Live Life a Little Greener

DIY : A Step-by-Step Guide to Free Media Downloads 

At this point you may be asking yourself; what is smart home automation? What exactly is an automated media center? Prepare to have all these questions and more answered as well as learn to set up your first automated media center.

First of all there is no standard for what an automated media center SHOULD be. There is also no limit to what your automated media center COULD be. The general idea behind automating a media center, living room, home, etc. is to create a life of ease. An automated media center makes driving to pick up and drop off movies an obsolete task which results in saved time and money. Smart home automation can be beneficial and even fun for everyone. Automating your home or office media center is the perfect place to begin dabbling with home automation. Most, if not all, of the required software is free and there are no bulky messes of equipment to set up or install. What once was a plain old living room can easily become a destination of choice for friends and family. The only thing left to do after automating your media center is to add a party button (to be discussed later).

The great part about taking this first step towards a Jetson’s home is that no tools or handyman skills are required. Simply sit down at your computer and follow this article step by step. While all of this can be done on a Linux system as well; I will be walking through the steps using Windows. By the time you get through this your media center should be running itself. The only equipment needed to set up an automated media center would be a computer and a boat load of free downloadable software. Below I will explain what software is needed, how to download it, and how to use it.
EVENT GHOST is a program that allows the user to create macros. Macros are the very core of what makes an automated media center possible. With that being said; EventGhost should be the first program installed and set up. Follow the steps below to install the EventGhost and create your first macro.

The first step is to download EventGhost from . Be sure to download the most recent version then follow additional instructions given by the install wizard.

The second step is to delete the examples file which EventGhost included in the download. This example file causes error messages which can be intimidating. It is best to just do away with it all together. To do this; go to “FILE” -> “NEW”. This will give you a blank template to begin work with.

Step three is to open EventGhost and access the main interface. The log panel is the panel on the left; everything that can be seen by EventGhost will be logged in here. The event control panel is the panel to the right; this is where events can be created, edited or deleted. Plugins are also managed here in the control panel.

Creating the first macro, naturally, is the next step. The basic idea of this macro is to launch a program such as internet explorer or Microsoft word by pressing a sequence of keys. Click on the “ADD PLUGIN” button and select “KEYBOARD” from the “REMOTE RECEIVER” plugins folder. That is the only plugin you need to get through this tutorial and have working macros. EventGhost does provide a significant a great deal of macros with your initial download. If you do find yourself needing other macros then it is as easy as copying the plugins folder and pasting it into “/program files/eventghost/plugins” Once you have added the “KEYBOARD” plugin you will see that all of your keystrokes are showing up in the logging panel. The next step is to add a macro. Click the macro button, then “SYSTEM”, then “START APPLICATION”, and then press “OK”. Next under “EXECUTABLE” browse for the program you wish to launch. The other options may be left blank as they are irrelevant in this case. Then go ahead and click “OK”. You have just created a macro but at this point the only way to execute it is manually. The next step is to add an event which will eliminate the need to execute the macro manually. If you want “Ctrl+Alt+1” to be the combination used to initiate your application, then press those or your desired combination now. The pattern of keys you press will show on the log panel. The next step is to drag the keystrokes/event into the macro above the action. You are finished with your first macro. Now anytime you press that “Ctrl+Alt+1” your desired application will launch.

                                    XBMC is a media center which provides an interface which is easy to use and navigate. In order to get the library mode of XBMC to work there is a specific file structure required in order to scrape or download information about media files. If you have a dedicated hard drive then all of your folders can go directly on the drive without any sub-folders. If you are using a hard drive that is shared with other files or programs then simply add a folder and and do the following steps within that one folder.

The first step is to create the following folders; TV Shows, Movies, Music, Photos, Unsorted Media and Misc.

We will start by preparing the movies folder. The movies folder should not have any files stored directly in it. All movies should be stored in a sub-folder with a name containing the movies name, year, and title. The movie file itself should be stored within this folder. When renaming the actual movie file; it should be named using the movie title and whether or not it is HD or not. An example of the file path could look something like this: /Movies/The Waterboy [1998]/The.Waterboy.1080p.BluRay.mkv.

