Home Control Assistant Newsletter for October 6

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 treats for the week.

Schedule entries: Names, suspend/resume, and modify via program
Schedules are like a commoner in comparison to the royalty of programs. Schedules handle repetitive tasks while programs get the glamour job of handling events. But schedules do have some not-too-scary features none the less. One of the properties of a schedule entry is its name – just a usual HCA name containing most characters and of any reasonable length. Once a schedule entry has a name then you can create programs that suspend it (send it to the realm of the dead) and resume it (return to the land of the living). Use for this? Well, how about a button on a keypad that turns off some aspects of your schedule when something fun is happening? Like not shutting off the outside lights at the usual time on Halloween. And, here is something you may not know: more than one schedule entry can have the same name. That way when you suspend or resume using that name you could affect more than one schedule entry at once.

Schedule entries can also be modified on-the-fly using the function ChangeSchedule. Here is a great example: I know that I want something to happen in response to an event but at a time later than the current time – say in 4, 6, or 8 hours depending upon some factor. I could have a program start and figure out the wait time or I could modify a schedule entry naming the program that carries out the task and have it act at the time needed. And if this isn't a everyday activity, I could have the schedule entry normally suspended and have the program resume it as part of the action.

OK, I will admit this one could either be like journeying to Tartarus (very bad) or Elysium (really good). Scripts let you create a traditional program – all those syntax rules to know – that works with your HCA devices, programs, variables, and everything else. You can use any scripting language that you like that works with Objects, VBScript being the most commonly used. Why possibly undertake such a journey? Because as good as Visual Programs are, sometimes it can be difficult to perform a task in HCA itself and a script can be the answer. Think of scripts as the shop tool that you don’t use every day but when you need it, it makes your life so much simpler. A good place to start is the User Guide for this one.

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: 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.

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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