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November 5, 2007

bookofjoe MoneyMaker™ — OpenSocial and Facebook are so over


Hey, joe, are your eyes closed?


'Cause you must be dreaming.


Was it only a week ago (last Monday, October 29, 2007) that Facebook pocketed a cool $240 million from Microsoft for 1.6% of the company, valuing Mark Zuckerberg's toy at $15 billion?

And wasn't it just last week that Google announced its new open standards space in the hope that everyone will bring their software toys and come play?

Anyway, just now it occurred to me how to make a gazillion dollars in the new connected everywhere world.

So simple, even a TechnoDolt™ could have thought of it.

In fact, one did.

But I digress.

Google's all hot to make its social networks ubiquitous, such that they'll work on anything that's connected — cellphones, computers, PDAs, devices that haven't yet appeared but will.

My idea: Create an application such that when you're using a cellphone or smartphone to interface with the Internet (it's easier to stick your proverbial camel's nose under this tent), clicking on a link puts an ad on the screen for 1 second.

That's it.

No clicking on the ad, no Flash, simply static banner advertising.

But here's the genius only Google can brew up from its secret sauce and awesome computer arrays: have the ad relate in some way to the requested link.

So elegant: no cluttering up sites like mine with garbola, no need for me to import code.

I get a micropayment from the company whose ad appears before bookofjoe, if that happens to be the link clicked on.

A penny here, a penny there, and pretty soon I'm sitting on a big pile of pennies.

There it is: take it.

November 5, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Kaboost — World's most high-tech highchair alternative


Slick — and the color!

Be still my heart.

From websites:

Kaboost™ Chair Booster

Highchair alternative gives a chair a safe, stable boost so kids can reach the table

No need to keep klunky booster chairs around that take up a lot of storage space — and that kids often resist sitting in!


The Kaboost raises the chair, not the child — so she can reach the table just like the rest of the family.

Even improves chair stability!



• Four spring–loaded arms securely grip most round– or square–legged chairs without scratching

• Rubberized feet won’t scratch floors and keep the chair from sliding

• Adds height to almost any chair — just attach it to the legs

• Stays attached even when the chair is moved

• Dimensions (when folded): 13" x 12" x 6.75"


• Two height positions — just flip it over

• Compact and travel–friendly.

• Made of heavy–duty plastic.


Just named Official Chair Booster of bookofjoe – so you know it has to be good.

Green, Natural or Chocolate.



Am I the only one who got an eerie feeling staring at the device in its folded form (above)?


Just wondering....

November 5, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Lamborghini Reventón — 'World's first hypercar'

I love it.

"Supercar" is so last century.

Lamborghini is producing only 20 of these 650-horsepower, 12-cylinder coupes, all of which have been sold — 11 in the U.S., seven in Europe and two in Asia.

List price: $1.45 million.

Warren Brown, the Washington Post's automobile writer, was fortunate enough to not only enjoy a ride in one with Lamborghini test driver and engineer Mario Frasinetti, but then drive it as well.

Here's his review from yesterday's Washington Post.

    The Best Model That You'll Never Drive

    Extremism in pursuit of power and technical superiority is no vice. That is the guiding principle of Lamborghini, a small car company long accustomed to making the world's most expensive and most extravagant automotive statements.

    Located in this tiny village in North Italy, Lamborghini, founded in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini, has a history of trying to outdo itself and everyone else in pursuit of the ultimate sports car, which usually means turning out the fastest, most powerful automobile that any carmaker legally could put on the street.

    The most extreme representation of that corporate philosophy is the Lamborghini Reventon (the "v" is pronounced like "b"), which I was allowed to drive here under the watchful eyes of Lamborghini officials.

    Their caution was understandable. The Reventon is a 650-horsepower, 12-cylinder super-coupe valued at the U.S. equivalent of $1.45 million — about the same as a mini-mansion back home in Northern Virginia. Only 20 copies of the Reventon are being made. All of them have been sold — 11 in the United States, seven in Europe, and two in Asia.

    That meant I was driving somebody's car, which required accompaniment by a skilled Lamborghini test driver and engineer, Mario Frasinetti.

    I was quite willing to let Mario drive first. In fact, I insisted. For one thing, I wanted to see how a professional driver would handle the motorized beast. For another, I was scared witless. I had never driven a car with that much power and that kind of price.

    Mario, of course, made everything look easy. He keyed the ignition, pressed the right carbon-fiber paddle shifter behind the steering wheel, put the all-wheel-drive car into first gear and — whoosh!

    The Reventon, which shares many underpinnings with the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, is controlled via a six-speed automated manual transmission. "Automated manual"? Yes. Like many race cars, it has a manual transmission in which the driver does put a left foot on the clutch. Gear shifts are executed via two carbon-fiber paddle shifters — one on the right for moving into the lower gears and another on the left for higher gears.

