Home Control Assistant Newsletter for Jan 15 2023

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

As I wrote the
technical note released last week about support for Blink cameras using Alexa and Hubitat, I was considering if there are any changes and improvements left to do before I end HCA support in about 18 months?

When I announced the ending of HCA support, I received messages from HCA users asking what software should they transition to. At the time I suggested that it was too early to know and how I expected that the offerings from Amazon and Google would grow in ability and function in the next years. I am no longer as sure of that as I once was. While both platforms continue to expand in the ability to control more and more automation components, the programmability remains wretched. If you read last week’s technical note you can probably catch the “tone” of my unhappiness in it: how hard it is to create even simple automation using Alexa. I really like Hubitat for its good function, excellent reliability, and cheap cost. However, the Hubitat “rules machine”, while better in function that what Amazon has, operability and user interface is also wretched.

Because of all this I have redirected my efforts to make it possible to continue to use HCA after I’m gone, not as the “do everything” solution, but rather as the “automation brain” of your installation.  Let’s quickly review what has been accomplished towards this goal.

Hubitat can now fully stand in for the HCA Cloud for Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. And that has gone so well that I have moved up the HCA Cloud termination time to the 1st of next year – seven months earlier than the original timeline. With Hubitat you also get an easy path to ZWave and Zigbee devices. Just last week I showed you a procedure where anything that Alexa receives can be sent on to Hubitat, and so to HCA for processing. I have also really increased the maintainability of your HCA design with improvements to the Daily Report and the new “find” function in the recent release.

But what is left to do? This is where I need your help.

I still occasionally get requests to add support for new hardware, and to those requests I usually answer no.  But I do get good ideas in other areas. One user pointed out that if the new find tool was extended to look for arbitrary text in object notes, program elements, and program element comments, that it would be very useful. And you will see that change plus a few more useful tools in the coming weeks.

(A side note on that: HCA “consulting” has received requests for hardware support, and it was added but that’s because the requestor agreed to fund the work. Back when HCA was being sold to new users any additional support generated new sales, so I was very open to additional hardware support. Now that it is not being sold to new users, I will not be someone’s “personal programmer” for zero compensation.)

Are there other changes that can be made to HCA that will make it easier to live on after I leave? If you have ideas, my mailbox is always open.

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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