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Perl Programming Toys

Misterhouse - a Home Driven by Perl Scripts 265

An anonymous submitter copies from the website: "MisterHouse is an open source home automation program. It's fun, it's free, and it's entirely geeky. Written in Perl, it fires events based on time, web, socket, voice, and serial data. It currently runs on Windows 95/98/NT/2k/XP and on most Unix based platforms, including Linux and Mac OSX. It can talk, it can check your messages, control the lights, program your VCR, and what is best - it understands spoken commands. It can even track your car by interfacing to a TNC. And there are 600 users and 209 authors contributing to this project. Cool, eh?"
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Misterhouse - a Home Driven by Perl Scripts

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  • slash (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:47AM (#5861461)

    This may be the first time that we can slashdot a house!
    • (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lilferret ( 670427 ) I've been following this site for a while now. The components used are x10 .. no not the camera You can get all the automated living stuff you want from sites like this. Lowes stores also cary a limited number of x10 lights and usually a thermostat or two.
      • (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jandrese ( 485 ) * <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:37AM (#5861828) Homepage Journal
        Ugh, X10. I've used a fair bit of X10 stuff in my lifetime, and I'm quite convinced that they need to fire their current quality control people. Here's a list of the components and their reliability:
        • Transciever modules, these are basically appliance modules with an antenna to recieve RF commands and a transmitter to relay them through the power lines. These are generally fairly reliable, although you need one for both phases of the power in your house, and they can act screwey (like not working when you plug in an extension cord). There is no way to make it not device 1 however, which is annoying since you need 2 of them in the house. The maximum power spec is rather low to boot.
        • Appliance modules, simple on/off that accepts commands through the power line: pretty reliable, I've not had much trouble with these.
        • Lamp modules, has circutry for dimming as well as on/off. Not designed to be used with anything but incandescent light bulbs: Completely unreliable. Lamps come on at random, the modules will stop responding to commands, etc... Usually it takes less than a week or two before the thing fails on me, and I've had a least half a dozen of these things over the years.
        • Slimline switchs: The buttons wear out in about 2 months. Eats batteries like crazy.
        • Regular big old white remotes: extremely reliable (havn't had a problem with one yet!), sips battery power (but it does need quite a few AAs). I've mounted these on the walls instead of the slimline switches
        • Bottlerockets: Sometimes they don't like certain machines. I can't get it to work at all on a couple of my machines, but when they do work they're extremely reliable.
        • Motion sensor: Failed within a month, lousy range.
        • Replacement Wall Switch: About as reliable as a lamp module
        To be fair, a lot of my X10 hardware has come from those free starter packs, but other than the lamp modules, that starter pack seems to include all of the reliable equipment. My opinion of X10 is that their stuff is good for demos, but not really ready for full time use.
        • (Score:5, Informative)

          by Balthisar ( 649688 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @11:01AM (#5862001) Homepage
          At the smarthome link, there are lots of third-party X10 compatible stuff. My favorite's the IR receiver that works with any programmable IR remote. Eliminates the need for the transceiver, but still works on one "phase" (in the USA there are two leads that are 240V to each other, but 120 to ground, but they're not really separate phases, otherwise you'd have about 210V to each other). Okay, the solution is a bridging capacitor, also available at Smarthome. Throw in across the "phases" in the circuit breaker box, and the X10 signal traverses them both. No need for a second anything.
        • (Score:2, Informative)

          by kfhickel ( 449052 )
          You're information is either a bit out of date, or you've just never seen the cooler stuff.

          Yes, if you buy everything from, some of it's a bit cheap. However, if you buy quality, you get quality. Leviton makes a lot of x10 stuff, and it's very nice. You can also get an RF receiver that receives all house codes.

          There's more x10 stuff out there than you think.....
        • (Score:3, Informative)

          by deanj ( 519759 )
          Having used this stuff quite a bit myself over the years, I'd say at least some of the problems have to do with the wiring in the house. The lamp modules always worked well for me, as did the motion sensor, and wall switches.

          I have used them in environments with lousy wiring, and some modules exhibited what you're talking about.
        • . . . you need one for both phases of the power in your house . . .

          This product [] seems able to handle your situation, and can be used for more than just the remotes.

