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Comment Second Vote for Insteon (Score 3, Informative) 189

I've been happy, for several years now, with my Insteon setup. I think it will meet many of your needs:

-For a central controller, I use the Universal Devices ISY-994i. This provides a web-interface for status, and quick toggle-controls, but it's also where I do my "programming"

-if you buy and install an Insteon switch, it will "just work" as a regular switch - others in your home will have zero learning-curve.

-they do have some universal I/O modules with dry contacts, etc. You may be able to work with these to perform your temperature monitoring and control, along with water-level detection, etc. See if it would work for you.

And, here is a bit more "geek" for you to ponder:

The Insteon signalling uses both a data-burst on the AC power-line, and also a radio-frequency data burst. Each device will repeat a burst (up to 3 hops only, or something like that) - in practise, I've found it really, really reliable. I started with just a controller and a couple of (AC-powerline-only) switches, but this required me to add a hardware phase-bridge, so data-bursts on one phase of my house-wiring could reach devices on the other phase. As I added more devices, especially more wireless devices, the mesh got better and better.

The Insteon switches will require 3 wires in your switch-box:
1) Hot wire. The Insteon switch will use a bit of power, as well this is what powers your light or other device(s). Typically it's a black wire.
2) Load wire. This is what goes to your devices.
3) Neutral wire. Typically this is white, and can sometimes be a problem. My older (1950's) home had all the hot-and-neutral wires run to the lights first, then a pair of wires ran down to the switches... this won't work :-( I renovated/re-wired my home such that all the wiring ran first to the switches, then up to the lights - you need this arrangement.

Each Insteon switch is internally pretty cool: it's comprised of two parts:
1) a switch part, that detects when you press the switch, and reports this data-event
2) a responder part, which receives a data-event and closes the circuit (with relay, or whatever).

So, you can actually have a single switch act to control several devices, if you want :-) In fact, Insteon contantly refers to "scenes" where you would do exactly that: press one single swtich to bring down your home-theater screen, close curtains, dim lights, etc. Personally, I don't use this feature

The "programming" is not really very geeky: it's more just a set of conditions and actions, selected from drop-down dialogue boxes. That said, you can do some fun stuff, like:
- change actions based on sunrise-sunset times (great for lighting)
- use a motion-detector, which also contains an ambient-light sensor! I use one of these outside, to tailor my lighting to the Pacific Northwest's gray and dreary winter days.


Comment Definition of Millionaire doesn't include your hom (Score 1) 467

Yes, your home will be worth that much quite easily, I bet. But, the "new-age" definition of a "millionaire" is having $1M investible... *NOT INCLUDING* your home. But these days, being a millionaire at retirement is just middle-class - nothing exceptional, but you should be comfortable. It's a great aim-point.

Comment Tried Cyanogenmod for this very reason (Score 3, Informative) 120

My HTC One X has been abandoned last year at 4.1.2, with still more 2yrs left on the contract :-O :-( While that sucks, I did move to Cyanogenmod, through a few different flavours. I'm running CM11 Milestone 2, but I think I can safely predict what will and will not work for anyone who goes this route (because these issues have persisted through several releases in Cyanogenmod):

1) you will have Bluetooth for audio, but not for keyboards, game-controllers (no HID stuff)
2) you will not have IPv6. Not a big deal for most people, but this is News for Nerds :-)
3) returning to a previous WiFi location may require toggling Airplane Mode to get it to reconnect

But for a non-technical person like my wife, using CM11 / KitKat 4.4.2 truly *IS* a viable answer (hahaha - using. Getting to CM11 is most definitely not for her... that's my thing). For the future, Nexus devices or Play devices are likeliest.

Comment Re:Wait a minute there... (Score 3, Interesting) 164

Well, the hardware was made by Sony, so "update" means:

a) remove functionality
b) rooting and snitching on your usage
c) adding requirement for cryptic, lightning-fast keypresses to perform even the most-basic functions, like turning on
c) new TOS to prevent suing

I cannot think of a better Marriage Made in Hell than Sony and Microsoft. B*stards forever :-)

Comment Prior Art :-) (Score 1) 77

Heck, I remember taking an Engineering Design class about 30yrs ago. where we explored several ideas to detect dozy drivers. Sensing brain activity (and I think we found ourselves zeroing in on alpha-wave activity) was one idea, and arguably the best idea we came up with. Even so, it wasn't ground-breaking 30yrs ago (although a good *implementation* may have been groundbreaking).

