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Comment Yeah yeah yeah... (Score 0) 116

The history of Home Automation is littered with the bodies of business that have come in and then left when they realized it's a very difficult place to make money, unless you just carve out the high-end systems used by rich people. If you are building a McMansion type home there are always options available. If you are a middle class home owner looking for a good way to retrofit, no one wants to talk to you. So you end up going down the path of tried-and-true technologies like X10 that have spotty vendor support but a strong hobbyist community.

I'm not saying X10 is perfect, but it does let me control my sprinklers from a crontab file. Any system that can't do that is beneath my contempt. :)

Take a look over here, this is what the industry looks like...


Comment Re:Hard to define (Score 4, Insightful) 237

Carl Sagan wrote a lot about the Oort cloud. It would be nice if we could get first-hand evidence of it. Unfortunately the nuclear power supply on Voyager will run out long before anything like that would be remotely possible.

I think the interesting question is, what would constitute evidence of the Oort cloud's actual existence? Every textbook and Wikipedia article I've read still describes it as a theoretical construct.

But yeah, it took us 40 years to get out to 130 AU, and astronomer's talk about comet dust being out as far as 50,000 AU. A humbling thought to be sure.

Comment Re:Where to start? (Score 1) 1365

I think the way it was re-written was much better. It's the only episode where McCoy got to kick ass, even if it was because of the Cordrazine. The original script was just a Redshirt dealing drugs, and Ellison even wrote in a cheesy 60's "trip scene" showing a drug hallucination from the crewman's perspective. Completely inappropriate for 60's prime time TV, when the Doors couldn't even sing the word "higher" on Ed Sullivan.

Comment There was a whole episode of NOVA about this... (Score 1) 371


Unfortunately you can't stream it anywhere.

But the BBC adapted it with re-recorded narration, and it's right over here.


Remember, this was all stuff we knew about in the late 90's.

The only interesting question is, did we fail to learn the lessons from LTCM, or did we learn the wrong ones?

Comment LCARS interface for iPad... (Score 1) 324

I'm surprised no one's commented on the irony of the fact that, if someone were to submit an LCARS interface for the iPad, Apple would disallow it because they forbid developers from implementing desktop environments or any sort of alternate UI.

This is a pity, because that's probably the only reason I'd buy one.

Here, take a look... http://www.lcarsdeveloper.com/

Comment Re:There are reasons X-10 hasn't gone away (Score 1) 170

This web site is interesting...


A quick look tells me that this is not hobbyist friendly at all. You have to buy a Raven USB stick, but there is no API support, you have to roll your own code to make sense of the 802.15.4 protocol stream before you can even begin to work on the level of devices or events.

Like I said, tell me how to turn my outside lights on at sunset in the Zigbee world. How to I address devices and send commands to them? How do I get status back. X-10 has a flaw in that it's hard to get command confirmation and device state back. So we learn to live with that. But I'm not seeing a compelling case for Zigbee being any better.

Bottom line is the people who write for CE Pro and similar magazines have their own slant on things. And it's a very different slant from Popular Electronics or BYTE or any of the publications that used to show you how to unravel things and make them work your way. And that's what makes HA fun for a lot of people.

Comment There are reasons X-10 hasn't gone away (Score 3, Interesting) 170

The nice thing about X-10 is that the protocol is simple and there are lots of devices that work with it, most of which are relatively inexpensive. It's also friendly to the home hobbyist, and the hacker, since you can buy interfaces that will hook up to your PC via a serial port and write your own scripts, or download free software like Misterhouse.

If I can't turn my outside lights on at sunset via a script, then turn that script into a cron job, don't even talk to me about it. I'll write the interface myself, just give me a clean API I can code to.

We hate it when Microsoft or Apple take the attitude of "No, we won't open up our API and play nice with the open source crowd. At best we will make you join our developer program and sign an NDA. At worst we won't talk to you at all."

When the home automation vendors do it, they're no better. They don't deserve our respect or our help.

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