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.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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

  1. I’m a home theater buff so I’d have to say the combination of a 1080p projector, big screen and Blu-ray from a Sony PS3 is a must. A Harmony One universal remote also can’t be beat for it’s simplicity and functionality. It just works like it should, period.

    An iPhone is also a must have device. If I could only have one tech gadget, it would be my iPhone.


  2. Check out JungleDisk for enhancing your remote lifestyle. Your files are stored securely online (uses Amazon S3), but you access them like a regular drive from any of your computers. Works with PC or Mac, so you can get your stuff anywhere with an Internet connection.


  3. Nice Video and Gadgets Tim!

    I’m another of those annoying iPhone people I’m afraid. It replaces so many gadgets for me and the App store just opens up so many possibilities, the creativity of some of those developers is amazing.

    However, since reading your book I do NOT have work email on my phone. I do use it to check twitter though which is neat (pleasure not business) and rarely forget anything with Evernote.


  4. Hey Tim,
    Thought you’d like to know that MacSpeech now uses the Dragon engine… so you might want to check that out for a Mac based speech recognition solution.

    Also, double vote for the iPhone… or even iPod Touch when out of country in places that have WiFi. It removes 90% of my desire to have a laptop around me all the time. When traveling, if I can’t do it on an iPhone, then it probably doesn’t need to be done. With some well placed judo, a VOIP app, and a hotel/apartment with wifi, it might remove most of the need for all those extra phones!


  5. Hey Tim!

    I have a few cool gadgets that I like to use:

    First is my Airport express wireless router. It does internet, my printer, and I can play iTunes through it to my stereo.

    I love my Blackberry 8830. I used to have email on it, but much like Chris I took it off after reading your book (it’s nice now). I sync my calendar and contacts with my Google account so it’s super slick.

    And of course I can’t live without my MacBook Pro.


  6. I’m a big fan of DNS, myself and agree there should be a Mac version. In the interim, though, why not simply run it on your Macbook Pro using Parallels? I run DNS Professional that way.


  7. Sweet crib! I’d love a Mac book for just for iLife. No awesome gear, but I do like our set up with the office and living room. We have a laptop so I can check on comments during news pieces that I could just pass on. The window also gets great light into the apartment and writing a post with some fresh air and sun is awesome.


  8. Your Sony VAIO is sweet. I used to think bigger is better… and that’s when I “upgraded” from my 8.9″ Fujitsu Lifebook to a Dell 17″. I couldn’t take that beast anywhere, it’s basically a semi portable desktop. I’m glad the Asus EEE line came out when it did. I like how you made everything wireless.


  9. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing the details, Tim.

    Curious. . .are you using the Naturally Speaking for extensive writing, or just notes to your colleagues, etc? Also, what kind of office phone are you using, or is it just the LG?


  10. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing the technology – I am curious about your exercise/body hacks, I noticed you had some equipment in your living room – but are there some things you use/do/recomend consistantly? (eg 45 minutes / 3x week?)




  11. Tim,

    Amazing crib and eager to learn 4HWW home design.

    I was curious about your cell phone and if you used one globally or traveled with an auxiliary…the answer is both! I plan to teach a few courses in Europe in 2009 and besides Skype, I was wondering which service is best for a global cell phone.

    I was also wondering…should I upgrade to a fancy “do it all” phone or still lug the laptop around. I think the answer is clear. If you are going to write or otherwise work…find the best, most efficient, laptop…or notepad. How on earth can we do it all on such a little device!


  12. Tim:
    Great topic ! Also like a prior post I am also interested in your exercise/body hack tips. What are you running from your home mac …gotomypc ?
    Happy holidays !

    Best ,
    Greg Jorgensen
    Port Reading, NJ


  13. Tim,

    what a great video, loved it. While I was watching it only one word was flying within my mind – Harmony.
    I’ve voted for the creators of this vid. and I wish you to have even more productive year of 2009!