Cutting panels

In my case, I wanted *one* mechanism for moving data between nodes. Less code to maintain, less variance in the operation between any given set of nodes, etc.

E.g., I can implement a time synchronization protocol over ethernet and *all* nodes benefit from it; I don't also have to implement a similar -- but different -- protocol over CAN to ensure the CAN-based nodes are in sync with the rest of the system.

(you would like to avoid writing a 32 bit math library *and* a 40 bit version of the same library!)

Most of the world's "programmers" are probably writing Javascript WEB PAGES!

Don't underestimate the number of *different* embedded applications that exist and are created each year. You should be able to find at least 100 such applications among your own possessions!

Sitting here, I know my mouse has a bit (tiny) of code in it. As does the keyboard. If either of them were cordless, there'd be a bit more (in terms of count and complexity).

The DVD drive has at least one processor in it. As do the BT earpiece and the digital camera sitting on the desk. Ditto for the "spare" disk drive I was preparing to format -- and the "learning remote" (for the TV).

The PDA sitting in its charger has one -- with several "apps" on it. As does the laserjet printer crammed under the desk. (and, I haven't ventured from my seat, yet!)

The furnace has a processor in it. As does the swamp cooler. As did the "old" thermostat -- and the old "controller" for the swamp cooler. Dishwasher, stove/oven, washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, microwave oven, garage door opener, toaster, toaster oven.

No idea how many processors are in the TV. *Each* of the TV's! Or, the little "bookshelf stereo". Or, the tuner, amplifier, CD player, tape deck, etc. And, each of their "remotes".

The DVD player and cordless phone (base plus each handset) have processors (and "programs" running on them). As does the electronic clock hanging on the wall.

The "base" for the iPod has a processor. As well as each of the iPods. And the Zune. And, the numerous "off brand" media players scattered around the house.

I have a collection of older smart phones (that I use as wireless terminals) -- each with resident firmware *plus* "apps". The PSP's and PS2's each have a processor (and each "game" is a resource constrained app).

Each LCD monitor has a processor. Each LCD projector (doesn't EVERYONE have a couple of these? :> ). Each external/USB disk drive. The NTSC digitizers. The DTV-IP media pumps.

The Phaser, color laser, color inkjet, photoprinter. The duplexed LaserJet. The A/legal-size scanner, the B size scanner and the "film" scanner. The pen plotter.

Each of the UPS's. Each tape transport, tape library and external "media drive" (various size MO's and other "off-beat" formats like ORB, etc.). The managed network switch. The firewall appliance. The reading machine (KRM).

The four (different) NAS boxes. The one-port terminal server. The SpaceBall, joystick and the NewLooq. The digitizing tablet.

The BIOS in each of the dozen or more *different* "computers" and servers, here (i.e., servers often have MCU's that do things like sequence the power to the hot-swap backplane, control fans, etc.). Plus laptops and tablets.

And, I haven't touched any of my *automation*, yet!

Nor any of the test equipment (freq synth, digitally programmable power supplies, 'scope, logic analyzers, etc.)

*Or*, ventured into my "toy boxes" (kit that I am not currently using) -- "gyro mouse", anyone?

What about the cars? Or, the stuff my *neighbors* have? Or, the odds and ends at the convenience store up the corner (security cameras, electronic gas pumps, refrigeration controllers, etc.)? Aircraft? Spacecraft? Military weaponry?

[Apparently, some of the ancient processors are still employed in "modern" weapons. E.g., 6502 experience is often sought in that industry]

Or, the scads of computerized products that are sold at local department stores and electronics stores?

Sorry for the lengthy list but you would be amazed if you actually started tabulating how many "different" pieces of software you are surrounded by that aren't designed with the desktop in mind.

*And*, that are created with economic pressures on their designs!

Shirley you don't think "comparatively few people" programmed all these different devices from different vendors in different industries?

How big do you think the *teams* that develop desktop apps are? And they don't have to design any hardware...

There will always be mice, toasters, microwave ovens, refrigerators, etc. Why are people still buying/using PICs??

Reply to
Don Y
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For me? A lot! But, that's because I can't just go to a store and *buy* most of them! E.g., if my hot water heater had a network connection, then I wouldn't need to design and install something to control it!

Ditto garage door opener, irrigation system, etc.

OTOH, if we could retroactively *credit* ourselves for devices we wouldn't have purchased (i.e., assuming said system was already in place), then the cost would be pretty modest.

Installation costs of a "real" system would probably rely on wireless comms so you'd plug in a wall wart and forget about it. (I don't want to address the security issues associated with wireless -- given that I have so many other problems to tackle!)

No! The irrigation controller can operate in the absence of the network and any "central controller". Ditto with the HVAC (thermostat), etc. That's the beauty of putting *smarts* at each node instead of just "field wiring".

Of course, you can't *change* the irrigation criteria if you can't talk to the controller (over the LAN).

I think there will be a more in this direction RSN. There are already firms touting "control your home from your iPhone" (for only $60/month). When appliance manufacturers start adopting integrated comms as a "standard feature", this will get easier.

