Nothing is more humorous than listening to Jen try to close a long-dormant AOL account via the phone while the moron on the other end tries to keep her from doing so. Apparently the script they have been given involves the phrase, “I understand that, Ma’am, but did you know (insert worthless offer of AOL product here)…?” Seriously, she must have said the words “I just want to close my account” about fifteen times. I think it was at the point when she mentioned that they’re only supposed to try three times before they have to listen to you when Skippy The Wonder Salesman got the message.

Open The Pod Bay Doors, Hal. Friday I got all my home automation gear from FedEx, and after work I tried plugging it in to make some stuff turn on and off. Installation is simple, and the Indigo software recognized the USB hub immediately, but none of the lights I plugged in seemed to respond to the X10 commands. Jen and I retreated to the Whistle Stop for beers and food, and I devised a new plan of attack; Saturday morning I plugged the USB controller into my Powerbook and took it to a different wall socket—Voila! No loading drivers, no patches, no greasy kid stuff—the software worked out of the box. Apparently there’s too much noise on the socket the iMac is plugged in to (it shares a socket with a BackUPS Pro 1000, Airport Base Station, SMC DSL switch, DSL modem, and cordless phone, which is a no-no in the X10 world) so I’ll have to figure out some form of filter or double-socket approach for the final setup. One drawback that I found is that the outgoing email alerts don’t support authenticated SMTP yet, which means I have to write, compile, and link to AppleScripts to send myself mail when something goes boom (or, for that matter, send the house an email and have it turn on the living room lights, then send me back a confirmation email.)

On the other hand, Indigo’s author is a very helpful and responsive fellow, and had replied to my forum post within a half-hour. I’m only about three days into the trial period on the software, but I’m definitely buying a copy of Indigo—I’m that impressed.

I think I’m going to start a page detailing the trials and tribulations of my home automation experience to help other folks who may be looking for help. There were a few things that weren’t clear to me right off the bat, and it may be helpful for other folks to hear about my experience before they jump in.

(Note: in my days as a production artist at a local hack design shop, I worked on an account for a home automation system called HAL 2000, a branding move about as smart as naming your firstborn child Charles Manson. Did these people even watch the movie?)

Date posted: February 29, 2004 | Filed under geek, humor | Leave a Comment »

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