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The Blues for LEDs 475

Corey Burger writes "Seems somebody rolled out of bed on the wrong side today. The Globe and Mail's Ian Johnson delivers up a rant about the ubiquity of the new blue LEDs."
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The Blues for LEDs

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  • Fat cat (Score:3, Funny)

    by baseinfinity ( 18023 ) * on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:31AM (#8829893)
    Sounds like this guy has too many new expensive gadgets that he should send to someone who appreciates it more.
    • Re:Fat cat (Score:5, Insightful)

      by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:47AM (#8829961)
      Exactly what I was thinking. If he doesn't like blue LEDs, then he didn't really need to buy a new monitor, handheld scanner, webcam, USB hub, Bluetooth access point, WiFi adapter, desktop volume control for his speakers, external hard drive, video editing peripheral, keyboard, home theatre, wireless music gateway, USB keychain drive, and portable MP3 player, all apparently in the "recent months".
      • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @01:52PM (#8831316) Homepage

        If he doesn't like blue LEDs, then he didn't really need to buy a new monitor, handheld scanner, webcam, USB hub, Bluetooth access point, WiFi adapter, desktop volume control for his speakers, external hard drive, video editing peripheral, keyboard, home theatre, wireless music gateway, USB keychain drive, and portable MP3 player, all apparently in the "recent months".

        Ignoring the quantity of his purchases, it *is* really annoying that so many different devices, presumably from different manufacturers, would all be so-festooned.

        But what really irks me is the idiots who put blue lights all over their cars - usually silly little Honda cars with 3" diameter coffee can exhaust tips (despite the 1" diameter pipe coming from the puny little 1.6L engine).

        Blue side markers, taillights, parking lights? Non-conformant with SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers [], look closely at your taillight lenses) standardized coloring and therefore dangerous. Illegal. Police should be cracking down on these the way they used to crack down on 50's hot-rodders who were putting the blue dots into their red taillights.

        LEDs (especially blue) on calipers, brake rotors, rims, windshield washer nozzles - what are you, stupid? It might have looked a little neat the first time someone did it, but now it's every home-boy who doesn't know how to put on a baseball cap who is doing it. Why would you spend your money being a brainless clone, when instead you could save it to put a real motor into your Civic? (Now, if you've got a Civic with a 4-bolt mains Chevy 350 under the hood, *then* I'll be impressed - takes a little more skill to do that than to put silly lights on the car.)

    • Re:Fat cat (Score:5, Funny)

      by Xugumad ( 39311 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:03AM (#8830027)
      In particular, if he bought cheaper gadgets, maybe they'd have green or red LEDs...
    • Shuttle SB75G2 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ticklemeozmo ( 595926 ) <> on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:12AM (#8830070) Homepage Journal
      As far as expensive gadgets go, the Shuttle SB75G2 [] has a blue power LED that lights up my ENTIRE LIVING ROOM when pitch black. The room is lit with a ghastly blue hue just enough to where you can navigate after shutting out all the rest of the light.

      This guy is right on target with this new "blue" craze because it's starting to take the coolness out of all the things I've custom modded with blue LEDs :(
      • No kidding (Score:4, Informative)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @12:08PM (#8830581)
        I got an M-Audio Firewire 410 soundcard and the blue LED was beyond obnoxious. It was MUCH brighter than the red and green LEDs on the thing, by several times. Since it is the power LED, it was ALWAYS on. Also, if you powered the unit down, but left it connected to Firewire, it would proceed to blink at you, very frequently. I had put a peice of masking tape over it to dampen the light (and I could still see it through that). Finally, however, it just broke, and I'm not sending it in for service.

        It's not the use of blue LEDs that bothers me, it's how damn bright most of them are. An indicator that my gear is turned on is nice. An indicator that my gear is turned on that I can see from outside at night (makes the room glow blue) is more than just a bit of overkill.
  • But do they run linux?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So there.
  • wtf (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    simple solution: don't buy things with annoyingly bright blue leds on them.

    or cover them with insulation tape.

  • What a wiener. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Niet3sche ( 534663 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:35AM (#8829917)
    Shuji Nakamura is not to blame here any less than Henry Ford is to blame for cars clogging up the roads now.

