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Lowering the Lid on Loo

It's not bad taste--it's just bad marketing

MICROSOFT CORPORATION spokespeople this week advised the international media that an April 30 press release sent out by its British subsidiary about the "iLoo," a portable toilet with Internet access, was actually "a hoax." The stories that followed the prank press release included mention of toilet paper that promoted web URLs that users could access from the portable latrine's waterproof plasma screen and a Hotmail station attached to the latrine's door so that people could send messages while waiting in line.

The release had been carried by unquestioning scribes at the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Knight Ridder-owned Miami Herald's website, CNN, Fox News, ABC and even the Microsoft co-venture MSNBC. The Chron, in fact, touted the invention with an article that asserted, "This is not a joke." (Many of the embarrassed news agencies removed the initial reports from their websites by Biter's presstime.)

Biter, however, has learned that the release was actually not a hoax, as claimed by Microsoft, but rather a premature release that had escaped from its EnvelopeEdge skunkworks. Through a hacker friend who himself frequently works on the toilet, Biter has acquired a list of other "Internet Anywhere" projects currently under development at Microsoft's secret research facility in Cork, Ireland.

* Wearable erotic computers. Allows users to engage in fantasies with bed partners wearing flexible strap-on video screens. Designed to expand Microsoft's dominance of all forms of computing to the nighttime apparel and sex toy markets, as well as make virtual inroads into the lucrative cosmetic surgery income stream.

* Bluetooth-enabled, microprocessor-equipped suppositories. Useful in early cancer warnings as well as locating nearby restrooms on an as-needed basis using GPS triangulation.

* Shower terminals. Will help power users get an early jump on their workdays, allowing them to type up great ideas that pop into their heads during showers, thus eliminating wasted productivity during the last unwired block of time remaining in the day. In addition to Internet connectivity, a special microprocessor will notify drugstore.com when your favorite brand of salon shampoo is running low, and send an email to your cell phone if your roommate uses your expensive shower gel.

* Urinal mat navigation. A perforated mousepadlike device will allow users whose hands are otherwise occupied to open and close Windows displayed on a plasma screen mounted above a public urinal through a "point-and-piss" interface. When not in "use," the screen will display promotional messages for Bob Lewis Volkswagen.

* Toilet lid underside screens. An as-yet-untapped mindshare segment exists for the "I love you, man" crowd who are unable to view Internet "while driving that porcelain rig down the highway." Advertising income potential exists with hangover cure manufacturers, 12-step programs, taxi companies and 24-hour escort services in which each escort is at least "a drunk 10."

* Interactive hemorrhoid rings. Working much like touch-screen navigation, pressure on each section of the inflatable ring will enable the user to move their laptop cursor. Cough to double click.

* Internal refrigerator diet screens. If, after employing all Microsoft's connectivity products, you find yourself no longer able to exercise, eat properly or resist the Haagen Dazs triple creamy chocolate ice cream auto-ordered by your microprocessor, this screen is designed to chastise you by showing Flash renderings of Calista Flockhart's posterior. Tapping the touch screen will yield a bar graph chart of Flockhart's Body Fat Index as compared to the user's own.

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From the May 15-21, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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