Home Control Assistant Newsletter for November 15

Have you looked over the version 17 release notes? Lots of changes that you can incorporate into your designs right away. Easy upgrade.

Looking for answers to the most common questions about HCA? Check out our
Frequently Asked Questions page.
The “obvious” sometimes isn’t
I’ve done this topic before – that sometimes I forget that what is “obvious” often isn’t – but given some recent support questions, it is time again. So here goes and I hope that at least one thing from this list helps answer one of your unasked questions.

How do I access the library?
I’ve spoken a lot about the online library and how it is simple to access and add things from it to your design. In the HCA “Design” ribbon category press the “Library Browse/Import” button. The contents of the library appear in a popup window. All you need do is to select what you want and press the “Import” button to add it to your design. The library is accessed from HCA and not from a browser.

What’s my first task when Alexa / Google Assistant has lost their minds?
When you ask an assistant to control something and get a ”Sorry, Dave, I can’t do that” type of response before you get too excited and started unlinking and relinking, there is a simple task to do first. On the computer running the HCA server, select from the server application menu “Tools – HCA Cloud Update” and then “Tools – HCA Cloud Access Test”. If an error happens in either, then that is why things are not working. Figure out what is wrong. Could be a network issue. Could be a port forward issue. There is also a
technical note on the support website that can help.

What’s a “client”?
When you run the HCA server it is only the “engine” for your automation. Like a car engine, you need some place to sit and means of control. To do that - access your design to view or change - you must start a client and have it communicate with the server. There are two clients, and it is important to know their differences. 

“HCA acting as a client” is HCA.exe. When acting as a client, only the parts for design building are active. All the rest is left up to the server to handle. 

The “Windows client application” – HCAClient3.exe – is a separate Windows application that is a read-only client so it can view and control your design but make no modifications. It’s the Windows counterpart to the mobile (Android and IOS) applications on your phone and tablet. The client application can be downloaded from a link on the
current version page in the "clients" section.

When you email HCA support (that would be me)  you have an issue and it involves a ”client” please remember to say if it is the “Windows Client application” or “HCA acting as a client”. Saves us both some emails if you do.

What’s the latest HCA version?
You can always find the latest HCA version by going to the support website
current version page. In large friendly letters it tells you exactly what you need to know.

How do I configure the logs?
HCA has three logs that contain information about the actions of your devices and programs. You should take a minute and think about how to best use each log. You could put everything into one log, but it just gets big and then is hard to find things. Using different logs for different purposes may make your life easier. All you need do is press the “Log Usage” button in the “Tools” ribbon category to control what goes to which log.

How do I make a backup and what should be “backed up”?
This question comes up a lot. The most important file to backup is the file you open in HCA or HCA Server. The file has file type “HCA”. This file contains all your devices, programs, schedules, and displays. Copy that file to some folder or better yet to removable media. That is 90% of the job.

To go the final distance, use the “Backup Assistant” to identify any other files to backup. In the “Tools” ribbon category press the “Design backup Assistant” button.

What is my HCA cloud account username?
Go to the “HCA Cloud” ribbon category and press the “Link file and account” button. The popup window has a button labeled “Account info”. Press that to display the cloud account username associated with your design file.

How do I check my cloud account subscription?
Start a browser and go
here. Then login with your cloud username and password – you remember your password, right? Or you wrote it down? On the main page after logging in it shows your subscription end date.

Finally, this is something that I know becomes “obvious” only after many years: “Big issues are often just lots of smaller issues in a ball”. 

Recently I had a problem with some of the “big” design tools – network capture and network clean. Rather than concentrating on what looks wrong in the reports from these tools, the better place to have started was in each individual device. Some devices were experiencing communication issues. Since the big tools only function when they have correct data to work with, and that data comes from the individual devices, starting with the devices was were to start. Don’t get overwhelmed when a problem happens. Break a big issue down into smaller issues.

HCA Server machines Back in stock!
We still have available Windows 10 small footprint computers that are perfect for running the HCA Server. We do all the updates for you - yes, even the big Windows 2004 update, install HCA, and get it all ready for 24/7 operation. And with the HCA design backup/computer move tool, getting up and running only take minutes after you get this new machine. Want more info? It's all on the website HCA Server Computer page.
User-to-User forum

An HCA User who wanted to set up a forum for user-to-user communication. I'm passing this on, but please know that this is not a HCA company project and I will not be spending much time there so I don't know how this will work out. Here is a link to what he set up.

Want to take the next step in automation? Want to get started with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and control HCA by voice commands? Even if you are a long-time user of HCA, the Getting Started guides have all the info you need on client-server, mobile applications, DDNS, and voice assistants.

All of the
Getting Started Guides are available on the support website.
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