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Showing posts from January, 2009

Right Place, Right Time, Right Precedent

There are certain historical moments that, in retrospect, could have only happened with the unique combination of circumstances, individuals, and timing. The saying "Only Nixon could have gone to China" exemplifies this: only a man who had been so rabidly anti-Communist could have been the one to reach out to the leader of the most populous Communist nation on Earth, at the time that war raged through proxies of each, to usher in a new d├ętente. Only Lincoln could have ended slavery, and endured a civil war as a result. And only FDR could have led this nation back from the Great Depression with unprecedented powers we would have entrusted to no one else. FDR 's situation is particularly poignant today. He was a little-known politician, most famous for being a cousin of a former president. He was a member of a minority, being handicapped. He ran for office, promising change, in the worst economic time in the country's history. In fact, the country was so desperate for

Twhirl: One Status Message App to Rule Them All

Mashable breaks the news of a powerful new update to the Adobe AIR-powered Twhirl client today. Among the features of the upcoming preview release are the ability to post messages to (allowing simultaneous status updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), as well as the ability to see any tweets you are even mentioned in, regardless of where in the message you are. Twhirl is a desktop client that allows you to both post and monitor your Twitter feeds. Among its advantages are the ability to automatically give long URLs the TinyURL treatment, automatically post photos to Twitter, and handle direct messages and replies with the deftness of an IM program. I've been using it for months as my preferred desktop client, primarily because of the range of features, as well as the nice UI, but with these improved features, it goes well beyond a nice to have to a real winner. I'd like to see an easy way to automatically exclude messages posting to when common Twitter

15 Seconds of Fame

Mashable has an article up about the top 40 brands that are using Twitter, and who's behind them. I'm reading along, and, with a start, I see the image to the right there, in the article. Yep, Southwest Air was retweeting my tweet, and apparently Mashable captured it for posterity. ;-) By the way, the tweet was in response to Southwest's question if there had indeed been a Southwest Airlines jet on a recent episode of "24." I had noticed the similarity myself, so when I saw the tweet, I was able to quickly respond. Feel free to follow me in all of my fame here . ;-)

Why I Won't Miss Bush 43

Slate V sums up the very reasons I still miss Clinton as President, and am hopeful for Obama. Is it so much to want to have the leader of the Free World be an inspiring speaker? If not, at least avoid these dunderheaded statements? Tuesday can't come soon enough...

Receipts: The Latest Victory of the Digital Age

Great news from a new company, Transaction Tree, who claim they've developed a POS-based solution that allows any retailer's POS system to allow the customer to choose to receive their receipt via email instead of printed paper . While the Apple Store has been doing this for quite some time, they have the advantage of having a relatively modern POS (albeit one that runs on Windows CE, ironically). Most retailers have legacy POS systems, which are not known for their flexibility in this regard. In this age of identity theft, these paper scraps of data are more like tempting morsels for identity thieves. Worse, standards are completely absent: some retailers print the last 4 digits of a credit card on your receipt; others print all but the last 4. A thief only has to take a gander at a mall trash can, and they have the equivalent of an all-expenses paid trip around the world. Emailing these receipts ends this risk, and focuses on what we really need: unlimited storage, indexable

PETA: Now Even MORE Misguided

15 years ago, the Patagonia Toothfish was, to say the least, not much of a hot seller. Then, some ingenious marketers thought of renaming the fish with a name that would be more tempting to diners, and the Chilean Sea Bass was born, becoming so successful, the sales of it have to be now restricted to ensure we don't fish the species out of existence. A great example of marketing in the world of seafood, one that brought great prosperity and expanded palates. Today, we have an absolutely opposite inanity, courtesy of the lunatics at the oh so benignly named People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. They have announced a PR campaign to rebrand fish as...sea kittens. Yes, these crazy folks, who would rather let humans die of starvation, malnutrition, and agony, believe that the latest "animals" to need their protection are fish. This is misguided in so many ways, it dazzles the mind. These zealots are masters of the language war, having executed successful camp

Portable Bike Lane

Interesting concept for a l aser projected instant bike lane for cyclists and, conceivably, motorists. However, upon closer inspection, this appears to be a false promise of safety, as it really can't be seen by motorists until it's too late. As one commenter says, "Performance sells a 9 led light for under $20. Cateye sells a 11 led light for under $30. Planet Bike sells one with a single high intensity (1 watt) flashing light. All are visible for over a half mile. That gives you 30 seconds to react to the presence of something in the road ahead of you that has a red or amber flashing light. Count out 30 seconds. If you can’t react to something in that time, then you would have already killed yourself driving into the side of a building or a truck." Still, just so damned cool.

What do Palm and Doug Flutie Have In Common?

I've always been a huge fan of Doug Flutie. I grew up right down the street from the very stadium he played his college ball (and made his legend). I followed him through both the CFL and the NFL. In fact, I even flew hundreds of miles, just for the chance to see him play. No matter how successful as a pro he was, everyone always remembers Doug Flutie for the play that put him on the national stage: the Hail Mary pass that won the Bowl. Years later, while he was setting record after record in Canada, his team even brought the recipient of that pass, Gerard Phelan, to the team. Was Phelan that great? Not at all. Did Flutie need a great receiver? Absolutely not. But the team wanted the public to recapture their sense of awe and wonder at this display that changed the world by evoking the connection of that Hail Mary. This week, another former champion, known for taking the world by storm, took the stage again for one last Hail Mary pass: Palm . Similarly, it was a desperate situation

Catching Up With Comics, Digital Style

I've confessed to my secret of being a comic book geek before. What I have not confessed previously is that I am a lapsed comic book geek: the last time I bought a comic was more than 5 years ago, and that was for a set of Green Arrow 's, autographed by one of my idols, Kevin Smith (yes, THAT Kevin Smith: he's not just a director; he also occasionally dabbles in comic book writing...brilliantly). But other than that, the last time I seriously stepped foot in a comics store and snapped up a dozen titles was well over a decade ago. Why? It was a combination of factors: the costs of the books were skyrocketing, the storylines were getting stale, the spinoffs on top of spinoffs were diluting the character base...the list goes on. There was a time that my month was not complete without happily dropping $20-$30 on a stack of issues, and greedily consuming them. But the biggest reason I stopped was the physical nature: I already had boxes and boxes of comics, lovingly bagged and p

Free Yourself From Paper...For Free

It comes as no surprise to regular readers of this sporadically-published blog, but I hate paper. And my hatred is only typified by faxes. In this day and age of scanners, PDF's, and e-mail, it is simply unacceptable to me to have to be enslaved to 1970's technology to such a degree. I frequently draft contracts, turn them into PDF's (complete with my digitized signature), and e-mail them, but the recipient is forced to print the damned thing, sign their names, and fax them back to me. Argh. I've used virtual faxing services before, such as eFax (I actually closed paperwork on buying a house with it), but they don't always meet my occasional needs for the cost they incur. Fortunately, today, I discovered one free alternative: jConnect offers a free receive-only fax account that delivers faxes sent to my virtual number right to my e-mail. Did I mention it's free? That it costs nothing? Nada? Zip? If you have the occasional need to receive faxes, I cannot recomme