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A "Bill of Lights" to Restrict LEDs on Gadgets? 729

PetManimal writes "Mike Elgan has had it with useless lights on gadgets and computers. He singles out the Palm Treo and the Dell XPS gaming laptops as being particularly bad with the use of unnecessary lights, and also cites the plethora of LEDs on desktop PCs and peripherals. 'My PC and other computing equipment make my office look like a jet cockpit. I have two LCD monitors, each of which has two indicator lights that flash even when the PC is turned off. The attached sound control has a light on it. My keyboard has multiple lights. The power cord has lights, the printer has lights, and the power button is illuminated. My cable modem and Linksys router flash like crazy all the time. Together, these useless lights create a visual cacophony of blinking, multicolored lights that make me feel like I'm taking part in a NASA stress test for astronaut candidates.' Elgan calls on manufacturers to respect his 'Gadget Bill of Lights' to restrict the use of nag lights and allow users to turn them off. He also says the industry should pay more attention to industrial design when creating new products."
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A "Bill of Lights" to Restrict LEDs on Gadgets?

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  • Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:32PM (#19118129) Homepage Journal
    ... whine about silly crap much?
    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Known Nutter ( 988758 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:35PM (#19118209)

      I really hate the "more important things going on in the world..." argument, but damn man... this is total nonsense.

      Besides, I like my office looking like a cockpit - the more flashing indicator lights, the better. One light I particularly enjoy is on my television. The indicator LED is ON when the tv is OFF, and OFF when the tv is ON.

      • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Informative)

        by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:39PM (#19118329)
        That's so you can find the power switch in the dark, and so it doesn't distract you while watching TV.
      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:39PM (#19120721)
        I like indicator lights, including the one on my LCD HDTV. The manufacturer's logo is actually the indicator light; it glows yellow when in standby, and white when the TV is on. Contrary to what these luddite anti-light people think, this is actually quite useful. When it's yellow, I know that the set is plugged in and has power, but is not in the "ON" state. Then, when I press the power button (usually on the remote control), it turns white, which lets me know that the set is now ON, even though it takes a few seconds for the screen to light up. That way, I know that my command was received, and I don't need to press the power button again.

        I honestly can't think of any indicator lights on my electronics that don't serve a useful purpose (except the blue LED fans in my computer of course). If they weren't useful, manufacturers wouldn't waste money putting them in. When you're making 1 million wireless routers, one extra LED probably adds a couple cents to the cost, at least; even at $.01, this would equal $10,000. I know I'd spend an extra $5 to get a router that had all the indicator lights (including the lights for all the ports) instead of one that had only one.
    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:36PM (#19118247) Homepage
      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I half expected it to continue:

      "And while we're at it, make everything grey or beige. Colors are too visually distracting! And enough with these smooth shapes; make everything rectangular so that things stack better. And enough with these flowers blooming outside; everything should be grass ..."
    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by andy666 ( 666062 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:38PM (#19118287)
      Well the thing is, that there is this deep psycological connection between blinking lights and technology in our culture. In the old days, computers in movies often had excessive amounts of this. But even today, you see similar things in movies. If the lights are blinking, it must be doing something! I think it addresses some deep need of ours to see some physical changes taking place to explain a computation. Basically, it makes electronics less abstract.
      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

        by djh101010 ( 656795 ) * on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:47PM (#19118505) Homepage Journal

        Well the thing is, that there is this deep psycological connection between blinking lights and technology in our culture. In the old days, computers in movies often had excessive amounts of this. But even today, you see similar things in movies. If the lights are blinking, it must be doing something!

