Tech Talk Episode 80 Lights and Keys

The lights in your house. The keys in your pocket. Both items you probably take for granted, but in this week’s episode of Plug and Play podcast, we explore if technology can make our experience better with these common household items.


You get home late from work, fumble through your keys, and open the door. You stub your toe on your kid’s truck on the way to the lightswitch…or, you open the door to find your prescheduled LIFX bulbs illuminating your hallway, clearly showing the hazard at your feet, but in a calming low blue glow that helps you adjust to sleep. The next morning, you awaken without an alarm as your bedroom slowly brightens with an orange-yellow glow from your bedroom set of LIFX LED bulbs. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

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LIFX bulbs are wifi connected LED bulbs that are dimmable, and controlled by your smart phone. You can schedule them to turn on and off, even creating the illusion that you are home when you are actually on vacation. There are white only bulbs, or color LEDs that let you create different scenes for your rooms, like ideal movie viewing light, sunset or sunrise, and on and on.

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lifx install

All of these features sounded great, so to try them out, I ordered three from, two white only, and one color. It should be noted that from Amazon (no third party seller) only one of the white LEDs was still in its shrink wrap. The packaging suggested easy installation from a downloadable app, and at first everything went well. The android app found the first white LED, and connected it to the Home wi-fi network. But the app could not locate the other 2 LEDs, and worse, the app became stuck in the setup screen, and the one light could not be controlled. Restarting his phone, turning the lights on and off did not help. Borrowing a family member’s iPad, I downloaded the iOS version of the app, which was also able to find the one white LED but not the other two. The iOS app seemed to be more stable, and the one light was able to be controlled, dimmed and turned off and on. But this was hardly the lighting solution I was looking for. One bulb out of three that I could only control with someone else’s device?


As you can see above, after an hour of frustration, I tweeted my decision to return the bulbs to Amazon, and got a very nice response from LIFX, but at this point, I was done, and ready to try a different lighting solution like Philips Hue.

KeySmart and Minute Key


This week, one of my keys snapped off as I was turning it while holding my Keysmart key holder. What is a KeySmart key holder? It is a finely crafted aircraft grade aluminum organizer that you disassemble, place your keys in, and reassemble. It holds all your keys compactly like a Swiss Army knife, saving tons of bulk in your pocket. I love mine, and I thought it was worth mentioning.

But, as cool as the KeySmart organizer is, it can’t prevent a key from breaking after hundred of uses. Instead of going to the local hardware store and waiting for a clerk to operate the key grinder, I went to Minute Key’s site and found a Minute Key kiosk. After inserting a spare key and about $4, I was able to watch the mechanized grinder inside the Minute Key kiosk make my 3 new keys. It was fast, easy, and pretty cool. That’s it for this week, tune into Plug and Play episode 81 for more Tech Talk!



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