimed at should have no problems converting the examples give to their own preferred HA controller.

Smart Home Hacks is by far the best Home Automation book I have read, it’s well written, has good examples, and draws on the experience of a whole community, many other HA books suffer from being written from the viewpoint of a single author, or a collaboration between two.

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