GADGET: SILENCING THE IDIOT BOX

America has a love-hate relationship with television. HBO and the Discovery Channel, mostly good; reality TV and cable news, often bad. But no matter which shows people watch, everyone agrees that television is becoming more pervasive. Anywhere you go--a restaurant, bar, airport, etc.--a TV can be found. Now San Francisco engineer Mitch Altman--who compares TVs in public places to secondhand smoke--has what some might call a vigilante solution to the problem: TV-B-Gone, a $14.99 infrared gadget that can remotely shut off about 1,000 models of TV sets. The device has struck a nerve; Altman's initial stock sold out in just two days.

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