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Automated Dorm Room Causes a School Inquiry

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the dorm-of-tomorrow dept.

Education 170

First time accepted submitter ElectronicHouseGrant writes "Freshman Derek Low rigged up his Berkeley dorm room with something he calls B.R.A.D., which is short for 'Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm.' The room includes automated lighting, drapes, music, motion detection, and more. He can control everything through voice recognition, but a wireless remote, his iPhone and his iPad are also in on the control party. Derek started the install on February 4 and finished just a few days ago."

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School inquiry? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873117)

Maybe I missed something, but since the headline said school inquiry, shouldn't there be some info about that either in the blurb or the article it's linking to?

Re:School inquiry? (2)

mjb (8536) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873127)

That's what I was thinking!

Re:School inquiry? (4, Informative)

Matheus (586080) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873143)

Ya... terrible title doesn't match summary or linked article. News at 11.

Re:School inquiry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874847)

Ya... terrible title doesn't match summary or linked article. News at 11.

You wrote that at 11:43PM. Do we really have to wait till 11:00AM? I want the news NOW!!!

Re:School inquiry? (5, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873179)

Here [livescience.com] is a more complete article.

Re:School inquiry? (2)

feepness (543479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873183)

Well, you're inquiring, aren't you?

Re:School inquiry? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873617)

My inquiry would be...

What was that laser thing? That was pretty nifty.....however, somehow, and maybe I'm old school...the party music was seriously lacking in cowbell.

Other than that, I think the kid has a hit!!!

:)

Re:School inquiry? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873717)

The laser is a common DJ light effect from American DJ.

AMERICAN DJ Galaxian Green & Red DMX Lazer Light Beams

Re:School inquiry? (1)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873215)

Maybe I missed something, but since the headline said school inquiry, shouldn't there be some info about that either in the blurb or the article it's linking to?

You know what's even more surprising? That someone at MIT didn't do it first. You know, those west coast silicon valley hipsters havn't been known to do anything progressive in the area of tech progress.

/sarcasm

Re:School inquiry? (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874849)

Not sure that anyone at MIT would stoop so low as to use X10 modules for a dorm project. Somehow I would tend to expect them to design their own solution that wasn't so noisy, or prone to being affected by someone in the next room with an X10 timer, or lamp control pad.

Re:School inquiry? (5, Funny)

terrab0t (559047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873251)

This discussion thread is only for those of us who do not read the article. There will be another post later that actually links to the article to allow those annoying fact checkers to join in.

Re:School inquiry? (2)

headwes (728006) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873261)

I'm guessing it has something to do with this:

The wall switch was particularly dangerous and I left as a last resort. With no access to the circuit breakers of the dorms, the contacts and wiring inside the wall switch remains live even as I open and try to modify it.

http://lab.dereklow.co/brad/ [dereklow.co]

Re:School inquiry? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873469)

Wow, this guy's hardware-dumb... How about shorting it (and keeping it shorted lest someone reset the breaker), do your changes, then remove the jumper and call campus maintenance, ok?

But it turns out he couldn't figure out how to do anything with the light switch anyway, because all he knows is sticking X10 stuff together... I love watching software guys trying this sort of thing.

Re:School inquiry? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874009)

What, I get modded down for mentioning one third of the old adage "The three most dangerous things in the world are a programmer with a soldering iron, a hardware type with a program patch and a user with an idea."? (I'll note the programmer is listed first.)

Butthurt much?

Re:School inquiry? (1, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874913)

Don't be ridiculous. I was replacing wall outlets and light switches at that age, sometimes without turning the power off. It's easy, you just be really careful (so you don't short something and make sparks), and wear some rubber gloves. It's only 110V so as long as you're not wet and wearing rubber-soled shoes, it can't hurt you, only give you a small jolt. Obviously it's better to turn off the breaker if you can, but it's not that big a deal if you can't. Not sure I'd try this with 220V systems however.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874995)

you be trolling? i'm pretty sure current has some kind of contribution here. 110, 240, 12, it's gonna kill you if you're not careful (especially if you're a sweaty type).

Re:School inquiry? (2, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875153)

Actually, no it doesn't. Maybe you should go read about Ohm's Law; current is a product of voltage and resistance. Voltage is fixed at 110VAC, so resistance controls current. Your skin resistance when dry is too high for current to be dangerous. The only way 110V is going to kill you is if you're playing with it while in the bathtub (which indeed is how most deaths by electricity occur I believe: people using a blow dryer while in the bath tub; the lethal combination of water + 110V is why kitchens and bathrooms are required to have GFCI outlets now).

Re:School inquiry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39875101)

It's not ridiculous -- dude says he has no access to the circuit breakers, so he has to do it live. Not that he knew he could trip the breaker and did it live anyway because it's only 115V..

Re:School inquiry? (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875185)

I didn't say it was ridiculous to change them live, I was saying exactly the opposite. The kid did the right thing given the circumstances, in my opinion, as long as he's confident he can work with 110V live; I am, and I was at that age too, so I'm not going to fault him for it. I was only saying it was ridiculous to short it intentionally and then involve campus maintenance, as the AC before suggested. That's way too much trouble, and who knows how long that'd take. Plus, you might knock out power for a bunch of your neighbors doing that too, and who knows how well the 50-year-old circuit breakers work. I'd say the AC before is the one who's "hardware-dumb", not the college kid.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875381)

Best to wear safety goggles, even if you have those cool German plastic-covered screwdrivers, you still might short it out and send molten tool spattering about the room. Rubber gloves? sounds hazardous.
Strangely enough, I've just returned from Bonanza in Oakland where I purchased the last of their Wera 1500v flathead screwdrivers for exactly that purpose. I have to change out about twenty outlets in my ex-wife's Apartment that she's selling soon, and I tend not to use the breakers for every job. (240v kinda hurtz so that's more likely to get my respect, or any time the wires get up above 10ga or so.)

Re:Tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39875419)

Oops, that Wera's 1000v.
It's just got about 15mm bare at the tip.

Re:School inquiry? (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873291)

Not very hard to guess the problem.

Take a look a the third or so pic on http://lab.dereklow.co/brad/ [dereklow.co] The one with the light switch hanging out of the wall as he screws around with the wiring. If he could have just stuck to plug in modules like everyone else, but no he has to go all amateur electrician... I love this quote "With no access to the circuit breakers of the dorms, the contacts and wiring inside the wall switch remains live even as I open and try to modify it.". This dude is the stereotype of nothing is more dangerous than a programmer with a screwdriver... damn...

Screwing around with the drapes might have pissed them off too. Worst case is losing some security deposit unless he can return it all exactly to original operation.

Oh and the fog machine. My dorm didn't allow gasoline and oil products in the rooms, to discourage people from putting their scooter in the room, or doing oil changes in the dorms. Maybe they're worked up about fog juice and treating it as automotive lubrication oil.

Re:School inquiry? (3, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873671)

Oh and the fog machine. My dorm didn't allow gasoline and oil products in the rooms, to discourage people from putting their scooter in the room, or doing oil changes in the dorms. Maybe they're worked up about fog juice and treating it as automotive lubrication oil.

Yeah, all dorms have rules...but they never really enforced any of them...at least not in my day at LSU.

I mean, we weren't supposed to have hot plates or anything to heat up food...we did. You weren't supposed to have kegs in your room....we did (after dorm crawfish boils, the left over kegs followed us into our room, as did the RA's that we befriended).

Hell, you weren't supposed to have women in your dorm room over night, but I know a guy who had his chick living with him (and his room mate) for a whole semester. Basically in our dorm...there could have basically been an ax murderer come out and take out a whole floor...and no one would have noticed till a week or so later when the smell got even worse that usual.

*sigh*..those were the days. I remember the 2 day poker/Bourré games we played on a table we'd stolen from a study room, and placed in the elevator....and just rode up and down playing all weekend straight....only taking breaks to pee, grab some food...and replenish the beer in the cooler.

Re:School inquiry? (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874923)

My dorm had a stupid rule against having microwaves, supposedly for safety, but then they tried renting us these massively overpriced microwave+refrigerator combos, and were forced to drop the rule against microwaves since it was obviously bogus.

Re:School inquiry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873825)

This dude is the stereotype of nothing is more dangerous than a programmer with a screwdriver... damn...

What's the worst that can happen? He screws up the live wall switch and has to restore from backup. Oh wait, he doesn't have a backup for his dumb ass when he gets zapped.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874459)

My wife gets all pissed at me when I replace switches and outlets without turning the breaker off. I just tell her that I always act like there is live power anyway so it just makes me even more careful. If you know how electricity works and actually THINK about what you are doing...

Re:School inquiry? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874937)

Yes, I've done it many times before too. It's not that hard if you're not an idiot or a klutz. It helps to wear gloves, however. 110V shocks aren't that dangerous (as long as you're dry), but they're quite annoying, kinda like a bee sting.

Re:School inquiry? (3, Funny)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874941)

He has a point, and so do you. You always have to assume there is power anyways. I was a maintenance man at a fab company for tractor trailers. We often had to work with the power on anyways. Heh, about 6 months ago my boss paid an electrician to come in and rewire a messed up network. After examining the system he determined what breakers were to be turned off. After working a few hours he began messing with some wires and BAM! Power went out. Someone plugged an extension cord into a receptacle 50 ft away and completed a circuit through the light bulb and he got nailed. He laughed it off and didn't get hurt. But even HE said never, never assume a wire is neutralized.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

flonker (526111) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875349)

Another thing that you see is that a wire is connected to two different circuit breakers on either end. Also known as two circuits that accidentally got joined together. Turn off the breaker, and the wire is still powered from the other side. Or if only the neutrals are tied together; turn off the breaker, you think you're safe, someone flips a light switch, and BAM! The white wire bites you.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

PenquinCoder (1431871) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873371)

Welcome to slashdot. You must be new here....

Re:School inquiry? (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873373)

Note to Derek Low: My God man, you're in college. How dare you show any initiative and innovation?

Clearly, you haven't learned much your freshman year. All innovation and initiative must be pre-approved by your faculty sponsor and the department head. In addition, such projects are reserved to graduating seniors with some exceptions granted for juniors who have shown they know how to behave properly.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873439)

All innovation and initiative must be pre-approved by your faculty sponsor and the department head. In addition, such projects are reserved to graduating seniors with some exceptions granted for juniors who have shown they know how to behave properly.

Well...yes. This is essentially what our society is morphing into. If you show the least little bit technical know-how with electronics, or chemistry, or biology, or anything mechanicky looking (that isn't a car), then you're viewed with suspicion and reported.

Re:School inquiry? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873525)

Messing with the fixed wiring in a room that you do not own is not "initiative", especially when you can't turn off the power while you're working on it. In that case it's called "recklessness". Faulty contacts are a serious fire hazard, and unlike the stuff you just plug in, the installed wires do not simply revert back to safe when you move out.

Re:School inquiry? (2)

hughJ (1343331) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874145)

Yep. It means the school will now probably be obligated to double check all the wiring in the room just to cover their butts with respect to electrical code in case of future fire, etc.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874333)

Messing with the fixed wiring in a room that you do not own is not "initiative", especially when you can't turn off the power while you're working on it. In that case it's called "recklessness"

It's actually both. He's a kid, recklessness comes with the territory.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874939)

He's an 18 year old adult. He should start acting like one.

Re:School inquiry? (2)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875111)

X10 isn't worth getting hospitalized over.

If you're going to get seriously hurt at college, the situation should at least involve several gallons of vodka, unprotected woo-hoo with an entire sorority, and questioning the football team's heterosexuality at a practice while tripping on shrooms. Precisely in that order.

Re:School inquiry? (1)

bluemonq (812827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873539)

He's more than welcome to innovate. The issue is whether or not his modifications violated the terms of his dorm lease, which is ehy residence hall officials want to talk to him. For example, if you sign a lease contract that says you can't drill holes into the walls, and then your landlord heard from folks that you did that anyway, do you expect to be let off the hook for the damages because you've come up with a revolutionary new way of line-drying your laundry?

Re:School inquiry? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873673)

They're undoubtedly upset at changes he made to electrical wiring to get around problems X10 modules have with CFL bulbs he mentions on the project page [dereklow.co] . Also, if they have some strict guidelines about holes in the walls I suppose the mounted lights, motor, and pulleys for the curtains might annoy them.

Re:School inquiry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39875251)

Guy should have taped a solenoid to the wall switch, and have the X10 mechanically manipulate the existing switch - then there's no modification to the dorm's circuits...

Re:School inquiry? (1)

Dast (10275) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874007)

You must be new here.

"...Causes a School Inquiry" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873123)

No explanation of what the hell that means in the summary.

And since the link is already Slashdotted, I can't investigate for myself.

You fail again, /.

Re:"...Causes a School Inquiry" (1)

Audiovore (572647) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873137)

There was nothing there, just a longer description of what he had done.

Re:"...Causes a School Inquiry" (2)

slashchuck (617840) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873235)

Description of what was done at http://lab.dereklow.co/brad/ [dereklow.co]

Re:"...Causes a School Inquiry" (2)

davmoo (63521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873305)

The only real issue I would have with what he did is the part where he fiddled with the switch in the wall. He does not own the building, and I doubt he's a certified electrician. If something electrical went wrong in his room, the insurance people would have a field day with that, whether his wiring caused the issue or not. And if the electrical problem caused injuries, many lawyers would become involved. If I were the school, I'd inquire over that too.

Other than that, it's a cool room...although a bit small for partying :)

Re:"...Causes a School Inquiry" (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873821)

It is an X10 powerline device. A light switch replacement is not rocket science or safety issue once installed.

I do not recommend using X10 in a dorm room. The standard is well known. Anyone can buy components. The power network is common to his neighbours. If I was his neighbour and thought the stereo was too loud, it would not take long to try the All Off command on all 16 House codes to turn everything off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X10_(industry_standard) [wikipedia.org]

It uses a 4 bit house code. 16 tries is a guaranteed hit with the All Off.

Personally, I would have used DMX-512a for network security in the dorm instead of powerline.

Re:"...Causes a School Inquiry" (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874961)

Who cares if he's a "certified electrician"? They don't sell wall outlets and light switches and romex wire at Home Depot to only licensed electricians; anyone can buy them and install them, and it's because it doesn't take a genius to work with that stuff. There's a lot more danger in letting the kid drive a car in traffic.

How many people die every year from fires caused by electrical modifications made by unlicensed people? Zero? And how many people die in car accidents? 50,000+.

Blurtastic (1)

second_coming (2014346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873155)

Shame everything was blurred, maybe switch on autofocus next time eh?

brings to mind an MIT project from 14 years ago (2)

Eric Smalley (561923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873161)

Re:brings to mind an MIT project from 14 years ago (1)

TheSeventh (824276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873199)

It's great that he got it done just in time for the school year to end. I'm sure that like most schools, that they'll let him keep all his stuff there all summer.

Maybe next year he should work more on his planning and scheduling . . .

Re:brings to mind an MIT project from 14 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873249)

Maybe next year he should work more on his planning and scheduling

Hey, he's a hacker; "planning" and "scheduling" aren't in his vocabulary. As with most hackers' projects, it's late and can be made to work, sort of.

Thanks headline! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873163)

Would never have known about the inquiry without you...

Notice he's by himself (5, Funny)

commodore73 (967172) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873169)

During romantic mode.

Re:Notice he's by himself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873605)

Did you really expect otherwise?
How long have you been in your basement?

Re:Notice he's by himself (0)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873659)

He won't be alone long. Some great gal (or guy, whatever he's into) will snap him up. So will a tech company.

Re:Notice he's by himself (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873909)

During party mode too....

/.ed (4, Informative)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873175)

Article appears to be slasdotted..and sparse per prior posts. Any better links?
Oh that's right.. unlike the submitter or the eds.. I can use google.
http://www.livescience.com/20048-ridiculously-automated-dorm-room.html [livescience.com]
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2012/05/01/cal-student-creates-a-ridiculously-automated-dorm/ [berkeleyside.com]
http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-video-berkeleys-most-ridiculously-automated-dorm-room-ever-20120501,0,2225746.story [latimes.com]

Great and all but... (2)

Psylok (1526433) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873185)

In my dorm here in Italy it's illegal (as for in Dorm rules) just to put a chair from the kitchen in your room.
And anything like that would not have passed the montlhy control check.

Re:Great and all but... (4, Funny)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873247)

Land of the free, and all that...

Re:Great and all but... (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873307)

Darn, no mod points. +1 funny would it have been.

Re:Great and all but... (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874605)

In my dorm here in Italy it's illegal (as for in Dorm rules) just to put a chair from the kitchen in your room.
And anything like that would not have passed the montlhy control check.

Land of the free, and all that...

I'm going to start with the assumption that you already noticed he said Italy and just say... I don't get it. Can anyone enlighten me as to the funny?

Re:Great and all but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874679)

Nor I

Re:Great and all but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39875043)

It is both factual and satirical. The United States anthem ends with '..land of the free and the home of the brave.' That reference is simultaneously a satire of the standard patriotic American rebuttal to any foreign argument as 'does not matter, we do what we want', a shorthand version of that argument; which is a social norm; and pointing out it is not in Italy so there is no point in talking about how the rules would be applied there.

Re:Great and all but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873419)

You also can't place a chair from the local library inside your own house, because the chair is for the library and not your private home.

College (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873203)

This is what it is, now.

No longer a institute of higher education, it is now a place where children go to act like children for another 4+ years with minimal supervision, consequences, or responsibilities.

If you think what you see in the video / read about in the article is worthy of any praise, you're part of the problem. It just shows that this kid is wasting his parents's (as well as the public's) money and his own time on pointless shit that's trivial, but time consuming, to set up.

Re:College (1)

bluescrn (2120492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873475)

Some students waste their college time on 'pointless shit' like sports. Others play with gadgets. The only problem here is the messing with mains wiring. But then again, you can get badly injured on the football field, too...

Re:College (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873665)

My dorm also wouldn't have allowed the paper notes on the outside of his door. Any. Fire codes and such.

Great Headline! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873211)

If you use your imagination, you can actually see something in the linked article about the supposed "School Inquiry."

Or maybe it's like the Bible Codes, where it's a hidden message in TFA?

CAPTCHA: mating; how appropriate for the "romantic mode" in the video.

pick up routine (3, Funny)

ozduo (2043408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873233)

"come up and see my BRAD" doesn't work for me!

ALS Residence Initiative (4, Informative)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873297)

The ALS Residence Initiative [alsri.org] already built a paradigm-shift in skilled nursing care in Chelsea, MA. The Residence was built as part of the Leonard Florence Center for Living as a place for ALS/MS patients with severe disability to live with maximum independence and with the highest quality nursing care available.

The Residence was designed by my friend Steve Saling [youtube.com] with his own long-term care requirements in mind. The building is stuffed with automation equipment from PEAC [peacpc.com] which enables people, who can only use their eyes to control a computer, to open doors, operate lights, call an elevator, or summon assistance (among other operations). The Residence is the first of its kind, and the ALSRI is committed to building these across the USA. The second facility is to be built near Atlanta, GA.

Re:ALS Residence Initiative (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873353)

Thanks for the info. My wife also has ALS, and your link is very cool.

Thanks again.

Re:ALS Residence Initiative (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873435)

You can contact me directly from the link in my signature if you ever want to talk about anything ALS. I am 7 years in and us "old timers" have a duty to help the newly diagnosed.

Disappointed (2)

Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873303)

I misread "inquiry" as "injury." Dang.

big deal - just strung together some X10 devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873341)

Big deal. I knew people who did that stuff when it hard - X10 does it all for you now. Now get off my lawn.
Also, I'm a little suspicious this might be viral astroturfing...there was a song in there that sounded just like the Microsoft commercials.

Re:big deal - just strung together some X10 device (2)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873661)

I was thinking similar. I was messing with X10 a decade ago, and it wasn't terribly new then. Very limiting. I was looking at really doing up the house with a project like this, but, over a wider area than a dorm, and I eventually want more intelligently controlled devices (RGB lights, I want to be able to go from soft white, to warm white, or rave/strobe mode)

In any case... X10 is cool and all, but, so basically all I need to do to really fuck with him is inject X10 from anywhere in his building...a dorm. ROTFL good luck kid. I bet he is going to find his shit going crazy at 4 am pretty soon.

I don't have those worries but...in a place as humorously "hostile" as a dorm where any of hundreds of people could just decide to mess with you, and watch the results! That is just asking for it. X10 doesn't have the first bit of message authentication or authorisation.

Consumer grade crapware? (3, Interesting)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873403)

That just looks like a hodgepodge of cheap consumer crap he picked up at Home Depot and literally taped to the walls and ceiling of the dorm room. He even runs free apps on his Apple products to control that stuff.

Where's the fit and finish of quality hackery? Practically any geek with a spare couple of weekends could throw this together.

Re:Consumer grade crapware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873697)

did you also notice the 5 steps to turn the light on?

1) open cover to ipad (no spell check, I will not capitalise apple products)
2) press home button
3) slide to unlock
4) launch app
5) slide to turn on

It must be nice to be a posh twat. When I was at uni I didn't have time for something like that let alone the money. I lived on pot noodles for 3 years.

Re:Consumer grade crapware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874073)

did you also notice the 5 steps to turn the light on?

1) open cover to ipad (no spell check, I will not capitalise apple products)
2) press home button
3) slide to unlock
4) launch app
5) slide to turn on

It must be nice to be a posh twat. When I was at uni I didn't have time for something like that let alone the money. I lived on pot noodles for 3 years.

I lived on pot brownies; noodles sound good. Recipe, please?

Re:Consumer grade crapware? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874187)

You're complaining that the budget on this production was too small? He's a college student. I'm sure you could send him a check and he'd improve the quality for you.

Re:Consumer grade crapware? (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874335)

That just looks like a hodgepodge of cheap consumer crap he picked up at Home Depot and literally taped to the walls and ceiling of the dorm room. He even runs free apps on his Apple products to control that stuff.

The X10 stuff is cheap (at least one ebay) but I wouldn't call it exactly crap. It is what it is and it works well, at least when I used it. It isn't as elegant as other remote control systems, but it doesn't have the price either. ;)

But using the phone to control things looks like a pain. When I did a project to control the lights and music in an old apartment, I built myself an infrared transceiver, then configured software so that the same universal remote control I was already using would work to control the lights and music server as well.

He's a kid, for pete's sake (1)

QuincyDurant (943157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875013)

There's more to engineering than classwork. This kid's got it in his genes. Go Bears!

Why do American Dorm rooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873519)

always appear to be multiple occupants? I've always found that a bit weird.

Re:Why do American Dorm rooms (4, Insightful)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39873591)

always appear to be multiple occupants? I've always found that a bit weird.

It is to condition Americans to despise a) sharing and b) small living quarters, yielding a steady supply of cooperation- and organization-averse individualists who seek sprawl and thus fuel the real estate, automobile, & energy industries.

Re:Why do American Dorm rooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874263)

What? Every article I've read in the last 10 years suggests a strong trend towards individual-occupancy dorms by various schools. I always figured it was a way to get greater diversity by encouraging more mentally chall^H^H^H^H^H^ republica^H^H^H^H^H rugged individualists on campus among the filthy psuedohippies.

Re:Why do American Dorm rooms (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875001)

Really? That's news to me. I've never heard of an individual-occupancy dorm room, unless someone bought out the entire room. Plus, it'd be kinda hard for most American universities to move to that, since their dorm buildings are all decades old and designed for having roommates. University dorm buildings aren't exactly replaced on a frequent basis; they're giant concrete-and-steel buildings designed for a lifespan in the centuries I'm guessing. Plus, universities located inside cities typically don't have a lot of extra real estate to build nicer dorms that give students extra living space.

Re:Why do American Dorm rooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39875263)

Here's at least one example:

http://www.coloradodaily.com/cu-boulder/ci_19554226

I swear I read similar stuff at the Chronicle of Higher Education, or NYTimes, or other rags of note or relevance.

