Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fibaro Z-wave Smart Wall Plug

This is the second product from Fibaro I’ve unboxed and reviewed and the quality and design hold true with what I’ve said before, they really know how to put together a good bit of IoT.

It’s really when you look at what sets the wall plug apart from the rest that you begin to notice the attention to detail, lets be honest there are thousands of brands all producing similar IoT switches so why would you want this one?

All the usual suspects

It does everything you would expect for starters and as much as any of its competitors which is that it uses either Z-wave or WiFi (depending on the version) to control your socket outlet and switch the power on and off, simple, effective and reliable I’ve found.

Watt else?

In addition, the Wall Plug acts as an energy meter, it measures the amount of energy being consumed in Watts this data can both be logged with your Z-wave gateway (for instance the HC3) and be displayed by the built-in LED’s.

Bright ideas

Next, we have the ring of RGB LED’s on the face of the plug, the default as above the LED’s are set to display the power consumption of the appliance in use and gives real-time feedback of power use. This however is not the only option, the LED’s can be configured to be triggered by anything using the Home Center Gateway, so you could set it up as a flashing light when your door contact gets opened or a night light for when you have switched your Fibaro light switch off in the room! Just a few ideas off the top of my head but the possibility are endless.

Conclusion

My final thoughts are that the Wall Plug holds up with what I’ve come to expect from Fibaro products. Setup and pairing were quick and simple. I’ve had no issues with reliability whenever I’ve triggered the device it always does as is told and quickly too. No complaints at all and I’m happy to recommend it.

YubiKey – Is this the next step for password security?

Yubikey

I was really glad to have the opportunity to do this video, Yubikey by Yubico has been on my radar for a long time. A lot of people I speak to are security professionals and it’s really become the norm for them to all be using Yubikeys, but the question is why?

Why do I need this?

Passwords as a concept are now redundant alone, the mix of human nature and computers that can brute force to test thousands of passwords a second have made it increasingly difficult to keep systems secure.

Ideally, we should all be using password managers with randomly generated passwords and a second factor (2FA) of security. The most common types of 2FA are SMS, one-time passwords (OTP), and hardware keys like the Yubikey.

2FA

Although any 2FA is an additional line of defense SMS 2FA is flawed, I can assure you that the S’s in SMS don’t stand for secure! But still better than nothing.

Next in line are the OTP’s these are normally generated in apps like Authy or google authenticator, much more secure than SMS, and generally are as secure as the device that holds the app. They work the same as the SMS in that you get a shortcode that you need to input in a short amount of time. A great idea but a bit of a pain in practice, it’s always a rush to get the code in quick or wait for a new code to be generated which is fine every now and again but when you are regularly logging in to multiple systems regularly it can become a bind.

Hardware keys like the Yubikey’s have no need for imputing long codes or use of SMS they just need any available port or NFC and a simple touch of the device sends the full key securely and that’s it. It’s fast easy to use and extremely secure, the only thing you need to do is remember to keep it with you for when you need it. There’s a lot more on why this is a lot more secure than other methods you can find out here.

Does it work?

So in this day and age, I hope everyone knows the risk of Phishing, sending a malicious email, often in the hope that a user will click a link that imitates a website and then attempting to login into the imitation site this happens all the time, it works, unfortunately. With 2FA enabled the password is useless alone without the second factor, even if they collected your code from the above methods they would only have a limited window of time to use the code, and in the case of the Yubikey “replaying” the code wouldn’t work at all.

Review

I’ve said a lot in the review in the video but in short, I really like the Yubikeys, how they work and how easy they are for improving security. If you’ve ever had an issue with your accounts being phished or hacked, this is pretty cut-and-dry the solution to your problems. Easy to set up and easy to use, if I had my way this would be the new normal. If you’ve enjoyed this video and post you might like another infosec one.

Home Center 3 from FIBARO – FIRST HANDS-ON

Home Center 3

This is my first hands-on with the Home Center 3 (HC3) from FIBARO. The HC3 is an IoT hub for controlling your smart devices be they FIBARO’s or other manufactures. Currently, the HC3 only supports Z-Wave devices but has the hardware to work with Zigbee and 433Mhz and 868Mhz. These extra protocols are not yet implemented in the software but are due to added soon, which bring me to my first point:

Software

The software on the HC3 is very intuitive in my opinion, It can be a little bit complex but I feel that just because of all the functionality they have available to use.

