Pro vs. Hobbiest ML Users

Publicly discuss strategies, opportunities and best practices using the Lobby Suite with other professionals in this ever growing industry.
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DavidL
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Postby DavidL » Thu Sep 15, 2005 3:25 pm

You just got me thinking of the Fantasy Football TV commercials.....Yowsa.

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Postby deckhardt » Thu Sep 15, 2005 5:04 pm

Has Cinemar ever considered offering a sealed box similar to the HS Pro100 to host the executable and two or three RDP Sessions?

I am just trying to eliminate the "Tinkering" that tends to happen with a standard windows box.

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Postby AccessHA » Thu Sep 15, 2005 7:35 pm

If we could only get someone to try ML on XPEmbedded. :D
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Postby deckhardt » Thu Sep 15, 2005 7:43 pm

It would be HUGE if ML3 allowed the executable to run on the Homeseer Pro100 and allowed "Thin Clients" to run it from the Pro100

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Postby mcascio » Thu Sep 15, 2005 8:56 pm

MainLobby & MLServer was running on the HomeSeer Pro 100 box at the show. (AFAIK)
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Postby AccessHA » Thu Sep 15, 2005 9:22 pm

Mario, that's great! Isn't the Pro-100 running XPEmbedded? This could really open up some new doors.

Now if you can just get ViewSonic to build a Cinemar branded 10" Airpanel with ML running on CE, you would have some major HA companies running scared. :shock:
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Postby Krumpy » Thu Sep 15, 2005 9:45 pm

Mario is correct, we all saw ML running on the HomeSeer Pro box. I think they had three of them. If I am correct, one had both HomeSeer and MLServer, and the others were running separate screens of ML.

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Postby deckhardt » Thu Sep 15, 2005 11:11 pm

Now all we would need is to access the "designed" screens for home automation etc stored on the Pro100 from a "Web Tablet" or Generic touch screen and we'd be set.

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Postby Phil L » Wed Sep 28, 2005 2:38 pm

gregoryx wrote:To the discussion intro: I think the real question of "pro versus hobbyist" comes down to whether this system can work reliably with no tinkering nearly 100% of the time. Until it can, it is a hobbyist thing. I don't realize how much tinkering I do until I'm out of town and my family finds something that just doesn't work as I think it "ususally" does. :roll:

The couple of folks that have posted that they are selling this have had issues WRT reliability. The client connectivity is the most significant one that I know of. Sure, it can be blamed on the wireless LAN or whatever other BS, but that approach is exactly what keeps something hobbyist.

I:


That is it in a nutshell.

I was redirected to this thread by jss, when I posted a question in the "pro installer " section.

I am a profressional installer. I investigated Cinemar for a short time and spoke with Mario last year. At this point, I could maybe see myself playing with this a "personal" toy but as it stands now, I would never offer this to my paying clients.

The simple reasion being.........It has not proved to be reliable 99 times out of 100.

The last thing a client would stand for, is to come home and go to push a button and find that the system has crashed. In the professional install world, this scenario is quite frankly, completely unacceptable. Would any of you stand for your car starting 8 or 9 times out of 10??

Just as I would never think of installing x10's and think that I have given a client a reliable lighting system. (btw...I as a professional would never use x10's). Real professionals will only use gear which has proven to be for all intents and purposes, bulletproof.

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Postby jrfuda » Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:06 pm

I think DVDLobby with a CX777ES is 100% reliable - but, it's inability to add DVDs easily (from the client-side) makes it not ready for pro-installs, since the customer may not be comforatable with what's required to add a DVD to the library.

I also think ML's connectivity over wired-LAN is 100% reliable. I've even gotten to the point where I can put my tablet to sleep and it reconnects when I wake it (If I could figure out how to WOL my Viewpad, I'd make it sleep every night and wake every morning).

Once you go through the configuration process, the 2-way serial plugin is 100% reliable too. The configuration process is a PITA, though. I assume a custom installer could create sets of command maps that work with each piece of gear they sell, which would eliviate the configuration process pains. This is one area where the hardware has to be rock-solid in order for the front-end to be 100% reliable.

The more I think about it. The things that are not 100% reliable are due to HomeSeer. Whenever I have something that doesn't respond, it's always HomeSeer's fault (or atleast it's my HomeSeer PC's fault, which has several applications running on it).

With regard to Windows. My ML client is a ViewPad 1000. I have it stripped as much as possible (per Gregoryx's recommendations) and it is rock-solid, with regards to Windows and ML running. I've gone 2 months without a reboot, and the only reason I had to reboot was due to a hardware issue (ViewPad 1000's are not the best hardware in the world). My point is not about the ViewPad, but rather that a ML and WindowsXP installaion can be extremely, if not 100% reliable, if configured properly.

I bet if someone wrote a MLServer plugin that worked with a hardware controller - one of the extremely capable/expandable/dedpendable controllers like the new Elk or the HAI offerings (or heck, even the Ocelot), maybe we'd have a 100% reliable system. Of course, you'll still need a PC to run MLServer on (unless Mario develops a "box" that runs MLServer, holds your databases, etc.). Or perhaps, as someone pointed out earlier, the HS PRO100 box will be the final piece of the puzzle.

