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Comment: Re:Surely ironic (Score 1) 275

The game changer of the iPhone wasn't features. It was UI and updates. Prior to iPhone, you typically would never receive software updates for your phone. After all, why bother, it doesn't sell more phones. The opposite, even. Bug frustration was a reason why people would "upgrade" by buying new phone whenever they hit the end of the contract period.

Apple was big enough to force the phone companies to allow updates to happen.

Updates were there, they were just a lot slower due to the handset manufacturers needing to test and customize updates.

What was revolutionary was the iPhone's ability to navigate around a "full size" web page or map intuitively and fluidly, at high speed with multitouch gestures. Prior to the iPhone, mobile web browsing was a positively miserable experience.

Comment: Re:Z wave (Score 3, Informative) 336

by djrobxx (#45946993) Attached to: New Home Automation?

It's what I'm starting to use and it's pretty good so far. Door locks, window/door sensors, thermostats, motion sensors, lights, outlets, dimmers, etc. Pretty handy so far. Scripting with LUUP (a LUA like language) is pretty simple, and you can get it to play pretty easily with other whole-house solutions (like SONOS).

You're describing the Vera, which is primarily a Z-wave controller but supports lots of other protocols and ethernet/serial devices. I use this as well. The best part is that there aren't monthly fees to use it, and the community is writing new drivers for things in LUA all the time. Most other HA solutions I've seen are very nickel-and-dime.
 

Comment: Re:Z-Wave (Score 4, Insightful) 336

by djrobxx (#45946949) Attached to: New Home Automation?

If you think you might ever want to use Insteon (which does have some issues, but has some cool features as well), make sure you include a neutral to all of your wall switch boxes.

You want this for Z-wave also. There are two-wire Z-wave switches, but they usually require an incandescent bulb. To expand on this a bit - make sure that lighting switches are wired with a constant hot and neutral, and separate load wiring. Usually this means the line and load's neutrals and grounds are tied together in the switch box, and the hot is switched. There are some other more creative ways to do lighting circuits that make things more of a pain when trying to replace switches.

If you can, get the electrician to label the load wire (the one that runs to the light). That can sometimes be a pain to figure out if there's only line and load in a single gang box. I also second the suggestion for alarm wiring. Figure you want motion sensors and wires to every door and window run to some central location. Changing the batteries on these is a big pain if you have a lot of sensors, and the sensors can also be part of your automation logic.

Comment: Re:Why is this a surprise? (Score 2) 804

by djrobxx (#45793073) Attached to: What Would It Cost To Build a Windows Version of the Pricey New Mac Pro?

Yep, the Mac Pro pricing is mostly about the Intel Xeon tax. When the Mac Pro came out in 2006, the pricing was favorable compared to a Dell Precision workstation configured similarly. The problem is, unlike Dell, Apple's next step down is the Mac Mini if you want a standalone computer.

Comment: Re:Unbelievable (Score 2) 579

by djrobxx (#45791409) Attached to: Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

Except as mentioned above, the power company becomes free off-site "storage" for your off-peak power. You generate power you don't need in the morning, and you get it back "free" from them in the afternoon when you get home from work.

And this is still beneficial to the power company, because generally, when you get home from work, it's no longer peak usage. This gives them more peak capacity to satisfy the rest of their customers, without having to build an expensive new plant.

Comment: Re:There must be a very good reason... (Score 1) 579

by djrobxx (#45791375) Attached to: Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

> The panels themselves are cheap, but installing the batteries and storage necessary arn't, so people appear to just put up the panels, run what they can, then take the rest from the power company.

Almost. We run what we can, and sell the excess generation to the power company. We buy it back when our demands exceed our generation (mostly at night).

> This means the base load the power company has to supply at night is probably significantly higher than during the day, meaning their capacity for peak wattage doesn't change, but they sell less overall.