        True, but it can't be simply blinking, like the 12:00 on an old, un-programmed VCR. It has to be blinking in an irregular pattern, which indicates activity of some sort. A simple on/off/on/off 50% duty cycle LED looks like a gratuitous blinkylight. Now, give me a blinkylight that flashes irregularly, or even better, in synchronous ways with other blinkylights, now we're talking. Big disk array full of drives, all blinking somewhat in unison, is what I'm trying to say. It's a thing of beauty, several racks of storage all blinking in busy a darkened server room... brings a tear to any self-respecting techie's eye, it does...
        • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:56PM (#19119901)
          I know for a fact that at least one large system vendor would cause the LEDs on the drives in their arrays to blink somewhat in unison when there were demos or customer benchmarks.

          We had a set of scripts which we'd kick off at the start of the benchmark to make sure that the wall of disks looked busy. The salesmen would say stuff like "Look, you can see the parity writes being generated". When in fact the entire benchmark would complete in RAM. Hell, they could make the lights blink from left to right, right to left, top to bottom and various patterns. My favourite was the diagonal wave, but we couldn't credibly use it during a benchmark, though one engineer did try to claim once that it might be caused by the fibre channel layout.

          The customers lapped it up. THAT's why there are LEDs all over the place.

        • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by FauxPasIII ( 75900 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @05:15PM (#19121355)
          > Big disk array full of drives, all blinking somewhat in unison, is what I'm trying to say.

          -nod- I've got one of those 4-in-3 SATA drive enclosure bays, and each drive sled has a LED that changes from green to red when it's being accessed. I arranged the disks so that their offset in the raid 5 array is the same as their physical location in the chassis, so on long contiguous operations the LEDs blink rapidly in a circular sequence. It's worth twice what I paid.
      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mikael ( 484 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:15PM (#19119039)
        The movie industry were inspired by the Connection Machine series of supercomputers. Every processor
        in the computer had a LED that lit up when it was in use, and since there were thousands of processors,
        there were thousands [] and thousands [] of lights.

        Very large image []
      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:18PM (#19119091)
        There's probably a connection with how integrated the technology is into our lives. You want them when they're new and unfamiliar, and after a while you curse the lack of darkness.

        At least there's a smidgeon of hope. Appliances used to include LED lights to appear "modern", but it's a real PITA when you have a clock on your stove, microwave oven, vcr, set-top box, and who knows what else all visible at the same time (or at most by only taking a few steps). Now they either gone (set-top boxes, DVD players) or optional (microwave). Too bad my stove still thinks I need a really bright nightlight in the kitchen.

        Maybe routers (which seem to be the worst offenders) will take the hint. We might know how to read the indicators, but very few broadband customers know or care. They'll just call customer support, and customer support will just tell them to make sure the cables are connected and cycle the power. A single tri-color LED should work for that and be a lot less annoying. (Power? Upstream connection present but disabled? Upstream connection enabled?) Let people connect to an embedded webserver if they need more information.

        P.S., I agree that it would be best to turn the devices off. I don't need my broadband connection and wireless router running all night even if I leave my computers up. (Perhaps especially since I leave my computers up.) But there are no power switches any more -- even "off" is usually pulling power. A lot of power -- I seem to recall reading that a full 1% of the US power grid is used by devices that have been "turned off". Even the powerstrip you use as a power switch will have its own indicator light.
        • by Targon ( 17348 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:57PM (#19119929)
          You are one of those people who don't seem to understand why we NEED lights on routers. Routers can be(and often are) kept away from the computers and devices. In those situations, checking the router to see if the Ethernet cable is plugged in on the other end, or if data is being sent on that port are more important. So, green for link, blinking for data being sent/received. It makes sense, and isn't useless.

          Many devices go to sleep, so all you have is a LED to indicate that the device is on. You would NOT want a device that doesn't have a power LED since it's nice to know when the thing is on or not, even if it is in sleep mode.

          Yes, some devices are annoying in having too many blinking lights, and I really dislike the extra lights that are on some computer cases these days. But, you have to admit that there are times when having those bright lights is a real advantage.

