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Wireless Networking IT

Why Sys-Admins Are Disabling The Lights on WiFi Access Points (networkworld.com) 294

More than a dozen IT professionals said they've disabled the LEDs on wireless access points, according to a Network World article shared by Slashdot reader alphadogg: Some users don't want a beacon shining in their eyes as they try to get to sleep and others worry about the health effects of a blue light glowing all night. Some even resort to unplugging the gear when they're not using it.... "It seems when you are sick and laying in a hospital bed and have trouble sleeping, the single LED shining in your eyes is an issue," [says the wireless network staff specialist for Penn State College of Medicine]. "I get it and understand it..."

Network pros say they have begun asking vendors such as Cisco if they can provide an easier way to dim, rather than turn off the lights on the access points entirely, via wireless controllers. And some would like to see more granular control, such that the power light could be left on to comfort end users that the device is working, but blinking lights could be turned off or dimmed to avoid bothering them.

End users have tried "all sorts of makeshift fixes -- from Post-it notes to bandages to condom wrappers," but one network architect complains that when they disable the LEDs altogether, "I invariably get a ticket (or more) that the access point is offline and wireless is broken because there are no lights on..." On the plus side, when they then re-enable the LED lghts, "magically the wireless performance and coverage is perfect!"
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Why Sys-Admins Are Disabling The Lights on WiFi Access Points

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  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @06:37AM (#52865365)

    Why can't we get a strip ok old school lcd like in the digital watch of the 1980.
    It can show the info without the light.

    • B'cos it's not likely to cost the $50 that an AP normally costs. The price would shoot up. But on a larger question, the lights on a WiFi can be disabled? Why not just shut it off at night? I keep mine on, but it's in the living room, not in my bedroom, so nothing happens to my sleep - I sleep just fine, thank you!
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Cost of an LCD: 1 cent; cost of an LED: 1 cent/100

    • God had this same problem, he then invented Duct Tape.
      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Duck tape is for waterproofing. You want gaffer tape, which is made to stop light, be non-reflective, and removable.

    • by clovis ( 4684 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @11:26AM (#52866229)

      Why can't we get a strip ok old school lcd like in the digital watch of the 1980.
      It can show the info without the light.

      Nope.
      What these devices need are nixie tubes to show you the contents of the instruction counter so you'll know if the router is running correctly or not.

  • Um (Score:2, Informative)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 )

    This is newsworthy? Slashdot continues to decline with each transition to a new owner. It's literally become a clickbait site.

    • Without the promise of hot women or good looking celebs who are now ugly. So it doesn't even have that going for it.
    • Re:Um (Score:5, Insightful)

      by waveclaw ( 43274 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @02:25PM (#52867013) Homepage Journal
      Is the problem of cheap blue LEDs News worthy? The conversation certainly is. News can inform but need not always be just current events, particularly on the Internet where nothing is paper [wikimedia.org].

      Slashdot is a news aggregation site. Ostensibly for 'News for nerds, stuff that matters' at founding. In practice is was a blog for Rob Malda, CmdrTaco. It was also a website with an accidentally really good commenting technology.

      Been around long enough to see the jokes about not reading the article? Then you have probably been around long enough to see the argument that a lot of the people still visiting the site do so for the conversation in the articles. They provide everything from group-think arguments, good counter-arguments and funny jokes about the topic to warnings about click-bait, pay-wall free options and corrected sources.

      If Slashdot had ever depended upon the quality of the articles it would have failed when it was still Chips-n-Dips hosted on a university student account. The commenting system is more than a chance to keep up your HTML skillz. People in the know are really providing the value. (Queue complaints about Facebook's model, etc.) However, getting quality articles is important to attracting the readership that does not know about the site.

      For instance, this article currently doesn't shows up in Google search for annoying LEDs, being a day old. But the top link is for lifehacks.stackexchange.com [stackexchange.com] for whatever reason. Stackechange and Amazon dominate the front page. I almost feel sorry for companies with products on that page. Even with no such thing as bad marketing, being known for having annoying lights on your non-party-joke product is not a good thing.

      The Blue LED backlash article [codinghorror.com] on McConnell's blog is page three. And he discusses a vendor that sells low intensity LEDs for computer products. But I expect - or at least hope - this slashdot article to make it to at least page three with McConnell's blog if not higher.

  • Good ole ink (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @06:43AM (#52865389)
    I just use a black marker to darken the surface. You can essentially black them out or leave a little light passing through.
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      I use OpenWRT - you can reprogram any LED on your router for whatever purpose. Want them all on or off at a certain time of day or blink if it detected anomalous traffic.

    • It's opaque enough to block most of the light, but transparent enough that you can still see the light if you need. And it comes off a lot easier than marker.

      It pretty much turns these LED lights from something which lights up your room, to a slight glow on the panel.
  • Slow news day? (Score:5, Informative)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @06:44AM (#52865391) Homepage

    So, it has come to this. An article on Slashdot about covering up blinking lights.

    one network architect complains that when they disable the LEDs altogether, "I invariably get a ticket (or more) that the access point is offline and wireless is broken because there are no lights on..."

