Almost three years ago, deep in the pandemic, my kids got me my first Raspberry Pi. That started me on an adventure with Home Assistant, mostly because it was one of the first search results for "what to do with a Raspberry Pi."
At the start, the foray into Home Assistant was tentative, but what attracted me to it then only got more compelling over time. Being able to use devices from many different manufacturers, without getting stuck in any walled gardens, is still hugely important. I don't have to decide between an Apple home, an Amazon home, a Philips home or a Google home. With Home Assistant, I can make my home out of the best bits from (almost) anyone, using Home Assistant's integrations.
I'm continuing to use the Home Assistant Cloud service, which is provided by the company behind Home Assistant and helps fund its development. It allows me to connect to my server securely while out of the house. It's possible (easy, even) to set that up yourself, but I want to contribute in some way.