Sunday, October 6, 2013

Xively, I've just about given up on it.

I was reviewing a couple of my pages after changing my House Controller to a Raspberry Pi, and noticed that one of my charts was several hours behind the current readings. Then I noticed that the chart that I present on my House Controller was presenting yesterdays readings. After about three hours of chasing problems, it turned out that the Xively server is caching pages.

Yes, I'm trying to get the latest data I uploaded and the server is returning me the data from hours or even days ago because it sees the request hasn't changed and simply returns what it has in its cache. No, I wasn't changing the request I sent; it was a request for the latest data. Why would I change a request that asked for the latest?

 What I had to do to overcome the problem was to get the date and time and ask for data that ended with the current time instead. This made the request change each time I sent it and the server had to read the data to fulfill the request. This explains a lot of the problems mentioned on StackOverflow that I read while trying to get my own stuff to work. Additionally, I wanted to step through Xively's process of 'Deploy' and couldn't.  Seems the device itself has to have code on it to activate itself. There's no support for this in their library and I really didn't want to spend hours going through the debugging process that I would incur to try and meet their API. They could have simply put in a single unit deployment process on their web site so that little guys like me could step through it.

Their rates are huge, a grand being the lowest level with transaction costs on top of that; a far cry from the 10 bucks or so a month that pachube had back in the good old days before some faceless corporation bought them out. So, let's list a few things that I've noticed. They preserved the legacy feeds that we've been using, but provide no reasonable way of moving them to the new system. They cache data so we're very likely to get data back that is days old. They have no way to deploy a device in their new system without the device itself doing the work. They took away their forum for exchanging ideas, instead they expect us to post on StackOverflow which is specifically designed for problems. They even removed the forum so that the old ideas and techniques have disappeared. Yet, they post on Twitter that they are attending shows, giving speeches, and publishing articles on the prevalence of the Internet of Things.

Does anyone actually like this service since the latest change? Am I the only one that has seen a steady decline since the original developers presented this cool new tool that us home automation and control freaks went nuts over?



  1. Have you tried Open.Sen.Se? I use it for a few gauges; JSON feeds are very similar to Xively and more reliable than ThingSpeak. I wouldn't recommend them 100% over Xively, maybe just a nice compliment. Truthfully I think the time spent developing your own personal mini-IoT and hosting it yourself is probably best. At least that's the crossroad I'm at now. My Pi arrives this week and I plan to LAMP it (or maybe LightHTTPd and SQLite) and treat it as a datastore for my Arduino's to post to. RGraph is quite powerful and it's free, looks good and did I mention it's free? I do wonder if there is a time limit on Xively before you must pay and deploy. I'm sure it's in the fine print, but then again I don't read EULA's either.

    I've been following your blog for some time and it inspired me to do some similar monitoring myself (I might have even "borrowed" some of your code). We don't by default have demand-billing here in San Diego but the costs are pretty much criminal when the base tier is ~336kWh per cycle. I guess maybe my Grandparents could survive in that tier, not my household though, way too connected. Funny twist, we were on the fence about moving to Anthem or Gilbert... hard to leave SoCal, but getting easier every election.

    When I get around to blogging my stuff I'll be sure it contains full attribution. Stay classy, New River.

    1. Yes, I've tried Open They aren't bad, but their attention seems to be on something else. I've watched questions go for weeks without an answer, and they don't seem to be too active with the site. I do have triggers set up on there to read the Xively stuff and present it, but until they show some activity, they won't be my primary source. Actually, that sounds exactly like Xively doesn't it?

      The reason I keep avoiding my own local storage solution is because I want to play with my data, not maintain a data center. Although that desire is waning a bit. Now that terrabyte disks are cheap and the raspberry pi can be set up as a network appliance, it would only take a couple of weeks to set up a local database on my network and save everything locally with automated backup. I could even get the source code from emoncms and just implement it right here in the house and not even go outside. But, I haven't given up on cloud service for little folk like me yet. Prowl around on my blog and you'll see the other sites I've tried out and the results. I'm experimenting with another one right now.

      So, you confused me, are you in AZ or CA? Probably CA with a possibility of coming to AZ if I read it right. My recommendation is to go North to Anthem. Gilbert is nice, but Anthem is nicer. It's West of me on the freeway with good access and facilities and it's in the foothills with a view of the mountains. It's about 5 degrees cooler than phoenix and 10 or so less than Gilbert. You can be in the wilderness in about 7 minutes, and there is a big lake about 20 minutes away. It's still very civilized (unlike where I am) and has family events going on a lot. Take a close look at Gilbert, really close, before you decide. The crime rate down there gets pretty high and it is in the news a lot.

      New River never gets in the news except when the occasional grow house burns down.

    2. There is another one not happy with Xively.
      Maybe this helps:

  2. Yes, still in San Diego. We have friends in Anthem, seems very family-oriented, something that appealed to my wife; however, when she saw all of the retail places in Gilbert she said it felt more like home, as in San Diego. To me Anthem looked like Surprise before the bottom fell out of things; hopefully it avoids the same fate after it gets annexed. Thanks for the tip on Gilbert and keep up the good work.