    In any event, isn't unification what we're looking for now in computing? Isn't it a nice thing (that has spun an entire cottage-industry of mods and such) that we can get our computer "look and feel" to match our decor? To match itself, for that matter? Looking around my desk, I see some green, red, yellow, and orange LEDs. I would be tickled if they could all be more unified. With, of course, the exception of my HDD LEDs, which I like to be able to notice out of the corner of my eye.

    Sounds to me like someone's got a case of the (pre-)Mondays. ;)

    • Re:What a wiener. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Seehund ( 86897 )
      But unification can defeat identification. I like that the LED on my monitor turns from green to orange when it enters a DPMS mode. On my computers, activity on the IDE and SCSI buses are indicated by different colours. My old mobile phone indicated "low battery" with its LED flashing red instead of green (the new one doesn't have any LED at all, so checking that it's really turned off in a dark cinema theatre requires more than a quick glance down my breast pocket).

      Some LEDs still do serve a genuine purpo
  • Mmmmm Blue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JazzXP ( 770338 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:36AM (#8829921) Homepage
    I'm a fan of blue LED's, but I'm kinda getting sick of them, they're everywhere. Companies need to realise that there are other colours too... why don't we see more purple ones (I did have a burner that had a purple one, but that's the only device I've seen that came with one)? Or maybe a light green rather than the regular boring green?
    • I love the things too, myself. They're plain now compared to a couple of years ago, but that's ok. in time things will even out and return to a good mix

      My only problem with them is my eyesight doesn't allow me to focus on the things. I see a nice pinprick of green or red or orange LED... but a big fuzzy blob of blue for the blue ones!
    • I would be a fan of a nice, muted blue LED. One that is still a nice cold blue colour, but is not a piercingly bright point source.

      /me goes at a 3mm blue LED with some sandpaper to see if it works.

  • by Tango42 ( 662363 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:36AM (#8829924)
    Looking around, I can't see any blue LEDs. There is one blue light on my Bluetooth docking station, which might be an LED, but it's covered by a clouded plastic button, so I can't tell, and it certainly isn't bright. Does anyone else have as many blue LEDs around them as thing guy says he does?
    • by cmacb ( 547347 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:51AM (#8829981) Homepage Journal
      "Does anyone else have as many blue LEDs around them as thing guy says he does?"

      Nope, not me.

      Doesn't it seem odd that everything this guy owns has blue LEDs? He must replace his entire collection of electronic devices every month or two. Must be nice. The only thing I have with a blue LED in it is a small flashlight that uses one AA battery and is almost as usefull as a full sized flashlight (except for the slight color distortion). These things are great.

      He's right though about manufacturers tending to over-use new technologies. People behind the scenes who market individual components such as this, bluetooth devices, dimmer switches, and on and on, seem to have a disproportionate impact on what finds it's way into our homes than we as consumers do. Do they use focus groups for design issues such as this, or do they just GUESS what will sell?

      Whatever they do often doesn't work for me. Which is why I changed from someone who has to have the latest version of everything (like the author of the article apparently) to someone who is quite happy to get last years model, maybe, and if the price is right.
    • I'm even more backwards than you -- I don't believe I've ever even seen a blue LED. Unless those blue case illuminators in the ThinkGeek banners are LED based.

      In any case, I imagine the posting of this story here will have a salutary effect on the web poll on the same page: "Would you seriously consider adopting Linux for your desktop PC?"

    • Maybe he's exaggerating a bit, but I certainly have noticed the annoying trendiness of overbright blue LEDs. There's one in my face right now on my LaCie d2 52x24x52x CD writer.

      The other day I was with a guy with a spiffy new cell phone where the whole thing lit up in bright blue. Stupid. Blue isn't a particularly easy-to-view color. He says he finds his cell phone screen hard to read because of it.

      I normally watch television in an almost-dark room. My Radio Shack powered indoor antenna has a blue led on
    • Does anyone else have as many blue LEDs around them as thing guy says he does?

      I think a lot of people missed the comment the author made about his job reviewing stuff. That means he's going to have TONS of new stuff all around him all the time.