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Postby jss » Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:14 pm

I've come to the conclusion that even the so-called professional gear is not anywhere near bulletproof. After I started asking around I heard plenty of stories about crestron gear crashing all the time in various installations. Reliability is also a large function of the installer & programmer's competence. Crestron may work awesome or suck, depending on the programming and what it's doing. I think the same is true for ML.

I have not had ML crash in the two months I've had it running. I've had bugs in my program, but never an unexplained crash. I've been taking careful steps to make sure my PC was built well (no $399 specials) and that there is not a bunch of other crap running on it. It's not a "personal computer" it's a automation interface system which happens to run windows.

It was interesting to see all the hardware at Cedia which was PC based (sometimes in disguise). Even one of Crestron's wireless touchscreens appears to be a re-branded Win CE webtablet. Simply based upon cost and flexibility PCs will likely come to dominate even the high-end home automation and entertainment business.

The reliability is a funciton of the programming. Main Lobby has flash at it's core, which is probably the most widely used graphical programming language in the world. That's why I'm so excited about it - flash is far more powerful than any graphical programming language I've seen in the HA industry.

Maybe ML has a ways to go before it can be accepted as "pro" product. However, I personally believe it's well on it's way.

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Postby Phil L » Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:38 pm

jss wrote:
The reliability is a funciton of the programming.



Yep, usually.... At least until someones "client" finds his way to this site, and gets the urge to "tweak" with all of the forum how-tos.

He starts playing around here and there, and ends up adding a couple refurbed touch panels and Ebay wireless accent point "specials" into the mix, then his kids start adding hardware intensive PC games like Halo and the like, not to mention the spyware and virus's picked up when they visit all those porn sites when mommy and daddy are not around.

Then what do we have? Not so stable and reliable anymore.

"Pro" products are by their vary nature closed platforms to prevent what is known to be "bulletproof" from being corrupted by forces beyond the control of the original installer and the manufacturer.

Just who is responsible for fixing the problems related to homeowner ignorance??

I think Cinemar is a great product for what it can do. That being said, at this point there is NO WAY I could in good conscience, sell it to a paying customer because it is has not crossed the threshold of "hobbyist" (as many of you have referred to it as) to "professional".

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Postby jrfuda » Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:49 pm

Phil L wrote:Yep, usually.... At least until someones "client" finds his way to this site, and gets the urge to "tweak" with all of the forum how-tos.
I'd hope the installer would give the client minimal access to the PC's (Clients and Server) so they can't mess with it. Lock 'em out! I know my PC at work is locked down so tight I can't do diddly on it. I can't even adjust the clock! So if the installer did that on the client's PCs that run ML and MLServer, then they can't mess with it.

They can even make it where the client can't even open a directory on one of the PCs (so they can't edit an ini file and make it so they can edit a ML scene again).

The key thing, is the installer would have to sell these PC's, not as PC's but as automation hardware, not capable of playing games and such on (someone alluded to this earlier).

What's neat, is the installer could adminsiter the PCs remotely if they need to (perform updates, etc.).

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A further thought....

Postby Phil L » Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:52 pm

There are many flavors of PC based home automation controls hitting the market now. Just look at new products from some like HP, Alienware and Fusion Research (A Viewsonic partner) just to name a few.

Geez, how about the $ 79 Meedio software package??

The floodgates will soon be unleased when Microsoft really dives into the mix.

BTW, they have NOT yet. In discussions I have had with those in the "know" they have only been casually testing the waters with Media Center up till now.

All the players have acknowledged that the Home Entertaiment market is the next BIG market to take them into the future. You can bet that when Microsoft really makes a play for this category that they will be diving in with all of their market swallowing might.
Last edited by Phil L on Wed Sep 28, 2005 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Phil L » Wed Sep 28, 2005 5:02 pm

jrfuda wrote:[ I'd hope the installer would give the client minimal access to the PC's (Clients and Server) so they can't mess with it. Lock 'em out! I know my PC at work is locked down so tight I can't do diddly on it. I can't even adjust the clock! So if the installer did that on the client's PCs that run ML and MLServer, then they can't mess with it.



Really. Do you think that would fly?? Honestly?

Lets hypothetically just say that you were my customer. You did not know about this product and I sold it to you as a Custom Automation System.

You then find your way here.. (wont take long right?) and you see all these "regular joes" trading advice on how to do this and that, and you think.... Hey that doesn't sound so hard... Maybe I could have done that... and I want to make changes and be able to do this for myself. I want to add one of those 7" Chinese made LCD's meant for car audio installs....and so on and so forth.

And you start to think......"THAT SO AND SO CHEATED ME!!. HE SOLD ME AN OFF THE SHELF "PC SOFTWARE PACKAGE" and then even had the nerve to lock me out of it!!!!

C'mon. Lets be real.

Lets also be clear here. I am not bashing Cinemar. As I said, I think its great for what it can do, and will probably have a "personal" set-up. But thats it.


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