Home Control Assistant Newsletter for Jan 30 2022

Have you read the Important Announcement posted on August 1, 2021? If you haven't you need to.
New stuff
A few days ago, HCA 17.0.43 was released with bug fixes and new features. If you have not seen that email, I suggest you go look it over. Also with that release were additions to the online library.

One of the HCA fixes was to the “Generic Server” interface. This interface type may seem obscure, but it can have many uses. One use is the library package “HTTP Server”. This package, when added to your design, and a “Generic Server” interface configured (don’t worry, it’s all in the package notes), lets HCA operate as a simple web server.

One use of that is, from a browser running on any machine on your network, to view HCA status. In fact, the same status that makes up the daily status email. How is that done?

First, create a Windows desktop shortcut:

What I did was to right-click on the Windows desktop and do New-Shortcut from the popup menu and then enter as the shortcut a URL to my HCA server IP address followed by /api/v1/hcastatus. Once created, when I double-click on the shortcut my browser opens, HCA is contacted, and the status appears. Very helpful. To make this work for you all you need do is to have the latest HCA installed and then get the package “HTTP Server” from the online library. Set up the Generic Server interface as it explains, create the shortcut, and you’re done.

I still get questions about how to access the online library. It’s easy: From the Design ribbon category click on the Library Browse/Import button. Find the package you want and then press the “Import Selected” button and the package is automatically added to your design. As has been explained several times before, you need a cloud account to download from the library. Requiring a cloud account helps provide the necessary revenue to keep those sorts of new packages coming.

While we are discussing the online library and cloud accounts there is some additional news on that. In the announcement about the eventually (still over two years away!) closure of HCA, I said that the cloud account subscription was staying the same at $3 / month unless the cloud expenses went up and subscription income didn’t pay the AWS and Google Cloud bills. Well, the cloud spending did exceed the subscription income. The cloud account subscription is now $4/month (hardly a huge jump) paid annually.

Consider the cable tie...
This isn’t one of those major life changing moments, but I did want to pass on something I did, why I did it, and what I realized from it. Everyone has cable ties. In fact, right here on my desk is a bag that contains 4” long “Multi-Purpose Ties”. I don’t use many and I’m sure I bought this bag several years ago.

Sometimes I would need a longer tie and I would carefully piece together several to make the length I needed. Usually, I would do it wrong and waste a few until I did it right.

Then a few weeks ago it finally hit me: Why don’t I get longer ties? Why don’t I buy some? So I went online and within 2-days I had an entire canister of 650 ties in length from 4” to 11”. Wow!

Why didn’t I do this years ago?? I have no idea.

But I did start to think that sometimes we “sweat the small stuff” too much when a small purchase will just make life easier. Sure, I don’t buy impulsively when I consider upgrading all our outside lighting to Hue bulbs as that really adds up quickly. But if life can be better / simpler / faster by purchasing longer cable ties, or an extra non-stick skillet for those weekends when everyone wants an omelet so we can all eat at the same time, then do it.

As I said, maybe not life changing but a small point of philosophy maybe worth thinking about.

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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