Re: A few random notes...

> > Wouldn't a simple interface to the X10 system be a reasonable
> > As for the software, X10 is supported on numerous platforms
> > already, though I'm not aware of anything on LINUX.  It's about
> > time that somebody wrote it for LINUX, if it (in fact) doesn't yet
> > exist.
> Oh, loads of stuff exists. Look here...

I had a feeling that someone might have written something.  X10 is
too useful a protocol to not be supported.  But...I hadn't looked into
X10 for LINUX.

Glad to know it is out there...I thought it might be.

> > I like it so far.  BTW:  I'm having trouble getting my i810 system 
> to
> > work with XF86.  I've tried upgrading my kernel through RedHat's 
> > .rpm system, and have had trouble.  Any hints?  Anybody?
> > 
> 	Not sure you'd need a kernel upgrade, but there are some 

I do need a kernel RH6.2, they "forgot" to include support
for the i810 chipset when compiling the kernel.  There's an i810 aware
kernel in the /errata files, but I haven't any removable media that can
handle the large .rpm files, I haven't set up networking on RH6.2, and
transferring the file from my Windows partition by mounting it under
LINUX seems to cause problems...I can't get the .rpm to transfer 

Before I do all that, I just need to get RH6.2 running on my system, in
all its glory.  I'm not ashamed to ask for help.

> > As for the project -- would we need full fledged LINUX?  Or would
> > a simple embedded OS suffice?  ELKS is not yet ready for prime 
> > time, and even if it was, the software would have to be designed
> > specifically for it.
> > 
> > A reasonable alternative is the JAVA and TINI system, which 
> already
> > has hardware, an embedded OS, and software hooks for existing
> > hardware interfaces, available for a minimal cost, from Sun.
> 	Embedded is nice, but usually limited to lower-power chips 
> that are 
> often applied in appliances & such. 

But not always -- there are extremely powerful embedded systems
available, too.  Just a thought.  Personally, I think a general purpose
PC (or MAC) would be an appropriate control system...but it's good
to keep options open.

If it's designed right, almost anything with generic processing ability
could serve as a'll just be a simple set of protocols
that provides the inter-module communication.

> 	People nowadays are still going to expect (and demand) 
> powerful 
> machines to handle their mail, news, MP3's, web surfing, and other 

Yes, but the thermostat doesn't have to play MP3 files.  :-)

> managing systems within the house. Why not run it all from a central 
> system, 
> rather than 100 different embedded systems, based on 100 different 
> chipsets, 
> decided on by whatever's cheapest when United Toaster or somesuch 
> decides to 
> build their specific machine?

The chipset is immaterial.  Does anyone care what chip is used in the
various X10 modules?  Or is it the common protocol that links them
all together, that makes the difference?  I can hook all sorts of things
to an Ethernet, for example.  It doesn't matter if it's a PC, a MAC, an
ATARI Jaguar, a NeXT workstation, Sun system, or my HP palmtop, 
etc...for want of a better term, they all speak the same language.

The reason that I suggested a network type system, rather than 100
dedicated peripherals, is twofold.  

1.  A standard PC will have, at most, 4 serial ports and 2 parallel 
ports.  Assuming 1 module per data line, that would be a maximum 
possible number of devices of 20...1 per serial line, and 1 for each 
of the 8 data lines on both of the parallel ports.

2.  LAN capable hardware is now available on a chip the size of a
grain of rice (Dallas Semiconductor's 1-wire LAN chip), and so
cheap that it's almost free. (under $1 each, in small quantities)  

Since network style addressing will allow a minimum of 256 devices 
(ARCNet's old standard) and more probably multiple thousands of 
devices, it leaves us a lot of room for expansion of the system.

Assuming breakdown of "monitors" into simple functions, we'd 
have things like...aquaculture tank.  Water level, water temperature, 
pH, nutrient concentration, and light level.  That's a minimum of 5
simple devices, for this one tank.  Give each one a unique net 
address, and a little processing power.

Pat -- I'll paraphrase you just a bit.  We can put more processing 
power into a wristwatch, than Mission Control had during the moon
shots.  It's available, cheap, and robust.  Why not use it?

> things fail on large networks. They use the same sort of 
> architecture you 
> outline above. It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility to 
> set this 
> sort of stuff up in a house-net.

I know.  I'm going for a Master's in computer science, with an emphasis
on network architecture.  :-)

> > Of course, a total power failure would still be difficult to deal 
> with,
> > but
> > nothing is perfect.  And, in a house with its own UPS, a total 
> power
> > failure is a very remote possibility.
> 	True, and if it does completely fail, you've certainly got 
> other things to worry about. :-)  

>From a network POV, we could always use a backwards learning 
algorithm to dynamically route messages through the home-net.

It would take a little while, but it's a simple and robust algorithm that
would tend towards a minimal cost tree.  Assuming only one or two 
modules go down, it could also recover...just code in a "lifespan" for 
the connections.  Simplicity itself.

> > Try this: send an email to jacket at los-gatos dot net, and in the 
> > message body put "surf URL" where URL is a full url of your 
> > choosing in the format The 
> > message will be received by my home dns/mail server and will 
> > be forwarded to my jacket. 
> > 
> 	This is very cool. And since I live in the hills of Los 
> Gatos, I'll 
> have to see if I can connect with Doug and check out his wearable... 
> :-)

They also did an article on him, for Wired.  Last month, I think...

     -- Chuck Knight
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