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November 27, 2004

'When pigs fly'


Yeah, we've all heard people say that's when they'll believe something that seems really unlikely.

Well, guess what?

It's time.

This Pig Catapult launches a tiny plastic pig up to 15 feet.

The handy package has a pig bull's-eye on the back so you can practice secretly before you invite your friends over for a pig-fling.

$4.95 here - but cheap at twice the price.

November 27, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nanosize Me


Headline of a story in the December Scientific American about the current craze for all things nano.

You may recall a post here a few weeks ago commenting on this trend.

The Scientific American piece notes that even companies that have nothing to do with nanotechnology are jumping on the bandwagon.

MicroSignal Corporation, a Las Vegas-based maker of software for MRI machines, late last year changed its named to NanoSignal Corporation.

Nanogen, a San Diego company making microarray chips for genetic research, creates products whose active sites are 80,000 nanometers across, way too big to be considered nanotech.

A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter long.

"Nano" when used in nanotechnology means 100 nanometers or less.

A human red blood cell (below)


is 8,000 nanometers in diameter.

Then there's General NanoSystems of Minneapolis.

This personal computer vendor never claimed to have anything to do with manipulating molecules.

Owner Khalid Mahmoud explained laughingly to Scientific American that "micro" was a very popular word in the computer industry when he started his company seven years ago.

"We just decided to go one step further," he said.


How does bookofnanojoe sound?

Or nanobookofjoe?


I'm thinking, I'm thinking....

November 27, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

USB Mince Pie


According to Christmas lore, eating a mince pie every day in the run up to Christmas will make for a happy year ahead.

The inventors of the USB Mince Pie present "the ultimate in Yuletide Technology, that brings together the world's favorite festive food and our patented 'no limits' USB technology."


They offer a 128MB version for £14.99 ($29) and a 256MB one for £29.99 ($57), both powered by a USB 2.0 interface.

Coming soon is a 512 MB version.

Works with Windows XP, Linux, and Mac.

Love that little light in the middle.



[via mikeslist.com]

November 27, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

World's most original online clock


There are no words to adequately describe Yugo Nakamura's jaw-droppingly unique digital clock - and I use the word "digital" advisedly - sent to me by AW, my devoted Phuket, Thailand joehead.

He's stuck it out with me even as I shuttered Version 1.0 and emerged here into the land of Disney with nary a - well, OK, maybe a small one, a teeny, tiny little thing - complaint about the new direction being taken.

His resort - The Aspasia Phuket - will be the final stop on my impending apocalyptic, never-before-seen-or-experienced World Tour.

He guarantees me the best time of my life.

From what he's told - and shown - me, things I am not, alas, at liberty to share with you, children, I have absolutely no reason to doubt him.


Can't hardly wait.

November 27, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Head-Lite Baseball Cap


Integrates a 4-position halogen light with a baseball cap.

Illuminates up to 40 feet away with 80,000 candlepower.

Works with 2 AAA batteries (included), for up to 5 hours of continous light.

Comes in black, blue, khaki, and mossy oak camo.

Not a bad price, either: $14.95 here.

November 27, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MorphWorld: Mac OS X start-up spinning wheel into Sikorsky Aircraft's trademark?


As you may or may not know, or care about too much, there's currently an all-out battle being waged between Sikorsky and AgustaWestland for the contract for the next version of Marine One, the President's helicopter.

It's huge and extraordinarily prestigious, as you might imagine.

Making it even more fevered than usual is the fact that Sikorsky is based in Stratford, Connecticut and AgustaWestland is Italian-owned and headquartered in the U.K.

Marine One foreign-made?

No way, says Sikorsky. But I digress.

When I happened to glance at an ad in today's Washington Post for Sikorsky's version I noticed next to the company's name their trademark (above), obviously meant to signify a helicopter's spinning main rotor.

But it's exactly the same as the spinning wheel that appears under the gray apple icon when I start up OS X on my beloved iMac.

Now, Sikorsky was started in 1923.

When they adopted their trademark I do not know.

But you know Apple didn't start using the spinning wheel until March 24, 2001, when OS X 10.0 (Cheetah, for those of you who like a little detail with your amusement) went on sale.

So you have to wonder....

Nah, couldn't be.

Steve and the gang would never take someone else's intellectual property.

Not with the way their lawyers crush anyone or anything that even remotely resembles their hardware or software's "look and feel."


Would they?

November 27, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Virtual Chaperone


What's this?

It's the new new thing in the U.K.

The chronically underfunded, understaffed National Health Service just doesn't have enough nurses to assign one as a chaperone whenever a patient prefers not to be examined one-on-one.

They're considering rolling out a videocamera that records, in real time and living color, with sound and everything, the events that ensue in the examining room.

I wonder how this would fly in the U.S.?

Not well - at least at first.

Consider that central London is full of surveillance cameras, designed to prevent crime, and that Londoners apparently have accepted and even welcomed this 24/7 video monitoring.

And that Tony Blair's government has just announced a 2008 rollout of a national identity card which must be carried at all times by inhabitants of the U.K.

I guess they're not quite as sensitive to the intrusion of the state into the individual's private sphere as are we.

Read the virtual chaperone story for yourself; it's from this week's Economist.

    Big Sister Is Watching You

    Virtual chaperones may help both doctors and patients

    If you can't trust a doctor, who can you trust?

    Sadly, though, neither doctors nor patients are always trustworthy.

    That leads to abuses by the former during intimate examinations, and false accusations of abuse by the latter in the hope of making large sums of compensation money.

    To combat both phenomena, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is considering a plan to force doctors to have a nurse present as a chaperone in any situation with the potential to turn compromising.

    That, however, replaces one problem with another.

    Chaperoning is hardly the best use of a nurse's talents, even when lots of nurses are available.

    And at the moment the NHS has a serious shortage of nurses.

    However, a team led by Sir Ara Darzi, of the Imperial College School of Medicine, in London, may have come up with the answer - an electronic chaperone.

    Like a maiden aunt at a Victorian date, the Synaptiq Virtual Chaperone, so named after the firm that makes it, is discreet, but omnipresent.

    A camera mounted on the ceiling in the corner of the consulting room has a viewing angle of 120° - enough to see what is going on everywhere - while a microphone records the conversation between doctor and patient.

    The equipment is barely visible.

    This should help to avoid the tendency which many people have to play to the camera. But the system is discreet in another way, too.

    The data it collects are encoded immediately, using a level of security more frequently associated with financial institutions than doctors' surgeries.

    And those data are there for clinical as well as legal reasons.

    For there is a third element to the system, a console on the doctor's desk that can be used to record medical information about the patient.

    That means there is a complete record of the consultation that both patient and doctor, who each receive a copy, can refer to in order to jog their memories about the facts.

    To decode the recording requires a special key that fits into a computer's USB port, and also a password, so unauthorised access is easy to prevent unless both key and password fall into the wrong hands.

    A trial of the system, carried out in the plastic-surgery department of Charing Cross Hospital, in London, has yielded positive results.

    Some 96% of patients said that having the virtual chaperone enhanced their relationship with the doctor. The NHS's managers are also keen on the system.

    At the moment, the average time needed to settle a claim of misbehaviour in the consulting room is eight years.

    Many innocent doctors are suspended as a result (in 70% of cases, the doctor is cleared).

    An unambiguous record of what happened should stop that, and also prevent money being wasted on protracted court battles, since such cases will no longer turn on one party's word rather than another's.

    The virtual chaperone, in other words, may soon become virtually indispensable.

November 27, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CIA's Homepage For Kids


What's this?

Not a joke but, rather, a kinder, gentler introduction to the black arts.


I guess they're taking seriously President Bush's recent order to increase the number of clandestine agents by 50% in the next few years.

Hey, the whole espionage community's gotten into the act: there's NRO Jr., a website for children put up by the National Reconnaissance Office,


which used to be so secret no one in government would admit it existed.

Then there's the NSA/CSS Kids and Youth Page, a production of the


National Security Agency, formerly known as "No Such Agency."

And don't forget FBI Kids,


for those who like their skullduggery domestic.

[via Wired magazine]

November 27, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (637) | TrackBack

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