      But no, as for me, I remember being a little taken aback the first time I drove my car at night with the car charger for my Nextel i730 in the socket. My car has the accessory socket clear on the passenger side of the center console, nearly in front of the passenge
  • by GarthSweet ( 514087 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:38AM (#8829929)
    First I don't believe his list of items. I buy a lot of high tech items and unless I just bought everything new yesterday and hunted around for blue LED versions of products, I don't think I could gather a list of devices so extensive, all with blue LEDs.

    That said....unless someone gives him all his devices for free then geesh just buy different devices! If you are getting all your devices for free and then you have the nerve to complain about the color of the LED then shut your friggin pie hole before I give you a punch in the throat.

    • That said....unless someone gives him all his devices for free then geesh just buy different devices!

      Ian Johnson writes a regular column for the Globe and Mail called The Chic Geek []. He also edits the technology section of the paper.

      You can be certain that manufacturers regularly send him stuff in the hope that he will review it. Additionally, you can be sure that they will try to send him the 'sexiest' and most eye-catching products from their line--which is all the stuff with blue LEDs.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think the writer of that article needs to get a life! Of all the things to gripe about geez...
  • the LEDs are ok... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:40AM (#8829932)
    It's those Xenon HID headlights I hate. You know, the ultra-bright, kinda bluish ones that blind you late at night as they come around the curve. Those seem bright enough to be unsafe.
    • by DrLZRDMN ( 728996 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:58AM (#8830006)
      those lights can be ok if they came with the car or were proffesionaly installed, when used properly they point to the ground more than regular lights and won't blind you like even a normal light but if some ricer who thinks their cool slaps them in and has them point straight forward its easy to hurt peoples eyes even at dim then there unsafe and should be banned for street use
      • those lights can be ok if they came with the car or were proffesionaly installed, when used properly they point to the ground

        Maybe, but if the guy behind you with those blinding lights is driving an SUV that sits way higher than your car and is tailgating you like mad (like they all seem to do here) having them point at the ground doesn't really help.

        In cars they aren't so bad unless the other driving is heading straight at you, but I swear nothing could make those things less blinding in most of thes

  • by yope ( 656090 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:41AM (#8829937)
    It's a matter of popularity. We've seen red, green, yellow and amber colored LED's since some 30 years now, they're "passe". Blue LED's on the other hand (as well as White and Cyan) are colors that have become possible just 10 years ago, and they where still very expensive and not really efficient. It's in the last 4 or 5 years, that techology has allowed cheap, efficient and bright blue LED's.... maybe that's why they seem to look so.... cool!
    • Actually, pure greens are fairly new...this [] is the only reference I can find, but I recenly interacted with some people who work in a field where we were dieing for pure green LEDs for a long time, and they just recently got them.
  • by awx ( 169546 )
    I know what he means, and I totally agree with him. I try and fit filters over some of the brighter LEDs around.

    For example, my girlfriend's PC has a magnifier in the front that puts out a 4cm-squared window of blue light. We fitted some pink paper to it and it's now a very very muted glow that doesn't keep us awake.

    I don't need LEDs screaming out at me all the time - that's why my racks have dark smoked-glass doors.
    • Why do people leave computers on at night? Really? If you're doing processing, fine, good point, otherwise... huh? Is the 30 second boot time in the morning so terrible? We have limited fossil fuels, could people perhaps try saving them instead of finding ways to work around the problem?</rant>

  • Maybe I need a blue LED that screams, "HEY! YOU! Everything's NOT ok! I'm still on /.!

    Stupid Lameness filter...
  • by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:43AM (#8829944) Journal
    Just the other day, one of my friends just got a new Nextel and the mobile DC cigarette lighter plug has this annoyingly bright Blue LED on it. He's pissed, says it totally destroys his night vision and it's about 100x brighter than it needs to be to verify the cigarette lighter adapter is bottomed out.

    I remember when Blue LED's were first introduced in the April 1 issue of Byte Magazine (sometime around 1987 IIRC) as an April Fool's joke! Finally, two or three years later they were actually invented!

