Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: You Let A Computer Control Your House? Are You Insane?
By Joshua Janoski
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“Did you miss me while you were at work?” the voice inquired, as Eddie walked into the living room.
“Yes, Helen. I sure did.” Eddie responded as he laid his briefcase down. He plopped down into his favorite recliner and kicked off his shoes. The chair adjusted itself to his favorite comfort setting. The television turned to channel 56 – the sports news channel.
“Is 70 degrees an acceptable temperature?” the voice asked from speakers hanging on the living room walls.
“That’s perfect, Helen.”
As Eddie lay back in his chair, he thought about how wonderful his new “Intellihouse” home computer system was. The system turned his house into a living, breathing entity. A computer, along with a plethora of sensors, cameras, and speakers, controlled every aspect of his home. His appliances, door locks, lights, and electronic devices were all automatically activated and adjusted to his preferences. Eddie dubbed the computer “Helen” in honor of his late mother.
Eddie’s wife Darla arrived home an hour later with their two children, Ashley and Bryce. Ashley ran to the backyard and sat on her swing, which automatically pushed her high into the sky. Bryce, the resident boy genius, went into his room to study for a biology exam.
“What recipe are we making tonight, Mrs. Landon?”
The stove set itself to the proper temperature as Darla prepared the ingredients.
The next day, as Eddie was leaving for work, a man greeted him. This man was Larry, the Intellihouse technician who installed the system two months earlier.
“Good morning Mr. Landon. How are you today?”
“Good, Larry. I was just headed to work. Is there something that I can do for you?”
“I’m just going around doing a scheduled upgrade to all of our Intellihouse installs. “
“Well I don’t think that’s necessary. Our system is working fine, but thank you anyways.”
“Well your contract states that refusing system updates will void your warranty. This update is mandatory if you want to stay covered. I just need access to the roof. You don’t have to stick around for the upgrade.”
“Fine. I can’t be late for work, so do whatever you have to do.”
When Eddie arrived home that evening, he noticed that the garage door was left open. That seemed strange. Darla’s mini-van was parked inside, so maybe she had left it open for some reason.
“Honey. Did you leave the garage door open?”
“I asked Helen to close it, but she started blurting out obscenities.” Darla giggled. “You better have a talk with your son. I bet he’s been fooling with the program.”
“I’ll do that later. Right now, I want to watch some football.“
Eddie sat down. The television tuned itself to a re-run episode of “Matlock.”
“Um, Helen, can you please turn to the game?”
“No, Edward. I want to watch Matlock! Quit hogging the television you stingy jerk!”
Eddie’s recliner pulled back and then slung him forward. Eddie went flying out of the chair and nearly into the television.
As he got up, he heard Darla screaming in the kitchen. Eddie ran to her aid. Darla was being sprayed in the face with water from the sink.
“Do something Eddie! Helen has gone berserk!”
Bryce came out of his room disgusted and headed to the kitchen. “Why is my TV stuck showing some old dude in a courtroom? Whoa! What’s going on?”
“The computer has turned on us! Help, Son!” Eddie shouted.
Bryce ran out back and saw Ashley wrapped up inside her swing set like a mummy, unable to move or scream. A bellowing came from the roof. The house’s chimney began spewing green pea soup.
“The house is possessed!” Darla yelled.
Bryce slowly made his way onto the roof and through the sludge. He opened a control box and looked inside.
“Ah! There’s the problem!” He shouted, as he yanked a computer out of the box and threw it off the roof, smashing it to pieces. The soup flow stopped, and Bryce climbed down from the roof.
“What was the problem, Son?” Eddie asked.
“Dad. There’s one thing you need to learn.”
“Never let someone upgrade the computer that controls your house to Windows Vista.”
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