Muzzling the Google Home Mini?

Google Home Mini at home

When I bought my Google Pixel 2, I received a free Google Home Mini as part of the pre-order deal. While in Madeira it finally came and today I went to Irlam to go get it.

I’ve never liked the idea of the Amazon Alexia and all devices which are listening for an activation word. I get the convenance but it doesn’t equal the given up privacy in my view. I turn off on my phones unless my screen is unlocked and I’m on the home screen (actively using the phone). I’ve been watching and reading how The Google Home mini has already received a ton of privacy strikes and disabled the touch controls.

My justification for getting the Google Home mini was purely to connect it to my Philips Hue lights. They are great but only if you have the app as the controls on the wall are way too simplistic to change colours, brighten and dim.

Unboxing the Google Home mini and getting it online, was pretty straight forward. I currently have it set with the mic on mute and the touch controls seem pretty basic (volume only). I’m surprised its powered with a micro USB cable not USB C and if I had a choice of colours, would have picked a darker colour instead of Chalk. Out of the box the home mini’s top touch fuctionality is disabled, I assume the firmware was updated when I setup the wifi.

Google Home Mini

I’m dispointment that there seems to be no way to connect the google home mini to the hue lights without doing it via the Philips Hue web. I currently blocking external access at my router for hue lights, so theres no way to control them remotely, although everything is on the same network. Honestly find it annoying that it can’t talk locally, especially since there is a good API via the Hue Bridge. I understand it needs internet access to do some processing but to control the lights? Sure this can be done locally?

I’m keeping an eye on dev sites to see what might come up, but right now its little use and I’d like to see more ways to muzzle its use to keep things local unless essential.

Thank goodness for the hackers

Philips Hue lights

I’m now a owner of the Philips Hue lights after my mistake buying cheaper Hue lights from eBay (which turned out to be the American versions) and finally converting all the lighting pendulums to standard B22 bayonets from CFL BLT 4 Pins.

I bought the Zigbee bridge from ebay too and been buying the bulbs one by one. But then I decided to buy a starter kit, as it was more cost effective and I could sell the spare zigbee bridge if not needed. Everything was fine till I couldn’t control the new lights. After a look around the web, it become clear the bulbs were locked to the zigbee bridge which it came with.

I won’t lie I was peed! I took to Twitter to tell Philips what I felt…

Locked internet of things devices, deeply worries me! Philips say they do it for security reasons but frankly thats balls.

After the steam had stopped pouring out my head and I put the bulbs back in the box to send back tomorrow. I looked around and found people talking about a app called Lampstealer. It seemed to factory reset the bulbs so the old bridge could discover it like normal.

The problem… It ran on Windows and OSX only.  Of course the hackers got us covered!

When you buy two Philips Hue light start kits, you have the problem that the lights are already paired with the bridge in each starter pack. When you search you will find a lot of people whining about how unfair this is and people talking about the “Lampstealer” OSX app that Philips released to fix it. I tried using the lamp stealer app but it would never find my bridge. I could also not use QuickHue which supposedly supported the lamp stealer function because it was compiled for OSX 10.8 and I still run 10.7.x. And compiling it from source with xcode didn’t work, likely due missing libraries and other mistakes I made since I’m not too familiar with Xcode.

I found out that the solution was really really simple, and requires no OSX, java or advanced rocket science. Place a bulb of the second starter kit into a socket within 30cm of the bridge from the first starterpack. Telnet to port 30000 of the bridge and type:


The light should blink a few times to acknowledge the hostile takeover.

I did it and now I’m sitting pretty with 7 Philips Hues all tied to the zigbee bridge I bought from eBay. Everything is now working correctly and I’m looking forward to playing with the geofencing and ifttt controls. I just need to sort out my lampshades now…

I bought into the Philips Hue system but why?

Philips Hue Bridge

After my blog post asking about which smart lighting system works best for me… I choose the Philips Hue system but why?

  1. Philips made its simple REST API public! Yeh!
  2. Seen activity of people hacking around with the Philips hue lights.
  3. Replace my aging and dying Philips Light/wake-up clock.
    It keeps waking me up at the wrong time of the night and missing the alarm time! I barely use it because of this. Looking forward to combining my sleep pattern with my wake up. May even help with my alertness?
  4. Have better control over my living room lighting.
    I like warm lights at night and hate the way the lights are in my living room at the moment but don’t want to do the massive alterations to change it at the moment.
  5. I really want to experiment with XBMC and a Ambelight style setup