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Add a Google Calendar to openHAB

openHAB can integrate Google Calendars. The functionality is kind of limited, it can only see the current and the next calendar event, but in my case that is enough. More about the use case in another blog post.

There are three different calendar bindings available, let's have a quick look:

  • CalDAV Personal Binding: this is a v1 binding, which means it will no longer work in the soon-to-be-released openHAB v3. Apparently this works with Google calendars, but has performance issues. It can show the current and next event.
  • Google Calendar Scheduler: also a v1 binding. Needs more work for presense simulation, and additional bindings.
  • iCalendar Binding: v2 binding, should work with v3. It can show the current and next event. That's the one I'm going to use.

 

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git pre-commit Hooks

A very common use case for hooks in git is a "pre-commit" hook. This hook is used to verify the to-be-committed data before it is added to the repository.

One important note: hooks are not part of the repository itself. Everyone can install a hook on it's own checkout of a repository, but by default the hook is not there when you clone/checkout the repository. This avoids security problems by executing arbitrary code during "git commit", or any "git" operation.
Because of this implication it is common that developers install a hook from somewhere in the repository into the ".git/hooks" directory. And in addition, the server side (the repository) can run the same checks during "git push", to enforce the rules.

Hooks in git work in a simple way: whatever program or script is run as the hook has to set a return code. If the return code is "0", git proceeds. If it's not "0", git aborts the operation.

 

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openHAB: faster loading of rules files

openHAB rules files are lazy loaded. When a rule is used the first time, the entire rule file is loaded and compiled, which apparently is single-threaded and takes a couple seconds. Even on a reasonable powerful Rasperry Pi 4. This happens both after restarting openHAB and after changing the rules file. It also means that whatever the rule in question is supposed to do has to wait a couple seconds when requested for the first time. Imagine you have a light switch, enter a room, press the switch, and it takes 5-10 seconds until the light comes on.

To work around this problem, I add a piece of code in all rules files which triggers an immediate action right after loading the file. This way the rules file is already pre-loaded (which again takes a couple seconds, but likely at a time when the rule is not needed right now).

 

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Remove duplicates from Huginn event stream

One of the things I'm using Huginn for is monitoring for Twitter keywords. Some of them might appear in pairs, as example people like to tag Tweets about PostgreSQL with both #postgresql and #postgres. When I was using IFTTT this always created two emails, one for each hashtag. With Huginn I can deduplicate the events, and only notify about the first occurrence.

I need the following agents for this scenario:

 

 

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Enable Huginn Twitter integration

Huginn comes with a number of Twitter agents, but before they can be used you need to authenticate them. That process requires multiple steps, and they are not well documented.

The basics are described on the "Configuring OAuth applications" Wiki page.

For the Twitter integration one must know that you are using a single Twitter app for all users, but every Huginn user can (and should) have this app authenticated against their own Twitter account. Therefore if you want to use multiple Twitter accounts in Huginn, you need multiple Huginn users.

 

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Monitor software version changes with Huginn

Huginn is a great piece of software, but the documentation is ... a bit sparse. Especially when it comes to details of the agents. I'm going to blog about a couple more more examples in the future.

For another project I'm using Leaflet, a JavaScript library for rendering maps in a browser. New versions are released occasionally, and I want to know when it's time to update the project website. Huginn can do that.

 

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Audio reminders in openHAB

A while ago someone mentioned "reminders" used in their home audio system, and I took that idea and implemented something similar in openHAB.

The basic idea is that I can send scheduled notifications to any audio sink openHAB is using, possibly more than one audio sink for one message. Also I want to differentiate between a simple audio sound, and text output.

For the text audio output I installed Text-to-Speech a while ago, this enables the ability to output text as audio in different languages. In addition I want an information when a reminder is "fired" in my Telegram control channel. As audio sink I'm mostly using ChromeCasts here, but anything openHAB can connect to is usable here.

 

 

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Monitor website status with Huginn

After setting up Huginn, and implementing the actions on my todo list, I had a look at the available agents and started thinking what else they can be useful for.

One of the ideas I came up with is monitoring if a website is available, or has some trouble. I already have a monitoring system in place, but it's a nice exercise to learn more about the other agents.

 

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Huginn: Filter Retweets

A while ago I started using Huginn, as a replacement for IFTTT. That's going quite well. Huginn offers more features, integrations, and especially your chains (scenarios) can be as complex as you wish. IFTTT is quite limited in this area.

I use the Twitter integration to find certain Tweets. Now this does not only find native Tweets, but also finds every Retweet made for a native Tweet. Obviously I am not interested in duplicate content.

Huginn offers a way to filter out Retweets.

 

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Traveling in Cuba (offline)

In 2019 I was in Cuba for a conference that took place there.

During the preparation of the trip it occured to me that internet access in the country is on the one hand slow and not well developed. On the other hand, that mobile internet access via roaming is obscenely expensive. It was foreseeable that I would have to do without mobile internet for a week, and consequently without online navigation. Preparations are in order.

 

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