    • I remember when Blue LED's were first introduced in the April 1 issue of Byte Magazine (sometime around 1987 IIRC) as an April Fool's joke! Finally, two or three years later they were actually invented!
      I remember the same thing about 3" disk drives. Is it worth going back through old April Fool's Day issues of Byte looking for what's next?
  • I got to run out and buy some new stuff so I can be bothered by blue LEDs too.
  • by Benm78 ( 646948 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:46AM (#8829955) Homepage
    First of all, the amazingly bright blue LEDs described are really not a good choice for indicators. The problem is not in their color, but usually in their rather small 'viewing angle' - this results in an idicator that is blazingly bright when viewed head on, but hard to see from an angle.

    As for the color, the blue LED does mark the quantum barrier surpassed by nichia a decade or so ago.

    Now, roughly 10 years after the introducion of the first practical blue LEDs, we see a whole range of LED products based on the leap made at that time. For example, UV leds are becoming more and more common, and find applications in money checkers, forensics and scientific appliances.

    Also, LEDs are becoming very usefull light sources in torches, automotive (brake)lights, traffic signals etc. etc.

    Also, keep in mind that many other colors of LED are based on the work by Nichia.. new bright green leds are, white leds are (using a blue led and a phosphor), and also advances in red and yellow leds were achieved.

    I think that idicators are just an over the top use of a technology that will bring us more and more interesting light-emitting devices for all kinds of uses.

  • It's Just a Fad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:48AM (#8829965)
    I'm sure that blue LEDs will fade in time. They were cool because they were new and rare. But novelty, by defintion, cannot last. Just wait a few years and everyone will think that blue LED are just so so early 2000's.

    Of course, by then we'll have some other over-used new display technology. Perhaps consumer electronics makers will use OLEDs to form a glowing full-color brand name logos. Then the space around our desktops and dens will look like a miniture cityscape with tiny glowing neonesque billboards for all the brands that we buy.

    Oh, and wait 20-40 years and blue LEDs will be back as a retro fad. The aging youth of today will look back to this time and will revel in the glory days when devices only had a single simple little blue light.
  • by _mt99 ( 546197 )
    this []
  • I'm just annoyed with every idiot sticking the blue LEDs to their freaking washer nozzles on the hoods of their cars. It's annoying, pointless, and just plain stupid.

    Of course, then you have the morons that stick them on the valve stems on their tires too. Ugh.
    • Re:Nozzle Lights (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:06AM (#8830039) Journal

      I stick valve stem lights on my tires.... My motorcycle tires, that is.

      I bought a set of white tire lights and replaced the LED's with 10000mcd whites and now my motorcycle can be seen more easily at night by traffic in the next lane.

      You'd be suprised how invisible you are on a motorcycle at night without sufficient side lighting. Now people can at least see rings of bright white light from my wheels. I've even noticed less of a tendency of people trying to pull over into my lane thinking nothing was there. Then again, if the morons would remove the supposedly "cool looking" dark filters off of their headlights, they might see the reflection off the chrome.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:49AM (#8829972) Homepage Journal
    Blue LEDs have a piercing clarity that draws the eye immediately, and which can mesmerize. They shimmer, they twinkle, and they can be incredibly intense for such tiny points of light -- they're really quite beautiful. The problem is they're suddenly everywhere.

    It really pisses me off.

    The Blue sky has a piercing clarity that draws the eye immediately, and which can mesmerize. And at night, the stars shimmer, they twinkle, and they can be incredibly intense for such tiny points of light -- they're really quite beautiful. The problem is they're suddenly everywhere.

    Sorry...I must've rolled out of bed the wrong side too.

  • I'm with him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Craig Ringer ( 302899 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @09:49AM (#8829973) Homepage Journal
    I tend to agree with the guy, personally. Blue LEDs, because they're usually stupidly bright, get really irritating, really fast.

    There are great uses for them - for example, my new keyring light is one, and I can not only see to open doors etc but could probably blind a mugger permanantly as well ;-)

    I think the use of super-bright blue LEDs for indicator lights is rather silly, though. I've replaced a couple in hardware I own, and put electrical tape over a couple of others I can't easily replace, because they were really god dammn annoying.

    My PC sits in the living room (connected to the TV), and I used to have to put something in front of it if we were going to watch a film to avoid blinding anyone on the opposite side of the room. The power LED produces almost as much light as my 19" monitor. This is stupid.

