Jun 072014
 

I’ve been using Vera and Z-wave for a number of years as my home automation solution. As I previously posted, Home Automation: Motion sensors and lights with VERA scenes (micasaverde z-wave), sometimes the Vera system requires some workarounds with smart switches or timers in order to accomplish logic tasks for scenes. This can get quickly convoluted when you have complex logic involved or multiple schedules.

For Vera you typically need to learn to write Lua code for more complex actions, however there is a plugin which makes it easy to do in a mostly point and click operation – Program Logic Event Generator (PLEG) from RTS Services. This plugin is free for use up to 30 days, and a full license is a very reasonable $5.50.

InstallApps

The first step is to install the PLEG plugin in your Vera system. In this case there are actually two plugins which need to be installed, the Program Logic Event Generator Plugin and the Program Logic Core Plugin. After installing the plugins, refresh your browser window. By default, PLEG will install a new device named “Program Logic Event Generator”. Edit that device to start using an instance of the plugin (multiple instances can be added for different tasks).

Program logic event generator

PLEG first allows users to set the Inputs for a system. The inputs could be a trigger, schedule, or some element of device properties (e.g. dimmer level). One of the powerful things about PLEG is that it lets you configure a window of time for a scheduled, start and stop values. This sounds simple, but this functionality is not easily available in the default Vera interface. In my example, I have two triggers, one is a schedule from 11 PM until 30 minutes before sunrise, and the other is a tripped motion sensor which has been armed. One thing to note about names – Logic used in the next step uses the names previously saved for triggers, schedules, or properties in free text (no point and click), so it helps to use descriptive names.

PLEG triggers

PLEG schedules

After inputs come Conditions. Conditions are the logic lines which need to be followed for a specific action. Each line must evaluate to true in order to fire the Condition Name (also the Action). In my example, the LightsOn action will trigger only if ArmedSensorTripped and From2300toDawn are both true. For LightsOff, the action will fire when 20 minutes has passed since the LightsOn condition was fired. My example only has two different states, but several can be used here.

PLEG conditions

After Conditions have been defined, Actions can be associated to each. The UI behavoir here takes a little getting used to – when the Edit button is selected for a Condition, the PLEG interface will go away, and will be replaced with a devices list. After selecting the device actions (in my case turning two lights on or off) select the FINISHED button at the top of the screen to go back to the plugin.

PLEG action

PLEG actions

Once finished with Actions the new plugin logic is ready to go, after saving the settings in Vera. My example is quite simple, but there are many other ways to make use of this powerful plugin. There are some good examples on the RTS page here: PLEG Usage and a message board here with some examples & troubleshooting posts: MiCasaVerde Program Logic Plugins.

Sep 072013
 

I’ve been using Gallery (aka Menalto) for almost a decade, starting with Gallery1, now up to Gallery3 in the current release. In the early days the work-flow for adding and providing meta data about photos wasn’t so easy. That got better with Gallery Remote, which I used for many years. However, the Gallery Remote workflow was still clumsy. If I was going to stay with Gallery in any shape it needed to be much easier.

Thankfully alloyphoto made that much easier – his Lightroom Gallery Export Plug-in works extremely well with Gallery3. It works similarly to other export plugins (Flickr, SmugMug, etc) – setup albums, photo properties, and publish to your Gallery3 site. Any content changes made in Lightroom (including image or album removal) can be published back the the Gallery3 site.

gallery3 publish services

When you first start out with the Gallery3 publish service in Lightroom it will not have any of your existing gallery3 albums or images. This can be remedied by first running the Import albums process, and then associating images in Lightroom with ones retrieved from the Gallery3 instance.

lightroom gallery3 plugin import albums

lightroom gallery3 plugin albums

Once the photos are associated with the Lightroom library, new versions of previously created gallery photos can be uploaded again. This is helpful if you have done some updating of previous image metadata or tags, added or updated exif gps data, or simply applied new image processing rules. In my case because I have so many albums and images already out on the site (and the fact that I am running a very low resource server) I chose to change the associate images options to do specific large albums one at a time before trying the entire library. I’ve found that in my case this process is quite time and resource consuming, so if you have a lot to do you may want to grab a cup of tea while you wait. I also made changes to which images are associated as I typically have both jpg and RAW versions of the same files in my library from previous exports – in my case I want to make sure I’m associating the RAW files instead of any generated jpg files.

lightroom gallery3 plugin associate images

lightroom gallery3 plugin associate images settings

One thing I really appreciate in this plugin is the ability to set the number of albums the plugin accesses at a time, and set a throttled response rate. This probably doesn’t apply to everyone – but since I run my site on a Amazon EC2 Micro instance with only bursting CPU it really helps.

gallery3 publish service server options

I enthusiastically recommend this plugin if you have Gallery3 and Lightroom. The plugin is not free, but at $15 it is more than worth it for me in the sheer amount of time it has saved me by streamlining my workflow. One of the main reasons I get so behind in publishing my photos is the large amount of work that I had to do previously – Now everything I’m working on is controlled via Lightroom and that takes all of the headache out of maintaining multiple sets of data.

Lightroom Gallery Publish Plugin home page
Gallery Plug-in at Adobe Exchange

Features

  • Supports Export operations
  • Supports Publish Services in Lightroom 3 and above
  • Supports multiple hosting servers and multiple accounts
  • Supports nested album structures
  • Supports custom sorting in published albums
  • Allows you to import the album structure from the hosting environment into your Lightroom catalog
  • Allows you to associate existing photos with photos in your Lightroom catalog
  • Supports photo keywords (tags) and comments
  • The plug-in automatically checks if a new version is available and updates itself with one click

Requirements

  • Lightroom 2 (2.4 – 2.7): Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 3 (3.3 – 3.6): Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 4 (4.0 – 4.4): Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 5 (5.0): Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Gallery 3.0.1 (and above) hosting service with the following modules enabled:
    • Comments
    • Exif Data
    • Exif GPS Data (if you want your Gallery show map locations for geoencoded photos)
    • REST API
    • Tags
    • Lightroom Plugin Helper – see the download link on the side bar on the right