Presence for your Mac, today

by Gordon Meyer

Writing Getting into your head for the Chicago Tribune, Jon Van says that IBM is working on technology that will allow your cell phone to know where you are and for other technology to respond intelligently according to your location. He writes:

"The system will combine knowledge about where someone's phone is with his calendar schedule, sending incoming calls to voice mail when he's in a conference. Eventually, the system may turn up his home heating system 10 minutes before he arrives."

If you'd like to dabble with this idea now, albeit in a form that's "limited" to your own home, it's easily accomplished with a Mac and some home automation software.

In Smart Home Hacks, Hack #54 and #57 describe two ways of having your home lights turned up. and your home stereo switched on, before you arrive home from work. The first one is written by Michael Furguson, author of XTension, and describes how to use driveway sensors that are a lot simpler than you'd think. In the second hack I describe how I integrated the HomeLink transmitter in my Nissan with both my garage door and home automation setup.

Hack #35 tells you how to have your computer automatically forward your home phone to a different number based upon your schedule. In the book it's written for PC users by Jon Welfringer, but the concept of using a little scripting and dialing numbers with a modem, in order to set your phone company's forwarding options, is easily portable to a Mac.

And starting on page 257 (Hack #70) is a technique for knowing who is at home, and having your house respond accordingly. I use this one myself; my alarm clock doesn't go off on holiday or weekends--or at all if I'm traveling--thanks to my home automation system knowing whether or not I'm present.

Finally, don't forget about the Salling Clicker. If you've got a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, not only can you remotely control your computer, your computer can know when you're within 30 feet and automatically get busy before you sit down.

All these projects are great fun, and you'll be ready for the future that the Trib article describes, whenever it finally gets here.