          So, devices with blinking lights are fine, but excessive numbers of "cute" lights isn't. On a positive note, you can generally turn off or unplug the extra lights on computer cases if you don't like them. Standby blinking lights are annoying, but will show you that the machine isn't really off by blinking.

          If the power grid is so overloaded by all the devices that are in standby mode, then building some nuclear power plants should be done. There are obviously some places that those plants should NOT be located, such as in places there are earthquakes or that might be hit by a tornado, but that doesn't mean new ones should not be built. Let's get some power generation in place that doesn't require oil, and we will be in better shape.

        • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:06PM (#19120115) Homepage Journal

          Lights: Routers don't have enough lights. They need bar graphs that tell me how much of the available bandwidth is being used (and what means that needs to be configurable in the on-board software.) A counter of currently expected reply packets might serve as a metric for "busyness" as well. And we should be able to configure the colors - R, G and B LEDS have been available for some time, lets get to using them.

          Industrial design: Too many devices are "designed", looks-wise. What this means is some idiot decided that they should be really small, for starters. What this causes is the device being dragged all over by the cables attached to it, or being unable to sit flat without being glued or rubber-banded to something more substantial. Another "design" goal seems to be to create devices that look like they were squeezed out of an orifice, have only one flat side (the bottom) and as a consequence, won't stack. Another thing is means is that the indicators it does have are on the top or sitting at some weird angle, so you can't read them unless you are hovering over the bloody thing. First, make sure there is a front, and second, put the lights there. Third, make sure there is a back, and fourth, put the connectors there... or make the front double-high and put the connectors on the bottom, and the lights on the top (some devices call for ease of regular access, USB comes to mind here.) But I have routers and switches - for crying out loud - that have the channel status indicators right next to the jacks. You can't see half of them for the forest of cables that comes out of the devices. These would be fine if they were just there to tell you the cable is connected; but they are terrible for looking at the already set-up router and trying to get a sense of which lines are active and/or properly connected, and there are no other indicators to take on that role, so you're forced to dislodge cables to try and read the device status. Just dumb.

          Power use: Make the lights switchable, absolutely. That way, you can turn them off, and I can leave them on. I hope to have the whole facility running on solar and wind power by the end of the year, but even if I didn't, those indicators serve a purpose that I am perfectly willing to pay for. An LED indicator isn't a big power user. I'm not going to get too excited about those kinds of drains.

          Cable looms: If a device is meant to have a bunch (more than one) of cables plugged into it, it should provide an optional (meaning, you decide to attach and use it or not, but always supplied) cable loom so that you can redirect the cables from the front to the back, or vice-versa, according to your needs. This goes back to the "device is too light" design error; for instance, if you try to re-route 16 or 24 network cables, you're going to drag the device around by the tensions associated with bending all of those cables. If there is a loom, the device itself will keep the tension of the re-route from torquing it around.

          More lights. The more something can tell me without requiring me to interact with it, the more time I save. A glance is always faster than calling up a web page and selecting some option.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Maltheus ( 248271 )
          I don't need my broadband connection and wireless router running all night even if I leave my computers up.

          Actually, I'm gonna need you to keep that connection up at night. My spambot cron job isn't scheduled to run until 3am.
    • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:38PM (#19118309) Journal
      Silly crap? Lets just assume for a minute that we have limited resources on this planet and we're wasting them and making the Earth hotter through it. I mean it's all in our heads but lets just say that maybe the case.

      Now if we take 20 million people with 1 monitor, 1 PC and 1 Printer. That is 60 million little lights being wasteful if we assume it's 1 light per device. Wouldn't you think that is quite a power drain should we use them for several days a week at a couple of hours a day?
      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Informative)

        by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:44PM (#19118457) Homepage Journal
        You wasted more electricity for that remark (the routers and servers along the way had to use electricity for that message) than all the LEDs in your home. a bright LED is like 50mW. You'd need 20 bright ones, or 50 normal ones on all at the same time to make a Watt.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by 14erCleaner ( 745600 )
          You're wasting hundreds, if not thousands, of watts every time you reply to a Slashdot article.


