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March 5, 2005



Continuing the theme of fires where you don't expect them, emerging from stainless steel logs and what-not, today's offering to Vulcan lets you "... enjoy the warmth and glow of a real wood fireplace."

Nope, no steel or cement faux fire here.

From the website:

    Satin porcelain fire-bowl with sculptured cast iron legs.

    Fine mesh screen provides a view of the fire from all sides.

    Integrated rainwater drain with ash guard.

    Accomodates standard-size wood.

Time to get out your trusty ax and head for the forest.

$199.99 here.

From Sears — who woulda thunk it?

Now where did I put those marshmallows....

March 5, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The IKEA forest — 'I use their tabletops exactly like panels of plywood'


So said Paul Mackerer, a Pennsylvania-based interior designer, in Jeff Turrentine's February 24 Washington Post Home section article on the Swedish company's dominance in its chosen field.

Turrentine noted that icon, a British design magazine, in its March 2005 issue, raised eyebrows with its "21 Most Influential" list when it put IKEA in the number one spot.


Kieran Long, icon's deputy editor, noted in the Post story that icon had in a past issue featured an article about a group of Icelandic designers who have "worked out that it's actually cheaper for them to buy their basic plywood in the form of IKEA furniture. Because of its economy of scale IKEA can make the finished products cheaper than [plywood] would cost in Iceland, where they don't really have a lot of trees. So these guys just buy the pieces and then alter or embroider them, or even smash them and remake them."

Mackerer, whose quote headlines this post, continued, "Just cut it and do whatever I want to it. I'll make it into a headboard, or maybe make an entirely new table out of it."

From the Post article:

    For one client, Mackerer bought 55 small tabletops, cut and painted them, then covered an entire wall with them in homage to parchment-panel walls by the legendary French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank.

    "They have a nice dimension," he says, "and in addition to being economical, they're easy to get. It's all just off the shelf — I don't have to order it."

    For another client, he took an IKEA bed and matching dresser and covered it an earthy bark paper to achieve a similar parchment effect.

If a tree falls in the IKEA forest and there's no one around, does it make any noise?

What is the sound of no hands clapping?

March 5, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Level Earrings


A nice take on an old theme


by Rhode Island designer-artist LeeAnn Herreid.

She's created a number of variations:


two styles


of earrings ($60 and $64)

and a


necklace ($56)


that'll go with either.

March 5, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The good news: you've been admitted to Harvard; the bad news: because you hacked into the admissions site, we're reconsidering


Talk about brain-dead and poor judgment: more than 100 applicants to top U.S. business schools, including Harvard and Stanford, decided to end their uncertainty about whether or not they got in by hacking into an admissions website after an anonymous hacker last Wednesday posted instructions on how to do so on Business Week Online's technology forum.

I'd throw these jokers out: not because of their audacity and enterprising nature in doing what they did but, rather, because of their demonstration of breathtaking stupidity and lack of common sense.

I mean, who would want one of these fools running their company?

I'm reminded of the Phi Beta Kappa anesthesiology residents who, when they can't get a blood pressure, start rummaging around in the anesthesia machine drawers for another blood pressure cuff instead of reaching over and feeling to see if the patient has a pulse.


Here's Victoria Griffith's story about the Harvard hack, from today's Financial Times.

    Harvard Hackers Must Await Their Fate

    More than 100 applicants to top US business schools, including Harvard and Stanford, sought to end months of nail-biting over whether they would be admitted by hacking into MBA admissions sites.

    But even the ones who got good news may be in for an unwanted surprise.

    Harvard said it was reconsidering the status of the hackers who had initially been approved for admission.

    The potential students who accessed the admissions site were only a small portion of the approximately 8,500 applicants to the MBA programme.

    The university has obtained names of the offenders.

    "It certainly casts their applications in a new light, although no final decisions will be made until March 30," said James Aisner, Harvard Business School spokesman.

    "It is a serious breach of the system. One hacker would have been too many."

    Applicants were tipped off by an anonymous hacker who posted instructions for getting into the site on Business Week Online's technology forum on Wednesday.

    The admissions sites were open for more than nine hours before the schools' administration was alerted to the problem and the admissions letters were taken down.

    Applicants could only access information on themselves.

    MIT's Sloan School of Management and the business schools at Duke and Carnegie Mellon were also affected.

    But Sloan and MIT said applicants would not have garnered any information from their sites, since no admissions decisions had yet been posted.

    The security breach occurred because of a digital loophole at ApplyYourself, a company that runs the admissions systems for a number of universities.

    Harvard posts preliminary decisions on its site, although they are not finalised until just before they are sent out.

    For those hacking into the system, it is highly improbable the Noes will be turned into Yeses.

March 5, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Piano Hand Roll


Made in Japan, yes, but not edible.

Yamano has crafted a flexible 2.5 lb. rubber keyboard that rolls up.

128 synthesized sounds can be heard via the onboard speaker or a headphone jack.

There's also a MIDI port for hooking up to a computer.


$279 here.

[via Brian Lam and Wired magazine]

March 5, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Russ Walter is a piece of work


I just ran across him a week ago, though he's been around in published form since 1972.

That was the year he came out with the first edition of "The Secret Guide to Computers."

It was a 17-page pamphlet typed by Walter, copied, then handed out free to whoever wanted one.

Over the past 33 years the book has morphed into the 607-page 29th Edition that just arrived here from Amazon ($17.50).

On the front cover, it says the following:

    Free help from the author

    Phone Russ at 603-666-6644, day or night — he's usually in

Now, I don't know about you, but me, I don't know any computer types who offer help free, 24/7.

Or are available anything close to 24/7 even for money.

Sure, here at bookofjoe you can email me 24/7 and be certain you'll hear back within 24 hours, absolutely free; that's a far cry from taking your call, though.

Like me, Russ offers help on anything.

Unlike me, Russ can help you with your computer.

So you will find him darn useful if you need to get your machine up and running again at, say, 3:32 a.m. when you've got a presentation at 9.

Last year Walter wrote a second book, entitled "Tricky Living."

He says it explains everything else about modern life besides computers.

I ordered that one too.

How could I not, with stuff like this in "The Secret Guide to Computers":

    Hi! I'm Russ, the only person foolish enough to spend an entire lifetime writing a computer book.

    Phone day or night (around-the-clock, 24 hours). I'm usually in and sleep just lightly. (If no answer, I'm on an errand; try later)

    This book throws you into the action fast, makes you competent, then makes you wise.

    Prerequisite: This book was written for idiots. To see whether you can get through the math, take this test: count to ten but (here's the catch!) without looking at your fingers.

    Copying this book is all right! Make as many copies as you like, and don't pay us a cent.

    What this book will do for you: It'll make you even richer than the author! Alas, he's broke.

    Apology: Any original ideas in this book are errors.

    Author's qualifications: His wife calls him a "wise guy." His dog thinks he's just a guy. His dog is dead.

    About our headquarters: Come visit our Home Office, in Russ's home. It includes our Production Department, in or near Russ's bed.

Walter and I agree about many things, not least of which is our philosophy about people taking our stuff.

Don't have the energy to copy his book?

No problema: it's right here, online: read a quarter of it for free, and for a change of pace read a fourth of "Tricky Living" while you're at it.

Then call him and tell him what you thought: he'll be there waiting for you call.

Why would he want to be anywhere else?

March 5, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Fiber-optic scope goes commercial


I've been using a medical-grade version of this instrument for many years.

It's a flexible tube with a light source in the handle, some of whose glass fibers transmit the light to the tip, illuminating whatever's there; the remainder of the fibers carry the image back to the eyepiece in the handle.

You focus with a ring around the eyepiece.

There are, however, a few differences between the type I use, which runs around $5,000, and the one featured in this post (above).

1) The one sold here can't really be sterilized: it's not meant to be subjected to the extremes of temperature and chemicals required for medical use and re-use.

Having said that, it should be noted that from time to time epidemics of infection arise due to improperly sterilized medical-grade scopes.

Adding to the unease about reuse is the awareness that certain organisms, among them the prions that cause Mad Cow and variant CJD, are not killed by the sterilization procedures routinely used in hospitals and clinics.

2) The "borescope," as Garrett Wade calls it for reasons completely unknown to me, is powered by AA batteries; the medical version must be plugged in to the wall to provide sufficient power. I suspect the medical version has a much clearer image as a result.

3) Most important from a clinical point of view, the medical version (below)


is manipulable: that is, the operator can move the tip in any direction with controls attached to the eyepiece. This is what makes it so valuable, especially to an anesthesiologist attempting a difficult intubation.

The point of the borescope is that you can see down drains and into wall cavities via a 1/4" hole.

But you have to rely on gravity to direct it: if you need to look sideways or up, you're out of luck.

Having said all that, it's still pretty amazing that they can sell the 18"-long version for $300 and the 36"-model for $380.

March 5, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The 'Noble Rags' of Henri Matisse


Today at London's Royal Academy, "Matisse, His Art and Textiles: The Fabric of Dreams," opens.

The exhibition explores some of the ways in which Matisse's fabric collection served him as an experimental laboratory.

As you enter you're confronted with a length of white fabric with a pattern of dark-blue arabesques and flower baskets.

This piece of toule de Jouy, which Matisse saw in a second-hand clothes shop from the top of a Parisian bus in 1903, for the next several decades inspired and became part of his most innovative and risk-taking paintings (above).

Matisse collected fabrics ranging from Parisian 19th-century chintz and woven silk to Javanese batik, Egyptian curtains, Persian and Algerian rugs, and Kuba cloths from Zaire, found in flea markets and junk shops and each finding a place in his "working library" of patterns and textures.

This show drapes swaths of his fabrics across several rooms, showing them in juxtaposition to the paintings they inspired.

The show closes on May 30, then moves across the pond to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art where it will be up from June 23 to September 25.

March 5, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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