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IBM & Carrier in Web-Enabled Air Conditioner Deal 123

Ggggeo writes "IBM and Carrier Corp. announced Monday that they plan to offer Web-enabled air-conditioners in Europe this summer. Users will be able to control their units through and perform such functions as turning units off/on and setting the temperature. The unit will also be able to send errors messages and other diagagnostic info to phones and email addresses. Story at Yahoo! News. This sounds ok but two this stick out in my mind - Corporate Headquarters setting the tempature in my cubicle, and/or script kiddies 0wn1ng my office air conditioner (or should I now say freezer?)"
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IBM & Carrier in Web-Enabled Air Conditioner Deal

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  • This is at the top of my list of "Shit that can be done, but probably shouldn't." Why the hell would you want to control your A/C from a website when you can go across the room and adjust it?

    - A.P.

    Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

  • Unlike most people, apparently, I think this is a very useful development. Why?

    1) It would be very useful for power companies, particularly in CA, to be able to power off A/C at will. Just like big companies get cheaper power rates when they agree to go off the grid for a few hours a year, individuals could opt for cheaper power in return for the A/C being shut off in a power emergency. Much better than rolling blackouts.

    2) Those of us that don't keep a regular schedule can't necessarily program the thermostat to only turn on the A/C when we're on the way home. When I come home, I want the apartment at a nice temp, but I don't want the A/C going all day to maintain it. I'd like to be able to turn it off when I leave for work, then flip it on an hour before I get home so I can come home to a pleasant apartment.
  • Yes, but when I don't even know what time I'll be home, how can my thermostat know??

  • This works better in smaller homes/apartments, and as long as you don't turn the thermostat too high. If the A/C has to work double time to get the temp back to a comfortable level, then you lose all your savings.
    I practice this in my apartment, and it works great. I set the thermostat to around 80 when I leave, then back down to 72 when I return, but my apartment is only one bedroom.
  • The point is, to be able to tell that the AC is not working up BEFORE the routers die.
  • I would say the little minions would make it hot as hell ;)
  • can see it already happening ...

    "Your airco is under hostage,
    do not attempt to involve police,

    please send us $1000 in unmarked bills,
    and we will set it free !"

    - h4x0r-k1dd13s

    Freaker / TuC
  • Dude, I have never, ever, in my 41 years, ever seen or heard of anyone ever having to get 'tech support' for a refrigerator! I can't beleive that the cost of adding networking infrastructure to these things justifies that cost of servicing the .01% warrenty failures. I'd bet the network is more troublesome and adds more points of failure than the simple 'fridge!
  • This kind of remote-access energy management might seem a tad geeky, but it would go over VERY well right now here in energy-starved California. I'd love to be able to log in and switch on the AC when I leave work and have the apartment nice and cool when I get there, rather than wastefully cold for hours when I'm not there. I know X-10 and other similar technologies have been around for awhile to turn lights on and off, but given the nationwide problem of energy prices, the need might finally have arrived to justify the means.

    Speaking of Web-enabled appliances, when is someone going to put 2 and 2 together and put a CueCat-style scanner into the side of my microwave linked to a DB of cooking times?!? We put a guy on the moon 30 frickin' years ago. It's about time I can just wave the pot pie box at my microwave, drop the tray in and close the door. My new Sharp "iMac"-style microwave has pre-programmed 1-touch buttons for microwave popcorn. Can't someone "embrace and extend" this ... I mean, NO! LEAVE IT THE WAY IT IS!!!

  • Well, I'm sure there are possible uses for it. Actually, having a whole group of air conditioners controlled by computers certainly would be useful. I'm sure we can all imagine situations, like large buildings, etc.

    On the other hand, this reminds me of one of the more unusual books I've read, Wyrm [] by Mark Fabi. Essentially, it's about an AI, bent on creating world armageddon, that evolved from computer viruses. In one part it tries to fry a bunch of people by locking all the doors in a high-security building, and then turning the knob up high.

    As I said, one of the really whacked books I've read, by a psychologist who has waaaay too much time on his hands. Not that it's bad book (just the opposite). It's just most people wouldn't imagine a scenario where you had to defeat a near omnipotent AI/distributed virus which controls the worlds nuclear arsenal using MUD's.
  • A/C status on my cell phone? How about "shit it's hot in here, the damn AC is busted again!" I can't see any functionality that a web-enabled airconditioner adds, and everyone else has detailed the many many problems with such an idea. What a waste of time, effort, money, and valuable IPs.
  • Two Words.... Harry Tuttle
  • We use Carrier software for load calculation, and I tell you folks, their Windows packages are already like this. The "network" version requires, get this, the application to be "installed to the network" FROM EVERY SINGLE WORKSTATION so they can run it "off the network". Of course, there's no auto-install..... at least installing it doesn't zap half a dozen other apps dll's like it used to! And before you ask, NO, there are no open source load calc apps. And YES, I am coding furiously so that I can get good enough to write one.
  • We didn't have this newfangled 'Internet v4', we had the freaking clapper! And if you wanted to turn the stereo down, you didn't telnet to it, you'd find your remote control. They don't even make remotes anymore! Everything has a 10base-1,000,000 jack on it. Now, instead of buying dozens of what we used to call 'type A batteries', you have to go buy extra cables and hubs every time you buy a toaster!"