  • pretty (Score:5, Funny)

    by trrwilson ( 1096985 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:33PM (#19118153)
  • by Coolhand2120 ( 1001761 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:34PM (#19118163)
    In my server room I actually play the computer "noises" from old Star Trek in the background on a CD boombox set to repeat!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      try this out: []
    • by DakotaSmith ( 937647 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:28PM (#19119305) Homepage
      Flashing lights are good. Any sysadmin with an ounce of sense knows that a clean, well-ordered server room with lots of flashing lights impresses the clueless suits. If lights are flashing, work must be happening, right? Plus, it makes you look that much more knowledgeable when said suits come poking around the server room asking questions ... then you squint at a flashing light, furrow your brow, ask them to hang on for a second while you tap out 'ls -al /var/log | sort | less', then stare intently at the screen for a few moments. Then you can tell them that you're seeing a minor glitch in the AE-35 unit that if left uncorrected will cause a fault in less than 24 hours ... so can they come back later, after you've fixed it? Lights are good, my friends, lights are good.
  • Sharpie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nutsquasher ( 543657 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:34PM (#19118167)
    Black marker is your friend, my man.
  • especially the blue LEDs. Maybe this dude, could disable his only.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EggyToast ( 858951 )
      I love the lights too. It makes me feel like I'm in a cockpit or other cool place where a lot of stuff happens. People buy audio hardware because of the blinking lights!

      If this guy is so intent on fixing it, he should get out the soldering iron and disconnect them himself. Or do the thing everyone else does when something is blinking or flashing too much -- cover it up with electrical tape.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by timeOday ( 582209 )
        I like the lights, but not for mood. I want to know if my hard drive is getting hammered; if packets are flowing; if my DC adapter is getting power. Keep the lights!
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by EggyToast ( 858951 )
          ah, very true! I do like just glancing at the router to see that everything is going well (and to quickly figure out if it's not).
  • Lights... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by omeomi ( 675045 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:34PM (#19118175) Homepage
    Be glad you don't work in pro audio. My office/studio has more flashing lights than the space shuttle cockpit. 'course, I kinda like it.
    • I was thinking something similar... some of us really *do* like all the lights. Of course, you could argue that those lights are "useful," whereas the lights that the article complains about are the "useless" ones. The flip side is that you could argue the "useless" lights wouldn't be there if *somebody* didn't like them... flash sells, what can I say?
  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:35PM (#19118199)
    ... that I should never invite him over to see my house at Christmas.

    I still like my LED's in blue. But colors that signify things are great. Green = good. Red = Bad. Blue = On. Blinking = Busy.

    I need more LEDs! I WANT my office to look like a jet fighter cockpit! The ONLY thing I don't want with lights on it, is my watch. It's a simple, metal watch with a sigle dial.

    There is such a thing as too far. I won't wear an LED belt buckle or name tag. I won't stick LEDs on the outside of my car.
  • by Wdomburg ( 141264 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:35PM (#19118211)
    We've all got our switches, lights, and knobs to deal with, Elgan. I mean, down here there are literally hundreds and thousands of blinking, beeping, and flashing lights, blinking and beeping and flashing - they're FLASHING and they're BEEPING. I can't stand it anymore! They're BLINKING and BEEPING and FLASHING! Why doesn't somebody pull the plug!
  • Blue LEDs (Score:5, Funny)

    by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:35PM (#19118219) Homepage Journal
    What is better than one LED bright enough to light up a whole room? 50 of them! That BLINK!
  • by Tadrith ( 557354 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:36PM (#19118225) Homepage

    I suppose if you aren't a technical person, it's probably too much. As a technical person who does it for a living as well as a hobby, I've always really liked being surrounded by electronics with lots of lights. NOC/IDC facilities are even more fun. It's a mood thing.

