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May 2005
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July 2005

Insteon's longer range

The folks at Smarthome, Inc are out beating the drums for their Insteon automation system, and James Coates of the Chicago Tribune has his reaction. As he says, the larger command space is nice, but it's really the promise of greater reliability that could make it catch on. I've never thought of describing X10's problem as being one of "limited range" but I think James' use of that phrase as a summation is probably good enough for most people. The reality is a bit more complex, but not enough to matter, especially when discussing what makes Insteon attractive by contrast.

See also Insteon is real.


Learn from the mage

Last week's performance of Steve Cohen's Chamber Magic, in a rare appearance The Drake Hotel in Chicago, was delightful. Steve is one of the best magicians of our time, and the care, personality, and personal investment he puts into every show not only makes it a great event, it's inspirational for any solo performer. This show was every bit as good as when we saw him in San Francisco a while back, and he's on a multi-city tour now, so if he's coming by you, do go see him.

To that end, Steve has written a book for laypeople that describes how to apply the conjuring approach--psychology, presentation, and staging--to any type of public endeavor, such as public speaking, managing, and so on. The book is called Win The Crowd and it's a fun read, that could really enhance your personal life. If you're the type that shy away from business books, because they're typically so droll and repetitive, you'll find Win the Crowd to a be refreshing change of pace.


Another optimistic view of Z-Wave

Don Hunt, writing for the Chicago Tribune, says that the promise of the last 10 years--a single, simple consumer-friendly home automation system--might actually be realized.

He's referring to Z-Wave, a wireless method for controlling lights, appliances, and the like. I have to agree that Z-Wave is compelling, I've begun using it around my house, and its speed and reliability is much better than any real-world alternative.

But in order to have a chance, Z-Wave needs broader software support, easy-to-buy modules, and the technology must be built into common appliances. The latter was never achieved by X10, even some 25 years after its invention, so it might be too much to hope for. But without integration, it seems that home automation might always be doomed to the geek fringe and tinkerers.