[OT] Fiat lux!

My wife needed a new desk lamp, so we ordered her one with “5 Color Temperatures with 7 Brightness Levels, USB Charging Port, and Memory Function”

Remember when you turned on a lamp and there was light? Now they come with an instruction manual. Seriously.


  1. Maybe you need a geezer tag here. Or maybe a “Get off my lawn” tag. 🙂 I’d argue the point that they need manuals because they actually do much more. And I’m not entirely sure more complicated lamps of the olden days didn’t have documentation, especially articulated desk lamps and lamps with odd bulb requirements.

    I got one of these from Costco a while ago, but in white. Got it for a good price, then it was reduced to $22 and they refunded the difference. The three-stage LED lighting is great. I do occasionally play with the colour lighting in the base, but usually just leave that off.

  2. I’d like to have the option of switching from daylight bulbs to evening light. That’d be a nice feature.

    By mistake I bought daylight bulbs. Had to use them in the garage.

  3. CIDU Bill, my lamp only has three levels of brightness (4 if you count “off”) and the colour accents cannot be adjusted in intensity. The light itself is white. Really white. No adjustment. No memory function. This company makes a bunch of stuff, though, so it may be another of their models. FWIW, I’m very happy with this one.

  4. Heck, I remember when wall-mounted light switch panels had just one literal switch.

    I’ve seen ones with half a dozen buttons and an LCD screen. I mean… excuse me? All I want to do is turn on the light!

  5. @Chak: “I’d like to have the option of switching from daylight bulbs to evening light. That’d be a nice feature.”

    And people buy them, and so then next year the companies offer ones that switch from “3pm light” to “4pm light” to “5pm light” and so on, at a stiff price markup.

  6. This reminds me of:

    “I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.” ― Bjarne Stroustrup

  7. Shrug, should I call the cops and report you are being forced to buy fancy bulbs at gunpoint by agents of Big Light?

    CIDU Bill let me once again advocate for the creation of a “Get Off My Lawn” tag.

  8. We now have light bulbs that need software updates and can be made useless by a failed update.

  9. I made the mistake once of buying midnight bulbs. Very dark.


    Not only are our appliances getting more complicated, they’re connecting to the house, and I’m pretty sure in the future they’ll be plotting against us while we’re not home.

  10. Not really. We have X + some kind of microprocessor. They tend to be built as one unit. Therefore, as you say, the bulb needs up-to-date software and can be bricked if the maker shuts down support. The alternative is to build all the sophisticated stuff into the lamp and have the lamp do all the processing that controls the different functions of the bulb. I can see several reasons why that isn’t happening. Some are OK, others are BS:
    OK: control in the bulb means bulbs can be used in most existing lamps and fixtures
    OK: customer is free to change type and manufacturer of bulb at any time without replacing lamps
    OK: customer can use different bulbs from different companies in different parts of the home though must often use different apps to control them
    BS: you can can charge more for a “smart bulb”
    BS: smart bulbs will be purchased in greater quantity and with greater frequency than with new lamps and fixtures
    BS: smart lamp/dumb bulb combo would either mean proprietary lamp/bulb pairings OR emergence of a standard protocol for bulbs, meaning customers could mix and match bulbs from different manufacturers and control them with the same app, meaning less lock-in and commoditization of bulbs and therefor lower prices.

    I’ve had to read and write a lot about IoT (Internet of Things) in the last few months. Some of it is certainly a solution looking for a problem. Because it’s early stages for a lot of this, everyone is trying to hook the customer into their “ecosystem”, so they must buy expensive supplies that are compatible with the system. This also allows the those who own the particular protocol (for example, Hue bulbs) to charge a licencing fee to anyone who wants to make something that works with their stuff. It’s like the VCR format wars but with a bunch of players.

    Best Buy recently screwed people who bought its store brand smarthome products but shutting down support for them, turning them into dumbhome products. At least they refunded the purchase price as store credit. A juicier even was Sonos, maker of overpri–I mean “premium” wireless speakers who concocted a scheme to force users to buy new products and ensure no used market existed for the old items. https://hackaday.com/2020/02/24/ethics-whiplash-as-sonos-tries-every-possible-wrong-way-to-handle-iot-right/

  11. And let’s not forget that every IoT item adds to your security perimeter. Someone used a smart aquarium to break the security of a casino. No-so-smart bulbs could give bots full access to your computer network, to turn it into a zombie or to install ransomeware.

  12. You are quite right, Arthur. I wanted to say something about that but hit post too fast. 🙂

    Securing a network is hard. Securing a wireless network might be harder. Doing so where there are dozens of devices that the user has no control over, are never patched, and may not even offer password protection, it’s a big damn problem. I have a “smart” TV. Love it a whole bunch. I plugged it into the home network with a cable to get a faster, more stable throughput. However, there is no way to turn off Wi-Fi on it without turning off all the smart features. It does get patches and it does require a pin for first time access for a new device, but shouldn’t I be able to turn off the wireless? Wouldn’t that be more secure?

    This is now a much hotter topic too, since there are now lots of people, many rather ignorant of computer networking in general and security in particular, working from home. They’re connecting to company networks. It may be through encrypted connections with two-factor authentication and all, but their computer is attached to their home network along with the iPad their kid uses to pirate movies and download porn. Attacks are way up, with criminals hoping to take advantage of all the rubes and sloppy security caused by the rush.

  13. “Attacks are way up, with criminals hoping to take advantage of all the rubes and sloppy security caused by the rush.”

    But some of the ransomeware crims said they’ll lay off of hospitals for a while.

  14. I have a similar lamp from Costco. Variable brightness, 3 “warmth” settings, clock with alarm and thermometer, and USB port. The only features I use with any frequency are the on/off switch, and the clock to tell time.
    The thing I like best? Thd clock can toggle between 12- and 24-hour mode. I keep mine in 24, which bugs the bejeepers out of my wife.

  15. Oh, we must have accidentally gotten the model without a clock.

    How ever will she know what time it is, if she can’t get it by looking at her desk lamp?

  16. Oh, how I long for a clock radio with 24-hour display. These were easy to find in Japan and Singapore but damn near impossible in Canada. I have been the victim of A.M./P.M. Mixup Syndrome more than once. I do not understand why this barbaric system is allowed to continue. I know some people say they “can’t figure it out,” but, like the elderly and infirm who must be sacrificed to Mammon in the interest of the economy, it can’t be helped

  17. I’ve run into people who can’t heat their home because the wifi that controls the heater is out or they can’t change the setting on their lightbulb because the software has been discontinued. There are contraptions have desirable and necessary functions that happen to be run by modern technology but I don’t count fridges that need firmware updates among them.

  18. @Keera Ann Fox: Exactly! I don’t want to buy house locks or a refrigerator that require periodic software updates to work correctly!

    Back in the 1980s many personal computers didn’t require periodic software updates, either. Imagine if that was the case today. (I can’t tell if that would be better or worse; there would be probably be pros and cons as with most things.)

  19. J-L, we’ll leave aside the issue of whether IoT devices are a good or bad thing and what is the best way to implement them. However, as for personal computer’s I assure you, they definitely did need software updates. They just usually never got them.

    Because distributing software in the eighties meant giving someone a box with some floppy disks in it, no manufacturer was going to mail out possibly millions of packages for free. And most people weren’t going to go out to a store and buy an update. So updates didn’t happen. If the application or operating system survived, there would usually be a new version issued a few years later that would correct the bugs and flaws that existed in the previous version while introducing a whole new set of bugs and flaws. Unless the software crashed the hardware, fixing bugs wasn’t usually seen as crucial. Few machines connected to networks and most of the networks that did exist were LANs that were within a company but didn’t connect to the bigger world.

    The story today is quite different. The Internet means most everything is connected all the time and vulnerable to attack all the time. Vulnerabilities cannot wait three years to be patched in a possible new version some day.

  20. We have dumb appliances. Biggest problem we have is with the new refrigerator. The old one went bad in June. We went out to buy a new one. Robert had his eye on getting one which allows one to set what the temperature in the fridge should be.

    Problem we have is that we cannot let the fridge be colder than 36F as that is the coldest his insulin can go and it should not go over 40F or the food will go bad. The old one could not be kept in this range. (I have been known to jump from the front seat of our RV to fridge in one leap when we make a stop and the small dorm sized fridge in same is too cold for the insulin. No real food in it which needs to be kept at a certain temperature – mostly water and soda unless we buy food on trip to take home.

    We have a small kitchen. He found one that he could set the temperature in and we bought it – he told me that it would fit. We went home and I took the measurements – not sure where he got his measurements from, but it would fit as long as we did not mind more than half of the doorway into the kitchen from the rest of the house being over half blocked by it. Let alone, we would have to find a different a place for the garbage pail. I offered to let him put it in the dining room – too odd even for him. And we were not sure if it would fit through the front door. We went back. We had a choice of 3 (top freezer) models from 3 companies. Sort of like Goldilocks – one only had 3 temperature settings, one had some other odd problem so the last one had to be “just right”. We ordered it and it was delivered. After the deliverymen left we found it was scratched where it could not be seen until one was on the far side of it from where we had been. We started in the interim as did not what happen. It kept the temperature odd – all the way up to over 40F and then down to 34F. More or less what we started with. Store said they would replace it, but the particular store in the chain which we bought it from was out and they could not take one from another store. It would take 2 weeks to replace it. I figured out we would be away for July 4th for a week anyway and we would get by. Biggest concern was his insulin as we only had about 3 other items in the fridge which actually needed to be in it and we have a small freezer in the basement to which we had already moved the freezer’s contents. We tossed two of the items which needed the fridge and I figured out his insulin would be used up within the time it could be out of the fridge. New crew was better at delivering but it still has the same up an down in temperature problem – per the manufacturer that is how refrigerators work now and we are checking only the air temperature, the food temperature is different and will be in range.

    We have no Smart appliances nor do we want any.

    We have bought most of our recent lights which are either floor or desk top standing lamps at Ikea. They go on and they go off. Some may have 3 way bulbs. We have also bought the few LED bulbs we have at Ikea as theirs are nicer light and better made than others. We still have lots of packages of incandescent bulbs to use. Our biggest problem is that when we use the last of the bulbs we have to rewire 3 of the switches which are controlled by a single timer controller and cannot use LED (or florescent) bulbs. The newer wall timers – all smart ones – work with one’s cell phone and we don’t want that.

Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.