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January 2006
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March 2006

Indigo's INSTEON Goes Gold

I've written previously about my happiness at finally being able to use INSTEON home automation equipment with the Mac, and today the folks at Perceptive Automation have promoted their support in Indigo 1.8 from beta to GM.

INSTEON is the next generation of automation protocols; it allows you to control lighting in your home similar to X10, but with updated technology and better reliability. For example, it uses a dual-mesh network (both wireless and powerline-based) to link devices together, and it offers "2-way" communication that ensures your commands are received and acted upon.

The number of INSTEON devices keeps growing, including the new lower-cost ICON modules from Smarthome, so now is as good as time as any to give it a look. And as far as I can tell, when it comes to using these new gadgets with your Mac, Indigo is going to be the software of choice for quite some time.

J.Jill. Better. Shopping. Ahead.

One month ago I vented some frustration over a bad shopping experience I had at J.Jill's online store. You can read about it here, but the short story is that due to some technical mistakes and some UI choices that weren't user-centric, I was unable to use the store under any browser except the archaic IE 5.

Today I received an email from a VP at the company, explaining that my criticism was noted and the problems addressed. I was surprised to get this message, and pleased that not only is J.Jill obviously monitoring the web for feedback, they're willing to respond even when criticism is especially harsh. Good show, J.Jill. I've updated the original post, and I'll add here that the clothing I did finally manage to order arrived quickly, and is quite nice.

Credit where credit is due. Thanks for reading.

Bard in a Box

Just a quick note about a fun product I recently stumbled across at Costco. You know those "host a murder mystery" party games? This is along the same lines, but I think it has a wider appeal and probably more fun, since there is no competition involved and nothing to keep track of, letting people get into it without having to keep track of clues, and so on.

What I'm talking about is a "Bard in a Box" kit that lets you stage a Shakespeare play with your party guests. There are two plays available, King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew

Each play has been expertly reduced in length by a noted professor, includes all the props and costume elements you need, and has scripts for each player. It also includes notes for a director which includes tips on staging and how to cast the play depending on how many people you have on hand. (In other words, which roles can be doubled-up without worry that you'll have a scene where one person would have to appear in two different roles, at the same time.) All-in-all, nicely done, and I can't wait to try 'em out. (Don't worry, friends, I won't spring this on anyone unannounced.)