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Book Review: Home Hacking Projects for Geeks

Home Hacking Projects for Geeks provides step by step instructions, and source code for some home automation projects.

The big problem is that this book is written for an American market, as such many of the projects are just not suitable for people in Europe (especially the UK). The reason for this is that many of the projects rely heavily on X10 components. X10 provides a way of automating home appliances by sending signals over the mains electricity supply. The problem is that there is relatively little X10 available in the UK, and the parts that are available are very expensive. For a fairly basic setup you are looking at 200 plus.

The first 2 sections are on automatically turning lights on based on the time of the day, and using passive sensors. You'll need a lot of money to implement these, assuming you can find the appropriate X10 components. Chapter 3 is a project on remotely monitoring a pet. Again this uses X10, although it would have been possible to create an alternative using none-X10 parts. Chapter 4 making your house talk again uses X10 components.

The next 3 chapters cover creating and controlling home media centres / home theatres. These do cover both windows and Linux, but for setting up the media centre provide no more information than is available on the web anyway.

Chapter 9 is on creating a time-shifted FM radio. This basically creates a pirate radio station. Whlist the book says that this is legal within the USA (with power limitations) I don't believe that is the case for the UK. Unfortunately I've been unable to find out whether it is allowed or not looking at the information on the ofcom website.

Chapter 10 is one thing that can be done at home, accesssing your media collection over the Internet. The project is however fairly basic (even leaving you to implement the password protection yourself). If you really want to make media available over the Internet then you'd be better off learning a programming language such as PHP and implementing it yourself.

The final 3 chapters are on home security, again relying heavily on X10.

If you live in a country which has X10 equipment cheaply available, or have lots of money burning a hole in your pocket, then you may find this book useful. If not then I'd recommend saving your money and not buying this book.

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