    "Whatever, grandpa. [Watch beeps] The laundry's done."



  • Future job posting for California Power Commision:

    Wanted: Computer "specialists" with experience with Internet-enabled Air conditioning units.
    Preference given to applicant with proven ability to "control" all current models of A/C units.

    End of power problem.. ;)

  • I gave up on my lab area - the temperature control is nowhere near linear and the best isothermic chamber in the world seems to be the little plastic box around the thermostat. No matter what I do in order to get the servers in the back to be under 80 or so the room out at the front is about 60 and the thermostat always says 71. I once made it 2 deg warmer on the control and the overall temperature went up about 18. I then turned it down 1 and it plunged the demo room to 57 (the vip's getting the demo were not happy) but that thermostat still read 71 the whole time.....
  • Sorry, but many power companies do this already. You can sign up to let them power down your water heater or AC/heater unit for a certain amount of hours a day -- if necessary -- for a discount on your power bill.

    I've been signed up for this for years and they've only used it (that I have noticed) twice. However, they've been knocking 5-7% off of my bill for the entire time.

    They have guaranteed numbers -- how long they can turn it off for at a time; how long in a 24-hour period; and what criteria (% of plant capacity) they use as a threshold.

    It is a hell of a lot better than hitting capacity and shutting off power to entire areas (rolling blackouts) like in California.

    Charles E. Hill
  • Actually, big air conditioning systems (for large buildings) have graphical interfaces.

    The one on the carrier units in the last place I worked was Win 3.1 based (ugh!) but we could see all the rooms, bypasses, blowers, temperature monitors, etc.

    One of the features we had requested was a network accessable (preferrably web-enabled) interface.
    Charles E. Hill
  • are belong to us" - this message brought to by [PG&E,SCE,(other California power company)].
  • Rig it up to the answering machine somehow. At the beep, press a code and then the temperature you want to set the thermostat too. That way there's no messing with IP addresses or massive amounts of research into embedded chips. I'm sure somebody has thought of this...
  • Actually, that's not true. Turning the A/C off is more efficient (physics) though more painful when you get home. I takes less energy to bring a room from 85=>75 than 100=>75, but it takes more energy to maintain the temperature at 85 all day than the difference.

    Brian Macy
  • by Skyfire ( 43587 )
    Yes, I know, most people see X-10 and relate it to their wireless cameras. However, it appears that they have quite a line of home automation equipment [], as well as some touch-tone controlled and PC controlled things. They can control air-conditioning, and other things... this new air-conditioner doesn't sound all that innovative to me

  • I mean, I suppose this is kind of useful (to someone? maybe?). but when first read this I had to laugh. these people have far to much time on their hands.

    and, what exactly does it mean for my air conditioner to send me error messages? the only useful one I can think of is "I've been unplugged" and that wouldn't exactly, umm, make it, would it?
  • Gee, you dont half sugar coat 1984 do you? Ever actually read the book? They dont spy on your television shows, they decide what you watch for you and if you dont like it they come and kill you.
  • I agree with that you say about where the efforts should be spent... but really, this is a neat thing - as a conceptual idea. Of course, just about every new development surrounding the internet falls into that category. Really, how many people will want to pay to control their air conditioner (which is 2 feet away) from a website, that they will have to access, login, and fiddle with? I know I would rather reach over to my thermostat and turn a dial. I think the most important question here is: Is it practical? The answer is, obviously: no. Thus, they probably won't be selling many of these units.

    Neat idea? Maybe. Then again... I really don't think it is all that spectacular... even at a conceptual level (just contradicted the first part of my post)... A NEAT and practical development that I saw on ZD TV a few months ago was a soda machine that was wired to the net, and could accept credit cards. That is not only neat on a conceptual level, but quite practical as well. It also eliminates one of the reasons to carry change. In my opinion, that is much more noteworthy than the "magic air conditioner."

    My 2 cents...

  • Since this is still a couple years off, I would imagine there would be a larger proliferation of smarthouses. I'd like to be able to plug the thermostat into my existing ethernet network and be able put a firewall in front of all the appliances. I mean the posts about the script kiddies and 'all your appliances are belong to us' are hilarious, but it is a serious issue. And there are privacy issues at stake here as well. I wouldn't mind if I call washing machine tech support and they connect to my dryer or whatever with VNC for appliances or whatever, but I don't like that a company could harvest all this usage information from all these smart appliances and use it for whatever.
  • True.... but, if you live in a place that's concerned about energy usage, it'd probably be even more cost effective to turn it on an hour before you came home (usually can be done from work, or a web-enabled cellphone) aint my address.
  • Heh..thats the best laugh i've had all week.

    Of course, WHY anyone needs to control their airconditioner from a remote location is beyond me. Leaving it on if you go out for the day isn't that big a deal, since its probably most cost efficient to let it run then let the room warm up and then try to cool it again.

    Now those microwaves that get the precise time needed to cook frozen dinners would be handy, since microwaves vary so much.
  • Interesting...we actually did find it used less energy to keep the A/C on in a video store a worked at then turn it off every night. Of course it wasn't a window unit like the article is talking about.
  • Why do you have small children in your house. Are they yours? You speak like they're not. Let's worry.
  • I pictured the CA state government monitoring the millions of air conditioners in the state and tweaking them in response to the condition of their power grid at the moment. This, of course, would be one of those incredibly controvercial solutions (that would, admittably, be quite effective).

    The thing that most led me to that conclusion was IBM's involvement. A large scale project with the CA govermnent seemed like something IBM would be in to, rather than a European novelty (luxury) item. Other than the passing "Hey...that's kind of neat", does anyone *really* need this? I suppose there's a small environmental benifit: you can turn your A/C on 15 minutes before you return to the house rather than leave it on all day.

    Oh well.
  • What about when it is 3:00 in the afternoon, you telnet home and turn on the air con so the room is sufficienly cool when you get home - saves 6 hours of electricity?

    I would love what that was to do to my electricity bill.

    I dont know about it being a lot of research effort - I think I could do it with a relay and thermistor connected to my parallel port.

    TimC -- Oooh, Look! Shiny thing!
  • I don't think this will be exploited too much

    Imagine how bad the california power situation would get if, on some relatively warm day, every air conditioner in the state was turned to 45?

    Or, imagine how much money the gas companies would make if every business' furnace was turned to 90 during the night at the same time?

  • Great! Make them required in California, and whenever CA is short on electricity (during the summer), they can just set them all to 80 degrees.
  • ....has already been around for awhile. I remember back when Sun TV & Appliance was in business, they had a store with the heat on while it was 75 degrees outside. Seems as though the corp. ofc. was in a colder place at the time and didn't think anyone need the A/C turned on yet...
  • You can already get very close to this with X10 products...

    jred []
  • In college every dorm and building that was renovated(including the frat houses) had a network controlled thermostat system. It did not have a pretty web interface what it had was a telnet window. You would telnet in make any changes you wanted or just view, then save them and leave. Very nice if you were the "trusted" student that could keep your dorm at exactly the right temp for you. As for the other guys in my dorm, hmm sorry I liked it cold. As for security on those the only issues we had were the buildings guys calling me saying they could not login because they didnt know how to use a computer. I dont know since I have left (two years ago) but in the three years we had them running noone hacked them.
  • Okay, so after re-reading the article, it does sound like it's for home units...

    Man, that's dumb.

    God does not play dice with the universe. Albert Einstein

  • "Uh honey? Why is it snowing in the bedroom? You did implement the firewall filters for the AC's IP address, right?"
  • Check out my internet draft: h- tldhere-01.txt

    If wearable/mobile pcs become popular, people could bookmark their favourite temperatures :).

    You could also send+receive multimedia objects to/from other people as part of a normal conversation.

    Telepathy and telekinesis, coming soon on a wearable pc near you...

  • Shouldn't it be : What you say !!
  • There's a lot of things on here that, despite sounding frivolous to a home
    user, would be great for a system encompassing larger a/c systems etc... for
    industry (some of it would even be great if they'd do it on the systems
    themselves as opposed to network). Throwing diagnostics in as well would be
    a tremendous idea on the whole; You could tell via a mail if refrigerant
    pressure drops below a certain point, tell by airflow what filters need
    changing, warn of mechanical failure (blower motors not running, compressors
    stalled/shorted to ground/locked up, etc...), and electrical failure as well.

    The one thing, however, that I do not like, is the fact this will introduce a
    new level of complexity into a fairly simple system. Already, there are
    unnecessary items inside many systems (high-dollar control units to replace
    a simple contactor or relay mechanism, for example) that not only mean more
    problems in event of failure, but result in a higher cost to the customer in
    labor, parts replacement, and up front cost.

  • I'd settle for any air conditioning, even if it was being controlled by the corporate whores running my university. My attic room in my antique dorm isn't the happiest place to be in late spring. Sigh.
  • If IBM and Carrier do the project it will be a huge waste of resources. But this project is really a piece of cake. Nothing to it. More along the lines of an undergraduate student project in terms of complexity and cost. I think it would be cool to be able to control my AC/Heat from my PC.

    Besides, it would seem that somebody is already getting Internet access to developing nations - you have it.

  • Oh my god, did I turn off the lights? (checks cell phone)...whew...OH NO, I think I left the water running! (checks cell phone) Disaster averted. Wow, this is great, but will it allow me to more easily wash my hands 50 times a day?
  • Which is exactly what this is for. PG&E and other companies want you to sign up (for a discounted rate) your AC for remote control. Thus, on the REALLY hot days, they can turn it off and save power.

  • "In other news, officials in California have announced that they are considering legislation allowing power companies to remotely turn off the new '' air conditioners via the Internet in an attempt to avert more rolling blackouts."

    If you're in Californa, you'd be lucky if you could afford _any_ air conditioning.
  • Yes we should stifle development of anything with web-access because "crackers" could possibly abuse it. +5 insightful.
  • 2 summers ago we had band practice and it was really hot in this one room. So my band director called up a janator, who was at his house and told him it was too hot in the room. The AC then turned on a few minutes later and my band director told me that he was able to turn the AC on and off from his house. Is this possible or is this just some joke played on me? We have a PBX system at our school if that could make any difference. Are there turnkey systems already or did some electronics teacher hack this up if it's even possible?
  • How long do you think it'll take before some guy puts it on his network and writes a perl script to control it and have it on a user-defined schedule? One less thing to worry about and of course, the Geek Factor (tm).

  • I don't think this will be exploited too much -- after all there isn't any monetary benefit from it.

    most hackers/crackers dont do it for 'monetary benefit' - they do it for fun. dont believe the hacker/cracker as terrorist tripe the Plutocrats want to sell you so they can squeeze the internet/techs to the bullshit party line.

  • h0VV d0 u |_1|47 h347 biatch? I 0wn3d j00! 0|-|, |>0|\|7 71K3 7|-|3 |-|347? |-|0VV 'b0u7 'd4 c0ld? 31337 K&3VV 0wn3d j00 biatch!

  • Seriously, what's the advantage of webifying your air conditioner? What makes this better than simply setting a thermostat, or a thermostat with a timer? Is this going to be a more intelligent, and therefore hopefully more energy-efficient A/C? Or what?

    I rang, you rang, we all rang for orangutang!

  • just "fix" the a/c so that it looks like it's responding to the external commands of corporate HQ, but only truly obeys local commands from you.

  • It may sound silly, but IIRC, a number of people in major cities die every hot summer due to air conditioning failure.

    Just wait until some script kiddie gets the bright idea to DOS or whatever in the middle of July.
  • Think turning on all the AC units in Southern California during one of their stage three alerts. DDOS half the state!

  • Wow, this reminded me of that story [] that slashdot ran last year about guys who willingly put their thermostat under internet control, and as I remember, people had that thing above 90. Anybody want to fuck with some Europeans? Particularly the PHBs who think it would be a good idea to do this to their engineers? he he he...

  • When i ride the metro here in DC i wonder how long until the data from the security cams streams from the camera to the CO, protected only by a firewall maintained by apathetic metro employees. And how long until tracking a person across multiple camera views is automated?

    And yet i still can't explain to those indifferent to security and privacy why they should care.
  • This is pure marketing BS.

    Anyone who can afford this crap can just as easily get a thing called a Set-Back thermostat. It only takes a tiny processor to remember what time to turn on the air conditioner and what temperature it should be at any given time.

    What's more, it's automatic and takes none of your time once you set it up (10 minutes max).

    So, okay, let's say you get this thing right? Instead of letting your thermostat take care of business, you want to stop what you're doing, log onto the remote control site, find your air conditioner and then screw with the controls. WHY!!!!????

    This is certainly for people with nothing better to do. (like slashdot posters for example)

    Scene 1: The Office
    "Bob, I think my wife is cheating on me"
    "How do you know Jim?"
    "Take a look at these air conditioner settings for the last two weeks" (click, click)
    "There certainly seems to be a pattern, Jim"
    "That bitch! I'm calling my lawyer right now"

    Scene 2: 3-AM parent's room.
    "George does it seem cold to you"
    (shivering) "Y-Y-Yeah, it d-d-does s-seem chilly"
    (checks thermostat) "Billy! Have you been messing with the air conditioning again"
    "It wasn't me Dad!"
    "Well who was it then?"
    "Dad, I gave Martin the password yesterday"
    "You what?"

    Some things just don't need to be 'net-enabled.
  • I'm sitting in my office, it's 100F out, but I'm chilling with my nice Web-enabled conditioner.

    Then all of a sudden, it gets very stuffy in the room. Someone has cracked my air conditioner and set it at the hottest setting possible. It catches on fire. I've been 0wn3d by some lame skript kiddie controlling my air conditioner.
  • First there was net controlled building light tetris. Now with the aid of the air con units we can add force feedback. Who says web scripts don't make for state of the art gaming?!
  • Anyone remember the guys who wired their thermostat to the web, ans SlashDot got wind of it, and they put up a sign "Too Hot! :-("? Well, they had to take it down because it cost so much :P
  • Hey, isn't it a bit late to be making April Fools jokes? Like anyone would be stupid enough to put an Ethernet connection on an air conditioner! Next thing you know [], they'll web-enable [] a fridge. []
  • Using building automation products from an outfit called Automated Logic []. The company I was with sold ALC stuff and wired up many school districts with energy management systems that allowed the main office to dialup remote sites, get a nice graphical display of the floor plan color coded with room temperatures, can schedule heating, cooling, and all aspects of HVAC control, fans, chillers, you name it.

    I guess the big 'new' idea here is replacing the dialup phone line with Internet, just like web sites replaced the bbs's of that time.
  • When they installed a new heating/cooling distribution and control system in my office, the old thermostats were replaced with little beige boxes. Flip open the cover and the only thing that you will see is a single electrical connector, looks like an RJ-11 or RJ-45. When the HVAC people want to adjust the system, they plug a laptop computer into the connector.
  • just for S&G what if someone did a DDOS on or attacket the system and gained access and turned all the AC units on an dmade it real cold all at the same time?? What would be the energy drain on the power system and how long would it be before someone shut an entire grid down?

