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March 8, 2006

Sprint Ambassador — Episode 2: In which our TechnoDolt™ accomplishes something amazing (at least, to him)

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Back on January 28 I introduced my Samsung A920 phone, part of Sprint's Ambassador program for which I was selected.

I remarked on my delight at being able to actually make a phone call without any set–up or instructions (except for how to turn the phone on).

Well, six weeks or so have passed since then and I've been playing with the phone off and on during that time, trying to use some of the zillions of features it offers — if only you know how.

There's Video on Demand, Music, Media Player, Sprint TV, Radio, Music Video, Cartoons, Sports, News, Weather, Movies & Shorts, and tons of other stuff.

Trouble is it's all meant for those with a higher technical pay grade than me — namely anyone on the planet over the age of six.

But, there's good news: I have succeeded, after many hours of failing, in figuring out how to access bookofjoe on my nifty phone's very crisp and bright screen.

It's astounding, actually:

1) Open the (clamshell–style) phone

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2) Press "Contacts" to open the Contacts menu, where bookofjoe sits up top

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3) Scroll down (one click) to highlight bookofjoe

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4) Press "Go"

From the time I open the phone until bookofjoe appears on the screen (top) takes less than 5 seconds.

This is major technological wizardry.

Because not only is my blog easily readable on a screen that measures 1-5/8"-high x 1-3/8"-wide, the pictures that accompany the posts are crisp and clear*

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and the links all work right from the phone.

Amazing.

I say ignore the fact it took me forever to get things organized and saved until I could do this; rather, focus on the fact that such things will be easily doable even for people like moi in years to come.

joeTV has never seemed more possible; I daresay it's even closer than "real soon now."

*Note: My staff photographer, Henri Cartier–Buffoon, did the very best he could to bring you the images above.

If he were to wait for his "decisive moment," well, I'm afraid you'd never see any pictures.

Trust me when I say that the images on the screen of the phone are razor-sharp.

March 8, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Smart Lid Color–Changing Temperature–Sensitive Disposable Coffee Cup Lid — 'World's first intelligent cup lid'

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Before the lid goes on it's coffee–bean brown; when it's placed atop a hot drink it turns red, alerting the user that the contents are hot.

"The lid changes back to the original brown as the drink cools."

Watch the video and see for yourself.

The Smart Lid is out of Australia but I look for this to appear in the Northern Hemisphere sooner rather than later, as soon as Starbucks and their ilk get a look.

March 8, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thinking Red — by Amy Clampitt

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Swamp maples' unmasked sugars'
underhue, intense as madder,
alizarin or cochineal (a dyestuff

steamed from heaped corpses of an insect
native to Mexico: such the odd lore
of commerce in the exotic a bemused

E. Dickinson took note of): to
grub it out, the sense of it, down
to the madder's fraying final foothold,

the capillaries' threadily
untidy two–way form of discourse;
T. Hardy's ruddleman trundling

his dyeload of ocher; or
the bog–dwelling sanguinary
pitcher plant whose drowning dens

decoct a summer soup of insects
whose mainstay in turn is gore:
the clotted winter melancholy

of the sumac; hawthorn encrimsoned,
dogwood beaded the adorning
pigment of survival; the eyeball's globed,

dendritic riddle: to unencode
the hematite, the iron in the granite,
the carmine in the carapace, one has

to try to think in wavelengths. Light
has, we're told—I have it from G.
Wald—certain properties of waves

but also of particles. That's very
strange: G. Wald again.
Mind stuff, he tells us: physical

reality is mind stuff. In creatures
that puzzle over what it is, he says,
the universe begins to know itself.

Is this good news? I hope so. It's
that holdout, put–upon, reluctant
red (I think) that raises half a doubt.
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March 8, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dog Poop Backpack

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Does PETA know about this?

From the website:

    Dog Waste Back Pack

    Dog Waste Back Pack is the ideal travel pack for long walks with your pooch.

    Lightweight, zipper–seal pouch safely slips over dog collars and holds several dog waste bags/grocery bags, snacks, toys and more.

    Simply pick up waste in bag and seal in the backpack.

    Let your dog do the dirty work.

    In red or blue nylon.

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Ever since I came across this singular invention last weekend, I've been trying to get my mind around it.

You mean you're really supposed to put your dog's doodoo inside her backpack, then make her carry it all the way home?

And keep snacks and toys inside with it?

I don't think so.

Should you demur, it's $24.98.

March 8, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'I have never seen jurors convict a defendant when they're laughing with the defendant'

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Donald Watkins, an attorney who, against all odds, secured a "not guilty" verdict for former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy on charges that he masterminded a $2.7 billion fraud.

Watkins was quoted in yesterday's USA Today story by Greg Farrell about the ongoing trial of Enron's Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

The thrust of the story was that, as noted in the newspaper's headline, Lay and Skilling are "doomed" as a result of poor defense tactics.

That may well be but I found Watkins' remark about humor in the courtroom far more interesting.

In my experience as an expert witness, members of a jury immediately become attentive and sympathetic if you: 1) amuse them and 2) educate them in such a way that you make them feel smarter for being able to follow your argument.

Most of what goes down in a courtroom is dreadfully boring; jurors get drowsy and fall asleep.

The best way to get them on your side is to wake them up.

You do that by making yourself — and what you have to say — 1) clear, 2) memorable and 3) funny.

When the jury laughs at someone, they've lost.

When the jury laughs with you, you're money.

Humor creates a rush of good feeling and predisposes those who create it to being regarded in a favorable light.

It's basic human psychology.

