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January 12, 2013

Limited-Edition Blade Runner Hard Drive

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4 TB; USB 3.0.

Production limited to 9,999.

Made by LaCie (part of Seagate) which wrote in a press release that the "sharp, cage-like enclosure surrounds an almost anthropomorphic, liquid metal interior. This metaphor was inspired by a cyberfuture illustrated in the 1982 movie 'Blade Runner,' and begs the question: just how much control do we have over technology."

Whatever they say.

$289.99.

[via USA Today]

January 12, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: Amy Webb on why your online dating efforts are such a disaster

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Her piece in today's Wall Street Journal is bracing and encouraging — but only if you're willing to get down off your high horse and stop with all your dealbreaker nonsense and get real.

You can get results — wonderful, life-changing results — from Match.com and JDate and their ilk but only on one condition: you play the game to win instead of to be true to yourself.

Your choice.

Me, at the end of a case I'd rather have a live patient — having done the wrong thing — than the opposite, but I know some who take the opposite approach.

Your call.

Below, excerpts from her essay, which itself is adapted from her upcoming (January 31) book, "Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match."

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Hacking the Hyperlinked Heart

I was 30 years old, just out of a long-term relationship and no longer interested in playing the field. It was time to settle down with the right man, get married and start a family. At the urging of several friends (and my worried mother), a strategy was settled upon: I joined Match.com and JDate, a website for Jewish singles.

What followed was a series of bad dates worthy of a romantic comedy: stupid sexual remarks, too much alcohol consumed (by them). A surprising number of men high-fived me, for reasons that remain unclear.

My profile was obviously attracting the wrong kind of man. After one particularly disastrous date — he casually dropped the fact that he was actually married — I decided to change my approach. Drawing on my background in data analysis, I set out to reverse engineer my profile. I outlined 10 male archetypes and created profiles for each of them on JDate. There was JewishDoc1000, the private-practice cardiologist who hated cruise-ship travel, and LawMan2346, an attorney who was very close to his family and a former national debate champion.

Posing as these men, I spent a month using JDate. I interacted with 96 women, cataloging how they behaved and presented themselves online and scraping data from their profiles (such as the language they used or the number of hours they waited before emailing back one of my profiles). Wanting to learn everything I could about my competition, I kept a detailed database, and I recorded which female profiles were popular. While JDate doesn't publicly release its algorithms, at the time of my experiment I observed that the more popular profiles come up higher in search results, allowing one to get a quick-and-dirty ranking of who's hot (or not). I quickly realized that the popular women seemed to know something I didn't; they were clearly attracting the sort of smart, attractive professionals who had been ignoring my profile.

What did I discover? Popular profiles used aspirational language (like "I want to travel" or "a big ambition of mine is…"), kept descriptions short and generic and lied about various physical characteristics (though not the ones you think). Their style was easygoing, youthful and spontaneous. I'd never once referred to myself in writing as "fun" or as a "girl." But it was easy to see that I had been far too stuffy and professional in my presenting myself (I'd gotten lazy and cribbed from my résumé).

I learned that short profiles that express just enough information to pique someone's interest are the ones that do best. A good cutoff point is the 500-word mark. In my case, I'd written close to 900 words — a dissertation. That put me in the bottom 8% of all profiles I looked at. If I was blathering on that much before even meeting someone, what would I be like in person on a first date?

I assumed that daters lied about their weight. I certainly rounded down. What shocked me, though, was how many women seemed to be lying about their height. All of the 96 women I interacted with listed their height as between 5-foot-1 and 5-foot-3, even though the average height of an American woman is 5-foot-4. Though it isn't impossible that 100% of these women would have fallen below the average, it's statistically improbable. (Plus, you could tell from their photos that most of the women were taller than they said.) These women assumed that men wanted shorter, more petite dates, and they appeared to be right. Why? Because men lie about their height, too.

Another surprise: My parents and friends always told me to let men approach me; otherwise, I'd seem too aggressive. But successful online daters were bold and friendly. Popular women didn't hesitate to reach out to my male profiles. They sent casual messages that were just a line or two long. They would open with "Hey" or "Hi there" (instead of, say, "Hello, [name]") followed by "I like that you [detail from profile]. I'm interested in [detail] too."

Some other interesting details I discovered:

• Use between three and five photos in your gallery. More photos can do some good, but after five, my analysis suggests, profiles pass a point of diminishing returns.

• Lead with your hobbies and activities, unless they require lots of description or explanation. So you can start with tennis, if that's your thing, but not aikido — or worse, "I have a black belt in aikido." (I actually do, and I put it on my profile at one point, which prompted some men to challenge me to a fight on the first date, which was as horrible and awkward as it sounds.)

• It's really hard to be funny in print — especially if you're naturally prone to sarcasm. I found that people who thought they were being funny in their profiles weren't. Instead, they seemed angry or aloof.

• Women: Don't mention work, especially if your job is difficult to explain. You may have the most amazing career on the planet, but it can inadvertently intimidate someone looking at your profile. I realize this sounds horribly regressive, but during my experiment I found that women were attracted to men with high-profile careers, while the majority of men were turned off by powerful women.

• Women with curly hair are at a distinct disadvantage online. I have no idea whether men prefer blondes, but I can say definitively that most men prefer women with healthy, long, straight hair. If you have curls and feel comfortable (and look good) straightening your hair, give that a try.

• If someone instant-messages you while you're online, go ahead and IM back if you want — the popular women I interacted with online certainly did. Otherwise, for email exchanges, they waited 20 to 23 hours, on average, between contacts for the first few messages.

At the end of my analysis, I'd compiled enough information to create a super profile — a sort of amalgam of what I saw the popular women doing, along with my own personal details. Instead of bullet points and résumé speak, I wrote that "my friends would describe me as an outgoing and social world traveler, who's equally comfortable in blue jeans and little black dresses."

Soon after it went live, my super profile attracted more than 60 responses, many of them notably different from the ones I'd attracted before.

Among them was a response from a profile called Thevenin, an attractive, Jewish man who seemed smart and funny. His real name was Brian, and he was my last first date.

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FunFact: The classic cartoon by Peter Steiner which heads this post will, in less than six months, celebrate the 20th anniversary of its appearance on page 61 of the July 5, 1993 issue of the New Yorker.

January 12, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Palm Washboard

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Reviewed by Cheryl Gentry on Cool Tools as follows: "I was introduced to this tool about a year ago when I was looking for something to help with my wet and nuno felting projects. The palm washboard eliminates hours of rolling during the wet felting process and helps simplify the fulling stage. It makes nuno felting a much easier process. At my suggestion the designers (Robbin & Harry Firth of Heartfelt Silks) developed a rounded tool to work on the inside of vessels. I am able to create vessels, scarves, and other felting projects in less time and with less effort. I have found no other tools that work as well as the Palm Washboards."

Palm-washboard-in-use

$40.

January 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chronicle of a death (mine) avoided

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When I went to sleep last night it was with the knowledge that at this very moment — 7:53 a.m. — I'd be on Interstate 81 heading north to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, about half-way to a planned 9:30 or thereabouts arrival, in plenty of time for the 10 a.m. Natural Running Clinic put on every Saturday morning by Two Rivers Treads.

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I've been wanting to attend for at least a year but for one reason or ten others — races, weather, NFL playoffs, mood, you name it — had just never found the right day until finally, what with today's Ravens-Broncos tilt not scheduled to start till 4:30 p.m., conditions seemed just right for my long-anticipated visit.

I figured I'd spend till noon in West Virginia, then have a leisurely drive home — it's about a 2.5 hour trip according to my GPS but for me, dawdling and all like I do and preferring to tuck into the slow lane behind a giant oil tanker for the bulk of the journey, and stopping at McDonalds for a McRib [yes, they're back! — but as always not for long so I gotta strike while the metaphorical grill iron is hot] more likely an hour longer — and arrive around 3:30 p.m., in plenty of time to get my game face on and all and give Gray Cat the love she'd been missing for some nine hours.

That playoff game should be intense, what?

I mean, with the Ravens coming in Denver at altitude in the cold (20° predicted) and Manning wearing his magic glove, with his history of poor performance in chilly weather: that's got all the elements of an epic tilt in the making.

But I digress.

My alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I rolled out of bed all excited, ready to rock and roll and get on the road by 6:30 a.m.

But when I looked outside I couldn't see anything.

Huh?

I came downstairs and opened up the front door and whoa! — "It's froggy out there," as my daughter used to say.

Pea soup, intense fog.

I looked at the weather report on my computer and saw this:

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It took me about three zeptoseconds to bag the trip.

Not only because I could barely see the house across the street, 300 feet away (below)

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but also when I looked down Magnolia Drive toward the intersection (there's only one in my little subdivision of 32 houses) I couldn't begin to make it out — not even the bright light above it.

That did not bode well for a trip on Interstate 64 west over Afton Mountain, which as a rule is treacherous because of early morning fog even in perfect weather.

On a day like today, I'm betting the Interstate was closed.

I'll never know because I decided to die another day.

Up top, the view out my window a minute ago.

January 12, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

HipKey iPhone (and more) Tracker

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Wrote Jefferson Graham in USA Today, "Yet another device wants to help you locate that lost iPhone. Danny van der Poel traveled all the way from Denmark here with his take on how to locate that beloved item: a second device in the pocket that monitors the iPhone. He calls it the HipKey, and it's about the size of a quarter. The device talks to a tracking app, which has only one goal in mind — letting you know how near and far away your precious iPhone is located."

"He's already got one influential customer impressed: Apple began selling it in November on its European website in 20 countries. Apple in the U.S. will begin selling it this year as well, and van der Poel is at CES looking to woo other retailers into stocking the $89.95 product. The inventor of the product, whose website is hippih.com, promises great results — but only if your battery is charged."

From the product website: "HipKey is a revolutionary new product that helps you keep an eye on your valuables. Whether keeping track of your iPhone, iPad, or even your loved ones, HipKey will help protect the things you love most. At the push of a button, HipKey will save you time by helping you find your belongings. Simply attach the device to the item of your choice and you're ready to go."

Hmmm... Gray Cat-compatible?

I must investigate.

Details here.

Even more details here.

User stories here.

January 12, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Venus + Serena + iPhone 5: in your dream

Just saw this commercial for the first time yesterday, though it first aired a week ago. 

Where the heck have I been?

January 12, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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