Wednesday, August 27, 2008
TiVo hopes to make it easier for people to watch top television shows by recording programs recommended by Entertainment Weekly magazine.
The partnership is part of a growing push by TiVo to differentiate itself from DVRs offered by cable and satellite companies, which have managed to find a bigger audience even though they lack many of TiVo's features.
The deal could also help create a more direct connection between one of the most popular print magazines devoted to chronicling the ins-and-outs of entertainment and access to that entertainment. The publication has a weekly circulation of 1.8 million. Entertainment Weekly will update its recommendations for TiVo subscribers weekly.
TiVo will also allow its users to download videos that Entertainment Weekly is already featuring on its Website, including a regular series of interviews with losing contestants from "American Idol." The service won't carry an additional fee above the $12.95 a month TiVo users pay.
Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo, said the company plans to expand TV recommendations from "authoritative sources" like Entertainment Weekly that make it easier to record programs. TiVo also lets users follow suggestions for recording kid-friendly programming from the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media.
TiVo in recent years has also cut deals that let users download TV shows and movies from Amazon.com and stream music from Rhapsody. But such features haven't helped TiVo to keep pace with the growth of cable and satellite operators.
The company, which pioneered DVRs a decade ago, has only 1.7 million subscribers out of an estimated 26 million DVRs in the US at the end of the first quarter of 2008. (info from The Wall Street Journal)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The premium Artisan 800 features Wi-Fi® Fax, an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), and Ultra Hi-Definition photos. Its 7.8” smart touch panel and 3.5” LCD lights up only the buttons necessary that brings essential controls to users’ fingertips for easy selecting, copying, enlarging, rotating, cropping, and printing photos all without a computer. The Artisan 800 also has the ability to turn photos or drawings into personalized coloring book pages and make personal notepaper with a photo as a background.
The new Epson PreferredSM program includes a two-year limited warranty, toll-free telephone support, access to the exclusive MyEpson.com Web site that features a series of online tutorial videos, and more1. Registered Artisan owners also receive, free lifetime phone support with no additional charges, even beyond the warranty.
Both the Artisan 800 and 700 feature six-color Ultra Hi-Definition Claria ink to create vivid, true-to-life photos with smudge, scratch and water resistance2, as well as fade resistance up to four times longer than photo lab prints3. Working in tandem with Claria ink, the “smart nozzles” in Epson’s exclusive MicroPiezo® print head with DX5™ technology deliver up to five ink droplet sizes, as small as 1.5 picoliters, producing smooth gradations, accurate skin tones and sharp, grain-free prints.
Both models feature Epson’s auto photo correction technology. This feature allows users to preview corrections on the built-in LCD screen to ensure the best prints, rescuing photos that they might have otherwise passed over or discarded. Users can also remove red eye from their photos automatically.
Other features on the Artisan 800 and 700 include turning plain paper into college-ruled, wide-ruled and graph school paper, and creating photo layouts with various size photos on a single sheet of paper. Users can even print and copy images directly onto ink jet printable CDs and DVDs.
Both Artisan models produce prints and copies in black and color in up to 38 pages per minute (ppm), 4” x 6” photos in as fast as 10 seconds, and an 8” x 10” in as fast as 50 seconds4. The Artisan 800 adds full-featured, high-speed fax with a 30-page Automatic Document Feeder for copying, scanning and faxing stacks of documents effortlessly.
Standing just 5.9” tall in a compact design with an easy-to-view tilt 2.5” LCD, the Artisan 700 offers features and functionality for everyday printing, copying and scanning, for a range of personal and creative needs that don’t require faxing.
Additional features and performance in the Artisan series include:
Full-Featured Scanning and Copying: The Artisan 800 features 4800 dpi resolution (48-bit color) and the Artisan 700 features 2400 dpi resolution (48-bit color), for high quality scanning of images and documents with brilliant clarity and accuracy.
Both all-in-ones also offer standalone, one-touch color and black and white copying with a wide range of easy-to-use options such as the ability to scan to a computer, memory card or USB flash drive, easy photo reprints and enlargements up to 400 percent, and a convenient fit-to-page printing feature. They also offer background removal for crisp, clean copies of text documents. Both models include OCR software for converting documents into text users can edit.
Both Artisan models have card slots that are compatible with all popular memory card types5 for printing photos without a computer or transferring files to or from a computer. Users can print directly from a digital camera or cellphone with the PictBridge® connection. Additional photo printing options include print-by-date, custom picture packages, photo index sheets, and passport and photo IDs. Both Artisans can restore color to old, faded photos with or without using a computer.
