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Frustrated with home automation software

pete_c

Guru
Moral: To reduce frustration, keep your HA system standalone. I'm contemplating getting an Intel NUC or something small for CQC, and putting WHS back on that. But its hard to justify spending incremental time to build another box, move all the crap over to a new server, just so I can get TTS working. I have a lot of non-HA demands on my time, and don't feel like piddling with this.
 
+1
 
Curious about your WHS justification? 
 
Is it because all of the network connected devices on your home network is Wintel (PCs, Laptops, Tablets and Phones)?
 
Here over the years and relating to the expansion of what my Homeseer box was doing and connected to decided it was better to keep it on one box.  There are a few Homeseer users utilizing Homeseer in Wintel VM's today and while it's working fine; it's not talking to 20 pieces of autonomous hardware that is serially, USB or network connected.
 
Ideally one multiple automation protocol firmware hub is one solution; "ISY994i controller supports ZWave, Insteon, Zigbee, IR, and X10 from built in cards" .
 
Ideally too if the hub has some built in smarts to be able to say do simple scheduling and a few scripted events also works well. 
 

pete_c

Guru
As of late Vista and Win7, regular TTS commands stopped working from a service, because presumably the OS just doesn't set up the connection to the audio outputs in a service anymore. So any TTS commands that you run from the background (event server mostly) you won't hear anymore. So we creates a speech driver that handles the conversion of text to audio itself and spools that audio out via an audio output in the way an audio player would, effectively providing the TTS functionality ourselves to get around this limitation. Too bad they did that, but gotta adapt and move forward.
 
Yesterday compared the speech response times relating to using Wintel SAPI on a Wintel touchscreen remote controlling the SAPI speech and using the translation of speech bits to wave files.  Big difference.  It was slower and I was not impressed.   Homeseer started to do this with their touchscreen clients a few years ago.  I never liked the "feature" and stuck to using Microsoft SAPI for my TTS.   Personally its a regression of sorts using the "easy button".  Doing similiar with an Android touchscreen client is so slow I shut it off.  These days playing with Linux-SAPI; but its still really Microsoft SAPI running in Linux and it still works much quicker than playing back an audio file.  
 

IVB

Senior Member
100% of the reason is because CQC was 100% functional on there. Moving to Win7 created the TTS issue. I think I tried the new driver once, couldn't get it working in "less than 2 full minutes" timeframe, but the whole server re-architecture & rebuild had taken far longer than planned so I just stopped trying.
 
Despite what I was like back when I was active here (2008?), I no longer get enjoyment from fiddling with my setup to keep it working, just because M$ decided to change something. I really am leaning towards just buying a low power second box (and ignoring the VM idea), so I can have an Elk-like setup. SSD so no moving parts and low heat, I can wallmount it somewhere, and not touch the darn thing for years on end. (BTW, at one point I had my CQC/SageTV server running for 23 months without ever even being rebooted, god that was nice.)
pete_c said:
+1
 
Curious about your WHS justification? 
 

pete_c

Guru
Thanks IVB.

Here have always used Windows 2003 32 bit server for Homeseer. It is sort of customized and utilizing less than 10Gb's today of space. I have also utilized Windows 2003 64bit with SAPI and it worked well with Homeseer.

Relating to storage today I do have one headless 4 drive hot swap NAS box running with embedded windows server. It does OK. It does have two redundant power supplies which are very loud. Too loud for me.

The 3 other NAS boxes are using embedded Linux and personally I like them better.

My last attempt to update the OS of Homeseer had me playing with the "el cheapo" version of WHS 64 bit which had stripped out much of the old functioning stuff that was based on the old Windows Server 2003 WHS base. I had to modify it a whole bunch to get SAPI to run on it. I did but it was a kludge and not a plug n play use of Windows Server for personal software automation. That said I have read that going to Windows Server Essentials 2012 would work just fine. I have not tried it and have switched over to Linux Ubuntu Server 64bit these days.

