- Aug98 -
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HOUSE/2 - Home Automation and
Security for OS/2
Author of HOUSE/2
HOUSE/2 is a home automation program similar to X10's ActiveHome and IBM's HomeDirector program. HOUSE/2 appears to be the first shareware program for the X10 model CM11x/CM12x home automation interface on any computer platform.
HOUSE/2 runs on IBM's OS/2 Warp version 3.0 or 4.0, a premier 32-bit, multitasking operating system for personal computers. With Warp 4.0 on a 100MHz or higher Pentium system, HOUSE/2 automatically takes advantage of built-in speech navigation. The entire program can be run by speech commands, including operating X10 modules from the desktop of your computer. Speech navigation is done through a regular sound card and microphone, no special hardware is required.
HOUSE/2 also runs comfortably on low-end 486 based computers, ideal if you want to dedicate an old system full-time to home automation.
Figure 1. HOUSE/2 Main Program Screen
HOUSE/2 is designed for easy operation of X10 home control devices. A toolbar allows quick access to the most commonly used tasks like adding module and macros, connecting or uploading data to the interface, setting interface time or printing reports.
Context sensitive Help is built-in and besides detailed description of all functions, it also contains information on how to get started with home automation. Troubleshooting communications problems with the interface and a number of web site links related to information about the ever increasing popularity of home automation are also included.
Program installation is simple and provided through an automatic installation script. A folder is placed on the desktop containing the main and utility programs. A reboot is not necessary after an installation.
HOUSE/2 is designed to easily create, edit and organize modules and macros. Macros are sets of instructions that can be executed whenever certain external X10 events are detected. Up to sixteen groups can be used to logically organize modules and macros and represent a room or common entity of your house. Each group can use up to twelve modules or macros and are represented by a familiar faceplate with a slider and labels. You can rearrange the order of the modules or macros or move them to other groups using drag and drop. You can have as many of these setups as the harddisk space on your system allows.
Most common X10 modules are supported and can be selected from a predefined list. A new version with Two-Way module and thermostat support is in beta test right now and will be available shortly.
Editing modules and macro events is done through notebook pages logically arranged by Name, Time, Date, Special and Series functions. Each module and macro can be individually enabled or disabled for upload. Modules and macros can have up to 99 multiple events, depending only on CM11x/CM12x memory and other module setup. These events can be individually enabled or disabled for upload as well. This gives great flexibility over every module and event control.
Figure 2. HOUSE/2 Module and Macro Edit Notebooks.
Unique to HOUSE/2, and setting it apart from other programs, is the Series Event creation page. It allows you to create a series of module events over a certain date range specified.
For example: You want to control your outside lights to turn on at dusk and then turn off at 11:30 pm using the random +/-30 minute feature the CM11A provides. This can be a tedious task using some other programs since dusk times change over the course of a year. With HOUSE/2, you simply fill out the first event like you want it, then specify the date range and select the appropriate series creation mode and click MAKE. Review the created series events and upload them. That's it! With very few clicks you can program a module with series events like this for an entire year.
Settings for day steps to calculate dawn/dusk and minute steps between dawn/dusk events allow to optimize the number of events to conserve memory in the CM11A interface.
There are also Daylight Savings Time options included that will automatically compensate for DST such that you can create the events and not have to worry about reprogramming the interface throughout the year.
A host of series creation modes are included that allow for a number of repeated event operations like Dusk-to-Dawn, Dawn-to-Dusk, Dusk-to-Repeat, Dawn-to-Repeat, Repeat-to-Dusk and Repeat-to-Dawn.
It is not necessary to stay connected to the CM11A interface while editing modules or macros. When connected to the interface, however, HOUSE/2 will allow to control the modules directly from the desktop and record any external X10 events to a log file and update status live on screen, another unique feature of HOUSE/2. With Warp 4.0 you have the added benefit of being able to use speech to control your lights and appliances.
Other features of HOUSE/2 include: Report printing of the module setup, battery counter display and control, display of interface memory used in the module setup and clear interface memory. A conversion utility is included to take your existing ActiveHome or HomeDirector setup and convert it to HOUSE/2 format.
Uploading macros to the interface is supported, as is executing them from external X10 events. However, executing macros from a timer is currently not possible, as is executing macros directly from the desktop. The author is working on supporting these features in upcoming versions.
HOUSE/2 is under continuous development to improve the program and add support for any new X10 devices.
If you are new to home control, take a look at the X10 system, then consider HOUSE/2 to control your home using the premier 32-bit operating system: OS/2 Warp.If you are already using X10 on other, major platforms, consider an alternative: OS/2 Warp.
Registering HOUSE/2 includes Leave One, a puzzle similar to Pegged, but more challenging. Let the author know if you can solve it! You would be the first to do so.
HOUSE/2 is shareware and lists for $35.00. The unregistered version is limited to ten timer event uploads. Visit the author's homepage at http://home.att.net/~ASchw Get the program or the entire Help file in text format for more information.
HOUSE/2 can be registered through BMT Micro at www.bmtmicro.com , or through the author directly.
Interested in seeing HOUSE/2 in action?
Visit the HOUSE/2 exhibitor stand at Warpstock 98 Chicago, to be held in October 1998. Warpstock is a conference for and about OS/2 users and developers. You can get more information at http://www.warpstock.org
New to OS/2 Warp or never heard of it?
For information on IBM's OS/2 Warp visit IBM at http://www.software.ibm.com/os/warp/index.html
For information on applications for OS/2 visit Indelible Blue at http://www.indelible-blue.com