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Comment: Just built new house with Control4 + extras (Score 1) 248

by SuperGus (#49051401) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

FWIW my experience has been good. Just moved into new home that I specifically designed as a smart home.

For me the scope of "smart" is:

  • * HVAC incl. ceiling fans and motorized shades on high windows
  • * Security, with intrusion/exterior cameras but also incl. fire / heat / CO / water leak sensors
  • * Audiovisual
  • * Panelized lighting (low voltage keypads instead of wall switches throughout the house. LV wires all run to control panel where they meet HV relays. All HV wires from light fixtures are home run down to the panel). Thus I have control over every bulb in the house using cheap "standard" bulbs.
  • * Control 4 as the main controller, with a few extra bits tacked on for audioviz, security cams, etc.
  • * Networking: Roaming WiFi, NAS for media, and a 4G hotspot to backup Comcast using automatic failover when the cable goes down (allows external communication for security system and C4 controller if the cable is cut).

After living there for 4 months, I feel the most useful parts of this are:

  1. (1) Panelized lighting, for three reasons. First, convenience. Freaking awesome to have a single kill switch next to my bed that turns off every light, TV screen, and speaker. No more "Honey did you remember to kill the lights and TV in the basement?" Second, aesthetics. I greatly reduced the number of traditional wall switches and replaced with a few small keypads. No more 4-gang switchplates in rooms with lots of lights. Third, getting my geek on. I get to waste time tweaking the programming for various scenes. As a bonus, my wall keypads can control any device the C4 controller can grab, including security, AV, and HVAC - not just lighting.
  2. (2) Ability to control all devices (HVAC, security, audiovisual, lighting) from any TV screen in the house via the C4 interface when the functions on my wall keypads is not enough. Pure convenience.
  3. (3) External communication. I travel a lot and like to check in on the house. House can email me when doorbell rings and I can check CCD footage, etc. Less paranoid and more practical, the house can email when water leak or heat/smoke/CO detectors trigger. We have had basement leakage issues so this is good insurance.

There are other features I like, but those could mostly be attained with a combination of various retrofit solutions and don't require an integrated home controller like C4.


  1. (A) Cost. Panelized lighting requires non-standard wiring of high voltage. Had to pay electrician extra for all the home runs. Also paid an integrator to help with the heavy lifting (design phase) and low voltage installation that the electrician wouldn't touch. Those costs were more than the automation hardware.
  2. (B) C4 interface is a bit klunky
  3. (C) No other big ones yet, although it did take 6 weeks of life in the house to get things tuned how we wanted. Self-inflicted pain due to desire for some rather complex scenes / automation.

Comment: Re:Still uncertain (Score 1) 227

by SuperGus (#47647351) Attached to: About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA
Good point. Tidbit: I do believe there was an important study of monozygotic twins reared apart in Scandanavia, where presumably the gross differences in appearance were minimal versus a diverse place like the USA (hair color, skin color, etc.). This study also came to the same conclusion as Bouchard 1990 if I recall.

Comment: Re:False. (Score 1) 227

by SuperGus (#47647117) Attached to: About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA
Thank goodness for all the studies of monozygotic twins reared apart. For example: Bouchard 1990. "The maximum contribution to... trait correlations that could be explained by measured similarity of the adoptive rearing environments... is about 0.03. The absence of any significant effect due to... environmental measures on the IQ scores of these adult adopted twins is consistent with the findings of other investigators."

Comment: Re:what happens (Score 1) 57

by SuperGus (#44001739) Attached to: 26 New Black Hole Candidates Found In Andromeda
"By the time matter passes the blackholes event horizon it's been torn to elementary particles by gravity." - I thought that for sufficiently large black holes, the tidal forces at the event horizon can be small enough that a human would not even notice passing the horizon? Maybe I am mis-remembering :-)

Counting in octal is just like counting in decimal--if you don't use your thumbs. -- Tom Lehrer