Archive for the ‘Shion’ Category

Shion’s New Eyes

September 19th, 2010

Shion 3.0a7 introduced the new Camera device and I wanted to share some information about this new feature and how to use it.

The rationale behind including this device type is that in this day and age, it’s difficult to purchase a new Apple computer that doesn’t include a webcam of some sort and I thought that it might be useful to put these devices to work in the same way we use other kinds of sensors within Shion. It you happen to use multiple computers with cameras, we can put this mostly-neglected hardware to use with Shion. No home automation hardware is necessary to use this device.

Camera Device

In short, the camera interface consists of two main elements: the image list view and the preview window. Clicking “+” and “-” will capture and remove images from the device’s list, while clicking the magnifying glass icon will toggle a preview window that displays the selected item in the list. To look at other images, simply select them from the list and the window will update automatically.

Read more for details…

Shion 3.0α7

September 18th, 2010

Shion 3.0α7 is now available.

Please read the following release notes carefully.

This is an alpha release for Shion 3. This software is still very much under construction and has some very rough edges. In no particular order, some of the current major issues:

1. The RemoteBuddy interface remains unimplemented.

2. The DVR, Bluetooth, GPS, and camera devices have not yet been implemented.

3. The menu items leading to Shion web pages remain incomplete, pending the completion of the new Shion website.

4. Networked controller support (SmartLinc, EZServe) is not present in this release.

5. Sprinkler support is currently missing.

6. Changes in the device configuration from the preferences panel (modem & controllers) require an application restart to take effect.

7. (Shion 2 Users) You will need to reenter your devices, as the migration code is not yet complete.

This release introduces the following improvements:

1. A variety of bug fixes & user interface improvements.

2. Support for mobile devices running the Shion Touch application.

3. Support for built-in cameras (e.g. iSight) for use as an image logging device.

This alpha release is not intended for production use and is mainly intended to solicit feedback on the direction of the product. This release has been tested with the PowerLinc 2414U, PowerLinc 2412U/S, CM11A, and CM15A controllers.

Shion: Location-based Home Automation

August 17th, 2010

After a busy week of client work, I spent most of today hacking on Shion. For the past couple of months, I wanted to implement location-based home automation (e.g. “activate Snapshot FOO when I go more than 5 miles from home”), so I spent the day doing just that:

Shion Location Based Services

Rather than treat mobile clients as invisible participants in the Shion ecosystem, I went ahead and made them full peers of the other devices in the network. Doing so made it convenient for me to gather information from the devices (phones as sensors) and send instructions to the mobile client (phones as controllable devices). If you click through to the higher-resolution version of the screenshot, you’ll see that Shion gathers location information from the mobile clients and provides a “beacon” command that plays a unique sound on the mobile client (for those times when you unwittingly lose it between the couch cushion). For those concerned with sharing too much location information, a preference on the iPhone app allows it to go into private mode: beacon commands can be sent, but location data stays on the device. Since Shion does not store any of this information on a server (information passes through, but doesn’t stick around in the online components), it provides a secure alternative to other server-centric location-based services. The online service is only the conduit for passing the information from your phone to your Mac.

For those willing to share location information with their copies of Shion, a variety of interesting possibilities open up:

  1. Shion can be used to define geographically-aware “zones” that associate a particular geography with an action (activate a snapshot, execute an AppleScript, etc.)
  2. Shion can be used to track the location of several mobile devices simultaneously. This is much like Apple’s “Find My iPhone”, but will work on any client or device equipped with some form of geolocation functionality. On my own roadmap are Android and WebOS devices. (Both of those platforms will actually implement a richer feature set than the iOS devices on account of their unfettered multitasking abilities.)
  3. By hooking into the Events system in Shion, this feature an be used to draw a map of your travels over a given period of time. Don’t remember where you saw that interesting shop? Look it up on your copy of Shion.

I’m very excited about this feature and feel that I’m only scratching the surface of the possibilities. Location-awareness will be available in the next releases of Shion & Shion Touch.

Free Shion 2 License Update

August 9th, 2010

Despite my requests for users to migrate to Shion 3 for their home automation needs, I still receive regular requests for Shion 2 licenses. I’ve been slow to respond to these requests, to expedite the process, I’ve uploaded a generic license to unlock Shion 2. Feel free to download this license (Right-click, “Save As”…) to unlock Shion 2 without e-mailing me.

Moving forward, I encourage all Shion 2 users to at least try Shion 3 for your home automation needs. Shion 3 is now the active development version of Shion and it is superior to Shion 2 in terms of reliability, device support, user interface, and mobile access. If you’re a Shion 3 user and interested in beta testing the companion iPhone client, send a note to shion@audacious-software.com and I’ll get you started with the iPhone app. (Recently updated for iOS4!)

Shion 3.0α6

July 13th, 2010

Shion 3.0α6 is now available.

Please read the following release notes carefully.