When setting up the TV Shows folder you should follow a similar process. Each show will have a folder which is titled using the name and year. Each series of said show should go inside its series folder. Name each file as the name of the show followed by the series and episode numbers. You could also add the title of the episode if you so desire. An example file path of this could be /TV Shows/Roswell [2000]/Series 2/Roswell – s02e01 – Skin and Bones.avi. Adding the year to the movies and TV shows is not necessary but decreases the chances of the scraper collecting the wrong information.

Setting up the music folder is done the same way as the Movies and TV shows folder. Within the Music folder should be a folder for the artist and within the artist folder should be one folder for each album. It’s pretty safe to not add the years to your albums since rarely will an artist come out with more than one album of the same name.

The folder structure of your photos folder is completely up to you. Since your photos will not be scraped for information then it is not required to have any particular title or file structure. It could however be beneficial for you to organize them in some meaningful way so to make it easy to locate photos on demand.

The only folder left to mention is the unsorted media folder. This folder should be left empty as media will automatically be sent here until it is sorted by another application or you.Now that all of your folders are set up it is time to copy your media files to their designated folders. There is no need to copy the art files since your scraper will be taking care of these later.

Torrent software is yet another core piece to this puzzle. Any torrent downloading software will work fine as long as it has the ability to move files to a specific folder when finished downloading. uTorrent is the standard when it comes to downloading torrents. This software has been around forever and has proven itself to be worthy. The Episode Downloader (TED) serves the same purpose as uTorrent but it is easier to use. TED is a Java application that automatically finds designated TV shows and begins downloading them. We will walk through the process of setting up TED. The first step is of course to download TED from the link provided. Set up the torrent program to send only completed downloads to the “unsorted media” folder. Open TED and click “ADD SHOW”. A window will pop up and all you do is select the show you wish to download followed by the episode. You will have trouble with some of the older episodes; just a heads up. Once you have completed this then select the desired episode and click “EDIT SHOW”.

A few tricks to get better results are as follows; under “FEEDS” click on “+” and ass IsoHunt, click “YES” and a dialogue box will pop up. Click “FILTERS” and change the top numbers to 300mb and the max size to 1200mb. This will keep you from getting low quality files or odd HD files. If you do not wish to get HD files then set the max to about 750mb. If you download on a schedule and do not wish for TED to automatically initiate downloads then these settings can be adjusted under “EXTRA” -> “PREFERENCES”.

The Renamer is an automated tool that goes out, finds, and renames any TV show you have it set for. It can also be made to work with movies. Many BitTorrent files are not named using the scraper rules and file format therefore most scrapers are useless. This is where The Renamer comes into play. First thing, of course, is to download the program from the above link. Open the Renamer, click “SETTINGS”, then change your fetch folder to your unsorted media folder and change your TV shows archive to your TV shows folder. Check the following boxes: s1e01 , add “0″ for Season (only the first time it appears) , include sub folders , Auto move after renaming, Show name, Season, Episode titles , To TV Show Folder, To Season folder. You have just completed set up of The Renamer.

Ember Media Manager is a tool used to automatically find and download information for your movies. While XBMC has a decent scraping tool it is slow and forces you to re-scrape all files if you have to reinstall XBMC for any reason. If you use Ember Media Manager then there would never be a need to re-scrape in case of a reinstall. Why? Well this is because Ember Media Manager downloads the needed files directly to the movies folder. In order to set this up, go to “EDIT” -> “SETTINGS” -> “FILES AND SOURCES” -> “ADD SOURCE” and browse to the root of your movies folder. This process can also be done during the initial setup as well. Check the desired boxes based on personal preference. Return to the main menu once you have completed this and click “UPDATE LIBRARY”. Your list will then appear, and then click “SCRAPE MEDIA” -> “NEW MOVIES” -> “AUTOMATIC” -> “ALL ITEMS” and then sit back and watch it find all the data for you. Assuming you used the “AUTOMATIC” mode then this is the first and only time you will see this screen as it will soon become an automated process.