    Okay so maybe this is a little far fetched, but it could be possible if someone got in.

    Parynoind.. naw.. everyone's just out to get me

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • I mean, puh-leaze. We get all fired up at a web-enabled Pinball machine or a web-enabled Coke machine because it's a good hack.

    Now, someone actually hacks a air conditioner with an ethernet interface (a cheap $10 part) to report back it's operating stats (just a bit of clever engineering) via an uplink that's probably outside your structured cabling plant, but it quite likely in the same room or just over the wall from your existing comm room.

    So now, the A/C guys get all the pleasure of sitting back and monitoring all their equipment via a single, central point, something we've enjoyed for years. Oh, and now they get to know when something breaks before you do.

    I run the networks in a collection of rather large buildings. I just did a walkthru of the communications rooms with the contractor who's installing the new A/C units, because they're 'net enabled. Those guys are fired up over the level of control and knowledge they'll have over their systems.

    So now, a couple rather large companies think that maybe, just maybe, home users might like the same level of control over their home systems? It's not like it's expensive - (that $10 part and a bit of Engineering) it's bringing enterprise level technology into the home.

    Don't we usually like that?

  • But isn't this assuming that the AC is on all the time, rather than being switched on and off via a thermostat?

    Why would the electric company (even in CA) tell you to turn your A/C up when you are not home, rather than off, to conserve electricity? I mean, if what you say is true, then why don't they tell you to turn it completely off (outside of the fact that they want to make money)?

    I actually don't have the choice to turn it completely off (maybe the back rooms), because our small animals would die in the summer...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • Thanks for the input.

    What you say makes sense - we have two A/Cs, like I said, so maybe I can convince my GF to do the shutdown thing on the one in the back of the house, and leave the other one running, or get that timer like you said also (I might look into the cost of getting a couple of electronic thermostats)...

    Thanks again!

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • First, you shouldn't turn your air conditioning off, but instead turn it up (make it warmer) when you leave, then down (make it cooler) when you come home. Otherwise, it takes more energy to cool down a very hot house, rather than a slightly warm house.

    Try it for a month - set your AC to 75 (or whatever is the temp you like), then when you leave the house, up it to 80-85, then back down when you come home. It isn't that bad, doesn't take long to cool down, and your electric bill will be lower.

    What would be better would be room-by-room thermostats that had IR motion detectors, so that you could direct the cooling to specific parts of the house, where you are at, when you are in the area, using vent valves and such, and raise the temperature up and down based on if you are home or not. That would be much better.

    Of course, what I don't understand out here in lovely Phoenix, Arizona, why people don't use solar cooling instead of A/C - it can work great if the house is built properly (read as: proper orientation of windows/walls, having a partially buried house, rammed earth construction, etc)...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • Actually, it works OK in larger houses too - my GF and I live in a very large house out here (unfortunately not a solar home - that is my dream and ideal house, something which should be standard out here, but isn't) in Phoenix, and we have 2 (!!) large A/C units on the house, it is so big - we simply close the curtains on the large windows, and turn up the back room area and leave the other up a little higher than normal, but not as high as the back room (otherwise our guinea pigs would roast) - so we normally have both A/Cs at 75-77 or so, and then when we leave the back area (bedrooms) get set to about 85, and the front area is set to 78-80. We also close all the back room area doors, as well. Works out pretty good, actually...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • Helpdesk: "Carrier helpdesk, how can I help you enjoy your day?"

    User: "Hi, I can't seem to switch on my air conditioning. I used to be able to hit a switch marked 'on' and set the temperature using a dial"

    Helpdesk: "OK, have you re-booted your computer?"

    User: "Uh-huh"

    Helpdesk: Have you tried rebooting the air conditioner?"

    User: "Uh-huh"

    Helpdesk: "Have you installed the Carrier CD-ROM supplied by IBM?"

    User: "Uh-huh"

    Helpdesk: "Have you tired reconfiguring your TCP/IP stack and re-installing your network card?"

    User: "Uh-huh"

    Helpdesk: "Have I tried to blame it on your ISP?"

    <time passes>

    Helpdesk: "Now navigate to the widget marked "temperature" and enter the temperature of the room in degree Kelvin, *please* make sure you set a value greater than 270 as freezing your lounge room to absolute zero will invalidate your warranty".

    <time passes>

    Helpdesk: "Can I get you to open the folder marked 'windows' and scroll down until you find a file called "CARRIER.DLL", when you find it, right mouse on it and select properties.

    User: "Uh-huh"

    Helpdesk: "What version does it say it is?"

    User: "version 3.11.09b"

    Helpdesk: "OK, that should work with your version of air conditioner and your version of WindowsYQ. Let's try resetting the parameters in 'aircondpnl.ini' to match your hot keys"

    User: "But it's hot here already..."

    <time passes>

    Help desk: "Oh, I see. You have installed the Southern hemisphere application. Our more recent automatic software update would have set the correct cooling program for you. But because you installed the incorrect application, this new feature is not going to function correctly in your hemispehere. If you un-install your air conditioner and re-install it with the Northern hemispehere application, it will stop heating your house. Have a nice summer Sir."