          • Thought that was going to be another one for the fuse box. That's pretty nice! :)

            I was thinking, it would be neat to couple the phases via 2 computer interfaces and a couple networked machines? I don't know. X10 has been fascinating, but even I have had issues with modules. I had an appliance module that with 90 percent of appliances it would work great, but when I put it on my coffee pot, I noticed it would not shutoff completely (it's a dumb coffee microprocessor or anything). I noticed it
  • by Jerk City Troll ( 661616 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:47AM (#5861465) Homepage
    MIT's Project Oxygen [] is a very similar concept. It's meant to create intelligent environments that respond to your routines and commands as well. Naturally, Oxygen seems to be far more complete, but less likely to fall into the hands of just about anyone. Check out their site, it's a great read.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:48AM (#5861467)
    ...none of it will work properly when Perl 6 comes out.
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:48AM (#5861469)

    209 Perl programmers coding scripts to run my house. Who would be insane enough to run that code? All thoughts about the maintainability of Perl aside I find I require my house to do very little text processing.
    • But now you can have your house pre-sort your snail mail to remove spam.

      ProfQuotes []
    • 209 Perl programmers coding scripts to run my house. Who would be insane enough to run that code?

      Other Perl programmers, hence the advertisement on Slashdot. ;)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @11:00AM (#5861991)
      Perl can thank decades of sloppy programmers for its bad rap as far as readability and maintainability. The language itself can be as clean as you want it to be, unless you have a manic hatred for sigils. Perl is also superior at more than just text processing, you know. IPC and databasing (DBI/CGI) are also extremely powerful and easy to do in Perl. As for running the code, well, it depends how you look at group more people just add to the disaster, or do they catch each other's mistakes? Perl folks (those who love Perl and spend a lot of time developing Perl apps) are generally pretty clever...
  • by stagmeister ( 575321 ) <`lustig' `at' `'> on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:48AM (#5861470) Homepage
    ... will he still be able to unlock the door when he gets home from work?
    • Re:/.'d already... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:15AM (#5861634) Homepage
      Nope, but not for the reason you have been thinking of.

      Mister House (which itself is OK) is usually used to drive X10 hardware which excuse me for the engineering language is a crock of shit. Low bandwidth (several bits per second) shared bus over power line. Once you got past 4-5 peripherals and it has just started to look really usefull you start getting gremlins. Lights coming on and off by themselves, central heating going haywire and so on. Most importantly it starts taking up to 10 seconds for some of the sensors to respond to a poll. So your garage lamp gets turned on 10 seconds after your IR sensor reacts.

      No thanks.

      Do not smoke this shit (have friends who do though). Once I am done with all the current house work I will wire some of the stuff but it will be using good ole cat5 for the sensors on dedicated wiring. And good ole cat5 to the relays once again on dedicated wiring. And some use for some good ole serial boards that will otherwise byte the bullet. Possibly once again driven by a heavily modified mister house but no X10.
      • I've been thinking about building a small Z80 based device, with a z8530 serial chip doing rs485. Maybe with as many as 4 simple bus slots composed of 20 or 40 pin headers (like IDE uses) to make it simple to build 'peripheals' out of perfboard.

        Say, 32k of ram, maybe 128k of eeprom, and you could hook up 20 or 30 of these things, one daisy chained to the next. Could even use cat5, and reserve a pair for power. For peripheals, they would be simple relays and sensors... switches, thermistors, etc.

      • Re:/.'d already... (Score:3, Informative)

        by kfhickel ( 449052 )
        You just need to get higher quality modules, and do a little background work. I've got more than 40 devices with no problems, although I haven't gone the heating/cooling control route (yet).
      • Re:/.'d already... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @11:25AM (#5862187) Journal
        I don't understand why making a computer the primary control for everything in the house has such appeal. Especially things like lighting and heating.

        Most occupancy sensors have a built in set of contacts (optionally two sets sometimes) specifically for switching lights. If you want to monitor or override the sensor with a central computer, that's perfectly doable... but there's no sense in sending a signal half way across the house, prosessing it, and sending a signal all the way back when the sensor itself is perfectly capable of dealing with it directly.

        Same thing with heating. If you're going to need a thermostat for each room/zone anyway, why not let it control the heating directly and have the central computer step in only as a secondary control? No lag, more robust (since otherwise the computer presents a single point of failure) and probably more modular.