If you have followed the steps up to this point and you are still wondering how it will all work or what it will even do then fear no more for its all about to come together. At this point you have already downloaded a group of programs which will work together to download and organize your TV shows, movies and music. After your files have been downloaded and organized they will then be imported into XBMC where they are easily accessible from a user friendly dashboard.

It is now time to use EventGhost to tie all of these systems together. There are two plug ins that must be installed to EventGhost; “DIRECTORY WATCHER” and “XBMC”. To make 100% sure that your movies are scraped automatically you should install two copies of “DIRECTORY WATCHER”. Set one Directory Watcher plugin to look in the unsorted media folder and the other one to look in the movies folder. Then create a new macro called “MOVE NEW SHOWS”. Within this new macro tell it to launch The Renamer automatically (SYSTEM -> START APPLICATION), type “-FETCH” in the command line and set the window options to “MINIMIZED”. In the same macro add another action below it called “UPDATE VIDEO LIBRARY”. Tell it to update from the XBMC folder.

Create a new macro called “SCRAPE NEW MOVIES”, set it to open Ember Media Manager and type “-NEWAUTO –ALL” in the command line box. Still inside the same macro you must add another action below it called “UPDATE VIDEO LIBRARY”. Tell it to update from the XBMC folder. Inside the same macro create an event called “DIRECTORY.WATCHER.UPDATED” to the top of the first macro and one called “DIRECTORY.WATCHER2.UPDATED” to the top of the second and save this configuration. Finally, check and make sure that everything is automated to create shortcuts to TED in the Windows start up folder.

Now we shall dive into the setup of XBMX. Before moving on please be sure you are using at least version 9.11 of XBMC and are using the default skin. The first step is to add media files. Within XBMC, go to “VIDEOS” and select “ADD SOURCE”, locate your “MOVIES” folder and press enter. The source is automatically called “MOVIES”. Under “THIS DIRECTORY CONTAINS” select “SET CONTENT” then select “MOVIES” and set the scraper to the one of your choice. Under “SCANNING OPTIONS” select “USE FOLDER NAMES FOR LOOKUPS”. Under settings you have many options which you can select based on personal preference. The default selections should work for most cases. This same process is done with the TV shows and any other directory you wish to set up.

The following steps are done just to make sure everything will work properly. From the home screen of XBMX go to “SYSTEM”, select “VIDEO, and check all options under “LIBRARY. Do the same thing for “MUSIC”. Return to the main screen and under “HOME WINDOW OPTION”, select “SKIN”. The top four selections should be checked; the rest are up to you. Be sure that “HIDE MOVIES” and “HIDE TV SHOW” are deselected.

Restart XBMC and all of the media will begin to compile within XBMC. TV shows will automatically be downloaded as soon as they hit the internet. They will be organized, labeled, and added to your media center automatically. Downloaded movies will stay in the “UNSORTED MEDIA” folder until you move them to the “MOVIES” folder; at which point they will be found and cataloged by Ember and XBMC. In XBMC there is a “RECENTLY ADDED” box which can be used to see all the new media you have to enjoy.

The Basics of Smart Home Automation 

What is home automation?

     Smart home technology is used to automate a household. Home automation allows for most if not all household activity to be controlled remotely. Home automation is centralized control of HVAC, lighting, security, appliances and a limitless amount of other systems. Home automation is a great way to conveniently control the energy consumption, personal comfort, entertainment and security of your home. A home automation system links household electronics together with each other. Electronics within a household may be tied together by a computer network allowing remote access and control.

What can be controlled?


     The easiest and most popular category to begin your home automation adventure with would be lighting. There are plug and play starter kits available for less then $60. These kits allow basic control of standard lighting fixtures such as power and dimming. Depending on the type of system which is desired; there are many functions and benefits of an automated light system. Using an automated system it is possible to have all of the lights in a house on a predetermined schedule. Motion sensors are able to be put in place to automatically power lights on and off as occupants move from place to place. Lights can be turned on, off or dimmed using a wireless device such as a smart phone, computer, remote or voice command. The brightness of lights can be controlled based on the level of outside light in the room. It is also possible to control the lighting in a home using automated window shades, awnings and draperies.

