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I killed my first printer with a botched, self-refilled ink cartridge. The trusty, 8-year-old HP 720 drowned slowly, making no complaints. One day, it simply would not work.

Blackie, a diabetic, food-grubbing cat, brought down its replacement, an HP 1600 printer/scanner/copier (perhaps he thought it harbored a roast chicken or some kibble), along with my laptop and my 12-year-old VCR (quit laughing). The laptop and VCR survived, and, although the PSC held on valiantly, it failed to pull through. In the end, the lights were on, but, as the saying goes, nobody was home. Today, I pulled the plug. I trooped down to the local warehouse store, and bought a new combination printer/scanner/copier… and learned this device is now simply called a printer.

How simple! How economical! How refreshingly easy to say! Yes, computer accessory device industry, I embrace this and salute you!

Besides noting the obvious lessons (a. don’t refill ink cartridges yourself, b. make sure insane, diabetic cats don’t have access to your expensive stuff, and c. HP products have a long life if you don’t kill them), this leads me to reflect on how technology is converging on itself. People now expect phones to wake them up, access email, identify that pair of Jimmy Choos, start the car, buy tickets, work on a document, and look up the name and location of the farmer who grew those tomatoes they’re looking at in the grocery store, and whether he used any pesticides. They call this device a phone.

My phone is a phone. I use it to call people and talk to them. Sometimes, they call me. And I dislike it when they leave voice mail, because then I have to start hitting buttons and following directions. I can do that, of course. I really did grow up with technology, and I’m not generally anxious about it. It’s just that the electronic voice never accepts my password the first time I type it, but if I don’t type it twice, it asks me to enter my mailbox number. I don’t see how a phone can even have a mailbox number, but I enter my phone number, and it tells me that it’s invalid. I end up having to hang up and start again.

Being the kind to let my thoughts wander where they will, I began to theorize on the next types of technology that will be combined. And, I think it will be in the bathroom. How many of you already have a laptop or an e-reader in there while you’re on the throne? The next obvious step is to combine these. The commode of the future will have a swing-out lap tray for the ladies, a flat-screen panel on the tank lid for the gents. You can easily keep up with your email, your stocks, the latest gossip, and watch a funny cat video while you take care of the more basic human functions. In fact, I dare not do a search on such a device, because I’m actually a little afraid it may already be out there. And if it isn’t, I totally own the rights to the idea. Copyright today, be-otches.

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