Every day, new smart home accessories go online for the first time to join the Internet of Things (IoT). Many of them enjoy the unwarranted trust of their owners. This blog post is a case study of the haunted smart home.
Earlier this year, I visited my family for a few days. After sitting and talking at the kitchen table for a bit, they told me about their new smart wall plugs that integrate into their Apple Home ecosystem. Using the plugs, they can turn on their kitchen lights from their phones — or automatically at sunset. Pretty cool. After I had a closer look at one of the plugs, I searched for the brand on the Internet, because I had never heard of it. Turns out, these “Meross Smart Plugs” are the first item that pops up on Amazon when you search for a HomeKit-compatible socket outlet that can switch “dumb” devices like lamps, coffee makers or hi-fi equipment on and off. At the time of writing, they cost about 17 € apiece.
As I had never heard of the brand and I would consider myself somewhat of a curious person, I thought it’d be a good idea to see if it was possible to control these plugs without being a part of the smart home environment. So I continued chatting with my family while investigating the local network.
In today’s world, video conferencing is getting more and more important – be it for learning, business events or social interaction in general. Most people use one of the big players like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, which both have their share of privacy issues. However, there is an alternative approach: self-hosting open-source software like Jitsi Meet. In this article, we are going to explore the different scaling options for deploying anything from a single Jitsi server to a sharded Kubernetes cluster.
As a part of the lecture “Software Development for Cloud Computing” our task was to bring an application into a cloud environment. When we presented our software project MUM at the Media Night in our 4th semester, we talked with a few people about dockerizing MUM together with a whole email server configuration. While brainstorming a project idea for the lecture, we remembered these conversations. And since Docker by itself would not have fulfilled all of our requirements, we decided to create a Kubernetes cluster that would house a complete email server environmen and would be even easier to install. That way we could learn more about containerization and how clustering with Kubernetes works.
How Does Email Work?
First of all, we need to make a small trip to the world of emails to better understand what we actually wanted to do.