I am building a new low powered and quick Homeseer server box. Well two of them. One will be based in Wintel running most current OS in 64 bit mode and the other server running Linux Ubuntu 64bit using the 4th generation I series Haswell chipset. The PC will have 8-16Gb of memory, Hawell Intel chip and a tiny mSATA 120gb drive in the smallest footprint for a mini itx board that I have found. I am using a PicoPSU PS (I am today running two servers using these little PSU's). The two boxes will run headless and be attached to the Home Automation gizmo wall. (next to the 42" Leviton Can / two HAI cans).

Always liked TTS / VR (since around 1980-81). Never really utilized VR though with Homeseer over the years. It did work though. Recently purchase a "few" Microsoft Kinects to start to play again with this stuff.

My very first combo security automation panel from the 1980's had x10 and TTS built in. It was large and a PITA to program with leds and buttons.

Also purchased the new Amazon Echo to play with. I like talking to my phone but it is not an appendage to me and I shut it off when I am home or it just sits in its charging cradle.

Testing Homeseer 3 today and personally it runs much quicker in Linux than in Wintel. But that is me and the proof will be in the pudding of my two new boxes.

You can stick the Pico PC (NUC) inside of your Elk M1 panel and run it headless and never have to do anything with it as it would have no moving parts and you could power it from your Elk M1.
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
LarrylLix said:
Perhaps you have been misinformed regarding Insteon.
The ISY994i controller supports ZWave, Insteon, Zigbee, IR, and X10 from built in cards. With it's Ethernet access it controls almost every lighting and gadget hub without further hardware additions. It also sports a bi-directional REST interface for hooking in mobile gadgets, loggers, Sonos, Philips, TCP. Insteon equipment is made by about a dozen manufacturers and typically cheaper than most others, except for obsolete X10 modules.
 
I still use a few X10 modules, MSes, and keypads but am migrating to Insteon and Philips using the ISY994i controller. Many ISY994i users use multiple other protocols together in a co-ordinated HA system with the ISY controller. Most Insteon modules can accept direct controls from X10 initiators without use of any smart controller. I do not know why I would migrate further over the next few decades. Constant reports from other system users demonstrate the Insteon system to be one of the best so far.
 
Not sure if that was in response to me, but if so, I would just throw out:
 
1. Media browsing and media playback
2. USB devices
3. Sexy, highly customizable graphical touch screen interfaces
4. Maybe wrong about this one but can the ISY do AES, Blowfish or public key encryption, which is required by various devices or online sources.
5. Text to speech
6. Voice command (CQC doesn't do this, but some do.)
7. Telephony (CQC isn't there on that one yet, but will be before long.)
8. Run other programs on board that provide ancillary functionality (SQL database, media managers, etc...)
9. Does the ISY do IR receiving or blasting?
10. Multi-zone audio output
 
Not that the ISY is bad product or anything, it does an awful lot for such a small widget, but ultimately it can't compete on features with systems that have the full resources of a modern PC operating system and hardware available to them. And these days a lot of the above would be considered core stuff for a full fledged automation solution, particularly media management.
 

IVB

Senior Member
pete_c said:
Also purchased the new Amazon Echo to play with.  I like talking to my phone but it is not an appendage to me and I shut it off when I am home or it just sits in its charging cradle.
 
Actually, one thing I was contemplating doing between client projects was enhancing my AutoVoice. I had it working great if you pressed a button to activate it, but I hear with Lollipop you can use just "Ok Google" to wake it up. (I know that works on my phone for regular search just fine, not sure about having AutoVoice interecept it).  have a Nexus 7 I don't use so I could leave it in the kitchen wallmount plugged in 24x7, maybe even a cheap 5.0 device for the MBR. I own a Moto360 which I leave on the dock near the LivRm/front door, now i'm curious if I could loudly say "ok google" and have it wake up and kick off a command.
 
CQC has a mechanism to use web URLs via its web server to pass commands in. IE, I could hit http://IVBhouse.dyndns.com:12345/action=MBR_Lights_On and CQC would pick that up and do whatever action I had coded behind that string. (caveat: I did that URL from memory, may not be exactly correct). If HomeSeer has the equivalent, VR would be pretty darn easy with Android.
 
The bad (but very good) news is that my current client is up this Friday, but the next client wants me to start Monday morning. Good for making money, but less good for dabbling in projects. I can hire handymen to do the house projects, but not the HA ones.
 

BobS0327

Active Member
Not that the ISY is bad product or anything, it does an awful lot for such a small widget, but ultimately it can't compete on features with systems that have the full resources of a modern PC operating system and hardware available to them. And these days a lot of the above would be considered core stuff for a full fledged automation solution, particularly media management.
 
I don't think the Insteon hub was  designed to be anything other than a relay hub to/from the cloud services.  Similiar to the other hubs on the market such as Wink, SmartThings, Iris etc. Functionality such as fancy GUI interfaces would be provided by the devices on the Insteon peer to peer network.
 
I'm not that familiar with Insteon.  So, I'll give an example with a framework that I have some experience with.  The Allseen Alliance provides an open source IOT framework called Alljoyn.  The devices in the framework communicate directly with one another as opposed to communicating with a server as in the client/server model.  For example, the applications on IOT device A communicate directly with the applications on IOT device B.  This is done by having device A put data on a data bus and device B which is constantly monitoring the data bus, will extract any data addressed to it and act appropriately on that data.  Sensors can range from a simple temperature sensor to a touch screen console. In an Alljoyn framework, a server will act as nothing more than a gateway to/from the cloud services.  
 
It's my understanding that Insteon aligned itself with Apple on the Homekit project.  So, I would assume that Insteon will become more "Homekit" like.
 
All the frameworks, protocols, common, open, closed etc that are starting to appear, have only one thing in common.  They all use peer to peer communication in one form or another.  As these newer frameworks become more accepted, they will eventually make the older client server models such as my HAI Omni Pro II obsolete.
 
 
 
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
IVB said:
I did a massive upgrade of my server so I could set up Plex to transcode multiple HD streams on the fly to the recipient box 
 
 
Disk space is cheap, why not just transcode them ahead of time?  That and spinning rust likely consumes less power anyway.
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
BobS0327 said:
For example, the applications on IOT device A communicate directly with the applications on IOT device B.  This is done by having device A put data on a data bus and device B which is constantly monitoring the data bus, will extract any data addressed to it and act appropriately on that data. 
 
OK, and how does B know how to react? That has to be configured, it's not going to just know what to do. That has to be stored somewhere, therefore it's not really any different, unless it's stored all over the place in various devices, which would be a horrible way to try to coordinate various devices together, and a nightmare to manage over time. If it's not stored in the target device, it's got to be stored somewhere and effectively that becomes the central controller one way or another, even if that is 'in the cloud', which would be sort of the worst case 'central' controller.
 
BobS0327 said:
All the frameworks, protocols, common, open, closed etc that are starting to appear, have only one thing in common.  They all use peer to peer communication in one form or another.  As these newer frameworks become more accepted, they will eventually make the older client server models such as my HAI Omni Pro II obsolete.
 
Only in the low end, where HAI (now Lutron) really isn't interested in competing I'm sure.
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
IVB - also living in CA, I share your concerns about power - but chose to try to stick with a couple super-low powered machines instead of trying to build something large.  I think you can get a NUC with SSD down in the realm of an LED lightbulb in power consumption.  That beats a 1250watt power supply i'm sure.  That, and I like the 100% isolation for a stable HA system.
 

pete_c

Guru
@IVB
 
CQC has a mechanism to use web URLs via its web server to pass commands in. IE, I could hit http://IVBhouse.dynd...n=MBR_Lights_On and CQC would pick that up and do whatever action I had coded behind that string. (caveat: I did that URL from memory, may not be exactly correct). If HomeSeer has the equivalent, VR would be pretty darn easy with Android.
 
