austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

The way that she moves that thermometer proves

Sometime in the middling-distant past my father got a little remote weather station. It's not really necessary for much of anything, except that it does report that the temperature inside the house is warmer than it feels like to me and to my mother, so perhaps my father's objective in getting it was to prove that the house didn't need heat any more than it needs lights to be turned on. This is the machine that for no obvious reason decided it should have an alarm going off at 3 am, which perhaps is why my father complained he was being woken up by something at 3 am every day. The device, an Acu-Rite something, isn't very naturally designed; if there's a way to turn off the alarm it's not clear from pressing the various buttons that you can do it. The instruction manual was long since lost.

What is appealing about it was the remote sensor, giving some idea of what the temperature is like outside. Unfortunately, that decided for some reason it should stop working, with the leading theory for why being the battery had died. So my father replaced them, and asked me to get the sensor working again so that the outdoor temperature actually reads again. Well, despite the appealing array of buttons 'Alarm', 'Memory', 'CH', 'Set', '+' (with a radio tower icon), and '- C/F', there wasn't any obvious way to tell it to listen to the only remote sensor in the vicinity.

Finally I got to looking it up online where I found that, apparently, this thing comes from a manufacturer with no known online existence, and is a model -- as far as I could figure out a model number -- that nobody has ever sold anywhere ever. After running through a thesaurus of descriptions for it I finally found someone who had a copy of the owner's manual, which explains that you set up the thermometer by putting in the batteries and pressing the TX button, and then selecting the channel on the base station. How do you select the channel? Pressing the Channel button, all right, but how do you know which channel (of three) is selected? It doesn't waste time or display space with any suggestion of what channel is selected, but that's all right, since as far as I can tell no channel actually receives anything from the sensor. Going by the available evidence, I don't have any reason to think this thing ever worked, except I remember it did used to give some temperature readings.

Trivia: The United States Weather Bureau prohibited its stations making local forecasts of weather until 1881, when a few stations (including New York City) received permission. Source: A History of the United States Weather Bureau, Donald R Whitnah.

Currently Reading: Herman Hollerith, Forgotten Giant of Information Processing, Geoffrey D Austrian.


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