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September 2010
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November 2010

A new Curio

Zengobi has announced a new version of Curio that includes an impressive list of new features and changes. I've been using Curio Professional for a lot of years now and find it invaluable as an idea incubator.

A few years ago we completely remodeled our bathrooms and I used Curio to track every aspect of the project. From the very early "idea" stages where I stashed away notes and URLs, all the way to the end-game where I gathered all of the invoices and contracts for easy reference. Here's a screenshot that shows my "binder" for the project, each invoice is listed on the left along with the embedded PDF of the invoice on the right side.

curio_bathroom.jpg

I haven't tried out the new Curio 7 yet, but I look forward to giving it a spin soon. Curio isn't an inexpensive piece of software, but its depth and usefulness make it well worth considering.


Control your Mac from iPhone using HomeControl

Brett Terpstra has cooked up HomeControl, a method of using web sharing to control the host Mac, using a iOS-like web app interface. You'll need a little command line familiarity to get it running, but it's not too difficult, and if you're really into it you can go crazy and make it do even more. There's a demo movie that will give you a taste of what it's like.

See also the Macworld article about HomeControl.


Monitor appliance power status with INSTEON

One of the major obstacles that D.I.Y. home automators have to face is how to tie-in appliances and other equipment that isn't automation-ready. In the X10 world, there are a number of specialized techniques (see Smart Home Hacks) but they're often Rube Goldberg-esque in their approach.

Smarthome is introducing a new module that promises to blow those old methods out of the water. The new SynchroLinc monitors the power status of any device and sends an INSTEON signal when it is turned on or off.

You could use this, for example, to trigger a home automation sequence when you turn on the TV. Or, have your house respond when the garage door is triggered. What's most impressive is that the SynchroLinc offers a calibration step that should, in theory, allow it to detect power changes in most any device. (Including those that have "soft on/off," such as many AV components these days.)

The SynchroLink isn't shipping yet, but should be available by December. The pre-ordering page says it's a reasonable $40.

If you try it out, please do let me know of your experience. As you can tell, I'm very much looking forward to it myself.