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Comment Re:No Custom Building? (Score 3, Informative) 68

>which makes me think that there never will be a commercial solution

Quite the opposite. I've been 'thinking about' doing this for a couple of years now, and my research has led me to the conclusion that 'everyone' uses Light-o-rama commercial setup to do this.

It's not wireless, but I don't believe (other than the DMX solution DJ's use for their stage lighting) there's a wireless solution to be had. Even that 'solution' isn't actually wireless, since it uses wires for.. the power! Wireless dongles can be plugged into recievers at the light end - but to be honest, you're better off just going the light-o-rama route.

That solution works by giving you a 'squid' of power connectors, into which you plug your extension cords and it just.. turns them on and off. They give you some kind of application that you can use to sync the lights to your music - if you've ever made an animated thing in like Blender or Poser or Daz Studio you'd get right along with it - timeline.. flip this on at second 3, flip this off at second 5, turn the other on at second 10.. etc..

However, it's not cheap - by any standards. In controller hardware OR lights.

Comment Re: Storage (Score 1) 516

Yeah - so about that..

I live close-ish to some power lines. Some 4 or 5 years ago - I guess following that NorthEast USA blackout period which was unrelatedly due to some electricity surge from Canada.. or something - the power company came along and cut down a bunch of trees off 'my land' within 100 feet of the lines. I was pretty peeved. I like trees. I have a whole bunch of them on my land. Next year they returned and cut down more... This has happened for every year since..

Sandy comes along - all the trees which sheltered my 'other trees' have been cut down. Result - I lost 9 trees which were previously sheltered from the wind (and I guess hadn't grown the root structure to survive). 2 hit my house.

Elsewhere - where the utility company had not cut down trees to 'save the power lines' - all the trees survived.

While I appreciate that the utility company needs to protect their lines - there are *much worse* situaitons than where my trees border their lines - even just 1 mile down the road. And I'm convinced they opened up the nightmare that was Sandy.


Comment Re:They Hadn't Already? (Score 1) 116

Google was also a winner for me because of its clean single line text input for search. No images, no clutter, no links on the page - in the age of a 9600 baud modem the less clutter on the page the better. That was why *I* swapped from alta-vista to google. Alta-vista had started presenting a 'portal page' which was all the rage back then, and I preferred the quick, efficient search from google.

Comment Re:Until we learn how to use less ... (Score 5, Interesting) 502

Got an anecdote for you.. :)

I live not altogether too distant from you. ( weather-wise). I have solar panels on my roof. Had 'em since like.. 2008.

Snow isn't that big of an issue. Sometimes they get covered, sure. But wierdly they *still* work, even when covered with snow. Not enough to generate anything much worthwhile, but *enough to heat the panels*. I find the snow melts from the underside up, causing a slick undermelt which then causes all the snow to slough off and fall off the panels. Bingo! Panels are working again.

Even in cloudy weather and winter weather - they still produce a significant amount. I was surprised.

And I've never had to clean them. In summer any bird crap on them simply 'burns off' and the rain keeps them clean enough that I've *never* had to go up with a brush, and I've certainly never had to go up with a rake.

Might wanna watch out on the snow days though, in case you get dumped on when the snow falls off - but that's no worse than standing by my front door and getting the ( other, non-solar covered) roof dump its contents onto you.

Comment Re:Or, you could... (Score 2) 405


I started boycotting Amazon after the (admittedly *very long time ago*) change in their policies from 'We will never sell your information!!!' to 'We'll give it who we damn please' and refused to 'delete' my account. This was in the late 90's...

I take some consolation in the failed pairing of Amazon and Borders, and hope to see the same for Amazon within the next decade.
Simply don't buy from them. Or distribute through them. The two combined would eventually mean they atrophy into nothing.

I'm doing my part!

Comment No bluetooth? (Score 5, Interesting) 182

I'm wondering how much it costs to add bluetooth to a device. I mean... them bluetooth headsets have it in, hell even the dinky little $12 'bluetooth speakers' you can park next to your iThing have it in...

What in the world possessed them to release a device that doesn't have bleutooth?

Comment Re:How convenient for him... (Score 1) 196

Plausible deniability.

If a bunch of others are wandering around with your face, you can reasonably say 'It wasn't me Guv, it were one o' them folks wearin' my mask..."

In techy terms - It's a bit like having an open hotspot. "It weren't *my* computer guv, it were one o' my neighbours connecting to my freely accessible SSID."

Comment Re:Ivy League = theroy loaded classes with skill g (Score 2) 197

This is what *school* is for, not University.

I hear Americans laud the 'breadth' of their university system with arguments such as the above, but frankly this kind of stuff should be taught *before* university, not during it. I, for instance, learned the 'History of the Roman Empire' when I was 18. Likewise a bunch of other history stuff that I later dropped in favour of the sciences.

