Monday, August 12, 2013

Inspecting gadgets

There was an interesting listing on the other day of ten gadgets you are probably not aware of needing. Generally, I despise these things you have to click through – I’d always rather read a traditional full article – but this one was amusing enough to hold my attention.

Some of the gadgets seemed pretty useful, if you actually had any use for them. Like the Kangaroo water bottle that has a storage space for your keys and ID. This seems like a reasonably good idea for someone who always carries a water bottle around on a run or bike ride. Me, I’m a walker, and, if I’m going to be carrying a water bottle around on my walk, I might as well be carrying some type of small pack that will fit said water bottle, keys, ID, plus other essentials. Like my phone. A far better app, which might not be technologically possible just quite yet, would have your smartphone or Google Glass dispense water.

There was also a wine saver. May not be right for me - as if, once opened, wine actually needs to be saved for all that long –but I can theoretically appreciate the value.

There’s an umbrella with a coffee cup holder in the handle, which does free up a hand. That is, until you want to take a sip out of the coffee cup, in which case you need to use that spare hand to bring the coffee cup to your lips. Or risk poking the eye out of the person walking just behind you.

Ben and Jerry’s is offering the Euphori-Lock, which wraps around a pint of B&J’s and only opens when your personal code is entered. (Its tagline: “There is no “u” in “my pint.”) This would have been a good one for my brother Tom when we were kids. Tom was known to use his allowance to buy his own personal pints of orange and lime sherbet and leave them in the freezer with his name on them.

U-Socket lets you power up four devices simultaneously, two via AC plug, and two via USB. Good idea.

And as a rising senior, I could use a BiKN, which is a smartphone app that comes with tags you clip onto items you tend to mislay – like your sunglasses, your keys, your wallet, etc.  Unfortunately, the item I most tend to mislay is my smartphone, and since I generally have it on vibrate rather than ring-tone, tracking it down is not as simple as calling it from another phone. But I suppose that BiKN has thought of this, and that there’s an app for it…

I thought the Drizly iPhone app that let’s you order liquor from your local packy for home delivery was just numbnuts. (There’s an app for that? Don’t most urban packies already deliver? Can’t you just call them up and place and order? Or do I just know that because ours does, or at least it does when we order a case of wine…) Sure, ordering in is certainly better than drunk driving if you find yourself running on empty halfway through the par-tay. But as far as I can tell, at least in the city of Boston, which is where Drizly is making its debut, pretty much everybody lives within a five minute walk of a packy. If you’re so hammered you can’t make that five minute walk for your packy run, then I suggest you’re better off ordering an extra-large everything pizza and a couple of meatball subs to soak things up.

Anyway, having inspected the list, my favorite gadget – in a non-favorite kind of way – was:

The My Choice Gateway “let’s you watch the game, not the ads.”

MyTVChoice protects the family from the sex, violence, materialism, and degrading images of women that are common on TV commercials during live sporting events.

I suppose I should take their word for it that there’s way too much “sex, violence, materialism, and degrading images of women” present in TV commercials for sports, but, for the life of me – and I watch a lot of sports on TV – the only place where I recall seeing such ads is on the Super Bowl. Maybe I don’t pay enough attention, or maybe nothing much offends me anymore, or maybe my husband clicks off too fast, but I watch baseball pretty much every night, and don’t find the ads all that offensive. Sure, I could live happily if I never saw another ad for Bob’s Discount Furniture, which is degrading to furniture, but not women. Other than that, nothing particularly off-putting comes to mind.

Of course, there is way too much “sex, violence, materialism, and degrading images of women” (and men, for that matter) on the shows, as well. And the solution to that is JUST DON’T WATCH.

But just how much of a problem is it to hit the “Last” button and go somewhere else if you don’t want to watch a commercial?

The simple to use application and the proprietary MyTVChoice Gateway monitor a live broadcast and automatically change the channel when a commercial break begins and switch back when the break ends.

Oh, I see. It’s smart enough to get you back there when the break ends, so you don’t have to deal with the terrible, awful, really bad problem of getting back to the game two seconds too early and being exposed to something sexy, violent, materialistic, or degrading, or getting back to the game two seconds to late and missing the catch of the century.

No do-or-die searches for the remote control; no young eyes seeing objectionable content; no guessing when commercials will start and end; and no missing key plays.  RELAX and ENJOY the game, instead of worrying about the commercials.  Watch the game, not the ads. If you watch a couple of games a week -  for less than $2 a game.

Maybe I’m just not sensitive to this hideous problem because I don’t have kids to protect, but the risk of seeing “objectionable material” or “missing key plays” doesn’t seem all that awful, and searches for the remote control, while annoying, are hardly do-or-die.

Are there really all that many folks who can’t enjoy a game because they’re “worrying about the commercials”? And are willing to pay a pretty hefty price to eliminate all that worrying?

MyTVChoice Gateway (one-time purchase):  $79.95
Annual Subscription (billed monthly): $9.95
MyTVChoice Smartphone/Tablet Application:  Free download.

Upfront cost, and $10 a month in perpetuity, to save you from having to hit the “Last” button? Sounds like a solution – and a high-priced one, at that – in search of a problem.

MyTVChoice will cover the most popular sporting events from the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA Football. Additional sports and family events such as American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and The Voice will be added based on subscriber input.


There are people who don’t mind their kids watching 300 pound linemen bash each others’ helmets in. Who don’t mind their kids watching a snarky host make mean comments on American Idol. Or have their kids see has-beens shake their booties in risqué costumes on DWTS. But are nonetheless offended by ads for GoDaddy that only seem to crop up on Super Bowl?

I could be dead wrong here – it’s been known to happen – but if they’re looking for some non-subscriber input, I’d suggest that they stop throwing any more money at this non-starter, or that at least they lower their prices.

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