(among other ideas: frequency and magnitude of driver-corrections; embedded steering-wheel sensors for pulse & blood-oxygen).

Kudos to them if they can make it work.

Comment YES! We need 4k - just not predigested by YouTube (Score 1) 204

Nearly a decade ago, I built a 100" fabric screen, and a home-theater. I've gone through projectors at 1024x768, 1366x768 (ie 720p), and now 1920x1080. I'm one of these guys who kinda likes the IMAX experience, so I sit 6' away from this 100" screen (and love the sense of immersion it brings!!!).

Let me be the first to say that the best BluRay discs (~33Mb/s) look really, really nice. But, they don't knock my socks off, and it's rare that I say "wow". When this is digested down to satellite / cable / over-the-air at the best ~17Mb/s, the image still can look good, but compression is a huge annoyance, and resolution has degraded enough that I cannot imagine "wow".

What does look *stunning* is some of my own content, run straight up the HDMI cable at 6Gb/s, for brief moments. So, I suppose that 1080 *can* look "wow", but it's a very, very uncommon experience.

So we may as well go to 4k, and once the compression/distribution has chewed on the content, it may finally look off-the-shelf "wow" to me :-)

But, I'm with everyone else, as far as YouTube is concerned - utter crap! It's gotta be big, it's gotta be clear, and I'm also on-side with Cameron, when he calls for higher frame-rates. And, the IntarWeb pipes of today certainly won't be a viable delivery-medium for this :-)

Comment Re:SecurID - Incorrect (Score 1) 205

If an attacker captures your passcode after you use it to successfully log in it's not going to do them any good at all. I feel like I'm missing something because none of the comments that I read above mention this fact. Pretty basic stuff to anyone who has administrated the system before.

hehe... here's the thing: with a *real time keylogger* they catch your password/passphrase/passcode *before* you hit ENTER. Then, they use your info, and hit ENTER *before* you manage to... effectively stealing your session right out from under you. YOU are the one that is now locked out.

Comment I'm an actual LED-lighting user, and disappointed (Score 1) 685

Our University moved to a new campus a few years ago, and the architectural firm tossed in some LED lighting. I thought it would be efficient and trendy, and I wanted to see first-hand how it performed (hey - I'm an engineer :-) ).

The result: Disappointment :-(

You know those air-deflectors on the back of cars, with an LED-third-taillight, and how many of them seem to have a few dead LED's? Well, that's what our trendy-and-cool LED lighting is like, now.

Each fixture was comprised of about 10 individual white (ish) LED's, and I am estimating that about 50% are not working now, after only 3 years!

Sure, I've done Mil-Std 217 reliability calculations, and I understand that the operating-life *expectancy* for these LED components is high, but it's just not translating into reality. Maybe the manufacturing (of the finished-product) degrades the individual LED's... I don't know.

I just know that the light is harsh, the cost is high, the actual life is low.

My experience with CFL's mirrors that of some other posters: short life, even from the late-90's through 'til now.

So, I am resisting "green-wash", and I buy partly based on TCO (total cost of ownership), which is largely based on purchase-price, and operating-cost, and partly based on light-quality. In most cases, tungsten-filament wins out.

Just my $0.02 at the end of 2008.

Comment Re:People are switching (Score 1) 528

(I admin a network and user-desktops, which include PC laptops and Mac PowerBooks) One huge problem with the PowerBooks is that they're *just* like the iPods: they are fragile. Not only do they scratch and dent unreasonably easily, but nearly every one (out of 20) has required warranty-service. To Apple's credit, their warranty-service was stellar, but I never had to test IBM, Toshiba or Sony on these fronts. And, to those who say Apple has achieved price-parity: nope, they haven't. There certainly are some things to like about Apples, but they *do* "think different" and the result isn't corporate-friendly. Too Fisher Price. -sparkyradar

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