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October 22, 2010

Bedbugs? There's an app for that


Puts a whole new spin on "It's not a bug, it's a feature."

Just reading today's USA Today story by Barbara De Lollis made me start itching.*

Why shouldn't you join the fun?

Here's the article.



Does it make you itchy just thinking about bedbugs?

When you arrive in your hotel room, do you first go to the bed to check for them?

Well then, you might want to look into the new "Bed Bug Alert" app that hit the Apple Store just yesterday.

The $1.99 lets travelers and locals alike find out if the location they're going to in 10 cities has a current bedbug outbreak.

The app was developed by Apps Genius, which makes other apps and Facebook games such as My Mad Millions, Drama Llama, and Slap A Friend.

The app uses geolocation, so you can see if any bedbug outbreaks have been reported in the area around you via Google Maps. You can also enter a location manually to check.

I asked the company's CEO Adam Kotkin how he came up with the idea.

"I live in New York City," he told me this morning.

New York City became bedbug central over the summer, when bedbug infestations were discovered in retail shops, corporate offices, movie theaters - and recently (and allegedly), luxury hotels. He says he hasn't been to a movie theater for the last four months due to bedbug fears.

"I'm kind of freaked out by the situation. I want to check under my sheets in hotels," he says. "I wanted a way for people like myself to see reports where there's been bedbugs before they go to a certain location."

The company claims that it updates "thousands" of reported locations of bed bugs daily.


Where does app developer Apps Genius get its information? Kotkin says:

  • Users. Users will be able to submit reports based on their own experiences.
  • Internet. Apps Genius staff who already monitor other subjects for the company's other products are now gathering bedbug reports 24/7, Kotkin says. The info could come from newspaper articles, blogs and other sites.
  • Health departments. "We have some relationships with some health departments when (outbreaks) become public information," he says.

Kotkin says the Apps Genius staff will review all user submissions regularly, and reports tagged as inaccurate, outdates or fixed will be promptly removed.



$1.99 at App stores everywhere.

Hey, wait a minute — I've stayed at the Rosslyn Key Bridge Holiday Inn... now I'm really scratching.

*Formication is the scientific term for "... a tactile hallucination... an abnormal skin sensation similar to that of insects crawling over or within the skin."

You could look it up.


October 22, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

iPad/iPhone-to-USB Keychain Charge Connector


Could be a lifesaver when your battery dies and someone nearby has a computer.

From the website:



You'll always remember to carry the USB cable your Apple device needs when you attach a flipSYNC USB cable to your keychain.

About the size of a car remote, its ends hide two USB connectors: a slim type "A" plug and a 30-pin connector.

Allows you to connect an iPod classic® 4G/5G/6G, iPod mini®, iPod nano®, iPod touch®, iPhone® or iPad to any computer.


Use it to transfer data or to recharge your device's battery (cannot charge iPod classic 3G models).

iPhone/iPad/iPod not included.



Ask nicely and try not to let your panic leak out too much.



October 22, 2010 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Surfer Girls of Gaza


Sarah A. Topol's November 2010 Atlantic article, "Gaza's Surfer Girls," featured four girls (two pictured above) learning to ride the waves off the Gaza Strip.

They're the newest members of the Gaza Surf Club, now two dozen strong.

The sport is relatively new there, having begun in the mid-1990s.

Last year ABC News featured the surfing Gazans.

October 22, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scratch that Itch — Wall-mounted square cat habitat

Asdfghj kttjrh


Everyone knows cats love to stretch out any chance they get and that scratching stuff really gets kitty endorphins flowing.

So why not combine the two fun activities?

Besides which, you can tell your friends it's art.

From the website:


Does your cat have an itch to scratch?

Our cats love scratching... and we love the unobtrusive nature of this design.

Easily mounts on the wall for secure vertical cat scratching.

Catnip can be placed behind or rubbed onto the inserts to further entice scratching.


• 100% rapidly renewable bamboo plywood

• Removable/replaceable carpet insert

• 9"W x 9"L x 0.75"D



Mohair Green, Mohair Brown, Mohair Orange, Soft White, Coir Brown.


Anyone who can say "stretch scratch" superfast three times in a row without messing up is a marvel in my book.

[via 7Gadgets]


October 22, 2010 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

First Annual bookofjoe Potato Chip Contest


Last month I announced the upcoming taste-off here at bookofjoe World Headquarters®™©.


Without further (or Freddy) ado, let me introduce to you the contestants, above and below, as photographed on my dining room table by my crack photography team led by Cary Sternick, who also worked tirelessly for weeks to select the entrants from among myriad pretenders and contenders around the country.


This is gonna put a whole new spin on "crunchy."

October 22, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Jeff Koons x Kiehl's


"Starting November 1, Kiehl's will sell a limited edition of its Creme de Corps holiday collection, packaged with artwork by Jeff Koons."

Why wait?

Get yours here now.

Don't take too much time thinking about it or else you'll be pressing your nose against the glass looking at the Out of Stock sign.

[via Hilary Howard and the New York Times]

October 22, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Robot anesthesiologist performs flawlessly during world's first all-robotic surgery


It would appear my days passing gas are as numbered as those of my daily newspapers.

From PopSci.com: "I’m not sure I would trust robots named McSleepy and DaVinci to knock me out and cut me open, but that’s what one brave soul [head visible just below the lower edge of the drape in the photo above] just did, when he had his prostate removed at McGill University Health Centre for the world's first all-robotic surgery [and anesthetic]." 

"DaVinci is a widely used surgical robot that can be controlled by surgeons from remote locations, and McSleepy is, appropriately, an anesthesia bot. The two collaborated for the first time ever in this groundbreaking surgery, performed at Montreal General Hospital. Their surgeon masters kept them closely monitored, of course, but the use of the bots provided for a higher level of precision than would be achievable with humans alone."

"The success of this surgery makes it likely that DaVinci and McSleepy will team up again. The researchers plan to test robotic surgery and robotic anesthesia across a variety of surgeries and patients."

McGill University's account stated, "Providing anesthesia for robotic prostatectomy can be challenging because of the specific patient positioning and the high degree of muscle relaxation necessary to maintain perfect conditions for the surgical team. Automated anesthesia delivery via McSleepy guarantees the same high quality of care every time it is used, independent from the subjective level of expertise. It can be configured exactly to the specific needs of different surgeries, such as robotic surgery."


"There is still some work needed to perfect the all-robotic approach — from technical aspects to space requirements for the robots. Whereas robots have been used in surgery for quite some time, anesthesia has finally caught up. Robots will not replace doctors but help them to perform to the highest standards."

What I'm waiting for is a YouTube video of the world's first successful robotic endotracheal intubation, which I'm betting the house did not occur during anesthesia induction in the procedure detailed above.

That's when I'll know it's time to hang up the old breathing bag.

[via Ray Earhart]

October 22, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Taste No. 5: Umami Paste


British food writer Laura Santtini created it.

"The product captures the elusive fifth taste (after bitter, salty, sour and sweet). Umami is named after the Japanese word for 'good flavor' and is best described as 'savory.' Made from tomatoes, anchovies, parmesan cheese and porcini mushrooms, this delicious paste can be squeezed into pasta sauces and risottos or rubbed on grilled meats and crostini for added depth," stated an unattributed review in last weekend's Wall Street Journal.

£2.99 ("This item is currently not available" at Amazon in the U.S.).

October 22, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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