    Mario played those shifters in the manner of a virtuoso pianist — so smoothly and swiftly, with the Reventon instantly responding to his inputs. We ascended mountainsides sans railings. I dared not look over ledges of those unguarded high roads. I wouldn't have seen much anyway. The Reventon was moving so fast, everything was a blur.

    We arrived at what Mario considered a safe spot for a driver exchange. "It's an easy car to drive," he said. "You'll do fine."

    He turned out to be right. But doing fine first meant forgetting that the car costs $1.45 million and that it was someone else's car, and that it could move from zero to 62 mph in a scary 3.4 seconds.

    I tried to obey posted speed limits, which only created traffic problems. When Mario was behind the Reventon's wheel, the car moved so fast that no one else on the road could even think about keeping up with him. When I drove, the car moved slowly enough to tempt people to pull up alongside of it and take photos with their camera phones. At a stoplight, one teenager who was following me in what appeared to be a Fiat jumped out of his car and ran in front of the Reventon to take pictures. It was an image hijack likely destined for the Internet.

    I enjoyed the drive. The purposefully sculpted Reventon handled beautifully. I say "purposefully sculpted" because there is absolutely nothing about the car's mostly carbon fiber exterior that does not contribute to speed and handling. It looks like a stealth fighter jet because it is meant to perform like one on the road.

    That raises the question: Why buy a car like the Reventon, the full power of which never could be used legally on any highway anywhere in the world, including Germany's Autobahn, which has speed restrictions in urban areas and is likely soon to have speed restrictions everywhere.

    The answer can be found in the assembly bays at the Lamborghini factory, which annually can produce 2,500 Lamborghini automobiles of all types, and which is where the Reventon was designed and developed and where it is now made.

    The men and women working in the plant are not workers in the generic sense. They are artisans, many of whom drive to the factory in Fiats and small Audis.... and Chevrolets.

    They approach their work with discernible pride. They aren't building cars. They are building masterpieces — unique, expensive and sought after in the manner of millionaires (and apparently some thieves) seeking a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci.

    Lamborghini officials claim that the Reventon can be driven "every day." Truth is, that is not likely to be how the car's buyers will use it. Most will store it in a well-equipped garage, to be driven only on special occasions. Others might load it onto a car carrier for a weekend at the track, where they will attempt to drive the car to its limits. And others simply will hold it as an investment to be sold later to the highest bidder.

    But no one will drive it every day. The desire to keep the precious car safe thus will have other benefits. The gas-guzzling Reventon — 7.35 miles per gallon city, 15.68 mpg highway — seldom will be about the business of guzzling gas and polluting the air. It simply will exist as an example of rare, extreme mobile art.



Particulars here.

November 5, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

November 5, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Looking backward: The origin of 'Going forward'


Lucy Kellaway's column in today's Financial Times (FT) was a concession to the ubiquitous use of the phrase "going forward" in today's business-speak.

In her penultimate paragraph she wrote, "I've tried to find where this phrase comes from and it seems it may have been created by the SEC itself."

Clearly Lucy doesn't have access to the resources of my crack research team which, upon being asked to find out where the phrase originated, took less than five minutes drilling down in Google to bring back the news that no less a wordsmith than William Wordsworth (1770-1850) used it in an autobiographical 1805 poem, which follows.

    The Prelude

    O pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
    For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
    Upon our side, we who were strong in love;
    Bliss was it that dawn to be alive,
    But to be young was very Heaven: O times,
    In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
    Of custom, law, and statute took at once
    The attraction of a Country in Romance;
    When Reason seem'd the most to assert her rights
    When most intent on making of herself
    A prime enchantress—to assist the work,
    Which then was going forward in her name.
    Not favor'd spots alone, but the whole Earth!


Background on the poem may be found here.

The poem itself is here.

I immediately emailed Lucy with the findings above.

Hope she finds a way to work the news into a future column, otherwise the only people privy to the straight scoop will be joeheads.


Here's her FT column that precipitated the unusual flurry of activity this morning here at bookofjoe World Headquarters™.

    The battle is lost, going forward

    Going forward, I give up. Until a month ago I thought the way forward was to protest at the use of this horrid phrase. But now it is time to admit defeat. “Going forward” is with us on a go-forward basis, like it or not.

    The defeat became plain last month in a speech given by Christopher Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was trying to persuade the financial sector to drop its traditional prose style, which has become so convoluted, legalistic and boring that retail investors routinely sling all documents in the bin unopened. Instead, he urged them to try short, clear and profound instead. They should aim at the style he once used when talking to a young woman. In just four plain words he said: “Will you marry me?” With even more impressive brevity, she replied: “Yes.”

