Building a Smart Home: Episode 1, The Beginning

February 5, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m doing it! I’m building my dream home! I have finally outgrown my current place of residence and am in the process of building my own home and can customize a lot of features to what I want, and I want a smart home.

What defines a smart home?

In this planning phase, I have several requirements that must be met for me to define my home as a “smart home.” Smart home is an extremely loose term. If you use plugs that you can access and activate with your smartphone, is this a smart house? Technically, I suppose. But this does not enrich your life. My definition of a smart home is a series of interconnected devices in your home with remote access capability that allow for automation of tasks, notification of events, home environment monitoring with immediate feedback, and on-demand event triggering that will seamlessly enrich the lives of the smart home inhabitants and its users. Specifically for this project, it must:

  • be accessible via smartphone
  • be able to be controlled by voice commands
  • be borderline 100% usable without a smartphone/smart device (i.e. tablet or computer)
  • allow for development of routines/automations
  • allow devices to communicate with each other in some capacity (Z-wave, ZigBee, RF, wireless)
  • make my life better
  • user interface must be acceptable to spouse
  • allow the entry of guests without significant difficulty when homeowners are not available or around
  • allow notifications of specified events (i.e. alarm system contacts specified users)
  • be secure

In addition to these minimal requirements, I have several aesthetic, specification, and design requirements:

  • no visible cords
  • user interface must be intuitive
  • must allow old-school utilization in the event of power/internet failure (i.e. internet goes down,  but the door locks still allow entry)
  • alarm system must have contingency ability in the even of internet failure
  • minimal visible aesthetic disruption due to quantity of devices
  • devices must be aesthetically appealing

Current State of Smart Home Technology

There are many different types of smart home products available and even more coming to market. These devices are commonly referred to collectively as the IoT (internet of things) as they have the capability to connect to the internet in an invisible way and “do things.” Its not a computer, its not a server… its a thing that connects to the internet! Most of the devices offered to make a smart home are wireless. In the past couple years there’s been an explosion of different types of popular wireless technology used in smart home devices: ZigBee, Z-wave, RF, bluetooth, and wireless/wifi. There are several differences between these but most of them have one common concept of requiring a hub. The hub serves as the source of control of these devices whether it be a light switch, door lock, thermostat, room environment sensor, motion sensor, etc. Depending on the technology the user chooses determines which hub to purchase. The hub is partially dictated by which ecosystem a user is invested with their current home devices (iPad, Android tablet, iPhone, Android smartphone). The reason this is important is because the smartphone is the device that almost always follows you and next to you. If you have an Android phone and start investing in Apple Homekit devices… you made a poor choice of building your smart home.

Ecosystems

There are two predominant smartphone operating system, Android and iOS. Depending on which operating system you use will partially dictate which smart home ecosystem you choose to use. Android cannot use Apple Homekit. Apple iPhones can use about any system, but not always via Homekit. Homekit is a homegrown smart home technology developed by Apple. On every iOS device there is an app called Home and this is where the devices you install will show up IF they are Homekit compatible. There are currently not very many Homekit compatible devices as the hardware and softwareworks_with_homekit requirements dictated by Apple are high and relatively expensive. In order for a device to show up in the iOS Home app, it must Work with Apple Homekit”. If it doesn’t show the logo to the right, then chances are it won’t work with the Home app. This does not mean your iOS device cannot use it however, it just means you will need the manufacturers app to control the device. The hub used for Homekit systems can be either an iPad that remains within the home at all times for the automations or you can use an Apple TV (4th generation). The easiest choice is Apple TV as this probably will not leave your house. You CAN use Homekit devices without a hub, but you cannot make routines or automation via Homekit (i.e. when I arrive home the lights turn on). All automation requires a hub for all ecosystems.

Amazon Echo is another ecosystem that is widely available and widely supported. compatible_with_amazon_echoI can already hear some of you saying “Amazon Echo is not an ecosystem!!” This is technically true, but most products say “Compatible with Amazon Echo” and its just like Apple Homekit, except made by Amazon. When that compatibility is specified, it means you can control the device with Amazon’s Echo device. Amazon Echo is extremely popular and widely compatible with almost all smart home devices in some capacity. However, Amazon Echo is not a hub. A hub is still required, just like Homekit, to create routines and automation.

These two devices have been the predominant influence behind most automation. Google has developed their own persona assistant, Google Home, which is quickly becoming popular. When building my smart home, I want to maximize compatibility. If I want to change from iOS to Android, I don’t want to have to dump all smart home products I’ve purchased because they are ONLY Homekit compatible. I don’t want my smartphone to dictate my home nor my home to dictate my smartphone purchase. That being said, I have invested into the Apple ecosystem and use mostly iOS products, therefore I do want to make my home as Homekit compatible as possible but still keep it such that a non-iOS device would work just fine.

Wireless Communication Between Devices

A smart home is smart because the devices are able to talk to each other, respond to automation requests, and in some cases piggy-back on each others wireless abilities. Like mentioned earlier, there are several wireless technologies: ZigBee, Z-wave, RF, bluetooth, and wireless/wifi.

ZigBee is the oldest standard first developed in 1998 by IEEE (the people who standardize wifi). A group of ZigBee devices form a mesh network and that the ability to extend the network beyond the original start point. For example, consider Device A, B, and C to be ZigBee devices. Device A is closest to the hub, Device B is further away but still within radio distance of Device A, Device C is far away from the hub and cannot detect it, but can smart_home_diagramdetect and connect to Device B. The hub would be able to communicate with Device C by pushing the signal to Device A or Device B to reach Device C. For instance, in diagram to the right, the Hub can communicate with the Lamp via either of the Lights or the Door Lock even though the Lamp is not able to contact the Hub directly. Basically, each device allows another device to communicate through it to reach back to the hub, and vice versa. Mesh network! Some of the newer routers are working like this as well (Eero, Google Wifi, Orbi).

Z-wave was originally  a proprietary wireless technology developed rather recently. It works basically the same as ZigBee. The differences are that it is slower but can reach further (30 meters compared to 10 meters per Electronic Design). Here’s a table from Electronic Design with the rundown:

73665-table

Bluetooth is exactly what you expect but with a few caveats. Most devices use Bluetooth LE (low energy) to save on battery which makes a HUGE difference in battery life. Since most of these smart devices are completely wireless, that’s a big deal. The goal is that the battery life of the device would last for months or years instead of days. The problem is that it has about the same range as normal Bluetooth and does not do mesh networking. So your smart device (lock, light control, etc) has to be within a certain range of your controlling device or hub. If your house is giant, this is not a good idea to use unless you want a lot of hubs (seems counterintuitive and extremely expensive) or just use the smart device when you’re near with your smartphone. Most modern smartphones are equipped with Bluetooth LE.

Wifi is exactly what you’d expect. The device connects to your wifi network and typically does not require a hub. However, in order for it to be automated, you will need a stay-at-home hub such as Apple TV for Homekit. The manufacturer iDevices is a maker of wifi connected smart devices and they are predominatly targeted to Homekit users. Like Bluetooth LE, these devices do not use mesh but instead need to be within wifi network range to work.

Hubs

I’ve been talking about hubs the entire time, but lets detail them briefly. Hubs are used for automation and binding the devices together. There are several hubs available and many more being added from each manufacturer. The important thing is to get a hub that is compatible with what you are buying. If you bought a lot of Lutron Caséta wireless dimmers and you have Homekit, then you are in trouble. BUUUUUT, you could buy the Lutron hub which will connect to your Homekit and THAT will work. But then you just bought an Apple TV (or iPad… but just don’t… spring for the Apple TV since it will never leave your home) and you also just bought a Lutron hub… just to dim your lights. Samsung SmartThings is a multipurpose hub (connects to both ZigBee and Z-wave devices). However, be sure to check with your target devices to make sure it is compatible with Samsung SmartThings. For example, the Lutron Caséta uses RF so won’t work with Samsung SmartThings, but will work with Wink (another hub). It gets super complicated super quickly. I’ll reference you to this great website that I use a lot, Wirecutter, where they review smart hubs in depth. In the end, it depends on which products you want to end up using and what kind of compatibility you want and what you want them to do.

This Is Long

This blog was supposed to go into details on smart devices, what they do, which ones to go with, what you want, etc etc. But its getting too long for such a huge topic. Smart devices for home automation is expanding faster than I can type. Just in writing this one post, iDevices listed their in-wall remote for pre-order and now its actually available. That is fast (or I’m slow, even though it took  me just a few days to write this). So we are going to break this entire thing up into several different posts. This post was just to get us started, the next one I’m going to go into more detail on what I want out of my smart home and focus on light switches since this, in my opinion, is one of the most useful aspects of making your home smart.

Headphone Jack quits working: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

September 15, 2016 Leave a comment

I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. The current date is 9-15-2016 and I still love it, even after lusting after the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4. I just can’t convince myself to get either one of those beautiful machines because the Surface Pro 3 (SP3) still works so well!

While I sing praises for the SP3, it is not without its issues. In a previous post, discussed fixing the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (MWDA) and this post will be about fixing some audio issues. I’m not really sure why I ran into this, but I noticed that since I updated PlayOn to the new version, it installed itself a virtual audio device (right-click the speaker in the bottom right hand corner of your computer, then go to Playback Devices and it’ll show you all the playback devices).

Problem 1

Headphone jack quit playing audio automatically when headphones are plugged in, the audio continues to play through the speakers.

Solution 1

I’m not really sure because I was immediately compounded by problem #2. See below.

Problem 2

Audio volume rocker on the left side of the SP3 shows that I am changing audio volume, but its not actually doing it!!! No volume control!

Solution 2

This solution solved both problems. Go to Device Manager (in the search box at the bottom left of your screen next to the Windows button, type in Device Manager and it should be your first hit).devicemanager

Step 2, you will expand the menu for Human Interface Devices and uninstall the following items:

  • HID-compliant consumer control device
  • HID-compliant consumer control device

Yes, I said the same thing twice because there are two. Uninstall them both and don’t worry, they will reinstall themselves when you reboot. BUT DON’T REBOOT YET!

Step 3, expand the menu for Sound, video and game controllers (that ironically does not use the Oxford comma… sigh….). Uninstall the Realtek High Definition Audio. There may be more than one Realtek High Definition Audio listing, uninstall them both. Again, don’t worry because it will reinstall itself upon reboot.

After uninstalling them, the SP3 will inform you that you need to reboot, go ahead and do this. Once the SP3 has rebooted you will notice it reinstalling some drivers. Once it is finished installing, play an audio file of your choosing. Use the volume rocker on the left side and it should work! Plug in some headphones and you will notice they probably don’t work. Reboot your computer again. Once the computer has rebooted for the second time, choose an audio file of your choice, start playing it, and plug in some headphones. It will reinstall the headphones drivers and it should switch the audio to the headphones AND the volume rocker will now control these as well.

Conclusion

It was annoying that these steps had to be completed at all because it shouldn’t have to happen, but computers are complex machines and sometimes they just get things crossed weirdly. I scoured the internet for these solutions and I obtained the HID-consumer control device bit from a Microsoft Community thread. Enjoy your working-again Microsoft Surface Pro 3!

Happy Listening!

Categories: Computers, Technology

SharePoint 2013: Create a Birthday List in the Workplace without Year

The workplace is an unusual space that is required to accommodate a huge variety of personalities while also following laws and doing its best to prevent bias and discrimination. That is an extremely loaded and broad sentence. To narrow the scope, lets bring it down to using SharePoint 2013 in the workplace to develop a dynamically updating list of birthdays for the current month. After all, most everyone loves a good office party! Lets begin.

Create a custom list within SharePoint 2013, if you are unfamiliar with how to create a custom list, this post is not for you and you should step back to learn the basics of list creation and customization. The concepts in this post are not difficult, but we will not be defining how to do the very basics. In this list, you will need a total of 5 different columns:

  • Employee: Single line of text
  • Birthday: Date
  • Birth MonthDay: calculated column
  • Start of Month: calculated column
  • End of Month: calculated column

Employee and Birthday

I defined what each of those columns should be, the nice part is you only need to populate two columns with data: Employee with the Employee’s name and Birthday (mm/dd/yyyy). Entering a persons birthday in this information may not comply with your company’s policy to keep age confidential to prevent age bias or discrimination. To prevent any conflict, simply enter everyone’s birthday with the correct day, but set the year to the current year. So a person name Peter Parker would have a birthday of 12/27/2016. The year doesn’t matter because we will not be calculating age nor do we want to violate a persons right to keep their age confidential.

