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May 27, 2005

The ultimate PDA — and it's essentially free


Yesterday's Wall Street Journal featured a column by Thomas E. Weber about personal productivity, to–do lists and getting things done.

Go ahead and read it at the link above but really, let's be honest: if you're reading this, any lessons you might learn about taking care of business instead of goofing off would be wasted on you.

Having established that you're a slacker like me, let us spend a little time you don't really have examining the merits of a PDA that existed long before Palm and the Internet were a dream in the visionary mind of Douglas Englebart (below).


Weber's column, toward the very end, mentioned the use of a pocket organizer made from index cards and a binder clip, dubbed the "Hipster" PDA.


A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I was an intern at Los Angeles County–University of Southern California Hospital, unaffectionately known as "Big County."

It was big.

Really big.

In fact, you've probably seen the building (below)


because it's often used at the beginning of hospital–type TV shows.

FunFact: it's got more square footage than any single building west of the Mississippi River.

Anyway, on day one of my internship, June 24 being the particular day of the year that traditionally launches that trial, my first resident (sounds a bit like "My First Mister," doesn't it? But I digress) showed me how to keep track of my patients.

You took some blank index cards, then stamped one up top with one of your patients' plastic hospital ID cards that were kept in a little rack at the nursing station.

One card, one patient.

Under the stamp that contained their hospital ID number and date of birth — critical info for getting test and X-ray results — you put down their history, briefly noting key stuff like date admitted, allergies, test results, tests to be ordered, scut work needed, odds and ends like the phone number of a lab that was doing something on the patient, etc.

One patient, one card.


When you transferred or discharged a patient you tossed the card.

We didn't use binder clips though: we liked to travel light.

So, all this time has passed and now on www.43folders.com, one of the sites Weber mentioned in his article, a debate rages about the merits of the old index card system.

The Hipster works great: the memory is non–volatile, data entry is easy, the cost is negligible if not free, and battery life is forever.

It's also light and if you lose it, no big deal: you can create another in about 15 seconds that will work every bit as well.

I use a modified Hipster when I do my occasional week of role–playing as an anesthesiologist in the multi–user hospital game that takes place in Richmond.

I like lined yellow index cards now, with the lines running across the narrow dimension; I use a paper clip rather than a binder clip because of the weight factor and also the streamlined look it gives me in my scrubs.

Funny, as an intern I didn't use a paper clip — must've been because of the thicker stack of cards I had then and the fact that I was shuffling through them constantly.

Life is much better now, thank you very much.

May 27, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Snow leopard seen on Mount Everest


Why should you be excited?

Because this is the first confirmed sighting of the rare, elusive cat on the mountain in over 40 years.

Som Ale, a doctoral student in biology at the University of Illinois, photographed the animal (one of the pictures taken by Ale is above) on October 24 of last year in Sagarmatha National Park on the Nepalese side of the mountain.

There are thought to be only 300 to 500 snow leopards in Nepal and an estimated 4,500 to 7,000 of these big cats left in the wild in the entire world.

That population is spread across 12 countries and nearly 775,000 square miles, including some of the most remote regions of the world, from Afghanistan across the Himalayas to Lake Baikal in south central Russia.

Ale saw two animals and the tracks of two others as well.

In the late 1970s Peter Matthiessen ventured into the Himalayas on a five–week long journey in search of the snow leopard; his 1978 book, "The Snow Leopard," won the National Book Award.

But he never saw a snow leopard.

[via CNN.com and the New York Times]

May 27, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Maybe you're one of the seven people on the planet with a cell phone who never encounters dropped calls and the like: if so, please move on.

Everyone else, check out this website: you — or should I say we? — are not alone.

May 27, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Toilet in a Suitcase


"Same dimensions as the one you use at home!"

Why should you have to squat over a hole or use the foul facilities in roadside rest stops or gas stations when you can pull out this handy portable case and transform it into a superb place of contemplation wherever in the world you happen to be?

$115.95 here with free ground shipping (toilet paper not included).

Marcel Duchamp, please call your office: your facility is ready.

May 27, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Where in the world is Anton Zeilinger?


He's currently in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo.

He moved there from the University of Vienna.

Why should you care?

Only because Zeilinger (above) is arguably the world's leading experimenter and theorist in quantum reality.

Wherever he is becomes, by definition, the bleeding edge of modern physics and philosophy.


Explore the website for yourself and see if you can find your way back once you enter the looking glass.

May 27, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Garlic Twist: Fresh minced garlic without a knife — and no stinky fingers


From designer Eric Teng comes this clever kitchen tool, designed to take the fuss and mess out of mincing fresh garlic.

It replaces the common but often problem–prone garlic press and eliminates the task of mincing the cloves with a knife.

At the heart of the Garlic Twist is a matching set of cross–cutting teeth that let you mince 2–3 cloves at a time — from coarse to fine, as you like it.


Made of dishwasher–safe polycarbonate, it cleans with a quick rinse.

Read more on the company's website, where you'll find a demonstration video, store and online dealer locators, and all manner of tips and information about the use of this cool tool.

Comes in translucent blue, red or clear.


$13.95 here.

May 27, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Are Twinkies intelligent?


Don't laugh: if a Twinkie can pass the Turing test then it is indeed a form of intelligence.

Investigators at Rice University decided to find out.

Here are their results.

Disturbing — at the very least.

It would appear that PETT — People for the Ethical Treatment of Twinkies — is an organization whose time has come.


[via nullity]

May 27, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Geyser Flyer — Frisbee for the life aquatic


You submerge it and then throw it: water sprays all over the place from its 16 vents, "soaking all in its path!"

Perfect for the really annoying person who wants to step it up to the next level.

The Venturi Effect


surfaces yet again.

It's gonna be that kind of summer, I'm afraid.

$19.95 here for a set of 2.

May 27, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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