    As long as all of this stuff is not in my room so I can't sleep, I have no problems with the office looking like NASA.
  • What's next - no LEDs on network hubs and routers, because he doesn't understand what the lights mean?

    If you don't like them, put some fucking electrical tape over the LEDs. That's what I do. Of course, that's not so easy to do with things like my Cooler master 830 case which is an awesome case but has all these useless and fucking ugly bright blue LEDs (in the fans, on the buttons, for the drive display, etc) that make it impossible to sleep at night.
  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:36PM (#19118259)
    zo relaxen und watschen der blinkenlichten
    • by eln ( 21727 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:02PM (#19118815)
      Exactly. The blinking lights are there to keep you occupied so you don't go fiddling with the machine. One of the mainframes at my old University had the following sign on it at one point. Apparently this actually dates back to the early 1960s.

      Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das machinkontrol is nicht for gefengerpoken und mittengrabben. Oderwise is easy schnappen der springenverk, blowenfus, undpoppencorken mit spitzensparken. Der machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur geverken by das dumpkopfen. Das rubber necken sightseenen keepen das cotton-picken hands in das pockets. So relaxen, und vatchen das blinkenlights.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jim Hall ( 2985 )

      We joke about the blinking LEDs, but I for one would like to see more status LEDs on some of my (server) devices. Maybe I'm alone on this, but it would be kind of cool to have a bargraph LED display to show me the CPU average on the system, so I can get a feel for how hard the system is running by glancing at the front of the box. IIRC, the BeBox had this. (And there used to be a site that had a schematic to make your own blinkenlights module that used the serial port, and included a Linux kernel module

  • Poll (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hogwash McFly ( 678207 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:38PM (#19118285)
  • by cruff ( 171569 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:38PM (#19118299) Homepage
    I had to tape over the blue power LED on a Shuttle 51G system, as it was so bright I could see the reflections from it in another room. Kind of distracting when you are trying to go to sleep, see the light and wonder what light you left on elsewhere in the house. I understand the newer models are supposed to have a way do dim the LEDs. I used blue electrical tape so that I could still tell if the system thought it was on.
  • Uh... I like the blinking lights. I want MORE (thus my glow-in-the-dark keyboards with multiple color selections, and my LED mouse pad). And I love my XPS, doubly so in a dimly lit room.

    My "Gadget Bill of Lights" would be to ask the Gadget and PC makers to please make MORE of these types of equipment and to PLEASE ignore Mike! (Well, I DO agree you should be able to turn the LED's if you want - my Timewarner DVR is ultra-annoying in that way, as it's in the bedroom). But otherwise, cram more LED's in!!!!
  • Dude, what am I going to do without all those blinkenlights in my computer room?! It's not a computer without them!
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:41PM (#19118375) Journal
    The author is worried that the Boston SWAT team is going to break down his doors in the middle of the night and call the bomb squad to confiscate his electronics and have them detonated in a safe manner.
  • To some degree it's controllable by equipment choice or judicious user modification or location.

    My cubicle at work has just six indicator lights (power x3 for a PowerMac G5, two 17" Sony LCDs (though I have the one on the left covered w/ a blackened bit of Post-It[tm] Note), a Caps-lock indicator on the keyboard (WHICH IS NORMALLY NOT LIT), a blue light (which switches to green when I click) on my Wacom Intuos and a green light on the APC PowerChute UPS (hidden under my desk) --- the Mighty Mouse has an LED
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:43PM (#19118415) Homepage Journal

    I'm confused. The article makes it sound like there are no alternatives to the products he mentions. I hate to play the, "Dude, get a Mac" card, but he's begging for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dave420 ( 699308 )
      You can turn the LEDs off on those dells, btw (as well as changing their colours should you want). And the dells can come with better specs than the macs, so it'd be a trade-off on performance as well.
  • by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:43PM (#19118425) Homepage
    To the author of the "Bill of Lights", I suggest two pieces of tape... one piece of electrical tape to go over the offending light, and one piece of duct tape to apply over your cake hole.