Security Systems

     Having an home automated security system offers many benefits and advantages. If there is ever an emergency within your home then you will be called by your home and alerted of the situation. Motion sensors and night vision cameras are able to be put in place to alert of any unauthorized movement within the household. With home automation it is possible to watch  and control household cameras remotely. Doors and windows can be locked remotely as well using any type of computer device connected to the Internet.  Magnetic contacts are able to be placed on all doors and windows to alert of and opening or closing activity. Pressure sensors are also able to be put in place to keep an eye on entranced to the home. There is potential to save significant amounts of money on other security services. It is even possible to monitor the home for events such as flooding, smoke or oxygen levels. Another great benefit of home automated security systems is that they can be programmed to simulate the presence of a family even while gone for an extended period of time or just the night.

Home Theater and Entertainment

     Automated home theaters help keep the living room clean and organized. Turn that pile of remotes into one ipad or android device. Multiple devices such as xbox, dvd player, radio, or computer can all be controlled using one remote device. Speakers are able to be placed throughout a home to brig the entertainment to each and every room. Each speaker or section of speakers is able to be completely customized. Customization includes volume, time of day to be played, play list to be played, mute for doorbell, intercom and more. Multiple audio and video sources are able to be plugged into this system. It is possible to have a different media playing on each speaker or set of speakers.

Phone Systems

     With home automation it is possible to screen phone calls accurately and effortlessly. Phone call settings are limitless. Certain numbers can be kept from making your phone ring while others will show up on and screen connected to your automation system. There is voice control software available that can turn each and every phone in your home into a voice controlled remote. Sensors can be put in place to alert of temperatures harmful to pets, pipes, instruments and more. Windows are able to be programmed to open and close depending on the temperature differences between inside and outside. This use of natural heating and cooling contributes to increased energy efficiency within the household.


    Sprinklers are able to be programmed for certain times of day or days of the week. It is even possible to have the sprinklers activate when there is unwanted motion detected in the yard.

Internet of things is the name of the game 

Since Microsoft introduced the internet of thing this year and started to back it up in a big way the internet of things market is coming alive. A lot of new start ups have kick started the internet of things idea into high gear, why? Its the culmination of ideas and technology coming together in practicality. Like all major breakthrough like cell phone, internet, GPS, smartphones its time for smart homes. The necessary components to make a home smart is already in place. The hardware manufactures like LG, Samsung, GE and others are not devoted or interested in software apps to control their devices. The software developers were not working for the hardware manufacturers in the past. Now, the connecting bridge is here and it is on everyone’s pocket already, the know it all smartphones! Software developers are very adept in putting two and two together.

With the advent of apps and open source software readily available, the software developers are going to town with writing programs to control devices inside your home. For example this start up company Smart Things sells you a smart hub for $99 that any one with the knowledge to plug a cord into an AC outlet can operate, of course with their app in your smart phone. The appliance manufactures love this whole market place booming because they can sell new appliances wired just for this type of convenience. Its like how the automobile industry got a boost from adding iPhone adapters and options to integrate your phone with the car.

Internet of things is not only an idea for convenience but also a conscious living alternative. The HVAC system in your home does not have to run full throttle when you are not home. A HVAC system tied to your smart phone know when you are home and when you are not, to regulate the temperature to your comforts when needed and conserve when not. A phone tied to your home location with GPS can easily alert the home heating /cooling thermostat to kick start when you are near your home. Things just sound too cool to be true are already happening.

Watch LG smart appliances video

Safe Driving with PAPAGO P3 dashboard camera, reviewed! 

If you care about driving safe for yourself and for others, this is a great product. Here is an out of the box reason to do so, this news went viral.

