Home Control Assistant Newsletter for December 18 2022

Have you read the Important Announcement posted on August 1, 2021? If you haven't you need to.

The latest version of HCA is 17.0.48 with new features!
Read about how you can download it.
5.77% yet to go!

I have been getting some emails lately looking ahead towards to “end of HCA” - many include very kind words and I really appreciate that. I thought I would again address this so you all know what is happening.

On January 1st 2024, the HCA Cloud will go dark and then seven months later at midnight July 31st 2024, HCA support will completely end. While the HCA support websites will go dark, the software will keep working. There is no time-lock in the software so if Windows runs it, you can keep using it.

What will not work? Any of the HCA Cloud connections. That is why I have been pushing all of you to get on to Hubitat for voice control. I have also published several technical notes about how to
integrate HCA with Ring and other automation widgets. All of this uses Hubitat to get signals into HCA. Really, given the cost of Hubitat - around $100 - and the fact there is no per-month subscription for using it, I can’t think of any reason not to get one and get it working. The technical note is long, but step-by-step.

I also get questions about the mobile apps. Both will keep working as they do not use the HCA Cloud. The Android app will remain in the app store, and until it gets too old, new downloads will continue to be possible. The Apple one is slightly different. For an app to remain in the app store it must be associated with an Apple developer account. I will close mine when HCA closes down. Existing app installs on your device will keep functioning, but the app will disappear from the Apple app store so no new downloads would then be possible.

I’ve worked with many automation systems over the years, now including Hubitat. I think the programming side of them is almost always poor. Control may be great, but automation involving multiple devices, sensors, and events is never very capable. Nothing, in my considered opinion, beats the visual programmer. (Of course, I would say that, right?). To use Hubitat for what it does - connection to Amazon and Google plus modern ZWave devices - it makes sense to me to continue to use HCA as an “automation engine”. Maybe it makes sense to you as well.

Now to answer what that 5.77% is all about: When a project is started in the software development environment used for HCA, it creates a file with details of the project. I still have that file from when I started the project for HCA. It is dated 22-July-1996. Using an online date calculator that means HCA is 26 years, 4 months, 26 days old - or 9645 days. Yikes! Where has my life gone? That is a question for another day…

Again with the date calculator I see a total HCA life span of 10,236 days. So we have, if I did the math right, 5.77% of the total HCA life to go. Plenty of time!

However you celebrate this time of year – to me it is Saturnaliahave a happy time. See you after the 1st of the year.
Last week I wrote about a technical note written by a HCA User that describes how to integrate a water metering system with HCA using Hubitat (technical note #706).

This week I have another technical note also created by a very experienced HCA user that describes how to use Alexa to accept events from Ring devices and to send those on to HCA using Hubitat. Check it out as it is now available on the HCA support site:
 technical note #707.

What I really like about all this work is that HCA users are working with Hubitat and Alexa to do device integration in a way that lets HCA do what it does best: monitoring, reporting, and advanced control.
If you are using a version of HCA prior to version 17, you may have questions about the wisdom of upgrading to version 17 given the future of HCA. Here is something to consider:

The support policy for older HCA versions has been changed
 as I can no longer devote time to past version users. Support will only be available for HCA 17 users.

If you are on version 16 or earlier and want to continue using the cloud features and want to be assured that if you have a question that it gets answered, it is indeed time to upgrade.

HCA is fully operational for several more years so the update cost, spread out over that time, is very little. Knowing support is available when you need it is worth it.
Upgrade to HCA 17
Anyone who is using Hubitat with HCA – not SmartThings – please drop me a note as I would like to add you to a discussion list for those users. I have some Hubitat ideas that I would like to “kick around” and it would help to have a group of users who have experience with Hubitat. Please just send a note to the regular support address saying you would like to be added to that discussion list.
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