Home Automation Part 1 Philips HUE -Product Review

What Is Philips Hue?

Philips HUE is a smart lighting system that gives you added control for lighting.  There are many different products for offer but for now I’m going to talk about the 3 main products that I currently have.

Why I decided to get Hue.

The reason that I decided to give Hue a go was because of a problem that arose in my house, in where the light pull switch that is in the bathroom had the tendency to fail so when you pull the cord to turn the light on nothing would happen.  The reason this was a big problem was because my eldest son Alfie was becoming more confident in going to the toilet by himself, and as many children do he had a habit of leaving it till the last minute before going.  What would then happen is he would pull on the cord harder and eventually the cord would snap.  I kept on repairing the string but it would get shorter and shorter.  I then decided to get a Philips Hue Personal Lighting Wireless Dimming Kit [Energy Class A+].  I was then able to put the hue remote lower down on the wall for my son to reach.


Picture of the remote/ wall plate.  As you can see it has four buttons on, brightness up and down and then off.  The switch is a wall plate and the remote attaches itself to the wall plate via magnets.  You can customise the switch to control up to 10 bulbs.

My Next Addition.

My next purchase I made  was to get the Hub that would control additional bulbs and switches.  The Hub connects to your home network via your router and enables you customise and control your Hue bulbs via a smartphone app.  There are two main revisions of the hub.  I purchased ver 2 (shown below),  and the main diferance between ver 1 and ver 2 is, that ver 2 has Siri support.


Philips Hue Hub Ver 2

Does the Hue system do all I wanted it to? 

The answer at the time I installed it was no.  What I also wanted was a motion sensor to be able to turn the lights on in the bathroom when my son ran to the toilet and then turn off the lights once he had left.  I then decided to purchase another system to work side by side with Philips Hue called Smartthings.  I do like Philips Hue and I’m planning on getting more bulbs for the rest of my house.  I have had few if any problems with the system and I like the added control that it gives me.  Philips have since released a motion sensor that you can add to the system.

Stay tuned for a smartthings review in the future.

You can click the links below that will take you to where you can buy each of the products from amazon.

Philips Hue Personal Lighting Wireless Dimming Kit [Energy Class A+]

Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting Home Automation Bridge 2.0, Apple Home Kit Enabled, Works with Alexa

Philips Hue White Personal Wireless Lighting LED B22 Light Bulb, 1 x 9.5 W Bayonet Cap [Apple Homekit Enabled]

Philips Hue Intelligent Motion Sensor Smart Wireless Lighting Accessory

Samsung SmartThings Starter Kit (Works with Amazon Alexa)




How to Make the school run less stressful

Many parents that do the school run in the morning often say that it is one of the most stressful times of the day.  If your one of those parents then there are some useful things that you could start doing to help your school run easier.


The main trick to a less stressful morning is the to prepare the night before.  Some of the things you may want to do…

  1. Make Lunches – For all those that have packed lunches, make them the night before and keep them in the fridge.
  2. Uniform – Lay out the Uniform including socks and underwear to avoid searching in the morning.
  3. Bags – Make sure that all the bags are packed with all that your child will need for the following day, for example one of my sons is in preschool so needs a spare change of clothes in his bag incase he has any accidents.
  4. Forms – Make sure that any forms or paper work that needs signing is signed and placed in there bags as well.
  5. Seasonal Clothes – Get in the habit of keeping seasonal clothes all together with shoes and coats and make sure that nothing is missing.
  6. Breakfast – Breakfast is classed by many as the most important meal of the day, yet many still skip breakfast.  Make preparations for breakfast the night before.

You may also find it less stressful by not taking the car, and instead walking or if you live too far from school try taking the kids on bikes or scooters.  Many schools now have a place that you can keep the bikes during the day.  Just make sure that you use all necessary safety gear like helmets and you may want to consider locks for the bikes.


So the month of November is here and with it brings Movember.  The Movember Foundation are the only charity tackling men’s health globally.  They address some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention. There independent of government funding, which means they can invest quicker in programs that work.

People can choose to get involved in a variety of different ways.  If your male you can start by growing a moustache for the month which will help raise awareness.  You can also plan fundraising events or “Take the move challenge” where you can get physically active and raise funds for men’s health.

In 2015, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas from across the UK helped us raise £6.8 Million for the Movember Foundation.

These donations allow the Movember Foundation to raise awareness, invest in vital men’s health initiatives and run Movember each year.