Included software allows users to create and print personalized CDs/DVDs, greeting cards, invitations, photo calendars, photo books, and more.
Wi-Fi and Ethernet networking are built in for sharing with all users in the home. An optional Bluetooth® photo print adapter is also available for printing from cell phones and other mobile devices.
Both models print borderless photos in popular sizes, including
4” x 6”, 5” x 7”, 8” x 10”, and letter. They also feature a paper cassette with two paper trays that eliminate the need to switch between plain and photo paper. In addition, two-sided printing is built-in and can be automated with an optional duplexer6.
The Artisan series feature convenient individual ink cartridges that can be changed in as little as five seconds and replace only the color needed. In addition, innovative technology conveniently combines color inks to produce black when black ink is low to extend printing. Cartridges are available in two sizes to match users’ printing needs.
Estimated street prices are $299.99 (Artisan 800) and $199.99 (Artisan 700). They are currently available for "pre-order" for a limited time online through Amazon.com, BestBuy.com and OfficeMax.com. They will be available nationwide next month.
This is a preview, not a review.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Some of them get used less than once a year. My new favorite -- the Black & Decker HandiSaw -- gets used at least once a week. It's so versatile and so much fun to use that If I don't need to use it, sometimes I invent a project for it.
It has a unique design, combining a reciprocating saw and jig saw -- but with the size, shape and weight of a lightweight electric drill. It's light enough to cut with just one hand, and compact for easy access to tight spots. It's great for cutting drywall for electrical boxes. Just poke a starter hole, and then push in the HandiSaw blade and cut the shape you want. I also like it for PVC pipe.
HandiSaw is cordless for quick and convenient cutting. B&D says that when its 6-volt battery is charged, it can make up to 200 cuts of 1/2" oak dowels. It comes with blades for wood and metal.
It cuts almost anything, anytime, anywhere, including thin metal, drywall and up to 1" wood or plastic. You can use it to trim shelves, molding, dowels and furring strips; or take it outside to trim branches to slice through roots. You can use standard T-shank and U-shank jig saw blades; and to change a blade, you just press a lever -- there's no need to hunt for a hex key. A safety swich locks the blade. The wall mountable charger provides continous charging for grab-and-go convenience. The motor provides 1,850 strokes per minute with a 1/2-inch stroke length.
Price is about $40, at Amazon, Sears and Lowes.
Friday, August 22, 2008
It saves space in your PC carrying case, because it does double-duty, providing connectivity for both "RJ-11" dial-up modem jacks and "RJ-45" network jacks.
The Cat 5e cable provides speeds up to 100 Mbps, and is six feet long. Each plug has an innovative "sliding sleeve" design that allows it to instantly convert for the two plug widths, so you don't have to carry separate cables or adapters. Price is $10. Order from CordsForPhones.com
Thursday, August 21, 2008
With its streamlined design and Palm shortcuts layered on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, Treo Pro includes email, Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities is aimed at both business and personal users.
According to Palm, the Treo Pro lets IT managers support an increasingly mobile work force with the ease of use and robust feature set business professionals demand. Besides the benefits of lower costs and increased productivity, Treo Pro can deliver the increased security, easier device management and access to information on the corporate network that Windows Mobile 6.1 provides.
Users can quickly respond to business and personal email, access the web, stay on top of appointments and contacts, and use Wi-Fi or GPS on the go. Treo Pro's thin design blends a flush, high-resolution color touch screen and a full QWERTY keyboard with a removable battery that packs up to five hours of talk time and enough strength for the business user's needs, offering a powerful yet effortless mobile experience.
The Treo Pro smartphone, based on the popular Windows Mobile platform, helps optimize business processes by effortlessly mobilizing users with enhancements to the Windows Mobile 6.1 platform, including:
-- One-touch Wi-Fi button -- Easy, fast Wi-Fi connection experience (802.11b/g).(1)
-- Today screen enhancements -- Web search directly from the Today screen.
-- Ringer switch -- Silences the device immediately.
-- Screen saver -- Lets users know at a glance -- without turning on the device -- what time it is and whether they've missed a call or have a new SMS/MMS message.
-- New voicemail indicator -- The center button flashes to let users know that a voicemail is waiting.
-- Dedicated email and calendar buttons -- Fast one-button access.
With Treo Pro, businesses can quickly and easily deploy a secure, low-cost and compatible infrastructure for their mobile workforce by taking advantage of a tightly integrated Palm and Windows Mobile 6.1 solution, including:
-- Microsoft Direct Push Technology -- Direct connection to Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2 or 2007 gives users up-to-date email, contacts and calendars.
-- Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 -- With the deployment of Mobile Device Manager, the Treo Pro can deliver increased security, easier smartphone management, and access to information on the corporate network. IT professionals can confidently manage large Treo Pro deployments.
-- Thousands of applications available for Windows Mobile -- Businesses can extend mobility beyond email to optimize business processes.
-- World phone -- With high-speed UMTS/HSDPA network capabilities(5), Treo Pro is a sleek world phone that's ideal for companies with an international work force.
-- Integrated GPS -- Users can access maps, turn-by-turn directions and point-of-interest (POI) searches.
-- Support and training -- Palm shortcuts make Treo Pro easy to use, so businesses can spend less on training and support for their users. End-to-end enterprise support means companies can expand the scope of their mobile deployments without putting a strain on internal support personnel.
-- Familiar Windows experience -- Users can browse the web with built-in Internet Explorer Mobile; open, view, and edit Word and Excel compatible files; review PowerPoint presentations and PDF files; and open ZIP files remotely.
Treo Pro will be available in September in Europe) through Vodafone (from free to EUR 399 with contract) and O2 (pricing is available from O2 direct sales and online business stores), and in Australia through Telstra (from free with contract). It will be available in the United States in the fall through the Palm online store (http://www.palm.com/store) as well as select Internet, retail and enterprise resellers for a suggested retail price of $549. The US version is unlocked and unsubsidized, giving end users the flexibility to simply insert their existing active SIM card and immediately start using their Treo Pro without a new contract.
The Treo Pro smartphone comes with an international power charger, microUSB cable and a stereo headset (3.5mm). Other accessories designed for Treo Pro (sold separately) include a vehicle power charger, leather side case, travel microUSB cable, cradle, extra battery, TTY audio adapter, and replacement styli.
More information about the Treo Pro smartphone is available at www.palm.com/TreoPro
This is a preview, not a review
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
If the space under your desk or TV looks like an over-fertilized rain forest (what used to be called a jungle) CableBox is a super solution. It's a container that quickly and easily hides your mess.
Just put your power strips or surge protector inside the CableBox. There are openings on both ends, and there's no need to unplug anything when you set it up. Just remove the top and drop in your wires. Then stow away the surplus cable lengths, close the lid and you're done.
CableBox will fit almost every size power strip with extra space for the cords, adapters, etc. CableBox is available in black or white. Rubber feet prevent it from slipping and sliding. It's perfect for office and home, so get a few.
15.6" long x 6" wide x 5.3" high. Price is $30. Order at CordsForPhones.com
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The problem annoyed some smart people enough to motivate them to design, patent and produce the simple and efficient Cableyoyo. It's a flat, empty spool around which you wrap your cord. It will hold cords up to 5mm in diameter, and this includes transformers, USB, firewire, and telephone cords.
The Cableyoyo is just the right thickness so the cord cannot overlap when coiled. This ensures that you can pack the most cord into the smallest amount of space and still keep it untangled and untwisted when extended. The thin design also means it packs easily into narrow pockets in a laptop case or your pocket for travel, but you can also attach it to a wall or desk or a power transformer or electronic gadget.
Two small internal clasps hold the cord at the right length when you have finished coiling. Unwinding is simple. Put your thumb and index finger in the center and just pull the cord.
Another great feature of Cableyoyo is that it comes with an adhesive spindle. You can stick it almost anywhere and then you can snap the Cableyoyo on and off whenever you need to.You can even stack them "two-up" by attaching the spindle of one Cableyoyo to another Cableyoyo -- a good way to keep your cables together.
- Three color choices: silver, black. white
- Measures about 3-1/8 inches square.
- Holds about six feet of coiled cord.
- Six bucks each
CLICK to order at CordsForPhones.com
Monday, August 18, 2008
I hate seeing people squeezing telephone handsets between their cheeks and their shoulders while they use their hands for typing of shuffling papers.
I equally hate people using crappy hands-free speakerphones that transmit lots of ambient noise and reveal an "while I'm willing to talk to you, don't expect me to give you 100% of my attention" attitude.
A good headset avoids those problems, and a good wireless headset also means there's one less wire to get tangled up with the wires on your desk, and that you can be free to wander from your desk without halting your conversation.