    Then cover them with black masking tape. Voila, no lights. Plus, everyone can see why there are no lights, so they won't be psychologically fooled into thinking the thing isn't working. And if there really is a problem, they can peel back the tape and have a look.

    Bloody hell...

    • Re:Slow news day? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @08:18AM (#52865557)

      So, it has come to this. An article on Slashdot about covering up blinking lights.

      Blinking lights were great before some bright spark invented those bloody ultra-bright blue and white LEDs and electrical equipment designers started indulging their fantasies of making their devices look like the mothership in Close Encounters, right down to the sunburn. Meanwhile, us slashdotters are getting older and starting to feel the effects of decades of staring at flickery screens...

      Seriously guys, if the status light is casting visible shadows then its just out-and-out sloppy design. I've even had this on a HP monitor: ridiculous dazzling blue power light on the front of a monitor, with option to disable the light (so obviously people have complained) ...meaning you can't tell if the monitor is switched on at all.

      And, yeah, I thank god for those little stand-up cards in hotel rooms saying "Here at PlasticHotelCorp we passionately believe that inane motivational slogans are a great substitute for actual quality" which are ideal for standing in front of the various TVs, clocks and other power lights opposite the bed.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Even LED's from the 1970's would cast visible shadows in a darkened room. I remember when I was a kid using the green led that was on the side of a toy that I had to read under the covers in bed. I remember that I couldn't read by the light of the red one, however, although I wasn't sure why... because the red and green leds did appear to be about equally bright.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      In case you're entirely unaware since you appear to be new here, Sunday is typically the Slashdot Slow News Day.

  • Have a look at Turris Omnia [turris.cz] - the LEDs are dimmable in 8 steps, the last one being completely off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2016 @06:49AM (#52865409)

    They should add light sensor and dim based on that. iPhone display does that btw.

  • At home, I turn off all the beeping on the UPS. On some, I had to remove the speaker. If I'm home, I know the power is out. I don't need a beep to tell me. If I'm away, my UPS shutdown the systems and it was logged that it went down.
    • by cruff ( 171569 )
      I agree with this fully. Sometimes those stupid things insist on beeping even when you think you've disabled the audible alarm. Fortunately my current models turn the audible alarm off when told to do so.
  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @07:36AM (#52865473)
    I've been reading slashdot [slashdot.org] for years [slashdot.org] and I've [slashdot.org] never [slashdot.org] seen a story [slashdot.org] about blinking lights [slashdot.org] and not much else.
  • Nope, didn't read the article. The summary itself is all over the place. What are they even talking about? Blue light keeping admins who take naps in router closets from being able to sleep? Or millennials complaining because the are living in their moms basements and being kept awake because the router is still down there? Who the hell walks around the office looking for blue lights shining through to see if wifi is working? Who are these people?
    • A friend of mine has a genetic condition which makes him very sensitive to light. Because of this, he spends a lot of time in his basement, where he can effectively block out all daylight. He even sleeps down there. More often than not, he comments how all the electronic things have little blue lights on them that shine brightly in the dark, and make it difficult for him to fall asleep. I can see his point.

      Sometime around the mid 90's, manufacturers realized that they could make BLUE LEDs, so they did, and
  • My last tower's power light was just insane. I used to put multiple layers of tape over it as one layer of opaque tape was not nearly enough. Even during the day, if pointed in your general direction it was painful, and even when pointed away at night it would raise the ambient light level of the room enough to be annoying to sleep with. You could read by it, it must of been equivalent to a ~5 watt light bulb of something in that category. Probably something like 20 times brighter than any other indicator l

  • The problem is not limited to access points. Power strips, monitors, speakers, keyboards, mice — everything has a LED.

    Some devices have options to turn off the LED when working, but insist on blinking said LED when in standby. Good luck turning your monitor to face the wall so that its blinking LED doesn’t disturb your sleep.

  • Does anybody make a something like Scotch tape except that instead of being transparent its got about a 90% tint to it?

    Of course there are about a 1001 DIY equivalents, from electrical tape to permanent (or even paint-type) markers, but often the DIY solutions have drawbacks that make the lights either impossible to see or require some other intervention (getting a ladder to remove the tape..).

    Tinting film for cars works, more or less, but it comes on rolls that are impractically large. Something the size

    • Does anybody make a something like Scotch tape except that instead of being transparent its got about a 90% tint to it?

      If you asked google about "tint tape" odds are you'd find that the top hit is someone looking for tinted tape for this very purpose. You'd also rapidly find out that there's a metric shitload of tinted translucent tapes. We call this "using the internet"

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I didn't make an exhaustive search because I don't have a pressing personal need. I make do with electrical tape for the most part or if I want a more permanent solution, liquid vinyl (similar to Dip-it, but in small bottles meant to be used as a kind of electrical tape).