If you would like to get involved yourself feel free to head over to Movember UK to sign up or donate here

6 Tips to help get rid of Headaches.


Headaches are a common problem with people of all ages.  Some get them more frequently and more intensive than others, but there is usually a simple reason why you may be getting the pain.  Common causes of headaches include stress, tension, restlessness, sinus problems, migraines, lack of sleep and dehydration.  If you can work out the main reason if any you can quickly determine the best course of action.  Here are some tips you can try yourself at home.



1. Drink some water.  One of the reasons you may be getting a headache could be that your dehydrated and simply drinking some wat
er can help alleviate  the pain.

2. Sleep.  Another simple reason you may be getting a headache could be lack of sleep.
Even if you have had enough sleep the night before you normally won’t feel pain in your sleep so sleeping will help you pass the time whilst the pain wears off.

3. Hot or Cold Compress. 
Depending on the type of photogallery_congestion_remedies_05_full.jpgheadache you experiencing you can place either a hot or cold compress to help with the pain.  Cold compress such as ice packs when placed on your forehead and temples can help with stress headaches.  The cold temperature will help shrink the blood vessels in the area and increase blood circulation.  It can also help numb the area.  Hot compress on the other hand can help relax muscles that could be tense and help reduce the throbbing pain.  Try either or and stick to what works best for you i prefer the cold compress as it works best for me.

4. Natural remedies.  There are many natural remedies that have been claimed to help with Headaches.  Some of which are fmd-021-un-1kg-nirvana-oil-free-sea-salted-almonds

  • Drinking lemon water
  • Eating apples
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger helps with inflammation of the blood vessels
  • Lavender oil scent helps with relaxation and head pain
  • Peppermint in food and oil scents can also help with headaches
  • Almonds contain  salicin which is believed to be a natural pain reliever
  • eucalyptus oil

Not all natural remedies work for everyone so I suggest to try them and see what works best for you.

5. Look after your Gut! many believe that your gut and your brain are linked and if you have a healthy gut you will have a healthy brain.  Make sure you exercise regularly and eat healthy.  You may also have an intolerance to some foods that could be triggering headaches so it could be worth while to try and see if eating particular types of food are giving you the pain.

Yogatest1.png6. Destress yourself. Stress is a big trigger for many people.  Try and find an activity that will help you destress daily.  This could be something like Practising Yoga or Tai Chi, reading a book, going for a walk or taking a bath.




OCD if you didn’t know is a mental disorder that affects between 2 and 3 percent of the population.  OCD is when you have Obsessive thoughts that then lead to having the need to complete tasks or rituals Compulsions, otherwise you will have increased Anxiety.

My O.C.D affects me in all sorts of ways.  I have thoughts that would lead me to do things, when the thoughts are there to get rid of them.  It may be touching an item, counting items or moving things which is also triggered by another problem I have called Perfectionism Disorder.  I have increased Anxiety at times from having OCD and social Anxiety,  which lead to panic attacks.

Some of my compultions happen to be the usual ones that people tend to associate with OCD like washing my hands, checking locks and windows, checking candles, turning appliances on and off multiple times like the cooker and lights,

When I get anxious I Tap, pinch and pull things until I can do something that releases the anxiety. If i don’t do that it would tend to lead to a panic attack.



Flow Restrictor

So I said in an early post that I had undergone some ICP ops, but i didn’t tell you what the first one lead too.  The reason I had it was because I was still experiencing some major head pain whilst being upright and my surgeon suggested that the problem was that I had been used to a high pressure for such a long time that I was finding it difficult to adjust to a “Normal” and safe pressure.  He said that Shunt was working but he waste to check the exact pressure i was running at so he could determine what to do next.  After the ICP gave him the info that he needed he suggested that i get a flow restrictor fitted in my neck.

The Flow restrictor is a device that gets fitted to part of the tubing thats attached to your shunt and slows the flow of CSF down.  It is gravity feed so only works when I’m stood upright.  This was hopefully going to make me feel much better.

I had my flow restrictor fitted under Local Anaesthetic so was awake for my op but I believe they can put you to sleep if need be.  what they did was numb the area of my neck where they were going to operate.  They cut a small hole in my neck cut through my shunt tubing and plugged the restrictor into both ends of the tubing.  I didn’t feel pain as such during most of the op I did however feel lots of tugging on my shunt and could feel it in my head.  I also felt the most strange feeling when they plugged the end of my shunt back into the tubbing.  It was a sort of sharp pain that shot up into my brain but went away within seconds.  I was then stitched up and after spending the rest of the day in the ward was discharged from hospital.