My day job is being the boss of a company that develops and sells a wide range of telecom equipment. We're big believers in wireless headsets. All of our people wear them all day long. If a sales person gets asked if a certain something is in stock, he can walk from his desk in the office into the warehouse, and even climb up a ladder if necessary, while still talking to the customer -- without trailing a telephone cord.
We can start a conversation at our desks, and go out to the warehouse, make a stop in the men's room, go out to the parking lot to close car windows if it looks like it's going to rain, and get back to our desks -- probably without the people we're talking to realizing that we ever left our desks.
- And our hands are free for typing and flipping papers
- And there are fewer wires to tangle or trip over.
Mobility is wonderful.
But it can be expensive.
Most of the major brand wireless headsets cost around $300, or even more when the remote handset lifters are included. If you don't get the remote lifter, you have to be at your desk to begin and end the call, which severely limits the usefulness of having a wireless headset. And even if you're at your desk, you'd have to pick up and hang your handset to use the headset, which is really lame.
A lot of the advertising for wireless headsets is deceptive. Many dealers make the price seem low by offering the remote handset lifter as an option. The total price is usually about $60 - $75 more. OUCH!
Take it from me, the remote lifter is not an option, unless you never leave your desk.
It's like a car dealer advertising a new Honda Accord for $14,000, and at the bottom of the ad there's a footnote in tiny type telling you that the engine and transmission will cost you $12,000 more. Of course, if you never take the Honda out of your garage, you don't need an engine and transmission. And if you never leave your desk, you don't need a remote handset lifter, and probably don't need a wireless headset.)
(TIME OUT. In case you didn't know, a remote handset lifter is a small radio-controlled gadget that allows you to remotely pick-up and hang-up the handset on your phone by tapping a button on your wireless headset to begin or end a call. It sounds like a clunky way to do business, but they actually work quite well with the vast majority of phones. It would be nice if phone makers and headset makers could agree on a universal electronic interface standard that would do away the need for remote lifters, but we'll probably have peace in the Middle East before that happens.)
Anyway, we wanted more people to be able to afford wonderful wireless headsets. So we got together with Chameleon, the company that's been making our extremely popular MN-25 and BN-25 wired headsets, and worked with them to develop an absolutely first-rate wireless headset that's as good or better than what the "major brands" are offering, but could sell for at least ►SIXTY BUCKS LESS◄.
We're extremely proud of our new HH-101. Even Cynical Cousin Dave likes it. It sounds super. It weighs almost nothing. The battery life is more than long enough to make it through the work day. Its 150-foot range is long enough for a big office or even a warehouse. And despite its low price, it's not some ugly Frankenstein monstrosity. It's an elegant contemporary design that will be an asset to any office. And the person who controls the assets of the office will appreciate the low price.
You can wear it three different ways: over your ear, with a band around the back of your head, or with a band over the top of your head. The headband is the most secure for people who move around a lot. But, if you're concerned about messing your hair, you'll probably prefer one of the other methods. It's easy to set it up the way you want. You can change easily, and all of the pieces are included. There's no need to pay extra, or wait for accessories to arrive.
Even with the over-the-head headband, the HH-101 weighs very little -- less than a big Tootsie Roll. It's so light and so comfortable that you might forget you're wearing it until you're in the middle of a conversation and have to make a mad dash for the john or the parking lot and realize you don't have to yank off the headset and put your call on hold.
- Advanced Digital Sound Processing (DSP) circuitry, noise-canceling microphone and Ultra Audible receiver for perfect sound in and out. No one will be saying "Please repeat that."
- Very low weight -- weighs less than a big Tootsie Roll, even with the headband attached.
- Works on telephones, and computers using VoIP, or even for computer speech recognition programs.
- Compatible with any office phone that has a handset with a plug-in ("modular") handset)
- 2.4GHz DSST "Digital Spread Spectrum Technology"
- Includes all equipment needed for THREE WEARING STYLES: over-the-ear, super-stable headband, and neck band
- Microphone mute and receiving volume controls on the headset so you can make adjustments wherever you are.
- Long microphone boom for strong voice output and minimum background noise
- Fast battery recharging (3-4 hours typical)
- Optional spare battery can be charged while headset is in use or on base.
- Typical 16 to 18 hours talk time
- Typical 150-foot range from base to headset
- Incoming call tone notification at headset: when you hear the tone, tap a button and talk.
- "On-a- call" LED indication at headset so people know not to interrupt your conversations
- Headset locator button on base
- Remote handset lifter is INCLUDED so you can start and end phone calls by just tapping a button on the headset.
- Headset weight with over-the-ear loop: 1.6 ounces
- