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Home Automation: Controlling Your House with Computers

Home Automation: Controlling Your House with Computers

    We’ve looked at what you can do with home automation and what sort of methods exist for installing automated functionality, and now it’s time to take a look at some of the popular software applications out there for controlling your home automation system.

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    I haven’t included any software that ships with various systems in this list; you’ll find out about those when you’re looking at individual systems and deciding on one. What’s listed here are some well-respected and popular choices that enthusiasts around the world are using.

    Indigo

    Indigo is Mac OS X software, but as long as you have one Mac in the house you’re okay since it comes with web server functionality — you can control things through your PC or phone’s browser as well as from your Mac. There’s also a Dashboard widget available if you like to control things that way. Indigo offers compatibility with Insteon and X10 systems, and you can extend its functionality using AppleScript.

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    MisterHouse

    MisterHouse is an open source application written in Perl, which means you can run it on pretty much any operating system—including, of course, Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It is incredibly flexible and extensible, but that comes at the cost of ease-of-use. While the AppleScript used for extending Indigo is accessible and easy to learn, Perl has something of a reputation for being hard to grasp. MisterHouse supports most popular home automation systems.

    XTension

    Despite having an eyesore website that makes it hard to find useful information, XTension has a good reputation. XTension works with X10 hardware (get it? XTension?) and like Indigo, it uses AppleScript for extensibility. Also like Indigo, XTension is a Mac application (I can’t help being biased) and the bonus for the recyclers among you is that versions of the application from OS 7.5 up on to OS X are all supported. If you have an ancient Mac gathering dust that you’d like to put to use, here’s the app for you, though you might want to ensure you have a USB-to-serial adapter if your hardware’s that old.

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    HomeSeer

    HomeSeer is Windows software (“Finally!” I hear you gasp) that supports Insteon, X10 and Z-Wave home automation systems. Being proprietary Windows software, it’s not extensible via Perl or AppleScript, but VBScript. I’m not a Windows user, so I haven’t tried this software, but it is popular amongst those who are game enough to leave their home in the hands of a Windows computer. Apparently its voice capabilities are pretty good — it can understand your commands quite well, and synthesize vocal responses and alerts back to you. It’s not cheap software like some of the other offerings here, and will drain your bank account of around $200.

    Thinking Home

    Thinking Home is donationware (what else do you call a commercial application where the trial never expires?). It has a fairly polished look that fits in well on its native OS X. The software starts at $79. It does offer a web-based control (via OS X’s Personal Web Sharing), and works with Insteon and X10 standards. It’s the first application I’ve seen that explicitly states that it can be extended not just with AppleScript, but almost any other scripting language installed on your Mac — Perl, Python, etc, etc. Thinking Home’s main selling point seems to be that it takes advantage of specific Mac OS X features better than other applications that try to be jack-of-all-trades and cater to everyone.

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    HouseBot

    CeBotics offer the HouseBot software, which is another Windows application. It retails for about $70, making it a fair bit cheaper than other commercial home automation applications. It’s true blue Windows software, with native applications for every version of Windows for the desktop computer as well as for handheld devices stretching as far back as Windows CE. It’s certainly no resource-hog, requiring a machine with only a 200Mhz processor and 128MB of memory to be content.

    Choosing an Application

    There are a few factors to consider when choosing one of these applications for yourself. Operating system is the obvious variable. The other thing you need to check out is whether the application you have in mind is compatible with your hardware. You also need to consider extensibility versus ease-of-use, and your own level of familiarity with the scripting languages each application supports. All-in-all, there’s an option for everybody, whether your decision is motivated purely by an application’s price (or lack thereof, most likely), or its capabilities.

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    Published on October 16, 2018

    7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Help You Make the Most of Your Business

    7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Help You Make the Most of Your Business

    There’s nothing more fulfilling than the sense of accomplishment you get by achieving your business goals.