Software updates are regular it seems in my limited time with the device but time on the forum shows this is historically true too, the FIBARO team seem to release stable and beta updates every few weeks with new features and bug fixes, unlike a lot of devices when you buy a FIBARO HC, support doesn’t end when you take delivery they still regularly update the older devices which are good to see!

Forums and support

FIBARO hosts a very active forum that adds a lot of support for the Home Centers, it’s home to a lot of guides and information. I find it really encouraging to see a community like this that are all helping out and making the experience even better with things like self-written Quick Apps and troubleshooting setups.

The developers of the devices can also be often found in the forums answering questions and taking feedback, which goes towards future updates. On top of this if you have bought through a FIBARO installer you will have their support as well as FIBARO themselves directly.

Integrations

The setup of Z-Wave devices is seamless, and I’ve found setting up with Alexa and Google home simple (Subscribe for future guides on this!). All my devices show in my Home or Alexa app and devices can be renamed so you can use voice controls.

Automation’s are set up with Scenes and you have the choice of writing the code directly or simply using block. If you’ve not seen block before you simply drag and drop the devices and the actions that you want to complete into your scene and it’s as simple as that. In the video, I show a simple example of how easy it is and just how much flexibility you have.

Review

I’ve been using the HC3 for a few weeks now and I’m happy with the stability and the sheer amount of flexibility that you can get out of the hub.

There’s definitely a balance between functionality and user-friendliness and I think the HC3 has struck a good mix. In the Smartphone App, they have gone to heavy on the user-friendly side which is perfect for me, If I need to make changes to how things work I use the web interface, if not I have the App where I can quickly run scenes and toggle devices. Probably the best bit of this is you can give the App to other less savvy users and they will still get all the functionality of the system without the ability to make changes.

As I’ve said in the video we will have plenty of content coming up on the setup of integrations and lots of other FIBARO products. Why not subscribe on YouTube to get notified of our next videos! If you enjoyed this content you might like our OpenWrt Guide.

Viewflex VF-K2 Video Creators kit

The VF-K2 is a multifunctional smartphone video kit from ViewFlex, In the box, you will find a tripod, a phone holder, a shotgun-style microphone, a wind and pop filter and finally a bag to keep it all in.

First impressions

Opening the box, the first glance is very good just from the weight of the kit, all of the stand except for the legs is made of metal and it shows in the quality, it will be a very strong and durable little kit that I have no doubts will stand the test of time. The overall flexibility of the unit you couldn’t ask for much more and using standard fittings like the cold shoe (or H bracket) just makes it easier if you want to upgrade your filming down the line to something like DSLR.

The Mic

The Mic is really directional, so much so in a couple of places during the dubbing of this video I just turned my head while speaking (bad habit of mine while filming!) but you could hear my voice fade. This might sound like a negative but it really isn’t, you don’t want anything except what is straight in front of a shotgun mic to be recorded and this mic does just that exceptionally well! I just need to get out of my bad habits!

Flexibility

Plenty of size for any phone, mine in the video was 80mm (8cm) and I measure the max to be 100mm (10cm), the ability yo rotate the phone using the thumb turn on the back is a nice feature I’ve not seen in any other kit like this before but is probably ideal for those making TicTok or Instagram video’s with that portrait view whereas things like youtube your probably more likely to use landscape, but either way it has you covered.

Final thoughts

Overall a great little kit for newcomers to content creation, and plenty of room to upgrade in the future! If you’ve enjoyed this review you might also be interested in our review on the Uhuru Video Creators Bundle.

FIFINE Studio USB Microphone T669

The FiFine T669 Microphone comes with a large kit, including not only a boom arm but also a tripod desk stand if that’s what you would prefer. The first thing that I noticed was the look and feel of the kit, its got a real quality look with its matt black finish and things like the foam filter just feel a little bit thicker and firmer than some of the other microphones I’ve reviewed.

They have really taken the time to go through everything you need in the instruction manual and I know this seems like I small thing but that sort of attention to detail makes it easy for me to recommend it to anyone who is new to microphones and getting them set up correctly. They also have gone the extra mile by including some spare springs and a clamp screw head just to make sure this mic will last and can be well looked after.

The sound is quite bassy and picks up a wide range, I think with the way the diaphragm itself is very exposed (you can see it clearly through the mesh) this mic would also be good for instrument recording, perhaps I should get a guitar or something for future reviews? Let me know in the comments if you think that would help.

LensGo LWM-318C Wireless Microphone

The LensGo LWM-318C Wireless Lavalier Microphone is a nifty little kit, it has everything you need at get started as a video creator when it comes to audio. In the box you get a transmitter (TX) and receiver (RX), quite a selection of mounting hardware and a lavalier style mic. Both RX and TX have a strong magnet on the back which makes it easy to attach it the different mounting options and easily remove it when needed, would be ideal for quick costume changes or simply just makes it easy to wear and use.

Transmitter

The TX has a built in mic so you don’t have to use the lavalier if you don’t want, it also has a fur style cove that can be used to stop the wind effecting the your recording sound. Its a bit bulky on its own so i would most probably use it with the lav, however if you were doing outdoor activity’s that wind break would be very useful so for that id use the built in mic, at the end of the day you can always tuck either style under your clothes to hide them from view.

Receiver

The RX looks almost identical to the TX but without the in built microphone. It comes with a stereo and mono cable that can be plugged into whatever recording device you’re using. Once again the mounting hardware with the magnets is very useful and the crocodile style clip also doubles as a H-bracket (cold shoe) connector so it easily attaches to your DSLR or whatever you need it to.

Usage

It’s really simple and easy to use, just one press on the power button on each the RX & TX and its ready to go. You can manually switch the UHF channel if you get interference but I had no need to do this. Output volume is good and the in built battery’s seem to give a good few hours of usage and are easy to charge with a simple USB. They also provide you with a SIM style tool that can be used to factory reset the devices, handy if it were to crash or you accidently miss match the UHF channels.

Our Thoughts

The LensGo LWM-318C Wireless Lavalier Microphone is nice little kit, packed with lots of tools to get you started! The sound across all the mic’s seems good I had no issues with it at all when recording the video it was extremely easy to just pick it up power it on and get going which is always important when you just want things to work. I was impressed by the amount of mounting hardware it has and how small and light it is. If you liked this perhaps you might also be interested in our video / blog of the Comica wireless mics too.

ONFORU LED wall Light

This was quite an interesting thing to review for me as I got to use some of my experience as an electrician to show how to install the fitting safety and throw in a review of the product.

Don’t forget you can get 15% off your order by clicking this link and using code: B15

The ONFORU BDB50G-3 (ON-BD08-DW-EU) is an outdoor LED wall light with a motion-detecting PIR. It has 50w of LED’s spread across 1 large forward-facing light and 2 adjustable sidelights and 50w is plenty when it comes to LED, you will get well and above the light output of the old style, 500w halogens and I would highly doubt you would ever get 50,000hr+ lifespan out of a halogen style. Rest assured this is going to light up your garden unless you have achers!

It comes with your normal motion sensing PIR which is actually really easy to get to, after years of installing these types of fittings you’d be surprised how some are impossible to get to, not so here. This is ideal as a security deterrent, I used to do a lot of security installation and when people would ask “what can I do to stop being burgled” step one for me is getting a motion-sensing light, they know they are much more likely to get caught if they are lit up and there’s a high chance the light will wake someone or draw someone’s attention.

Installation is nice and easy, no complaints. As with installing any electronics outside having a tube of silicone on hand is really helpful, as I say in the video if you haven’t got a flat wall I’d recommend a small bead of silicone across the top edge you ensure no water gets behind it.

With the isolation method, I did miss one step, you should always test across all conductors to make sure you haven’t got cross polarity or all sorts of fun that you can come across! I can’t stress this enough, if your not confident in any part call an electrician it really isn’t worth the risk if you’re not sure. I’d recommend a tester and proving unit such as this one, really simple to use, they are expensive but you can’t really put a price on safety.