I want a remote control that works on more than just machines
by: Jessie Kirk MIKEL KELLY

Because I work at a newspaper, I get a lot of hot information about new products - most of which don't do anything for me because I'm not a gadget kind of guy.

I've already confessed that the only reason I have a cellphone is so my wife can get a hold of me, and it's certainly no smartphone. You'll never catch me walking along, staring down into my handheld device like a zombie because there's nothing there to see because it is, I'm quite proud to say, a dumbphone. (You also won't catch me talking on it in the presence of others, but that's another story entirely.)

Last week this press release came through talking about the SkylinkHome's Wireless Control System, which 'allows complete control of your home with the push of a button,' according to the California company's CEO, Philip Tsui.

Mr. Tsui sounded positively breathless as he explained how this system can be used to control lights, coffee makers, fans, stereos, fireplaces, garage doors, security systems and more.

Of course, this news wasn't that exciting to me because I already operate many of those things with remote controls. If you want to know more about this SkylinkHome doo-dad, feel free to visit

Personally, I want more.

Most of the people I know have a pile of remotes in the room where they watch TV and movies or listen to music. Some of us have even purchased 'universal remotes' to consolidate some of that visual clutter.

Still, I want more.

As soon as I got used to turning things off and on from across the room, I realized a sad but true fact: I am never going to be satisfied just using a remote control on mechanical devices.

I want to be able to make people, or things, disappear altogether.

Or turn down the volume on my neighbors' vicious little dogs.

The only thing that separates our yard from theirs is a fence I built with my own two hands. Still, every time I wander out to mow the lawn or get firewood or mess around in the flower beds, these insane little fuzzy-slipper-looking dogs with smashed-in faces (maybe part pug or something?), run right up to the fence and bark and snarl and snort like little enraged pigs.

And this is because I am in my yard doing stuff that concerns me and not them.

I need a remote that would allow me to hit 'mute' - in which case they could run around all they want on the other side of the fence because they would be utterly silent.

My dream remote would allow me to point it at the teenage idiot who roars down our street in his mufflerless old Volkswagen Beetle and not only turn down the volume on his noisy rig - but also make it go much, much slower.

In fact, armed with such a device, I would assure that every car that passes my street - there's a middle school right across the road - would never be able to exceed 20 miles an hour, no matter what time of day, simply because that's the way I prefer it.

As a matter of fact, my dream remote would have brand new, never-before-witnessed capabilities, such as voice and language substitute technology.

Then, if somebody is dominating the conversation with his bonehead views on politics or taxes or religion or whatever it might be, I could quietly zap him with my device and his voice would suddenly change to a cartoon voice, or take on a whispery lisp, or maybe just tweet like a canary.

And, if it could open my garage door, too - well, that would be even better.

Just two televisions before the one I own now, we were at Sears picking out our first color set. This was 1984 or so, and one of the choices we faced as we looked at two RCA models was, 'Do you want the one with the remote control or the one without?'

What's the difference? we asked.

'The one with the remote is $15 more,' said the salesman.

We didn't even have to talk it over. 'We don't need a remote,' we said.

That was the last time we made that mistake. Today, we know, there is simply not enough remote control over our lives. And there may never be.

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