AN OLD BUT RELIABLE microwave oven (at left) deserves mention as one of the ten most valuable technology items in my life. We use it several times a day when sterilising baby bottles, to heat food for our toddler, to make popcorn and to reheat portions as leftovers. When we were planning our kitchen, I omitted the idea for a built-in microwave, thinking we might not need to use space for that appliance. But truth be told, we use the microwave every day in a mission-essential manner. As I write these words, I'm reflecting on other items that form part of our daily routine. We have a dishwasher and a washing machine that work without question. We use a DECT cordless Skype phone that works up to 330 metres from the house. And we have smart dimmers that let us illuminate dark corners without incurring an energy penalty. All those acknowledged, I give fair recognition to the humble microwave as the eighth most valuable item of technology in my life. I can't imagine how my mom raised five sons without one.