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 Diary of a digital homeowner
 
 
 The future of digital living. 
 
 
 Nov 28, 1995: 
 Moved in to my new digitally-maxed out Hermosa Beach house at last.
 Finally, we live in the smartest house in the neighborhood.
Everything's
 networked. The cable TV is connected to our phone, which is connected
to
 my personal computer, which is connected to the power lines, all the
 appliances and the security system. Everything runs off a universal
remote
 with the friendliest interface I've ever used. Programming is a snap.
I'm
 like, totally wired. 
 
 Nov 30: Hot Stuff! Programmed my VCR from the office, turned up the
 thermostat and switched on the lights with the car phone, remotely
weaked
 the oven a few degrees for my pizza. Everything nice & cozy when I
 arrived. Maybe I should get the universal remote surgically attached. 
 
 Dec 1: Had to call the SmartHouse people today about bandwidth
problems.
 The TV drops to about 2 frames/second when I'm talking on the phone.
They
 insist it's a problem with the cable company's compression algorithms.
How
 do they expect me to order things from the Home Shopping Channel? 
 
 Dec 8: Got my first SmartHouse invoice today and was unpleasantly
 surprised. I suspect the cleaning woman of reading Usenet from the
washing
 machine interface when I'm not here. She must be downloading a lot of
GIFs
 from the binary groups, because packet charges were through the roof on
 the invoice. 
 
 Dec 3: Yesterday, the kitchen CRASHED. Freak event. As I opened the
 refrigerator door, the light bulb blew. Immediately, everything else
 electrical shut down -- lights, microwave, coffee maker -- everything.
 Carefully unplugged and replugged all the appliances. Nothing. 
 
 Call the cable company (but not from the kitchen phone). They refer me
to
 the utility. The utility insists that the problem is in the software.
So
 the software company runs some remote telediagnostics via my house
 processor. Their expert system claims it has to be the utility's fault.
I
 don't care, I just want my kitchen back. More phone calls; more remote
 diag's. 
 
 Turns out the problem was "unanticipated failure mode": The network had
 never seen a refrigerator bulb failure while the door was open. So the
 fuzzy logic interpreted the burnout as a power surge and shut down the
 entire kitchen. But because sensor memory confirmed that there hadn't
 actually been a power surge, the kitchen logic sequence was confused
and
 it couldn't do a standard restart. The utility guy swears this was the
 first time this has ever happened. Rebooting the kitchen took over an
 hour. 
 
 Dec 7: The police are not happy. Our house keeps calling them for help.
We
 discover that whenever we play the TV or stereo above 25 decibels, it
 creates patterns of micro-vibrations that get amplified when they hit
the
 window. When these vibrations mix with a gust of wind, the security
 sensors are actuated, and the police computer concludes that someone is
 trying to break in. Go figure. 
 
 Another glitch: Whenever the basement is in self-diagnostic mode, the
 universal remote won't let me change the channels on my TV. That means
I
 actually have to get up off the couch and change the channels by hand.
The
 software and the utility people say this flaw will be fixed in the next
 upgrade -- SmartHouse 2.1. But it's not ready yet. 
 
 Finally, I'm starting to suspect that the microwave is secretly tuning
 into the cable system to watch Baywatch. The unit is completely
inoperable
 during that same hour. I guess I can live with that. At least the
blender
 is not tuning in to old I Love Lucy episodes. 
 
 Dec 9: I just bought the new Microsoft Home. Took 93 gigabytes of
storage,
 but it will be worth it, I think. The house should be much easier to
use
 and should really do everything. I had to sign a second mortgage over
to
 Microsoft, but I don't mind: I don't really own my house now--it's
really
 the bank. Let them deal with Microsoft. 
 
 Dec 10: I'm beginning to have doubts about Microsoft House. I keep
getting
 an hour glass symbol showing up when I want to run the dishwasher. 
 
 Dec 12: This is a nightmare. There's a virus in the house. My personal
 computer caught it while browsing on the public access network. I come
 home and the living room is a sauna, the bedroom windows are covered
with
 ice, the refrigerator has defrosted, the washing machine has flooded
the
 basement, the garage door is cycle up and down and the TV is stuck on
the
 home shopping channel. Through- out the house, lights flicker like
 stroboscopes until they explode from the strain. Broken glass is
 everywhere. Of course, the security sensors detect nothing. 
 
 I look at a message slowly throbing on my personal computer screen:
 WELCOME TO HomeWrecker!!! NOW THE FUN BEGINS ... (Be it ever so humble,
 there's no virus like the HomeWrecker...). 
 
 Dec 18: They think they've digitally disinfected the house, but the
place
 is a shambles. Pipes have burst and we're not completely sure we've got
 the part of the virus that attacks toilets. Nevertheless, the Exorcists
 (as the anti-virus SWAT team members like to call themselves) are
 confident the worst is over. "HomeWrecker is pretty bad" one he tells
me,
 "but consider yourself lucky you didn't get PolterGeist. That one is
 really evil." 
 
 Dec 19: Apparently, our house isn't insured for viruses. "Fires and
 mudslides, yes," says the claims adjuster. "Viruses, no." My agreement
 with the SmartHouse people explicitly states that all claims and
 warranties are null and void if any appliance or computer in my house
 networks in any way, shape or form with a non-certified on-line
service.
 Everybody's very, very, sorry, but they can't be expected to anticipate
 every virus that might be created. 
 
 We call our lawyer. He laughs. He's excited! 
 
 Dec 21: I get a call from a SmartHouse sales rep. As a special holiday
 offer, we get the free opportunity to become a beta site for the
company's
 new SmartHouse 2.1 upgrade. He says I'll be able to meet the
programmers
 personally. "Sure," I tell him. 
 

              [],
                 1.000ton
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