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August 2, 2007

Symphon-iPod: National Symphony Orchestra + iPod/iTunes Live Concert Mashup — Tonight


Short story shorter: The iPod makes its live concert debut.

Today's Washington Post Business section front page story by Mike Musgrove tells you what you need to know, and follows.

    An NSO World Premiere: Symphon-iPod

    The iPod will make its live concert debut with the National Symphony Orchestra tonight.

    The NSO and Wolf Trap are making a podcast exclusively for this performance so the audience can hear, in one ear, recorded commentary from conductor Emil de Cou about the evening's selections as he simultaneously guides the orchestra onstage through an ecologically themed program titled "Fantastic Planet: A Symphonic Video Spectacular."

    The program will feature video footage, provided by NASA and other government agencies, of underwater volcanoes, the Grand Canyon and frozen mountains in Antarctica. As accompaniment, the NSO will perform works selected by de Cou, such as Claude Debussy's "La Mer" and Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring."

    "It's another way to reinvent the orchestra and the concert experience," de Cou said yesterday. "You have to try everything that's out there."

    To keep the iPod users in sync with the program, the podcast will pause a few times during each of the two parts, indicated by a bell chime.

    The podcast, available as a free download through Apple's iTunes store and at www.wolftrap.org, is a first for a symphony orchestra, according to de Cou.

August 2, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's Most Expensive Bentley Shift Knob


"30 Karats of genuine diamonds and 10 ounces of 18-Karat white gold."


Seems to me the word "genuine" is rather superfluous in these rarified precincts but then, what do I know?

I just try to manage my crack research team as best I can and keep you happy.



August 2, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Nicholas Negroponte to be 1 of 5 members of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal editorial board


By far the biggest news of the day in terms of its long-term importance.


Because Nicholas Negroponte is from the future, unlike the rest of the clowns masquerading as media moguls.

You could look it up: the stunning news appears in the final paragraph of Frank Ahrens's story on the front page of today's Washington Post Business section.

Negroponte is the founder of MIT's Media Lab and the driving force behind the gathering momentum aiming to bring the power of the Internet to the Third World via self-powered, ultra-cheap laptops and free wireless access.

Wait and see if the combination of his drive and Murdoch's money doesn't finally smash down that final barrier called inaccessibility.

August 2, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Laptop Carry Strap


Personally, I think it's a crime that every laptop doesn't have an integrated handle.

What's the problem with making things easier for us users?

From the website:

    Laptop Carry Strap

    Laptop carry strap adds a handle to laptop for instant, safe, secure transport.

    Includes pocket for ID, cell phone, PDA and more.

    Seals shut with Velcro closure.

    Adjustable mesh.

    14" x 3.5".


August 2, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

bookofjoe MoneyMaker™ — Let the whole world monitor your surveillance camera

I mean, six billion people can't be wrong.

All I read about these days is mashups and the power of small pieces loosely joined and whatnot.

So why the heck not join 6,000,000,000 of them?

Yesterday's Washington Post story by Clarence Williams and Elissa Silverman related the plight of one Simon Mahteme, owner of LeDroit Park Market, a small store in the northwest Washington, D.C. neighborhood of LeDroit Park.

Long story short: July 10 marked the tenth break-in and armed robbery of the business since October of last year.

Even with security camera footage, the police had been unable to apprehend the two masked perps of the latest heist until last week, when they charged a 17-year-old.

So one of the market's customers decided to take it to the next level: he posted the four-minute-long security cam video (top) on YouTube.


But why stop there?

I mean, if live webcams dot the planet, free for the viewing to any idiot (I'm looking in a mirror right now, so pardon the derogatory description) with an Internet connection, why shouldn't any store or business be able to quickly put up a website connecting to their store's camera?

Whoever creates an app simple enough that I can make it work on my first try is gonna be richer than Croesus.

And you can take that to the bank.

Here's the Post article.

    Casting a Wide Web for Robbers

    NW Community Fights Back With Heist Video on YouTube

    The two masked robbers saunter into a corner market in LeDroit Park, each pointing a gun at the store clerk. The clerk runs behind the counter, but the thugs have him.

    As one empties the cash register, the other holds the clerk against the floor, a knee and a handgun pressed into his back. The thief pistol-whips the clerk before standing up and kicking him. Then he walks out with his partner.