No one likes a bully: when I'm being cross–examined by a mean–spirited attorney who's yelling at me, not allowing me to finish my answers and calling me a liar and worse, by taking that vicious cut–and–thrust and redirecting it back out from the witness box toward the questioner, it becomes a powerful weapon that oftimes leads to the demise of the premise being put forth.

If, in the course of shifting the momentum 180°, I can elicit a chuckle or laugh from members of the jury, that's lagniappe and bodes very well when it comes time for them to deliberate.

March 8, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Collapsible Bucket

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Say what?

From the website:

    A bucket that stores flat!

    This bucket is handy for all kinds of chores — hauling potting soil, pulling weeds, harvesting tomatoes and washing windows.

    Twists to fold flat and stores in its own pouch!

    Won’t clutter your garden bench or roll around your garage when not in use.

    Made of lightweight but durable nylon that’s 100% waterproof.

    Metal handle has a nonslip grip.

    Holds 2.9 gallons.

    11"H x 10"Dia.

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In red, blue or orange.

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$12.95.

March 8, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Woophy.com – Mapping the world one photographer at a time

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It stands for "world of photography."

I happened on it yesterday via a Wall Street Journal online feature called "Time Wasters."

That's putting it right out there, what?

Aaron Rutcoff wrote about this website, which "... employs an volunteer army of amateur shutterbugs... to document the far corners of the world."

It's free; anyone can join, then upload their pictures to Woophy's database.

When I wrote this last evening there were "9,588 cities, 66,124 photos and 6,488 users registered."

Here's the article.

    The Ground-Level Internet Map

    For all their click-and-drag technical wizardry and high orbit satellite perspective, Google Earth and its ilk can't zoom in close enough to reveal life at ground level.

    Woophy, an acronym for World of Photography, allows users to zoom in to eye level and gves a human element to Internet maps.

    Instead of orbiting satellites, the site employs a volunteer army of amateur shutterbugs and travel enthusiasts to document the far corners of the world.

    Anyone can register for free and upload their images to Woophy's database.

    The Netherlands-based site combines a geographic database from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency with a simple world map that anchors each photo to its global place of origin.

    The database contains the name and location of virtually every recognizable population center, identified on the map by latitude and longitude.

    Every city and village chronicled by a submission to Woophy's photo archive is marked on the map with a small square.

    Click on a square and thumbnail-sized images of that location appear in a menu at the right margin of the map.

    Select an image with another click and a larger version of the snapshot materializes over the map, with more detailed information about the precise location and subject of the photograph.

    Both the photographer and any registered viewer can leave comments about the image, and users can even asses its quality with a simple rating system.

    "We realized right away that, in terms of technical resources, we couldn't compete with Google Earth. We couldn't have satellites," says Joris van Hoytema, half of the Dutch brother duo that started Woophy.

    "So we figured our unique idea would be photography -- showing people on the other side of the world what your place looks like."

    Mr. van Hoytema traces Woophy's origins to an overheated venture-capital pitch made at the tail end of the dot-com boom.

    In 1998, Mr. van Hoytema and his brother, Hoyte, had an idea he now describes as "great but maybe a bit unrealistic" -- a sprawling Web-based map depicting every building on every street in the world.

    Unlike Woophy, which stops at visual representation, this service would have functioned as a sort of geographic address book for the Internet age, with a new system of email and domain names based on the street address of real world buildings.

    "You should have an email address that is more like a real address," Mr. van Hoytema says of the original idea.

    "You can find the address of your neighbor, you can find his name and phone number, but you cannot find his email address. Why is that?"

    By 2003, this dot-com dream percolated into a business plan that found an audience with Dutch IT visionary Eckart Wintzen.

    His response, according to Mr. van Hoytema, was one of regret that the brothers hadn't come to him for funding several years earlier.

    With hopes of venture capital dashed, the brothers spent the next two years scaling back their vision to a more a realistic scope.

    But the general concept remained: "We wanted to make a connection between real geography -- the geography you know because you walk in it -- and virtual geography on the Internet."

    For geography obsessives like the van Hoytemas, tracking the Web site's spread across the real world must have been especially satisfying.

    Working in the spare time with the help of a professional designer, Marcel Geenevasen, the first beta version of Woophy went live on March 1, 2005.

    Six weeks later, a Hungarian Web site took note and photos of Hungary suddenly populated the Woophy map.

    "For a time," Mr. van Hoytema notes, "it was our most densely photographed country."

    Next came a slew of submissions from Israeli photographers, followed by unexplained popularity in the Baltic region, South Korea and then New Zealand.

    "Currently," he explains, "Woophy is very popular in France."

    By December, a rush of 13,000 unique visitors in the span of a few hours brought down Woophy's overmatched server and forced an upgrade.

    Now, after almost a year online, Woophy counts over 5,700 members who have uploaded more than 60,000 photos of some 8,300 village and cities world-wide.

    Taken together, photos in the Woophy archive are viewed 2.2 million times each month.

    The site's map has a heavy European tilt, with much of U.S. still open.

    The site's spread and international user base have a lot to do with the no-frills map interface.

    "We wanted to make it visual and associative," Mr. van Hoytema says.

    "We thought about adding a help file, but the idea was that it wouldn't be necessary."

    Woophy's reach across the globe may be restrained by one practical problem: "To fully enjoy our site, you need broadband. So there is that limit," said Mr. van Hoytema.

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Tell you what: visit the site and run your cursor over the map — bet you can't not click on a place.

Indeed, Woophy is quite capable of laying waste to the remains of your day.

Fair warning.

March 8, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On success

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March 8, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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