Birth MonthDay

After you have completed entering the data for the two manual data entry columns of Employee and Birthday, select the column Birth MonthDay. The concept of this column is because the employee has the current birthday of 12/27/2016 and that will obviously not make sense to any viewer. Since a date type column requires a year and shows the year, you can create a custom calculated column to only show the month and date of the the persons birthday. This would turn “12/27/2016” into simply “December 27”. This view makes much more sense to the viewer since it omits the randomly selected year of 2016 for the persons birth year while preserving their age confidentiality.

Select the column Birth MonthDay and ensure the type is calculated. The image below contains the code that you will want to place in the formula box. Note here that you want to make sure the data type returned is set for “single line of text” as this is not a legitimate date column in the mind of SharePoint 2013. The portion of the code TEXT also enforces this, but you must make sure the proper setting is selected or it will give you an error.
SharePoint - birth monthdayNote that in this code, we use “mmmm” to define the intent for the employee’s birthday month to be spelled out fully. There are 4 month specifiers:

  • m = month number (1, 2, 3)
  • mm = month number with two places (01, 02, 03, 10, 11, 12)
  • mmm = month text limited to 3 letters (Jan, Feb, Mar)
  • mmmm = full month text (January, February, March)

Make the selection that best fits what you want for your list to show. Day follows the same rules for the most part: d= number, dd = 01.

Start of Month

The end goal is to show a dynamically updating list of employees birthday of the month, however SharePoint has a hard time doing this natively since it is a dynamic time period, so we have to build a really weird workaround. The next two calculated columns now come into play, starting with the Start of Month column.

Just as was previously done, ensure that the column is set for calculated. There are a few differences we will be doing with this column than the Birth MonthDay column however. We will explicitly declare this column as a date so that SharePoint understands how to understand it when it does its calculations. In the formula, set yours to match that of the image below. You will undoubtedly notice that the order is strange. SharePoint understands dates as DATE(YEAR(variable),MONTH(variable),DAY(variable)). The formular below gathers the YEAR and MONTH from the Birthday field, but the DAY is set explicitly to “1”. Therefore, all dates using this formula will be Birthday’s YEAR, Birthday’s MONTH, but the date will be 1: 12/1/2016. We are doing this because we have to dynamically select the first date of each month for SharePoint to do the proper comparisons/selections later on.
SharePoint - start of monthDifferently than before, ensure the data type returned is Date and Time with Date only selected, as the time is unnecessary.

End of Month

Like the Start of Month, we need to dynamically get the last date of each month. This is done extremely weird however. Every single month has the date of 1, but not every month has the last date as 30, or 31. We also don’t want to exclude anyone who has had a birthday on the 31. The solution to this quandry that not all months have the same number of dates is that we simply go to the next month, go to the first day of it, and go back one day:

Birthday = 1/15/2016. End of Month = 2/1/2016 – 1 WHICH THEN = 1/31/2016

SharePoint knows how to calculate dates, it just needs to know what to do and by subtracting 1 from the first date of the next month, its going back to the last day of the current month. Using this solution, you will always get the last date of each month properly and thus not inadvertently exclude anyone’s birthday. Complete the formula with that from the image below.
SharePoint - end of month

Filtered View

All your columns are now built and all information is now readily available to build the final view. If you look at all the columns together, they should look similar to the below image:
SharePoint - staff birthday listNow you will want to create a new view that you will also set as the “default” view. Name the view whatever, you want. For my purposes, I called the view “Birthday Month”. Set it as the default view as was just mentioned. Check only the Employee and Birth MonthDay for the columns to be shown in this view. Next, jump down to the filter section. Enter the information as depicted in the image below:
SharePoint - filter view settings
This creates an odd range that SharePoint will follow and thus only show the current months birthdays. Basically, the formular doesn’t really consider the birthday at all, just the birthday MONTH and the birthday DAY which we set as the first day of the month and also last day of the month. The date of [Today] is a SharePoint pre-defined function that selects the current date. Putting into english, the above filter states that SharePoint should select every record that has a Start of Month DATE less than or equal to TODAY as well as an End of Month DATE that is greater than or equal to TODAY or:

5/1/2016 5/8/2016 5/31/2016
[Start of Month] [Today] [End of Month]

Explain: [Birthday] is 5/10/2016. [Today] is 5/8/2016. Since for that employee’s list item, they will have a [Start of Month] = 5/1/20xx and a [End of Month] = 5/31/20xx. Therefore, TODAY’s date of 5/8/2016 will meet all the criteria of that employee’s list item entry with their [Start of Month] and [End of Month]. The View however will show just the [Employee] and [Birth MonthDay] column… even though SharePoint is not doing any real calculations with the [Birth MonthDay] column as the [Start of Month] and [End of Month] are dependent on [Birthday].

