Archive for July, 2009

Shion + XMPP = Win

July 29th, 2009

While I continue to add new devices to Shion’s vocabulary, work’s also been underway on new ways to control Shion remotely. Pictured below is part of an Adium dialog between myself and Shion:

Shion: XMPP via Adium

The foundation of this functionality is the XMPP protocol. XMPP is an open standard for exchanging XML between nodes on a (often worldwide) network. Shion is using XMPP as a channel for receiving and responding to commands transmitted remotely.

The screenshot above shows a text dialog conducted via Adium. I also plan on including a full XML-based API for those of you wishing to write remote apps to control your environment.

I’m very excited about this, so stay tuned for more developments and further information.

Update: Here’s an equivalent view using the BeeJive IM client on the iPhone:

Shion XMPP using BeejiveIM

I verified that it was working from home using a combination of Back to My Mac, screen sharing, and Photo Booth on my office machine.

Shion Environments: Air conditioned third floor (& iPhone app)

July 28th, 2009

I’ve been running a bit behind in posting new Shion environment entries, but I was fortunate a couple of weeks ago to have one contributed by a user. Guillaume Boudreau had the problem of keeping his house cool, and decided to use Shion to help solve the problem:

“My central HVAC system has issues cooling down the 3rd floor of our house during the summer. Even with all 1st & 2nd floor traps closed, the system, which is in the basement, has difficulties cooling down the 3rd floor. The higher the exterior temperature, the higher the difference of temperature between the 1st and 3rd floors. The average difference is somewhere between 4 and 5°C, and I measured differences as high as 10°C in the beginning of the summer. That means if I set my (1st floor) thermostat to 23°C, the 3rd floor temperature can reach 33°C. Quite uncomfortable to watch TV or work at our desks / computers. Even more so since I installed a (ceiling-mounted) HD projector to replace our old plasma screen on the 3rd floor, where our home theater is setup. That thing will start making a lot of (fan) noise as the temperature climbs… And temperature can climb pretty fast at the highest point of the house!”

Read on to see how he solved this problem using Shion, an INSTEON ApplianceLinc, a portable air conditioner, and a custom-built iPhone app.

Shion 2.0.1b2

July 27th, 2009

Shion 2.0.1b2 is now available.

This is a beta update that fixes a variety of problems, including thermostat status reports, toggling devices with AppleScript, and excessive logging.

This release also includes full support for X10 chime devices (tested with the PHH02) and partial support for INSTEON motion detectors. I have the system working partially with the SkyLink #2420M device. (The only missing piece is are motion detection events — “Activate snapshot “Foo” when motion is detected by device “Bar” — but this will arrive in 2.0.1b3.)

I’ve also begun to experiment with alternative network status indications, so please let me know what you think of the current text display.

Please post any feedback in the comments.

Shion 2.0.1b1

July 15th, 2009

Shion 2.0.1b1 is now available.

This is a beta update that fixes a problem saving events and snapshots on 10.4 systems. Future beta updates will address other issues.

Please post any feedback in the comments.

A quick update

July 11th, 2009

It’s been a few weeks since I posted to this weblog and I’m overdue for an update. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, so please forgive my silence.

First of all, I wanted to report on what’s going on with Shion. Since the 2.0 release, I’ve received a number of bug reports and I’m working on the 2.0.1 release that will address these issues. In terms of device compatibility, I am also aiming to add support for the PowerLinc 1132U and EZFlora sprinkler controllers. I would like to include support for these in 2.0.1, but I will have to see how much time I have left after fixing bugs.

In terms of the overall project plan, I’m also reorganizing the project priorities a bit. The original plan was to release the desktop app, then an iPhone client, and finally some form of web interface. Since it seems that more people are interested in the functionality that the web interface can provide, I’m prioritizing that above the iPhone client for the time being. I hope to have something ready for my beta testers by the end of August.

I originally hoped to have more Shion-related progress to report by this time, but the realities of running a self-financed company have stepped in, and the majority of June was spent on the services side of the business, as opposed to the product side of the business. I’ve been hard at work on projects for the company’s clients and the work has been interesting and challenging. More important, however, is the fact that this work has allowed me to continue the business as the products spend time maturing and begin to take over bearing more of the financial burden.

Thank you for your patience and continued support,

Chris J. Karr, Founder & Chief Developer