    &AT&F ~~~~ NO CARRIER...
  • The site [] was an interesting experiment on human nature, more than on the technology.

    It showed that people will abuse any chance they hve to make other people miserable, where there is no accountability.

    It is facinating to watch . Even when they begged (your sign, as above) their heating bills were double normal...


    This message brought to you by Colin Davis
  • I agree on your two points, but I think it would be much better suited to a *home* network control base. Do you really need to go though the inconvienence of getting on the net, and logging into their site to turn on your AC? No! Of course not... it is silly! Now, if it was a mere program or dongle that hooked up to a nice home network, that is a different story. Hell, I'd even opt for that in my house.
  • My office temperature is already controlled from "corporate HQ" (i.e., the facilities office at the other end of campus). They deign to allow me a whopping +/- 2 degrees of personal control.

    For two successive summers, I had to keep a long-sleeved wool shirt around. Repeated phone calls eventually revealed that my setpoint was 68 degrees, regardless of the time of year. I started having RSI problems from the cold. So they fixed it, but every time their Windows box crashed it would reset to the default setpoint of 68.

    Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather have an old bulletproof bimetal Honeywell. What it lacks in fanciness, it more than makes up by actually working and giving me personal control.

  • As far as pranks go with new technology, let's remember when the first telephones were around, the operators would sometimes listen in on your conversation and come out with a wise crack in the middle of your conversation! It'll be funny to see the cold turn on in the dead of winter because of some kiddie, as long as it doesn't happen to me.
  • Don't let microsoft near this one. Next thing you know, it's got support for executing VB scripts / apps.

    The next logical progression is a series of virii that hijack the control to the air-conditioner.

    e.g. Sahara virus: Temperature set to a nice dry 45 degrees C.
    Siberia virus: Temperature set to a nice cool -45 degrees C.
    Yoyo virus: keeps changing the temperature setting to random values.
  • I think it's terrific that technology now offers us the option to be absolutely lazy at whatever temperature what desire.

    Now, if I could just teach my AIBO to bring me a Coke when I ask for it....

  • If you live in Sunny California, and the dispatcher thinks he needs to reduce some of his "major loads". A 90F house is not what I want to find when I get home.

    What is all this mizer BS about?! You are going to loooooose $ trying to save on your AC bill if you thermally cycle your house enough to make humidity, mold, rot, termites, and moths happy. Air Conditioning was invented to give us all filtered hygenic air of the kind only a few can afford to breath is some of the world's nicest places. Build more nuclear power plants and live your life in health and comfort!

    I hate all of this stuff. Faced with scarcity, nice people think of ways to sacrifice themselves, jackasses think about how to sacrifice their neighbors, and smart people fix the problem. Let's be smart, please.

  • they'll want to ping your fridge across the Internet and find out the model, its current temperature, and whether there are any compressor failures...

    ...and send appropriate junk mail.

  • Then there is the government and big business (one and the same...thanks Bush) spying on which television shows I recorded from afar.

    Isn't it a little early to be blaming the Bush? I'd rather blame the jerk who oversaw the last 8 years of mega mergers, tax increases, rights decay and general stupidity.

    To think Orwel, think ubiquitous ever connected web cams. Think of not being able to turn them off. Think of the police watching them all the time. Think of Socialist London. Orwell was English and his party afiliation was Engsoc. He only missed by 20 years and nuclear war. One is sure to bring the other, then he will have been right.

  • But isn't this assuming that the AC is on all the time, rather than being switched on and off via a thermostat?

    No, another way to think of the thermostat is that rather than running an on/off cycle, it is running at n% power (over sufficiently long periods of time). If you look at the power graphs, it can easily be shown that even for the shortest periods of time, it is better (from an energy usage point of view) to turn the AC off than leave it running if noone is gaining any benefit from it (your animals would qualify :) )

    The electricity company probably wants people to leave their ACs running because they are concerned at the surge when everyone gets home at 6pm and turns on the AC, the TV, brews some coffee and puts on the hot water for a bath.

    If you just want the temperature to be reasonable when you get home, you're far better off investing in a timer that brings it on 30 mins before you get home than running it all day (Although, *you* do have your animals to consider too)


  • Ah, in that case you may want to watch your AC efficiencies. If the one in the back is less efficient, it may end up working harder to compensate for the lack of the front one and in the end, end up costing you more.

    I may sit down and work out the power ratio thing sometime. For example, it may be worth leaving your AC on all day if say it costs you $1 a day more but you're willing to offset that for the comfort value of a cool house. Of course, as I say, the timer fixes that but you have to factor the cost of that in too and then the value of the times when maybe you come home early and it's too hot for you. Then again, in a warmer house, your fridge works harder (unlikely to be enough to offset the cost but a factor nonetheless).

    It's all relevant to me as we have just bought a new place and the air conditioner is going in soon. I intend to investigate whether the one we are getting installed (used) would be better replaced with something more modern and efficient (heat pumps are better than heaters in winter in any case)


  • but it takes more energy to maintain the temperature at 85 all day than the difference.

    Before anyone contradicts him, what this guy is saying is right. If you don't believe it, I have a couple of differential equations to show you.

