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Messages - roustabout

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Users / noob questions on UI 'skins'/changes/upgrades
« on: January 17, 2015, 08:32:51 am »
I'm a total newbie to linuxMCE - other than seeing and getting interested in the original Pluto projects awhile ago and wanting to build a system ever since, but I haven't installed or implemented anything or put together hardware yet.  (I hope that's coming to start finally soon but outside of collecting some X10 modules and such i'm nowhere yet)

Could someone with a little more understanding of the nuts and bolts maybe explain to me how flexible and changeable the UI is?  I don't like the look.  This is more than a griping feature request, my girlfriend is actually a graphic design major and even if I cannot code anytime soon i'd be happy to try and contribute trying to give a visual overhaul even if it's eventually paying her to commission things if she's just too busy or disinterested herself to donate time.  :)

Like I said though I don't really like the look, but since every demo i've seen so far of MCE has the same look i'm assuming maybe it's not that easy to change?  I just think in a modern age of iPads and having seen fancy animated icons on many phones, i'm looking to do up something like that.

What can be done with the interface currently, is it easy to 'skin' by just editing icons and such?  Is it designed to be mostly hardcoded text and design, open ended 2d images/icons of anything, fully animated transitions between menus/icons, or could it even have 3d effects done?  If a person wanted to seriously bring the UI into the 21st century with retina displays and animated 3d interfaces would that be a monumental undertaking or are there 'code hooks' in place that you wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel, but just add the fancy new graphics (even through shockwave flash or maybe a 3d game engine) to talk to whats there?

Also how hard is it to change the basic functions?  Like lets say I wanted to alter the Security Lighting Climate Telephony type selections to interface with some fairly custom software or even other applications, could they trigger outside applications?  Pass messages to/from those applications perhaps even on a separate computer?  Change internal logic or normal macros (similar to how it normally turns on the lights and then captures an image of an intruder and connects the telephony to talk to them - maybe I have infrared lighting and want them captured on camera but not tipped off)  Or say for instance I wanted to experiment with home robotics and motorizing lots of things, whether it's press a button to physically make a TV drop out of the ceiling, or press another to change the position of speakers or special lights along a track, or even have a motorized cabinet door or lazy suzan in the kitchen - just having those things be a part of the linuxMCE control panel strategy on every Orbiter/screen so that macros could control those custom functions in concert with the normal controls that do things like close the drapes, alter the room lighting, turn on a certain TV and receiver, etc etc.

Again i'm not asking anyone to do that custom code for me, just trying to understand how hard it is to interface to the user interface - was it designed with that kind of function expansion in mind, or easy scripting and configuration in mind?  Do I learn python, or Objective C, or is there a custom internal language that configures everything or what?

Users / best options for networked thermostat?
« on: January 17, 2015, 08:12:37 am »
So i've got this long term desire and fantasies about home automation but obviously it all starts with single steps...

I need to replace my house thermostat anyways so that's coming first.  A few X10 modules for lights/presence simulation will come after, and probably working in a few security cameras i'm sure, but before anything else i'm just wanting to start with the climate bit...

One thing i'm concerned about is hacking, after I read stories of how easy it is for an outsider to compromise various things, my top priorities are something that is wired only ethernet, and fail safe.  For instance a thermostat shouldn't go sub freezing or shut off a heater entirely, but just control within a limited range (no less than 40 for instance) or maybe change a few programmed statuses.  Doesn't really see why it should have unlimited access to do it's job anyways since the biggest thing you're doing is checking the temp when away from home to notice things like a furnace failure/problem in winter, or to tell it to start warming the house up early because you're coming home early from work.

One of the strengths of Crestron type systems is their ability to literally control or do ANYTHING you can dream up, just expensively through their programmers and interfacing...  am I able to basically do the same via linuxMCE?  Like roughly how difficult would it be for me to interface to something like swimming pool controls (change temperature, solar cover on or off, activate automated pool vaccum 1 hour before it may be used) or even more advanced experiments in home robotics, interfacing just the control interfaces to trigger or talk with external applications which might piggyback or work on the side... 

I'm not even sure what that would be yet, it's just a mental exploration curious whats possible.  The cooler things I can do the more motivation I am to learn the relevant programming, but are they things I can figure out with python scripts and some kind of message passing interface between custom applications to/from linux MCE, or do I have to learn all that C code everything is usually based on?  :)

Feature requests & roadmap / control video source switchers??
« on: January 17, 2015, 07:58:13 am »
And other physical switchboxes - audio input sources, perhaps 'tape loop' processing sources, speaker outputs...  one major difference i've noticed between the last time I looked at LinuxMCE and something like the Crestron type stuff is if I want to use something other than a media source inside the computer itself - DVD drive, TV card, media file.

What i'd like to be able to do is to have the ability to control any combination of cascading switchers for inputs, outputs, processing loops.  For instance one touch might connect a a game console through several separate switchboxes (if there are alot of sources a 4 into 1 box isn't enough) to one of three TV's in a room.  Processing or amplifier loops would be relevant because of all the new audio formats and such that seem to be out now - I might prefer one receiver to be used for music listening and another for home theater listening, or more than one surround decoder being able to be used depending on source material.  I might have three sets of speakers hooked up at different positions and ideally want that a part of the macro.  An example being Dolby Atmos and Barco Auro 3D don't use the same speaker positions.

This isn't a gripey-type feature request, i'm just curious if this is on the roadmap, of interest to other people, how hard it would be to implement or add on to existing code, and similar...  it's a long term goal, i'm not against learning how to do some script or code eventually or if finances permit hiring someone else to write code beyond me for the eventual 'dream home theater', but whether or how it might be implimented might change other parts of the equation in terms of what hardware to consider.

Ideally i'd just like to modify existing pushbutton electronic switchboxes but perhaps only remote controlled ones would work within the framework for instance.  I'm not sure whether MCE needs to talk through some existing controller like a Zwave or IR code or if more homebrew solutions can also be interfaced.

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