    I personally LIKE my computer area looking like the Bat Cave. "Relaxen un watchen das BLINKENLIGHTS!"
  • by carlivar ( 119811 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:43PM (#19118427)
    Soldier: Those lights are blinking out in sequence.
    Buck Murdock: I see.
    Soldier: What should we do?
    Buck Murdock: Make them blink in sequence.

    Oh, cut the bleeding heart crap, will ya? We've all got our switches, lights, and knobs to deal with, Striker. I mean, down here there are literally hundreds and thousands of blinking, beeping, and flashing lights, blinking and beeping and flashing - they're *flashing* and they're *beeping*. I can't stand it anymore! They're *blinking* and *beeping* and *flashing*! Why doesn't somebody pull the plug! --Buck Murdock
  • how about (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:44PM (#19118447) Homepage
    ... black paint? or tape? Poof, no more lights.
  • IR LEDs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:48PM (#19118527) Homepage Journal
    Why can't we just have IR leds on *everything*. Then if you want to see the status you could put some special glasses on to see them?
    • Fun thing to try (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PontifexPrimus ( 576159 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:10PM (#19120193)
      In case you didn't know, you might already be in possession of a device that allows you to see infrared light: if you take a digital camera (even a simple phonecam will do) and look at the front of a tv remote when you press one of the buttons, you'll see a bright light flashing that's invisible to the naked eye. It's a great way to see if you need to replace the batteries or if the remote has not survived that drop from the table...
      I also wondered if it might not be possible to build a (relatively) cheap light banner using IR LEDs - it would be black to the human eye but show up clearly through the viewscreen in your digicam or phonecam.
  • great idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by visionsofmcskill ( 556169 ) <> on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:50PM (#19118579) Homepage Journal
    Fantatsic idea, how about we get rid of all those useless lights on routers, access points, modems and ethernet jacks.

    also lets get rid of the lights used in power indicators.

    And while were at it, why not get rid of the lights in clocks too?

    I mean who needs a caps or num lock key light right? you'll know when you start typing anyway.

    Cause i personally LOVE having no idea if things are working or not with annoying visualfeedback, ill just wait until i try to use them., then ill know!

    Dont get me wrong... there are plenty of useless lights that are super annoying and very bright (expecially when in your bedroom during sleepy time). And some of them are unnecesary... but advocating removal of activity lights, power lights? does the guy hate people? A grudge against tech support?

    I can only imagine tech support calls.
    User: "help, my computers not workin"
    tech: "ok, is your computer on?"
    User: "i dunno, how can i tell?"
    tech: "go under your desk and feel your case, if its not hot its probably off, but if its just been turned on you may need to look in the back of your machine and feel for a small wind from the fan, if its a fanless PC then put your ear against the machine and see if you hear a slight whir of a harddrive"
    user: "whats a harddrive sound like?"
    tech: .... (you dont know!?)
    user: "oh wait the screen is on now!, but i have no internet"
    tech: "do you see your router?" (switch, hub, modem, linksys, wireless card, etc...)
    user: "its the thing my ether cable is connected to right"
    tech: "yea, now spin it on the table, if it keeps spinning like a hard boiled egg, its working"
    user: ....................

