I WAKE UP at four to some old-timey dubstep spewing from my pillows. The lights are flashing. My alarm clock is blasting Skrillex or Deadmau5 or something, I don’t know. I never listened to dubstep, and in fact the entire genre is on my banned list. You see, my house has a virus again.
Technically it’s malware. But there’s no patch yet, and pretty much everyone’s got it. Homes up and down the block are lit up, even at this early hour. Thankfully this one is fairly benign. It sets off the alarm with music I blacklisted decades ago on Pandora. It takes a picture of me as I get out of the shower every morning and uploads it to Facebook. No big deal.
I don’t sleep well anyway, and already had my Dropcam Total Home Immersion account hacked, so I’m basically embarrassment-proof. And anyway, who doesn’t have nudes online? Now, Wat3ryWorm, that was nasty. That was the one with the 0-day that set off everyone’s sprinkler systems on Christmas morning back in ’22. It did billions of dollars in damage.
Going back to sleep would be impossible at this point, so I drag myself into the kitchen to make coffee. I know this sounds weird, but I actually brew coffee with a real kettle. The automatic coffee machine is offline. I had to pull its plug because it was DDOSing a gaming server in Singapore. Basically, my home is a botnet. The whole situation makes me regret the operating system I installed years ago, but there’s not much I can do. I’m pretty much stuck with it.
When I moved into my house in the 20s, I went with an Android-compatible system because there were more accessories and they were better designed. But then I changed jobs and now my home doesn’t work with my company-issued phone. Which is a bummer because I have to keep this giant 7-inch tablet around to control everything and Google doesn’t support the hardware anymore so I can’t update it and now the door just randomly unlocks. Ugh, I’m going to have to start using keys again.
I’d just reinstall the OS, but that would be too expensive. Besides, all my Nexus Home® stuff uses proprietary chargers, and I can’t deal with having Amazon drones come in and rip out the drywall again.
Everyone thought the connected home would be Apple or Google’s game. Turns out, that was short-sighted. An Internet-connected thermostat? LOL. Of course it was entirely about who would gain control of your SmartWall. It was the thing that controlled the screens and the lights and alarm clocks and burglar alarm and outdoor atmospheric monitoring system and interior climate control and mirrors and irrigation system and solar collector and water filtration and grocery inventory management database and kitchen appliances and communications center and automobile docking system and exercise equipment and biofeedback monitoring and medicine dispensary and stereo that mattered. But in fairness, who could have foreseen the Microsoft-Samsung deal or its consequences?
“좋은 아침입니다, Mat” my oven chirps through the speakers in the ceiling, as I place the kettle on the induction element. “조용히,” I mutter.
So I just replace things here and there as they quit working. Which means I’ve got a mishmash of Apple, Android, and Samsoft components all cobbled together. Nothing works exactly right. It’s a huge mess.
As I plod through the kitchen, my floor lights up, exposing rows of flashing LEDS, and a snippet from an old Queen song starts to play. “Congratulations!” purrs my house in an Elvis Presley voice. “You’ve just hit your step goal for the day!” Years ago I reset the step goal to 20 because I was tired of my house nagging me all day. Every time my couch vibrated or my TV told me to get up and walk around, I found myself resenting my home a little bit more.
I sit down with my coffee and fire up the short throw projector embedded in the kitchen table. The news is depressing, so I flip through a Redfin search I started last night in bed. There are these houses up in Humboldt County that are listed in the inundation zone, so they were never required to upgrade. That was a cartography error; even if sea levels go up another 20 feet they would still be above the water line. They’re rustic, and don’t even have high energy automobile docks. But the idea of getting off the grid really appeals to me, even if it’s just a fantasy.
The skylights open up. The toaster switches on. I hear the shower kick in from the other room. It’s morning.