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October 7, 2004

'Solve the problem with what's in the room.'

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Edwin H. Land, inventor of the Polaroid camera, among other things.

I've always liked his point of view.

FunFact: In the matter of U.S. patents granted, Land, with over 500 to his name, stands second only to Thomas Edison.

My admiration for things that have no moving parts but fulfill a function or do a job is a corollary to Land's dictum.

For many years, I was bedeviled by the problem of noting things of interest in newspapers or magazines.

Marking the spot with a pen or marker is annoying; putting a Post-It at each place gets old in a hurry.

Then, about a year ago, the solution occcurred to me in a flash.

Simply make a small vertical tear - an inch or so long - right across the words that interest me.

When I go back to the article later, I know just what to look at.

No moving parts; no additional implement/tool (pen, etc.) required.

"Solve the problem with what's in the room."

With books, it's different: I don't like tearing pages of books.

What to do?

Again, written notes/annotations or Post-Its just don't do the trick.

Bending a corner of the page in question helps, but doesn't direct me to the precise spot I want to refer to.

Then, about six months ago bingo, problem solved.

Simply bend the page so the folded corner points to the spot I want.

If there are two or more items, or places on the front and back of a single page, no problema: make more bends/folds, so that unbending/unfolding reveals them all.

Now why didn't I think of that?

Wait I minute... I did.

October 7, 2004 at 09:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The music of bookofjoe

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When I get ready to work here, I generally click on iTunes, then forward until I come to a song I really like (my jukebox has about 700 songs, all rock).

Then I choose "Repeat One," and listen to it play over and over while I work.

I'm talking 20, 30, 40 times or more.

Volume, by the way, is set to "Max."

Here are some of my very favorites (please get your barf bag ready):

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"Zombie" - The Cranberries

"Whenever You're On My Mind" - Marshall Crenshaw

"When I Come Around" - Green Day

"Liar Liar" - The Castaways

"Wordup" - Cameo

"Hair" - The Cowsills

"Little Red Corvette" - Prince

"Johnny Be Good" - Chuck Berry

"96 Tears" - ? & the Mysterians

"Tell Me Lies" - Fleetwood Mac

"Itchycoo Park" - Small Faces

"In The Year 2525" - Zager & Evans

"Hold On" - Wilson Phillips

"Green Tambourine" - Lemon Pipers

"Mmmbop" - Hanson

"Mr. Roboto" - Styx

"I Got You Babe" - Sonny & Cher

"I Want You To Want Me" - Cheap Trick
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No wonder I'm brain-dead.

October 7, 2004 at 06:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Postini Anti-Spam: 'Pre-emptive Email Protection'

Postini_logo

I hesitate to use a post on an anti-spam program, since not one I've seen or tried has lived up to its billing.

Nevertheless, Paul Taylor, technology columnist for The Financial Times, wrote glowingly of Postini recently, so I'm featuring it here for whatever it's worth.

Check it out if the burden's become intolerable.

October 7, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Picture of the day

Blond

[via thedoll]

October 7, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Microwave oven-embedded appliances - an idea whose time has come?

Toast

Kara Swisher recently evaluated appliance-maker LG's newest entries in the kitchen appliance combo sweepstakes.

You may recall this company brought us the first refrigerator with a built-in internet-connected computer and television.

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At $8,000 a pop, it might not have sold too well.

Now they've chosen to focus on a more mundane appliance: the humble microwave oven.

Last year heralded the introduction of their microwave/toaster ($119-$149); recently, they've unveiled their microwave/radio/recorder ($109) and microwave/coffee maker ($149-$179).

Swisher's verdicts on the tricked-out microwaves?

She liked the coffee maker version; was ambivalent about the toaster feature because it could result in a burned hand due to poor design; hated the radio/recorder model because of its terrible sound quality.

Here the full story.
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Microwave, Meet Toaster

We Review Combo Devices Designed to Save Space; Burnt Fingers, Fallen Bagels

There was no one who entered my kitchen over the last few weeks who didn't have a vociferous opinion. Thankfully, it wasn't about the long-ago military service of presidential candidates but an unusual trio of microwaves lined up on the counter.

Some loved the space-saving concept of ridding their kitchen counters of a traffic jam of appliances.

Others hated the idea, considering it just another marketing ploy.

Ed, my vigilant assistant, was worried about what would happen when one of the two-in-one appliances broke down over time and required fixing - a problem that is likely to occur.

Still other friends tried to imagine how many kitchen devices you could meld together to create the ultimate mutant appliance that someday would conquer your kitchen.

I took a more sociological view: Appliances like LG's microwaves are just part of a long-term trend toward inventing the perfect all-in-one device.

Such efforts are mostly seen in consumer electronics, with the constant introduction of such things as hand-held devices that serve a number of functions, like cell phones that also have Web access, calendars and address books, cameras, videos, radios and music players.

While their convenience and ease of use often is touted, one persistent issue with these types of products is that what often is created is a device whose parts are never as good together as alone.

That is why I took a wary approach to LG's efforts.

The South Korean company got a lot of ink (and only so-so sales) for its effort to embed an Internet-connected computer and television in a refrigerator.

But it is in the microwave area that LG has been most active of late. It is an effort with some promise - especially for those with limited space in their kitchen - but with some problems, too.

The radio-embedded microwave, for example, which sells for about $109, is a solid miss.

Radio

This is largely because the FM radio and speakers used in the unit were about as bad as the portable radio I had as a child.

It has scratchy fidelity and hard-to-tune stations, and even the pre-programming option was useless and seemed antiquated in a digital age.

Also included is a voice recorder, on which you presumably can tape messages to other family members.

The buttons to use the recorder were hard to decipher, and Ed and I kept recording each other saying: "Is this on? Which #!?*&# button do you push to make it work?"

Well-designed, the microwave works fine, with a number of convenient auto-cook buttons and a nifty dial you can spin to set the time you want to cook an item.

I had a much better experience with the toaster unit, which sells for $119 to $149, depending on the finish - although it had a considerable safety issue.

On the plus side, the handsome unit looks compact, even though it has a spacious microwave and a two-slice toaster capable of handling the largest bagel I could find to shove in.

The microwave operates easily, with a number of helpful speed buttons and an easy ability to switch to manual.

The toaster, too, is terrific, with intuitive controls that determine how dark you want your bread and a separate setting for bagels, as well as the cutest crumb tray ever invented.

Every toasting I tried came out just as requested.

Unfortunately, the toaster opening is set vertically on the front, meaning you pull down a small door to open it.

This caused a number of problems, including a tendency for the bagel to roll onto the floor when I pulled the door open too hard.

Most problematic is the metal plate that sits on the inside of the door to help with toasting.

It gets hot and radiates up uncomfortably at your hand as you pull toast out.

Several times, I nearly put my hand on it and a child almost certainly would do so, which might cause a nasty burn.

While a hand with a line drawn through it is on the plate to warn users, LG needs to find another solution.

There is a similar problem with the coffee maker/microwave, which sells for $149 to $179.

Coffee

A thin opening right in front on top of the unit vents steam from brewing.

I managed to parboil my hand three times as I touched the unit to pull the coffee carafe out.

Other than the safety issue, though, I could find nothing else wrong with this appliance - which makes the most sense to me as a combo.

Again beautifully designed, this microwave is the largest, with excellent touchpad controls and a spacious rounded cavity.

The coffee unit is well integrated into the appliance, situated unobtrusively to one side.

Over it, a pullout drawer for the water and the coffee is light and easy to fill.

You can adjust for stronger or weaker coffee, and there are settings for however many cups you like (to as many as seven).

There is an autotimer, a brewing-temperature choice, and an option that can keep the pot warm for as long as two hours.

It also made a very decent cup of coffee quickly.

Best of all, you can reheat your coffee right at the microwave.

This might be a small convenience, but it underscores the pluses of the all-in-one concept when it works.

October 7, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'This Column Is Brought To You By...'

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Jim Sollisch, a writer in Cleveland, recently wrote a most amusing column with the above headline for the Washington Post Op-Ed page.

In it, he held forth on the benefits which might accrue to anyone who agreed to sponsor his writing for a fat fee, say $10,000 a column.

You may recall my post yesterday on naming rights and bookofjoe.

