Tin Tuirtle Design

Fibaro FGMS-001 Multi Sensor

clock April 18, 2015 11:01 by author Bald Turtle

I bought two of the Fibaro FGMS-001 sensors off of Amazon specifically because they were supposed to be compatible with my Homeseer HS3 system.. but as with almost everything else... not really. While they can be added to the Z-Wave network, the actual sensors never return anything.

I have changed parameters... added and re-added the sensor.. done multiple scans. Nothing. My experience with Homeseer and Z-Wave in general has been very, very frustrating.

Home Automation Setup

clock December 15, 2013 07:11 by author Bald Turtle

I ended up choosing HomeSeer as my platform for home automation. One of the driving factors was price - they ran a half price sale around Black Friday. When I compared it to Charmed Quark I found that it was not only cheaper but easier to develop. Many of the Charmed Quark interfaces were outdated, and while they can be developed for a "minimal fee", I would rather have the freedom to browse devices without wondering if/how long it will take to get a driver.

The software was installed on Windows 2008 R2. The instance is one of 3 platforms being ran on my VMWare Dragon Box

  • Intel Xeon E3-1230 “Sandy Bridge” – 3.2GHz, 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 8MB
  • Supermicro X9SCM-F – Intel C204, Dual GigE, IPMI w/Virtual Media
  • 16GB (4 x 4GB) Kingston 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1333
  • Lexar Echo ZX 16GB Thumbnail drive
  • Rosewill 450 watt Platinum Certified power supply

It is a very "green" setup with no hard drives on board. The VMware boots from the thumbnail drive and the instances reside on a NAS box. Everything is powered through a UPS that gives 20 minutes for the entire network including the router. I have a single Z-Troller connected via USB directly off the Supermicro board.

For the CCTV I chose to use Blue Iris and the integration between HomeSeer and their package works well. For cameras I am using the Foscam-FI8910W for the inside locations. I like them, the detail is really good and they have night vision. They are my primary motion detectors at the moment. The rest of the hardware is Z-Wave. I am using a couple of wall switches and a thermal, light, motion sensor in the basement and upstairs. Once I have this running smoothly I will add smoke and CO2 along with a new thermostat. Eventually the humidity sensors will trigger the humidifier so it only runs when needed.

One last thing, if you happen to be using a Cisco RV110W you will find that there is a bug in the firewall regarding port forwarding. I was given a beta copy of new firmware and it seems to have resolved the problem. More information is at this thread on the Cisco forum. It has taken over 1.5 years for this fix to be put in place, making Cisco routers a choice of last resort in the future for me.

Evaluating Home Automation Software

clock December 2, 2013 08:41 by author Bald Turtle

I wanted to upgrade the security system in the house along with expanding the capability to include environment controls. To that end I installed Charmed Quark Controller and began working with it to see if it would fit my needs. After a week or so I learned that the web server and XML interface were not included until the $800+ price point. The next step has been to install HomeSeer and begin work with the program to see how smoothly it runs. I have settled on Blue Iris for the camera security software. It works very well and the Android phone app is smooth.

One of the issues with home automation in my home is that the house was built around 1967 and retrofitting is a real pain. I have ran a few Cat5 drops to the upper floors, and there are several downstairs, but the reality is any solution must be wireless. At this point it seems Z-wave will work reasonably well for the motion, thermal, fire and humidity sensors. We will see once I have a controller configured and working. One of the other issues is getting the USB port on the VMware server to map through to my Win2008 instance. I believe I have this working. I used a simple USB memory stick to test with, and after a few hours I seem to have it working consistently. This whole project is going to take several weeks to get configured and then test. Testing will be extremely important as it has to be able to survive power outages and other potential problems. So far though I am reasonably confident that this will not only work, but allow me to control the house from anywhere in the world.

