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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Shion 3.2.2

Shion 3.2.2 is now available.


This release addresses compatibility issues with Max OS X 10.4.

Please submit any other feedback in the comments below.

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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 3.2.1

Shion 3.2.1 is now available.


This release reenables PowerPC support and addresses various SmartLinc 2412N issues.

Please submit any other feedback in the comments below.

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Shion 3.2.0

Shion 3.2.0 is now available.


This release incorporates a number of bug fixes made over the past year.

More importantly, this is the first release of the final series of Shion releases (3.2.x) before work begins on the new distributed architecture (Shion 4). At a source code level, this release incorporates the Shion Framework into the main repository located on GitHub. Over the next couple of months, I plan to continue refining this release until the new architecture is sufficiently mature to replace this version in terms of features and reliability.

Please note that all Shion 3 code made available on GitHub is released under the GPL license.

Please submit any other feedback in the comments below.

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The future of Shion

First of all, I owe every Shion user an apology for my absence for the past year. In a nutshell, my consulting business took on a good amount of work, and it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to fulfill those obligations and clear them off of my agenda so that I could resume work on Shion and my other projects. Due to personal reasons, I’ve largely shuttered my consulting business and am now working as a 9-to-5 employee doing much of the same things I did as a consultant.

With the change in my employment situation, the Shion project is changing as well. Instead of trying to develop the application into a commercial product, I am open-sourcing the code and work will continue as an open project. This frees me from having to make technical decisions dependent upon commercial considerations, and allows me to take the project in a direction that makes the most sense from a technology and innovation perspective.

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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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Shion 3.0.1

Shion 3.0.1 is now available.


This release adds support for the new INSTEON Portable USB Adapter as well as fixes a variety of Lion-related display bugs as well as fixing issues using X10 lamp modules with PowerLinc controllers.

To support the new INSTEON Portable USB Adapters, I’ve added support for putting INSTEON modem controllers into ALL-Link mode from the controller interface. This includes the USB adapter as well as the 2412 & 2413 USB controllers. (This is not yet supported in the 2414 models.)

In my brief testing of the USB adapter, I came away very impressed with its responsiveness. It’s a great addition to an INSTEON network, with the only drawback being that it does not communicate with X10 devices.

In terms of the bug fixes, this release fixes a graphical issue that could arise whenever navigating away from a table view in Lion, as well as reenabling support for X10 lamp devices with INSTEON controllers. I made a minor mistake in a previous release that made these units unable to talk to each other.

I’ve also expanded the built-in INSTEON product database, so more recent devices should have their models automatically set properly now.

My priority for the next release is to revisit the SmartLinc 2414N controller and bring its performance up to par with the other INSTEON controllers.

Please submit any other feedback in the comments below.

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Shion 3.0

Shion 3.0 is now available.


This release adds support for the GarageHawk garage door controllers and addresses a number of issues identified during testing.

Please submit any other feedback in the comments below.

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Shion Touch is now live!

We’re finally live!

I received confirmation last night that Shion Touch had been approved by Apple and I verified that Shion Touch is now available on the iOS App Store. (It made it through the review process on its first try, which was a pleasant suprise.)

It’s certainly taken long enough, but I’m extremely pleased that I can share this with the wider world without having to subject potential users to the whole “lookup your UDID and mail it in” dance. So, if that’s been holding you back, you no longer have any excuse to not give the software a spin.

I also want to remind everyone that the entire Shion experience is free until the end of 2012 courtesy of Power2Switch, a local Chicago startup that specializes in helping Illinois customers find the cheapest and greenest electricity suppliers. Power2Switch’s sponsorship allows me to make all of this available gratis, so if you’re an INSTEON or X10 user, you have absolutely nothing to lose by giving Shion a try. My hope is that you’ll like it enough to keep it or let me know what I can be doing better for the next customer.

This is an early step on a longer journey (I still need to conquer the Z-Wave beast), but I can’t express how happy I am to have this live after working on this (iPhone-based home automation) in one form or another since 2008.

Thanks again and enjoy!

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