The Great Automatic Light Saga or How to control a WeMo light from your PC

June 17th, 2014
Summary: Control a lamp with a script on your PC via WiFi and a WeMo Switch

This is going to get a bit convoluted so try and stick with me.

I moved house the end of last year and, as happens every time, I left behind all the alterations and small tweaks I’d done to make my living environment accessible. One of these was the large light switches I’d had installed lower during a door modification to allow me access to turn the light on/off in my bedroom.

Now in my next (current) house I was determined not to spend effort and dollars in such modifications as light switches to be left behind at some future date. I reasoned why not instead spend money on devices I could take with me.

With that in mind I set about looking at how to turn on a light in my bedroom. When I say light I mean any light – anything that’d let me see on my terms, without having to call someone to do it. In this case a lamp plugged into a socket by my bed. I’ve got no access to a light switch in my bedroom so ideally I need to be able to turn the light on from my chair and/or while in bed.

The simple way I’ve found is to use off the shelf remote controlled power switches, the kind that plugs into a wall socket then you plug your device into that and you have a RF remote that controls that.

[picture of kind I use]

These work great. I use a few with the remote on my desk to turn a light on in my home office.

While in bed I use an over bed table that gives me access to a laptop and a few remote controls, for heater, TV etc. using a mouth-stick. However having another remote on my over bed table where I need to operate my bedroom light from is just no good. I’ve already got 3 there and I couldn’t reach another.

My thoughts turned toward the WeMo switch as a possible way of control, however all I knew was the WeMo uses an app on a mobile device. This meant it was out of the question as I’d need to have another, touch compatible mouth-stick for the phone and the phone itself, on my already cluttered space.

Ideally I needed control from my PC.

I then latched onto the idea of having a remote control app on a mobile device that was running the WeMo app and remote access from my PC to the mobile to then control the WeMo app and switch. The mobile would need to be in power somewhere all the time and that meant I couldn’t dedicate my iPhone to the task. I knew on iPhone I’d need to jailbreak it to install a remote control app. So I put out a message to my Facebook friends if someone had an old iPod touch or iPhone they could donate for me to experiment with. My friend Wol offered an old Android powered phone he had retired long ago. I managed to get remote control of it then set about trying to load the WeMo app. But no matter how I tried I couldn’t get the WeMo app loaded.

Then I got an email to Lifekludger from Chris over at Mobilezap asking if I’d be interested in reviewing something for the iPhone 5s or something else from the site. I checked them out and guess what they had? Yes, WeMo switches. I told Chris I didn’t own a iPhone 5s but I could make use of the WeMo! And he gladly sent one over.

[wemo switch and motion]

Now you’re most likely familiar with what the WeMo products from Belkin do.. they are basically WiFi connected switches and motion sensors that can be controlled via an app on your phone.

As I said earlier, the phone only control was something I’d need to kludge around but otherwise the WeMo units themselves are great.Unfortunately the WeMo units from Mobilezap had the UK style pinouts – odd – they came with one adaptor but a couple adapters later I had them up and running. Setup via the WeMo app is a snap.So now the WeMo switch was operational I set it to automatically switch on at about the time I go to bed and turn off each morning when it’s light. But that’s not where it ends. I sometimes needed to switch the light on/off at different times and given the limitations outline above I set about trying to see if there was anyone doing anything about a desktop/pc app for WeMo devices.

At the risk of going down a rabbit hole here, I’d just like to make it known how I’m a bit tired of seeing how much everything is being written for app control from a mobile device and so often there is a very real need for the same app functionality on the desktop/notebook pc. There are real accessibility consequences of only providing for a single platform range – accessibility is about catering for aspects a person cannot change by providing options – no options equals limited accessibility. The continuous march toward “mobile only” – which, as it happens today more and more today equates to “touch only” – really has me concerned, mostly for this reason.

So, to my search on how to control the WeMo from the pc. I discovered that WeMo can interface with IFTTT and I set it up to be able to turn my light on/off by posting a status on my Facebook wall with a certain hashtag. This worked – much to the glee of a couple of my friends who thought it was neat turning my light on/off by copying what I was posting. I quickly turned that channel off and tried something more restricted – control via a hashtag from my twitter account. This proved a bit slow and flakey. So, while nifty fun, it wasn’t a real solution. If I woke up during the night and needed to turn my light on, I would’t be able to see the keyboard enough to type anyway.

I need a way to click something on my pc.

So seeking for a desktop/pc app I found a post on Hackaday on Turning the Belkin WeMo into a deathtrap which lead me to the WeMo forums and a post by cj2902 on some shell scripts he’d modified to control the WeMo and batch file he’d used to run those.

This was the breakthrough piece of the puzzle I’d been looking for.

I copied the script and after looking up the ip address of my WeMo switch ran it on my Mac terminal and viola.. it worked beautifully. So I set to making it work on my Win based laptop over my bed. I installed cygwin which gives a basic unix command shell to windows pcs and tried the script on there. After a bit of mucking around, caused mostly by a corrupt script when I created it, I had it working on the pc. I then created two batch files, one to turn light on, the other to turn it off, and put them on my desktop.

[image iof batch files on desktop]

Now all I need do is grab my mouth-stick and double click and the light responds as desired.

I’ve posted links here to the script and batch files for light on / light off I use.

My thanks to Wol, Chris at Mobilezap and cj2902.

