« February 23, 2006 | Main | February 25, 2006 »

February 24, 2006

BlackBerry throwdown — Or, why I'm glad Jim Balsillie (Chairman and Co–CEO of RIM) is not my anesthesiologist


I've been following this epic corporate struggle for years, since NTP Inc. filed its patent infringement lawsuit against RIM, with NTP stating that its patents (dating back to 1991) cover the automated transmission of wireless emails to a handheld device and that RIM needs to pay for using their technology.

Back in the day NTP would've settled for $10 million or $20 million, said NTP's co–founder, Donald Stout, in today's Wall Street Journal front–page lead article.

Now NTP wants $1 billion to go away and RIM's Jim Balsillie in talking as tough as ever, telling the Journal that NTP's patents are "committed to the garbage bin."

That may well be.

But what Balsillie, with his take–no–prisoners scorched earth tactics, has done is to create hesitation and doubt among his users who wonder what will happen if Judge James Spencer, who is weighing remedies in the case, simply shuts down BlackBerry's use of NTP's technology.

Balsillie claims he's got a back–up system ready to go but many others who are knowledgeable about such technology say that it's iffy at best.

Me, I look at the whole uproar in the light of something Voltaire wrote, to wit: "I have never been ruined but twice in my life — once when I lost a lawsuit, and once when I won one."


There is something to be said for a liberal arts education even in the rarified air of high technology.

When I was boy growing up in Milwaukee there was a memorable (I mean, ipso facto that's the case, isn't it, since I'm mentioning it here, all these years later?) public service announcement that appeared on TV from time to time.

It was a photograph of a car crashed into another at an intersection, with the caption,


Me, I like an anesthesiologist who does what works — not what's right.

There's a huge difference.

My favorite intraoperative example of the huge divide between the two came once when a patient started moving on the OR table.

The surgeon looked up over the drape and said, "Hey, the patient's waking up."

The resident I was working with said, "Huh?"

The surgeon said, "She's bucking."

The resident replied, "She can't be — she's paralyzed."


And no one, not even August A. Busch IV, was drinking a Bud at the time.

After I stopped laughing and pushed more muscle relaxant, I took the resident aside and pointed out to him that even though his nerve stimulator showed profound neuromuscular block, that didn't preclude the patient from not, in fact, being completely paralyzed.

Just one more example of why, in the end, your machines will always let you down.

Believe the patient.

Pay up, Jim.

February 24, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Leaning Pan of Circulon


Yeah, they call it the "Toss & Turn Skillet" but I say let's put a little flair into the kitchen utensil naming space.

From the website:

    Specially designed skillet makes flipping easy!

    Rounded corners and offset sides make this the ultimate flipping skillet!

    The higher side catches food as it comes down so you’ll never spill on the stovetop.

    The best way to make omelettes, pancakes and vegetables.

    Nonstick coating releases food and makes cleanup easy.

    10.5" Diameter.


February 24, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Put your plug above the socket: advertising enters the electrical space


Many years ago I began using the electrical outlets at airports to charge my cell phone while I talked on it.

That was back when battery life was about ten minutes.

Nowadays computers are the devices most often plugged in by travelers waiting for their plane.

Suzanne Vranica wrote about the latest advance (perhaps not the right word but let's not quibble) in advertising in a story that appeared in the February 21 Wall Street Journal: J. P. Morgan Chase's commercial banking unit earlier this month paid to have 90 two–foot–high stickers (above) placed on the wall atop electrical outlets throughout the departure lounge areas at Indianapolis International Airport.

The banners have Chase's name and logo and say things like, "This outlet works. Now you can too."

They also provide a local phone number or email address to reach the bank.

Chase is paying $65,000 for a one–year run for its ads.

Probably approached the Indianapolis airport after I turned 'em down.

No way is anyone putting stuff above the electrical outlets in my house.


That's not why they called?

Now you tell me.

February 24, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain Spa Head Massager


Yeah, laugh all you want but once you put this on I guarantee you no one will bother you ever again.

From the website:

    Alleviate stress, tension and help soothe that migraine with our Brain Spa Head Massager.

    It’s like having your very own masseuse.

    This patented Italian design incorporates Japanese engineering and utilizes acupressure to relax and soothe your problems away.

