ISY-994i QuickStart: Accessing the java application

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, and wow do I have a backlog of posts I want to get written! Let’s get started with a “QuickStart” mini-series to help out those of you just getting started with the ISY-994i. Those of you who are way further along might want to zone out for the next week or so, but definitely stay tuned as we’ll be jumping into more complex topics later.

Today’s post a pretty simple one; we’ll just review the basics of connecting to the ISY-994i. We’ve talked about securing and setting up your ISY, and a workaround of how to connect with Chrome, but as you can see in the comments of that post, that no longer works, and now you have to save the Java application directly to your desktop and run it locally.

Assuming you’ve already got Java installed, you download the app with the URL – or you can download it directly from your ISY at http://your-isy-ip-address/admin.jnlp. The application will be saved to your Downloads folder, and you can just drag it to your Desktop whenever you want to access it.

The reason this works when you download the app from Universal Devices is that it uses a “finder” component to locate ISY on your network:


Read more ›

Posted by Matt Chiste
November 1

Beware of sleazy ad networks on legit sites like

Sorry to step off script here, but I’ve just been disgusted with CNN ads lately and had to throw this out there. CNN is my go-to news channel; I mostly trust them and their largely unbiased content. But their ad content is revolting and clearly shows that CNN has little respect for journalistic integrity or their consumers when it comes to their ad networks.

This is a plea to CNN to clean up their act. Their clickbait scam ad system has been disgusting for a long time. Tonight I had enough so I thought I’d follow an ad to see the depths of the depravity going on here. For a network that claims to vet all stories and stands by their honesty of reporting, the hypocrisy of running these scumbag ads is hard to reconcile. How is the average consumer supposed to trust a news company that regularly runs illegal scumbag clickbait ads alongside their supposedly “pure” journalistic stories?

Here’s a scam ad I came across tonight on my iPhone on their home page:
cnn-scam-ad Read more ›

Posted by Matt Chiste
August 1

The Echo Dot is another winner from Amazon!

Wow. You guys know about my love of Amazon’s Echo, my forays into developing Alexa skills, the thrill of trying out the ISY-994i integration the first time, and even the warnings about the placement of the Echo.

The Amazon Echo Dot definitely amps up my gadget-lust. While the Echo is great in the “main room” (the kitchen) in my house, pumping out solid beats and all kinds of useful info like weather and news, the Dot – at half the cost – is a great addition to the nightstand in the bedroom:

The Dot can only be ordered by those of us who already have an Echo (as of this writing at least – unless you are a bit sneaky). When I pre-ordered it last month they were down-playing the built-in speaker; they’re really positioning it as a device that should be paired with a Bluetooth speaker. In fact, I wasn’t even sure it had a speaker at the time – but I can assure you it does, and it’s perfectly adequate for basic usage. Think of the sound quality on par with your typical clock radio: passable, but not crazy good. In fact, in the past few days I’ve stopped watching the Commercial News Network (seriously, how does CNN get away with 40 minutes of commercials in a 1 hour news broadcast!?) and started just listening to my Flash Briefing instead during my morning routine. Read more ›

Posted by Matt Chiste
April 23

Power Insteon wireless devices with a DC adapter

Tired of replacing batteries in your wireless Insteon devices like motion sensors or hidden door sensors? Power them from the wall with a 9v wall adapter. The process is similar to what we did making a USB connector, splicing the right connector on the end of a power cable.

It starts with any old 9v power adapter (I haven’t measured the power consumption from the motion sensor, but it’s presumably very low so you shouldn’t need to worry about the mA rating), and an appropriate connector, such as these 9v clips for motion sensors. For hidden door sensors, you’ll probably want a custom connector soldered to the AA leads. Just make sure the voltage and polarity matches.

In my case I found an ancient power adapter from a wireless phone:

Solder on the connectors, cut a hole in the battery cover (or just leave it off), and you’ve now got a wireless device that will never need battery replacements! You might want to confirm the voltage of your DC adapter; I was actually getting 13V out of my 9V despite the printing on it – but the motion sensor continued to work flawlessly so it’s definitely got a little bit of tolerance:
hardwired-insteon-motion-sensor Read more ›

Posted by Matt Chiste
April 19

Tivo Bolt’s skip feature is awesome

Hi, my name’s Matt and I loath commercials. Care to join my Commercial Hater’s Anonymous group (CHA!)? Then check out the Tivo Bolt. I’ve been a Tivo guy for years now, but recently upgraded to the Tivo Bolt – and have been really happy with it. Tivo claims it’s not a DVR but really at its core it’s an upgraded Tivo that you’ve known since 2000 – it’s just got that bad-ass skip feature. The skip feature isn’t available for all programs but generally it is for popular programs/stations. It’s easy enough to check whether a program’s commercials are “skippable” when viewing your program listing – just look for that glorious “skip” icon next to a show:

Physically, the box is a funky-looking thing, but I can hardly blame them. Seems the trend these days is to try and make your devices “pretty” to be visible in an A/V cabinet – functionality be damned. Don’t assume you’re going to put it in a stack with other A/V components, but it’ll fit well on top of your devices:

You could also use this as a central device for all TVs in your house with the Tivo MinI (warning: it doesn’t have wifi so you’ll probably want to use a wired ethernet connection), which is pretty neat – although in my case I use a video matrix system. Read more ›

Posted by Matt Chiste
April 15

FaceTime yourself to help with electrical work

If you have an iPad and an iPhone, did you know you can actually FaceTime yourself? Why in all hell would you WANT to do this? If you do a lot of electrical work in your house alone, it’s a HUGE help. Turning off the breakers one by one trying to figure out which is the one powering that wall outlet is an athletic chore of running to the breaker box, flipping a switch, and coming back to see if that was “The One”. Or even if you’ve got help and have done this before, you know how tedious it can get shouting “That one?” “no” “That one?!” “NO!” as you go through the breakers.

Sure, you could use a breaker finder, but instead, try this: Open FaceTime on your iPhone, call yourself, and answer the call on the iPad. Then put the iPad under a light plugged into the outlet you’re working on like this:

Carry the iPhone to the breaker box, flip off one at a time, and you’ll see instantly when the light goes off!
facetime-yourself-electrical Read more ›

Posted by Matt Chiste
April 11

Use a rotary tool to fix a sticking deadbolt

I’ve got an electronic door lock that I control via my Insteon system to lock when I leave the house, and even monitor whether the deadbolt is set or not. But over the winter, I found that the lock was getting a little tight to turn and sometimes failed when automatically trying to lock or unlock. It turns out this stickiness was due to the door settling a tiny bit and the bolt was rubbing on the strike plate.

I considered removing the plate, sealing the existing screw holes with some wood epoxy, and remounting the strike plate 1 millimeter lower to eliminate the friction and allow the bolt to slide more easily. Instead, I realized an easier solution: just increase the size of the strike plate hole. After looking closely into the gap between the door and frame and seeing that bolt was rubbing on the bottom side of the hole, I confirmed that the door was indeed sagging by pulling straight up on the knob while throwing the bolt. Sure enough, it slid in and out without any resistance. So, I simply used the metal grinding attachment on my rotary tool to file a millimeter or so off the bottom of the strike plate. Viola! Problem solved.
rotary-tool-strike-plate Read more ›

Posted by Matt Chiste
April 7
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