bradknowles's Profile

Display Name: bradknowles
Member Since: 2/18/08

Latest Comments...

The thing about the porch (front or back) and the front door is that the lights are there as much for security as they are for actually seeing what you are doing as you are coming through, so a motion sensor isn't necessarily helpful.

I have found that putting an auto-timer on these lights so that they only have power going to them at the times when I want the light on (i.e., dusk, night, and dawn), and then switching the incandescent lights for compact fluorescent will get me the largest amount of benefit, and adding motion sensors or photocell controllers would add a minimum of additional savings.

With regards to the other areas, I've found that the motion-sensitive switches are much larger than the old switches that would be replaced, and that makes it difficult to fit them into the electrical box. You end up having to replace the entire electrical box and cut out sheetrock to fit the larger electrical box into place, and that makes it a major pain.

Still, if you can manage it, at least for bathrooms I would replace both the fan and light switches with the motion-sensitive or auto-timer style (e.g., easily switchable between 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, or 60 minutes) and gang them together on the same circuit. This allows you to avoid having them on too much longer than necessary, and saves wear-n-tear on the fan as well as saving electricity.

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | Do Motion-Sensor Lights Save Energy and Money?
10/5/09 06:03 PM

OOps. Make that three issues, not two. My bad. ;-)

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | Best Product: CyberPower 9-Outlet Intelligent LCD UPS
8/21/09 08:08 PM

Two issues here:

1. The APC Back-UPS RS LCD line has a display that gives you the critical information (in red instead of blue, so you don't risk ruining your night vision), and doesn't confuse you with icons that aren't relevant to the current condition. I've seen both and IMO, the APC display is much better than the CyberPower display.

2. For computers and sensitive AV gear, you really want a UPS that produces a true sine wave output. None of the budget models of UPSes will do that, although most of the more expensive APC SmartUPS models will. Otherwise, you risk causing damage to your equipment.

3. Ideally, you want something that provides at least one or two sockets that are filtered but not on UPS, for devices that would otherwise just pull too much power and suck down your battery too fast. The CyberPower units don't have this option, whereas APC units usually do.

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | Best Product: CyberPower 9-Outlet Intelligent LCD UPS
8/21/09 08:08 PM

I like the ideas of some of the stories you link to. Why not put some small feet on the same side where the speaker is, turn it face down towards the floor, and then put the side with the amp facing the wall?

Turn this thing into an end table, with a nice wood stain, either cherry, or mahogany, or whatever works with your decor.

Of course, you might have problems with things vibrating off the table, when you turn on the sub, but that would be a separate matter to deal with. ;-)

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | DIY: 12" Home Subwoofer Parte Uno (Help!)
9/19/08 01:55 PM

Oh, and while we're talking about medical issues, you might also want them to check for a deviated septum -- typically the result of a nose that got broken, maybe in a fist fight. That can really hurt your ability to breathe at night.

Surgery to correct it isn't too unusual, but is downright nasty to watch -- they have to re-break the nose with a hammer and chisel, then set it properly. Oh, and the blood flow. Ew.

Apartment Therapy Los Angeles | Share the Bed with Someone Who Snores?
8/12/08 08:44 PM

Where's the option for when we both snore?

However, in my case my snoring has gotten much better since I started using my CPAP machine to address my sleep apnea. Still a little bit of snoring, but the machine makes way less noise than I used to.

Nevertheless, we still both sleep with earplugs.

Apartment Therapy Los Angeles | Share the Bed with Someone Who Snores?
8/12/08 08:38 PM

We have precisely the same problem in our dressing room. It is a converted bedroom, and the built-in closet wasn't big enough for all of my wife's shoes, much less her hats. Since we had taken out the master bedroom closet in the master bathroom (don't ask), we needed another "closet".

Fortunately, we had brought back with us from Belgium some modular units that we had bought over there (where they don't have built-in closets). It's constructed kind of like Ikea stuff, but much better quality. We had to have them cut down from their original 2.9m height to fit into our much lower ceilings over here, and pretty much completely filled up the dressing room.

The only design problem is that we didn't consider what would happen with the fan. D'oh!

I've looked for shorter blades. I can't find any that are shorter than the ones we already have, at least not in any local hardware stores. I will keep looking, though.

Apartment Therapy Los Angeles | How: Not to Install a Ceiling Fan
7/7/08 07:49 PM

All this works great when the cats are full-sized and healthy.

But imagine a kitten falling into the toilet and dying. We had a cat who fell into the toilet as a kitten, and although he survived (by hanging onto the clip-on toilet bowl cleaner and mewling at the top of his tiny lungs for literally hours on end), it did scar him for life.

Or imagine that you have a cat that is sick and not very steady on their feet. Or maybe old and can't jump that high any more.

Nice theory, and maybe it works out in practice for some people, but I see a number of issues to be concerned about. And toxoplasmosis would definitely be something else to look at.

Apartment Therapy Los Angeles | Death to the Litter Box
7/7/08 07:42 PM

This is wonderful for those places where population density is not very high, and you can afford to own enough land to build them.

But what about those higher-density population areas? An average three or four bedroom house might be 2700-3000 sq ft, possibly two story, and not have that much yard left out of 10,000 sq ft of lot. And that would be for a place in a residential neighborhood closer-in, but still not anywhere close to the ultra-dense high-rise areas downtown.

What then?

If we force everyone to space out enough so that they'll have the land to build something like this, how much farmland would be left over?

I'm all for going green where possible, and rammed earth buildings are one excellent choice where they are feasible. But what about those cases where they aren't feasible?

