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Thread: Cortex W10 Released

  1. #1
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Default Cortex W10 Released

    Well it took some time, but finally Cortex W10 is released!

    Existing customers subscribed to our e-mail list should have received a notification already, but if not and for others here is the content:

    Cortex W10 is a fundamental re-write of the Cortex software, now fully compatible with Windows 10 and forming the basis for future Cortex development. This is not an update to existing Cortex but an entirely new piece of software which can be installed on the same PC as an existing Cortex install without any file interference. You can download the installer here: http://www.idratek.com/public/softwa...W10Install.exe No install key is required. The software will operate in a nagged mode until licenced (see below).

    Despite the big underlying changes, Cortex W10 should operate and feel more or less the same as existing Cortex, so in most cases migration should be a relatively straightforward process. Noteable differences between Cortex W10 and Cortex include:

    - Windows XP,7,8,10 compatibility without the need for any kind of 'workarounds'
    - No requirement to disable User Account Control (UAC)
    - Different plan view data refresh methodology which will result in less 'flicker' and more efficiency with remote connections.
    - Supports user designed/defined icons in plan view
    - Introduction of a 'Properties Grid' feature which eases the task of changing a common property across a group of objects
    - Introduction of direct support for Philips Hue lighting including a colourful new object for handling colour transition programming.
    - Introduction of support for H.264 IP camera streams so you can now connect higher resolution IP cameras into the system
    - Separate threading process now prevents non responding IP cameras from stalling Cortex
    - Inclusion of web/mobile server and web API functions within the core Cortex licence, now also include ability to transfer images to noticeboards
    - Changes to the multi-system bridging function which now utilises the web API structure
    - Deprecation of the standard Alarm object. Continuing to maintain two Alarm object types was felt to be unjustified in moving forwards. So in Cortex W10, alarm features are only provided via the Alarm Pro option
    - Introduction of a new licencing scheme and methodology. No install key is now required. Cortex will operate in an 'Hourly nag' mode until you either purchase a licence or obtain a trial '30 day nag free' licence key from IDRATEK.

    Please note that we will continue to support existing Cortex for some time to come (which may include sub version updates), but any new features will only be developed on the Cortex W10 platform.

    Cortex W10 is a new software package and as such it is subject to the purchase of new licences. However we are poviding a 50% concession for existing Cortex licencees until the 31st of March 2018. This does not depend on what licence options you currently hold. The 50% concession however does not apply to backup licences - which are still priced at 33% of the full retail price. Cortex W10 pricing details can be found here: http://www.idratek.com/products/cata...gory/software/

    Note: It is quite possible to work on a copy of your old Cortex database in Cortex W10 (including running a dynamic simulation with all objects temporarily network disabled), whilst still running the real network with the old Cortex - a useful possibility during the migration process. However note that only one version of Cortex can access the USB interface on the same PC at any one time!.

    Users migrating from old Cortex should simply take a copy of their existing database and paste this into the /(My)Documents/Idratek/CortexW10/Database folder and then browse to selcet this via the Cortex W10 File menu. Since there are some differences between Cortex W10 and old Cortex (especially the deprecation of the standard Alarm object) you should expect that Cortex W10 may generate some initial warnings and that you may have to make some adjustments manually. Note that on a PC containing both variants of Cortex you cannot set up the USB COM port in Cortex W10 until old Cortex is stopped and exited. Both variants of Cortex should be set up to use the same COM port but only one version can be physically using this at any one time.

    We know that many of you have been awaiting this release for some time now, so we thank you for your patience and hope that you will now feel confident about any plans to migrate to new PC platforms and also to take advantage of the new features and those to come in the future.

    Karam

  2. #2
    Automated Home Legend Paul_B's Avatar
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    Karam, Vivian and Idratek team,

    Thank you for listening to the feedback and taking this into account with the rewrite of Cortex. A code refactor is a huge undertaking and significant investment and not something you do lightly.

    The new features and licensing adjustments look good. Many of us have taken advantage of significant Cortex feature updates without any additional costs so a license bump at this point with code refactoring seems very reasonable. The home automation market is becoming of interest to large multi-nations like Google, Apple, BT, etc. They can afford to spend millions without generating profit which is not the case for Idratek; as a small business you must generate money to put food on the table. It has to be recognised the Idratek is far more advanced than those app enabled home automation systems that really don't have much intelligence. Yet the Idratek units are still some of the cheapest on the market and easy to install.


    Congrats to all for getting this update out to the market.

    One question does Cortex still require interactive logon whereby a user must be logged in to allow Cortex to run?

    Paul

  3. #3
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    First thing I wondered too - does it now run as a service rather than a user program?

    Andrew

  4. #4
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Sorry to disappoint on that front. It is still an application, not a service. If you run it on its own dedicated box then you shouldn't need any user interaction to go from power up to running the network. I'd also make sure that you select a machine which has the ability to auto start after power resumption (a BIOS feature), as I recently used some low cost W10 fanless boxes which appear good in many respects aside from this glaring (for home automation) omission and no BIOS update visible yet - I was even thinking of hacking the hardware.... I've noticed however a slightly less powerful Atom based platform under the Beelink brand name (as well as others) with model name of form BT3 Pro, which appears to have this confirmed but yet to try one.

  5. #5
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    Paul - well said ...
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 18th February 2018 at 08:27 AM.

  6. #6
    Automated Home Ninja marcuslee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karam View Post
    Sorry to disappoint on that front. It is still an application, not a service. If you run it on its own dedicated box then you shouldn't need any user interaction to go from power up to running the network. I'd also make sure that you select a machine which has the ability to auto start after power resumption (a BIOS feature), as I recently used some low cost W10 fanless boxes which appear good in many respects aside from this glaring (for home automation) omission and no BIOS update visible yet - I was even thinking of hacking the hardware.... I've noticed however a slightly less powerful Atom based platform under the Beelink brand name (as well as others) with model name of form BT3 Pro, which appears to have this confirmed but yet to try one.
    This as a hardware hack?:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAGZq3aqzuA


    Or I've actually done similar to the above (Thinkpad + Dockstation, with hacked power switch), but with this setup (external 12v wall wart for mains power resumption + plugged into spare USB port on Thinkpad which this module uses to know not to hit the power button if it's already on (I've noticed the Thinkpad BIOS' "Boot on AC attach" isn't 100% reliable)):
    Laptop Auto Power-On _ Turn-On Module - MP3Car 2.jpg

    Got the above from mp3.com forum for a car computer from ages ago, unfortunately forum no longer exists.

  7. #7
    Automated Home Sr Member Alexc's Avatar
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    That BT3 looks like a great little machine. I've not used Windows home editions before - can I remote in from a Mac? That's how I access my current Cortex on a W7 machine.

  8. #8
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    looks good, am tempted ...

    Chris
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 1st March 2018 at 10:14 PM.

  9. #9
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    I have just acquired one for around 130 (4G/64G configuration). Compared to the more powerful Celeron based AP34 which we used a couple of recently, it comes in a plastic enclosure rather than metal but wouldn't say it gets any warmer. Has a standard VGA connector as well as HDMI which might be useful to some. The 64G drive in fact amounts to around 57Gb of eMMC. These are not as fast or sophisticated as SSD but its what you're going to find on pretty much most low cost PCs these days.

    Considering my intended usage I probably didn't need to update W10, but I did so anyway. It took almost a full day to do it - going to 1709 (Fall Creators edition). I'm not entirely sure where the delays were though I noticed at some points it was stuck on 99% complete for hours but resisted temptation to do anything about it. The AP34s seemed much quicker on the W10 updates but then I can't really remember from what version to what version and perhaps there were some network related issues as I was using WiFi. One thing for sure is that having >32Gb of disk is probably necessary for a Windows 10 update and indeed after the update I found pretty much that 32Gb was used up but this cleared down to about 19Gb after I did a clear of old versions etc. Also cleared out some unnecessary apps and disabled further Windows 10 updates after that point and removed the user log in requirement.

    I can verify that the BIOS does allow auto startup on power resume. So with this enabled you can apply power and the machine boots up and works its way through to running a Cortex W10 database in about 90 seconds.

    I haven't tried it with any video stuff just yet but it seems sprightly enough in terms of running a database and remote accessing via the mobile server. So my early thoughts are - I think adequate to run a non video intensive installation or as a backup PC. Certainly I'm hoping ideal for a 'lite' lighting only application which is the intended target for this one - coupled with a lower cost Cortex Lite licence

    Regarding remote access you will have to use some 3rd party application such as Teamviewer which seems fine in our experience

  10. #10
    Automated Home Guru JonS's Avatar
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    HI Karam
    Re the Beelink devices, you mentioned that the BT3 Pro for 130 supports boot from power resume .... does the AP34 as well?

    I'd like to go from a non camera to 1 or 2 camera installation and hoping the AP34 @153 can cope...
    I'll upgrade later if required.
    The VGA on the BT3 Pro is attractive to my 10yr old wiring, but the extra grunt of the AP34 for not a lot extra seems like a good idea.

    Also congrats to you and Viv for getting the latest version out of the door, I cannot wait to get my hands on it :-)
    That said the old version of Cortex is still amazing and during this blast from the Siberian Beast from the East I've been amazed at how uniformly comfortable the house has been. It probably shouldn't still impress me but it does 10+ years after installation.
    Thanks
    Jon

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