Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Advances in TV Control

Today on Hacker News, I noticed a link to the announcement of "Netflix socks." This proved to be instructions for configuring socks with electronics to pause the show when you go to sleep. The main electronics are an Arduino microcontroller and an accelerometer. All in all, it looked straightforward for anyone who can knit, sew, solder, and program a bit in C++.

I found myself thinking of  a character in Thomas Pynchon's novel V:
 Fergus Mixolydian, the Irish Armenian Jew and universal man lay claim to being the laziest living being in Nueva York....
 His other amusement was watching the TV. He'd devised an ingenious sleep-switch, receiving its signal from two electrodes placed on the inner skin of his forearm. When Fergus dropped below a certain level of alertness, the skin resistance increased over a preset value to operate the switch. Fergus thus became an extension of the TV set. 
On the one hand, I have no idea how alertness affects skin resistance, and so whether the Mixolydian method is really practical. On the other hand, though I expect that the Netflix method is, it probably is not practical for me: while I have programmed a bit in C++, my experiments in soldering and sewing have been few and clumsy, and my knitting experience is essentially nonexistent. Maybe I'll keep using the remote.

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