    Easier though is to do it by induction. Lets make the time you're out of the house ridiculously long. If you are away for two years, is it cheaper to leave the AC running at a slightly higher temperature or just switch it off? If it's true for two years, it's true for 1, it's true for a day or 6 hours.

    I think this fallacy may be linked to the fluorescent light thing where because they use a lot of energy to start up, it is cheaper to leave them on (up to a certain period of time, not permanently) than switch them off. However, this works because the fluorescent light is doing no useful work (producing light) when you switch it on. An AC starts cooling your house as soon as it's running.


  • So, I worked as an intern at Carrier about 2 years ago. For years they've been using a propriatary network and protocal called CCN (Carrier Comfort Network), and, also for years, they had the software set up so that they can monitor and manage large buildings environments via dial-up to the building's CCN. While I was there, they were talking about making the system Web-accesable, because that's what their customers wanted.

    That said, more than likely this system is not designed for the home user, but for large buildings already using CCN systems (which can control and monitor some 200+ devices (not couting subnets), from thermostats to massive 10,000 gallon chillers), so I don't think every joe-shmoe is going to have an IP for his home AC unit.

    Also, I would imagine this will be implimented on site with a device connected to the CCN which just happens to have an net-connection, and the real work will be on the software controlling (because customs also hate to have to change their hardware).

    God does not play dice with the universe. Albert Einstein

  • Mess with their house appliances, although I'm pretty certain it's going to be rather secure and you could turn off web-control by a turn of a switch. I don't think this will be exploited too much -- after all there isn't any monetary benefit from it.

    You don't need to use technology when you want to annoy someone using an appliance. If you live in an apartment house with one rather weak central waterline and you want to get back at your neighbour for the ruckus he caused the night before by playing his music during early hours of the night... Well, just wait till he gets in a shower and then go and flush your toilet. Take my word -- his screams will be best music to your vengeful ears.

  • Now I can freak out small children in my house! AC on, AC off, AC on, AC off. AAAAAAAAAH MAKE IT STOP! :)
  • While I think it is great that someone is trying to think up a system for controlling ACs,don't we already have a system for doing this? Isn't this what the Moderation system already does?

    I think the idea of DDOS against ACs is a good idea too, but we have to remember that some ACs have important things to say, and also that since they are anonymous, we won't be able to find out their IPs.

    I think the best way to control ACs is just by setting our threshold to 1 or higher...

  • What about when it is 3:00 in the afternoon, you telnet home and turn on the air con so the room is sufficienly cool when you get home - saves 6 hours of electricity?

    What about when the h4x0r5 do the same thing, leaving your house either hotter than hell or cold as the North Pole? Not to mention the fact that your electricity bill for the day comes out to about $25000 (add a few extra zeroes if you live in California). Please don't tell me this thing runs Windows. Checking the web site, it doesn't say.

    BTW, this reminds me of an old project -- don't know if it is still up, doubt it is -- in which a few people were living in a climate-controlled house, but the AC/heating was controlled by visitors to their web site. IIRC, visitors only got one vote per day, and each vote only affected the temperature by a fraction of a degree. But here's the funny part -- the temperature was in the mid-to-upper 80s when I visited the site, and from the webcam view on the site, you could see a hand-drawn sign that said "Too hot!" and a stick figure pouring sweat.

    The AOL-Time Warner-Microsoft-Intel-CBS-ABC-NBC-Fox corporation:
  • Script kiddies hacking the air conditioner, the stereo system, etc?

    It reeminds of of that Babylon 5 Episode where Molari angered someone he should not have, and wound up having his quarters and his life ruined not by a virus, but by a holodemon program.

    The Lurker's Guide has this []:

    Londo is in his quarters, having considerable difficulty, when Vir enters. Londo explains that a holodemon has possessed his data system. It is eating up files, records, and buying stocks he would never purchase for himself, in addition to playing painful Narn opera continually. Vir suggests that Londo apologize. Londo refuses at first, but when his computer suddenly reports that he is the new owner of 500,000 shares of Fireflies Incorporated, then blacks out the entire room, Londo agrees.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • It's funny. Lately I've been seeing newspapers printing the top 10 or 50 energy consumers in their area. In Florida, the Tampa Tribune printed the top 10 water consumers. I wonder how long it'll be before our energy supplies are rationed to us like meat in Iraq.
    Just wait, one day you won't have to worry about turning the air conditioner off because it's getting cold. The gubment will have already done it for you.
    You think I'm wrong. watch and see.

    Kris Felscher

  • When I was a child I never would have dreamed that I could remotely control my air conditioner from anywhere in the world.

    As an adult, I have to wonder why I would want to do such a thing.

    I am sure there must be some really decent uses for such a luxury and time will bring more practical remote control applications.

    Did you just leave for vacation and forgot to check if the oven was left on? No problem, logon to the net with your PDA and check. While you are away on vacation just turn the lights and television off and on randomly to scare away would be burglars (California residents need not do this because rolling blackouts will do it for them).

    I can think of hundreds of worth while applications for being able to control applicances via a web interface (not the least of which is setting the vcr to tape X-Files while I am stranded in traffic), in some ways it is a dream come true.

