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April 2007
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June 2007

New Internet-ready INSTEON controller

This looks quite promising, a new standalone smart controller for INSTEON devices that is programmed using your web browser. The Universal Devices Bridge/Controller is described as supporting timed events, triggers, and email/SMS notifications. You program the box using a browser-based Java applet, and of course with the proper network settings you can access it across the Internet, from anywhere.

The obvious appeal of this type of device is that it might have just enough "smarts" to support a moderately sophisticated automated home without the necessity of dedicating an always-on personal computer to the task. While this has been possible with other dedicated home controllers for quite some time, the low-cost and ability to program the device using a web browser could make it really stand out in the market. Another good score for INSTEON, in my book.

The user's guide is available from the manufacturer: PDF

Remote home monitoring on the rise

The Chicago Tribune article Online view closest to being there by Barbara Rose discusses the practice of using webcams to monitor your pet, children, and property. Citing a Parks Associates study, approximately 1.1 million US households currently do this, and that number is projected to grow to 3.7 million by 2010. (For a total of about 3% of US households.)

You can jump on the bandwagon now by reading my article Home Petcams Made Easy.

Concerning those who live "off the grid"

If you're going to be in your current home for several years, you might consider taking the next step in serious automation. Adding energy-producing equipment that, if done completely, allows you to run a self-sustaining home, also known as being "off the grid." See Chicago Tribune: More folks amped up over going 'off-grid' for a story about what it's like. If you're serious, then the book Off The Grid is the latest word on alternative energy.

MUUG Redux

Meeting the folks at the Manitoba Unix Users Group was a real treat. They're excellent hosts, and the crowd that came to see my presentation at the beautiful, new Millennium Library was engaged and asked many great questions. It was fun to wander around Winnipeg a bit before I left, where I spent a very nice morning snapping photos and learning about a city and province I was generally ignorant about before. I hope to make it back for a leisurely visit sometime.

Here are the collected links from my presentation and the discussion afterwards. Thanks to everyone who came and especially the MUUG board for their hospitality.

Finally, you can see a list of all the home automation topics I've written about at this site.