Monthly Archives: February 2014

Retro Bubble, Order’s Up!

I just read this article that says that Angela Merkel wants Europe to have its own network. Now, maybe I’m not understanding the story, and maybe the reporter didn’t understand what the chancellor said, and maybe the chancellor doesn’t understand how the Internet works. But it seems to me that if a laptop in Berlin connects to a German ISP and sends an email to a French ISP and that email goes from the French SMTP server down a link to a laptop in Paris, there shouldn’t be any trans-Atlantic hops to that trip.

I totally understand how everyone in the world who isn’t an employee of the United States security apparatus is cheesed off and paranoid about the NSA’s compulsive spying on every bit that crosses a U.S. territorial border. Yep, that’s uncool. And, sure, if that laptop in Berlin is sending email via Gmail (or Hotmail, or Yahoo! mail) or is conducting commerce with Amazon or FedEx, then eventually those bits will cross into the U.S. and become part of a hard drive that U.S. spooks are peering at. I guess that’s the scenario that Ms. Merkel is trying to avoid.

So, rather than go to the trouble of building a whole new Internet that doesn’t have the United States on it, which would require either severing all contact with the U.S. or running a huge (metric) fuckload of fresh cable, how about the E.U. just do the time warp and have their own version of the dot com bubble? Pretend it’s 1996 all over Europe and instead of using Google and Amazon, maybe they can develop their own ecommerce industry. I know that a few places are trying.

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SmartThings and the Recirculating Pump

A couple of years ago, we got a recirculating pump to run the hot water line from the master bathroom back to the water heater so we could get actual hot showers. The pump came with a built-in timer so that we could schedule times for it to run. That’s swell if you live by the clock. But what if you take a shower at different times of day, or at times that are unpredictable? What you really want is a button or a switch in the bathroom (at one end of the house) that will turn on the pump (at the other end of the house) for long enough to get hot water (say, five minutes or so) and then turn it off. Continue reading