    George Orwell causes me to think twice about this luxury though. I'd sure hate to come home and find that some script kiddy had programmed my vcr to record MTV or worse VH1. I would not want some neo-technical pyromaniac setting my house ablaze from two continents away by simply turning my stove on high while I am gone.

    Then there is the government and big business (one and the same...thanks Bush) spying on which television shows I recorded from afar. Perhaps the movie industries equivilant of the RIAA keeping tabs to make sure I do not tape any of their movies.

    Thanks, but no thanks. I think I will wait until these services are more secure before turning the keys to my home over blindly to anyone on the net. Maybe they could host the services on SE-Linux (lol).

  • by Goonie ( 8651 ) <<robert.merkel> <at> <>> on Monday April 09, 2001 @03:57PM (#304104) Homepage
    How about (assuming mobile web access):
    • Turning it on half an hour before you get home?
    • Turning it off remotely when you forget to switch it off before you leave?

    More broadly, this kind of home automation would be very useful for things like turning the lights on/off remotely (living in a three-story house you get very sick of walking down the stairs to turn off the light you forgot to switch off), turning down the stereo when the phone rings. I can't wait for it to finally happen. Maybe the wireless networking technologies presently being touted will be the catalyst.

    Go you big red fire engine!

  • by Kyobu ( 12511 ) on Monday April 09, 2001 @04:01PM (#304105) Homepage
    Although this is not a particularly unpredictable thing, Greenspun [] did predict it, and more to the point, explained why it would happen, about halfway down this page []:
    As I have hinted, I think that companies such as GE will start to put Internet interfaces into their appliances as soon as about 20 percent of American households are wired for full-time Internet, for example with cable modems (see Chapter 6). But they won't do it because they think it is cool for your GE fridge to talk to your Whirlpool dishwasher. They'll do it because it will cut the cost of tech support for them. Instead of paying someone to wait on the 800 line while you poke around with your head underneath the fridge looking for the serial number, they'll want to ping your fridge across the Internet and find out the model, its current temperature, and whether there are any compressor failures.
    I think he's right.
  • by gtwreck ( 74885 ) on Monday April 09, 2001 @08:32PM (#304106)

    I work for a building automation equipment manufacturer. I have developed web interfaces to such building automation equipment (even Carrier units). Every building control system manufacturer of any quality has a web-based control interface to their building control network. Some manufacturers ONLY control their equipment via the HTTP, Java, and other net protocols.

    The only thing that's new here is that IBM and Carrier seem to be targeting the consumer market.

    Personally I think it is only a marketing move to get IBM and Carrier names into the future home automation market. I think it is going to be 10 years or more before the average joe shmoe has any kind of control system running in his house, much less anything that he will conrol from OUTSIDE his house.

    If my experience with Carrier is any indicator, this is nothing more than a packaging of Carrier's proprietary control network over an HTTP connection, something all of us building automation manufacturers have been doing for years.

    Carrier's control equipment is at the bottom of the heap as far as quality and innovation goes- their HVAC units are what get them in the door. Customers use their control equipment only because they don't know any better or it came with the HVAC units for the most part.

  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Monday April 09, 2001 @06:11PM (#304107)

    Go buy yourself a bunch of X-10 parts and download MisterHouse []. Assuming you've already got the Linux box and the net connection, the rest is simple.

    I did this last summer, so that I could turn on my air conditioning shortly before leaving work. When I got home, it would be pleasantly cool. Since my work hours varied widely, this worked better than the timer solution.

    The obvious next step, which should be easy once I get the time: use my Motorola T900 two-way pager to send myself email which turns my air conditioner on and off. Granted, this probably isn't necessary, but it sure seems neat.

    Welcome to the future.

  • by bitva ( 206067 ) on Monday April 09, 2001 @04:12PM (#304108) Homepage
    Things to do today:

    1. Apply Service Pack 10 to NT machine
    2. Run "apt-get update/upgrade" on Debian machine
    3. Configure kernel on PDA
    4. Defrag the toaster
    5. Upgrade firewall on air conditioner
    6. Setup Apache on microwave.

    I can see my future is gonna be a pretty tight schedule.

  • by zaf ( 5944 ) <> on Monday April 09, 2001 @03:48PM (#304109) Homepage
    As a sys admin who is currently dealing with problems with the air conditioning system for my server room, I think it would be great to have a way to monitor and tune its performance remotely.
    Can't wait for this to hit the states.
  • by EvlPenguin ( 168738 ) on Monday April 09, 2001 @03:56PM (#304110) Homepage
    What happen?
    Someone set us up the thermostat.
    We get hot.
    A.C. turn on.
    (it's you!!!)
    How are you gentlemen?
    All your appliance are belong to us.
    You are on the way to the thermostat.
    (what you say?)
    You have no chace of comfort make your time.

    ...move thermostat.
    You know what you doing.
    Move down every thermostat.
    For great comfort.
  • by glebite ( 206150 ) on Monday April 09, 2001 @04:03PM (#304111)

    My wife doesn't use the internet - I'll finally have complete control over the temperature...

    This is truly a good day indeed for all who argue over temperature.

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken