Covering a doorknob hole

When we moved into our place, the front gate had a deadlock and a locking doorknob. This combination created some usability problems:

  • the doorknob, when locked, could be easily unlocked by reaching through the fence and turning the dial on the inside knob. This made it silly to ever bother to lock it.
  • when the doorknob was unlocked, it would turn (of course) but if the deadlock were locked, the gate still couldn’t be opened. The state of the deadbolt was inscrutable.
  • there’s no indication which way the gate opens. So, even if both locks were not engaged, you had a fifty-fifty chance of the gate opening when you pushed it. If it didn’t open, you couldn’t be sure why.

I quickly noticed that most visitors struggled with these conditions. Pushing, pulling, turning, and so on, never sure if the gate was locked, or if it was some combination of the three possible impediments. (You can view a photo of the gate in this post.)

To correct some of these issues, I removed the doorknob from the gate. But this created an unsightly problem — there was a hole where the knob used to be. Additionally, because the gate is iron, I wanted to cover the hole to prevent water infiltration.

It was inexplicably hard to find, but I did eventually uncover the two solutions I needed. The first is a plate that covers the hole where the doorknob used to be, and the second is a smaller plate that covers where the latching mechanism used to protrude.


doorknob hole cover

Here’s what I purchased:

I can’t recommend the Door Hole Plate Cover that I used because the bolt that comes in the package is too large to fit through the hole in the cover. (What the hell‽) I had to enlarge the hole to make it work. But perhaps you can find another brand that’s properly designed. The Door Edge Filler (not shown in my photo above) fit perfectly, but you’ll need to supply your own screw to install it.

For more on my modifications to this gate, see: A Remote, Wireless Gate Alarm


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

The best way to catch a water leak before it's too late

A water leak can be one of the most expensive accidents to happen in your home. (Ask me sometime about ABT’s installation of a faulty fridge valve that caused over $20K in damage in our kitchen.)

I recommend you buy several Govee Water Leak Detectors and place them anywhere a leak might occur. The loud alarm could save you a lot of money, as it’s easy for a leak to escape detection until after it has done significant damage.

If you know me as a home automation expert, it might be surprising that these are non-automated, standalone alarms. But this is a perfect example of when isolated, inexpensive, and reliable sensors are the best choice. These are “set it and forget it” simple, and you won’t miss an alert due to network interference or a technology mismatch. Additionally, you can buy five of these for half the price of one automated sensor. (Buy from Amazon.)

That said, if you’re hellbent on unnecessary complications, you can apparently get a hub and an app from Govee that will work with these. Instead, I suggest you just convince yourself that you’re deploying a fleet of autonomous robot guardians, then get on with your life and hope that they only problem they ever detect is a low battery.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Quick fix for the KitchenAid Nespresso Espresso Maker

If you have a Nespresso Espresso Maker by KitchenAid (Model KES0503SZ) then you have likely discovered a minor flaw. Namely, the design of the water tank can make it difficult to see how much water is in its tank.

If you’re experiencing this issue, here’s a simple fix. Drop a cork from a wine bottle inside the tank. It’s easy to spot from the outside and you’ll know exactly how much water is present before you push the brew button.


cork in water tank

Aside from this hiccup, I rather like this coffee maker. It’s sturdy, cosmetically matches my other KitchenAid appliances and (most importantly) offers a size setting that is larger than the Lungo that other Nespresso machines have.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Automatically open the printer status window

If you're a Mac OS X (macOS) power user, you should certainly have a copy of Keyboard Maestro. (If you don't stop reading now and go there. You're welcome.) This tiny little trick requires that you have it...

My HP LaserJet printer is not on the same floor as my home office. Therefore, whenever I print something, I like to keep tabs on the print job so I know when it's finished or has encountered problems. Normally, to do this, you have to click the printer's icon in the Dock.

I hate clicking things when I don't have to.

So I wrote what might be the world's simplest macro. It's triggered by the print job starting, then it clicks the monitor apps which causes the status window to open. Brilliant? Not really, but it is very handy. Here's what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2020 05 25 at 1 59 32 PM

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Clever garage door sensor hack

Just filing this away here... a nice homemade bracket that adapts a door sensor to a garage door in a very clever way.

Garage Door Bracket for Wyze Sense - YouTube: ""

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Cure for a SwitchBot that forgets its schedule

Currently, one of the best home automation devices in my system is the "SwitchBot Button Presser." It looks a lot like a Rube Goldberg device, but it works perfectly for activating non-smart switches. If you're looking to retrofit an existing setup, give it serious consideration. (But be aware, it makes a distinct mechanical noise when operating.) I use them to schedule hallway lights, and I love that they operate independently and reliably.

One of my SwitchBots, however, recently started forgetting its scheduled on and off times. I chalked it up to a glitch or a firmware update, then finally realized that its battery was low. The switch would still operate and communicate, but for some reason, wouldn't save its scheduling. A fresh CR2 battery solved that problem. (And underlined that it's a good idea to keep spares of uncommon batteries.)

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Beaglebone Black card box

When nerdy interests intersect: Discovered that a Poker-sized card box is a suitable case for a Beaglebone Black microcontroller.

beagleboneblack in card box

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Change WiFi settings for Koogeek Power Strip 01US

The Koogeek "smart" power strip is a nice HomeKit accessory, but it appears to be discontinued. If you need to change its wi-fi setting, good luck. The user manual is 404 on the company's website.

After much gnashing of teeth, here's the secret:

1. Before we begin, remove the accessory from your home using the Home app, Holmes.
2. Hold down the on/off switch for Outlet #1 for 10ish seconds, until all the other lights go off and the light for Outlet #1 flashes slowly (mine is green)

Then you can use the Home app to add it to your HomeKit network.

Hint: Outlet #1 is closest to the power cord.

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

HP Printer Bonjour broken after network change

If you're pulling your hair out over an HP printer that stopped being reachable/visible after you made a network topology change (such as a new router), reset the printer to factory settings and reconfigure it. Some HP models (all?) retain the MAC addresses of network peers. Trust me, it's worth the effort.

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Know when Alexa is listening

The news is filled with stories about the Amazon Echo devices are spying on you. Well, that's overstated and ill-defined. (You've consented, so technically it's not "spying'.)

The Echo devices do indeed record what's going on in your room. They are constantly listening for the "wake word" that activates their processing. Unless you've changed it, the wake word is "Alexa." Determining if "Alexa" has been spoken takes place locally, on the device, so your recordings aren't constantly leaking out of your home.

But, if the device determines that you did say "Alexa" (even incorrectly) the recording of what you said after is sent to Amazon's servers for analysis. You didn't really think your $49 plastic computer was doing all the processing itself, did you?

In the Alexa app, you can set your Echo devices so that it plays a tone whenever it thinks the wale word has been spoken. This is well worth turning on because you will discover just how often the Echo mishears you. (Spoiler alert: very, very often.) And what you say following that tone is uploaded in a recording to Jeff Bezo's personal email.

Or maybe it's not. The problem with all of this is that Amazon, unlike Apple and even super-creepy Google, hasn't documented what they do with your recordings. You can go into the Alexa app and delete all your recordings (if you're able to figure out how) but there are no assurances that they are truly deleted. It's possible they're are only removed from the list you see. Unless and until Amazon becomes transparent about their practices, all you can do is hope and trust them.

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer