Emacs Light Switches

Tellstick Duo

Telldus launched a new version of their nifty USB-based “home automation” thingy a couple of months ago.  It’s mostly the same as the last version, but this one can receive signals as well as send signals.

This means that you can buy stuff like this switch, glue it onto a wall somewhere, and control your lights more like a normal person.  Instead of having to use computer-ey interface.  Like an animal!

It works pretty well.  As before, the USB interface exposes a serial interface. To get it working under Linux, you need to tell it about the serial numbers, because this devices is brand new:

[larsi@quimbies ~]$ cat /etc/modprobe.d/tellstick.conf
options ftdi_sio vendor=0x1781 product=0x0c31

After doing that, the device shows up as /dev/ttyUSB0, and if it receives something, it spits out data like

Wireless Wall Switch Sticky-Taped On To The Wall


So you basically just stick lots of switches on the wall, and then create rules to respond to these strings.

I’ve updated the Emacs code.

It seems to work pretty well.  There range is OK — it kinda goes through one wall, and kinda works over 7 meters.  But it’s not 100%, which is annoying.  I’ve bought two devices, so far, to get coverage over the flat, but I think I might need one more.

Anything that’s wireless sucks, but being able to just glue switches anywhere is pretty awesome.

Will This Do?

I was reading an MC Siegler post linked to from HackerNews, where he rants about the iOS Gmail client and Google products in general:

And all of this is the M.O. of pretty much all Google iOS apps. They’re half-ass, buggy, and generally ugly to boot.

The obvious retort is “yeah, and Apple never released anything half-assed.  Right.”  But the thing is — he has a point.  Google releases stuff that kinda works.  And then they seldom give it any polish to take it past the “barely useful” level.

Look at Google Finance.  Just look at it.  In particular, look at that chart:

The point of charts is that you’re supposed to read them.  So: How much woas Nasdaq down at 1.30pm?  Let’s see…  the lines are at -0.68% and -1.36%…  and it’s about one quarter below the -0.68% line…  so that should be…  oh, I give up and go to Yahoo Finance.

It’s obvious how that chart came to be.  Somebody was told “make the chart”.  They implemented it by finding the extremal point, and then drew a line at the halfway point, and then made it symmetrical by going the same distance the other direction.

And it’s total crap.  Nobody who has any pride in what they are doing would perpetrate something like that instead of doing it the hard way — finding the “pleasing numbers” (0.25, 0.5, 1, etc) that people can actually read. And then using those numbers on the lines.

That chart has been like that ever since Google Finance launched, many many years ago.

Having a crappy chart on one web page isn’t a catastrophe.  But it boggles my mind how the people responsible can look at that…  thing…  and not spend the half hour it would take to fix it.  For years on end.  This mild feeling of willthisdoitis typifies most offerings from Google. And I wonder why.

Legal Proceedings

The last time I handled Gmane emails (I do that about once a month.  Drunk.) I got a stranger than usual threat from India. I’m used to being told that I’m so sowed because of something some moron once posted on a mailing list, but this seemed to actually be from a lawyer.  As is my policy, I post most interesting threats to gmane.discuss.  The mail from the Indian lawyers didn’t actually say what they wanted to have removed, so I sent an email back asking what they wanted me to do, exactly.

I didn’t get a reply.

But a week later a package showed up at the office.

Package from Mandal & Fox, lawyers.

It’s like several kilos of paper, detailing (presumably) the case between somebody and somebody else.  I think the gist of it is that somebody alleges that somebody else is a crook, and that somebody else says that he isn’t, and the court says that the first somebody should stop alleging that.  And it’s been going on for at least 20 years.

I’m not the only recipient:

The firms that got the care package

It’s a list of about 15 companies, like Google, Yahoo and me.  Yay!

So, anyway, I’m perfectly willing to delete whatever it is they want to have deleted.  So I was looking through the stack to see if that was in there somewhere.

Why did blogger rotate the image?

So…  they want me to remove…  something…  in one of the groups that talks about India…

If this is the quality of the legal assistance that Fox & Mandal is giving to that certain someone, I’m not surprised this case has lasted 20 years.  This is pretty incompetent.  I’d advise whoever to get new representation.

If they actually tell me what message they want to have removed from Gmane, I’ll remove it.  Until then, I guess I just have some extra paper to take to the recycling, I guess.