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08/08/11
Small Things, Big Problems
Filed under: General
Posted by: Tom @ 1:37 pm

This morning I woke up to a warm bedroom.  At first I was a little disoriented, but soon I realized that something was wrong with the airconditioning.  Normally when the heating or cooling is not behaving, I go downstairs to check the thermostat.  If it tells me that something is on, but I do not hear it, I know that something is wrong.  This time the thermostat screen was blank except for a couple of small dark spots in the middle.

My first reaction was that the thermostat finally wore out.  After taking it off the wall, I got my glasses and took it out to the kitchen to examine it more closely with a better light.  Much to my surprise, those two spots said, “REPL BAT.”  I still was suspicious that the thermostat was bad.  After all I have a ritual of replacing the three AA batteries every January.  I put a piece of tape on the top with the date.  There was the tape and the date.  No problem there.  Rather than get a new thermostat, I decided to take the outside chance that the batteries were in fact the problem.  Much to my relief, I found that one of them had leaked.  So, I replaced them and all returned to normal after resetting all the times and temperatures.

Recently, I have seen a number of articles about Homes of the Future and the use of Smartphones to interface with them.  Everything relies more and more upon computers and electricity.  With all the complicated control circuits, it is logical that there are many more potential points for failure.  Unfortunately for me, if my thermostat does not work, all I can do conveniently is run the blower that forces air through the duct system.  Getting heating or cooling requires figuring out which terminals on the mounting plate behind the thermostat can be used to manually bypass the thermostat.  Not a job for a typical homeowner.

“What is this complicated life of ours doing to us?  What if all these things go bad at once?  Certainly food for thought when hackers can attack networks that control transportation systems, power generation, and virtually everything else that modern societies rely upon including Houses of the Future.  Image if someone incinerates your dinner and your house along with it.  Maybe it is time to get off the grid.   

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