Need a decent image gallery

clock March 11, 2011 03:27 by author Bald Turtle

I've added some thumbnails linked to pics in the Workshop section, but still only thumbs in the Gallery.  I can't seem to come up with a solution I like that will allow me to show captions, thumbnails and scale dynamically.  And I want something that will not force me to use popups or new pages.  I'd like to go with a Silverlight app but I am too lazy to learn it myself, I'd much rather use someone else's code Cool

BlogEngine.NET - this is a very cool application

clock March 1, 2011 23:47 by author Bald Turtle

I have spent some time now working with this project and I am really very impressed.  This is the first open-source project I've used that is this complex.  The code base is really very complete.  There is nothing stopping me from customizing the app in any way that I want.  And there are literally thousands of hours in this project.  If this was a project for a medium sized corporation I would SWAG it at $350k plus for the initial release, and then you have at least one major update. 

Don't get me wrong it has some rough edges, but so far I have not had a functionality failure.  My only beef is with the way it displays and does some things.  But all of those I can tweak how I want, and honestly other people might not want those changes.  Documentation is kinda weak, but not bad and better than many projects I have been on.  The rather funny part is I have not went back to the docs one time so far, the comments in the code have been all I needed.   How many projects can you say that about?

Its a one or two minute download and free.  Amazing.

Downloaded BlogEngine.NET 2.0 - Web App Fork

clock February 26, 2011 22:50 by author Bald Turtle

Tin Turtle is hosted by DiscountASP.NET along with Mindspear Technologies.  I've been using them for a while and hosted at least 3 sites for clients with them.  They have a great reputation as well as all the latest MS software.  I can use Server 2003 along with SQL 2005 and duplicate my development server at home.  That is a huge plus because I don't like surprises, and I would like to bring the hosting of those sites back to my server when I get a new firewall.

BlogEngine 2.0 was released on 1/1/2011 and I was still using the 1.6 codebase.  I had to pull down the latest release, bring it into VS and then push it up to SourceAnywhere.  No big deal, except I am in China.  My upload speed is about 16 kbs. When I can maintain the connection. China Telecom DSL... gotta luv it.  So I get that out of the way, get the app running locally and decide to ftp up to the host.  I know - but I figure I get it up once and then I just have to push up the individual files when I do an update.

It takes about 6 hours.

But it works.  And I connect to SQL server instead of writing to those XML files (which always seemed kinda clunky to me).  I smile in amazement.  I pat myself on the back.  Then I decide to setup a simple splash page to redirect to until I can get the real site at least halfway usable.  A small tweak to the code behind and I upload my html page and the dll.

Crash.  huh?

This is where I learn about Microsoft and their Web Site versus Web App project.  Yes, I know it has been a long time for me.  And no - I didn't miss it - at all.  In fact I am reminded quite rudely of why I wanted to build furniture.  Or guitars, Or amps. Or anything but software.  But anyway, the end result is my discovery that BlogEngine 2.0 is a Web Site project, and that means every update will be a full publish of the files.  So I click Publish and go to bed.

8 hours later I wake up and its hung.  So I start it again.  5 hours later the publish is complete.  And then I find out I spelled "splash.html" as "splaxd.html" in the redirect.  This is where my Chinese neighbors learn how to say F!@K in a wonderful and eloquent way.  Because I repeat the lesson several times.  It is important that one use the emphasis correctly.

I knew I had to convert this thing to a web app or give up. That was not going to be fun.  Especially as rusty as I am with C#, not to mention VS 2010.  But I got really lucky, and what happened made me really appreciate the effort the BlogEngine community puts into supporting this thing.  The guys at BE had created a fork with the BE code converted to a web app, and using .NET 4.0.

I pulled it down, rebuilt my projects, updated source and got it to run.  Actually fairly quickly, it only took about a day and a half to get everything organized and working.  But the best part was my publish times went from 6 hours to about 5 minutes max.  Its an incredible improvement.  Unfortunately I had to bite the bullet and go to Server 2008 along with .NET 4.0 hosting.  So I can no longer go back to using the server at home for either development or hosting.  At least not until I can scam/steal/beg/borrow a copy of 2008 from somewhere. 

