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Shion Touch 1.0β4

Shion Touch 1.0β4 is now available.

This update addresses a number of usability and performance issues.


  • The camera device type is now more considerate, and will not hog the communication channel when downloading new photos from Shion.
  • Added a new login button to the Shion Online settings pane that starts the login process.
  • Updated the camera’s photo list view to work better on older (1st gen) iPhones.

If you are a Shion Touch beta tester and have submitted your iOS device ID (here’s how to find it) to, feel free to download and install this beta app.

Installation instructions:

1. Download Shion_Touch_1.0b4.ipa. Drag this file to your iTunes library.

2. If you have not already done so, create a free beta testing account.

3. In, enter your account information in the “Online” section of the preferences.

4. Install Shion Touch to your iOS device. On first run, the app will prompt you to enter your account information.

5. Have fun!

If you have not submitted your iOS UDID and are interested in beta testing this app, please send your device ID to and we’ll update the appropriate files. Note that due to Apple’s limitation on public iOS beta testing, we may not be able to accomodate all requests.

Since this workflow is still under development and probably still contains issues, please report any problems in the comments below.

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Shion 2.1.0b3

Shion 2.1.0b3 is now available.

This beta update includes the following changes:

  • Support for X10 house codes via the new “House” device
  • Memory leak fixes
  • “Motion Detector” devices have been renamed “Sensors”
  • TriggerLinc 2421 support under the new sensors category
  • 2-way X10 support for devices that support X10 status request commands
  • Misc. GUI tweaks

Please post any feedback in the comments.

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Shion 2.1 Updates

XEP-0050 Support

Shion work is continuing and I’m getting close to releasing a 2.1 beta (probably sometime this weekend). Below the fold, updates on the following topics:

1. Shion XMPP support.

2. Shion online service.

3. Electric Meter.

Please keep reading.

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Shion + XMPP = Win

While I continue to add new devices to Shion’s vocabulary, work’s also been underway on new ways to control Shion remotely. Pictured below is part of an Adium dialog between myself and Shion:

Shion: XMPP via Adium

The foundation of this functionality is the XMPP protocol. XMPP is an open standard for exchanging XML between nodes on a (often worldwide) network. Shion is using XMPP as a channel for receiving and responding to commands transmitted remotely.

The screenshot above shows a text dialog conducted via Adium. I also plan on including a full XML-based API for those of you wishing to write remote apps to control your environment.

I’m very excited about this, so stay tuned for more developments and further information.

Update: Here’s an equivalent view using the BeeJive IM client on the iPhone:

Shion XMPP using BeejiveIM

I verified that it was working from home using a combination of Back to My Mac, screen sharing, and Photo Booth on my office machine.

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A tip for Thinking Home users

One of the more interesting aspects of releasing software widely is learning about new configurations and ways people are using a particular program. Similarly, I also get to hear about new problems and situations that we did not anticipate and test in beta. Here’s our first major one.

If you’re a Thinking Home user and are having problems getting Shion to see your devices, you need to follow these steps:

1. In Finder, navigate to the /System/Library/Extensions folder.

2. Find a file named ThinkingHomeUSB.kext. Move that file from the Extensions folder to somewhere else safe.

3. Reboot your Mac. Once the reboot is complete, start Shion. You should see the controller device and be able to control your devices.

What’s going on: traditional home automation applications on the Mac (e.g. Indigo & Thinking Home) use kernel extensions to communicate with USB devices. They install the .kext file to reserve exclusive access to the device for their applications. Once these .kext files are in place, no other applications can access the controller device. It becomes necessary to remove or replace the problem file in order to allow other apps to communicate with the controller.

In contrast, Shion uses the system’s built-in driver to access the hardware. This eliminates the need to muck about in the local system folders as well as permitting non-administrative users the ability to install and run Shion. If you decide to go back to Thinking Home after trying Shion, there’s nothing on our end that you will need to remove. However, you will need to reinstall the .kext and restart you Mac to resume using your original software.

Update: Bruce Lawton from Always Thinking describes with a better way to get around this issue:

In removing the extension, you can skip the reboot by using the Thinking Home Prefs. Just uncheck the “USB Access” checkbox and TH2 will remove it and do a kextunload (skipping the reboot).

One very minor clarification: the extension doesn’t grab the USB device for exclusive access; it just tells the Apple driver to leave it alone.

Thanks, Bruce!

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Shion Mobile Device Support

I’m currently building a roadmap for Shion features and device support and was wondering what mobile devices should be able to function as a Shion remote. Please take the brief survey below to help me figure out whether I should plan on supporting the Palm Pre, whether Series 60 support comes before Android support, and so on. Please only vote for devices that you own (or are planning to acquire) and would use with Shion.

Thanks for your feedback!

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Shion 2.0b8

Shion 2.0b8 is now available. This is a major release that includes some major changes: 1. The time-limited betas are over. This release includes the new licensing code. If you have more than three (3) devices, e-mail for a free beta license. 2. I’ve included an integrated issue reporter for catching and recording bugs. […]

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