Now whether that's actually a trend, or just one of those factually unsupported "many say that" type of stories that pass for journalism is anybody's guess.

Re:Why do American Dorm rooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39875291)

You don't get extra living space - the standard UK dorm contains a single bed, a desk usually fixed to the wall under the window, some kind of micro-closet, and about two square feet to stand up and dress in. Sometimes there's an ensuite bathroom (more expensive) otherwise there's one down the hall.

Re:Why do American Dorm rooms (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875353)

Sounds nice and all; for new-construction dorms, it makes perfect sense to me, and I don't know why they didn't do it before. Probably just to save the tiny bit of money that the additional wall costs. However, for older dorms I don't see it happening; I'm thinking of the dorm I lived in as a freshman/sophomore; it was two rooms, each with two roommates, both sharing a common bathroom. I don't see any way of modifying that building to split apart the rooms; you'd have to demolish it and start over, unless you just want to give everyone a double-size room. Dorm buildings (indeed all university buildings) are very expensive to build, which is why you see so many 50-100 year old buildings in state universities, so I'd only expect to see this with new construction. Heck, I remember reading over 10 years ago how many universities were making males and females share the same community bathrooms. This was because many dorm buildings, being old, were build with community bathrooms, where one whole floor shares the same big bathroom. But that was back in the days when most students were male; but now with demographics changing, many universities simply ran out of room to keep the two segregated, and I guess didn't have money to knock down the old dorms and build new ones, so they just kept the boys and girls in separate rooms, but made them share the same bathrooms (including showers).

Re:Why do American Dorm rooms (1)

readin (838620) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874791)

I always assumed that it is because it is cheaper to put multiple people in one slightly larger room than to put each person in a separate room. I had no idea that in other countries college students can afford individual rooms.

There are other benefits to having a room-mate. If you get seriously sick in your room there is someone to 1. notice and 2. do something about it.

His Curtains... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873907)

sound like a band saw!

"Romantic mode. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"

X10 - is this a dorm room in 1975? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39873973)

Seriously, X10 is connectionless (no handshaking) and is therefore the UDP of automation protocols, where a congested and noisy network causes around 10% failure.

Re:X10 - is this a dorm room in 1975? (1)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874593)

Yea, but X10 is cheap & simple plus works "most" of the time ... which presumably is adequate for this application. The bigger issue Derek will have is other people deciding to take control of his room since there aren't that many house/unit codes.

But hats off to him for a most excellent job!

Re:X10 - is this a dorm room in 1975? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874715)

X10 is one of those things that I think most people need to try at least once, just to get a sense of the problems (such as: "did it toggle?"). That's actually good for you. Then you get thinking about how to fix it, and keep around a cardboard box full of X10 stuff ("maybe some day I'll use this, for a less demanding application than something .. as critical as .. um .. turning on a light") for about 12 years until a girlfriend explains that dusty junk isn't coming along when you move in together.

X10: it's .. along the way.

Eureka (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874001)

Speaking of automated living spaces named BRAD, wasn't that the name of SARAH's psychotic alter-ego on the TV show Eureka? I certainly wouldn't want to be Derek Low's dorm-mate. I'd be afraid of the dorm trapping me inside and sucking all the air out of the room.

what can be be done with! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874315)

surprising what can be done with a students loan LOL

Control 4 & Crestron (1)

phishfood (562800) | more than 2 years ago | (#39874413)

I like where he is going but dislike the disregard to safety in a dorm room. I've spec'd out Control 4 and Crestron/Lutron systems for homes that do just that and without the danger.

Clothes line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874719)

Reminds me of sophomore year ('92) when I had my ham radio inverted L wire antenna strung up between the dorms. RA says to take that clothes line down; stupid bitch. This at an engineering school....

Blacklights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39874815)

Yeah... may not be a good idea for a college dorm room.

Turns directly to gas!! (1)

bdabautcb (1040566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39875159)

I am not impressed. I would be impressed if he made a sledding hill out of ice that doesn't melt but turns directly into gas!!!
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