Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TV-B-Gone update

It’s been a while since I’ve heard from Mitch Altman, the inventor of the TV-B-Gone, the little remote that turns off virtually all TV (within range), any time, any place.

Think airport bars or lounges, Les Schwab waiting rooms (I was in one on Monday), your workout gym (I was in one today), etc.

Mitch has now come out with a new “Pro SHP" (Super High Powered) model that turns off TVs within 100 meters. Air travelers, use this at your next airport layover.

Mitch’s main pitch for the device is that it fights TV intrusion in public places. Ever at the ready on your keychain, it is also a constant reminder that you can be doing more with your life than watching a screen. (Of course, as I write this, THESE VERY WORDS are dribbling across MY screen. Some call this irony; others, sheer hypocrisy. By the way, TV-B-Gones don’t work on computers. Did I hear someone sigh, “alas.”)

Here’s where you can go to see Mitch’s answers to FAQs.

Mitch’s most recent newsletter ends with a poignant, but related note about his mom. He speaks my mind.

Not everything in life is wonderful. Life is full of ups and downs.
It is part of the package. The sad thing for me now is that my mom is
dying. But she's so OK with it. She tells me that the last few years
since my dad died she used her time to do what she really loves,
including traveling all over the world. She feels lucky and grateful
to have used her time to do what she loves. You never know where life
will take you. A few weeks ago she was bopping up and down mountains
in Jordan. Suddenly she's living her last few days. I love her, and
of course I'll miss her, but I am happy that she is happy. And it
drives home one of my main messages that I'd like to repeat for you:
making good use of the precious time we have in our lives can be so
very powerful — it affects everything we see and do and feel.

Please choose well what you do with the time of your life.

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Anonymous Bob R. said...

We recently got new tires at a Les Schwab on Sandy. The TV was tuned to the 700 Club with Pat Robertson yammering on about his latest outrage. After taking in the scene, it became clear that the nice lady who had just approved our "90 days same as cash" application was enraptured by it, so we didn't make an issue of it.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read on Salon today ( that CNN has wised up to the TV-B-Gone and shielded their airport TVs to remote controls. I plead that someone invent a way to defeat these diabolical devices.

It makes my blood boil that the traveling public is held hostage to a private company's profit motives.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Coach said...

Wal-Mart shields their infra-red ports too. My TV-B-Gone clone doesn't work there either.

I forgot to bring my remote on a recent business trip where I stayed at the Oxford Suites in Gladstone, OR. So, after making inquiries of several patrons, I would just shut it off the old fashioned way.

After 3 days of this, the General Manager approached me. In a nice tone, while still eating my breakfast, and with my family present, I let him have it - with both barrels of logic.

The poor kid was caught flat-footed. His 2 year hotel management degree didn't prepare him for this.

3:00 AM  
Blogger Ron McCoy PDX said...

I applaud folks taking the initiative to assert control over the crud being projected at us nearly constantly! As I write, I am sitting in a Les Schwab Tire center on Greenburg Rd in Tigard, and the TV is blaring the propaganda of the 700 Club (anyone else see a trend?) It was distracting, and I actually asked if they were now only targeting conservative Christians as their customers. They assured me they wanted all customers, so I asked why the TV always is showing the 700 Club when I come in. They said that customers change the TV. "How?", I asked. "There's a remote." Well, that remote wasn't anywhere to be found, so I used a little known feature of my Sony Clie PDA (it's a type of Palm personal organizer, now discontinued). This little known feature allows the Clie control nearly any type of device that uses infra-red remotes. This included the TV at Les Schab, and now, as I type, the volume has just been turned WAY down. Another patron actually thanked me. (UPDATE: upon seeing me exert control over the TV, one of the Les Schwab staff said they can change the TV for me, and guess what, the missing remote was magically found. I want to stress that I feel people are entitled to believe whatever they want, but they do not have a blanket right to subject others to their own agendas, and certainly nobody should have to sit through propaganda (or just nonsense noise for that matter) in a supposedly public setting such as an airport lounge or the lobby of a tire dealership.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone thought about what could happen if such devices get into the hands of a student prankster? Imagin a teacher trying to show a video on TV (or using any device with a remote feature, such as LCD projector), but the TV keeps turning itself off?

2:11 PM  

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