Dave




DwellClick

June 5th, 2014

DwellClick lets you use your Mac without clicking. You point, it clicks . DwellClick will drag for you. Point at windows and resize areas to auto-drag, and use the control panel  for anything else. Save thousands of clicks per day. Drag hands-free with total control.

What is dwell clicking?

Dwell clicking enables clickless operation of your computer. Just point with your mouse or trackpad, and DwellClick clicks for you.

Why use DwellClick?

By avoiding the repetitive clicking action, you protect your hands from the damage that can build up with long-term computer use.

DwellClick helps relieve RSI and it’s also great for anyone with difficulty a clicking physical mouse button, including head-tracker users.

DwellClick on Pilotmoon




Handsfree calling from your Mac via Dialogue

April 20th, 2014

dialogue

 

I could use this, badly. Pity I don’t have the most up to date Mac OS [10.8+] that it needs…

 

Dialogue




Reader Writes: Another alternative for a touch mouthstick

April 13th, 2014

Overcoming the “touch barrier”

I received a message the other day from a reader … in ….

Michael writes:

Please see the attached [link for] pencil tops or stick tops – or whatever you’re having yourself – tops.

I have been using something similar from the same website for some time.  They are effectively novelty pencils, or novelty stylus pencils.  I am sure they are still  on the website somewhere .

I believe this is done by simply using carbonised rubber, and I carry the necessary small charge to mine because it’s mounted on an aluminium mouth stick.  The aluminium I use comes from twelve mil sport arrows.  Which I buy in my local sports shop.

It’s important that you choose aluminium and specify aluminium if looking for arrows, because others tend to be made of carbon fibre and will snap or crush if you attempt to shape them in any way.

Anyway I hope this link help somes people out, I haven’t tried these things myself – but the novelty stylus pencil that I use instead – it actually comes apart and I just used the outside skin – works fairly well.  Although it could be doing with being a bit finer point.

Keep it low tech.

Michael also makes a good point about the use of appropriate technology – his mantra fitting well with Lifekludger ideals :

And keep it low tech.  My mantra – repairable with chewing gum, tape, string and paper clips.  If it doesn’t answer the easily repairable checklist I use, it doesn’t get used.  Otherwise technology dictates how I  live, rather than aids and appliances facilitating how I want to live.




 HandsFree, a Mac app worth $4.99 in the Mac App Store, that uses your Mac as a…

April 11th, 2014

Reshared post from +David N Wallace

 HandsFree, a Mac app worth $4.99 in the Mac App Store, that uses your Mac as a handsfree device by routing the audio from your Android phone or iPhone to your Mac. (Needs OS X 10.9)*?

HandsFree Lets You Make & Receive Phone Calls On Your Mac
There are those who have resorted to using paid third-party apps to make calls from their PCs/Laptops and those who have purchased docking stations to avoi

Post imported by Google+Blog for WordPress.




The Selfie – Remote Switch for Camera Phone

April 1st, 2014
Selfie remote switch for iPhone

Selfie remote switch for iPhone

While they might call this a gimmick an its inspiration may be the #selfie, I’m convinced this could be useful to someone unable to hold a phone or press the button on their phone to take a picture.

via Coolest Gadgets




Pressy – a smartphone task button

December 31st, 2013
Pressy

The Pressy is a tiny, simple button that you plug into the headphone jack of your phone that allows you to easily access a regular task. It uses an app that lets you setup the presses it takes to perform certain functions. Clicks are similar to Morse Code and are comprised of long and short depressions.

When I saw this I thought it’d make a great solution for doing one task on your phone that normally takes several steps – ideal for an emergency number dialler, for instance.

Starting life as a Kickstarter project, now fully funded, the Pressy is now available for pre-order via the get.pressybutton.com website.

via Coolest Gadgets.

and get.pressybutton.com




Wheelchair tyres that never go flat

December 19th, 2013

Wheelchair tyres should be made like this….

“Military Inspired ATV has tires that won’t stop…or be popped”




Kwikset Kevo smart lock

December 4th, 2013

kwikset lock

Kwikset are a leading brand of door hardware and home improvement.

The Kevo smart lock is a Bluetooth-enabled deadbolt that will turns your iPhone into your housekey.

The Kevo smart lock gives you the ability to unlock the door with a smartphone, accompanied by a simple touch.

Electronic keys (eKeys) can be sent to family, friends and service people and you receive notifications whenever there is someone who enters or exits the door.

via Coolest Gadgets




Ribbit wireless handset, speaker and dock for mobile phone

November 11th, 2013

The Ribbit is a wireless handset, speaker and charging dock for your mobile devices.

Use the classic receiver to make calls while your smartphone or tablet is charging.

The Ribbit has volume control and a noise reduction system to ensure crisp, polished sound. A rechargeable battery provides around 6 hours of continuous talk and 35 hours of standby time.

via Coolest Gadgets & Dream Cheeky




Much awaited new Accessibility feature – iOS 7 Switch Control

October 15th, 2013

From the AblenetInc youtube page comes some info on Switch Control in iOS7

“iOS 7 includes a powerful new accessibility feature, Switch Control. For users with significant physical disabilities, Switch Control is a much needed feature that provides access to almost every feature in iOS 7 through the use of one or multiple switches.”




Captionfish: A captioned movies search engine

October 8th, 2013

Stumbled across this service the other day. Lists captioned movies and TV shows as well as a search facility.

You can customise results to shown within a certain area. Howeverer it only seems to be US-Centred currently.

I’d really like to see this expaned to other countries, especially Australia.

Captionfish: A captioned movies search engine.