    As for posters who say "don't buy things with blue LEDs then" - (a) often you don't know until you've installed it, and (b) it's downright stupid to have to select devices based on whether or not the power light will drill a hole through your skull, instead of minor things like reliability or required features.
    • Go color over it with permanent marker or something. Or stick tape over it. C'mon, this isn't rocket science!
    • by robotoverflow ( 738751 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:26AM (#8830139)
      It's one thing to be able to cover up your own LEDs but try going to a LAN Party where no-one else thinks that blue HDD activity floodlights are a stupid idea.

      Now that the damn things are all the rage the only game I ever get to play is Disk Activity 3: Arena
    • I'm with you. I bought a computer case which nowhere did I get an indication that the LED was blue. I would have probably bought it anyway unless I knew how tight the beam focus was. The damn thing was bright enough to shine through a layer of diffuse celophane tape AND two layers of masking tape. It would still project a visible beam onto the opposite wall.
    • Like the guy says, having a bright blue LED power-on indicator on your monitor is incredibly annoying, especially since it's so obvious when the monitor is powered off.

      It's kind of like having a smoke alarm that beeps _unless_ it smells smoke, isn't it?

      BTW - a bunch of people have suggested putting several layers of masking tape over LEDs. It's easier (and tidier) to just put a little dot of tinfoil and a piece of transparent tape.
  • Cheap blue LEDs (Score:2, Informative)

    by adamjaskie ( 310474 )
    I recently bought a whole bunch of blue LEDs for $0.45 each from []. This was a whole lot cheaper than ANY other place I could find. They shipped promptly, too. I got my diodes about 4 days later. They are on the west coast, I am in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, so thats pretty good. Equals the fastest shipping I have gotten from Other places wanted like $2.75 for a blue LED. LSDiodes has 3mm, 5mm and two different sizes of surface mount: Tiny and miniscule.
    • recently bought a whole bunch of blue LEDs for $0.45 each from[long-winded advertisement snipped]

      Yeeesh, this has to be the most blatant advertisement i've ever seen posted as a comment.

      Blue LEDs vary anywhere from 23 cents to $2.45 depending upon brightness, lifetime, wavelength, and so on. Quoting a price without any of those specifications is worthless.

      Digikey and any of a number of other electronics suppliers will always beat the guy-who-thought-he-could-live-off-selling-LEDs places, especially

  • cycle 4 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZHaDoom ( 65485 )
    Its the cycle of technologie. Invent/expenisve/affordable/plaster it everywhere/anoyance/praticality.

    My bluetooth usb hub just got some electical tape to cover its flashing blue light. For a long time I was wishing I didn't have usb port in the frount of my case.
  • and replace it with a black light party light bulb.....hummmm now I'm off to be the inventor or the first black light LED

    damn Black light LEDs []

  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:05AM (#8830035) Homepage Journal
    Ian Johnson, I feel your pain. Why, just the other day, my butler Jeeves remarked to me, "Sir, I find myself incapable of sleeping ever since you installed your 100" plasma computer monitor. The blue LED keeps me up all night."

    And I'm regretting giving the cleaning staff new blue-LED-equipped brooms last week. Those hundreds of dancing broom-handles put me in such a dreadful mood. How can I concentrate on exploiting those massively regressive tax-cuts when all those lights keep dancing in my brain?

  • I'm "outdated" it seems because I don't suffer from the "too many blue LEDs" syndrome, but how hard would it be to i.e. apply a drop of white paint (or even whiteout) or at least rubbing it with sandpaper, as result simultaneously decreasing brightness and solving the "low visible angle" problem by scattering the light? And if you think that's not ellegant solution, just solder a resistor in the device in line with the LED, decreasing the brightness to pleasant level.
    Yeah, the only blue LED I have on my des
  • Every now and then I have a look around me and wonder what will look really dated in a few years; you know, those little things that mark a particular time and look completely daft to look back on.

    Things from today:
    • Blue LEDs (natch)
    • Swoopy-sketch logos (e.g. the Java logo
    • Beige-fucking-everything

    Care to add?
  • by soliptic ( 665417 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:18AM (#8830103) Journal
    ... I saw this story accompanied by a ThinkGeek add for a "cool new LED clock" - blue, naturally :)
  • by yalla ( 102708 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:21AM (#8830114) Homepage Journal
    Have you ever stood in front of a SUN Fire 6800 cabinet? They have a big sucker of a SUN logo illuminated by those blue LEDs...

