Digital Cribs: Homes with Practical (and Impractical) Technologies (Plus: Victorinox Winner)


In October, I was contacted by a film team from USC about doing a Cisco-sponsored profile of my home for a series titled “Digital Cribs.” See all of the homes filmed here on the right-hand side — some are incredible.

This video (link) was the end result…

It contains some fantastic visual effects and showcases my aversion for wires. Note: the book fondling was requested by the team, so apologies for the Groundhog Day What About Bob?-type moment.

Most of the gadgets we filmed were edited out or just a blur in a camera pan, so here are a few of the goodies that I showed at home:

Suunto Core wrist-top computer
BonJour laser culinary thermometer for cooking and mischief
Fujitsu ScanSnap travel scanner and Canon SD300 Powershot for capturing documents (I don’t use a fax machine)
Philips noise-canceling headset (the best dollar-for-value noise-canceling headset I’ve found)
Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech-recognition software (Note to Nuance: Mac version, please.)
Sony VAIO VGN-TXN27N/T 11.1″ laptop (no longer available; similar model here) with extended battery and tweaks for 12-hour+ life
17″ MacBook Pro (I don’t use a desktop at home because you can’t “close” a desktop screen for closure and work-life separation)
Victorinox E-Motion 360 4.0 25″ Trek Pack Plus (Trial by Fire winner of this bag to be announced next week!)
Firelite external USB-powered storage for travel and back-ups
Cellphone – LG basic (recently replaced with the LG Chocolate) from Verizon w/ extended battery – I go low-tech here for reasons obvious in my book. I don’t email from a handheld. I have multiple cell phones for overseas use.
Safedrive pocket breathalyzer (I originally bought this to bring to a party; it’s the ultimate conversation piece — “I can beat you!” “No, I can beat both of you!” Use responsibly.)
Sony DreamSystem home entertainment system with 5-DVD changer and surround speakers
Sony Grand WEGA 60″ HDTV-ready widescreen TV
Belkin PureAV power surge protection

These students really busted their asses to get the video done, and it’s a view count and ratings competition, so if you like it, please click here and rate it well! This team flew to SF, shared rooms, pulled all-nighters, and — in my opinion — deserves it. It could be their big break.

What new digital tools or toys can’t you live without at home? Do you have anything that sets you apart, or that provokes “oooh”s and “aaaah”s from friends?

Follow Tim’s misadventures and experiments in real-time on Twitter.

Odds and Ends: Victorinox Winner

Thank you all for your patience — and awesome promotion — with the Victorinox Trial by Fire competition! I was totally overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and innovative approaches. I’m humbled and honored to have you as readers. Kick-ass! No word back yet from History Channel on the show, but you’ll be the first to know.

Without further ado: the winner is Mr. Raley, who got the show (and The 4-Hour Workweek) mentioned on the Dennis Miller live radio show with 1.5+ million listeners. The runner-up is Lee Burrell, and an honorable mention goes to Markus for his Facebook campaign. Markus, the .jpg link in the comments wasn’t working!

Many thanks to Charlie Hoehn for helping with selection. Mr. Raley and Lee, please look for an e-mail in your inbox in the next 48 hours.

Thanks again to all, and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Posted on: December 22, 2008.

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87 comments on “Digital Cribs: Homes with Practical (and Impractical) Technologies (Plus: Victorinox Winner)

  1. Xmas came early in my household. Just got the itouch and it’s way too much power to have in ones pocket. I just wanted to thank you for utilizing the power of the net to stay connected to your fans. I must have read hundreds of books and never had any meaning contact with the author. That’s awesome. Wishing you and the fellow readers a prosperous new year.


  2. Happy Christmas Tim!

    And thank you for this blog – it is excellent. You consistently post great material and always offer something worth reading.

    You have contributed a lot this year to many, many people with this site.

    All the very best for 2009



  3. Do you still receive snail mail at your home? There is a service to receive it digitally now ( You can view your mail online and direct them to shred it or forward it to you. Pretty cool.


