Welcome to Domus Cura. Domus cura means literally "Household Management", but since this is the electronic age we are about household management using automation. Home automation means different things to different people, some people think of automating their entertainment systems, while others think lights, and to others it's all about security systems. I believe it's all of those things and more. My vision of a perfectly automated home would include all of the areas I just listed and also ready access to all of the information that we accumulate throughout our lives. This would include things like having your house remind you of the things that you need to get done, such as buying a gift for a special occasion, or reminding you to change the air filter on the furnace. Of course wherever possible your house should just take care of those things that it can, such as watering the lawn.

This site is going to be a collection of the ramblings that I create as I play with my hobby. I plan on writing some tutorials and reviews of products that I purchase. As I write software I'll make it available here as well.

Aug. 28, 2008

I've been away for a while and have not kept up on what I would like to do here. I did however manage to upload the module and source code for the NetCallerId module. This module reads the caller id information from a NetCallerID device, which connects to your computer via a serial port. I will prepare documentation as soon as possible.

Oct. 2, 2008

My first xPL module has been uploaded! It's a text-to-speech module. xPL Orator utilizes the FreeTTS java speech synthesis engine, so there is nothing else to download or configure. It should just work on all of the platforms that xPL4Java works on. I have only been able to test it on Linux. It is a very early release that I have not yet had the chance to actually deploy into a "production" environment in my house. If you run into any problems or have any suggestions please send me an email at mick@domuscura.com.

I'm currently working on my next module, a NetCallerId interface, and I'm writing a tutorial on xPL4Java module development at the same time.

Sept. 16, 2008

This is the first entry for this site. My name is Mick and I have been playing with home automation for approximately 10 years or so. It's a hobby that I find stimulating and I enjoy, but it's not something that I can spend a lot of money on. So the information you find on this site will not include anything high-end. Everything will be either free or very cheap, or something that I wrote myself. When I started playing with home automation (HA) years ago, I purchased a package called HomeSeer. At the time it was $49 and was sold by a company called Keware. Since then HomeSeer has gone through many changes. It's a pretty robust package that is capable of many things but my philospohy diverged from the direction HomeSeer was going. A couple of years ago I decided to stop using HomeSeer, and started exploring the options that were available.

I've grown tired of paying for upgrades to all of the software packages that I've purchased over the years and decided that I was going to give Linux a real try this time. I looked at MisterHouse, again. It's pretty much capable of doing all of the things that I want, but it's written in Perl, and it's a pretty big, complicated set of code, especially for someone who doesn't know perl. A few years ago I came across xAP. xAP is a communications protocol designed to allow distributed devices to communicate. xAP looked like the way to go, and it was fairly simple. I decided to head off in that direction and write xAP controllers in Ruby. There is a Java xAP library, but I had grown tired of Java and wanted to play in my new langauge of choice. I created a Ruby xAP library, wrote a xAP connector for the NetCallerId and a text to speech application. All the while I was doing this I was planning the other work I would have to do and the other capabilities that I thought should be incorporated into xAP, such as a central controller or message processor and the ability to remotely configure a device using the xAP protocol.

All was well, then I stumbled across some work that has just been started by Marc Fleury and some of his friends from jBoss fame, called OpenRemote. I was intrigued because I thought, maybe, finally some real structure will be put in place for a robust open source home automation platform. I was ready to join the group and contribute what I could. Of course one of my first suggestions was going to be, "Let's build on xAP!". But then I saw that some of the members had already looked at xAP, and they didn't like it. The comments basically amounted to xAP is crap, but xPL is a little better. I remembered running across xPL years ago, but I thought that it was basically a subset (or superset) of xAP that was dedicated to multimedia applications, which was not my main point of interest. I continued with writing my xAP stuff and had started on a controller for the TI-103 (an X10 powerline interface), and kept checking back (lurking) on the OpenRemote board to see what the latest updates were. After a few more comments about xAP and xPL on the OpenRemote forums I decided to give xPL a look.

To make a long story short(er), I've now abandoned xAP and I'm working on xPL code! The guys over in xPL land have already accomplished quite a bit of the other work that I knew was going to have to be done (the controller and configuration capabilities). I did decide to go back to Java, because there is an excellent xPL library (and server/controller) written in Java by Gerry Duprey called xPL4Java. I've written my first xPL module, it's a text-to-speech module called Orator. It's still very early in it's life and I'm sure that it has lots of bugs and places that it can be improved upon. I'll be posting the module along with it's source in the near future, along with some documentation. I intend to document my experiences and lessons learned as I go to create some tutorials to help out anyone who might be interested in writing xPL4Java modules.

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Contact me at: mick@domuscura.com