This is an alpha release for Shion 3. This software is still very much under construction and has some very rough edges. In no particular order, some of the current major issues:

1. The RemoteBuddy interface remains unimplemented.

2. The DVR, Bluetooth, GPS, and camera devices have not yet been implemented.

3. The menu items leading to Shion web pages remain incomplete, pending the completion of the new Shion website.

4. Networked controller support (SmartLinc, EZServe) is not present in this release.

5. Sprinkler support is currently missing.

6. Changes in the device configuration from the preferences panel (modem & controllers) require an application restart to take effect.

7. (Shion 2 Users) You will need to reenter your devices, as the migration code is not yet complete.

This release introduces the following improvements:

1. Improved main pane UI. Snapshots and triggers are now visible in the history views. Furthermore, you can now click devices in the history view to navigate to the actual device.

2. The Events window has been fleshed out to allow filtering per device, trigger, and snapshot.

3. Bug fixes in the Shion framework to address broken thermostat functionality..

This alpha release is not intended for production use and is mainly intended to solicit feedback on the direction of the product. This release has been tested with the PowerLinc 2414U, PowerLinc 2412U/S, CM11A, and CM15A controllers.

Please submit any feedback in the comments below.

Shion 3.0α5

July 4th, 2010

Shion 3.0α5 is now available.

Please read the following release notes carefully.

This is an early alpha release for Shion 3. This software is still very much under construction and has some very rough edges. In no particular order, some of the current major issues:

1. The RemoteBuddy interface remains unimplemented.

2. The DVR, Bluetooth, GPS, and camera devices have not yet been implemented.

3. The menu items leading to Shion web pages remain incomplete, pending the completion of the new Shion website.

4. Networked controller support (SmartLinc, EZServe) is not present in this release.

5. Sprinkler support is currently missing.

6. Changes in the device configuration from the preferences panel (modem & controllers) require an application restart to take effect.

7. (Shion 2 Users) You will need to reenter your devices, as the migration code is not yet complete.

This release introduces the following improvements:

1. Better support for CM11A & CM15A X10 controllers. In particular, Shion’s CM15A support should be much more robust. (There is an issue sending DIM commands from that controller – a fix is in the works.)

2. The Events window has been integrated into the main Console window. This section will become better fleshed out in the next couple of releases.

3. Support for triggers in Shion Touch.

Note to testers: A lot of effort has been spent improving the performance of the CM15A & CM11A controllers. Please post a comment or send feedback if you continue to experience problems with these devices.

This alpha release is not intended for production use and is mainly intended to solicit feedback on the direction of the product. This release has been tested with the PowerLinc 2414U, PowerLinc 2412U/S, CM11A, and CM15A controllers.

Please submit any feedback in the comments below.

Shion 3.0α4

June 20th, 2010

Shion 3.0α4 is now available.

Please read the following release notes carefully.

This is an early alpha release for Shion 3. This software is still very much under construction and has some very rough edges. In no particular order, some of the current major issues:

1. The RemoteBuddy interface remain unimplemented.

2. The DVR, Bluetooth, GPS, and camera devices have not yet been implemented.

3. The menu items leading to Shion web pages remain incomplete, pending the completion of the new Shion website.

4. Networked controller support (SmartLinc, EZServe) is not present in this release.

5. Sprinkler support is currently missing.

6. Changes in the device configuration from the preferences panel (modem & controllers) require an application restart to take effect.

7. (Shion 2 Users) You will need to reenter your devices, as the migration code is not yet complete.

This release introduces the following improvements:

1. Better support for PowerLinc 2414U & CM15A controllers.

2. Improved Shion Framework for hardware device communication.

3. Temperature trigger support. (e.g. “Execute snapshot “All off” when temperature drops below 70 degrees.”)

4. Improved Shion XMPP dialog support. (Requires Shion Online account.)

Note to testers: A lot of effort has been spent improving the performance of the CM15A and PowerLinc 2414U controllers. Please post a comment or send feedback if you continue to experience problems with these devices.

This alpha release is not intended for production use and is mainly intended to solicit feedback on the direction of the product. This release has been tested with the PowerLinc 2414U, PowerLinc 2412U/S, CM11A, and CM15A controllers.

Please submit any feedback in the comments below.

Shion 3.0α3

June 9th, 2010

Shion 3.0α3 is now available.

Please read the following release notes carefully.

This is the initial alpha release for Shion 3. This software is still very much under construction and has some very rough edges. In no particular order, some of the current major issues:

1. The RemoteBuddy, XMPP dialog, and other non-GUI interfaces remain unimplemented.

2. The DVR, Bluetooth, GPS, and camera devices have not yet been implemented.

3. The menu items leading to Shion web pages remain incomplete, pending the completion of the new Shion website.

4. Networked controller support (SmartLinc, EZServe) is not present in this release.

5. Sprinkler support is currently missing.

6. Changes in the device configuration from the preferences panel (modem & controllers) require an application restart to take effect.

7. (Shion 2 Users) You will need to reenter your devices, as the migration code is not yet complete.

This release introduces the following improvements:

1. Better support for Mac OS X 10.4 and PowerPC configurations.

2. Improved Shion Framework for hardware device communication.

3. Snapshot support for thermostats.

4. Initial AppleScript support. (Refer to the AppleScript dictionary for details.)

Note to testers: A lot of effort has been spent improving the performance of the CM15A and PowerLinc 2412S controllers. Please post a comment or send feedback if you continue to experience problems with these devices.

This alpha release is not intended for production use and is mainly intended to solicit feedback on the direction of the product. This release has been tested with the PowerLinc 2414U, PowerLinc 2412U/S, CM11A, and CM15A controllers.

Please submit any feedback in the comments below.

Shion 3 & custom web interfaces

June 1st, 2010

I’ve received a few queries over e-mail about Shion 3 and support for custom web interfaces in light of the impending release of the Shion online service later this summer. I’ve responded over e-mail, but figured that I should post some comments here as well.

First of all, to give some background, the scenario I’m addressing is one where a Shion user creates a custom set of PHP pages (or web framework of choice) that they host on a local machine (running Shion) to expose a web interface for devices like an iPad. Mr Flibble, a UK-based Shion user, has done exactly that.

I want to state unequivocally that I have no problem with Shion 3 users deciding to create their own web interfaces in lieu of subscribing to the Shion online service. Shion 3 will continue to support the AppleScript functionality that is used to bridge the Objective-C & PHP worlds. I can’t (technologically) prevent such third party activities without completely ditching the scripting functionality, which I am unwilling to do for a variety of reasons.

Furthermore, I respect the do-it-yourself ethos of the home automation community. Given that the typical member of the current home automation community is pretty technologically savvy, they’re going to build their web interface somehow. I’d rather that they build upon my platform and send me comments about my application instead of submitting that precious feedback to a competitor. The Shion platform is still in its early phases, and I can use all of the comments and suggestions that I can get. :-)

So, if anyone will be allowed to create their own free Shion 3 web interface, how do I plan on competing with a subscription-based online service? Several ways:

  1. Simplicity & reliability: Setting up Shion and a client to connect to each other is simply a matter of entering a username and password. There’s no need to mess with system settings to configure ports, set up and maintain a web server for serving the pages, or worry about forwarding ports and maintaining a dynamic DNS name for use outside your home.
  2. Rich client support: The native Shion clients on mobile platforms will include features and functionality that are simply not present in web interfaces. This includes efficient two-way real-time communication between Shion nodes, location awareness, and AI-assisted user interfaces that learn to present you with an optimal interface based upon location, time of day, and other factors.
  3. Ubiquitous client support: As I’ve mentioned before, my goal is to display a Shion user interface on any device or medium that will support it. Mobile phones and Internet-capable portable devices are the first targets on the list, but I have plans to support Shion on your television, e-book reader, instant messaging client, digital picture frame, and so on. Traditional Web interfaces are nice (and the Shion online service will include one as well), but there are many more options for control that have remained largely untapped by the current crop of home automation developers.

These are admittedly some grand goals, but perfectly attainable over the next year or so. My task is not only to think about optimal web interfaces, but also to think beyond web interfaces to create an environment where users can monitor and control their environments independent of the presence of a web browser. My belief is that as I bring more of these interfaces online, a sufficient number of users will recognize the value provided by being a Shion subscriber to make this a sustainable enterprise.

Shion 3.0α2

May 31st, 2010

Shion 3.0α2 is now available.

Please read the following release notes carefully.

This is the initial alpha release for Shion 3. This software is still very much under construction and has some very rough edges. In no particular order, some of the current major issues:

1. The AppleScript, RemoteBuddy, XMPP dialog, and other non-GUI interfaces remain unimplemented.

2. The DVR, Bluetooth, GPS, and camera devices have not yet been implemented.

3. The menu items leading to Shion web pages remain incomplete, pending the completion of the new Shion website.

4. Networked controller support (SmartLinc, EZServe) is not present in this release.

5. Sprinkler support is currently missing.

6. Changes in the device configuration from the preferences panel (modem & controllers) require an application restart to take effect.

7. You will need to reenter your devices, as the migration code is not yet complete.

This release introduces the following improvements:

1. Better support for Mac OS X 10.4 and PowerPC configurations.

2. Improved Shion Framework for hardware device communication.

4. Improved support for the new Shion Online service. (Beta testers, setup instructions will be arriving shortly.)

This alpha release is not intended for production use and is mainly intended to solicit feedback on the direction of the product. This release has been tested with the PowerLinc 2414U, PowerLinc 2412U/S, CM11A, and CM15A controllers.

Please submit any feedback in the comments below.

Update: I’m noticing some bugs in extended testing using the PowerLinc 2412S with a KeySpan adapter on PowerPC platforms (10.4 & 10.5). I’m working on a fix and should have an update out shortly.