The Appliance Diaries

11:00 AM -- I was bummed to hear from equipment provider Siemens that carriers aren't as interested in futuristic communications applications as they are in completing phone calls cheaply and offering broadband connections.

Susan Schramm, Siemens AG's VP of Carrier Marketing told us last week: "Calling your refrigerator to have it tell you what to buy is not on the early application list." (See Siemens Unveils VOIP Package.)

But what if she's wrong? Perhaps the following brief scenario might open our minds a little:

SCENE: The second floor of the Bowie Center building in Fort Worth, the clandestine workspace of Phil Harvey, Light Reading's BBQ Editor. One sunny morning, Harvey, dragging a briefcase behind him, walks by the desk of Bussey Huxom, his imaginary secretary, who is on the phone, looking very concerned.

    HUXOM (talking on the phone): There he is. Hold one second and I'll put you through.

    HARVEY: Who is it?

    HUXOM: You've got Siemens on line 1.

    HARVEY: I'll tell the cleaning lady.

    HUXOM (suppresses a gag reflex): They say you're late for a conference call. And there's a computerized voice that says it's your refrigerator on 2. It might be a prank.

    HARVEY: Tell Siemens I'll call back. I'll talk to my fridge.

    HUXOM (suppresses a giggle): Okay, I'll tell them.

    HARVEY (walks to his desk and picks up the phone): Yes?

    REFRIGERATOR (coldly): Pick up some milk on the way home.

    HARVEY (indignantly): Now just a minute… I know you're supposed to measure…

    REFRIGERATOR: You're salami's not doing so well, either.

    HARVEY: Uh, pardon?

    REFRIGERATOR: I scanned the product's bar code and looked up the expiration date. It expires tomorrow, but I wouldn't touch it if I were you.

    HARVEY: What gives you the…

    REFRIGERATOR: I have a computer virus, by the way.

    HARVEY: A, uh... comp-

    REFRIGERATOR: I'm going to email everyone in your Outlook file and tell them that you've got lumpy buttermilk and bad salami. (Huxom, who had been eavesdropping on the call, explodes with laughter.)

    HARVEY (stunned): Great Galloping Gilders! Ms. Huxom just exploded!

    REFRIGERATOR (thawing): I'll page the vacuum cleaner, but I've got to warn you, he doesn't behave when he leaves the home network. And the last thing the world needs is another filth bag on wheels chatting up everything with an IP address.

    HARVEY (shoulders slumped, sobbing): I never should have tried this… I miss my cable company.

    REFRIGERATOR (suddenly chipper): Me, too. At least with the cable company I could get the Cartoon Channel.
— Phil Harvey, Imaginary Editor, Light Reading

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