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January 27, 2009

bookofjoe MoneyMaker: 'Hyundai, you need a new logo'

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Which of the five brands whose logos appear above and below doesn't belong?

Ten years ago it was a no-brainer but Hyundai's closing fast.

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The rave reviews for its first-ever luxury car, the Genesis, herald a new entrant in the top-end derby.

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But look at the logos.

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All of them have the look and feel of excellence but one — Hyundai's, which still looks like something you'd find on a cheesy model from last century.

That won't work now that Hyundai's playing with the big boys.

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Like Beyoncé said: "Upgrade."

January 27, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Do you like my bag?

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Long story short: It's a purse plated with solar cells, created by Iowa State University doctoral student Joe Hynek, who carries this handbag on cloudless days in Ames, Iowa to charge his iPod, camera or cellphone.

Here's Rachel Aviv's January 4, 2009 New York Times story about Hynek and his bespoke bag.

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Charge It: Solar Panels on a Purse

Joe Hynek may be the only student at Iowa State University who carries a handbag for “scientific purposes.” On cloudless days, he wanders his neighborhood to test whether the purse, which is plated in thin solar panels and contains a lightweight battery, is absorbing energy from the sun. After three hours of direct exposure, the purse generates enough electricity to charge an iPod, camera or cellphone. (The bag will also charge — more slowly — if placed next to a window.) Mr. Hynek is currently working on the final touch: a small display screen that will indicate when the purse is best angled for absorbing the day’s light.

A doctoral student in Iowa State’s department of mechanical engineering, Mr. Hynek designed the Power Purse as his final project in an experimental garment design class. He was the only male student. The course required that each student design five dresses, but Mr. Hynek negotiated with the professor to focus on handbags instead. He spent the term searching fashion magazines for a purse design that would appeal to women “interested in projecting power.”

The final product is black and boxlike, with a clear plastic handle. He hopes the purse will be for sale in the next year, priced at roughly $350. Depending on how sales go, Mr. Hynek will expand the line, to solar-powered bracelets and ties.

January 27, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ten Sleep, Wyoming — Where Koreans of all ages learn English

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Bonus: They don't even have to get a passport, quit their day jobs or leave home: it's all done online using Skype.

Here's Mead Gruver's November 24, 2008 Associated Press story about how two-year-old Eleutian Technology — one of Wyoming's fastest-growing businesses — has connected Asia to the Great Plains.

The caption for the picture above, which accompanied the AP article: "Kathleen Hampton, at home near Ten Sleep, Wyo., teaches English via the Internet to South Korean students."

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Remote Wyoming towns home to broadband jobs

The nearest Wal-Mart is two hours away, and only foul weather, a deer in the road or a Washakie County sheriff's deputy would slow down anyone with a mind to drive there faster.

Yet Ten Sleep, population 350,

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is just as connected as any place these days, and home to a new company that is outsourcing jobs not from the United States to the Far East, but in the opposite direction.

Eleutian Technology hires people in towns across northern Wyoming to teach English to South Koreans using Skype, the free online calling and person-to-person video service. Two years old, Eleutian already is one of Wyoming's fastest-growing businesses.

The company has close to 300 teachers hooked up to more than 15,000 students in South Korea, and Chief Executive Kent Holiday said he's just getting started.

"Our plan was never to be a company that had a few thousand subscribers," Holiday said. "It's a $100 billion market just between Korea, Japan and China, and so we wanted to be the leader and we wanted to have millions of users."

Job in South Korea

Holiday got the idea for the company after a short stint teaching English in South Korea in the early 1990s. He went to work in the Korean telecommunications industry and eventually became a top executive of Korea Telecom.

All along, he kept in mind that language education someday would be possible online. He made his move in 2006, getting grief from friends about quitting his high-six-figures job.

"I said 'You know what? The time's right,' " he said.

Doing business in the least-populated state no longer has to mean running the equivalent of a frontier outpost, said Jon Benson, CEO of the Wyoming Technology Business Center at the University of Wyoming.

"Broadband connectivity really has allowed people to do high-tech businesses from remote areas," he said. "It allows companies to locate in a place like Wyoming and do business across the world."

Eleutian's teachers include Kathleen Hampton [top], whose home is remote even by Wyoming standards.

Hampton moved to Wyoming from New Jersey when she met her rancher husband during a trip out West 13 years ago. She teaches English online several nights a week after her 30-mile commute home from teaching kindergarten in Ten Sleep.

She teaches most Korean students one-on-one. A few are middle-age business executives. Hampton also teaches groups that are in private schools called "hakwons," which students attend after the regular school day.

"They're always fun because they're always yelling out in the background," she said. "You get 14-year-old boys yelling out 'I love you!' because they learn these English expressions and try to use them."

Eleutian pays its teachers $15 an hour to start. They're required to have state certification but don't have to be employed in schools.

"When you put on those first headphones and you're talking to somebody, it's nerve-racking to start with," Hampton said. "But it doesn't take long. If you're a teacher and used to explaining things, it makes no difference."

Teacher's technique

Growling at her students is one of her techniques. The idea is to get them to make an English-sounding "r."

"I'll be growling at them and there's some of these 20-year-old boys who will laugh, and they'll growl right back at you."

Tuition for Eleutian's courses varies. But like any outsourcing company, Eleutian competes aggressively on price.

