Or why I’ve re-boxed mine already.

So a few weeks back I was selected to be a beta tester for Samsung’s “SmartThings” and I was initially excited at the prospect – after all I’d had to fill out a ‘why me’ form and provide a security deposit. That was a new one for me, but I understood the necessity as the kit they supplied will retail at £199. It wasn’t until I after I’d supplied all my details and the security deposit that we lucky ones were told we don’t get to keep what we’ve tested.

Well that’s a first for me. Between myself and my wife we have ended up being product testers for gear costing from a few £10’s of pounds to several £100’s and each and every time (except one instance where the kit was faulty) we’ve been allowed to keep the gear. Part of the benefit and beauty of being selected for testing is that you get to keep the kit. That said, they are at least providing free return postage so I don’t need to pay for that.

First off – what is it? Samsung’s SmartThings is a way to enable your home to become ‘smart’ and a secondary aim of bringing all your disparate smart items under a centralised control and management. At least, that’s my read on it.

So the crux of this post is to blog about why I’ve boxed it back up already.

  • Zero Return… (almost)
    I’ve already mentioned we have to return the product – which in and of itself is not a deal breaker but the only sweetener we’ve been given is that if we partake of further competitions over the next 6 weeks then 30 of us (with no idea how many have been selected that could be like winning the lottery) will be picked to keep their SmartThings. And a further 30 at random. It may sound like I’m being bitter but the bottom line in this is that Samsung are expecting us, the public, to test their product with no clear benefit to us the testers.
  • I say no clear benefit…
    However we have been offered to pay a discounted price for the product and keep it at the end of 6 weeks but with no idea of what this discount is. It could be measly, it could be really generous but the uncertainty doesn’t encourage me.
  • No wi-fi – seriously?
    This is meant to manage my smart home and your box requires a hard wired connection. I get offering the hard wire as not every home has wi-fi or at least decent wi-fi coverage but not to have it as an option from the get go is, for me, a deal breaker. I don’t want to add yet another device to the ever growing stack in my front room. My wife already says it looks like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise..!
  • Data coverage…
    It isn’t clear when you first get this device or to utilise properly that you will need a decent data connection and probably they should also advise that maybe an unlimited data plan would be best. Where I live, ubiquitous good data coverage is not a reality. We have far to many hills and valleys for the current range of tech to easily cover the area. Plus the few areas that offer 4G (it’s pointless considering anything less in my area as they simply don’t do sufficient “in time” data connectivity) make it a hit and miss as to whether you’d get the alerts or the connectivity required to do the smart things you need to do.
  • The App
    I have nothing good to say about the app that will be the users point of interaction with their smart setup. It is overly confusing, can easily mis-direct you and then getting back to where you wanted to be becomes a frustration rather than a pleasure. It also took my hub, which to be fair to Samsung may not be their fault, several attempts to connect to all four of the gadgets provided even though they’d been plugged in for a couple of minutes.
  • Alerts
    After connecting and configuring alerts, etc this is surely the next key thing you’d need from the app? My ‘multi sensor’ (think door or window alarm sensor that works by detecting the two halves  of it moving part) was even one of the ‘suggested’ tests during setup phase. It encourages you to move the two halves apart to see the alert screen change from Open to Closed or vice-versa. The wording of the suggestion implies that you “will see it change above” – only I had to exit that screen and go back in for the app to register that the sensor had changed.
  • Release Date
    ermm, call me crazy, but isn’t the idea of having people test your product is to help iron out kinks, fix obvious oversights and the like? Well explain to me why the UK public release date was for September 10th 2015 and we didn’t get the product to test until this week. I mean, just what is the purpose of the testing? The cynical me would say it’s for the free advertising that Samsung will get. As part of the drive by the managing company we ‘testers’ are encouraged to share about the gear and to do market research with our friends to the degree that they’ve provided standard questions to ask.

All that said, I do however, commend Samsung for trying to bring multiple different technologies that make ones home Smart and to try and make an inroad into centralising the management of these disparate devices.

Just won’t be for me.

I so enjoyed doing the first random 25 things about me that I decided to do another – but promise I won’t do another one for a long time … maybe!

1. I’m frequently accused of being “too happy” to be at work.

2. I still have my first ever teddy bear – it’s a Koala which is going bald (like its owner) and has lost its claws!

3. I co-founded and co-lead a drama group for 17 years.

4. I cried at the birth of each of my children. I have three alive that easily could have been more except for tragic losses.

5. My youngest child is a surviving twin – his twin tragically mis-carried before we ever met him / her.

6. I would happily exist on steak, chips and peas for the rest of my life if I had to pick just one meal!

7. My earnings put me in the top 0.43% of the world according to the Global Rich List. That still leaves room for some 50 Million or so that earn more than me!

8. I was born on the 7th and am a second child. My uncle was born on the 7th and is a second child. 7 is my favourite number. 7 is the number of perfection.