ABC US News | ABC Sports News

We are not sure if the trucker in this video used this dash-cam, but it just goes to show how you can empower yourself and be a good citizen out there protecting you and others. One of the main reasons to have a dashboard video recorder is to protect you in case of a dispute with a fender bender or other accidents cause by a other vehicles and not your fault. This type of recordings have come in handy in many many incidents where one driver blames the other and the videos come in to settle the disputes. Now, to the nitty-grittys of this awesome product. First it records full 1080P video at 30 frames/second on a 16GB SD card that is included in the package. The video is separated into 5 min clips for easy uploading to the cloud and when the SD card gets full the videos repeat and write on the old ones, so if you want to save a video, you must transfer it before it get over written. I would think there is a fix for it in the next firmware update.

PAPAGO! comes with a front collision warning system, integrated GPS, a lane departure warning system, a driver fatigue alarm, an automatic dim lighting mode, and a speed camera warning system. The monitor is bigger then what we are used to in vehicle monitors but better user interaction. The touch screen option is not out yet, but rumored to be in the next generation. The buttons are not to shabby to use though. The video quality is pretty good even on low light conditions or underground parking garages. The “backup” button lets you store a clip of video you want to save but this only works when the video card is not full, needs a better method to do these backups without erasing the previous recordings. Other then that doe a price of $220 it is a great addition to your vehicle.

Microsoft, Apple and Google all in the Smart Home Automation Efforts! 

Microsoft recently announced its partnership with American Family Insurance in an effort to kick starts its venture into the Internet Of Things (IoT) where this not so futuristic idea today, that all your devices can talk to one another taking us towards an uncluttered life style. Your refrigerator tells your smart phone to remind you to get mile, eggs, vegetables, beer whatever is your way of life. Your smart phone unlocks the front door of your home for a bug spray service while you are at the park playing with your kids. Your window screens gets notification from your home control device about the temperature outside and adjusts to keep the house cooled or heated to maintain a constant 70 degree inside. This is all happening right now and all the big tech companies like, Microsoft, Google, Apple, LG, General Electric are getting in to carve a share of their pie.

With the recent Microsoft teaming up with the American Family Insurance the 8th largest insurance company in United States is a boon to the smart home industry at large. Google recently purchased NEST for a huge sum and that has outed its intentions as well, Nest makes smart digital thermostats that are capable of communication to smart phones and you can see where that will eventually progress. US Home Energy Consumption
You can see from the energy consumption pie chart above that most of our energy goes towards heating our living quarters the most. Thermostats have come a long way since its inception to be able to set for different conditions. But for the most part it is still not the most efficient method to control temperature. Our homes today do not take advantage the natural heating and cooling effects from the suns daily routine. It is much cheaper to heat your home by letting the sun into your home by opening up the blinds then doing it via an HVAC.

Smart home is just not a fancy idea that automates the things in your home to give you more free time, but a smart idea in how we consume.

Revolv Smart Home Systems For Home Automation 

Smart home automation system is trying to provide facility home, since twenty years and it has changed lots of things in these years. The market has rapidly accepted these changes. There are few automation systems in the market, which are perfect for any home. Nest, Sonos,  Philips Hue and Insteon are those brands, which has best of breed solutions and Rovolv is the only best solution, which tie them all together. I am using it in my home for two months and I like to share my experience with that device.

Whenever, anybody wants to have the smart home system, he sees three choices is available for him. Frist is going to end to end product, services and supports play like AT&T  digital life, which has the ability to change the everything for you. This kind of system is best, but also are too expensive. Another one is “worst of breed” solutions, but I am sure that no one of you, ever heard about this. Last one is best of breed solutions. This means choosing the device, which is best for saving the energy, lighting, music. Brands like, Nest, Sonos, Insteon, Philips Hue, Yale provides this kind of devices. These devices are also available at huge cost.

Here Revolv enters to solve all such kind of issues. Actually the main problem with the best breed approach is that, you also have to buy a different smart device using many different mobile apps and other systems. A mainly first problem arises with the mobile application. You have to manage many of the mobile applications for every kind of smart device.  Eery brand like Nest, Sonos, Insteon provide apps to controlling, room climate, music, home lighting etc. Using so many applications for each and very device is very difficult for me and my family also feels frustrated because of this.