Sounds like this movement is achieving critical mass.

Here's the article.
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Washpost_1

This column would not be possible without the generous support and inspiration of (YOUR NAME HERE).

That's just one of the many perks you will receive if you become my sponsor.

I might also be able to offer you part of my byline.

I got the idea from the Atlanta Ballet, which got the idea from medieval monarchs and the church - sort of the original arts sponsors.

In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, seven of the 14 largest ballet companies in the nation offer individuals the chance to "buy" dancers, sometimes at an auction.

Prices range from $2,500 to $100,000.

It's nice to know that in America, sponsorship isn't just for big corporations anymore.

Of course, no one knows what you get for your sponsorship dollars, other than an autographed picture and a chance to meet your dancer.

I don't think you get to order them around or make them rub your feet or anything like that.

Just for the record, I won't rub your feet, either.

Or entertain you.

But I will entertain your ideas.

And if I use any of them, millions of readers will be exposed to your ideas.

That's the kind of value and power you can expect from a sponsorship of Jim Sollisch.

Just think, if you sponsor me for $10,000 and one of your ideas ends up in a column, which is read by a million readers, you've paid just one cent per impression.

Wow, that's impressive.

And I sure could use the $10,000.

The newspaper you're holding in your hands paid me $200 for this column.

And while I do get the value of communicating my ideas to all those readers, I would be happy to trade some of my influence for some of your cash.

As a freelance writer, I deserve your patronage much more than a ballet dancer does.

They're on a salary.

Plus they don't need much to live on because they don't eat anything but salad.

I'm a writer.

I need alcohol and good cigars and lots of overpriced Starbucks coffee.

But let's get back to you and the benefits of sponsorship.

The Nashville Ballet's Web site offers this advice: "Don't know what to get the person who has everything? Give them the unique gift of a dancer. They will be the envy of their friends."

Well, when I get a Web site, which, by the way, will feature your name animated in some really cool flash type, I will ask visitors, "Wouldn't it be great to have someone to write your thank-you notes?"

There will be a button you can click on to read some samples of my thank you-note writing.

My Aunt Charlotte still has a note I wrote her thanking her for the book "Jewish Sports Heroes," which she got me for my bar mitzvah.

At the $25,000 level, I will ghostwrite your children's or grandchildren's school themes. (Sorry, I don't do research papers.)

I'd also be happy to throw in a few love letters.

I can do them in verse if you prefer.

Try getting your finicky, inarticulate prima ballerina to do that for you.

October 7, 2004 at 06:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UFO Abduction Insurance

Connie

"Beam Me Up... I'm Covered"

That's what the UFO Abduction Insurance Company says at the top of its website. More:

Since 1987, The UFO Abduction Insurance Company has boldly gone where no insurance company has gone before, and offered the perfect policy for anyone who thinks they have "everything" covered

"Don't Leave Earth Without It"

We Accept All Pre-Existing Conditions

You Cannot Be Turned Down Regardless of Age or Frequent Flyer Status

You can purchase this policy for anyone who qualifies, such as your spouse or even your mother-in-law, and yes - name yourself as the Beneficiary

Single Lifetime Premium: $19.95 + $3.00 Same Day Shipping

Our Agents Are Standing By

Alien

Each Personalized Gold-Bordered Policy includes a Frequent Flyer Endorsement and a Claim Form - which requires the Signature of an Authorized Onboard Alien

October 7, 2004 at 03:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

spamradio.com

Countrylogo

What's this?

It's a British website that takes spam messages, feeds them through a text-to-speech program, then sets the results atop a techno music track that you can listen to on your computer.

Some compare it to what you'd get if you combined Stephen Hawking and Moby to tell you you'd won the Costa Rican lottery.

From the website:
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Spamradio is serving up delicious helpings of spam each hour of each day to all who are hungry.

Using a complex arrangement of pipes and funnels we turn the junk mail that we receive into a streaming audio broadcast that can be enjoyed from anywhere on the Internet.

To listen to Spamradio, all you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and working ears.
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I'm surprised they haven't yet adopted John Cage as their patron saint.

Cage_9

But they're still young, there's time.

October 7, 2004 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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