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Donn King


10 Tech Tools for a Better Life


Some of these exist. Some should. I'm waiting on number 1.

    1. Automatic cat litter cleaner-upper

    This is not listed among America's most hated chores. That must be because not every American is owned by a cat. I despise having to clean the cat box. We've had gadgets before that do it for you, but they never worked satisfactorily. We have a new one on the way from Amazon that claims to sift the litter for you and remove the "results" into a cartridge that will last for 14 days, after which you just put the cartridge in the trash. This is the point toward which all of human civilization has been trending.

    2. Trash collector.

    I keep forgetting to get it out to the curb, or even out to the can before it goes to the curb. If it were smart enough to go around my house and pick up obvious garbage, even better. All I want is for it to trundle the garbage from the kitchen and bedroom out to the can when it's full, and then trundle the can to the curb on Thursday nights.

    3. Proximity door locks.

    We got a new minivan for our disabled daughter recently. It took me awhile to get used to having no key, just a fob that somehow knows you're in the car. The most unexpected advantage has been not having to unlock the doors. They're locked, but when I get within a foot or so of the door and put my hand on the door handle, it unlocks. I can set it to just unlock that door or unlock all the doors. Amazing.

    4. An AI luggage packer.

    This is fantasy tech, but I would love it. The worst part of a trip is the packing and unpacking. An AI packer would make sure you didn't forget anything and would automagically pack up everything and unpack it when you came back home.

    5. Pancake maker.

    There's one right down the hall in my hotel. Push a button, it squirts out the right amount and runs it along a little conveyor belt in an 18-inch space to make a perfect pancake. I can put my own syrup on. I'm not that lazy.

    6. Thank you note generator.

    It wouldn't surprise me if this was real, but I don't know about it. I'm old-fashioned. I like sending actual thank you notes, not just emails. I'm also lazy and forgetful. I have years worth of thank-you notes I meant to send. This is something I need. It would have me enter to whom and for what, and it would use my own language to write the note in my own handwriting (misnomer, I know), address it, stamp it (with a real stamp), and pop it into the outbox.

    7. Auto everything professional camera.

    This one is real. I worked as a professional photographer in the 1970s. The only tech assist I had was a light meter to help me figure out the exposure. I had to develop the film to see if my work worked. I'm stunned by how much the camera does for me these days (though I'm no longer a pro). I can put all my thought into composition and framing.

    8. Copper-lined cookware.

    Low tech in a way, but still tech. I haven't had to truly scrub a pot in years, and the food comes out evenly cooked without sticking. Amazing.

    9. Glasses.

    Taking them for granted. They're light-weight, easily customized, adaptable to all kinds of vision needs (close-up, computer, reading, distance), available within hours, chip-resistant, and (relative to inflation) inexpensive. When I was a kid, heavy glass easily scratched that cost a week's salary.

    10. Electric fly swatters.

    We live in the South. Gnats in the house. Annoying, constantly buzzing around, dive-in-your-sweet-tea gnats. The size of ping-pong paddles, electric fly swatters can clear them out. Just wave one around. Most of the little buggers get electrocuted and just fall to the floor. Sometimes they make the most satisfying flash and popping sound.

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