For instance, one weekly one-on-one Internet course from Eleutian costs $150 for a whole semester, while English tutors in South Korea charge from $40 to $60 an hour, Holiday said.

Holiday had been planning to start Eleutian Technology in Utah. He picked Ten Sleep, where his in-laws live, after seeing fiber-optic cable being installed throughout town.

Tri County Telephone, the cooperative that serves the Ten Sleep area, upgraded from decades-old copper phone wiring to fiber in 2006 — a step that has still yet to happen in many urban areas.

Chris Davidson, Tri County's general manager, said the company wanted "to build a network for the future."

Holiday said the sparsely populated area also proved to have enough teachers. Some, like Hampton, teach from home. Others teach from Eleutian's learning centers in Ten Sleep and four other towns in northern Wyoming.

Ten Sleep got its name for being the midpoint of a 20-day trek between Indian camps. The irony of its middle-of-nowhwere origins isn't lost on Bob Jensen, chief executive of the Wyoming Business Council, a semipublic agency that encourages economic development.

But he added: "With their technical capability, their telecom capability — their fiber, their bandwidth — there's no reason why companies like Eleutian can't grow in towns like Ten Sleep."

January 27, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Milk for survivalists — or anyone without power, refrigeration or easy access to a store

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joehead John Anderson emailed me last evening about the advantages of Parmalat Shelf-Stable Milk, writing, "Since I only shop once or twice a month and regular milk goes bad in 3-5 days and I go through a quart a day...."

Do the math.

From a website:

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Parmalat milk is real, wholesome milk which is made using a revolutionary processing and packaging procedure.

This process heats the milk to an ultra-high temperature, killing all the bacteria that could cause milk to spoil.

The milk is then stored in an innovative box that is seven layers thick and has an airight seal.

This prevents any contamination from air, light or bacteria.

It keeps unopened milk healthy and delicious for up to seven months from the day it's produced — without any refrigeration required.

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Sounds good to me: I'm picking up a box for when my fridge is completely empty, I'm feeling lazy and unwilling even to drive down the street to 7-Eleven, and I have a hankering for a bowl of cereal before bed.

Every variety of Pamalat milk known to man is available here, ready to ship to your front door.

January 27, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Masstransiscope – by Bill Brand

Long story short: If you're in New York City, you can see it from the northbound Q and B trains nearing the Manhattan Bridge.

For everyone else, there's the video up top.

And Randy Kennedy's December 31, 2008 New York Times Arts section front page story with the details.

January 27, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What is it?

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Answer here not tomorrow but this time Thursday.

January 27, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: CSI Scandinavia — Bloodless Autopsy

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Emily Stone's above-headlined article appears in the February, 2009 issue of Wired magazine, and follows.

The caption for the graphic above, which accompanied the story: "1. This image, prepared for a murder trial, is optimized to show the skeleton and the knife that pierced the victim's eye. 2. Here, a reddish tint and boosted opacity isolate muscle tissue. 3. A sharpening filter is used to render the skin more opaque."

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CSI Scandinavia: Computer Dissects Cadavers With No Scalpel

Think of it as CSI: Scandinavia. At Linköpings University Hospital in Sweden, radiologist Anders Persson dissects cadavers without lifting a scalpel. Using magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography, he captures thousands of images of a body, from head to toe. A computer then assembles the pieces—layer upon layer of tissue and bone—into a stunning 3-D postmortem portrait in which structures are differentiated by hue and opacity: Bones appear white and opaque; organs, a translucent red. Pathologists can then easily strip away the layers—first skin, then a web of blood vessels, then a blanket of muscle—all the way down to the skeleton. Hunting for minuscule bone fractures once required intensive dissection; now it's just a matter of keystrokes.

Virtual autopsies reveal evidence that ordinary examinations often miss, like gas trapped inside wounds, which can show the path of a bullet or knife blade. Swedish police have used the images in more than 300 murder cases. Bonus: They're easier for jurors to understand (and stomach).

But Persson's technique isn't just for peeking inside dead people; it's great for premortem examinations, too. Doctors can identify the exact location of a lung tumor or study blood flow in 3-D to estimate the volume of a leak in a faulty heart valve. It can also provide an invaluable sneak preview before surgery, Persson says: "You can simulate an operation without touching the patient.

January 27, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

AirDesk Exerciser — Portable Treadmill Workspace

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News of this very interesting new product for the treadmill workspace set arrived from joehead mark recently.

Long story short: Instead of your having to build a ridiculous Tower of Babel-equivalent à la moi (below),

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they'll ship you a minimalist laptop stand that raises your computer up to five feet high for workouts, then easily stores in a closet or wherever when it's not in use.

From the website:

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AirDesk Exerciser

Compute while you run on your treadmill, ride your exercise bike, or just standing up.

Walk, jog, pump or pedal while exercising your brain.

Surf, email, read, watch, conference, play, write, all while burning those calories.

Makes workouts fly by.

Adapts to any exercise machine.

Securely holds any laptop.

3D positioning technology will put the laptop in the perfect sweet spot for your setup.

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ExFULLSMILESM

Much better than all the far more expensive prefabricated, overengineered iterations being sold for thousands of dollars.

Bonus: looks like you could throw it in the trunk or back seat of your car so you could take your treadmill workspace to hotel fitness centers or wherever you happen to find a treadmill while you're away from home.

I'm buying one for that precise purpose.

$189.

January 27, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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