September 24, 2004
Kwickee - new cellphone publishing platform
This new service debuted Tuesday in Great Britain.
Kwickee is a British publisher of "how-to" guides, and they've decided to go where no one's gone before.
Would-be writers - professional or not - register online and type up their articles of up to 800 words.
These are then edited and filed into different categories - entertainment, health and fitness, fashion, sports, cars, fiction, technology, and adult.
People who want information on a particular topic can see the headline and introduction as well as author and popularity score and are told how much it costs.
By selecting "Buy" the user's cellphone bill is charged using reverse SMS, an existing payment method [maybe in Britain, but not in the U.S.].
Kwickee units can also be purchased from the website, or you can subscribe to a particular writer's work [now it gets interesting to moi].
Writers, depending on their track record with Kwickee, receive a royalty of 29-40 pence ( 45-60 cents) every time a mobile user pays £1.50 ($2.70) to look at one of their articles.
Editors also get a royalty out of this sum every time a user looks at one of the articles they've edited, and cellphone operators and Kwickee get a cut too.
Kwickee's material can be viewed on any cellphone with access to the internet via WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) at the company's website, and on BlackBerrys.
Alternatively, they can be viewed on computers with an internet connection.
The company plans to expand to France next year.
Who in the U.S. will seize this opportunity to be the first mover here?
[via The Financial Times]
Real-time link to the U.S. atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado
No more arguments about who's got the correct time: they do.
BlastFromThePast: How to make the world's best coffee right in your own home
This post marks the debut of a new bookofjoe feature, BlastFromThePast.
In response to the many requests for access to my now nonexistent bookofjoe Version 1.0 archives, I will occasionally drill down deep into the internet, employing Brewster Kahle's Wayback Machine and the like to bring you old bookofjoe favorites, posts that were particularly well-received.
And that's all I have to say about that.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
For me, it starts with the Braun KMM30 Coffee Mill ($49.88), a superb machine (pictured above). It combines excellent function and ease of use with a great appearance.
I've used this particular grinder for many years, because there is none better for my purposes. Let me enumerate its strengths:
•First and most important, it's a burr rather than a blade grinder.
This alone sets it apart from most others in its price range.
Burr grinders work by "slicing" the beans without creating heat and static electricity, preserving the integrity of the flavor, texture, and essential oils of the coffee beans.
A blade grinder essentially "cooks" the coffee as it grinds, heating and destroying the bean.
I am amazed by the number of friends of mine who continue to stagger and stumble into their kitchens in the morning, put beans in their grinders, and then stand there holding down some control or switch to grind the beans.
With the Braun, you simply turn the dial, and it automatically grinds for as long as you've set it, stopping automatically.
•You can easily adjust the grind from superfine to coarse for whatever you're making, espresso or anything else.
And the adjustment actually changes the size of the grounds, unlike some machines I've seen that basically have a "dummy" switch that in fact doesn't do a darn thing.
•It takes from a few up to a half-pound of beans, and does the same great job no matter how big the quantity.
•It looks good, and its parts can withstand my "drop test" onto a Mexican tile floor far more often than not.
If one of the pieces cracks - as can happen - Krazy Glue does the repair and returns full functionality.
•The grinder's parts are easily disassembled for cleaning.
My coffee, I believe, is superior to any brewed at even the very best coffee shops in Charlottesville or most anywhere else, because I clean my grinder daily.
Most stores rarely do it, 'cause it's a huge deal with commercial-style grinders: you basically have to take them out of service and devote a couple hours of employee time to the task. Ain't gonna happen.
Coffee is exquisitely sensitive.
It absorbs odors from anything in the vicinity, and it is essentially destroyed by contact with used grounds and rancid oils, unavoidable contaminants if the coffee is ground in a machine that's not meticulously maintained.
Corby Kummer's book, "The Joy of Coffee,"
is the single best book ever written about coffee.
I guarantee that if you read it, you will buy a burr grinder.
[this post first appeared on February 6, 2004]
Each week, the New England Journal of Medicine features an image which it challenges its readers to diagnose.
The answer appears in the next weekly issue, along with a new mystery image.
The one above appeared on January 1 of this year.
It seems a 62-year-old man appeared at a French hospital with a swollen belly, complaining of abdominal pain.
After the x-ray above was taken, he was rushed to surgery, where doctors found the source of his problem: $650 worth of change, weighing 12 pounds.
There were French, British, and euro coins.
The man had a condition known as pica (Latin for magpie, a bird known for eating practically anything).
People with pica have been known to eat ashes, hair, laundry detergent, chalk, soil, lime, charcoal, dust, paint chips, burnt matches, ice, and soap, among other things.
Metal objects like coins are sometimes favored.
In the U.S., adult pica persists among some African-American women, pregnant women, and women in the South.
Some studies estimate the prevalence to be 9%-25% among women of child-bearing age.
Though some specialists think pica may be linked to mineral deficiencies, others believe it is a cultural practice.
It can also be a feature of mental illness.
In the French patient reported above, a 15-year history of chronic psychosis was present.
[via Ranit Mishori and the Washington Post]
PT-03 - The first official running shoe of the British Army
They released it last week, after years of testing.
It's the first commercial product ever produced in association with the Army, and bears the Army's famous crossed swords logo.
The U.S. Army should've taken this approach with the Humvee: that was a lost licensing opportunity of the first magnitude.
Look for this concept to spread rapidly world-wide.
Here's the British Army's press release:
UK GEAR AND BRITISH ARMY JOIN FORCES ON NEW RUNNING SHOE
A new high performance running shoe which has been developed in association with the British Army was launched last week at the Army School of Physical Training in Aldershot.
The shoe, named the PT-03 and produced by British sportswear company UK Gear, is the first commercial product ever to be produced in association with the Army.
It bears the Army’s famous crossed swords logo and embodies the Army’s values and standards.
During the development of the shoe, Army fitness instructors from the elite Army Physical Training Corps (APTC) advised on its design and tested the shoe over a six-month period.
The entire project from concept, through design, testing and manufacture has taken UK Gear eighteen months to complete and has resulted in a unique association with the Army.
David Hinde, managing director of UK Gear, said: "The PT-03 is a high performance running shoe. It has been created with the help of some of the fittest people on the planet - the Army’s own fitness instructors - which means it will stand up to the demands of any runner. Whether they’re an elite athlete or occasional jogger, when people buy the PT-03 they’ll know they’re buying the best."
Before design work began on the shoe, APTC instructors helped UK Gear develop a brief - a detailed written description of what the shoe needed to be able to do to match their exacting standards.
The company then began the design process and produced the first prototype.
The testing phase saw a number of instructors from the Aldershot-based APTC use the prototype shoe in all their training sessions.
These included track, trail and road sessions as well as the Corps’ punishing hill running sessions.
The Army’s feedback was then incorporated into later designs before the final PT-03 was tested and approved.
David Hinde said: "The end product is a stability running shoe which incorporates all the latest technical benefits which are available. The PT-03 will provide support and cushioning to fulfil the needs of the majority of runners."
One senior APTC officer who covered more than 800 kilometres in the same pair of PT-03s said they were an outstanding pair of running shoes.
Lt Col Phil Watkins of the APTC said: "The PT-03s are top quality running shoes, they embody the Army’s values and standards and we’re delighted to be associated with them. It’s the first time the Army has worked with a company in this way to share our expertise and experience and we expect them to be a great success.”
The Army’s crossed swords logo appears on the underside of the tongue. The shoe also comes with a brief history of the APTC.
The PT-03, which has a recommended retail price of £79 [$142], is available from the UK’s top specialist running stores and major sports shoe retailers including Sweatshop and The Athlete’s Foot.
Customers can also order shoes online at www.ukgear.com or by calling the company direct on 0870 403 1400.
As part of the arrangement between the Army and UK Gear the shoes are now worn by all APTC instructors, a total of more than 450 around the world.
In addition, a proportion of the revenue from sales of the PT-03 will go back to the Army to be spent on quality of life enhancements for the units involved in the project.