  4. I was surprised to see how down to earth and accessible you remain, even after all of your success and accomplishments. You truly learn from the world and those around you and give others the opportunity to do the same. Its an admirable quality that’s rarely seen. Your parents must be very proud.

    Merry Christmas!

    I’m off to the grandparents for our annual Chinese dinner. :)


  5. Great post and great video. Loved it. You really are living the James Bond lifestyle! You give me inspiration and hope, Tim! Just wish i could get some real time mentoring to get out of my own way! lol Anyway, hope we get that gear page in the new year. This vid and post is a GREAT step toward that. Happy holidays Tim to you and yours and MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE! ^_^


  6. Hey everyone,
    I know I should of hired a VA to go through all of the blog posts to see if my question has been answered or posted yet, but I thought it would be a better use of my time posting it again and getting yelled at by a couple people for not searching.
    My question is proably a very popular one. I’m stuck on the step of coming up with a Muse. I’m having a problems narrowing down the niche that I can target for my muse. I can’t come up with a product that I can have a well defined target market.
    Things that interest me and know alittle about:
    Real Estate(I own some rental properties)
    Starting a business(Started a ink cartridge refilling biz)
    Ink Cartridge refilling

    If anyone can help me get over this brain fart you can email me at


  7. I have spent a lot of time travelling within the U.S. and couldn’t live without my wireless broadband card (through verizon). It is so nice to be able to connect while on the road. I have a 1 year trip around the U.S. planned (in an RV!), and keeping connected is critical to update the blogs.


  8. Quick comment on MacSpeech… I have used both MacSpeech and DNS, and I had _much_ better experience in terms of the accuracy of the speech recognition with DNS.

    Also, I had thought I read somewhere recently that MacSpeech will not be doing future updates to its program. (Someone please correct me on that if I’m mistaken.)

    I agree that it’s better than nothing, though, if you don’t have other options (for example if you’re running a Mac without a dual processor.) Personally, I’m in love with my DNS Pro used with a wireless mike and a comfy chair. I even have it set up to translate off my digital voice recorder.


  9. Tim, at the request of my brother (one of the fine USC students to make this video) I have read and enjoyed your book. I try to apply much of your advice into my life and also tell many of my friends to read it. You have an amazing home set up, and a great outlook on technology.


  10. Tim: Excellent usage of technology. I am curious, how exactly do you efficiently us the Dragon Naturally-speaking software? I tried using IBM’s ViaVoice at one point and found it not as time-saving as I had anticipated. Perhaps a post on this topic would be useful in its own right? I would use it if I thought it would actually help me…


  11. Enjoyed the video, Tim.

    I’m a big fan of Apple’s MobileMe and the rest of their products. I find that it saves me lots of time and allows me to have access to video and photo files on the road without loading up the macbook.

    Best of all it makes running a website while traveling much easier.


  12. The USC team did a great job! From what I can tell, your video is still in the lead by 400 views or so. I watched a few of the other videos and although they were good, the concept was not pulled together quite as neatly. But I may be a little biased. ;)


  13. HI TIM,


    I like your video too, but since it’s on auto-play it’s getting kind of annoying as my home page. I might have to change it.

    Just giving a little feedback from an end user.

    Keep producing great content; I would just recommend not putting it on auto-play because as much as I love your video I only want to see and hear it once or twice, not every single time I go online. I’m sure others are having the same issue.

    piece love and fun times, a loyal fan.

    Chris C.


  14. Tim–I love your “rainforest”!! Ethnobotany is a past time of mine. Don’t forget to take your anthocyanins. Their ORAC values are off the charts..also the top guys at Berkeley developed to target cellular mitochondria
    pura vida hermano


  15. Tim- about your twitter for starting fires – I was recently reading about the upside down fire, you can google it but there is a youtube here:

    Basically, we’re all doing it wrong :) Build it upside down!