My new registrar - Namecheap

clock February 24, 2011 22:31 by author Bald Turtle

I know, they sound.... cheap.  Which they were, but that was the last criteria on my list.  I have been using Network Solutions since when there was only Network Solutions.  Grumpy old farts like me don't change easily, but it was really more of a stability issue.  When ICAAN first opened up domain registration to allow competition there were issues with fly-by-night companies, dispute resolution etc. and it was just safer to stick with Network Solutions.  But they have gotten greedy, and some of the marketing tactics with renewals are borderline fraud.  I wanted a new registrar for Tin Turtle, and I wanted to roll all my domains over so I could admin from a single place.

Namecheap sounded absolutely horrible, but they have a pretty good reputation.  The first year of WhoIsGuard is free, so that was a plus.  Everything was finished up today and the rolloevers went without a hitch.  No email outage, no site outage... all is good.

VPN between China and the U.S.

clock January 6, 2011 20:31 by author Bald Turtle

There is no way I could survive in China without VPN access.  I need access to unfiltered/blocked/censored Internet content, plus I am definetly not comfortable viewing financial info or even getting my email in the clear through a Chinese ISP.  Up until this last year I used the Cisco PIX 501 with the Cisco client to create the tunnel between Beijing and Chicago.  The 501 was ultra cool back in the day and I paid what now seems like a ridiculous amount of money for it.  It is still my firewall in Chicago but its time is coming to an end.  You can't access the admin interface if you are running a version of java newer then the Stone Age.  So for the last couple of years I would have to uninstall my Interactive Brokers TWS and java, then install a old version of java, make changes to the firewall, and then reinstall everything (plus my settings) to get back to square one.  It was ridiculous.  And its mostly CLI and I am definetly not a Cisco guy, so it was always a combination of brute force and swearing that even allowed me to use the thing effectively.  I think it was the phallic symbolism of having a PIX in my house that made me use it anyway.  Though it is damn cool.

So I had to switch to StrongVPN which is a service from Reliable Hosting.  I use it both on the laptop and the iPhone and its ok.  Not great, it has some performance issues, but it works.  I really want a hardware solution on both ends but I just can't justify the expense.  It sucks because with the PIX I had full access to both servers in the US home.  All my files, source control, test instances - everything.  But there is neither the budget nor the time before I leave to change.

OMFG - I am sick of dealing with source control

clock December 27, 2010 20:14 by author Bald Turtle

I downloaded the standalone version of SourceAnywhere.  Its one user free (always per their site) so I put it on the Enterprise 2003 box and it was a quick install.  The client went on the workstation fairly smooth and connected without a problem.  I went ahead and pulled the unit from the rack and checked the fans, blew out the filters etc so it would be good to go while I am in China.  I had probably a day total into getting everything setup.  But then the nightmare of bringing in 7+ years of source code from VSS began.  First of all, the problem is not with SourceAnywhere.  There is only so much they can do when it comes to maintaining the project structure when you bring it over.  And to be fair my understanding of VSS 7 years ago was not the same as it was towards the end of the life cycle, so my organization was dubious on the old stuff.  But remembering where things were branched, and why, and then trying to make sure I haven't lost something important during the import - it was a pain.  I blew away the repository more times then I can count over a period of 3 days.  Finally I think I have everything, and I burned it to DVD just in case.  I hate it, I've been at it a week and I'm not out in the shop where I want to be.  Theres only a few weeks before I have to leave.  Christmas went by and I wasn't able to get back to see my family either, so I'm less then happy.

Visual Studio 2010

clock December 17, 2010 19:11 by author Bald Turtle

So I downloaded VS 2008 last spring before I left for China and used it some while I was there.  I really didn't do much with it and it expired, I pulled down VS 2010 a couple of weeks ago to do the trial.  I like it, its been a while since I've had to use VS for anything.  I always despised the design interface for web pages and ended up doing a bastardized flip-flop between VS and Dreamweaver.  The design part of 2010 looks much better and thats a relief.  I don't intend to pay for a newer version of Dreamweaver and I am hoping to do everything inside VS.

My "real" copy of Visual Studio came in the mail today and I installed it on my main workstation at home (US) and held my breath and installed it on the laptop to take with me to China.  It installed ok.  I was worried they would prevent me from installing on 2 machines with this license.  Paying for this copy made my heart hurt, there's no way in hell I could justify buying two.

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