        I haven't had a client bitch about bright LEDs that need to be visible but just dimmer, so my solutions have been all I've really felt the need to use.

        I did look in a cursory way and I saw lots of people asking and I got results for large

    • by Dagger2 ( 1177377 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @10:47AM (#52866049)

      Not quite a roll of tape, but check out LightDims [amazon.com]. You get one set of stickers that dim "50-80%" (or rather three sets, in black, silver and white) and another set that, as far as I can tell, are completely opaque.

      They only really stick on flat surfaces, but they look better than using a random bit of tape, and the opaque ones really are opaque.

  • I know they would cost more and take more room, but what about simple electro-mechanical indicators? For something to replace an multi-color/flashing LED you could get by with a simple rotating coloured disc. You can easily display four different states by having each disc quadrant a different colour. Rotate 90 degrees and you're displaying a new status colour.

    For a simple on/off indicator a tiny electromagnet could push/pull a rectangle with two different states on each side.

    The alternative to these comple

    • "Third, blue LEDs were cool when they were introduced, now they're just annoying. Blue is blinding, red is agressive. Why not switch back to green LEDs?"

      I agree. Save the reds for actual faults/errors. You have orange, yellow and green LEDs to choose from for general information. If they are worried about color-blind people they could use a blue-green LED instead of pure green.

  • ... because he is clearly incompetent. Not only did he disable the lights without apparently realizing that this might confuse people into thinking that it was not working if they had any reason to suspect something may be wrong (while the presence of a light may at least give a person who checks enough pause to investigate whether they actually did everything correctly themselves to connect to it before resorting to filing a problem report), but the guy actually apparently did this more than once. On

  • I mean, it's bad enough that the stereotype of techies is we're all fat, slovenly weenies who can't pick up a thick book (let alone a lady). But when we're so freaking lazy we can't even turn the AP to face AWAY from us? Well - we just confirmed the stereotype...
  • More than a Dozen sys-admins (we used to call them computer operators in the 80's) have put black electrical tape over some LEDs.

    Definitely worthy of an article on Slashdot.

    We should discuss the relative merits of different varieties of black electrical tape. It's called 'bush league' in Horowitz & Hill and I agree. But that's topic drift, and we mustn't have that, because this is an IMPORTANT and interesting discussion of sys-admins (we used to call them computer operators) covering up the LED indica

  • by kbg ( 241421 ) on Sunday September 11, 2016 @10:07AM (#52865827)

    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!

  • I have one in my house. All of my UPSs, routers, TV antenna amplifiers, VoIP interfaces, etc. sit inside the closet, merrily blinking away. If something goes wrong, I check the lights. Otherwise I don't care.

  • I like to watch movies on my home theater setup with the lights out. However...
    * The TV has a bright blue (which can be somewhat dimmed to not quite as bright blue),
    * Yamaha AMP (tons of lights here),
    * mac mini has a LED on the front...
    * PDU (not a powerstrip)

    Only solution I've found so far is black electrical tape or coloring in all the LEDs with a sharpie..

    Why does everything need to have these ultra bright lights? We're not trying to light up a baseball stadium here.

  • ...putting the router in a room that is NOT your bedroom?

    • Yes, that should go withough saying. It can still be annoying though in another room.

      One trick my wife was pretty proud of me for was placing one of those projector clocks across the room and increasing the distance it projects to drop the brightness. I do love the fact that I can shut off LEDs via the gui on some products, but the ones that don't (especially home automation products) are a pain.

  • White tape pretty much blocks the intensity, but still allows the color to be visible.

  • I just put a piece of electrical tape over unwanted LEDs.

    It's cheap, effective, and totally reversible.

  • http://blog.cerowrt.org/post/n... [cerowrt.org] It's weird how sometimes I'm tapped into the global meme generator. My life is better without all the blinkenlights.
  • #firstworldproblems
  • I expected yet another one of those articles that tell us that hackers can spy on us by studying the blinking lights around our houses. They can tell when our shaver is fully charged or when the flickering neon light in our power strip is about to pass on. They can tunnel in to the heart of our system software and plant worms that cause even more blinking until they drive us insane. Those hackers are shameful with their evil intentions.

  • This is easy - I just don't keep anything with 24x7 lights in my bedroom. When I did, 1 cent worth of electrical tape darkened the room perfectly. If you are an IT pro and worried about losing sleep due to these lights, you are pretty crumby at your job if you have to sleep with the servers or routers.
  • I use a hardware solution. Whenever I want to turn off an LED I put electrical tape over it.
  • Yeah, as a story, not a lot of meat here. But I do have to say my home cable modem/router as five lights, three of them blue. The blue ones are bright as hell, and one of those blinks on activity (which is all the time with all the computers in my house). It creates sufficient light to see across the room relatively clearly. Fortunately I don't have it in my bedroom, but I imagine many people really do have that problem. It would be nice to have them at least not as bright. I see no reason for being so "lou

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