E.g., you see cars with iPod connections built in...

Currently, any attempt to do something like this requires a "bolt on" product -- invariably more expensive than an integrated solution!

What's far more likely to happen is a disk drive crashes and you lose the media on the drive. The large drives that consumers would typically purchase (incorrectly!) aren't intended for continuous use.

I've never heard a dog that could say "Bob" and "Holly"! :> Or, "the guy from Cox cable"...

Small. About 2000 sq ft. The real problem is that it is very "open". No nooks to hide things in (unless we sacrificed a bedroom). E.g., there is *one* small "coat closet" in the "public" portion of the house. And that's got our coats, vacuum cleaner and carpet cleaner hiding in it.

This is why I have given consideration to running HVAC into the store room (presently part of the garage and, thus, non-living space). It would be a great location for my servers, printers, automation system, etc. (But, that means finding a place to store the pinball machine, E-size plotter, potters wheel, etc.)

When it's 110+ outside, it's hard for the garage NOT to creep up! (We were at or above 100F for the entire month of June and another

10 days into July)

Ours is reasonably cool with the insulated door (it also faces east so avoids the afternoon sun shining on the door). Most neighbors leave their garage doors cracked and/or leave the "side door" that opens into the garage open (behind a security door) for ventilation.

I've protected against that, here. But, "consumers" wouldn't be as lucky -- since they would naively "enable updates" and.or haphazzardly install all sorts of "free" cruft without concern for *why* it's "free"! :>

They care only about how cheaply they can produce a home and how quickly they can unload it.

And, most home *purchasers* aren't competent to evaluate the shortcomings of a home. "Oh, look, Honey! There's a big tree in the back yard like the house I grew up in!!"

Agreed. I routinely go into a "panic" trying to identify things to "get rid of". And, still there's too much! I swear the stuff reproduces when I'm not looking!!

Sorry. I went through a similar experience recently. I recall making the "calculations" as to whether I should seek care or risk the weekend, etc. (here, dentists don't work on fridays either! so, it's *three* days to reconsider your decision!)

Agreed. What happens when your device is "full"? Buy another? Discard something to make room for a new addition?

I've just gone with PDF and EPUB formats and use a regular PC (a tablet in this case) to view the documents. Not as pleasant a reading experience as taking a book out to the back yard. But, if it lets me discard a whole lot of paper...

Unfortunately, many of the titles just aren't available in these formats. And, the idea of cutting the binding off textbooks in order to scan their contents seems *sinful*!

Reply to
Don Y

Not an option for me. I design electronics for a living all day long. So on weekends and after hours I really don't want to design more electronics. If your job is mainly software design or something else then it's understandable, then this can be fun for your.

That's one of the downsides of turning a hobby into a career, which I kind of did once I had my master's in EE.


That's what I meant. Ours has a knob you can turn. If a rainy phase is forecast we set it to 20% or maybe zero. When a scorcher comes along it needs to go back up. If LAN is the only way to achieve that then either you must hand-water or plants will die.

They are touting since decade and nothing came of that.

Yeah, to charge them or play the music.

And it will be like that for a long, long time. Unless folks like you or me start a company nothing is going to change much in that domain. Big companies obviously cannot get it done.

Well, there are no disk drives in our setup :-)

Also, computers and LAN servers for my office run on average 10h/day. So far only one has croaked in over 10 years. Because of backups that took only about an hour and $60 to fix.

You don't know our Labradors. Their reactions are very different. I always know whether it's Fedex, a friend, a friend with dogs, or a suspicious person. That's all we really need to know.


Same here but our garage is vented.

Yup. But you are only resonably protected if you cut all web access. The minute you use any kind of OS or "software in a can" you are vulnerable.

Not so much out here. A lot of people resort to building their own house, with their bare hands. And those tend to be the upscale buyers, or what would have been upscale buyers.


I decided to pay the hefty weekend/holiday surcharge. Still some pain but hoping it'll go away. Anesthesia doesn't work well on me, he could not get me numb enough back there with the legal limit on injections. So he could not go as deep as hoped or I would have jumped out of the chair from pain :-(

There's also another issue: I think if you scan in a book you technically must keep the original as proof that you own a copy.

Regards, Joerg
Reply to


In my case, its *always* been my hobby *and* career! One of the few people who actually looks forward to "work". And, being "independent" has allowed me to go looking for projects that I'm interested in or that advance some aspect of learning that I need in achieving long term goals.

I'm now in a place where I think I can tackle every aspect of this project -- which has been a goal for a few decades! Plan is for this to give me a toy to play with in my retirement! A chance to do something worthwhile instead of just help transfer money from party A to party B.

No, the plants still get watered. They just don't get watered

*optimally*. If you can't design a system that has a high degree of availability, then you shouldn't be designing such systems! :>

We also still have hoses!