What is Revolv, it is the one application, which  control all the devices of my home, office from Sonos, Nest and all other brands.

Revolv Home Automation

When it comes to other hardware devices, I use Sonos bridge, WiFi router, Insteon Hub and Z-Wave hub. Revolv is helping me here also. It removes the use of Z wave hub and Insteon hub and I have also heard that, it will also remove the use of Sonos bridge. In my family, we don’t like cords and cables in my house. Revolv helps to do so.

Revolv helps me to control all the smart devices individually and it also allows me to control them together. For example, if I am not on my home and far way from it, I can even switch on the lights and set the specific temperature in my room. It is the best device ever for my home. All my family is satisfied with this product.

You have to pay huge amount for best breed solutions, but Revolv is available in the market at very cheap prices of @299. Isn’t this cheap. When I didn’t have this device, I had to pay lots of money for every device like for Z wave hub, for Insteon hub and even monthly charges for Nexia services. But Revolv now, save all my money.

Having a home automation system in home is an adventure, but Revolv is much better than that. Maily when it comes to my family. I don’t like that my family face any kind of problem. Now Revolv controls 28 different lights, motion detectors, sound system, room climate and many other devices, which are from Nest, Sonos, Yale, Phillips, Kwikset, Belkin and SmartHome.

It is every easy to install the Revolv hub. All you need to do is pair the hub with the iPhone through the internet. Whenever, you want to add new devices, just click on the button auto search and it will find the new device automatically. In this manner it is very easy to install this device. None find any kind of huddle in installing this device.

One of the most important things you all should know that, right now Revolv system currently only works with the APPLE operating system. Means, right now Revolv is dealing with the targeted customers, who are using iPhones. I can anticipate that, Revolv will also available for android and other operating systems.

Technology has solved many problems of smart home system in twenty years, but it also gives rise to other problems. A research finds that, people don’t want to use multiple apps to control each device at home. So this may reduce the popularity of smart home technology. Revolv is the only best device in market, which provides the best facility by controlling all the devices from multiple brands.

Hubbell USB15X2W USB Receptacle Tamper Charger and to Resistant Duplex, White 

Hubbell’s USB Receptacle Charger is providing both USB and power of electronics in a standard electrical opening of a single gang. It is designed for providing more options of charging for personal electronics, the USB ports would be capable of charging two tablets at the same time. The 15 Amp tamper-resistant Style Line® decorators have outlets which have been providing additional power for the use of appliance. It is ideal for using for renovating and replacing the existing receptacles for adding its capacity of the USB charging. Especially it is suited for using in universities, dormitories, hotels, restaurants, airports, classrooms and homes. It is perfect for construction also.

  • 3 Amps of USB Power that will be able to charge two tablets at the same time

  • Duplex Outlets for more Capacity

  • Two USB ports are available like 3 Amp, 5VDC, Type A, 2.0

  • It is Tamper-Resistant (TR) decorator duplex

  • Having Green LED indicator for showing USB power which is available

  • Also having Spec grade design for impact and chemical resistant

  • Having back and side wire for the solid and stranded wire

  • Having design of Flush fit

  • Its Electrical ratings are15 Amp, 125VAC, USB 3 Amp, 5VDC

  • Its Input voltage consumes 125VAC, 60Hz

  • Circuit can be fed through 20 Amp, 125 Volt

  • Having #10-14 AWG gauge terminals of wire

  • Having Dielectric withstand of 2000V

  • Its operating temperature can be maximum continuous 75° C and minimum -40° C

  • Also meets UL94 for 5V rating of flammability

  • It also complies the battery charging specification which is USB BC1.2

  • It is compatible with USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 devices, and also inclusive of Apple products in compatibility

  • Also complies of the Part 15 of the rules of FCC

  • cULus listings is UL498 and UL1310


Designed to be used with:

  • Apple Products, iPad®, iPod® and iPhone®

  • Computers Tablet

  • GPS

  • Smart Phones

  • Cell Phones

  • Digital Readers

  • Media Players

  • Other USB products that is compatible.