Slingbox!

"Oh my God this is fantastic," Alan yelled. He grabbed his white hair with both hands, jumped up from his barstool and paced the length of his long, gourmet kitchen counter -hair still clutched. I congratulated him, recommended a breathing exercise, and continued my work on his laptop. I was fine tuning a program that had sent him leaping over a foot into the air when he saw that the installation had succeeded. Alan's teenage son sat nearby, gnawing on an apple and rolling his eyes at his dad's antics.

In a few hours, Alan would leave on a two week trip overseas and had called on me to help him install an invention that he insisted was as significant as sliced bread -or the wheel.

When I finished, Alan sat at his laptop and put his mouse over an image of his TIVO remote. He clicked a button on it and the familiar TIVO "tookah" sounded from his laptop as a window appeared showing his home TV playing the news.

Slingbox (slingmedia.com) is a magical device that plugs into a TIVO or cable TV box. It then steams TV shows (recorded or live) to your laptop anywhere on earth that you have an internet connection. They range in price from $130 to $250.

The physical set up of a Slingbox is easy, requiring only that you re-plug your current TIVO cables so they first pass through the Slingbox.

The software installation is a breeze -five minutes and your laptop (or Windows Smartphone or Palm OS) can be watching your home TV from anywhere. The video quality is excellent and adjusts automatically for bandwidth.

The implications of Slingbox are terrific for bored employees and, perhaps, terrifying for employers.

For this article, I offer my apologies to employers who were gaining ground in their battle to end computer time-wasting. If you own a Slingbox and install the Slingplayer on your work computer, you can watch your home TV at your desk -muting and minimizing when anyone walks by (you know you already do this -admit it).

Firewalls may need tweaking to allow Slingbox to communicate properly. If your company uses a firewall, slip your IT guy a $20 bill with a Post-It that says "Please open port 5001 for another crisp $20." Everybody wins!

Alan enjoyed watching his favorite recorded and live TV shows while sitting outside an Internet Café in Italy. If you are on a par with Alan as a TV junkie, then carrying your entire TIVO collection with you on your laptop is now a relatively inexpensive option.

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