Setting Up Your Mac
You’ll need two things to turn your Mac into the brains of your home: home automation software and a hardware interface.
Home Automation Software
For home automation software, you have a couple of solid choices, including XTension and Indigo. I’ll walk you through this using the Indigo home automation software, but both are very good. To get started, you’ll need to download, install, and purchase your software. Indigo comes with a 30-day trial, and XTension has a Mac OS X Lite version.
Home Automation Hardware
For the home automation hardware, I recommend the PowerLinc USB interface (1132U) shown in Figure 2. This device is manufactured by SmartHome, but it is available at SmartHome, Fun For Geeks, and other resellers. The PowerLinc USB interface works with both Indigo and XTension, and it runs about $35. If you want the option of downloading schedules to the device (so you can shut off your Mac and still have things happen), you might want to spring for the PowerLinc Controller (1132UC), which has 32K of memory for schedules and events. To install the PowerLinc USB interface, simply plug it into your Mac’s USB port and then plug it into a convenient wall outlet. Indigo will recognize the device automatically.
Figure 2 The PowerLinc USB interface connects your Mac to your home’s electrical system via USB.