You can do this with Homeseer today.  I tested it yesterday per a users request relating to utilizing JSON.
 
hxxp://192.168.x.xxx/JSON?request=runevent&group=HEREGROUPNAME&name=HEREEVENTNAME
 
It worked fine with the Homeseer Zee (Linux) and Homeseer 3 Pro. (Linux).  I stil have a Wintel PC running HS3 but its been mostly off lately.
 
There is an Android speech plugin called SpeechDroid.
 
Say: Turn on the living room ceiling lamp
Say: Can you please turn on the ceiling lamp in living room
Say: Ceiling lamp in living room needs to turn on
Say: Power on the ceiling lamp in living room please
Say: Toggle the ceiling lamp in living room
Say: Please shut down the ceiling lamp in living room
 
Say: Hi Homeseer, please turn on bla hmm bla the ceiling lamp bla bla bla in living room bla bla
SpeechDroid analyze this: Hi Homeseer, please "TURN ON" bla hmm bla the "CEILING LAMP" bla bla bla in "LIVING ROOM" bla bla

If you stumble on the words and make mistakes, just keep talking the correct word in the same sentence.

Say: Event Name Trigger events name
 

pete_c

Guru
@Dean,
 
Relating to CQC and telephony.....will you be doing something with SIP stuff in the future?  Much of the time here use one way multiple recipient texting SMS stuff. 
 

ccthbsh01

Member
BobS0327 said:
Not that the ISY is bad product or anything, it does an awful lot for such a small widget, but ultimately it can't compete on features with systems that have the full resources of a modern PC operating system and hardware available to them. And these days a lot of the above would be considered core stuff for a full fledged automation solution, particularly media management.
 
I don't think the Insteon hub was  designed to be anything other than a relay hub to/from the cloud services.  Similiar to the other hubs on the market such as Wink, SmartThings, Iris etc. Functionality such as fancy GUI interfaces would be provided by the devices on the Insteon peer to peer network.
 
I'm not that familiar with Insteon.  So, I'll give an example with a framework that I have some experience with.  The Allseen Alliance provides an open source IOT framework called Alljoyn.  The devices in the framework communicate directly with one another as opposed to communicating with a server as in the client/server model.  For example, the applications on IOT device A communicate directly with the applications on IOT device B.  This is done by having device A put data on a data bus and device B which is constantly monitoring the data bus, will extract any data addressed to it and act appropriately on that data.  Sensors can range from a simple temperature sensor to a touch screen console. In an Alljoyn framework, a server will act as nothing more than a gateway to/from the cloud services.  
 
It's my understanding that Insteon aligned itself with Apple on the Homekit project.  So, I would assume that Insteon will become more "Homekit" like.
 
All the frameworks, protocols, common, open, closed etc that are starting to appear, have only one thing in common.  They all use peer to peer communication in one form or another.  As these newer frameworks become more accepted, they will eventually make the older client server models such as my HAI Omni Pro II obsolete.
 
 
 
Insteon Hub and ISY are completely different things.
 

IVB

Senior Member
wkearney99 said:
 
 
Disk space is cheap, why not just transcode them ahead of time?  That and spinning rust likely consumes less power anyway.
I have 11TB in TV recordings, growing by 1TB/month and another 6TB in movies and growing. I'd rather not have multiple formats/resolution to accommodate the various devices.
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
pete_c said:
@Dean,
 
Relating to CQC and telephony.....will you be doing something with SIP stuff in the future?  Much of the time here use one way multiple recipient texting SMS stuff. 
 
Yeh, moving in that direction. Currently, my 'side project' is RTP/RTCP, which are the fundamental bits that have to be in place first. Then RTSP, for simple session setup for things like music streaming, and a much simpler environment in which to test the RTP stuff. Then SIP on top.
 
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