Now, simply refresh your screen at the default list view and you should see the list of employee names with the birth dates and no year for the current month! Happy Birthday to them.

SharePoint - staff birthday list_final

Update (2/5/2017)

An awesome commenter pointed out a serious flaw. Sharepoint will not show the birthdays each year… only in the CURRENT year of their birthday. Using the above example, the birthdays will only show up in 2016 because I set their birth year as 2016. In order for the birthdays to show up again in 2017, you have to update each birthday to be the same date, but in 2017 instead of 2016. Serious flaw and I apologize if this wasted a lot of peoples’ time. If you have Nintex installed on your Sharepoint, I developed a routine that you run once a year to update all birthdays to the current year by adding 1 to the year. So if you run it multiple times, you will continually increase the persons birth year by one year. I’ll post the Nintex workflow here soon. Special thanks to jeanpaul7 for pointing that out!

Categories: Computers, Technology

Synology Diskstation DDNS DNS-O-Matic fix: Don’t use the “@” sign!

October 11, 2015 Leave a comment

I haven’t posted about this before, but I’m a HUGE Synology fan. I have had their DS210j server for about 5 years now and I absolutely adore it. Its slow now since its 5 years old and the server software has significantly improved, but it still keeps chugging along! My partner moved in about a year ago and he brought with him an Apple Airport wireless router, that recently bit the dust. Routers just can’t seem to last very long… even if it is a timecapsule for his mac. So I went and bought a new router, the TP-Link Archer C9 as recommended by The Wirecutter. The article specifically recommends the Archer C7… but a higher number can’t be bad can it?

So I purchased the router, got it set up.. and since this is not a locked down Airport, I can start using OpenDNS again!!! I use OpenDNS to filter out stupid add-sites (I’m staring at you DoubleClick). The thing with OpenDNS, to take advantage of the web content filtering, you have to update your IP address. I don’t want to install a client updater on my computer, but the Synology server can do it! So I restarted my DNS-O-Matic profile… which updates OpenDNS, and set up the DNS-O-Matic DDNS updater on the Synology DS210j (follow that?). Basically:

IP Address updating:
Synology DS210j DDNS updater –> DNS-O-Matic –> OpenDNS

I set up the Synology DDNS updator with my username and password and used the hostname: all.dnsomatic.com. However, I learned of a small issue a blog that no longer exists by ‘John Alvarez’ showed me… DO NOT USE THE @ SIGN IN YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS! It took me TWO DAYS to figure this out. Good riddance. Such a simple solution but apparently there is some thing weird in the Synology updater code that requires you to use “%40” instead of the “@” sign. So, in your username, replace @ with %40 and it’ll all work out:
synologyDDNS_DNS-O-Matic

Categories: Technology Tags: , ,

Amazon Unbox is No More

Well, as soon as I had posted some [good] information about Amazon Unbox, they decided to shut it down. As of March 29, 2014, it will no longer work. However, any videos you had downloaded previously will work in Windows Media Player! Here is the official notice from Amazon:

AmazonUnboxNomore

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!

Surface Pro 3 can’t connect to Microsoft wireless display adapter (MWDA)? Here’s how to fix it.

February 6, 2015 16 comments

I have a Surface Pro 3 and love it. Its what I’m using right now to write this post. The keyboard gets kind of funky but is significantly better than the previous Surface Pro keyboards and the mouse is quirky at times… however I overall really like it. I’ve been giving a lot of presentations lately and at work the computers are unfortunately locked down. I like to add some neat content to my Powerpoint presentations through add-ons and plugins, thus my ability to use my presentations on work computers means they are less neat because I can’t take advantage of features like viewing a live web page in the presentation (think live-audience polls). So I had a $15 coupon to Microsoft.com and I decided to use it to purchase the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, which is dubbed in all the support articles for it as MWDA. I received said product about 3 days after ordering, plugged it in, my Surface Pro 3 saw it, clicked connect, heard a ding….. then nothing. The display on the tv went back to its normal “ready to connect” wait screen.

