The Future Diary of a Mad Digital Homeowner

Nov. 28
Moved in to my new digitally-maxed home 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 PC, 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 tweaked the oven a few degrees for my pizza. Everything nicely 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 one hell of a lot of GIFs from the binary groups, because packet charges were through the roof on the invoice.
Dec. 10
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. Called cable company (not from 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 systems claims it has to be the utility's fault. I don't care, I just want my kitchen back. More phone calls; my 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. 12 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 the 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 utility people say this flaw will be fixed in the next upgrade -- SmartHouse 2.1. But it's not ready yet. Finally, I'm beginning to suspect that the microwave is secretly tuning into the cable system to watch Bay Watch. The unit is completely inoperable during that same hour. I guess I can live with that. At least the blender is not turning in to old I Love Lucy episodes.

Dec. 13
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 the house now it's the bank..let them deal with Microsoft.
Dec. 14
I'm beginning to have doubts about Microsoft Home. I keep getting an hour glass symbol when I want to run the dishwasher.
Dec. 15
This is a nightmare. There's a virus in the house. My PC caught it while browsing 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 network. Through out the house, lights flicker like stroboscopes until they explode from the strain. Broken glass everywhere. Of course, the security sensors detect nothing. I look at the message slowly throbbing across my computer screen: Welcome to HomeWrecker: Now the Fun Begins.....(Be it ever so humble..there's no virus like HomeWrecker).
Dec. 16
They think they've digitally disinfected the house but the place is in 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 call themselves) are confident that the worse is over. "Homewrecker is pretty bad" one 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, viruses no" my agent tells me. My agreement with SmartHouse 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 the 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.

This page last updated .