    Mr Cox’s speech was funny and clear and true and was one of the best pleas I have seen for clear language. Yet sitting in the middle of it was the following sentence. “Still, although the learning curve will certainly flatten as we go forward, this year it was steep.”

    As we go forward? The fact that such a decent wordsmith should say this in a speech on plain English is devastating. It shows that the fight is lost. One might argue that “as we go forward” is better than “going forward” but the difference is minimal. The first trouble with the phrase is that it is almost always redundant. Here is a typical example taken from a recent report by the Federal Reserve: “Increased uncertainty has the potential to restrain economic growth going forward.” The last two words could and should be simply crossed out.

    If, on occasion, there is a need to spell out the idea of the future, we have some perfectly good words already. For pompous people there is “henceforth” and, for the rest of us, there is “in the future”.

    The second trouble is that “going forward” seems to gesture confidently towards the future, but is utterly vague on timing. Worse still, the phrase conveys the cheesy and misplaced idea that we are on a purposeful journey to a better place. In fact, the future comes whether you like it or not, with no effort from us. And, in terms of progress, history has confirmed that the future can be a lot worse than the present.

    Alone, these problems might be excusable. What is not excusable, however, and what makes “going forward” so lethal, is the way it clings to the tongue of the speaker so that it is uttered again and again. It has become a Tourette’s syndrome for people in the financial sector.

    Brady Dougan of Credit Suisse recently managed no fewer than four “going forwards” in one brief interview with the Financial Times. In each case the words attached themselves to the most stupid of utterances. “There’s a lot of liquidity out there ready to actually move into situations where there is value and where there’s viewed to be value going forward,” he said.

    If I translate this into the language of “will you marry me?” it means: “There is money in the market ready to be used to buy things that people consider undervalued.” And then you see what nonsense it is. Investors never buy anything unless they think it undervalued. That is how markets work.

    “Going forward” is so infectious that it has spread from inarticulate bankers and analysts to people who once had a fine way with words. John Makinson was the head of the FT’s Lex column when I joined the newspaper in the mid-1980s and he used to tell me off for bad writing. Now he is head of Penguin and was quoted in the FT two weeks ago saying “we’ll keep a careful watch going forward...”. John, how could you?

    Going forward is not only infectious, it is constantly mutating into new ugly forms. There is “the way forward”. There is “on a go-forward basis”. There is a new tendency to use it as tense modifier for people who can’t grasp the future tense. So you stick in a going forward, and then proceed in the present. “Going forward, we give feedback at every milestone.”

    My personal crusade against the phrase has done no good at all. In fact, it has done harm. A year or so ago I became a non-executive director and in my first board meeting the others were debating whether to write “in the short term” or “in the medium term” on a press release. I piped up: how about “in the future”, and then, putting on an ironic voice, suggested “or going forward, as it is now known?” The irony was missed, and fellow directors seized on it. “Ah yes!” they said, and “going forward” was put into the document. This was very discouraging. I had been hired on the board to take jargon out, not put it in.

    I’ve tried to find where this phrase comes from and it seems it may have been created by the SEC itself. Its rules on “forward- looking statements” require that anything about the future be weasel-worded and the “going forward” construction suits it well.

    This explains why the phrase sits so comfortably alongside the feeblest ideas, but feels wrong against anything lucid. This being the case, “going forward” does serve a purpose after all: it is a signal that the listener can switch off without missing anything. But no one would ever say: “Will you marry me going forward?” It would invite the answer: “No thank you. I’d rather spend my life with someone who knows how to talk.”



Lucy's latest book, "The Answers: All the Office Questions You Never Dared to Ask" (top) has just been published.

For further exploration: William Wordsworth's "Lucy" poems.

File under "What goes around, comes around."

November 5, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Chord Choral Aspire


Jonathan Margolis, reviewing this music system (from Kent, U.K.-based Chord) in the November 3 Financial Times "How To Spent It" supplement, wrote that "Some skeptical visitors have commented that it looks like an upmarket life-support machine...."

From the Chord website:

Aspire Stand

Following the success of the Choral series the Aspire stand is the latest addition.

Standing 1.2 metres the Aspire stand can house 5 Choral components.

Each component is placed in the stand at a 45 degree angle allowing for the unique styling of each unit to be more fully appreciated.


The stand consists of two side pieces and a solid base unit with four adjustable feet.

The sides are custom extruded from huge slabs of solid billet aluminium, precision jigged and milled using a multi access milling machine.

The base is milled from a massive aluminium slab.

The feet for the base are precision turned from solid aluminium, they attach to the base via four threaded cups milled into the underside of the base. The feet can be adjusted for level and height.

To add convenience to beauty the base also features a captive mains distribution block.


Brushed or Black Aluminum.