MWDAConnectScreen

UGH! Really? I went to support websites and followed tons of instructions ranging from uninstalling the adapter to installing all the latest updates. I DID NOT refresh my PC though. I’ve done that before, it went fine, but I’m not all about re-installing all the programs again, especially when people are saying that the refresh did not fix the problem.  It turns out that the January 2015 firmware update for the Surface Pro 3 broke the MWDA something-or-other connection, as many people complained that it worked before the January update. This left me disgruntled that the January update was obviously a step back. But hey, it happens, whatever. I did however find a small blurb on page 2 of a support thread that DID work to remedy this annoyance!

Step 1: download the Surface Pro 3 – January 2015 drivers ZIP file… not the MSI file
Step 2: extract the folder to location of your choice (probably the desktop)
Step 3: open Device Manager (swipe out the Charms menu>Settings>Control Panel>type in Device Manager in the search area>Click Device Manager
Step 4: expand the Display Adapters
Step 5: right click on Intel(R) HD Graphics Family and uninstall (may not need to uninstall, but its what I did and now it all works)
Step 6: reboot
Step 7: computer will re-install what it needs to function and turn back on, this is fine. Then go back and do Step 3 again to get back to Device Manager
Step 8: expand Display Adapters again, right click on Intel HD Graphics Family, and click “Update Driver Software”
Step 9: Select “Browse my computer for driver software” and navigate it to the Intel\Graphics folder of your extracted January 2015 driver zip file.
Step 10: Click Next and continue following the prompts to complete driver update.
Step 11: reboot for good measure

After you complete all these steps, reconnect to the MWDA and now it should work! Genius! And it only took me 3 days to find the small blurb that mentioned these instructions. Luckily I didn’t refresh or I would have been livid. Cheers! Let me know if you have any questions!

Side note: go to the Windows Store app and download the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter program, it lets you put a password on your MWDA as well as rename it, control overscan (in case the screen extends beyond the limits of your tv), and put a PIN on the MWDA to prevent people from hijacking your presentation. ;)

Update 1: I did a bit of further reading, and it turns out that some users have had success simply uninstalling the drivers for Intel(R) HD Graphics Family and rebooting. So that may be all you need to do! I’m still leaving the above instructions though, just in case.

Updated 2: Added the link to the drivers in Step 1, sorry that I didn’t have that linked earlier!

Watching Amazon Movies on the Go in Windows

December 2, 2014 2 comments

Your tablet has the amazing ability to be a device of consumption. Android tablet and iPads make it amazingly easy to take your content on the go. However, we are neglecting a huge market share: Windows! What is on a large number of laptops? Windows. What is an emerging market of tablets? Windows. How do you download movies you legally own to your Android/iPad tablets to take along with you: Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, etc etc. What about Windows? *crickets* Fortunately there is a solution. For the purposes of this post, we will focus on your Amazon Videos since the software isn’t publicized very well: Amazon Unbox.

Amazon Unbox

Basically, this software allows you to download the movies you own in Amazon Instant Video (not prime shows/movies) to your PC and allows you to take them with you since there is no Windows app for Amazon Instant Video like on Android/iPad. Its super easy to download, but I had to email Amazon to get the direct link.

I would like to inform you that amazon Unbox is no longer available for download on Amazon.com. But to help with this issue, I can provide a link you can use to reinstall the last supported version of the player:

http://www.amazon.com/cs/unbox/download/104

If you’re using Microsoft Vista, you may also need to install Unbox as an administrator:
1. Click the installation link above and select “Download the Unbox Video Player”
2. If prompted to run or save the file to your computer, choose the “Save” option
3. Search for the file “amazonunboxvideo.exe,” using your file browser
4. Right-click the file and select “Run As”
5. Select the “Administrator” option for running the file and follow the onscreen instructions

So, Amazon is no longer publicizing Amazon Unbox, but it still works. To make it work though, it doesn’t tell you that you do need to download Adobe Air. This is needed to play the videos you download. It doesn’t matter if you download Adobe Air first or last, but you just need to have it to play the videos.

So, want to take your Amazon Instant Videos on the go with your Windows PC? Download Unbox. You’re welcome.


UPDATE:

Amazon Unbox is no longer available as of March 29, 2015. So sad :( Below is the email I received from them:

Amazon Unbox is no more