    It’s like thousands of tiny fingers simultaneously massaging your scalp.

    Simply place our Brain Spa Head Massager on your head and feel the tension miraculously leave your body.

    Suitable for any age, this massager stimulates blood circulation and helps to relieve stress.

    Use it at your desk at work.

    You can use it on your morning commute in traffic.

    Use it while relaxing at home in front of the TV after a long day.

    Its rechargeable battery makes it totally portable and easy to use anytime and anywhere.

    It’s like a Spa for your brain and your soul.

    Measures 10" x 6.5" x 7".

    Uses A/C adapter (included).


I especially like the suggestion to "use it on your morning commute in traffic" — tell you what, I guarantee it'll give the aggressive types around you pause before they try and cut in.

When you're not plugged in and getting tuned up you can wear it around and pretend you're in a Trojan War reenaction.



February 24, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

We get email: from Mark Hayman, director of the Museo dell'Arpa Victor Salvi


You may recall that on Monday of this week I featured the Museo dell'Arpa Victor Salvi in Piasco, Italy.

While I was sleeping, at 4:46 a.m. ET today, in came the following email:

    Could you tell me why you featured the Museo dell’Arpa Victor Salvi on your website for February 20?

    Thank you.


    Mark Hayman
    Museo dell’Arpa Victor Salvi
    Piasco, Italy

No problema, Mark.

The following email went out to him from bookofjoe World Headquarters at 9:41 a.m. ET today:

    Dear Mark,

    Certainly: it was because I found it extremely interesting, along with Mr. Salvi.

    I only feature things I find of particular interest.

    Like a fine harp.



At 10:06 a.m. ET, in came the following from Mark:

    Dear Joe,

    Thanks - glad you find it interesting!

    Mr. Salvi's life is very colorful, indeed.


    Mark Hayman


This deserved further investigation so I went and hosed down the crack research team, asleep at the switch as usual, and told them to get cracking so we'd have something for today's noontime post.

They did a bang–up job and brought back an interesting website chock–full of information and news about harps, harpists and, best of all, a picture of Mark Hayman, (top, next to harpist Varvara Ivanova, winner — at age 17 — of the 2003 International Harp Contest).

But wait — there's more.

Scrolling down the website, I happened on a picture of Victor Salvi (below)



February 24, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AquaSkipper: Self–Propelled Water Hopper


From the website:

    Hydrofoil Water Scooter

    Unlike other watercraft, this unique hydrofoil frame allows you to skim across water simply by hopping gently up and down, propelling you as fast as 17 mph (more than four times faster than some world champion freestyle swimming speeds).

    At only 26 lbs., the lightweight aircraft aluminum and fiberglass frame is easy to transport to a dock or boat for launch.

    Wide steps and handlebars allow confident control as your own hopping motion lifts the hydrofoils to skim quickly across a lake; the AquaSkipper also provides a brisk cardiovascular workout.

    Virtually maintenance-free, it has no moving parts or noisy engines that require fuel.

    For ages 12 and up with adult supervision and a Coast-Guard-approved life vest.

    4' H x 8' W x 6' L.



Tell you what, there'll be a whole lot of talk around the waterbug campfire that first evening after you've taken this puppy out about the new kid on the walk–on–water block.


February 24, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

In Search of Lost Time: The Past Recaptured


Every June 17 Diego and Susy Goldberg


of Buenos Aires, Argentina photograph


themselves and each of their children.


They've done so for the past 30 years,


since their initial pair of


photos taken in 1976.


Time and tide.

[via Matt Penning]

February 24, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Firefly LED Water Bottle Lid


World's most technical water bottle cap becomes a lantern after dark.


• 7 white LEDs integrated into the underside of the lid

• Variable light levels — nightlight to reading lamp

• 3 AAA batteries provide 25 hours of illumination

• Works with all standard wide–mouth bottles

• Can be used right side up or upside down

• Electronics in sealed compartment

• Sterling climbing rope cable attaches lid to jar

• Crack–resistant in extreme temperatures

• Glass–reinforced plastic lid for tight seal

From Guyot.


$15 when it becomes available this spring.

[via Brian Lam and Wired magazine]

February 24, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

« February 23, 2006 | Main | February 25, 2006 »