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High-tech high jinx

Anybody can give electronics that do something useful, it takes imagination to air-condition a dog
By MIKE MILIARD  |  December 12, 2008


Like being visited by the Grinch instead of Santa, it looks as if Barack Obama is going to have to give up his beloved BlackBerry not long after this holiday season draws to a close.

But being unceremoniously stripped of his favorite gadget has not kept the nation's most tech-savvy president-elect from dreaming big in his hopes to wire the nation for the 21st century. Obama plans to greatly expand broadband access to rural areas, hire the nation's first chief technology officer, and broadcast weekly "fireside chats" via YouTube. He'll also — astoundingly — be the first president to have a computer in the Oval Office.

Innovation starts at home, after all. One would also presume that the White House is set to be outfitted with all the modern amenities the leader of the free world could wish for. And it's a fair bet it'll be renovated to include more green technology, too — for instance, many observers have suggested that Obama re-install solar panels on the roof like the ones put in by Jimmy Carter back in the '70s.

So follow our leader's lead. 'Tis the season to fill your own home (and the homes of your nearest and dearest) with cutting-edge technology and geeky gadgets. Looming catastrophic global depression be damned.

In the bathroom
Ever step blearily into your morning shower only to be rudely awakened by a freezing cold stream of liquid icicles? No more! Not with a COLOR-CHANGING LED SHOWER HEAD ($40 at Just keep your eye on the thing, and pay close attention: when it glows blue, the shower is still too cold . . . not yet! Patience! Slowly, however, as the water warms, the head's LED will glow red, signifying that your shower is a toasty 89 degrees. Then — and only then — can you confidently step inside. No batteries required: it's all run by built-in water-powered turbines. While luxuriating in the warmth of the flowing tap, feel free to sing along with the musical number of your choice, using the TEARDROP IPOD WATER-RESISTANT BATHROOM SPEAKER ($58 at Simply plug your iPod into the brightly colored old-school-L'eggs-pantyhose-egg-type-thing, close it up, and hang it where thou wilt. I'm still not brave enough to expose my most prized possession to running water, but, hey, maybe you are.

In the living room
No, for my money, the proper iPod amplification device is meant to be placed on a side table in one's well-appointed living room. To that end, consider the FATMAN ITUBE VALVEDOCK ($450, or $550 with speakers, at to supply the music for your next party. It takes the potentially thin-sounding mp3s on your iPod and renders them in lush, rich, and warm-sounding tones, allowing, as Fatman puts it, "the organic power of the analog past [to redeem] the sins of the digital present."

The next day, when all the party guests have gone home and your hung-over ass is watching a movie on the sofa, for optimal home-theater performance you'll want the BUTTKICKERLOW-FREQUENCY AUDIO TRANSDUCER, which shakes your couch or chair in time with the bass frequencies of the soundtrack (various models are available from $100 to $600 at Because a 56-inch LCD screen and surround-sound audio just aren't enough: when that monster lays waste to Manhattan in Cloverfield, you'll wanna feel those ominous rumbles in the seat of your pants.

In the kitchen
The hearth is heaven for gadgeteers. The percolator. The waffle-iron. The George Foreman Grill. But those are all old hat. Consider something new, such as the DOUGH-NU-MATIC ($129 at, which is exactly what you think it is. Add dough, flip the switch, and in 60 seconds you'll be the proud new owner of a delicious batch of tiny donuts. Of course, such an indulgent breakfast necessitates something healthier for lunch. Like yogurt. But if you don't like paying for a dozen or so cartons at the store, consider making your own, just like grandma did in the Old Country. Except the SALTON YM9 1-QUART YOGURT MAKER ($26 at makes it easy and modern. All you need is some milk, some yogurt culture, and a willingness to follow basic instructions.

What's for dinner? Consult the bazillion recipes posted online at and, and consider storing your favorites on assorted FOOD-SHAPED USB THUMB DRIVES — hamburgers, sushi and sashimi, BBQ drumsticks, and more (available for about $15 or so each at Stocking stuffers don't come better-tasting than those.

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Seasons 2008 , Barack Obama , Digital Music Players ,  More more >
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 See all articles by: MIKE MILIARD

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