9. My father was born on the 20th and is an eldest child. My brother is also born on the 20th and is an eldest child.

10. I’m not and never have been a yes man.

12. To go along with #3 – I co-ordinated, planned, stage managed and produced a production in our local church of a popular fairy tale re-told with a  Christian slant. This involved dragging some extremely disparate characters together that didn’t always want to play nicey nice with each other. And yes, I was responsible for the abomination that was our website.

12. I have no heroes but there are lots of people I respect immensely.

13. I can happily waste five days watching test cricket that ends in a draw but have no patience for things of a much shorter duration.

14. My highest ever score in professional cricket was 24 not out. I used to style myself on Ian Botham – if it came near and my bat connected then it was going across the boundary.

15. I used to play for an officially sanctioned cricket team known as the The 5C’s – Cricklewood Christian Churches Cricket Club.

16. I am an avid reader of books – mostly science fantasy, crime and thrillers.

17. I went to public boarding school(s). My parents stated intention was “for a stable education” but due to circumstances I ended up at three different schools. Oddly, had I stayed at home I would have only need to attend two local schools!

18. I can honestly say that while I was at school I thoroughly enjoyed my time. None of that wistful looking back with rose tinted glasses. I can’t say that my teachers ever enjoyed me in return!

19. My rugby coach told me one day that I was a “very good player” and then went on to tell me that I needed to put on weight to be a very, very good player. I was left saddened and confused because as a slightly overweight teenager I was desperately trying to lose weight to attract the girls. It was only later in life I realised he meant muscular bulk!

20. Physics was my favourite subject at school and to this day I would still like to do a Physics degree – and yes I am jealous of my eldest doing Physics and Comp Sci as his degrees.

21. Officially my IQ is in the genius level range – though I don’t consider myself to be one.

22. I was persuaded into organising a school reunion and then the co-organiser did nothing. Although the reunion will not be happening now, I have still managed to track down 39 of 56 folks I haven’t seen or spoken too in 28yrs!

23. I’m a download junky. I constantly try out new programs once but then rarely use them again and there they stay until I rebuild my system!

24. I officially have 2 x prolapsed discs! Ouch

25. One of my long time very good friends, Chris Naudi, commented on seeing me for the first time in >20yrs … “how can I mistake that walk”. It feels weird that I was recognised from the back at a distance of some 100+ yards purely by my walk!

I originally posted this on my church Tech blog but as I sold the name to an interested party I have had to move this here…

So.. the original background is that I was tagged on Facebook, where I don’t do memes, to list 25 things about me. Instead I did them here.

1. I’ve never, ever watched an entire game of football (soccer) in my life but I have played in several.

2. Rugby Union is and always was my passion.

3. I work shifts and when coming home in the early hours I’ve deliberately gone through red lights! I don’t understand why in this day and age all lights aren’t traffic sensitive and I have to wait 5 minutes at an empty junction.

4. I have never broken a bone in my body.

5. I first used ‘email’ in 1988 – with the first google reference to me on the internet being 1993 – but had used inter BBS messages since 1986.

6. I used to run a BBS – it was called “Sanity Going” on the GTPower network. I was Net/Node 050/023 and for a while “sanity” was my nickname in the v.early days of the internet and my first regular email address was sanity [at] cix [dot] co [dot] uk – I cut my ties to that address in 2004 after 14yrs of use.

7. I like to be deliberately (some say reactionary) different and frequently refuse to capitalise the I in internet!

8. I have willingly done a parachute jump and want to progress on to free fall.

9. I have equally been in an underground cave where the only exit was via an underwater tunnel.

10. I’m willing to do or try anything (legal) once.

11. I’m allergic to mushrooms and plasters (band aids).

12. My dream car is a McLaren F1 but would settle for owning a Koenigsegg.

13. I used to play the trumpet but my son easily trounces me in ability and grades!

14. My original career choice was as an RAF Pilot – when I was told I needed A Level Chemistry I opted to be an Electronics Technician. Despite passing all their tests with flying colours they offered me a post as a Truck driver. I didn’t take it.

15. Before finally getting into computing I worked various jobs including: Sales Asst at Marks & Spencers; Sales Asst at SupaSports (long since swallowed up by Olympus Sports); Odd job boy to the odd job man at an Halal bakers; office junior at an estate agents; delivery wallah; BBC Scenic Operative and others …

15. I was living on my own in London at the age of 16.

16. I used to smoke.

17. I was probably one of the first ‘official’ keepers of the “Unofficial Smiley Dictionary” and maintained it from 1988 to 1994.

18. I am a lover of gadgets but don’t have enough money for everything I want.

19. I am Tech Support to my family and friends and a I freely give that support.

20. I would love to be my own boss but don’t have the courage to do so and neither do I know what I’d do.

21. I was a founding member of the British version of EFF before EFF expanded its borders. It was called CommUnity – the Computer Communicaters Association. It was formally formed March 14th 1993

22. This year, 2009, will be my first ever holiday with friends.

23. I grew up in Africa and Malta.

24. My mother is buried at sea.

25. I am a “born-again” Christian but would say I don’t fit into what is the usually perceived World view of one… I  also believe evolution is a valid scientific theory that doesn’t contradict my beliefs.

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