Home Automation with Shion Online

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For about two years I’ve been using Embedded Automation’s mControl (version 2). It’s worked well though the main reason I continued using it was simply the cash I invested in it. However, since I don’t have a stand-alone Windows system running any more I’ve been using mControl within a virtual machine on my Mac.

Running the virtual machine has resulted in a significant reduction in overall performance of the Mac. In addition, updates for mControl 2 were few and far between. In fact, the updates I ran were considered beta versions. Even the release of version 3 has yet to occur. I’ve grown tired of waiting, I’m not sure I want to invest in a new version if it will be updated as infrequently as the previous version, and the system performance cost for running the VM has been too much to continue.

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Shut Off Wi-Fi when Ethernet is Active (OS X)

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Over at Mac OS X Hints a contributor has posted a hint with a script that will turn off Airport whenever the LAN port is used. For most folks this isn’t a concern but sometimes, in corporate environments, there are several reasons one may not want to be connected to ethernet and wi-fi at the same time.

The instructions are well explained though I had to reboot my system to get it working. In addition, you’ll also need to install growlnotify with Growl if you want to receive the pop-up notifications.

Auto-disable AirPort when ethernet is active Network (Mac OS X Hints)

Updated 08/18/2011: I’ve been using this for about ten months and it’s really not an essential function. Sometimes it’s convenient and other times it can get in the way. In some situations when I wake my laptop up, after it was previously connected to the WiFi, it doesn’t automatically start Airport. All-in-all, it’s no better or worse than not having it installed. Your mileage may vary depending on your needs and network environments.

Using Growl to receive text notifications from mControl (and Windows 7)

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Being able to control my home automation setup remotely is critical but I also wanted to receive event notifications from the computer on my phone. The solution is relatively simple, especially if you have an iPhone.

I installed Growl for Windows. To send notifications from the command-line I downloaded growlnotify from the same site. The final component is an app for the phone that can receive Growl notifications over the Internet. In my case I chose Prowl for iPhone but there are other services available.

To avoid receiving Growl notifications you don’t want (such as application events that don’t need to go to your phone) you can set the priority of the message with growlnotify and then configure Growl to only forward notifications of a certain priority to your mobile device.

This is especially useful if you have alarm events setup or reminders. For example, sometimes I forget to put the trash up at the curb so mControl is configured to send me a notice on the appropriate morning for trash pickup.