When your hot water heater goes on the fritz, how long before you get it repaired? Or, your household thermostat? Something breaks and you *fix* it. If the irrigation controller goes "offline" (LAN failure, node failure, etc.) then BECAUSE it is interconnected with the rest of the automation, something will *know* and be able to report this fact. E.g., besides "not communicating", I watch to see that V+ is sensed on the outputs of the hammer drivers when they are off (make sure there is a load between the collector and V+ -- and, that V+ is actually present to the board!) and "GND" when the driver is engaged (to verify the driver and/or cable to the solenoid hasn't "opened"). Similarly, verify the driver is not *shorted* (seeing GND when I expect V+).

Can you "turn that knob" when you are out of town? Or, do you telephone a neighbor and ask them to turn it for you in your absence? Then, turn it back the next day? (I'm assuming your controller already is smart enough not to water if it rained yesterday -- or the day before. Or, is *likely* to rain TODAY!)

If yours dies, you'll find out by drooping plants! This was a problem with my original SBC version: it only had a little LED on the board that I used to convey status (on/off/blink). (Recall, user interface was via a dumb terminal -- which most often was NOT "on"). So, if I didn't happen to pass by the SBC and actively *notice* the state of the LED, I had no notification that something had gone wrong.

Neighbor had an irrigation valve fail (rupture). His store bought irrigation system didn't help him work-around that failure. Nor did it *alert* him of the failure! (and nothing got watered BY the system while it was broken)

Learn from real-world failures so you can (where practical) adapt your design to address them in the future! :>

That's because it is inevitable! The problem has been having a public (consumer base) that is comfortable with this concept. Willing to pay for it, not afraid of it, etc.

It's actually becoming a reality. How "visible" the progress is depends on which industries you are associated with and what sort of "news" you have available.


Appliances in the future will be a lot smarter and intelligent than they are today, and it isn?t only the living room appliances that we?re talking about. Homes in future will use network connected appliances and gadgets, controlled remotely, with better functionbility, cutting-edge features and energy efficiency. And this year?s CES trade show in Las Vegas will see veils pulled of some of this fresh new technology. Take LG?s line of Thing ?smart? appliances for instance, with Wi-Fi connectivity, smart meters and programmable functions that help them diagnose peak hours and adjust energy consumption. Washers, dryers, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and just about every household appliance with connectivity to network PCs and tablets and smart phones too have shown up at CES 2011.

One problem with time-of-use tariffs has been the relative inability of consumers to adjust their energy loads with any level of convenience. I.e., little more than "don't turn on the lights during the day!".

With "smart" appliances, tariffs *beyond* ToU can be developed to allow "load staggering" and effective "load shedding" -- instead of the slash-and-burn approach of "load shifting" that current ToU tariffs require of their customers. The utility can get information

*from* the electric meter. But, getting *inside* the home to effect any real-time changes in consumption has been expensive. I.e., only worth instrumenting *huge* loads.

(Who the hell wants to live *without* air conditioning during the peak hours? OTOH, if a utility can arrange for my compressor to be off -- delaying when it kicks in by "a few minutes" -- while my neighbor's is on, then the utility can better shape their load, defer building a new power plant, etc. E.g., this is how energy is managed in hotels and other large buildings. EVERYONE has a refrigerator. Half a million -- or more -- of these in a city represent a sizeable load if you can move it around "at will")

Then, there is the convenience appeal (which is how I have thus far described this).

A research paper from another appliance manufacturer:

Trends in development and marketing of these types of products:

... But Lowe?s is educating homeowners, just as Best Buy does, about connecting all devices and appliances in the home to some type of management and control platform as well as, to a lesser degree, each other.

A few minutes with your favorite search engine will turn up more.

Gonna happen. Count on it! :>

Question is whether you'll be strapped into a "subscription service" or able to manage and control these things "locally". (There is already a "dumb" service being advertised for $2/day to give you access to SOME of the kit in your house. How much automation could $700/year buy you?)

The point is, products change to embrace changes in technology. And, when these changes occur, you'll wonder how things could ever have been any *different* ("It's so *obvious*!")

But it *is* getting done! REALLY BIG companies (e.g., Samsung) who can and do have their fingers in lots of different markets (i.e., not *just* washing machines; or dishwashers; or...)

The idea of an IP TV seemed far fetched *10* years go. Even *5*. Now, you have to actually worry about what your TV (not just your "cable box") is telling the world about you!

Then you have no "stored content" and have to rely on OTA/cable delivery (and live with whatever choices happen to exist AT THIS MOMENT -- i.e., even delayed viewing requires a disk!)

My workstations tend to run 24/7/365. I have yet to lose a disk in one of them (lost *two* in a laptop and one in a "consumer" PC -- though that might have been just something scribbling on the boot record, etc.). I've lost one power supply but since those are redundant, it was just a flashing red light telling me to (hot) swap the defective supply out.

Great! Instead of home automation, folks just need to have

*your* dogs! (What was your food + vet bill last year? How much automation would that have bought? :> )

Do your dogs telephone you to tell you who's there while you are out? Or, tell you who dropped by in your absence? :>

We haven't had to resort to that -- though the neighbors (westward facing doors) seem to require it. But, then again, their doors are the original, uninsulated doors that were sold with the houses ages ago.