The flow restrictor has certainly helped with the pain i was experiencing when stood up right as I can now stand and sit upright all day if I want too,  I do still have a long road ahead though as currently still suffer with daily headaches, Shunt pain and migraines.


ICP Bolts

Intracranial Pressure (ICP) Monitors or Bolts are devices that are used to monitor the Intracranial pressure inside you head.  I have had two or these in the past and both have been different.

My First ICP 

My first ICP was back in June 2015 Just a few months after my VP Shunt was installed.  I was getting some really bad head pain and had difficulty staying upright for prolonged periods of time so my surgeon decided that I should get the ICP moniter for a minimum of 24 hours to see what my pressure was.  I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived at the hospital as I didn’t read up about it before going in.  I thought that if I didn’t know what was about to happen I wouldn’t scare myself but that gave me the reverse affect I was so anxious about what was in store for me.  There is an option to be put under General Anaesthesia so your asleep for the operation but for some reason I was having mine done under local anaesthesia.  When the time came I was taken down to the Pre op area where they get you ready to go to theatre as I was having the procedure done there.  The nurses were talking to me throughout to try and keep me calm.  Firstly the surgeon shaved the front right part of my head where the bolt was going to be placed.  After he cleaned and sterilised the area he made the incision.  I felt the blood run down my right ear but didn’t feel anything else.  I was expecting some sort of power tool to drill through my skull but instead (by the feeling I was experiencing)  and the noise I heard seemed to be a tool similar to cork screw.  After a bur hole was made in my skull the surgeon screwed the bolt to my skull and inserted the probe into my brain and connected it to the monitor, which happened to be some main box that converted the signals so that they could be seen on a standard laptop.  As the anaesthetic wore off it was painful and uncomfortable it looked like I had an areal coming out of my head.  It was in for about 2 days before being taken out  whilst I was still in the ward.  I had a little local anaesthetic to the area before the doctor pulled the probe out of my head and unscrewed the bolt before stitching me up.  It felt very strange at the time and painful after the anaesthetic wore off but the pain didn’t last to long and the procedure went well.  My second ICP was a bit different.




My Second ICP

I had an idea for what was in store for me when going in for my 2nd ICP, but this one turned out to be a bit different than the first.  It was being planned to be under General Anaesthesia, the reasoning I think is because of my problems with anxiety, but was told before the op that as they had difficulty establishing an air line when I last went under, they didn’t want to take the added risk.  So the decision was made for the op to be under local Anaesthesia again.  The differences this time were firstly the tools they used to make the bore hole this one resembled the old bit and brace (or like a whisk that has that gear like system) it made a lot more noise and I felt a lot more vibration in my skull.  I also felt the probe being inserted a lot more this time than the last and that pain only increased as the Anaesthetic wore off.  It was explained to me that the brain has many nerves in different places and that last time I was lucky in the placement of the bolt where as this time they seemed to find an area where i had a lot more nerves and that is what was giving me the pain.

During my time in the hospital for this ICP I was also approached my some Scientists that were doing a study to see if you could measure the intracranial pressure from your ear canals by listening to sound waves.  If this turned out to be correct it would mean that you would not need to have surgery every time that you needed your intracranial pressure to be monitored.  I agreed to having these extra tests but unfortunately the equipment that they were using malfunctioned and they couldn’t complete the tests.

When the ICP was taken out it hurt a lot more than the last and I experienced vertigo like symptoms similar to when I had my shunt inserted.  I panicked as I thought back to previous experiences but luckily after about half a day i started to feel better and was discharged from hospital.


“We’re transferring you!”

Not the words I was expecting.

I was taken to my local A&E after passing out in my home. I had been suffering with a chronic headache for what seemed like weeks, but Ive always suffered with headaches since i could remember so i thought it would eventually pass.  The doctors had found out that I had an infection so was treating me with some local antibiotics whilst they did some further tests such as blood tests and CT scans.  The doctor told me that he also wanted to do a Lumber puncture which is a procedure that involves a needle being inserted into your spine so that they can take a sample of CSF (cerebralspinal fluid).

After the test was done I had a panic attack and fell asleep.

When I woke up my wife was there and I remember telling her that I was felling bit better and that I might even be able to come home soon, I was wrong.

That was when I was told that I was to be transferred from the hospital to another hospital that had a specialist neuro unit.  This news terrified me and I thought the worst.

When I arrived at the other hospital I had some further tests that included two MRI scans that lasted nearly 2 hours in total before being told that I had hydrocephalus and would need surgery.