    Gone are the days when you used pen and paper to take notes and manage your work day. As millennials are relying heavily on technology to manage almost everything from finances to their personal fitness, goal tracking apps are also becoming increasingly popular.[1]

    In this piece, we will shed some light on 7 such goal tracking apps that you can use to streamline your operations.

    I have handpicked these apps from a software rating web services site Best Online Reviews. Industry experts review software on these websites and help businesses to find the right solutions to meet their various, unique business requirements.

    1. Aha!

      Aha! is a California-based roadmap software provider and offers excellent goal tracking app that lets you define goals and objectives for projects. The app also lets you list out primary tasks and allows you to focus on them.

      Hosted securely on the cloud, the app offers enhanced communication tools for sharing updates through emails with select colleagues or the entire organization.

      Aha! is available on multiple platforms such as the web, Android, iOS, Windows, etc. and starts from $59 per month per user.

      Available for Web

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      2. Asana

        Asana is one of the more popular project management apps available for businesses. It lets you organize all your team’s work, such as setting up and tracking goals, creating tasks, sharing files and notes, etc.

        Asana also allows your team to organize all their tasks and focus on urgent priorities. Moreover, the app offers a delightful user experience that makes task management simple and easy.

        Asana is available on multiple platforms from PCs and Mac to iOS and Android. Multi-channel adaptability makes Asana the perfect choice to track your goals anytime, from anywhere.

        Available for iOS | Android | Web

        3. Basecamp

          Basecamp is an excellent tool to manage all your team’s projects and keep your activities organized. It opens a new thread for every task and that task is visible by the whole team.

          With Basecamp, you can schedule tasks, add to-dos, discuss tasks by adding comments, add files and attachments, and much more.

          The app is available on both mobile and desktop platforms and costs $99 per month. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS platforms and offers excellent multi-channel access.

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          Available for iOS | Android | Web

          4. Forecast

            An efficient tool for successful task management, Forecast is also a popular goal tracking app. Apart from effective milestone tracking, the app also offers convenient status reporting.

            Forecast uses project history to let you know the status of your current work. Moreover, it uses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide high-quality assistance. It is a robust app for small teams to track goals and time.

            Forecast is available for free and comes with Android and iOS app support. The premium version of the app starts from $19 per month per user.

            Available for Web

            5. Wrike

              Wrike is a cloud-based collaboration and project management app that successfully manages projects from start to finish. It lets you create tasks, track work progress and retrieve reports with ease.

              The app also gives real-time work updates and helps team members to understand their work priorities. A custom report builder helps you to generate in-depth reporting.

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              Wrike’s premium version is available from $9.80 per month per user and is available on multiple platforms.

              Available for iOS | Android | Web

              6. Todo.vu

                Todo.vu is a unique platform that delivers enhanced customer relationship management (CRM), task management, time tracking, and billing functionality in a single app.

                According to Capterra, it’s an ideal app for freelancers and consultants, who are looking for tools to improve efficiency and transparency.

                Although the app is free to use with basic features, the premium plan starts from $5 per month per user. The app also comes with calendar sync and task reminder functionality to keep you on track, always.

                Available for Web

                7. Flock

                  Looking for a tool to simplify task management? Try out Flock.

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                  Flock comes with enhanced goal tracking and additional features like instant messaging.

                  Moreover, Flock offers tons of integrations with tools such as Google, MailChimp, Jira, Dropbox, etc. It is a powerful tool that’s packed with robust features such as reminders, notes, polls and to-dos.

                  Even though you can use the tool for free, the paid version of Flock is available from $4.50 per month per user.

                  Available for iOS | Android | Web

                  Conclusion

                  Businesses need high-quality project management tools to streamline collaboration and operations. Enhanced goal tracking apps make it easy for your team to improve productivity by keeping its tasks organized.

                  But it’s essential that you choose an app that meets your unique business requirements. You can choose from the above-mentioned apps to streamline operations and improve the productivity of your team.

                  Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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