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The Remote Control Living Room: PopSci's Genius Guide

I grew up reading Popular Science magazine. My father was a long time subscriber and I have fond memories of discussing articles with him during my formative years. Since then, while I haven't subscribed, I often pick up issues when they catch my eye. So, as you might imagine, I'm happy to have contributed to their latest publishing venture.

Just recently, Popular Science has released The PopSci Genius Guide to Home Entertainment. And as you might expect from a magazine that focuses on the practical application of technology, it's not a traditional publication. Not even close.

This issue, the first in a quarterly series, is implemented using the Zinio magazine platform. Zinio enjoys the support of many periodical publishers, with hundreds of big magazines participating, and it allows you to purchase and read issues onscreen in a custom PDF-like fashion. You can either download the magazines to your computer for use with the Zinio Reader application, or view them in a Flash-based interface.

But PopSci is taking Zinio-based publishing to a new level. Most magazines in Zinio are electronic copies of the printed versions. The Genius Guide, on the other hand, has been designed and built specifically for onscreen use. The interactivity is thoughtfully done and befitting of the "do it yourself" slant to the entire publication.

My contribution is about home theatre automation. You'll learn the basics, as well as several specific projects and techniques that you can use to take your home theatre to the next level of sophistication and function.


For the introductory price of only 99 cents, The Genius Guide is a no-brainer. The whole focus is on "do it yourself" projects, and you'll get a peek at how one publisher is forging ahead into online publishing. See Stop the Presses on the PopSci blog for a bit more about the project and a preview, or visit the Genius Guide page to purchase a copy for yourself.

Many thanks to Mike Haney and the other folks at Popular Science for the opportunity to participate in this interesting and challenging project.

iPhone home automation control continues to expand

Following up on my post iPhone-based Home Automation Gets Fancier, here's a link to an Automated Home story about a free home controller that works with the Creston home automation system.

Creston is a high-end, professionally installed home automation system. Similar to Savant, which I've written about previously.

The number of iPhone remote control systems has grown so much lately that it's difficult to keep track of them, but when one catches my eye I'll continue to post a note here. If there's one that you're finding invaluable, please do let me know.

Sensors to monitor

A big part of home automation is finding sensors that can feed your smart home the information it needs to make decisions for you. Hobbyist automators are known for concocting all sorts of Rube Goldberg style methods for knowing when a car enters the driveway, for example.

That's why Dylan Field's post Radar Roundup: Sensors - O'Reilly Radar caught my eye. Field discusses several different types of sensor applications that are more broadly being used across the web, and might inspire you to adapt them for home life, too.

Paperless Home Office and NeatDesk document scanner

While I continue to run my paperless home office using a ScanSnap and DevonThink Pro, I hear good things about NeatReceipts, particularly with their Mac-based software.

The single-page NeatReceipts scanner seems to be a nice alternative to the more expensive ScanSnap, but I recently noticed an ad for a new NeatDesk model that offers more flexibility. It's exceptionally stylish, and offers a unique paper feed that lets you queue mixed sizes of documents in a single scanning session. The website says that the new model is already available for the PC, and is "coming soon" for the Mac. The PC version is priced less than the equivalent Fujitsu ScanSnap on Amazon.

I've never tried NeatReceipts, nor any of their scanners, but if you have experiences you'd like to share, please feel free to chime in.