Saturday, July 03, 2010

On LEDs, snoring dogs, and the Daily Show

My wife and I have a pretty good sleeping space. Though it's a fairly big bedroom (about 30 feet long, 12 feet wide), it doesn't feel cavernous or empty. Probably because of all the crap everywhere, but that's for another post. It's quiet and peaceful most of the time, except when the neighbor kid plays basketball in the driveway next door at midnight, but that's also the subject of another post. What IS the subject of this post, you ask? Well, tonight I'm going to talk about the wonders of LED technology and how they manage to nerf up my REM sleep.

You may recall a year or so ago, the fun adventure I had attempting to replace the ceiling fan, due to a light clicking noise that came from the motor at 4 in the morning. Well, along with that episode I've managed to build up a fine little collection of enemies to my feng shui. For example:

A couple of years ago we picked up an admittedly cheapass 19" LCD television for the bedroom. After the first hour of the first night with it in our room, I had to trudge down to the workshop and locate the roll of black electrical tape to cover up the bright blue LED light shining from the bezel of the TV when it was OFF, because it lit up the entire room at night. Now I ask I REALLY need an indicator to know that my TV is off?

A few months ago, when we upgraded our Tivo, I moved the old one into the bedroom. We quickly realized that the need for quiet sleep outranked the need to watch last night's episode of Jon Stewart in bed, and the Tivo's fan was soon silenced by our unplugging the unit and selling it on ebay.

I'm currently typing this on our Mac in the bedroom. This Mac usually resides in the office downstairs, but its been temporarily moved to the bedroom while we remodel the office. I've taken to putting it to sleep each night, so that it doesn't randomly spout out midnight appointment reminders or blind us when the screen suddenly wakes up. I've also had to cover up the external hard drive, which has yet another blue LED that lights up the room.

Last but not least, we just received a new bedroom cable box from our cable provider. This unit is a DVR (the reason we have a DVR along with the Tivo is yet another post). Between the loud fan and the ultra-bright clock on the face of this unit, it gets unplugged at night as well.

It seems to me that these are all fine examples of weaknesses of the product testing process. Just like the way only left-handers tested the iPhone's antenna strength, obviously no one bothered to test out the TV or cable box at night in a real world test, only to discover the LEDs are bright enough to land a plane by. Kudos to the LED industry for making an impressive product. Sell it with a dimmer switch next time.

It never used to be this way. Back in my college years I spent many a night zonked out in the back bedroom with 40 or 50 of my fraternity brothers on the other side of the wall, doing and consuming things that really aren't appropriate for this blog. I blame this change in my ability to sleep soundly quite squarely on my children. 9 or so years of waking up to the slightest whine or sniffle has really taken its toll. And right now, as I turn to look behind me, I see my lovely wife zonked out across my pillow and breathing heavily, my dog in her crate snoring, and my younger offspring asleep on the couch and coughing lightly every thirty seconds or so. I think I will go downstairs and catch last night's Jon Stewart.


pj said...

wow you really are a sensitive sleeper. People pay money for white noise machines to sleep to, while hard drive fans provide it for free.

I never noticed our cable box making any nighttime noise, but it does have a bright clock. Our TV is in an armoire so we just shut the doors. Maybe you should build one (with soundproofing), then you wouldn't have to unplug everything. :)

BTW I'm curious, do you have an alarm clock with an LED display? We each have our own by the bed and I never thought about those either. Do they bother you, because those are common bedroom items that predate all this tech.

Hart said...

If you're that light a sleeper, perhaps having electronics in your bedroom is not such a great idea. Get rid of the TV, and fully turn off the Mac instead of making it sleep. While we all know Unix-based OSes aren't technically designed to be turned on and off, the short boot cycle at least makes it feasible.