The entire guide to this new marketecture, which includes a library of symbols for use on packaging, is here. It’s worth a glance. Remember, the point of the exercise is to bring clarity to the oh-so-confusing world of Wi-Fi.
Most people think that Wifi is awesome. It certainly is convenient, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. No matter how freaky your Wifi router looks….
Wifi Is Not Always Your friend!
The very nature of Wifi is in some ways problematic. It’s a lot like a hub in the bad old days. It’s essentially a single connection shared between all of the connected devices. As the number of Wifi devices in our lives continues to multiply, they must compete for access to bandwidth.
This contention for access is not always a problem. It doesn’t really matter if your Nest thermostat is slightly delayed in checking in with our largely benevolent overlords at Google. Nor does it matter if Outlook finds it’s access to the email server to be a bit sluggish. However, for real-time applications like streaming media, continuous, reliable bandwidth is utterly essential!
For the several weeks we’ve had the new “Extended Range” Doorbot installed in place of the original device. The only apparent difference between the two is the addition of a short external antenna to enhance the Wifi connectivity.
Happily, the new unit does seem to stay better connected to our WLAN. In the past I was not comfortable evaluating the behavior of the Doorbot+client application given the questionable connectivity. At present the network connection seems sufficient to examine the behavior of the system as a whole.
I have the DoorBot client application installed on a variety of devices:
The fact that I’m using so many devices may be a little unusual, but I would expect that many families will use 2-3 devices, most likely a couple of cell phones (his & hers) and a tablet. Although a family with kids may well have more than this.
One of the realities of my life as a home office worker is that deliveries can be important. Moreover missing deliveries can be extremely inconvenient. On January 1st I installed a DoorBot at our front gate, intent upon giving it a try as the way that we are notified about visitors and more significantly, deliveries.
Our is a fenced yard with a gate at the front. The fenced yard is important for our two Labradors. They have the run of the place when I’m working. A dog door gives them access into my office in the garage apartment. Located in the back of the property it’s not always possible to know when someone is at the gate.
Until January 1st we had been without a doorbell at the gate for over a year. On the mail box there a label advising people to call my cell phone number to reach me.
With respect to deliveries, our usual Fedex and UPS drivers know that if they dogs come to “greet” them that I’m definitely home. The delivery drivers often call me to tell me that they’re waiting, especially if they need a signature. All of this sets up the logic of why something like DoorBot had such appeal. There’s a very real need.
In mid-February I came to realize that I had developed the ability to differentiate the sound of the various delivery vehicles from the school and city buses that can be heard hereabouts. Further, I had camped out on our front port more than once awaiting a late delivery that I could not afford to miss. These facts pointed to the unavoidable reality that DoorBot had failed in its mission at our house. Shortly thereafter I removed it from it’s perch at the front gate.
With a population of over forty devices, ours is a considerable home network. While many of the devices we use are connected via Wifi, much of the network remains connected by traditional Ethernet cables. Wired networks are more trouble to install, but the effort is rewarded with more consistent performance and reliability.
I recently received a promotional email from Amazon offering the Linksys Tmobile @ Home HiPort for just $15.99. This was the internet router device that has a UMA interface on-board. Add a T-Mobile SIM card and you have cellular trunk line for home use with a traditional wired telephone.
This device was the CPE for their long-dead T-Mobile@Home service. While that service is not longer offered, it remains functional. My brother-in-law still has the service locked in at $10/month.
The fact that these devices remain available is a curiosity. T-Mobile still supports UMA calling. That makes me wonder if they could be used in some novel way around the house. I have too many unfinished projects already, but these do seem interesting.