The Best Home Automation Device of 2021: Lutron Aurora Dimmer Switch

I love to automate everything. Sometimes it’s overkill. But it usually results in some cool things. With Shortcuts being available on the Mac now, for example, I can push a button on my Stream Deck, set the lighting in my office for recording, put my phone into the Recording Focus Mode, and set my “podcast recording”timer in Toggl.

But this isn’t about any of that1. This is about a general home automation device. The best one I’ve seen all year: the Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer Switch.

A Smart Home Device for People Who Don’t Like Smart Devices

One of my goals when we bought our house was to basically connect everything to the internet that could be. My only requirement is it works with both HomeKit and Alexa2. Phillips Hue lights fill that requirement nicely.

So I installed smart bulbs everywhere. And I quickly realized a problem that some great automators of our time have warned of: people will still use the switches and knobs to which the blubs are attached, rendering them useless. This could be kids, parents, or energy conscious visitors who don’t know you have a voice controlled home.

And let me tell you: messing around with electrical boxes to install smart switches is not my favorite thing.

That’s where the Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer Switch comes in.


This small device connects to either a specific Phillips Hue bulb, room, or scene, and can control the lights by dimming them with the knob, or turning the lights off and on by pressing it.

Super Easy Installation

And the best part? SUPER simple installation. Put the mount on top of the switch, secure it with a couple twists of a screwdrivers, then snap the dimmer on top of it. It took me 2 minutes tops to install and connect the thing.

After trying it in my son’s room, I’m absolutely buying one for every room with smart lights.

If you are looking for a simple solution for your smart switch woes, I highly recommend the Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer Switch.

  1. Don’t worry. Subscribe on YouTube and you’ll get a video soon. ?
  2. …and if it works with HomeKit, it almost definitely works with Alexa. ?

SavvyCal vs. Calendly

A few weeks ago In my newsletter, I talked about how I’m considering switching to SavvyCal over Calendly. There are a lot of great features to like about SavvyCal, including how calendar overlays work, one-off links, reusable hours, and recurring time blocks based on calendar events.

Plus with teams, you can do “round robin” scheduling, allowing you to easily combine multiple people’s availability – something that while SavvyCal requires a team account for, Calendly doesn’t offer at all. But I’m not quite ready to switch yet. Here’s why.

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Using Automation to Better Manage Client Work

Perhaps one of the more iconic scenes from Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) is the trash compactor scene. It’s the first real trouble our heroes are in together. The first time they need to work together (and wait for their robots to save them).

If you’re unfamiliar, Leia, Luke, Han, and Chewie fall into a trash compactor (garbage masher) and the walls are quickly closing in on them; despite their best efforts, nothing they do can stop the walls from closing in. OH and there’s a monster (a dianoga) that nearly eats Luke. They escape when R2-D2 (and the behest of C-3PO) turns it off and opens the door.

Getting a lot of client work can kind of feel that way – especially if you’re a small shop. You take on too much work, and now the walls are closing in on you. Luckily, we also have robots who can save us, through automation.

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How I Built a Smart “On-Air” Light for When I’m Recording or Meeting

As a guy who makes his living mostly from recording podcasts and videos, it can be frustrating when my family, who’s mostly stuck at home due to a pandemic, comes into my office while I’m recording, or decides to make the most noise right outside my door. I don’t blame them for this. You do what you can to keep 2 small children entertained. But I also wanted to solve the problem as much as I could.

In fact, I’m sure with many now working primarily from home, a silent but noticeable signal that you’re in a meeting would also go a long way. This is a project I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and last week I finally made a smart on-air light for when I’m recording or meeting.

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Launch Specific Parts of a Mac App with Stream Deck and Keyboard Maestro

Earlier this week in my Favorites of 2020 post, I bestowed the dubious honor of favorite gadget upon the Elgato Stream Deck. I love automation, and the flexibility of this bad boy to control not only aspects of my computer, but aspects of my home, is fantastic.

Well I recently picked up the Stream Deck XL and have a few extra buttons to play with now. One thing I thought would be interesting is to launch a specific note in Bear Notes. Turns out you can totally do that! Here’s how.

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4 Ways to Make Podcasting Easier Through Automation

Podcasting is a time consuming effort, which is why many podcasts fall victim to the dreaded podfade1. It can sometimes feel like you need a herculean effort to get it all done. Come up with topics, find and book guests, coordinate schedules, do the tech checks, record, post production, then publishing and promoting. That’s why putting a process in place and moving things off of your plate is a must. Here are 4 tasks you can take off your plate thanks to automation.

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SaneBox Keeps my Inbox Clear and my Heart Rate Down (Friday Toolkit Preview)

Quick Note: This is a new newsletter series I started on Friday called “Friday Toolkit.” Each month I will go in-depth with one of my recommendations – how I use it and why I think it’s useful. I’ve decided to make the first one public. If you like it, you can sign up for my newsletter using the form in the sidebar, or below.

I’ve been thinking of doing something like this for a while, but haven’t pulled the trigger. I want to thank SaneBox for partnering with me to push me over the edge. This first edition of The Friday Toolkit is brought to you by them; I chose SaneBox as the partner because I’ve been using them all year and am a huge fan. I’m excited to share a little bit more about them.

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Writing Faster Newsletters with Zapier, Pocket, and Evernote

Over the past year or so, I’ve made a concerted effort to grow my mailing list. After lots of conventional wisdom from podcast guests, blog posts, and online courses, I felt it wasn’t really an option to ignore the advice! But one of the hurdles for me was actually putting together the newsletter. It was time consuming and not all that fun…until I started using Zapier for the heavy-lifting.

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How I’ve Configured My Stream Deck

Perhaps the best device I’ve purchased in the last couple of years is my 32-Key Elgato Stream Deck. It’s a streamlined way for me to manage live streams, devices, and automation. I absolutely love it. When I first got it, I shared a photo on Twitter, fully configured. A lot has changed since then…including upgrading from the 15- to the 32-key. Here’s a breakdown of how I’ve set it up – everything from what it’s connected to, to where I got the icons.

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