The day after being told I remember sitting on the bed and staring at the floor just thinking.  Thinking of how my life was going to affected by this news.  Thinking of the family that were waiting for the news.  My wife and two children that I loved and missed.  I hadn’t seen the kids in weeks.

I was then taken for my operation.  A VP Shunt was inserted just above and behind my right ear.

When I returned to the ward I felt awful.  I was in the worst pain imaginable and was sick several times.  The pain was worse when I was upright either sitting or walking so was given along with the usual pain relief like morphine, some anti-sickness tablets.  I was showing no signs of improvement so was told that I would need a Lumber puncture to check my CSF pressure.

The Lumber Puncture did not go well.  The doctor that was attempting the procedure could not locate the area of my spine where the needle needed to be and the pain this lead too was excruciating.  After a few attempts she decided to stop the procedure.  Where i was in so much pain I didn’t want another attempt to be made but the doctor said that I had no choice so I was given a sedative to help me relax as a different doctor got prepared for the second attempt.  The second attempt was just as if not more painful than the first especially the moment where he hit a nerve and what could only be described as a strange and painful sensation shot down my back and into my left leg and ended in the tip of my toes.  It felt like my leg had been blown off.  Soon after the doctor found the point he needed and was able to take a sample of my CSF.

With the results of both my CSF reading and some X-rays of the Shunt the doctors said that the surgery was a success and as soon as I passed the pysio test I would be allowed to return home to complete my recovery.

I just about managed to do the pysio requirements needed for me to return home because I was desperate to get home to my family.  The journey home was hard as I was unable to sit upright for more than 15 minutes or so without experiencing pain, but we eventually made it.

I got home and went straight to bed, (I had less pain when lying down) whilst my wife got the kids.  As soon as I saw them I burst into tears.  I knew I would have a long journey ahead of me to recover but with my friends and family now close by I was going to be more comfortable.  Below is a photo taken just before my staples were to be removed.




Hydro What???

What is Hydrocephalus I hear you ask well the term hydrocephalus is from the Greek words “hydro” meaning water and “cephalus” meaning head. As the name implies, it is a condition in which the primary characteristic is excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. Although hydrocephalus was once known as “water on the brain,” the “water” is actually cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) — a clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

The excessive accumulation of CSF results in an abnormal widening of spaces in the brain called ventricles. This widening creates potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain.

The ventricular system is made up of four ventricles connected by narrow passages. Normally, CSF flows through the ventricles, exits into cisterns (closed spaces that serve as reservoirs) at the base of the brain, bathes the surfaces of the brain and spinal cord, and then reabsorbs into the bloodstream.

CSF has three important life-sustaining functions which are to keep the brain tissue buoyant, acting as a cushion or “shock absorber”, to act as the vehicle for delivering nutrients to the brain and removing waste; and to flow between the cranium and spine and compensate for changes in intracranial blood volume (the amount of blood within the brain).

What is the current treatment?

Hydrocephalus is most often treated by surgically inserting a shunt system. This system diverts the flow of CSF to another area of the body where it can be absorbed.

A shunt is a flexible but sturdy plastic tube, a catheter, and a valve. One end of the catheter is placed within a ventricle inside the brain or in the CSF outside the spinal cord. The other end of the catheter is commonly placed within the abdominal cavity, but may also be placed at other sites in the body such as the heart or areas around the lung. A valve located along the catheter maintains one-way flow and regulates the rate of CSF flow.

Shunts are not perfect and can malfunction. Complications may include mechanical failure, infections, obstructions, and the need to lengthen or replace the catheter. Generally, shunt systems require monitoring and regular medical follow up. When complications occur, subsequent surgery to replace the failed part or the entire shunt system may be needed.

Some complications can lead to other problems such as overdraining or underdraining. Overdraining is when the shunt allows CSF to drain from the ventricles more quickly than it is produced. Overdraining can cause the ventricles to collapse, tearing blood vessels and causing headache, hemorrhage , or slit-like ventricles (slit ventricle syndrome). Underdraining occurs when CSF is not removed quickly enough and the symptoms of hydrocephalus recur. In addition to the common symptoms of hydrocephalus, infections from a shunt may also produce symptoms such as a low-grade fever, soreness of the neck or shoulder muscles, and redness or tenderness along the shunt tract. When there is reason to suspect that a shunt system is not functioning properly (for example, if the symptoms of hydrocephalus return), medical attention should be sought immediately.