Exactly. You (I) develop the software with security in mind. You could know my (static) IP address and still never know that there was any "accessible" automation hiding at that address! Because it's a no brainer to expect folks to probe for the "signature" of just such a system and target it for attacks.


If you *do* know there is an automation system at this IP address, all you can do is attempt a [D]DoS attack -- which *might* prevent me from accessing the system OVER IP during the attack but which won't interfere with the operation of the system itself! (i.e., the plants still get watered, the house still maintains the proper temperature, etc.)

Doesn't mean they can appreciate a home's defects/shortcomings. Often, they are preoccupied with a view, location, floor plan, etc. Or, dazzled by "numbers" (R factors, etc.) that a developer hopes will convey .

"Is the slab reinforced with rebar?" "Is the attic/roofspace vented?" "Is the landscape sculpted to keep water away from the foundation?"

I had a wisdom tooth that had to come out recently. Doctor through up his hands when he got to "the limit" and the tooth was still sensitive. "I'm going to have to put you under". "Um, why don't we just *try* and see if I can deal with the remaining pain?"

I'm not sure of that. How do I prove that I have the right to own an eBook copy? "Receipt"?

Lunch. "The Pork Dish". Yum, yum!! :>


Reply to
Don Y

I don't know Joerg's setup but I didn't read it that way. I have no hard drives in any of my PC's these days (they all have solid state disks). They still have to be backed up but they don't have the mechanical durabiliity issues or other constraints that hard disks have. Write wear isn't really an issue either.

Reply to
Paul Rubin

I always look forward to work, I love Mondays. It's been like that since day one of my career. But one has to keep a balance and on weekends I prefer to do other stuff. Unless a client has a project on a hot schedule.

Well, I've carved out another niche for retirement: lay caregiving. I'll probably pick ham radio back up but most of the time I'll be in volunteer situations. One of those things that just happened, I had not planned for this but found that I really like it.


So how does your change the water quatity based on need if the LAN is down? Above you said it can't.

Well, that would not go over too well with my missus. Just because I wanted to super-automate everything we'd have to stand there in the glistening sun hand-watering for 2-3h. That is how it was when we bought the property and then I changed that.

If I am on a major business trip maybe 1-2 weeks.


Well, I subscribe to the philosophy of keeping things simple. I only network stuff when I have to.

No, the problem is incompetence of marketing departments. Lots of people want this. When we showed our (less than reliable) X-10 stuff to people they absolutely wanted it. You and I can make a good quality PLC wall switch that retails for $19.95, but industry obviously can't.

and yada, yada, yada. I've heard that for years, if not decades. Then when you look into it it is either just the high-end isoalted app or it's totally overpriced.

If it doesn't sell at Lowe's or Home Depot it does not really exist.


The real reason is that the utilities have screwed up the smart grid. The user has no feedback what he is currently using, no immediate feedback about market pricing, nada, zilch.

Only with proper feedback and that's not happening. You cannot have a functioning regulator when the feedback connection is not in place.

All they have here is a crude bang-bang on-off for the compressor. It increases short-cycling, bad for the compressor. We won't allow that.

Education without reasonably priced product on the shelves means nothing.

Again, I only believe it if Lowe's or Home Depot has it.

Not gonna happen. That is the wrong approach for HA, unless it is specialty stuff where feedback to a supplier is required (I've helped design one of those).


So where is reasonably priced product available, right now?

To me that was obvious all along, even 10 years ago. I strongly believe that the switch to digital TV was a mistake, it was already obsolete to younger generations before it began. They stream their stuff from the web and get it from Netflix.

We do have a VCR.


They are also therapy dogs, visiting Alzheimer's patients and others. How many such visit per week can a HA system do and how would it cozy up to people?

We don't need to know that :-)


Well, seems my pain is coming back :-(

I don't know how they work. The one's I have are standards and that's passcode protected. So rightful ownership is fairly obvious.

We'll have tri-tip tonight, and bread and sausages. All from the old Weber barbecue. Not sure if I can eat though, on account of the bad molar root.

Regards, Joerg
Reply to

I don't watch a calendar. Every day is the same as every other. If I want to work on a car on a weekday, I work on the car. If I want to write software on the weekend, I write software. I long ago gave up on the idea of wearing a wristwatch. Keeping track of the day of the week is virtually impossible given I don't have to "report" to anyone/anyplace. And, with the absence of the

*seasons* (hot1, hot2, hot3 and hot4), its hard for me to even keep track of the *year*! I usually get it right (when writing checks) by March or so!

I can't. But, I can still ensure they get watered! I can't adjust the indoor household conditions based on outdoor conditions unless I can talk to the weatherstation. But, that doesn't mean the house will be 95 degrees in Summer or 62 in Winter!

How do you deal with your irrigation controller breaking? You

*fix* it. How do you *know* it's broken? You have to visually observe the wetness of the soil, droop of the plants, etc.