  16. I second Justin Razmus on the vote for a USB Boradband card from Verizon. It’s great for connecting while traveling in the US in a car, train, sitting in an airport, whatever. I think the newer MacBooks already even have the software loaded on them, and some newer Windows based units come with a card built in that will eliminate the need for extra hardware.

    To most people, the price of about $60 a month seems pretty high, but if you normally carry a laptop around it justifies the savings from NOT using your phone as an internet browser and forces you to decide when to use the correct tool for the job.

    To be fair to the readers. I must acknowledge I’m grandfathered in on their unlimited data access through the card. They have gotten very miserly now, and charge $60 a month for a 5 GB per month cap (I believe), then the per MB charges start racking up, and those rates are ridiculous.

    However this is still the right choice for some, especially if it stops them from picking up their phone every 5 minutes to surf or read email.

    Another thing that I think is cool is the “Peek” device. I do not own one.

    It is essentially a pocket sized email appliance. It ONLY does email, nothing else. So it eliminates all the other time wasters on a fancy smart phone, but also requires you to carry two devices with you.

    I do think this thing has a market for the right crowd, and if they can cut their initial cost of the device to the consumer by half or better yet their monthly subscription cost by half, this thing might take off.

    The best thing about it? No contracts! You don’t have to sign up for some gastly data plan or get tricked in to hidden data charges for two years. Sign up with a credit card and cancel when you want to.


  17. Hey Tim, great article.
    I was wondering where you got the idea to create a rain forest in your house. How in the world do you do something like that?? Is there a website or something that I could possibly get as a reference??

    Thanks and Happy New Year


  18. Hallo Tim,

    super Artikel in deinem Blog. Ich freue mich immer auf die neusten Einträge in deinem Blog. Obwohl ich immer diese “kleine” Sprachbarriere habe.

    Gruß aus dem eisigen Deutschhland



  19. Thanks for this interesting link! But I was just wondering, is the whole series supposed to promote Cisco’s products … or Apple’s? ;-) Sweet stuff after all.


  20. Hi Tim,
    Where can we see the outakes? ;-)

    It’s great that you showed how technology improves interaction with the world around you, rather than just how you interact with the technology. Compare with Apple’s digital crib in “Knowledge Navigator”:

    Responding to one of the comments: MacSpeech Dictate gives you speech recognition on the Mac, based on the Dragon Speech Recognition Engine from Nuance. And our product is definitely being actively developed.


  21. Again another great post Tim. I am a recent convert to your ways…I tihnk my friends are sick of hearing about this Tim Ferris guy.

    I am a mac guy, like the idea of not traveling with out a laptop at all but when I looked at go 2 my PC (their actually located in my home town) they only support the mac being the “vessel” if you will to access a PC at home, not access a mac at home.

    Was I wrong in understanding you use it to access your mac book?

    Keep up the great work, I am on board and am reading and viewing every video (i’m not stalking you, I promise).

    All the best.


  22. Hate Wires? You might want to check out I have one of their wireless amps, amazing. works wonders with my HD ready Projector setup, as i don’t have to run wires to the other side of the room from my media stack.

    I have to rave a bit here about Projectors. as a space vs, screen size thing, there is no competition, 60″ is the smallest a good projector will scale too. You can use it to show media from your laptop. For Wii gaming, there is nothing like being having an almost life size window into the game in front of you.

    Last but not least, if you have it setup in the brightest room in the house like i do, it physically restricts your TV consumption to non daylight hours, or crappy weather days :)


  23. This is excellent. Not sure how I missed this blog post, but sweet crib! I sell real estate in the Madison, WI (Middleton to be specific), so it’s always interesting to see other properties in different parts of the world. Thanks for letting us peek inside.

    Ron Reed

    P.S. — Dragon Dictation is da’ bomb! I learned about Dropbox, Evernote and Dragon Dictation from you… each of which I use DAILY. Thanks bro!