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MAX Home Automation Kit X10 Basics   Are you planning to automate your home? If so, the first thing you must consider is the software. The software is the backbone of your home automation system. Good software depends on your needs. Ideally, you want something that is rich in features with great support. But such software is expensive, and if you are a beginner you will be easily confused. Below we have a good beginner’s software kit (Activehome). If you are an advanced home automation user, you may need new software with more power such as Powerhome. We also mention one example of an application that you may want to include in your home automation system. Activehome. This is great for beginners. Such homeowners will want basic home automation, like Activehome. It is manufactured by X10 and includes settings for lights, heat, aircon, and webcam surveillance among others. All of this can be controlled from your computer. Activehome’s design is easy to understand as icons appear as switches and dials for specific rooms in your home and specific functions per room. Additional plugin options are also available as you become more comfortable with your system. A maximum

of 10 surveillance cameras can cover your home. Also, your program can be accessed online. On the downside, you can’t add extensions that are outside of the Activehome program. Also, you can’t interfere with the internal settings of the program. Powerhome. Advanced home automation users will appreciate the many options and functions of Powerhome without being overwhelmed by its many features and applications. Powerhome has excellent support and can perform most functions imaginable. It is flexible and can interface with most other programs. Among its features are voice recognition, text to speech, timers, macros, email software, an exhaustive range of controllers, IR support, jukebox control and

web interface with a built-in server, among many others. If you are stymied by an aspect of your software you can go to the Powerhome Message Board and leave your question there. A whole community of users of this software consult the message boards and answer any questions, including yours, in minutes. You also learn of new things you can do with your software. Virtual Weather Station application. Once you start automating your home, it is likely you will over time discover new home needs that you would also like automated. For example, with recent weather extremes it helps to know what to expect weather-wise when you plan your appointments and errands for the day. Virtual Weather Station can link to many weather websites for information about your area and the areas you plan to visit on any particular day.