A utility's peak power demands are typically from 3pm-6pm A solar customer is likely selling power back to the utility during this time (or at very least, using less than they would have), so the utility's peak requirements should certainly be less. The only issue I see is that you might have have so many solar customers, that off-peak (say 1pm) generation won't be consumed by the remainder of the non-solar customers. This energy would need to be stored, but it's still energy that they don't need to generate themselves. With plug-in electric vehicles replacing gasoline, I don't think there's much danger of solar customers ever generating too much energy.

Of course the power companies are crying. No monopoly wants competition. Edison wants us to pay 3x the national average for power, and they wonder why solar is so popular?

Comment: Re:theres already one (Score 1) 116

by djrobxx (#45306859) Attached to: A Protocol For Home Automation

The MiCasaVerde Vera "glues" protocols together by presenting everything as a UPnP device. It doesn't matter whether it's X10, Zwave, Zigbee, or some proprietary IP protocol with an appropriate LUA driver, a basic on/off switch presents a device with BinaryLight/SwitchPower interface.

This seems to work well in practice, although I haven't seen anything take advantage of this. Every third party UI I've seen uses MCV's remote access APIs.

Comment: Re:How common is IR arming remotes? (Score 2) 153

by djrobxx (#44845879) Attached to: $20 'Toy' Deactivates Cheap Home Alarms, Opens Doors

To use HomeLink with a rolling code garage door, you first teach HomeLink your remote. I suspect it is simply detecting the type rolling code opener you're using. At this point the HomeLink will transmit a code, but it still does not open the garage door. You now need to press the "Learn" button on the opener and transmit a code from the HomeLink to get it to accept the codes. This, incidentally, can be quite a pain if you only have 30 seconds to get down from a ladder and back into your car to push the button.

Comment: Re:Ok? How is this new, or a big deal? (Score 1) 153

by djrobxx (#44845765) Attached to: $20 'Toy' Deactivates Cheap Home Alarms, Opens Doors

it is a big deal because unlike a universal remote, security systems are supposed to be, well, secure. you shouldnt be able to hack a security system with a 20$ toy.

The article is about hacking an $8 security system! I don't think anybody is going to purchase it thinking it's going to protect them against hackers with sophisticated reverse engineering knowledge.

Comment: Re:Will my components work right together finally? (Score 1) 293

by djrobxx (#44757885) Attached to: HDMI 2.0 Officially Announced

> Invariably when the TV comes fully on, it switches the input on my receiver to a dormant device (usually the Apple TV but sometimes it's the BluRay player).

HDMI-CEC is one of those things that should be awesome, but AV receiver manufacturers are simply too out of touch or don't care enough about how consumers actually use their products. Plus, they usually re-badge it to some proprietary name such as Samsung's "Anynet+", so they have an easy out when that Samsung TV doesn't work quite right with that Pioneer AV receiver.

I had the issue you described. Manufacturer's attitude is that ALL of your devices must support the CEC "ecosystem", otherwise you're supposed to turn it off. Good job guys. I really expect Comcast, Time Warner, DirecTV Tivo, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft to work together to support something that will pretty much always be turned off by consumers since almost no one has a compliant collection of components.

Comment: Re:Something wrong with this picture! (Score 1, Offtopic) 175

by djrobxx (#44315081) Attached to: Peru To Provide Free Solar Power To Its Poorest Citizens

AZ is great for generation, but homeowners would need a very large system to offset those ACs that run "24 hours a day". Because of the power demands, I don't think AZ can get away with having high electric rates without bankrupting its citizens. A quick Google search says that AZ customers in Phoenix pay around 9 cents per kWH.

In California, it's much easier to make the numbers work. We also have a lot of sun, but we pay up to 3 times what AZ does for power which makes the return on investment faster. We have less demands because the temperature is more moderate. We can fully offset our usage with a pretty reasonably sized system. I paid around $14,000 to save around $2000 per year. The system just about fully offsets our yearly power usage. I'd like to say I get the most satisfaction from being "green" but really - what's priceless is not paying out the nose to our crooked utility company.

"The medium is the message." -- Marshall McLuhan

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