At least if the network goes down, I know in a matter of seconds! (even if I am not home at the time)

And you have only the capabilities that non-interconnected devices have. If that works for you, great! You may find that folks with disabilities (perhaps yourself, someday) find having to conform to the requirements imposed by some sighted, nondeaf, mobile, agile, young designer poses a bit of a challenge.

[I have several friends with partial paralysis from strokes; Parkinson's; ALS; missing limbs; deaf; blind or legally blind; etc. The list gets *longer* as I get older! Ever watch someone with Parkinsonian tremor use a mouse? "Just click on the red box in the upper left corner..." Or, someone in a wheelchair try to navigate to the garage to close the door before retiring? Or someone blind wondering if they've turned off the lights in the house before retiring? Along with ensuring the stovetop is off?]

Industry wants early adopters to subsidize their entire development. E.g., witness what "structured wiring" costs if purchased in the consumer marketplace (vs. what the same sorts of items *have* cost for Industry).

Note that the article referenced Loew's *and* Home Depot. As I said, "RSN".

But there is nothing for the user to *do* with that information! How does he *know* what loads to shed to reap a given level of reward? Does he even know *where* his power is being consumed? Or, when? If he could look at a wall display and see it showing KW/Hr (i.e., "rate"), how could he determine *what* was contributing to that figure? Run around turning things on and off and then run back to see what the display indicates?

Do you *know* what's burning power in your home on any given minute of any day? SWMBO complained that the computers were drawing too much power. I left the computers on and swapped out the plasma TV for a conventional one (plasma needed service). When the next month's bill dropped significantly, she wondered how -- given that the computers were still humming along...

If you can instrument these loads and give "something" control over them, then you can more readily inspect their costs *and* develop strategies to minimize those costs. E.g., use the swamp cooler instead of the ACbrrr when you expect it to be reasonably dry outside. Let the heat fall off as your "typical bedtime" approaches (instead of casting that in concrete at a particular time in a naive setback thermostat)

Meter technology is old hat. The problem has been getting to the actual *loads* in a "user acceptable" manner. E.g., the CAL-TOU spec is 20+ years old (?). You will encounter smart meters on many businesses and a few homes (e.g., "all electric" homes where they have a different tariff to account for their heating costs, etc.). But, what's the incentive for the utility to deploy these on residences? Unless the consumer is willing to sign up for a ToU tariff, why bother? (e.g., we can avail ourselves of such a tariff but the terms are ludicrous so we'll stick with the conventional tariff)

Exactly. OTOH, if you could talk *to* the thermostat and see what it has done "recently", it could suggest whether now would be a good/great/terrible time to gate it off. (e.g., if the compressor JUST turned off, this is the ideal time for you to shift the load to a neighbor's home).

It's conceivable that an interactive automation system could

*bid* on conservation. "I'm willing to forego a load of X for a period of Y, *now*" and let the utility accept/reject these bids in real time to better *manage* the load -- with the consent of the consumer!

How much is a TV worth? When will you decide that 102" diag TV is "priced right"? Prices evolve. As does acceptance and desire for features/capabilities.

We've still decided cell phones are "too expensive" based on the level of use that they would see, here. Other folks spend $100+ a month. For a *phone*???

Already happening.


FWIW, google would love to get into this! Not just see what you go looking for "on-line" but see what you *do* inside your home!

New TV's "watch" (literally) their viewers. "Hmmm... I guess that commercial wasn't very effective. Everyone left the room when it aired!"

Depends on what you consider "reasonable". E.g., I don't consider $3 for a single CAT5 keystone connector "reasonable". But, apparently, there are peole who *do* (because you see them sold at those prices and shelf stock varying over time)

We were stunned when we went looking at refrigerators. Many $K for modest ones. And, lots of them with fancy displays, internet connectivity, etc.


"The LG adverts on telly don't do it justice. The LG Internet Refrigerator has the coolest set of features ever seen in the kitchen. It is a 730 litre, stainless-steel, side by side fridge, with an in-built computer which can be accessed via a 37 centimetre touch-screen LCD monitor mounted on the fridge door. Users can watch TV, listen to MP3 music, take and store digital photos, make a video phone call, use the fridge as a message board or surf the web. It also has VCR and DVD ports, a microphone and speakers. Information about food in the fridge can be stored and a map of the fridge allows the owner to keep an inventory of what foods are in each section and how long they have been there. It's biggest advantage will be its functionality as a food management system. It also has an inbuilt hard drive and modem, so that the appliance can be 'connected' by simply running a phone connection into it. $15,000 is the anticipated RRP when it's released later this year. "

$15K for an icebox??? WTF??! But, you can bet someone will buy it! And, just like $10,000 VTR's, they lead the way to the cheaper versions that follow!

A stainless steel car??? (DeLorean)

I can always buy a dog! You can't buy an automation system until someone makes one affordable!

Ah, I want to know if a client stopped by in my absence. Or, if a neighbor who was *going* to stop by did so and I happened to have mistimed a trip to the store (so I don't call and ask him *when* he's going to stop by... only to be greeted with "I was there two hours ago and no one answered the door")

Sorry. Tooth pain is a special kind of pain!

