IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe - September 2014 - (Page 56)

STOP RUN Intuitive Inhabiting PHOTOS: COURTESY OF BRIAN PRASKY IBMer's passion for engineering puts his house to work Brian Prasky works at his computer on the server code for his house. The current components are being controlled by the custom software, and are housed in the basement, right. n a perfect world, people wanting to relax after a long day at work would come home, walk into their calmly lit family room, heated or cooled to just the right temperature, and begin watching their favorite TV show-all without searching for a remote or touching a light switch or thermostat. In Brian Prasky's world, this is a daily reality. I Holly Eamon is a former intern at IBM Systems Magazine. Prasky, a senior IBM engineer in Poughkeepsie, New York, has applied his childhood passion for putting things together toward building a cognitive house. Through writing a back-end server program that controls devices, Prasky has created a system that allows the house to learn about its occupants and their behavior patterns to interact with them. While house hunting two years ago, Prasky and his wife happened upon the then-unfinished structure and found builders 56 // SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 who agreed to let him run nearly 3 miles of wiring throughout the house as it was completed. Prasky had an unspoken understanding with his wife, Amy, that the house could not look like a laboratory. "I wasn't about to give up my hobby of audio/video, so I had two options-give it up or let it take me over," Prasky says. "So I let it take me over and decided to expand it to the lighting, the heating and all the different features of the house." The first step was figuring out a way to keep the necessary equipment together rather than spread out and on display in every room. Prasky was able to run cable through the walls and contain everything else, including the main server, in the basement. The next step was deciding how to control the processes, but there were two problems with purchasing software. "I couldn't really afford a huge software solution after spending money on the house," Prasky says. "I also knew that if I wanted to change things over time, I couldn't tinker with purchased software, so I thought 'Why not figure this out for myself?' " Prasky then began to implement his anticipated interactions between human and computer. For example, he has programmed the software to know that if someone gets out of bed at 1 a.m. and needs a light, the light should be dim, as the person has been sleeping. Beyond the basics of programming various timers for outdoor lights and the house's geothermal system, the house is learning Prasky's TV-viewing habits, so it will tune in to the right program at the right time. Prasky has recently added motion sensing to the equation so certain items will turn on when someone enters a room and lights and appliances turn off when the room is empty. It takes about three weeks for the software to learn a behavior pattern, and Prasky is continuously updating the code. "Technology can be great, but technology can also overcome us in its complexity," he says. "It should be complex inside but simple to use, so I want to make our house technology-rich but user-friendly."

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe - September 2014

Table of Contents
Editor's Desk: Moving in the mobile world
IBM Perspective: Mobile money thanks to the mainframe
Partner PoV: A clean IT audit does not guarantee network or computer security
Focus on Storage: How Elastic Storage helps remove bottlenecks and lower costs
Currents: IBM Smarter Storage puts businesses in control of their data
Trends: Choosing the best proprietary or open-source applications
Case Study: Cooperative Consolidation: The Credit Union System of Brazil saves millions of dollars by virtualizing on the mainframe
Cover Story: The Mobile Mainframe: System z is a perfect fit for the growing trend
Feature: Connecting Applications and Data: WebSphere Liberty z/OS Connect makes business assets accessible to mobile devices
Tech Showcase: How Linux on System z has become a go-to solution for businesses
Administrator: IBM tests show finding the optimal number of n-way processors helps maximize performance
Tech Corner: The new z/OSMF Workflows feature optimizes programming tasks
Solutions: OMC-FLASH 4.7.0; z86VM; Storage Director 4.2
Stop Run: IBMer's passion for engineering puts his house to work
Reference Point - Global Events, Education, Resources for Mainframe
2015 Mainframe Solutions Edition

IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe - September 2014