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Shion in the Age of Mavericks

As some of you have already discovered, (the Mac client) crashes hard when you attempt to use it with the Shion Touch app after you’ve upgraded your desktop system to Mavericks. I haven’t commented on this publicly yet because I hadn’t the time to explore the issue, thus I had nothing useful to say.

I looked into the problem this morning and the crash is caused by the Lua scripting framework that I integrated into Shion 3. Lua is an alternative scripting language that’s popular in the games industry and I made it the base scripting language for Shion because of its ubiquity and small learning curve. Unfortunately, the open-source code that Shion builds upon hasn’t been updated in almost seven years, and Mavericks was the release that finally pulled support for the system functions that Lua was using. Thus, when you launched Shion Touch, it issued a Lua command to the desktop app, causing the crash.

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A Christmas Miracle!

After putting out the 3.2.1 update last night, I turned my attention to a problem that’s been vexing me for well over a year. For those of you using the Shion Online service and accompanying iPhone app, the reliability of the service has been a persistent issue.

On the server side of things, the root of the problem has been an issue with the Java-based Openfire XMPP server taking up way too memory and getting into trouble once it exhausted the available system RAM. I put into place scheduled jobs for killing and restarting the process to clean up periodically, but the memory use would skyrocket after a short period.

Last night, I looked more into the problem and ran across a thread on the Openfire forums describing a memory leak associated with the Personal Eventing Protocol (PEP, a.k.a. XEP-163) that sounded exactly like the situation I’d been experiencing. I applied a suggested fix and the server load time has been reduced back to where I thought it should have always been.

I’m extremely pleased that this solution has worked out so far. If it continues to hold (and I’ll be watching over the next week), it removes the need for me to continue with the planned rearchitecting of the Shion network functionality and resume working on improving the stability and functionality of the various applications.

If you’re a user of the online service and can confirm my observations from your perspective (the service is snappier and more reliable), I’d appreciate it.

Happy holidays everyone!

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Shion 3.1.0

Shion 3.1.0 is now available.


This is a major release that adds official support for the SmartLinc 2412N Ethernet controller. I’ve been using this controller for the past month and have debugged and optimized it extensively. The only outstanding issue is that it fails to link with one-way sensors such as motion detectors and SynchroLinc devices. This appears to be a hardware limitation that I will be unable to work past. Users of previous implementations of this device will need to reselect the controller type in the preferences.

This release also includes major performance enhancements across the application. These improvements are the result of migrating the events database from a flat file storage system to one powered by a CoreData SQLite database. Please note that the older events will not be migrated to the new storage, so this update will essentially “reset” your device history.

I’ve improved support for the Weather Underground sensors, so more endpoints should work now. To use these devices, create a Weather Underground Sensor and use your station ID as the address.

There are other bug fixes dealing with time zone issues, crashes, and poorly-performing controllers.

Please submit any other feedback in the comments below.

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Apologies for the Intel-only build of Shion

I wanted to thank everyone who sent in reports of issues running Shion on PowerPC machines. It was not my intention to drop support for PPC, rather it was the result of a silent Xcode defaults switch that caused the issue.

Apple may be throwing PPC support to the wind, but I wanted to reiterate that I’m planning on supporting that architecture as long as I can. I’ll probably drop 10.4 support before I’ll drop PPC support. (Not that there are any plans to drop 10.4 support at the moment.)

Again, apologies for the inconvenience and for not catching that issue in the most recent build. I should have an update that fixes the problem available later this evening.

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Free Shion 2 License Update

Despite my requests for users to migrate to Shion 3 for their home automation needs, I still receive regular requests for Shion 2 licenses. I’ve been slow to respond to these requests, to expedite the process, I’ve uploaded a generic license to unlock Shion 2. Feel free to download this license (Right-click, “Save As”…) to unlock Shion 2 without e-mailing me.

Moving forward, I encourage all Shion 2 users to at least try Shion 3 for your home automation needs. Shion 3 is now the active development version of Shion and it is superior to Shion 2 in terms of reliability, device support, user interface, and mobile access. If you’re a Shion 3 user and interested in beta testing the companion iPhone client, send a note to and I’ll get you started with the iPhone app. (Recently updated for iOS4!)

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Answers to two questions received about Shion 3

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to download and send me feedback on Shion 3. I’ve received a few questions about the application, which I answer in this post. The initial set of questions:

  1. How does Shion 3 compare to Shion 2 with respect to resource usage?
  2. Does Shion 3 support downloading programming to the controllers so that the system will work when the computer is off?

Read more for the detailed answers.

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Shion is now free (as in beer)

Effective immediately, the Shion Mac desktop client is now free and may be downloaded and used with as many devices as you desire for no cost. It’ll take me some time to release an update with the license checking disabled, so please e-mail for your free license to use until I get around to releasing a non-license-checking update.

The reason that the desktop client is going free is because I have a few new additions to the larger Shion platform that I’ll be releasing in the coming months and the business model for Shion as a whole doesn’t work well if there’s any friction for users getting started. I’ll be happy to post more details when they’re ready, but in the meantime, please enjoy using Shion on our dime.

For those of you who purchased a Shion license in the past year, I’m prepared to give you a full refund for your purchase, so please send me an e-mail if you’d like me to get that process started.

I’m very excited about the next phase in the evolution of this software, so stay tuned to this weblog for further details.

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