Bummer. Nice big piece of tenderloin for today's meal. She complains, "Lately, the pieces seem to be really large!" He just smiles and says, "Really? I hadn't noticed..."


Good luck with your tooth!


Reply to
Don Y

Doesn't work well for us. Besides church there is also regular volunteer activity where other people rely on us to be punctual. Then numerous clients who do tend to work Mon-Fri. So I have to as well. And man needs rest once in a while. That is Sunday for us, Saturday is "chores day".

The advantage with the simple irrigation controller is that if it croaks while I am gone I can simply tell my wife where to get a new one and she can install it. With a problem somewhere in the LAN that would be a real challenge.

That would be the point where I'd really start simplifying my life, getting a smaller house, maybe even consider a 55+ community. But as long as one spouse is ok it may not be an issue, as long as it doesn't cause undue overload stress level in the healthier spouse.

That will never work.

I never believe in getting out the gate with high prices. That is a major mistake high up in the corporate leader board.

Well, it ain't there yet and I won't believe it before it's there.

This is exactly what home automation is for. Say someone starts loading the dryer. The computer in there senses the door being opened, then responds "Hey, a kWh is 45c right now, sure you want to do this? Yesterday it was down to 16c by 7:30pm". Or it could just suggest to impulse-tumble the load until the prices drop, then step on it and notify you on the display panels. You can hit [YES] or [NO].

It's easy. But it will only work if the utilities or at least the public utilities commissions wisen up, and the HA industry gets into gear. In other words all that has to come together.

No, but if the utility had been smart enough not to let the 2.45GHz radio lay fallow I would know. All I see is a big fat nonsensical carrier clogging up a channel needlessly. It's stupid.

Right. But there are no instruments.

And they still don't have feedback. The technology is in there but the movers and shakers aren't competent enough to open them up. But they collect fat pensions. Pathetic.

Correct, because of ludicrous terms we also have no TOU. Someone needs to wake up first, and that's not happening.

Exactly. But don't expect anything like that soon. Because the people who could architect that seem not to be smart enough for that. Just like the people setting incentives for energy conservation aren't. Why is it that if we had installed an A/C that uses 6kW instead of 7kW would have resulted in a fat incentive but installing an evap cooler that dropped it to 0.35kW didn't?

Totally different thing. A 102" TV is bought because the neighbor just got a 95" set and that peeved the other guy. Or it's football season. Or whatever.

HA, in contrast, is a business proposition just like TOU or solar is. If it doesn't compute then people will not buy. Even I won't.

Well, we have ours for emergencies and I do for business. Costs us around $7/phone/mo. Worth it. We don't even use up the roughly 30mins/mo that buys so they keep piling up.

So AT&T wants to become another alarm company?

Quote "but the base price starts at $39.95 a month plus an installation fee" -> DOA.

Quote "The service requires Time Warner Cable?s Internet service and costs $33.99 a month when bundled with cable TV or phone service. The contract, which includes a security monitoring service, is for 18 months" ... You really believe that will fly? How on earth do they want to catch someone like us who will not subscribe to their cable TV or phone?

So why don't they? They've got enough money. A few years ago they were on the right track by starting an eneergy monitoring thing. But then ditched it ...

A keystone connector won't make home automation happen. That needs a lot more stuff.

Nah, they don't cost more than 16 years ago when we bought ours here:

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Just ditch all the glitzy stuff and it'll be around $1k.

It's just a gizmo, will fizzle.

Well, that one did fizzle, didn't it?

That is what I am saying the whole time. The industry is asleep at the wheel since decades, leaving that market untapped.

Well, clients generally don't come here because most are thousands of miles away. And if a neighbor was here he'll leave a note.


Barbecue is off. We will eat soup tonight, can't chew anything :-(

Regards, Joerg
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We do what we want, when we want -- for the most part. My other half has lots of regularly scheduled "social activities". But, aside from doctor appointments et al., my schedule is largely left to my own choosing.

I do my volunteer work when I have time and feel in the mood. Sleep when I'm tired. Chores when they can't be postponed any longer, etc. Thankfully, stores tend to have long hours so I can usually get to whichever one I need to visit *sometime* during the day...

E.g., we have a dinner appointment for Thursday that I will have to be reminded of numerous times -- lest I find my sleep/wake schedule has shifted to leave me sleeping when I should be entertaining! :<

What would she do if the hot water heater developed a leak? I.e., you *fix* things that you rely on in a timely manner.

Note I can always pull the wires off *my* irrigation controller and attach them to a storebought unit! There's nothing special about the irrigation valves...

Unfortunately, many folks don't have a choice. Or, don't want to give up their independence -- "yet". Our ALS friend lives by herself. Despite the fact that she can no longer *speak*. We have friends where one spouse is disabled -- and the other barely *able* (i.e., old). Try telling them "you should move into..." and its like talking to a brick wall!

[I wonder what I will be like when/if that time comes?]

