Living

NeoPets Alarm Clock

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Rousting a kid is every parent’s morning nightmare. Those kids cling to the pillows the way leeches used to stick to our backs at the old swimming hole.

Two weeks ago, my daughter picked up a Pocket NeoPets electronic game, at the local Target using her allowance money. Promptly, at 7:30 each morning, the game buzzes to feed her critter—a Fairy Poogle, I do believe—and she hops out of bed with urgency no alarm clock could muster. It’s a parent’s dream situation.  Read More

Politics Rights

Voter Profiling

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I guess privacy doesn’t mean much during an election year. According to a Reuters story by Andy Sullivan, politicians are “drawing detailed profiles” of voters. Mr. Sullivan quotes Grassroots Solutions founder Robert Richman as saying, “It’s pretty scary, the stuff you can get on people”.

It’s funny how politicians often talk big about protecting people’s privacy (except maybe with regard to Homeland security). But in the crunch, some won’t hesitate to mine data the same as businesses.  Read More

Culture Living Society

Racism and Naiveté

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Growing up in Northern Maine, a white wonderland in more ways than just snow, doesn’t seem like the best place for exposure to other races, or even cultures. But, my hometown Caribou also was where many kids from “the base”, as in Loring over in Limestone, went to school.

My best buds growing up tended be a different color from me, like the Chung brothers, Davis and Winchell. Not that I noticed. I was colorblind to skin. I remember learning about slavery, civil rights, and racism in eighth grade, a concept that made no sense to me.  Read More

Ethics Journalism Media Politics Responsibility

If You’re Political, Then say So

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Should journalists make political contributions? That’s a quandary raised in a today’s Washington Post story by reporter Howard Kurtz. The situation is this: Some news organizations allow staffers—and that includes editors and reporters—to make political contributions. Such contributions could infer bias and so tarnish the contributor’s and/or news operation’s neutrality.

As a former journalist too often disgusted by the news media misbehaviors, I’m in favor of the contributions, as long as there is full disclosure. My reasoning is simple. Reporters, editors, and publishers are people. That means they do have biases and even agendas. But the mask of so-called neutrality often hides the real story behind news stories. I like the idea of those purporting to deliver unbiased news stories and analyses offering readers insight into their political leanings.  Read More

Apple Marketing Microsoft

Microsoft vs Mac Marketing

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I want to take a look at just one of the ways Apple, with its puny computer marketshare, out-markets Microsoft. It’s all in the presentation.

Gander at these two websites: Apple’s iLife `04 and Microsoft’s Plus! Digital Media Edition. Each site hawks the respective company’s digital media suite. But, Apple does a much better job making its product enticing. [Update: 10/2009: Links removed because the original websites are gone.]
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Apple

Mac’s Movie Preview Screensaver

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When Macs are really cooler than PCs, they’re “Duh, that was so obvious”. My nine-year-old and I cruised through our local CompUSA this afternoon, and, as is customary, we bopped into the Mac section. She stopped at an iMac that was running the “Peter Pan” preview. When she reached to turn up the volume, the preview disappeared, leaving her with the Mac OS X desktop.

Stupid me, I started looking for QuickTime, figuring th preview had been playing in the open application. Smart daughter reasoned, “Maybe it was the screensaver, dad”.  Read More

Apple Education Microsoft Uncategorized

Windows gives Macs the Boot

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My daughter attends an elementary school in Montgomery County, Md., where Windows PCs are booting (pardon the bad computer jargon pun) Macs out the door. Her school is due for an upgrade next year.

Montgomery County is supposed to have one of the better school systems in the Washington, D.C. area, because of the tax base of cities like Bethesda, Chevy Chase, or Rockville. Wherever the school system spends its money, computers haven’t been a priority. My daughter’s school runs aged beige (that means pre-1998) Macs and first-generation (that means 1998) iMacs; a few 1999 version G3 towers are around, too. It’s my understanding that many of the computers were purchased through a Macs for schools program—one of those deals where folks turned in receipts to a local supermarket. So, much for the tax base.  Read More

Politics Society Web

Blog the Vote

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According to a story in yesterday’s Washington Post, political candidates wooing younger voters should skip the ads and blog. The story, by Brian Krebs, cites a study sponsored by the Council for Excellence in Government’s Center for Democracy and Citizenship program and the Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement center at the University of Maryland.

According to Mr. Krebs, “The survey suggests that the Internet is most effective for candidates pursuing young people who are already interested in politics or passionate about certain key issues.” Read More

Culture Society

Boom, Bust, or Cusp?

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The first rule of the Web is save a good news story, because you may never find it again. Case in point: Topic of this blog. Somewhere this week, I read a news story about the workplace generation gap between Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. Apparently Boomers are more loyal to their jobsThat’s got to hurt and might be foreshadowing of GenXers’ future. After all, aren’t Boomers supposed to be the love, peace and protest generation that refused to conform to the stuffy suits of their parents’ generation? Now look at them. Read More

Gear Mobility

Suunto n3 is Right for Me

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Today, I got a Suunto n3 watch, which uses Microsoft’s MSN Direct service to deliver news, weather, stocks, sports scores, instant messages, and even Outlook calendar data to the timepiece.

This is the second watch I’ve used. For the month before, I wore Fossil’s Abacus. Both watches are cool, but the n3 is more to my tastes.

Once you set up the MSN Direct service, everything works pretty much automatically from there. Message alerts pop with breaking news. Calendar appointments just zing out from Outlook to the watch; no synchronization required. The watch buzzes me 15 minutes before the appointment. Weather, which includes current and three-day forecast, is my favorite info channel. The news headlines are handy too.

Apple Music

United Against a Common Enemy

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Mac users are singing a happy tune today, following news that HP would redistribute iTunes and the iPod music player. Or are they?

The deal makes plenty of sense for Apple. As one of the top two PC manufacturers, HP would help proliferate Apple’s Fairplay digital rights management (DRM)-wrapped Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) music files, further adoption of the iTunes music player and presumably lead to more sales of iPod.  Read More