True techies find today way too retro
Roughly 150,000 techies are swarming the floors of the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. The event, a vast array of next-gen gadgets, serves two purposes: to make geeks salivate, and to make the rest of us feel prematurely inadequate about that notebook computer that was the centerpiece of our Christmas bonanza just a few weeks prior.
Still, CES is a gala. It's a pageant. It's like a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, only with fewer supermodels and more bells and whistles (OK, probably no supermodels, and maybe only a couple more bells and whistles).
Due to its gravitational pull alone, you'd think Digital Slobs would be drawn into the fray, but most of us usually pass on the whole thing. We have issues with crowds, and all that concentrated bloviation gives us a hangover worse than champagne bubbles.
Besides, whether it's electronics, "Rocky" movies or novels longer than 150 pages, Slobs prefer to skip ahead -- a lot. Fortunately, my buddy has a time machine, and he always takes me with him to the 2018 CES at this time of year. Yes, it's just as crowded with just as much bloviation, but at least they have special pills in the future that suppress my symptoms.
Here are a few of the cool products we came across on our trip:
Google Earth Instant Replay: We all know there's a police state waiting for us in the future, a society where our every move is documented and recorded -- but who says that has to be all bad? Google adds some silver lining to these clouds by expanding its satellite-mapping service with high-def, real-time video recordings of everything that happens on the planet.
It then adds an NFL-like replay system, so we can make a quick appeal whenever one of life's many referees initially makes a call against us. From fender benders to being shortchanged by a grocery store cashier, subscribers need only Wi-Fi access to make any available display screen an instant John Madden-like telestrator for real life. So, before being dragged away as an enemy of the state, remember this: You might no longer have the right to a fair trail, but you do have the right to two "challenges" every year.
Immortal House Plants: While nanotechnology has yet to give humans everlasting life, scientists have managed to bring to market a philodendron that simply won't die -- no matter how long your Caribbean cruise or how inept your housesitter. A team managing the kiosk at the 2018 convention demonstrated the Terminator qualities of its houseplants by attacking them with blowtorches, dousing them with acid and even inundating them with an hour of Yoko Ono songs.
In each case they were reduced to dust, but then reassembled themselves minutes later. It sounds great, but one can't help but fear that a madman with the secret recipe and some ragweed could bring a nation to its knees sneezing.
Home Depot "Default" Service: Like oil painters or Michael Douglas' plastic surgeon, do-it-yourselfers often have to learn the hard way that the trick is knowing when to stop. First, you made a deck ... fine. Then you put a Jacuzzi on the deck ... OK. Then a pool and a sauna, then a gazebo and a waterfall. Then the chairman of the homeowners association leaves a note on your door saying that all your additions to your 29th-floor studio apartment are interfering with air traffic. Oops.
Well, thankfully, you signed up with Home Depot's "Default" Service, and thanks to specially treated materials, the retailer can reset your home to factory settings, the same way you reset your computer when it crashes. Call your local store, and a sales associate will key in a code and hit "alt-control-delete" and all that domestic excess evaporates like magic -- except (and they are required to warn you of this due to some class-action litigation) the water in the pool, unless you also bought that at Home Depot.
Next week: More sneaks peaks at distant-future gadgets.