School should be for your 'broad education'
It should funnel into your chosen subjects which then funnels into
University - which should be your *specialisation*. Not a continuation of generalities. If by that time you don't consider yourself a 'well rounded individual' then take up some evening classes on your own, rather than watering down the education you *should* be getting in your specialist, chosen subject.

This, frankly is why I consider american degrees to be nothing more than watered down bollocks. If I go to uni to study 'comp sci' then I want my degree to be 'comp sci' not 'some comp sci classes, plus some bullshit yoga / tennis / geology' stuffed in with it when I could be learning *more specialist comp sci' stuff instead.

-- did his degree in Artificial Intelligence and didn't suffer a single non-degree related course and is proud of it.

Comment Re:Insurance? (Score 3, Informative) 248

Perfectly understood. For my insurance premium reduction they simply require that an alarm be installed which is monitored - ie: automatic calls to police, fire etc. And I test my install regularly. They're quite happy with what I provide them.

I also understand an insurance company's policy is to attempt to pay the minimum, or not pay at all, or other methods of reducing outgoings. I have to say though, that the company I have now - and I'll be quite forthright: It's Amica - were exceptionally good with Hurricane Sandy damage. They sent out an appraiser, gave me what I considered to be more than reasonable recompense. I have 10 computers in an office which got mashed by two trees. Normally they'd not pay out on 'large numbers of household items'. Like.. say you claimed for 10 toasters you said got ruined? They'd pay for only one, since that is 'normal' for a household.

I had called them the year before to explain: I have all these computers in my house, do I need to increase my premium to cover them? They said 'no', you're fine. They made a note of it in my file, and come time to claim? They paid for 10 computers.

I could not be happier with my insurance company. :P

Comment Re:Insurance? (Score 1) 248

My insurance did not ask for specifics. I get a call once in a while asking 'Is your house still monitored by an external company?'. To which I answer 'yes' and they go away happy.

I suppose I might be asked to provide specifics in the case of a claim against burglary/fire: Can your monitoring company provide logs of emergency call? etc etc. But... well, they can. So, all's good.

Comment Re:Umm no. (Score 2) 248

If you're only 'alerting yourself' there's no fee involved. The 'alarm fee' my township imposes on me is, apparently, to cover false calls. (naturally my wife had one of these once...). They have a yearly false call allowance of.. once. After that they start charging you.

I agree with 'what's the point' though. If I get burgled, I want the police to be notified, and either come shoot someone for me, or turn up with flashing lights if I'm away - not me sitting on a cellphone describing what they're removing from my house to a 911 representative.

Comment Build your own... (Score 5, Informative) 248

I have done just this. After ADT refused to 'update' the installation I had done about 12 years ago, and wanted to charge me $800 or so AND continue to charge me the $50 a month for monitoring.

So, I junked their old (crusty and mostly non-working) system and bought all my own kit. You'll find you can *always* buy better than what they give you in their 'free' package anyway, and tailor it to your own needs. You can find a monitoring company for around $10 a month. My insurance company doesn't care who does it, as long as it calls the police, alarms for fire, etc etc etc.

So. Here's what I got :

Vista20p panel. It's what most 'big name' companies install, except YOU get to set the 'installer code' and the ability to change / add stuff you hook up to it.
Honeywell 6120RF keypad. You'll need a 'keypad' to program your panel. This one also takes care of wireless sensors.
Various door sensors, heat / smoke sensors, break-glass sensors, Pet Immune movement sensors.
Don't forget the siren :P

If you have a landline, you can hook it up to this panel and have it call your monitoring-company-of-choice when an event trips. If you don't, you can get wireless addons which call them via cell-phone.

All this stuff is easy to order, easy to physically install. The programming for the Vista20P is a bit arcane and reminds me of programming assembly from my youth, but a day or two with the manual and some judicious googling and you should be set.

One of my requirements was that it hook up with the z-wave stuff I'd started installing, and I'm a fan of gadgets. So I *also* bought some touch panels with pretty graphics and stuff on them. They're expensive, mind (about $400 a pop) and their z-wave capabilities were limited. I ended up not using them for that and got a Vera-lite anyway. The wife, however, likes them.. so I consider the investment worthwhile (they can also display security camera feeds).

Note: NONE of this stuff allows you to monitor without a contract to a company. If you want to do that, then you can buy the add-on daughter board for the Vista20P called the Envisalink3. Hook that up to your home network and it can send you mails and stuff when things occur. Also note: if you do that and your power goes out, and you don't have battery backup for the internet gateway it sends through, you'll uh.. not get notified.

All this stuff I bought from 'the home security store'. Which is a haven for DIY'ers. They have a very helpful forum, very helpful staff and their prices are reasonable. I bought my bits a year or so ago and I've been a very happy customer.

Links follow :

Vista20P :
Wireless Keypad :
Touchscreen pads :
Glass break sensors :*ava=0%5D
etc etc etc

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