The six-piece system shown above, including the Chord Blu CD Transport, DAC64 Digital to Analog Converter, Mezzo 140 Power Amplifier, Symphonic Phono Stage and Aspire Stand, costs $52,230.

November 5, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Manchurian Voter — 'The Genetics of Politics'

Charles Q. Choi's article in the November, 2007 Scientific American explored controversial new findings indicating that the propensity to vote is programmed into our DNA; his piece follows.

    The Genetics of Politics

    Aristotle once noted, “Man is by nature a political animal.” What may be the first study to investigate this idea scientifically now controversially suggests that Aristotle may have been right—the desire to vote or abstain from politics might largely be hardwired into our biology.

    When it comes to predicting who will vote, researchers have looked at “everything but the kitchen sink,” says political scientist James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego. Theorists speculate on factors such as age, gender, race, marital status, education, income, home ownership, political knowledgeability and church attendance. But studies indicate that each one exerts only a small effect. Fowler notes that people who vote often do so even when they know their lone ballot will not change the outcome of an election. “It’s almost like voters are programmed to keep voting, even when their common sense tells them it is probably useless,” he states. At the same time, “many people never vote, no matter what. So I started to wonder if there was something very basic at the biological level.”

    Fowler and his colleagues thus turned to identical and fraternal twins. If the decision to vote is based in part on genetics, they reasoned, identical twins should behave more alike than fraternal twins, because identical twins share all of their DNA, whereas fraternal twins share only half on average. The researchers matched data from the Southern California Twin Registry with publicly accessible electronic voter registration and turnout records from Los Angeles County. Their analysis of voting histories for 326 identical and 196 fraternal twins suggests that genetics was responsible for 60 percent of differences in voting turnout between twin types, with the rest coming from environmental or other factors.

    Fowler and his colleagues also investigated a larger, more nationally representative database from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, or Add Health. This study not only asked if participants voted but also inquired about participation in other political activities, such as whether they contributed to campaigns or attended political rallies or marches. The researchers’ data on 442 identical and 364 fraternal Add Health twins indicate that genetics underlies 72 percent of differences in voting turnout and roughly 60 percent of differences in other political activity.

    Fowler, who presented the research at the American Political Science Association meeting in August, claims that preliminary results from the Twins Days festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, also support the findings. Fowler adds that his team’s work does not suggest that genetics can determine whom people will vote for, only whether or not they are likely to vote. He also emphasizes that environment most likely plays a signifi cant role in voting: “There is still a lot we can do to shape political behavior in spite of our genetic tendencies.”

    If genes do in part control voting, a single gene is unlikely to be responsible—hundreds of genes are probably involved, suggests behavioral geneticist Robert Plomin of King’s College London. Fowler hypothesizes that because “we obviously did not vote in large-scale elections in the Pleistocene,” the drive to vote or participate in politics may be linked with genes underlying more ancient behaviors, such as innate dispositions toward cooperation. The search for any such genes in our primate relatives could help determine “whether we share the neurobiological underpinnings of cooperation or whether humans are unique in this respect,” Fowler adds.

    Plomin states that “these findings are strong,” but in his analysis of the same data, he concludes that genetics was responsible for 40, and not 60, percent of differences in voting turnout between twin types. Forty percent is still “a lot,” he admits, and is also the average estimate of heritability seen in twin studies of personality, suggesting that voting is an example of a genetically influenced personality trait in general.

    Behavioral neuroscientist Evan Balaban of McGill University, however, cautions that relying on twin studies as the sole evidence of links between genetics and behavior is a mistake. About two thirds of identical twins actually share the same bloodstream while fetuses, so greater similarities between twins could be attributable not only to sharing genes but “to sharing more similar levels of hormones and other compounds each fetus produces during development,” he explains. “So there is a pattern of similarity these researchers have documented that needs to be explained, but genetics is not the only explanation for it.”

    If the decision to vote is strongly genetic in nature, that does not mean that some races are more likely to vote, emphasizes James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego. Genes vary far more among individuals within races than among races as a whole. “If genetic variation plays a role in voting, it is highly unlikely that it would explain any differences between individuals of different races,” he asserts.

November 5, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

$100 laptop? How about $24.99?


Is $24.99 good for you?

From the website:

    Compu Kidz Teach & Talk Laptop™

    The Teach & Talk Laptop makes learning fun for kids with over 20 enjoyable activities.

    It is an educational toy computer that offers activities including math games, word puzzles, music and more.

    Features an animated screen, authentic keyboard that is sized for smaller hands, working two-button mouse and built-in speaker.

    Requires 3 AA batteries (not included).

    10-1/4"W x 9-1/4"L x 1-1/4"H.

    Ages 6 and up.


I wonder how far a hacker could take it....


November 5, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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