Teckin Smart Plug / Socket with HomeKit using homebridge

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Apple, homebridge, HomeKit


I wanted to automate my outdoor lights to enable timers and motion detectors to trigger them to make the house a little safer and easier to navigate at night. I have not decided on an activation method yet, but the first step, will be to just get them on HomeKit. I considered smart bulbs, but that would mean i’d need to change the existing PIR fixtures and I do not need to dim them or anything, so this seemed overkill. I can disable the PIR on them all and set them to always on, so a smart socket will do the job great!

I started looking for HomeKit smart sockets in the UK and the choice is very limited and often pricey.  I decided to just try a Teckin £10 socket from Amazon, which was not HomeKit compatible, but I was certain I could work something out with homebridge.


The Teckin Smart Plug is just a Tuya device and uses a cloud API for actuations, not controlled locally on your network like all other HomeKit devices. This may have some security implications, but all comunications seems to be encrypted and secure, so I am happy to use this for now.

The homebridge plugin that I ended up using to control the socket is homebridge-tuya. I struggled to get the tuya-cli link-wizard to work to identify the id and key of the device. The connection initial process seems very flaky. I do not know if it is due to my mesh network or what, but i spent hours on this bit. In the end I resorted to identifying the id and key for my switch using Charles on macOS and this method from an older version of the Tuya node API.


It works great in HomeKit!

Now, to find a good way to trigger it from motion outside. 🤔

Fitness Room, Gym Review: Park International Hotel, Kensington, London

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Gym

In this series, I will review gyms in Hotels that I have stayed in around the UK. I am writing this series as it is very hard to know what a hotel means by a fitness room when booking. I have often arrived at a hotel with a gym to find a tiny room with a treadmill and 3 mismatched dumbbells. The ratings are based on what I’d expect from a hotel gym. I mainly do strength training in a gym. As I prefer to do aerobic work outside, this may slightly bias the ratings.

My Visit

I visited the Park International, Kensington, London during the snow storm of February 2018. I stayed for one night on 27th February 2018.

TLDR: small, hot, 👎.


watchOS 4 on Series 0

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Apple, watchOS

Over 880 days ago on 24th April 2015, I received my original Apple Watch (recently dubbed Series 0), I have worn it every day since. I use it mainly for fitness and media playback control, but nothing else.

The main reason is that my Apple Watch was too slow to use any apps and even the ones that I do use had some performances issues, e.g. the timer in the workout app struggling to display smoothly on screen.


watchOS 4 has been a huge improvement – performance seem so much better, apps launch quicker, the interface is more fluid, everything seems much more reliable. As an example, my app Departure Board launches more faster, and it even updates its location using the GPS on the phone much quicker. I’d even argue that it has crossed the threshold from unusable to usable. watchOS 4 has really given a new lease of life to my aging, scratched watch.

Media Control

Since I got my AirPods in December and I lost the ability to control the volume on my headphone (I had been using Jabra Revo Wireless for years), I have been hoping the Now Playing screen would be available as a complication. The Now Playing screen lets you control the device volume with the digital crown. Having it as a complication would let me access it with a single tap, rather then pressing the side button and scrolling to find it, then selecting it.

With watchOS 4, Apple went one step further and displays the Now Playing screen whenever media is playing on your iPhone. As soon as I start media payback on my phone, the watch face is replaced with the Now Playing screen.

What’s next?

I was almost convinced that I would be upgrading at a Series 3 with LTE this year. However this performance improvement may help me defer this purchase for another year or until Series 4. In addition to this my carrier, Three, is not supported yet and podcast playback over LTE is also not available yet as far as I know.

The Shelf is now available on App Store

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Apps, News, The Shelf

In August, I announced The Shelf, which allows you to import, via drop or copy, many kinds of data into it to hold until it is needed later. Check out the original article for full details and a demonstration of The Shelf.

It is now available to download on App Store.

New Features

During beta testing, I received many requests for PDF support, I was able to add this in time for release.