    The incident, caught on the store's video camera, took a little more than four minutes at about 1 p.m. on an overcast and sultry Tuesday. And it's all there on YouTube.

    LeDroit Park is fighting back.

    "I want the mayor, council member and the police chief to see this video," Simon Mahteme, owner of LeDroit Park Market, tells the camera. "I'm tired of it. It's not human behavior. I'm trying to make an honest living."

    The July 10 robbery was the latest of 10 break-ins and armed robberies since October at the market, considered the heart of the community. A customer, outraged by constant vandalism in the historic Northwest neighborhood, posted the footage on the popular video-sharing site in hopes that a viewer would identify the robbers.

    Late last week, police charged a 17-year-old. They are not saying whether YouTube played a role, but the video got the attention of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.

    Fenty and Lanier, along with a sizable retinue of their deputies, listened last week as about 100 LeDroit Park residents demanded increased police presence. Fenty (D) said he had heard about the video clip on YouTube, and Lanier has seen it.

    "If this is one way that more people will see a potential suspect that will identify him, then I think it has some redeeming value," Fenty said in an interview.

    The community's crime-fighting campaign isn't over with the YouTube salvo: It has raised $4,500 to buy a video camera for the building's exterior, and residents and police are working together to connect it to the city's network of crime cameras.

    Among the issues to be worked out: Who would own and maintain the camera? And although some residents want to use the camera to monitor the goings-on at the store, police say the tapes can be used only after a crime has been committed.

    LeDroit Park, with its ornate Victorian houses and narrow streets, has a small-town feel. More than a half-century ago, the tiny neighborhood was home to Ralph Bunche, a Howard University professor who would later become the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and Duke Ellington, who lived there before rising to jazz greatness.

    Today, as the fabled neighborhood recovers from decades of decline, many residents point to Mahteme and his little corner market as the community's spirited heart. So they all felt victimized by the break-ins and robberies.

    "Any one of us could have been in that store and been the victim of that crime,'' Myla Moss, an advisory neighborhood commissioner, said of the most recent armed robbery. "It's just unnerving."

    When Mahteme, an immigrant from Ethiopia, bought the store at Fourth and T streets six years ago, he resisted the bulletproof glass and metal bars that armor so many other urban markets. His shop sports a fresh coat of mint-green paint, with cream-colored "eyebrows" painstakingly painted over its windows.

    Inside, pictures of restored neighborhood homes share pride of place with a neon Budweiser sign. There's a deli on one side and racks of wine, along with the usual necessities. Customers' toddlers dawdle in the aisles, playing with the merchandise as staffers smile.

    "The market is kind of the epicenter for the community,'' Moss said. "Everyone goes there."

    Moss, a lobbyist for dental schools, moved to LeDroit in 1999 because "I didn't want to be a Beltway bandit, living in my car. I wanted to live in the birthplace of black intelligentsia."

    Andrew Dreschler, an executive at an opinion research firm, is part of the new wave of younger professionals who have renovated neglected houses and populated LeDroit's brick sidewalks once again.

    While house-hunting in 2005, Dreschler decided to buy a home in the neighborhood after walking into the corner market with no security glass or bars on its windows, sharing Mahteme's dream of a safe, urban haven.

    "I moved into this neighborhood because of this store," Dreschler, 32, said.

    The notion of safety — and Mahteme's resolve not to surrender to fear — didn't last.

    Before last fall, Mahteme's market had been burglarized twice in several years. But one morning in October, three robbers barged in, one pointing a gun in Mahteme's face and striking him in the right eye with the weapon. It was only the beginning of a sad series of break-ins and robberies.

    "After I got robbed [in October], I didn't want to come back, believe me," Mahteme said. "But after I opened that door, everybody [in the neighborhood] followed me. These are good people."

    In early December, he gave in and installed metal bars over the windows. They didn't have the effect he expected.

    On New Year's Eve, his security camera captured a burglar kicking in the plate-glass front door, lifting the bars behind the glass by a few inches and urging a boy to climb inside.

    "It was just like a mother giving birth," Mahteme said.

    The child then unlocked a side door, and the camera videotaped the pair grabbing all the merchandise they could carry; no cash was on the premises.

    When Mahteme didn't file insurance claims for fear of losing his policy, neighbors raised $800 to help him replace the broken glass.

    "It was amazing, these people," Mahteme said. "They didn't have to do it."

