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January 27, 2006

In search of lost time — 'What blogs cost American business'

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Bradley Johnson's recent article in Advertising Age, "What Blogs Cost American Business," is getting all manner of media play, both online and in print.

The latest issue of The Atlantic magazine, a bloated stack of wasted paper if I do say so myself, has a brief note about Johnson's piece, from the tired old "woe is us, people at work are wasting time" point of view.

Wrote the Atlantic:

    Most of us will admit to wasting some time at work.

    But three new studies suggest that more time is lost now than ever before.

    According to a survey in Advertising Age, a leading culprit is Weblogs.

    The survey indicates that one in four U.S. workers reads blogs regularly while at work, losing, on average, some nine percent of the workweek.

    This amounts to 551,000 years of labor lost in 2005 alone.

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I guess it all depends on your point of view — me, all I could see in the above was the enormous upside just waiting for me.

I mean, at least 75% of the U.S. workforce has yet to discover the delights of bookofjoe consumed while on the job.

w00t!

Maybe I'll turn my attention for the time being from the nascent Chinese and Indian spaces to this great untouched American majority.

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I would suggest that time, like love, cannot be wasted.

January 27, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Howard Hughes Trash Can

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No question about it: this is the trash can the reclusive billionaire would've adopted in his Kleenex box–slippers phase.

Now it can be yours.

The trash can, I mean; the slippers have always been ready when you are, just like American Express.

But I digress.

From the website:

    Touchless Automatic Lid–Opening Trash Can

    Would you ever watch an old TV without a remote control again?

    Welcome to the 21st Century!

    Once you have tried the Touchless Trashcan you will never go back to the traditional or step–on trash can again.

    The Touchless Trashcan is a 100% hands–free, wireless, lidded waste disposal system.

    The built–in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Smart–Chip knows when you need to open the trash can and performs all openings and closings for you.

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    It uses patented invisible infra–red technology.

    • 13 gallon (49 liter) capacity

    • Brushed stainless steel

    • Measures 27.25"H x 10.5"W x 14.5"D

    • Height with lid open: 35.25"

    • Weight: 12 lbs.

    • Takes standard 10–, 14– or 16–gallon garbage bags

    • Comes with garbage bag Fix Ring™

    • Uses 4 D–cell batteries (not included)

    • Battery life: Approximately 6 months (based on 20 openings/day)

Well?

Still not convinced?

The website's got a video so you can see the thing do its trick.

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so you know it must be good.

$99 here (trash not included).

January 27, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Why computers are more forgiving than the real world

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Sure, we've all read those cautionary tales about what happens when you press the wrong button in your email and send out something that ends up costing you your job — or worse.

And we've all had the frustrating experience of having a finger stray while typing on a keyboard, subsequently erasing or losing a document we've been working on for a long time.

OK, stipulated.

But how about the fact, demonstrated to me on average at least hourly and often with much greater frequency, that a computer allows for your remembering too late the thing you forgot to correct or add or delete, letting you quickly go back in and seamlessly fix it?

Just now, in a single post I thought I'd finished last evening, one that had been already up for hours, I went back and made about 10 changes — adding links, correcting misspellings, fixing grammar and choosing a better word or two, etc.

I remember back in the day when I'd have to retype a report from the beginning repeatedly because I kept finding mistakes that couldn't be corrected with a typewriter eraser.

The rage and frustration, the crumpled balls of paper scattered on the floor, what a nightmare of misery.

This is so much better.

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A big thank–you to the anonymous joehead who had Panera's WiFi network unblock bookofjoe.

Last evening I went down to Panera with my PowerBook to bring up the "Blocked" screen and then email them that bookofjoe is family–friendly, G–rated, Disney–approved — you know, the whole nine yards of goodness — but found, to my surprise, that it's already been taken care of.

Sometime between last Saturday, when I remarked on it, and last night would be when the firewall came down.

I also tried Enoch Choi's nice hack that lets you access blocked sites: it works.

My readers are the BEST.

January 27, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

EZ Plug — 'Effortlessly ejects your plug from the wall outlet'

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In life as we know it, all too often it is far easier to get into something than to get out of it.

Trouble, for example.

But we're not about generalities here: focus, Focus, FOCUS is what we do.

Without further ado, then, let's take an up–close–and–personal look at the plug space.

Sometimes a device's wall socket is in an awkward, difficult–to–access place.

Other times the plug seems welded to the wall so you end up jerking on the cord to remove it.

Which reminds me of art critic Robert Hughes's wonderfully–titled memoir of his life as a trout fisherman," "A Jerk On One End."

You could look it up.

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I can't speak for you but me, I don't have time for nonsense like that.

From the EZ Plug website:

    Remove Any Plug From an Outlet Effortlessly

    Is removing the vacuum cleaner plug from the wall a hassle?

    Not to worry.

    The EZ Plug Wall Adapter is an ingenious invention that fits over 2– or 3– pronged devices and with the push of a lever effortlessly ejects your plug from the outlet.

    • Cantilever action

    • Weight: 4 oz.

    • 1.5"L x 1"W

2 for $14.95 here.

January 27, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

PantAlaine — 'Provisioners of America's Finest Plural Clothing'

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Plural clothing?

Haven't seen that in the fashion pages yet, have you?

Just wait.

From the bleeding edge of the rag trade comes this singular company out of — ready for this? — South Bend, Indiana.

Brian McMullen, whose day job involves keeping the riff–raff from advertising in Cabinet magazine (Oh yeah? Then how come they give you a half–page every issue? Huh, joe?) is the force majeure behind PantAlaine, which he informs me "is in the process of setting up a full–time showroom in 'my' bedroom in my parents' house in Indiana."

Those of you who read McSweeney's may recall that a full–color Sears–style circular for PantAlaine appeared in issue #17 last October.

Full disclosure: a half–page advertisement for bookofjoe appears on page 111 of the current issue (#20, below)

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of Cabinet.

January 27, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Right Height Picture Holder — Just one hole does the trick

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A world–class contract killer of the quality of Mark Burnell's heroine, Petra Reuter/Stephanie Patrick, knows very well that being paid seven figures for an termination with extreme prejudice hinges on her ability to deliver the sniper's classic result: "One target, one shot."

The inventor of this picture hanger took the same approach.

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From the website:

    Consider this:

    Walk into anybody's living room and remove a picture from the wall.

    How many holes are you likely to see?

    Three, four, more??

    Hardly ever do we get a picture or painting hanging at exactly the right spot on the first try.

    How we wish that picture hook would simply move up or down, just a little!

    Introducing the Right Height Picture Hanger — featuring the picture hook that adjusts on the wall.

Sold.

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Two for $9.95 here.

Full disclosure: I strolled around my house and counted the holes underneath each picture, painting and mirror, then averaged the results.

It's not pretty.

It's also >4.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Except for one thing: the number of such holes in my house, in what appears to be yet another of those amazing coincidences that both baffle and delight, turns out to equal — exactly — the number required to fill the Albert Hall to capacity.

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Go figure.

January 27, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: 'Hernias may not require surgery'

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Above, the headline (no, not the "three out of four doctors...", silly — above that) of a story in the January 23 Wall Street Journal about a study just published in the Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA).

The question was, is it safe to simply keep an eye on symptomless hernias instead of operating?

Here at bookofjoe our philosophy is to avoid any and all interaction with doctors if at all possible.

That's the dirty little secret of a long and happy life.

I guess it's not so secret anymore, what?

No matter.

Here's the abstract of the JAMA article.

    Watchful Waiting vs Repair of Inguinal Hernia in Minimally Symptomatic Men: A Randomized Clinical Trial

    Context: Many men with inguinal hernia have minimal symptoms. Whether deferring surgical repair is a safe and acceptable option has not been assessed.

    Objective: To compare pain and the physical component score (PCS) of the Short Form-36 Version 2 survey at 2 years in men with minimally symptomatic inguinal hernias treated with watchful waiting or surgical repair.

    Design, Setting and Participants: Randomized trial conducted January 1, 1999, through December 31, 2004, at 5 North American centers and enrolling 720 men (364 watchful waiting, 356 surgical repair) followed up for 2 to 4.5 years.

    Interventions: Watchful-waiting patients were followed up at 6 months and annually and watched for hernia symptoms; repair patients received standard open tension-free repair and were followed up at 3 and 6 months and annually.

    Main Outcome Measures: Pain and discomfort interfering with usual activities at 2 years and change in PCS from baseline to 2 years. Secondary outcomes were complications, patient-reported pain, functional status, activity levels, and satisfaction with care.

    Results: Primary intention-to-treat outcomes were similar at 2 years for watchful waiting vs surgical repair: pain limiting activities (5.1% vs 2.2%, respectively; P = .52); PCS (improvement over baseline, 0.29 points vs 0.13 points; P = .79). Twenty-three percent of patients assigned to watchful waiting crossed over to receive surgical repair (increase in hernia-related pain was the most common reason offered); 17% assigned to receive repair crossed over to watchful waiting. Self-reported pain in watchful-waiting patients crossing over improved after repair. Occurrence of postoperative hernia-related complications was similar in patients who received repair as assigned and in watchful-waiting patients who crossed over. One watchful-waiting patient (0.3%) experienced acute hernia incarceration without strangulation within 2 years; a second had acute incarceration with bowel obstruction at 4 years, with a frequency of 1.8/1000 patient-years inclusive of patients followed up for as long as 4.5 years.

    Conclusions: Watchful waiting is an acceptable option for men with minimally symptomatic inguinal hernias. Delaying surgical repair until symptoms increase is safe because acute hernia incarcerations occur rarely.

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In case you weren't up to reading the abstract, long story short: if your hernia doesn't hurt, leave it alone.

Dr. David Flum of the University of Washington, in an accompanying JAMA editorial, said hernia surgery for patients without pain may soon disappear, just as preventive tonsillectomies have done.

FunFacts:

• About 2% of all men in the U.S. have inguinal hernias

• Overall, about 5 million Americans of all ages have some type of abdominal hernia

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I've always been impressed by how involved seemingly "minor" inguinal hernia surgery can be.

I've watched hundreds of these procedures from the other side of the surgical drape.

It's a tricky thing, finding and repairing a hole in the abdominal wall.

Nowadays surgeons routinely insert a mesh screen over the hole to reinforce the closure: that takes some doing since they're working in a very small space.

Much better to avoid the whole thing.

January 27, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Valentine Spatula

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The perfect sweet yet low–key gift for someone who cooks — or pretends to.

From the website:

    Food–grade silicone spatula head

    Contoured for optimal mixing, folding and scraping

    Dishwasher–safe and heat–resistant up to 500°F

    11.75"

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$6.95 here.

January 27, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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