Journal: News & Comment

Monday, February 19, 2001
# 9:15:00 AM:

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Come on in my kitchen

Adam and Tonya Engst live in the Seattle area with their son Tristan. They publish the venerable e-mail magazine TidBITS, in which they have often discussed the usefulness of having a computer in their kitchen.

From the earliest days of personal computers, people have speculated about putting them in kitchens, but for some reason the most common proposal was to have them serve up recipes -- something for which traditional index cards and cookbooks are far more suitable, as any cook knows. (You can drip gravy on a cookbook without worrying about blowing it up, for instance.)

More recently, a spate of "Internet appliances," many with flat touch screens and no keyboards, and even Internet refrigerators, have appeared. For the most part, they cost too much.

Yesterday, I connected the last piece in the puzzle of our own kitchen Internet appliance. It comprises my old pizza-box style Macintosh Centris 660AV ($3000 when I bought in it 1993, but worth a small fraction of that now), an NEC 14" monitor I picked up for $10 at a huge computer yard sale a few months back, a 630 MB external hard drive the size (and weight) of a cinder block, two small Logitech speakers, Apple's smallest-ever keyboard (the Apple IIgs keyboard, which also works on Macs), and a one-button Kensington mouse. Oh, and a Winnie-the-Pooh mouse pad.

The puzzle piece I finished yesterday was the most awkward bit: drilling a hole in the kitchen ceiling so I could run a network cable through our attic crawlspace and down through the ceiling in my youngest daughter's bedroom closet, where it hooks into the Ethernet hub I have connected to my ADSL Internet connection.

I'm now writing this using an old copy of Netscape Navigator on the kitchen computer, while my daughters watch Rolie Polie Olie in the living room. It beats having to trek downstairs to my office. I might even get some work done here.

But, given that my one-year-old just walked up holding a roll of bathroom tissue and growling like a bear, I doubt it.


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