    Neighbors speak of a recent surge in break-ins and armed robberies throughout the neighborhood, although police statistics indicate that the rate of those crimes has declined from each of the previous two years.

    In addition, resident Michelle Sforza said, juveniles have assaulted passersby, and construction sites have been vandalized.

    "You can be assaulted for just being on the street," she said. "It's not hard to imagine someone getting really, really hurt."

    At Mahteme's market, new shatter-resistant glass shows pockmarks and spider-web cracks from would-be burglars and vandals. And each week, Mahteme sees youths who he suspects have robbed him, walking into his store.

    But every morning, Mahteme keeps opening the doors of his elegantly restored market.

    "I can't give up. I can't pack up and go," he said as he stood outside the store just before closing one recent night.

    "These people want me to stay."

August 2, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pop Rocks, move over — We want our Shoogy Boom!


And we want it now.

Wait just a minute, you say — what the heck is "Shoogy Boom?"

I'm so glad you asked.

From a review in CandyBlog:

    Shoogy Boom

    Pop Rocks are not the only game any longer. There is a Turkish company called Hleks that’s making carbonated candy as well under the name Shoogy Boom. They have a nice range of flavors, including lemon and cola. I picked up the comparable flavors: Chocolate Covered and Bubble Gum. They also have a freaky chinless clown as a mascot. Seriously, this cannot be endearing to children.

    Shoogy Boom is a slightly smaller serving, at only 7 grams per packet instead of the 9.5-10.5 grams you get with Pop Rocks.

    The Shoogy Boom Popping Bubble Gum had a similar format to the Pop Rocks, just a mess of little gum bits and some light orange popping candy pieces mixed in. I have to give it to Shoogy Boom, they deserve their boom name, the popping is definitely active, more than the Pop Rocks. However, the gum absolutely sucks. It was like when you decide to eat a piece of paper and eventually get that stiff unchewable piece of fiber. Only this had a light bubble gum flavor.

    The Chocolate Shoogy Boom were darker than the Pop Rocks and a bit rounder. The chocolate tasted much more like chocolate instead of cocoa. The popping though was far and away better than the Pop Rocks. A slight tartness to the candy inside but overall a good noisy affair. They’re both a tasty and interesting change from the original.

    I think what’s best about them is that they don’t have the same tendency to lose their pop over time because of humidity as previous popping candies.

    An Internet search revealed nothing about any retailers in the U.S. carrying Shoogy Boom, so please leave a note here if you’ve seen them sold anywhere.


In an article in yesterday's New York Times, Andrew Martin wrote, "Ali Yeni, general manager of the Turkish firm Hleks, said his company had improved on the technology that made Pop Rocks possible with its own Shoogy Boom popping candy. 'Our are larger cells than Pop Rocks,' Mr. Yeni said, explaining that both used encapsulated carbon dioxide. 'Theirs are steady — pop, pop, pop. Ours go up and down.'"

Could Turkey be the seat of a 21st century candy technology revolution in the making?

Do I dare to be the first to call it Sugar Valley?

I say again: give us our Shoogy Boom.

In the meantime, Turkish joeheads are encouraged to get in touch with me and perhaps even send me some Shoogy Boom.

Shake shake shake
Shake shake shake
Shake your Shoogy Boom

Catchy, what?

August 2, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is John Fry the love child of Thomas Pynchon and Greta Garbo?


I'd never heard of John Fry until I read Lee Gomes's "Portals" column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, in which Gomes related his experiences last week at a workshop in Palo Alto sponsored by the American Institute of Mathematics.

"The institute is funded in large part by John Fry, the owner of a chain of computer and electronics stores," wrote Gomes.

Wait a minute — "a chain of computer and electronic stores" doesn't even begin to describe how important John Fry's original store, opened in 1985 in Sunnyvale, was to the birth of personal computing.

But I digress.

Gomes continued, "Mr. Fry is a math buff, but also something of a Thomas Pynchon [top] figure, in that he declines all requests for interviews."


Hence the headline of this post.

August 2, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Better to have a deseeder than be a decedent.

I'm just saying, is all.

From the website:

    Calphalon Deseeder

    Use the large loop of this helpful tool for zipping the pits out of avocados and deseeding melons; the smaller loop quickly removes the seeds from cucumbers, zucchini and tomatoes.

    Made of stainless steel with a soft-grip handle.

    Dishwasher safe.

    10-3/4" long.




August 2, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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