If, instead, they can avail themselves of appliances and other living means that allow them to continue to live the lifestyle they *choose*...

E.g., when our ALS friend is in bed, she's there until the caregiver gets her up in the morning! If someone comes to the front door, she can't (physically) let them in. If she left the TV on in the living room, it's going to *stay* on all night. If she worries that she *might* not have turned off the stove, she won't know until someone checks it in the morning (unless the house catches fire before then!)

None of these things are difficult to provide. They just *haven't* been.

If appealing to the toy desire of normal users lets quantities increase so they become affordable for the folks who *need* them (instead of just WANTING them)...

Happens all the time! Early adopters always pay through the nose! I'm hoping that circumventing the need for "big players" will let "tinkerers" create a workable system -- even if a big player comes in after the fact and tries to hijack the idea. (who cares as long as the devices are available!)

Its easier than that! You do the things that automation can't (i.e. load the washer). Let the automation decide when to actually

*wash* the clothes. Let it notify you when you are needed to move the clothes into the dryer, etc.

Of course, there are countless "rules" as to what it should do and when. E.g., growing up, the hot water heater was undersized (oil fired). So, you didn't take a shower when someone was doing laundry!

With automation, you can turn that on its head to favor the user over the "appliance" -- *stop* the laundry cycle when someone wants to use the shower (or, just delay when you would start the cycle if you know folks will be taking showers, soon)

You can save energy and gain convenience with automation. So, use that as the "draw" and hope that others (utilities, regulators, etc.) get on the bandwagon after-the-fact.

The problem has been that automation involves too many DIFFERENT aspects of a home (we have not talked about businesses!). So, its unlikely that manufacturer A will have its hands in LOTS of these areas in order to pitch a unified, consistent framework for "devices".

I.e., the solution has to come from outside those industries. Put something in place. *Hope* people embrace it ("Hey, it exists, its free, and its better than nothing!") and then hope vendors follow.

See some of my URLs. What's sorely missing is the smarts (algorithms) to tie things together. "Control your home from your smartphone!" "OK, besides being 1970 technology, what does that *do* for me that I can't do WITHOUT the smartphone??" (i.e., why can't *you* decide when to lower the thermostat?)

They want it all. They forget that *I* have to gain something before I am willing to GIVE something!

E.g., we have looked into PV solar (too expensive given our ages). Going that route, you "sell back" surplus electricity (at a reduced price!) to the utility. Heck, why have *any* surplus? Charge batteries when you have power to spare. Use the batteries to power *some* of your load in the off hours (instead of buying back the electricity that you just sold the utility a few hours ago AT A HIGHER PRICE -- "distribution costs")

I don't see it that way. For businesses, there is a value decision involved. For consumers, I still think there is a lot of "toy" factor. "Have you seen the Jones' house? It practically wipes your ass for you!"

My other half has one "for emergencies". $100/year (I believe there are cheaper alternatives but she needed something that had widespread coverage as she was making annual drives up through some of the lesser populated/developed portions of the state, into Utah, etc. so that restricted her choices)

She has *once* used it for an emergency. The other times have been "I'm at Trader Joe's. Do you want anything?"

At $100, it's a bargain for piece of mind... (also pays for itself when she *is* on those extended trips and would have to resort to a payphone or motel phone to call home)

EVERYONE wants to be in the services business! I suspect we will see "subsidized appliances" in the future -- once they figure out how to get those appliances to snitch on your usage patterns! Then, sell that information to vendors who can pitch items to you *in* your home!

(Like: "Free phone with 2 year contract...")

But it isn't! Folks are willing to pay for security monitoring services (surveillance), "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up", etc. It's a wonder anyone has disposable income given all the vendors trying to nickel and dime them to death! :<

(Most "services" are articifial. Why do I need to pay someone $2/day so I can control SOME of my appliances from my iPhone? Why can't my phone contact my home directly -- instead of going THROUGH your "service")

The same sort of people who already spend $160/month! Companies don't care about you or me. There are plenty of other folks eager to throw money at them!

They've embraced Arduino in the hope that folks will design Arduino based gizmos... that they can eventually talk to. Google wants to *live* in your pants (pocket)!

Sure. My point was there are folks who are willing to pay that price for a flimsy little connector. What are they willing to pay for the rest of the enchilada?

Bummer. Shit Happens.

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Don Y


She would have a new one installed. With a homebrew LAN that is kind of impossible.

In our case you just buy the same controller and transfer them over verbatim. Easy. You can even have a pre-programmed unit sitting on the shelf as a spare.

We never know. But it is beneficial to prepare oneself. Because of our volunteer activities we know most of the places in our area. It's good to mentally prepare. Of course that's no guarantee, I know people who in their younger years were perfectly willing to go into assisted living some day and then when the time really came fought it tooth and nail.

That's the problem. And will be for a long time to come.

It only tends to happen for gizmos in a "must have" category. HA isn't cool enough, therefore it has to be reasonably price to even create a market.

But there is nothing available at Home Depot or Lowe's to make that happen. Consequently it's not happening.