    So shiny... Happy happy happy... Must drool and watch... can't resist...

    I'm still waiting for the Octalus-like [] big mouth with needle-sharp fangs coming out of the cabinet snatching for my head :-)

  • by DissidentHere ( 750394 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:24AM (#8830126) Homepage Journal
    I don't need a bright blue blast visually screaming "HEY! YOU! EVERYTHING'S OK! I'M STILL ON!" all day long.

    The article was worth it because this line reminded me of Homer's Everything's OK Alarm:


    Now I'm going to spend all day searching through Simpsons tapes trying to find that episode.

    At any rate, hasn't this guy heard of duct tape?
  • LEDs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nukeade ( 583009 ) <> on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:39AM (#8830185) Homepage
    Blue LEDs aren't the only ones that can be irritatingly bright - I was in Prague a couple of weeks ago, and the LEDs on the thermostat were so bright that they lit up the hotel room at night! I had to put a sticker over them so that they would stop burning my retinas so that I could sleep. He's right - why do they need such bright lights for something that I don't normally care about, e.g. the mood of the heating system at the time?

    My theory is that it's a selling point on the sales floor - I imagine that a lot of customers, like me, gravitate towards the shiniest and/or brightest option.

  • by Weavus ( 123505 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @10:54AM (#8830236)
    One of the best waste of money I have found in a long time. Its even a feature of the watch that blue LEDs are the second most expensive LEDs you can get.

    Pimpin aint easy watch by PIMP []

    A note that came with the watch said the battery only lasts 6-9 months if I need to know the time 15 times a day but who cares when you have such a rockin wrist peice.
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @12:21PM (#8830649)
    I just went on a walking tour of the house, and I don't have a single thing with a blue LED in it. My crap is ancient. I'm poor. Jesus.
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Sunday April 11, 2004 @12:49PM (#8830841)
    ...when I see them along with red LEDs on a Crown Victoria in my rearview mirror.

    Seriously though, more [] and more [] companies [] are starting to use LEDs for warning lighting on emergency vehicles. They don't draw huge amounts of power like incandescent systems, sometimes requiring additional batteries and/or heavy duty alternators; they don't require high voltage triggers like like strobe systems; and they've gotten bright enough to handle about any application other than illumination. It's taken a while for the blues to get bright enough to useful for these tasks; some early iterations are barely visible next to their red counterparts in daylight (though they've gotten to the point now where some of these LED systems are so bright they seem to be giving you eye surgery).

    One interesting thing if you look at the pricing: blue and white still often cost more than double the price of red, amber, or green.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @01:03PM (#8830938) Homepage
    On the annoyance front, there was a fad about a year ago for really bright power-on indicators. I have a Shuttle PC and a DVD player that will light up a dark room with their blue power-on LEDs. That's excessive.

    The color, though, is correct. The standard NEMA rules for indicator colors, used on industrial gear for decades, are

    • GREEN Normal status.
    • AMBER Abnormal status. Operator should be aware that an amber lamp is lit.
    • RED Trouble status. Operator should take action to make the red light go out.
    • BLUE or WHITE On, or other non-specific meaning.
    So blue and white are actually the default colors. Red should be used only for trouble indicators. We're still getting over the cheap red LED glut of the 1980s, when everything had red LEDs.

    Anything that rackmounts should follow these rules. It's not only annoying, but a headache, to have red lights for non-trouble conditions in a rack of equipment. IBM always has.

  • by danila ( 69889 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @01:10PM (#8830995) Homepage
    Why can't the manufacturers include an option to turn that shit off? Most of the devices usually have some way to change the settings, either an on-screen menu or a computer control panel applet. It should be rather simple to add a "disable LED indicator" option. I have an ADSL modem and a switch, sitting on the table. Honestly, I don't care about what these devices are doing 99.99% of the time. And in those rare cases when I do care, I can usually afford 30 seconds to enable the LEDs. To think of it, I probably can use the program on the PC they are connected to to find out how they are doing. So the manufacturer can save the cost of those LEDs and make the product less annoying.
  • Solution (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cynikal ( 513328 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @04:08PM (#8832166) Homepage
    This product [] might be the solution you need
  • by ckedge ( 192996 ) on Sunday April 11, 2004 @08:36PM (#8834079) Journal
    My bed is only 8 inches off the ground so when I'm in bed at night my PC and all the stuff that go with it shine directly in my eyes. They're not blue LEDs, but they were still annoying as hell.

