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Home Control Assistant Newsletter for October 13

Have you looked over the version 15 release notes? Lots of changes that you can incorporate into your designs right away.

And if you are looking for answers to the most common questions about HCA check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Want to read message from past weeks? Here you go.
October. It’s all about the run up to Halloween, right? At least from what one sees in the stores these days. And while we have really worked hard to make sure that HCA isn’t a scary product there are some dark corners in it - full of useful but little explored features. Not scary at all once you know how they work and how useful they are. So, done in the spirit of Trick-or-Treat, here are two new treats for the week.

Control UI Home Page
OK, this is one of those features that I feel has a lot going for it and is little used. The Control UI, as you know, is an alternative user interface for HCA. It lets you create the pages of the interface showing devices, graphs, HTML, text, images, and more, to control your solution but not modify it. When you start the Control User Interface, without other direction, HCA creates these pages for you: The top page has all your rooms and the subsequent pages have the devices in each room. Good enough, right? But you can do so much better! Want a display that shows multiple floorplans – one for each floor – of your home and use that instead. That is what the Tools ribbon category, Home Page button in the Control UI panel is for. In there you can pick the display to be your Control UI home page. And while there check out the other options that can change the whole Control UI look and feel.
 
Tools – File Format
This is a feature that started nearly in HCA version 1 and has lived on and on but like The Picture of Dorian Gray, it has changed over time, but unlike that story, improved and not become decrepit.

In simple terms, File Format is a tool that has HCA periodically read a file, process it, and create a new file. Processing is simple: Anything that isn’t enclosed in %%’s is copied unmodified from source to destination. Anything that is enclosed in %%s is considered an expression and is processed in the same manner as what is in a Compute element in a program. The result of that evaluation is what goes to the destination file. Why use this? You can use it to periodically extract data out of HCA as an input to another Windows program or to create a text or html file that you can view. As with similar features, while this isn’t a part of HCA that responds to events or implements a schedule, this is all about getting data out of HCA that you can use in other ways. Check it out in the Tools ribbon category File Format button.


HCA Server Computers
Several users have taken advantage of our special deal on small footprint, fanless, no-moving-parts computers that are really good for running the HCA Server 24/7. If you want to learn more take a look at the server page we have for that.

We got a super price on them and if you are interested please let me know. One nice thing is that before they ship, we do all the Windows setup and updating – to the latest Windows (1903) – and install the HCA Server and make sure it is all ready to go. And we have done something else to help you get started with the new Backup Assistant. All the details are in tech note 105 Moving HCA to a new computer.

If you have any questions about these machines and their use as an HCA Server, please just drop me an email.
 
Want to watch instead of read?

If you are interested in watching some videos about how HCA and Insteon can work together, George De Luca, a HCA users of a few years and technology video creator, has started to add HCA videos to his channel. He has a good knowledge of HCA and its ins-and-outs.
 
His channel can be reached at: https://www.youtube.com/deluca2008. While I’ve offered him some thoughts on the videos, his opinions and advice on using HCA are his own. If you have questions about something you see, ask them in the video comment section and you may see a video with an answer.


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.

https://www.reddit.com/r/HomeControlAssistant/

 
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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