During App Review, I was told by Apple repeatedly that The Shelf was an unacceptable app type for Auto-Renewing Subscriptions. As a result, I have changed the business model from yearly subscriptions to a one-time IAP to unlock unlimited items in the App. I hope that this will cover the cost of all further development and as a result I will not need to charge for anything else in the future, but  I cannot guarantee that at this stage.

Get it now

Download it now from App Store – it is free to try.

The iPhone Pro Won’t Be Great for Video

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorised

The rumours for the as of yet unannounced iPhone Edition / Pro seem to suggest that it will feature a 5.8″ 2800 x 1242px screen.

Using a bit of trigonometry, widescreen videos on this unannounced iPhone Edition / Pro will only be 104% the size of the regular iPhone 7, whereas the 5.5″ screen on the current iPhone 7 plus displays a video  137% the size of the regular iPhone 7. This can be seen graphically below.

This may be a huge issue for me, as I use my iPhone 7 plus a lot to watch YouTube.

Full Resolution

Introducing The Shelf

Posted 14 CommentsPosted in Apps, News, The Shelf

Before Apple’s annual developer conference this year, WWDC 2017, Federico Viticci and Sam Beckett created a piece on MacStories titled iOS 11 : iPad Wishes and Concept Video. This included a concept they called Shelf for iPad in iOS 11. The whole premise of the shelf was centred around system wide drag and drop to “serves as a holding place for bits of content without an immediate destination”.

In June, Apple held WWDC and did indeed announce APIs and support for system wide drag and drop in iOS 11 on iPad. Unfortunately, Shelf as envisaged by Federico and Sam was not included in iOS. Fortunately, the public APIs allowed the concept to be created as a standalone app by a third party developer. The new and improved Slide Over in iOS 11 also means that such an app can always be one swipe away at all times.

I decided to spend my spare time this summer making such an app.


The Shelf

The Shelf is my new app designed and built for iOS 11 on iPad. (It is pretty great on iPhone too.) The Shelf allows you to import, via drop or copy, many kinds of data into it to hold until it is needed later.

Data Types

The Shelf supports a handful of data types at launch:

  • Map Locations1
  • Emails2
  • Images
  • URLs with rich previews
  • Links to apps
  • Attributed Text
  • Plain Text

Data that is represented as one of these types 3 can be imported into The Shelf to store for later. When needed the data can be exported, dragged or copied, from The Shelf.

Dynamic Data Export

When data is dropped into The Shelf it often has many representations, for example:

  • when an extract of a website, is imported into The Shelf from Safari, it can be represented as Attributed Text 4, Plain Text or the URL of the page containing the extract
  • when an image is added from Safari, it can be represented as the original image data or the URL of the image

The Shelf will intelligently recognise and store these alternate representations of the data, even offering them to the receiving app when exported. The individual representations can also be viewed and exported out individually, creating an incredible powerful and flexible app.  The Shelf can also export data via the iOS Share Sheet – allowing Workflows to be triggered.

Feature Roadmap & Pricing

Developing The Shelf is a side project, something I work on alone in my spare time around my day job. Continuous ongoing development of The Shelf is essential to allow support for more data types to be added; as 3rd party apps support dragging, comprehensive dropping support can be including in The Shelf.

To justify and help finance further development, I need help from you. If you subscribe, you will help pay for more data types to be supported and development of new features for The Shelf. To use The Shelf, at first there will be a small 5 yearly subscription. This cost may increase over time as I add more features, but I never increase your subscription.

The more subscriber there are, the faster that I can add features and data types. A subscriber count and provisional list of subscriber needed and planned features can be seen here.  It’s a bit like Kickstarter except instead of backers and strech goals, it’s subscribers and app features.

Beta Testing

As The Shelf is a new app, I am sure there are some bugs hiding in the edge use cases. I would love help testing, if you are interested, let me know via email or twitter.


Look out for it in the App Store on the day  that iOS 11 launches.