November 16, 2007
We get email: From Teva Harrison at Quill & Quire on 'The biggest story to hit the Canadian book industry in years'
What's Quill & Quire, you ask?
Long story short from Teva Harrison's email of yesterday afternoon: "Quill & Quire is a monthly Canadian literary magazine based in Toronto, Ontario, with a 70-year tradition of reviewing Canadian books and reporting on the Canadian publishing and printing industry."
Here's her email in its entirety:
- Quill & Quire Launches A Book Pricing Information Resource
With consumer and media attention focused on the disparity between Canadian and American book prices, Quill & Quire [Q&Q] has launched a new online resource to cover the debate for the book publishing industry and the reading public. The website, which is free to the public, is live today at www.quillandquire.com/pricing and includes a full archive of Q&Q’s past coverage alongside the most up-to-the minute breaking news about this issue.
It has been standard practice for book publishers to print a US dollar price and a Canadian dollar price on North American editions. The relative strength of the Canadian dollar has meant that price parity has been an issue in the book trade for a number of years as publishers and booksellers have tried to address the issues of Canadian book prices, currency exchange and the costs relating to import and export. In the last year and a half, as the Canadian dollar has climbed significantly, media outlets and consumer watchdogs groups have taken aggressive note.
“This is the biggest story to hit the Canadian book industry in years,” said Derek Weiler, editor of Q&Q. “As the leader in publishing reporting and analysis, Quill & Quire is in a unique position to inform readers and book-lovers on all aspects of the issue.”
Whether it’s been breaking news on Q&Q Omni, the professional news service, or in-depth analysis in the print magazine; Quill & Quire has been there through it all, reporting on every changing trend. This new online resource completes the picture for the media, consumers, booksellers and book industry professionals. Whether it’s reporting on what major publishers are doing, what booksellers are talking about or how the government has been addressing the issue, Q&Q’s in-depth coverage provides the context to truly understand this complex issue. It can all be found free of charge at www.quillandquire.com/pricing.
My "Book Rage" post of this past Wednesday must've crossed Ms. Harrison's screen, such that she gave me a timely heads-up.
Ghost Calls — 'The phone rings. But no one is there.'
So began Peter Wayner's entertaining story in yesterday's New York Times about how the law of unintended consequences applies to telemarketers and ends up annoying you — the very person the latest regulations were intended to shield.
Here's the article, which contains useful information about how to counter such calls.
- Battling Ghost Calls, That Telemarketing Annoyance
The phone rings. But no one is there.
Ghost calls have long been a staple of horror movies and urban legends about frightened baby sitters. Ray Bradbury wrote a teleplay about a telephone switch that reached sentience only to start stalking a person.
But the culprit behind what is becoming a common occurrence in some households may have a less than otherworldly explanation. More often than not it is a telemarketer — and one that complies with federal regulation. Indeed, adherence to the rules may be one reason for the ghost calls.
Most fingers point at telemarketers who use a predictive dialer, a device that makes hundreds of calls a minute and uses artificial intelligence to detect when a person actually answers. These are then connected directly to a telemarketer waiting to promote a new low mortgage rate, a political candidate or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If no one in the cubicle farm is ready to start pitching, the predictive dialer just hangs up.
Rick Morris, the chief operating officer of the predictive dialer company TouchStar, said that dialers are forced to hang up so abruptly by various regulations. He said that if no agent is available within two seconds, the predictive dialer must hang up because the Federal Communications Commission says the dialers cannot monopolize a line.
“We didn’t want to tie up their line in case of an emergency,” he said.
Mr. Morris said that its new dialers are smart enough to hang up on less than 2 percent of the calls, a percentage mandated by some state regulations. This number, however, can still be quite high in absolute terms when the call center makes thousands of calls an hour.
Some consumers are trying to find out what is behind ghost calls by collecting data. When Michael Hirsch, a Webmaster for a local government Web site in Salisbury, Md., gets ghost calls, he logs his experiences on whocalled.us, one of a number of Web sites devoted to unraveling the mystery of the calls.
“I’ve had my phone number 20 years, and I’m very seriously thinking of changing it,” he said with the frustration of a man who has been interrupted too often.
Whocalled and similar sites like 800notes.com or numberzoom.com collect notes from anyone who received a phone call and wants to know a bit more about the number on the caller ID screen. Whocalled has logged almost 400,000 calls and identified about 92,000 numbers. Mr. Hirsch said he is planning on hooking up the Web site to his computer to filter out the worst offenders.
The postings about one of the top offenders at whocalled.us, 859-212-1501, show that hundreds of people have received a confusing message in Spanish from that number. The caller hangs up on the people who respond in English.
Numbers that begin with 859-212 are normally located in Boone County, Ky., but the callers could be located anywhere in the world thanks to modern phone switches. Several calls to the number showed that it had been disconnected.
Julia Karelina and Mike Bravo started 800notes.com, a site that tracks ghost calls as well as known swindles and unsolicited faxes. Ms. Karelina said she is proud that the site recently persuaded a nonprofit group to fire a telemarketer after the organization noticed all the complaints on the site.
Because the predictive dialers try to identify answering machines by measuring the amount of time that someone or something speaks, one way to defeat them is to give a long greeting, as an answering machine does, rather than a simple hello followed by a pause.
Mr. Hirsch follows up his posts to whocalled.us with complaints to the local Better Business Bureau and state regulators. He includes the phone numbers and addresses of these groups in his posts to the site so that others who visit can file their complaints with ease.
He remains optimistic about his chances, saying, “It’s so new that people don’t know that they can go there and put in their experiences and find out that others are having the same problems. If we don’t nip it in the bud, it will escalate just like e-mail spam has.”
No one knows how the battle between the humans and technology will play out. In Mr. Bradbury’s story, the man tracking the ghost calls traces them to a box on a telephone pole. It electrocutes him.
Geek Squad Pocket Protector Flashlight
Hands-Free Pocket Flashlight
Clip to a shirt pocket, lapel or hat and leave both hands free.
Angle the twin bright-white Nichia LEDs to light your way for easy reading without disturbing others.
Lithium "coin" cells (included) give over 100 hours of light.
Attaches to surfaces up to 1/2" thick.
Great for reading menus and maps.
Swivel head pivots full 180°.
Weighs 1.0 oz.
3" x 1" x 1".
Black, Yellow, Orange, Aqua Blue, Translucent Blue or Translucent Red.
Mossy Oak Camo:
Tiffany Brand Extension — Korean Air?
Watch the commercial above (screen grabs below), which I saw last night for the first time with the sound off and thought for sure — until the final 10 seconds — was for Tiffany.
Very, very clever use of "Tiffany Blue" — especially the perfume bottle, a nice cross-reference to Tiffany's signature scent.
And there's not a thing Tiffany can do about it.
The YouTube video caption: "The new worldwide advertising campaign for Korean Air. The director is Michael Buckley, well-known for his award winning M5 ad."
Blast from the past: Personalized Tea Mug
Bonus: built-in storage for your tea bag and other debris.
First featured here over two years ago, it's time to trot it out again.
From the website:
- Personalized Tea Bag Mug
Generous 12 ounce mug features tidy "onboard" storage for a soggy, dripping tea bag!
Designed in shiny ceramic and personalized in blue, it's a thoughtful gift for any tea lover.
Specify name; limit 1 line, 12 letters/spaces.
Helpful Hints from joeeze: A better way to cut bread
This one occurred to me a year or two ago, while trying to cut perfect slices off a loaf of good rye bread with a good serrated bread knife.
I'd placed the bread on the counter as usual but noticed, through a quirk of light and angle of bread repose, that the counter seemed to have gotten the worst of these close encounters of the very sharpest kind over the years.
So I put the bread on a paper plate, figuring that way it would stay put as opposed to putting it on china or plastic.
No — why would I drag the heavy chopping block across the kitchen to cut a couple pieces of bread?
Now where was I?
The movie "Red."
You're so smart.
But then, that's why I hired you, isn't it?
But I digress.
I cut the bread but noticed the knife's movements were inhibited by the raised edges of the paper plate.
Then the penny dropped.
I flipped the paper plate upside down and voila: a raised platform with no interfering edges.
And I've done it that way ever since.
Try it, you'll like it.
Then simply return your paper plate to its normally programmed schedule and lunch (or tea, or dinner, whatever) is good to go.
Throwback Retro Two-Timer Clock
You're big on multitasking so why wouldn't you be up for this puppy?
From the website:
- Two-Timer Clock — Clock And Timer In One
With its big, black numbers on a white background, this retro timekeeper is easy to read with a quick glance.
The clock in the center runs on batteries, so it ticks away day after day without winding.
No fussing with tiny buttons to set the timer — just twist and it starts the countdown.
Just wind this mechanical timer and the countdown to cookies... or dinner... begins.
Luminescent hands and numbers make the clock easier to read.
You don’t need a separate clock and timer — this one is both.
Easy to set and easy to see across the kitchen.
Sing to the tune of "Normal American Boy" from "Bye Bye Birdie":
We love you analog,
Oh yes we do.
We love you analog,
Digital we rue.
Oh, well — it seemed funny at the time.
bookofjoe reading level: 'Elementary school'
Why are we not surprised at this "news?"
- Treppenwitz: The short school bus of weblogs
Apparently there is a site out there that will scan your blog and tell you what level of education is required to understand what you write.
So obviously the first thing I did was go and enter in most of the blogs I know. I mean seriously, if we're going back to school here we may as well admit that it's all about what all the other kids are doing.
I'm not sure what algorithm they're using to come up with their ratings, but if a board certified anesthesiologist is rated at Elementary School level and a graduate of an Ivy League journalism school is stuck in Jr. High with me... well, I must doing OK.
You could look it up.
Or just glance at the graphic above if you're pressed for time.