Well, yeah, those things we tend to figure out the old-fashioned way by turning stuff on and off. For example, we set the sprinklers to come on and be through before we take our morning showers.

Not going to work. There is no consumer payback without intelligent TOU tariffs. So consumers won't buy.

It requires the utilities or regulators to get it. And they don't, yet.

That's mostly alarm systems. Not very useful for real HA.

First there needs to be the hardware, the devices that actually control stuff. They ain't there.

And therein lies the problem. Why is it that when we strain ourselves to be good and feed 8kW back at times of super-high need that the spot market guys get 30-40c/kWh and we get 4c? That's wrong, and is the reason why we have no solar at all. Now it's too late, on account of a new metal roof with a batten system.

Super expensive, not going to be economical. Friends had that in Mexico and only because there was no electricity. You don't want to know what a fully burdended kWh cost them.

For you and me, maybe (less so for me, I want value in it). But the vast majority will not buy unless there is some payback.

When you get up there in age I'd consider getting one for yourself as well. All it takes is going on a jog and suddenly you feel the ticker skipping some beats.

Smart phones have the coolness factor. "Mine has a screen 0.500" bigger than yours" or "Mine can do LTE". HA (mostly) doesn't have this coolness, it needs to create value on its own merits.

They only do that if they really have no other choice. Or if the kids force them to and/or pay the bills for it. We are talking home automation though.

Exactly. I don't want to be tied to someone's service for this. Because you know how it goes:

"We have some wonderful news! We have added these valuable features ... yada, yada, yada ..."

None of which you really need, or let alone asked for. In the fine print it says "Best of all, you get all this for a low new price of $2.79/day". Seriously, I had exactly such an attempt by my web hoster recently. I put an immediate stopperoo on that but I bet 90+ percent of customers didn't and now wonder why their bill shot up.

I doubt they would spend an additional $34/mo for that. For umpteen additional sports channels, sure. For HA? Nope.

That's nerd stuff, will never reach the masses.

Not in mine. I don't even use them as a search engine.

Not much. They will prefer to spend that money on a fun park trip, dinner, movies, a humongous gas barbecue they use exactly once, or some other cool stuff they can brag about in front of their friends.

Yeah, pain all day, dentist on vacation for a week. But my wife made an excellent Zucchini soup. Someties us guys forget how much work that is, a lot more than if I had barbecued the meat, sausages, bread and jalapenos.

Regards, Joerg
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Just a summary of my results, to date:

I tried using "card stock" printed in a Phaser (solid ink, very opaque/glossy results), laminated, then cut (for the "slots" for the connectors). Visually very good (though the lamination alters the finish perceptibly). And, easy to get a precise fit to the dimensions of the panel and openings.

But, the card stock "frays" along the edges that have been cut for the connector openings. Over time, the appearance will degrade as these edges see most of the (ab)use that the panel experiences (as cables are plugged/unplugged).

I then tried printing the imagery and *pre*cutting the openings before lamination. This allows the plastic laminate to be in place as the edge of the opening instead of the "compressed fiber" card stock. Once laminated, the openings are cut through the lamination.

The problem with this approach is you need to leave a margin of plastic to "self-adhere" causing the resulting opening to be smaller than desired. I.e., you have to cut the opening in the card stock to be *larger* than necessary so you leave room for the lamination to come together *inside* that opening. This means your "overlay" has a transparent ring around each opening cut through it. (and, means the legends are that much further from the actual openings!) The cheap remedy is to paint the backside of the lamination with a solid color that mimics the basic color of the printed overlay (e.g., I printed a black overlay and then used a black marker pen to color the clear plastic laminate in this area to be equally black. This would obviously have varying degrees of success with other colors...

I then tried using heavy "photo paper" (I have a large selection of papers, here). Again, printing the imagery in the Phaser (so I didn't change too many variables in one step), laminating and then cutting windows. (i.e., just like the first attempt but using different "paper").

With a bit of double-sided celo tape to adhere it to the metal panel, this seems like it will do the trick. Sure, it won't stand up to lots of abuse but this isn't the sort of thing that will *see* lots of abuse. Wire it and forget it.

Other ideas I might explore are printing on thin plastic (though I'll see if I can find a service bureau willing to do it!); cutting "tabs" on the inside of the slots in the laminate instead of cutting clean openings (so that those tabs could then be folded normal to the page to cling to the inside edge of the panel hole -- the small gap between the metal plate and the connectors protruding through it).

I may also try a sheet of wood veneer as this would be the utmost in "swank".

Currently, I am exploring a choice for appropriate graphics to use as icons. I think if the panel had been mounted at eye level (even if you were squatting at the time), the icons wouldn't be as critical. But, located inches above the floor means there is a lot more reliance on overall shape and (ick!) color (white snowman for "freezer", orange sun for "weather", red thermometer for "temperature", etc.). Maybe I can coerce some of my artist friends to lend a hand (though small and stylized is probably not something they are accustomed to dealing with!)


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Don Y

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