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | Final Frame: Earthships- Future Home Tech From 30 Years Ago
7/7/08 07:10 PM

It doesn't do you a damn bit of good if the gadget is eco-friendly, if it's a piece of crap. If no one buys it, then the whole thing was a waste in the first place.

But taking devices that are already reasonably well designed and making them that much better designed so that they draw much less energy, that's certainly something I can support.

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | Survey: Does the Eco-Friendliness of a Gadget Influence Your Choice?
6/22/08 09:56 PM

I help manage the mail servers for the University where I work. We find that ~97% of all e-mail is spam.

Fortunately, that's filtered at our appliances, and we don't have to deal with that on our servers. Otherwise, that would be a truly massive amount of e-mail, since we support ~50,000 students and ~20,000 faculty & staff, and we do many millions of legitimate mail messages per day.

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | Survey: How Bad Is your Spam?
6/22/08 09:53 PM

I love my Freitag. I bought one years ago, when we were on vacation in Barcelona.

Now you're really making me wish I could buy another one of these (maybe a Rex this time, instead of my old Topcat), but my wife would kill me.....

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | Swiss Company Freitag Brings The Tarp to Laptop Bags
6/22/08 09:50 PM

Laure -- I know your pain. We have three cats, and have recently installed hardwood flooring. We're not looking forward to the first major pee incident.

My dad had a real problem. His cat was older, and apparently had been missing the litterbox for months. When my mom was alive, they had sprayed all sorts of stuff to try to eliminate the odors, but all that did was cover them up -- unsuccessfully. The smell got into the air conditioning system (there was an air return right next to the litterbox), as well as into the carpet, the padding, etc....

We tried every chemical application known to man, followed by steam cleaning, etc.... In the end, the only solution that worked was to remove the carpet and carpet padding, treat and seal the concrete underneath, and then put in new flooring.

I don't want to rain on your parade -- you may be luckier than we were, so you should definitely try the other things first. Just keep in mind that you may also have to apply more extreme measures.

Good luck!

Apartment Therapy Los Angeles | Help! How to Remove Cat Pee?
6/15/08 07:31 PM

One word -- ponoko. As in, <A HREF=""></A>. Go there, upload your design, have them make it for you and then ship it to you.

If you can't give them a design, there are plenty of places where you can get others to do the design for you. You can even host design competitions, and take the best.

Apartment Therapy Unplugged | Good Questions: Entertainment Center Alternatives?
5/3/08 01:05 PM

Uh, that was supposed to be "... the post by palindrome."

The system seems to have eaten my HTML. Blargh.

Apartment Therapy Chicago | AT Chicago Blogger Search: Help Wanted!
5/3/08 12:59 PM

I was definitely thinking Austin myself, since it seems to be one of the most progressive and green/design-aware cities in the country. And I know a number of people here who should be more than able to fill this kind of role.

But then I saw the post by <A HREF=""palindrome</A>.


Can someone please explain to me how Texas could get cut down the middle like that? I mean, Canada is huge (multiple time zones wide), so it makes sense they might be cut in half. But as big as Texas is, it's still completely contained within a single timezone.

Oh, well. Your loss.

Apartment Therapy Chicago | AT Chicago Blogger Search: Help Wanted!
5/3/08 12:58 PM

@boomer --

See my comments on the AT thread over at <A HREF=""></A>.

In short, the combination door locks that the US military and the US government think are sufficient for use in classified environments can be broken into in just minutes (I did it while I was working in the Pentagon, for good reason). The residential grade units are even worse.

Your best bet for security is a good Medeco or Mul-T-Lock deadbolt that is ANSI Grade 1 certified, and UL437 listed, and has features designed in to preven the "Bump Key" attack. See also my comments on the thread over at <A HREF=""></A>.

Apartment Therapy New York | The Smallest, Most Useful Thing: My Hidden Key
4/5/08 10:11 PM

@mycatsownme --

The problem is that your fingers leave residue on the locks, and someone can come along and put a large Gummi Bear on the reader, and there will be enough residue left that it will probably read as okay and unlock the door.

You really, really don't want to be using these kinds of mechanisms unless they are in addition to some other physical locking mechanism.

Apartment Therapy New York | The Smallest, Most Useful Thing: My Hidden Key
4/5/08 10:07 PM

The US federal government and the US military frequently use a combination door lock to secure doors in classified areas, and from what I can tell they are the <A HREF="">Kaba Ilco 1000</A> series models.

During Desert Shield under President George Bush Sr, I was working in the Pentagon in the National Military Command Center (one of the most secure facilities within the Pentagon), providing technical support to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, J-4 Logistics Directorate, in the Logistics Readiness Center. During the first week, we went to a shift schedule, so we had multiple teams of people working, and Team Chiefs and Executive Officers for each shift. For this shift, we had a new guy who was acting Team Chief and he managed to leave his briefing slides in his office, and closed the door behind him. Only he didn't remember the combination and he was about to go brief Chairman Colin Powell. He had ten minutes to his briefing and I had five minutes to break into his office.

Three numbers, then twist the handle. You can do it about as fast as you can say "Tick-Tick-Tick-Turn". One combination every couple of seconds. I had the door open in way less than five minutes, and after I was done I told the combination to the Executive Officer on duty as well as the Team Chief on duty, and then told them that they probably wanted to change the combination now that I knew it.

Even if the box itself is strong, if there are a small number of possible combinations to get the thing open, then it's not really very secure. I can do it in just a few minutes.

Apartment Therapy New York | Slimline Keysafe
4/5/08 10:00 PM

Oh, and if you really want to know how the "Bump Key" attack works, see <A HREF=""></A>.

Apartment Therapy Los Angeles | The Un-bumpable and Self Re-Keying Deadbolt from KwikSet
4/5/08 09:39 PM