        A simple stand-alone controller to open and close window shades (for example) can be built for a few bucks each, and you'ld probably only need one per room, if that many. What would it take? Photo cell of some kind, relay, power supply, small PIC or other microcontroller package, and a motor. No big deal!

        Running a dedicated wire is still a good idea regardless. *maybe* using one or two X10 devices for things that might not lend themselves to hardwiring, or something you might not have around long enough to warrent dedicated controls. (Holiday lights maybe? I dunno...)
      • Actually, it may use X10 commonly as that is the cheapest/most common way of controlling your house, but if you read the lists you find that many people use these cool Weeder digital I/O boards, alarm systems, I-Buttons, and all sorts of other home control systems that are countless it seems. I'm working on doing that myself, now that I'm a homeowner, but money is tight, now that I'm a homeowner.

        Also if it doesn't support it today, it will as soon as you write the interface for it, which is usually quite s
      • Will you daughter get sucked in to the tv as well and sporadically hear her creapy voice echo through the house?
    • I wonder what type of security X10 devices have. Do they have any ability to block DDOS attacks, or /.ing?
    • As I recall, the server you're looking at is not the server that actually runs his house. Misterhouse first came to my attention in a Perl Journal [] back in 2000.

    • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:41PM (#5862820)
      Did you see the speech output? My favorite quote:

      "Notice, there were 668 web hits from 74 clients in the last day."

      Heh... wonder what the speech output for today will be...

      "My mind is going... Dave..."
  • I dunno... (Score:5, Funny)

    by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:48AM (#5861473) Homepage Journal
    HOMEOWNER: Open the patio door, Misterhouse.

    MISTERHOUSE: I'm sorry, Dave, I can't do that...


  • by jocks ( 56885 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:49AM (#5861477) Homepage
    Simply shout "Shut the curtains, switch off the lights, disable the alarm and unlock the front door" through the letter box.
  • Hardware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:50AM (#5861484) Homepage Journal
    That's just great. But one thing... What kind of hardware do I need to connect my computer to all the devices in my house? Does it support wireless? I would assume that the site would have the answers I'm looking for, but it's a bit /.ed.

    Software does me no good if I don't have the hardware to make it work.
    • I had the same question. Now, I know that X10 devices can be attached to nearly anything, and assigned a two-part code, ie 'A4'. Can someone point us to a site that explains X-10 from the ground up, including X-10 to Computer interface?

      Radio Shack just didn't have the answers.

      • Re:Hardware (Score:3, Funny)

        by jpsst34 ( 582349 )
        What would make you think Radio Shack would have answers? Has their slogan misled you? You know, the one often misheard as "You've got questions. We've got answers."

        Turns out that's not really the slogan, it's just being misinterpreted through slight of tongue on their part and your subconscious saying, "They didn't just say that!" But they really did just say that.

        The slogan is actually, "You've got questions. We've got Assholes."
      • And just for kicks, here [], is RadioShack's home automation section on the online catalog.

        I have equipped my parents home with an X10 based system and all of there light switch modules and appliance outlets (all the in-wall variety) came from Radio Shack with only computer interface and software comming from online. It's been four years and no problems yet.
    • Re:Hardware (Score:5, Informative)

      by codezion ( 564387 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:03AM (#5861562)
      Hardware List (taken from FAQ []:

      (Google Cache [])

      6.8 What sort of hardware do you have in your house?

      This is what is currently (04/2001) in Bruce's house (see mh/docs/mh.* 'List of supported hardware interfaces' for more info):

      - Mh running on a dual 600 PIII Win 2K box great for quick mh debugging :)

      - SB Live Value sound card (supports simultaneous sound sources)

      - PCI ByteRunner 8 port serial card

      - PCI phone modem for callerid logging and announcements

      - Linux box for hosting

      - 5 other networked computers for mp3 client/servers, shoutcast server, games, writing, and work from home

      - Radio Shack PA amp with a PA speaker in each room

      - Wiring closet with 3 DIO weeder cards and 2 analog cards

      - 16 relay card from jameco for PA speaker switch

      - Home brew motor/relays for up/down control of 9 Window quilt curtains

      - RF sensor in the mailbox across the steet

      - WX200 weather station from Radio Shack

      - Relays controling garage door and furnace heat and fan

      - Digital input sensors on doors and garage door

      - A few iButtons for testing

      - X10 IR commander and CM17 for sending IR signals

      - X10 CM11 with X10 consoles in each room for control

      - X10 motion sensors, light, and appliance modules

      - Matrix-orbital LCD keypad for local output and control

      - WAP cell phone for remote queries and control

      - A ham radio TNC for tracking 2 GPS APRS equipped cars

      - NetGear router with mh monitored SYSLOG data for tracking internet traffic

      - MSVoice VR via a Andrea Desktop Array microphone

    • Re:Hardware (Score:4, Informative)

      by kawika ( 87069 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:17AM (#5861655)
      For basic control, you can get X-10 powerline control stuff at, or, or even your local Radio Shack. The computer-to-powerline interfaces run $10-$50, the most common one is the CM11a. There are also computer-to-wireless interfaces like the MR26 that let you receive keypad presses. The wireless keypads can also control devices directly.

      There are plug-in modules to control lamps and appliances, they generally run $5-$15 each. You can also buy wire-in switches and outlets that can be controlled by X-10 signals, cost is $10-$70 each. So you probably don't want to replace every switch in your house.

      There's a lot of activity on the comp.home.automation group if you want to learn more.
  • Now if only we can get a coffee machine that's compatible with this, I'll be set. :-)

    Of course, the other thing to worry about here is security -- I sure would hate to get 0wn3d by some idiot who then had the power to play with my lights, change my channels, etc. I know the easy crack here is to say "then just don't run it on Windoze!", but I won't take that road because RedHat, etc. are almost as vulnerable if improperly configured.
  • Tried MisterHouse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Your_Mom ( 94238 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:52AM (#5861500) Homepage
    I've tried MisterHouse (a year ago, take this with a large helping of NaCl), and I was not that impressed by it. It has all these "Gee Whiz" features, and there are some neat things, but you need to run it on a dedicated box, with a lot of horsepower. I would much rather have a smaller, more compact version with less features.

    If you have the computing power to use it though, try it, it's fun :)
    • It looks like an interesting project, and going by the FAQ you don't need that beefy a machine to run it, especially when it's dormant. This could happily co-exist on my existing house server (doing web, firewall, mail, etc. etc).

      I don't need it to tell me "Notice, the sun is bright at 32 percent, and it is cold outside at 24 degrees, so I am opening the curtains at 8:07 AM", though. Especially not at 8:07.

      I've been waiting for something like this for a bit, something that integrates controls, small
      • You really don't need MisterHouse to do that. That's an unnecessary level of complexity. What you want to do is "zone" your house using programmable thermostats hooked directly up to a water pump controlling that zone. Set your daily program once on each thermostat, and forget about it. A good programmable thermostat is about $20 at Menards. Unless you want to program your thermostat over the Internet while you're away, that's all you need.
    • Re:Tried MisterHouse (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kfhickel ( 449052 )
      I looked at MisterHouse, and it's cool, but for me, it was more of a kit than a solution.

      I have to deal with cranky perl code (and C, C++ and Java) all day at work, I don't want to have to do it to get my lights to work.

      I run HomeSeer (windows only) and it was much easier to set up out of the box, but you do have to pay for it.
    • I like all the features, but I would rather use a StrongARM based box that uses less power. I already have a few machines running non stop. I don't need to use MORE power just because I am too lazy to get up and hit the switch!
    • Re:Tried MisterHouse (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrChuck ( 14227 )
      I suppose if you use windows, you might need a beefy machine. you need a beefy machine to run notepad.

      Mr House is running on my MP3 server/mail server/ internal DNS server/web server.
      It handles around 5000 messages/day, streams MP3s and generally just runs.

      It's a K5@233 with 48MB of RAM. It cost me $200 a long time ago. It will never die. It's sole purpose was to spit files to the net from a large disk for the other machines. The NeXT didn't cut it (IDE was cheaper :).

      Why not the dual CPU 1u und

    • Re:Tried MisterHouse (Score:3, Informative)

      by shokk ( 187512 )
      Dedicated box? My single 700MHz Misterhouse system is my Apache webserver, Samba fileserver, MP3 repository, Obsequium server, DNS server, NTP server, mySQL server, POP server, IMAP server, etc, etc, etc. Because of all the spare cycles the thing has, I am running Folding@Home on it!

      You do not need anything dedicated, folks.
  • Hmm, why can I not help but think about Electric Dreams [], that campy 80's movie about a computer 'gone bad' that takes over a guy's house when both the computer & the guy fall for the girl upstairs.

    I'll also preempt the inevitable pron references by saying, yes, there were also movies listed on Amazon that have the same name. Simply pointing that out does not make for a creative reply!
  • I've never quite seen the SE kick in before I started viewing stories from the "mystrious future". But on this site, I could clearly notice when the Slashdot posting header went from red to green. Wow.
  • by 3rd_Floo ( 443611 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:53AM (#5861506) Homepage
    1. Start a project
    2. Succeed in making a good project
    3. Get noticed by /.
    4. Loose your bandwith allocation for the next year
    5. Go under because the bandwith nazi creditors are after your free project.

    Looks like they are midway between 3 and 4... huummm =P
  • by implex ( 468133 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:56AM (#5861524)
    This may be of value for more information as the site is ./d []
  • Perl House? (Score:2, Funny)

    by dotpl ( 601535 )
    hmm... does the choice of language has anything to do with the last name of Larry Wall?
  • by celloloop ( 191660 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:59AM (#5861540)
    Course listing at the local Home Depot:

    7:30 Kitchen and Bathroom Tile installation
    8:30 Decorator Paint techniques
    9:00 Perl syntax for home automation

    Name your house's components:
    my($Wall) = "Larry";
  • Mirroring (Score:2, Informative)

    by schnarff ( 557058 )
    Probably a bad idea, but...

    I was able to snag a copy of the Features page before the Slashdotting began (damn near got first post, too, but I actually wanted to *read* a bit before I posted). I've put a copy [] on my web server.

    Oh, and I believe this is the Google Cache [], but it's barely even responding. We couldn't have Slashdotted Google, could we?
  • Bluetooth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pendersempai ( 625351 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:00AM (#5861548)

    Imagine this technology combined with a simple Bluetooth ID that you can carry in your wallet:

    • Lights turn on as you enter a room and turn off as you leave it
    • The music you play on your networked audio system follows you from room to room
    • The movie you're playing pauses automatically when you go to the bathroom
    • The heat is turned down when you leave the house
    • Your rooms of your house, in general, snap to attention at your presence and stand at ease when you've passed
    • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:16AM (#5861641)
      Didn't someone living near Seattle build a big ass mansion with all this in it? How'd that work out for him?

    • by PerryMason ( 535019 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:19AM (#5861659)
      * snap to attention at your presence and stand at ease when you've passed

      And they'd have Genuine People Personalities? It'd be a door's pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done?

      I'm not too sure if its all a good idea. Don't forget that history has shown the marketing division who came up with GPP to be a bunch of mindless jerks who were first up against the wall when the revolution came.
    • "Lights turn on as you enter a room and turn off as you leave it"

      ...leaving your guests sitting in the dark, muttering.

      Of course most people who implement this in their own homes are not the types who entertain often ;-)
    • by tomzyk ( 158497 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:20AM (#5861669) Journal
      Huh. Why BlueTooth? If you just want it to initiate events while you move around/through the house, just put one of those RFID tags [] in your pocket and put sensors in all of the doorways. (Supposedly the sensors can only pick up the tags within a few feet.) This way you don't have any hardware that you still might drop/misplace/etc...

      Hell, just tape/glue/insert an RFID tag to your arm (like a nicotine patch or something) and you can walk around your house naked and still have everything working.
    • Re:Bluetooth (Score:3, Interesting)

      you mean something like this? []
    • Might make you a bit lazy though, imagine getting used to it and then staying around a friends house. You would wonder why the telly doesn't come on when you enter the living room.
    • Re:Bluetooth (Score:4, Interesting)

      by surprise_audit ( 575743 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:29AM (#5861750)
      All of which are just fine if you're the single occupant of the room (or even house), but when there are multiple other occupants, there'd better be some very good conflict resolution software in the loop.

      Sure, it's easy enough to count the folks in any given room and make the decision to turn the lights off when the last person leaves, but what if I like the lights bright and my wife doesn't? If I'm in the room with the lights bright and she walks in, should it dim the lights? Pick some point between our two references? Same goes for TV channels/volume, room temp, etc.

      And what about visitors? Imagine a SuperBowl party where the host leaves the room to take a leak and the TV shuts down... Guess you'd need to hand out IDs as visitors enter the house...

      It would still be cool, though. :)

      • Re:Bluetooth (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tokerat ( 150341 )

        User configuration is of course they key here.

        The controlling computer should have a configure menu (of course only activated when you walk up to it :-) which would allow you to decide things like how to mix specific settings between two people. Perhaps you could have a group of settings specific to you, your wife, and then one for the both of you, in each room.

        Also, I would imagine panels in each room which would allow for overrides, perhaps a small touch-sensitive LCD screen, or even one of those PDA-lo
  • by bentfork ( 92199 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:00AM (#5861551)
    The site says that it has speach capabilities. I really like this one:
    Notice, the sun is bright at 32 percent, and it is cold outside at 24 degrees, so I am opening the curtains at 8:07 AM

    Actions similar to this can save a lot of energy. Curtains are a super efficient way to control internal temperatures, if and when they are uses correctly. How many of you remembed to close your blinds before you went work? ;)

    Now if there was only a script that would output this:

    I noticed there were dirty dishes in the sink when you went to bed last night. They have been places in the dishwasher. [Insert spouse name here] will be pleased.
  • by Maradine ( 194191 ) * on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:01AM (#5861552) Homepage
    After all . . .

    The house that PERL built:

    . . . has more entrances than you know what to do with, and most of them lead to the same room anyway. Random geeks walk by and obfuscate your living room for fun.

    The house that RUBY built:

    . . . makes eating dinner confusing, as when you drop your spork (an instance of class spork, which multiply inherits from classes spoon and fork, two subclasses of class utensil, a subclass of . . .) your not really sure whose member method your picking it up with. Using the bathroom is right out.

    The house that LUA built:

    . . . swing at the large rat. You hit! The large rat disappears in a cloud of red mist. You have killed the large rat. The grid bug misses. The grid bug misses. You are jolted by the grid bug. There is a fountain here. Do you drink from it? (y/n) Your god is angry with you. Curse the day that all the nethack and angband developers integrated lua into their games. The grid bug misses . . .
    • Well, if was the house that Java built, it'd take out the garbage for you, all automatically! :-D
      • Unfortunately it would also fill up the garbage for you and empty it fifty times a day. The wind from the door constantly swinging open and closed would be a decent replacement for any fans in your home.
    • What's "PERL"?
    • The house that C++ built:

      Your house inherits from the class of all houses, so you don't have to build much of it. Yet pointers still allow you to punch holes through your walls.

      The house that C# built:

      You can mess up your house and much as you want, then a garbage collector comes by to clean it up. Your house in controlled over the Internet with web services. Your rent goes to Bill Gates.

      The house that Scheme built:

      Your house is a mystery to everyone else. Your wife complains about all the parenthe
  • by stere0 ( 526823 ) <slashdotmail@ste r e o .lu> on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:07AM (#5861590) Homepage
    Apparently, all the hardware supported by MisterHouse runs on 120V.

    Having to use 240->120 and 120->240 transformers would be practically impossible. Does anyone know of hardware that would work on this side of the Atlantic?

  • Use a Mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by /dev/trash ( 182850 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:09AM (#5861604) Homepage Journal
    h ttp://
  • You can also have a Flash-Powered house:

    Here... []

    • ]]You can also have a Flash-Powered house:

      ]]Here... []

      The whole house consists of one room, but with the power of Flash, Farrell never needs to leave that room. "I'm a little uncomfortable taking a leak the same place where I sleep and fry my eggs, but never having to walk more than 5 feet is pretty nice."

      So...what? He sleeps in the toilet or pees into the range top or fries his eggs on his bed?

  • methinks they're not using mod_perl here, judging from the speed at which this is loading :)
  • Mrs. House? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Amarok.Org ( 514102 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:17AM (#5861651)
    It'd be a lot easier to program a Mrs. House. No automation needed.

    YOU: "Mrs. House, turn on the TV."
    MRS.HOUSE: "Turn it on yourself, ya lazy bum!"

    serial input detects a change on a window sensor...

    MRS.HOUSE: "I heard a noise... go see what it was!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:18AM (#5861657)
    Someone asked what it can run on, I'm using it on my RH Linux 7.3 box on an AMD 400MHz with 256M RAM and a 30G drive (30% used). I've got 12 serial port in use (caller ID, weather station, CM11a, HCS II, dallas one wire network, etc. ). I need to put some more work into it but in a couple of weeks I'll be moving one of my Audrey's into the living room so we have a touch screen interface to MH from there. MH may not be a simple DIY project but it is extremely powerful. I have it turning things on and off as needed (such as printers attached to print servers, uses X10 to turn on and off the printer). I've got more than X10 but we don't want this message to get too long. Linux Home Automation
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:23AM (#5861687) Homepage
    and what is best - it understands spoken commands.

    I believe I'll be turning it off during sex.
  • X10 in general (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slasher999 ( 513533 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:24AM (#5861696)
    For those that don't know, X10 is the protocol behind a lot of the Home Automation hardware out there. I've been using a Windows based software solution for a few years now - HomeSeer - and it's fantastic. Runs on my wife's Windows 2000 workstation (that is always on). I've considered Mister House many times over the past few years, but never tried it out myself.

    There are X10 solutions for use in Europe as well. Here's a jumping off point:

    Good luck!
  • Here is the link to the linux drivers for the x10 camera. X10 Camera under Linux Drivers [] I should let the Misterhouse team know.
  • by bomblaster ( 580308 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:31AM (#5861763)
    A group of 5 students (including myslef) did the same thing around 2 years back during our third year in CS - October 2001 - for the Microsoft Asia Student .NET competition. Implemented the Home Automation service as an XML web service that could be consumed by external applications (after authentication of course :) ) to view home status information as well as trigger actions on home devices remotely.
    The devices were controlled by a software gateway on a central home computer thru Wi-Fi and the specifications for communication between the gateway and the home device were encapsulated in an XML driver. ov01/11-14asia.asp [] html []
  • by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:42AM (#5861861) Journal
    I wanted to find out more about Mr. House, so I got a fresh cup from Mr. Coffee, and sat down at Mr. Computer. It wasn't working, so I checked Mr. Radar - it was jammed - yes, with Raspberry!

    Only one person would have enough nerve to give me the Raspberry:


    (With Apologies to Mel Brooks)

  • by peel ( 242881 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @10:47AM (#5861909)
    MisterHouse has been around for a while now and mainly relies on X10 modules. It works fairly well but as one other poster noted it really does need a dedicated box with a bit of muscle or it's a bit slow and frustrating to use. I came across it while looking for X10 software for linux, which it runs on as well as OSX and most versions of Windows. There are many similar products out there for Windows [], Mac [] and even a few simple ones for linux []. The most popular/commercial product was a piece of software for the ActiveHome module that came as part of IBM's Home Director [] kit (I can't remember what the old version was now it comes with HomeVoice). In all my years of using X10 I'd still have to say XTension [] for the Mac was one of the coolest products out there as it let you create a floorplan pretty easily and it ran well on an old 75Mhz PPC. Lately I've just been using Heyu [] which is a simple command line interface for linux that supports macros. Anything I want to do I can set a cron job to do automagically or start an ssh session and do from work or wherever. Sure there's no voice control, but personally I always felt a little weird even using speech recognition on the Mac, it could never quite understand "Who's your daddy?" -peel
  • imgine a condominium complex. a beowolf cluster!!
  • This reminds me of the "master control" program in Tron, but I don't know why. I might have to try it as a phone sentry for those anoying telemarketers who keep calling.
  • Now I can put to use those 6 spare Macs I have lying around the house.

    But what will they do when I'm not home?
  • by JojoLinkyBob ( 110971 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @11:09AM (#5862064) Homepage
    Well I ran:
    perl -e 's;;join"\n",map{unpack"B*",$_}map{unpack"u",$_}qw :&?(3^_H+^ &@HB`@(*` +&@)"`@(*` &?.#X^(+X &`I"`@$2` &@HB`@"B` &?(3^_A#^:;e;y;1;#;;s;$;\n;;y +;0;.;;'
    on my house, and now it won't let me in! That's the last time I download from the obfuscated home automation script section.
  • Something to remember...

    Depending on how tightly you integrate home automation, and how *removeable* you make it, the resale value of your home will drop. Nobody wants to buy a house that isn't under their control and requires intricate knowledge to work and troubleshoot.

    As a second tip...I work professionally in industrial automation, and have designed and worked on control systems for years. This control hardware is unreliable at best...remember, it is your house after all, and you DO get what you pay

  • by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @11:57AM (#5862387) Journal
    ..that when you lose something in your house, you can regexp for it? ;)
  • "Aye, it can talk, it can check your messages, control the lights, program your VCR, and what is best - it understands spoken commands."

    But it can't take a slashdotting.

    Yo Grark
    Canadian Bred with American Buttering.
  • two year user here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LinuxHam ( 52232 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:54PM (#5862952) Homepage Journal
    not sure why this is suddenly news.. and yes, the cheap x10 gear is exactly that. My ActiveHome controller was making the rest of the network flaky. Commands suddenly stopped executing, and when I disconnected it from the wall, all of a sudden the lamp modules would start executing all of the commands that had been building up! Lights turning off and on for a few minutes.. quite a sight to see. I also used to reboot my cablemodem every 30 mins during the early days because the performance would degrade to the point of uselessness in that time frame. I had planned to run a job to reboot the cm whenever ping times rose above a certain limit, but Comcast fixed the problem before I needed to automate that function.

    I've also been waiting for some usable code to receive button presses from my MR26A wireless receiver. Until then, my Misterhouse is one-way only.. turning on lights, either at sunset or when I'm scheduled to arrive so long as that time is between sunset and 8pm. The light in the kitchen also blinks at sunset on trash night, which is when our condo rules state we can put the trash out. I've also bought a ham radio specifically for the purpose of using the car tracking features, but I still have to pick up the PIC-E from TAPR and wire it all up.

    I was just cracking my knuckles and about to dig back in to MH, too, because it already offers a tv schedule browser in grid format with "click here to record" functionality. TivoWeb lets you search the tv schedule but not browse it in grid format. I will code MH to schedule a recording on the Tivo over the LAN whenever I select a show to record from the MH grid. I have thought about getting an Audrey for that purpose in the living room.

    And I, too, dream about walking through the house and have the lights and tv react appropriately. This is where the "$sleeping" variable has helped greatly -- by not having lights turn on automatically when my wife came to bed after I was asleep. No matter which light she requested to turn on, the farthest one away would turn on at 10-20% bright so as to not wake me up if the system knew/thought I was still asleep. The days of, "its okay, Alfred, I'm awake" are still a ways off, though :) Read or watch "Demon Seed" to see why we call the system "Alfred". Its more personable than "Proteus".

    Oh, and something most everyone seemed to miss here, is that MH natively supports VoiceXML which means it integrates with Tell Me @ 800-555-TELL. Yes, you can call an 800 # and interact, by voice, with your home automation system totally free of charge, using text instead of voice (on the server end) and therefore significantly less horsepower. I run mine on a Pentium 75 with 48MB RAM and a thinned down RH71 or RH72 on a 1.2GB disk.
  • by thelenm ( 213782 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @01:03PM (#5863031) Homepage Journal
    Homer Simpson could do well selling this thing. "Mister House, that's my name, that name again is Mister House!"
  • Zone heating/cooling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frank of Earth ( 126705 ) <{moc.snikrepf} {ta} {knarf}> on Friday May 02, 2003 @01:35PM (#5863324) Homepage Journal
    Would be cool to do [no pun]. I have duct'd heat and AC and no zone. Using some automatic duct dampners, a few 1-wire temperature sensors and a program to tie it all together, you could effectivelly setup each room in your house with a specific comfort level.

    I was going to do this for my own house, but the automatic duct dampners were not cheap and I don't trust my computer programming when it comes to controlling heat and ac ;-)

    "Why is the electric bill so high in January, honey?"

    "Oh slight bug converting C to F and the AC was on in the guest room for 4 days straight."

These screamingly hilarious gogs ensure owners of X Ray Gogs to be the life of any party. -- X-Ray Gogs Instructions