  • Treo Solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by blackmonday ( 607916 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:55PM (#19118683) Homepage
    If you have a treo, download LedOff []. It's donationware, and solves the LED annoyance.
  • by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:55PM (#19118685)
    Sure, some of them are a little redundant (the blue "ON" LED on my monitor, for example), but mostly they're very useful in telling me what's going on. Just a quick glance around the room reveals that the..
    • ADSL modem is connected and there's very little traffic flowing
    • There are four active devices connected to the network via the switch, all in 100MB mode
    • Laser printer is in power-save mode, and there isn't much toner left
    • Inkjet printer is off
    • PDA has finished recharging
    • surge protection is online and healthy
    • sound amp is on the PC channel
    • computer is on but idle
    • NumLock is on
    Very useful info that I couldn't live without. How would you feel if the whole post was typed with CAPS LOCK on because there was no LED indicator? Besides, I do like the "busy cockpit" look my room has in the dark.
  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:57PM (#19118715) Journal
    Let's get rid of all those pesky indicators on car dashboards, too. I mean, really, all that junk that nobody ever looks at just serves to clutter up the dash and raise the price of cars. Why, they try to make it look like they are indicators of something. Like you're operating a piece of equipment and want to know its status. While we're at it, let's get rid of the speedometer and fuel gauge, too. I mean, if there's no fuel, you'll know because the car will stop. If you're going too fast, Mr. Police Officer will kindly let you know sooner or later.
  • Useless? (Score:3, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:58PM (#19118735)

    My cable modem and Linksys router flash like crazy all the time. Together, these useless lights create a visual cacophony of blinking, multicolored lights that make me feel like I'm taking part in a NASA stress test for astronaut candidates.

    While some LEDs might be superfluous, the lights on my cable modem and router mean something. If they were to go off, it means something is seriously wrong with the network and not my computer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KlomDark ( 6370 )
      They are stupid. How about the reverse - "If this light is on, then something is broken. If all lights are off, then everything's fine."

      Worse is the damn blue power light on my computer that is brighter than hell and blinks incessantly when in Standby mode. Right next to my bed. Made it worthless. I changed the operation of the sleep button to make it hibernate instead of stand by. Hibernate fully shuts off the dam blinkenlight.
  • Treo ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HPNpilot ( 735362 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:58PM (#19118739) Homepage
    I have a Treo and is has only one light. Blinking means message or missed call, lit means charging. All other times it is off. Seems like an appropriate use of a single indicator to me.
  • by Radon360 ( 951529 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:06PM (#19118883)

    The problem isn't necessary the proliferation of LEDs in devices, it's how they're designed into the product. Do we really need a 5000mcd LED to indicate that a box has power? It's more of a matter of putting putting more sedate LEDs into things we like to check, but are usually not checked often. Designers need to get away from the "bigger and brighter...because we can" mentality, that's all.

    Having to troubleshoot a piece of hardware, I certainly appreciate having LED indicators available to speed the process. I design them in on machinery and systems for items that are critical to check. Yet, at the same time, LEDs simply don't need to be the super, ultra-bright kind unless they're indicating a warning or serious problem, or their environment requires it (i.e. sunlight).

    This shouldn't be an prescence/absence of LEDs issue, it should be one of actually specifying the right LED for the job, and designing their placement in a box accordingly, including behind a technician's access panel door, if appropriate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mikelieman ( 35628 )
      Yup. It's a THREE STATE solution.

      Switch DOWN for OFF.
      Switch MIDDLE for TEST ( all lights on )
      Switch TOP for ON. ( Lights indicate appropriate state )

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:14PM (#19119001) Homepage
    is so bright at night, it makes it hard to sleep. I try to 'cover' everything up, but light reflects.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:45PM (#19119669) Homepage

    There are proper NEMA color codes for indicators, and you'll see them on industrial equipment. Unfortunately, we went through a long period during which red LEDs were the only cheap color, and far too many red LEDs went onto equipment. Since LEDs are now available in all colors, it's time to go back to the traditional NEMA rules:

    • GREEN - equipment normal, no action required.
    • AMBER - abnormal condition, action may be required, but not immediate action.
    • RED - trouble condition, action is required. No red light should be illuminated during normal operation. If you see a red light, something needs to be done about it immediately.
    • BLUE - status indication, no specific meaning.
    • WHITE - status indication, no specific meaning.

    Anything that goes in a factory or a rack should obey those simple rules.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court