    So I've used little bits of white electrical tape (match the case colors) to block them all out. Even the drive activity LED got covered over, at nights when it was going on-and-off it was exteremely annoying.

    Now all I see are tiny dull green-yellow or orange spots, not a huge spotlight shining across the room. So I can still see the lights even during the daytime, but they are no longer the equivalent of little spotlights in the darkness.

    Did the same thing to the LED on the speaker on the fridge in the kitchen, it was annoying at 2am when going for a glug of milk in the pitch black apartment to be blinded by the LED on it.

    Here's a question - why do so few other people in the world use the BRAINS (you know, those huge amazing things that only we humans have) to SOLVE their problems instead of bitching about it all the time? Everyone always seems so supprised whenever I trot out some tiny little thing that I've done to solve a problem or make a job easy. It's not rocket science.
  • my blue LEDs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eil ( 82413 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @12:13AM (#8835374) Homepage Journal

    I have exactly two blue LEDs, and I had them easily 3 or 4 years ago when they were "expensive". It's a long story, but suffice to say I've been a fan of LEDs and their different colors and uses since childhood. I have a full-tower Antec case and I've never really been a fan of case-modding (I like beige just fine, thankyouverymuch), but I once happened to see some blue LEDs from the same online store that I bought my CPU fan from and bought a pair on a whim.

    I soldered them in, replacing the green and amber power and HDD LEDs respectively, and turned it on. Looking, of course, directly into them. BIG MISTAKE. I felt like I was temporarily blinded for several minutes. The HDD one is not a big deal since it only flashes occasionally and never stays continuously lit for more than a second or two, but the power LED is on ALL THE TIME and if I turn off the lights it can illuminate an entire half of the room all by itself.

    Fortunately, the LED bezel in the case directs most of the beam straight ahead, so it hasn't been that big a deal, though I've been tempted more than once to figure out the current and voltage and solder a resistor in series just to tone it down a bit.
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @12:40AM (#8835491) Journal
    In reality, the color isn't too much of a problem. The problem is that they are so high powered.

    While I will admit, the fact is that certain colors appear more piercing than others (due to how much they scatter), the power is the real issue. He mentions that he is bothered by RED LEDs, but in reality, Red is the most gentle color there is. Back when I was making my own home-made LED flashlights, I quickly discovered that red is an awful color to use, because it scatters so much that there's very little light left where you are pointing it. Blue worked well, but too well. It's soo powerful that you loose your night vision, and since LEDs weren't as bright as regular bulbs, you needed your night vision, otherwise the LED flashlights were useless.

    Green/Amber are the best colors. No loss of night vision, but enough light to iluminate.

    I have a solution to this problem though. What we need is an indicator that is not self-lit at all. Back before LEDs, most applications used a colored piece of plastic/metal to indicate status. What we need is something like that, but updated so they can be a drop-in replacement for LEDs.

    I'm thinking maybe a tiny canister, with 3 tiny, colored, magnetized ball-bearings. A simple electro-magnet could move any of the 3 to the display window.

    So, it would be just as simple as the multi-colored LEDs, extremely low power, and almost as small. As an added bonus, you won't see these status indicators when all the building lights are out, and you WILL be able to see them when it is bright out. If you've ever tried to see if your LED is on while it's in direct sunlight, you know what I'm talking about, and certainly see the advantage of this idea.
  • by krumms ( 613921 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @05:44AM (#8836304) Journal
    When I first got my new system, I was looking for the power button on the front of my subwoofer. Noticing the little button, looking directly at it, I pushed it in and was blinded by a furious, burning blue LED right above the fucking power button.

    Now I like it, because even when I turn the lights off the blue glow of the subwoofer is good reading light.

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