Colonel Robin Clifford, head of the Army’s commercial branch, said, "This pioneering initiative is in keeping with the Army’s values of innovation, expertise and flexibility. We believe that activities like this, with Army personnel demonstrating that their specific skills can be of value and benefit to the public, are positive for the Army. Of course, the Army is very busy on operations and training, so we will only take part in such initiatives when they do not impact on our core activities."
UK Gear is now working with the Army on a gym shoe for use indoors, an initiative that will be developed once the PT-03 pilot project has been assessed.
Here is where
you will find
all the strange creations
you see here,
along with others
far more bizarre.
One Train May Hide Another - by Kenneth Koch
(sign at a railroad crossing in Kenya)
In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross
The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at
Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read
Wait until you have read the next line--
Then it is safe to go on reading.
In a family one sister may conceal another,
So, when you are courting, it's best to have them all in view
Otherwise in coming to find one you may love another.
One father or one brother may hide the man,
If you are a woman, whom you have been waiting to love.
So always standing in front of something the other
As words stand in front of objects, feelings, and ideas.
One wish may hide another. And one person's reputation may hide
The reputation of another. One dog may conceal another
On a lawn, so if you escape the first one you're not necessarily safe;
One lilac may hide another and then a lot of lilacs and on the Appia
Antica one tomb
May hide a number of other tombs. In love, one reproach may hide another,
One small complaint may hide a great one.
One injustice may hide another--one colonial may hide another,
One blaring red uniform another, and another, a whole column. One bath
may hide another bath
As when, after bathing, one walks out into the rain.
One idea may hide another: Life is simple
Hide Life is incredibly complex, as in the prose of Gertrude Stein
One sentence hides another and is another as well. And in the laboratory
One invention may hide another invention,
One evening may hide another, one shadow, a nest of shadows.
One dark red, or one blue, or one purple--this is a painting
By someone after Matisse. One waits at the tracks until they pass,
These hidden doubles or, sometimes, likenesses. One identical twin
May hide the other. And there may be even more in there! The obstetrician
Gazes at the Valley of the Var. We used to live there, my wife and I, but
One life hid another life. And now she is gone and I am here.
A vivacious mother hides a gawky daughter. The daughter hides
Her own vivacious daughter in turn. They are in
A railway station and the daughter is holding a bag
Bigger than her mother's bag and successfully hides it.
In offering to pick up the daughter's bag one finds oneself confronted by
And has to carry that one, too. So one hitchhiker
May deliberately hide another and one cup of coffee
Another, too, until one is over-excited. One love may hide another love
or the same love
As when "I love you" suddenly rings false and one discovers
The better love lingering behind, as when "I'm full of doubts"
Hides "I'm certain about something and it is that"
And one dream may hide another as is well known, always, too. In the
Garden of Eden
Adam and Eve may hide the real Adam and Eve.
Jerusalem may hide another Jerusalem.
When you come to something, stop to let it pass
So you can see what else is there. At home, no matter where,
Internal tracks pose dangers, too: one memory
Certainly hides another, that being what memory is all about,
The eternal reverse succession of contemplated entities. Reading
A Sentimental Journey look around
When you have finished, for Tristram Shandy, to see
If it is standing there, it should be, stronger
And more profound and theretofore hidden as Santa Maria Maggiore
May be hidden by similar churches inside Rome. One sidewalk
May hide another, as when you're asleep there, and
One song hide another song; a pounding upstairs
Hide the beating of drums. One friend may hide another, you sit at the
foot of a tree
With one and when you get up to leave there is another
Whom you'd have preferred to talk to all along. One teacher,
One doctor, one ecstasy, one illness, one woman, one man
May hide another. Pause to let the first one pass.
You think, Now it is safe to cross and you are hit by the next one. It
can be important
To have waited at least a moment to see what was already there.
Flashmaster Ferry Halim's sensational website
Here is the first website employing Flash I've ever encountered that literally blew me away.
Amazingly powerful and enveloping.
The guy who created it, Ferry Halim, is a master.