Modern Solutions for Very Busy People

Modern Solutions for Very Busy People

Some people worry about the end of time. Perhaps we should worry more about the end of free time — which is something to think about while deleting a seemingly endless stream of junk e-mail.

With each new technological advance, Americans work harder than ever. And even with cell phones, computer networks and wireless devices, we're often too busy to keep in touch with the people we love.

What happened to the promise of modern society?

"We get so easily seduced by all these electronic baubles," says futurist David Zach. "But the notion of freeing up time is going away."

Still, an amazing array of new products and services are springing up, almost on a daily basis, for people who have no time for their children, their love lives, and, of course, themselves.

Let's take a look at some of these modern conveniences:

1. The Problem: Wasting Time Checking E-mail

The Solution: The Ambient Orb

What's your obsession? Do you check the stock market 14 times a day and your e-mail twice a minute? Maybe it's time for the Ambient Orb.

This $150 gizmo, which looks like a desktop globe, is designed to wean you off your computer. Just plug it in, and it will let you know when you need to check whatever it is that you're obsessed with.

If you're a stock freak, the Ambient Orb could be set to glow green if the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up, and change to red if the market is down. Amber would mean the market is unchanged.

If you're an e-mail junkie, the Ambient Orb could be programmed to change from green to red every time there are more than 10 unanswered e-mails waiting for you.

The Ambient Orb works on the same technology as a cell phone, and it can be programmed to give you color signals for almost anything — from today's pollen count, to homeland security alerts, to even whether your favorite sports team wins or loses.

The Orb is said to be a great way to get any obsessive computer geek offline. In fact, it glows a special color when it's time to get a life.