Friday, November 30, 2007

Home Automation Forums

As I stated in my previous Blog entry there are a number of forums for those interested in HA. I particularly like visiting Domotica Europe and Cocoontech. Domotica Europe is nice because I get to see what the folks in Europe are using. Here's the list:

  • Domotica Europe - The rest of the world refers to home automation as Domotics or Domotica and these forums are for those who are in Europe and surrounding areas and are interested in Domotics.
  • Cocoontech - General Home Automation sites. Has coverage for HA, Home theater, home security and wiring.
  • Smarthome forums - Smart Home Automation product forums and general HA topics.
  • Automated - UK
  • X10 Wireless Forums - Forums related to the X10 products, not just wireless.
  • EIB Forums - Forums for EIB and KNX home automation.
  • Linux Smart Homes For Dummies - These are my forums for my book and general home automation (not just Linux)
  • comp.home.automation - the Usenet newsgroup for everything home automated.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Neat technology!

So I'm having a very good week, I've apparently won over $90 Billion in European Lotto (from several different countries) and now that I have a home, car and wife I apparently need a big chicken (I didn't know Viagra would make chickens grow!?!). ;-) Also it seems that the Nigerian upper-class are all dieing off and leaving there money untouched. Since I have such an honest face they're asking me to help them (good thing I won all that money, now I can be very philanthropic and earn money too).

Note: I work for AT&T in the labs so I'm giving, what I think, is my honest opinion keep in mind that I work for the company whose products I'm touting. Also note that I am not speaking for AT&T here. Just thought you aught to know.

Anyway, more to the point. I had been giving Google's Android (Open Handset Alliance) a lot of thought and easily realized that the 'cell phone' is going to be the gateway to remote access to your home. AT&T Wireless recently came out with a way to remotely monitor you home. The service is called AT&T Remote Monitoring service. It provides a way for you to remotely monitor your home through your cell phone. I expect to see more services being provided to the consumers with more home automation and security being tied to remote access to you home (via video, audio and application access). And why would consumers being interested in this? Well it I'd like to know when my fire alarm goes off, or a security alarm or any number of other things. I'd guess that a number of security services provide something of this nature (if they don't they should!). As a DIY'r I could easily have my Misterhouse system send me an SMS message. I'd then access my home's camera system from my cell phone and look around or I can pull up my home's layout from Misterhouse and see what went off (fire, security, etc).

To that extent I got to drool as my friend Joe (he has the neatest toys!) showed me his latest. Joe picked up a nice Pantech Duo (Windows Mobile CE) with the AT&T Wireless data plan at the Black Friday Sale ($99 US for the phone)! He then proceeded to demonstrated accessing his Slingbox over the 3G (and Edge) networks (we have a micro-cell in our building and we know where the edges of the zones are - remember we're labs folks we're supposed to know this stuff ;-). The TV program played real nice over the 3G network, over the edge network it dropped a little bit because Joe didn't tuned the stream for the smaller bandwidth. He also displayed his cameras (lovely view) and he was able to access his home server. This was the kind of stuff I expect to see out of Android and the Open Handset Alliance. But please note, you have to make sure you purchase the correct data service to support you communications needs.

PS: To the folks who have contacted me about various home automation questions, keep 'em coming and I answer as quickly as I can. I've been surprised at the number of inqueries about HA I've been getting (I get about 10 messages a day on the subject). I think the next blog entry I post will be about the forums that are available.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Busy, busy, busy!

Yes, I'm busy! ;-) Right now I'm winding down to my semester finals in 2 courses (shouldn't that be winding up?). I've been asked to do presentations on Home Automation/Domotica for 3 local user groups here in NJ over the next few month and I'm hoping to also do a presentation at the Trenton Computer Festival at the College of NJ on April 25 - 27th. Right now my presentation is about 150 pages long and growing. Despite the fact that it's growing I'll be able to trim it down to a more manageable size. I'm hoping to have something special for TCF but I'm not willing to talk about it at this time as it's not complete. In fact it's just in the planing state. It seems that the one presentation document can become many presentations. There's a piece on my book (Linux Smart Homes For Dummies), Misterhouse, an intro to HA, explanations of what HA is, the types of connectivity, products, protocols, software for Linux, Windows and Mac and low, and even mid and high end systems. The final material for the presentation will be on my web site under HA Presentation on my site. Right now it's just a rough outline of the slides. Oh be careful if you copy the material I have permission to use the images from various vendors but that may not extend to other using these slide.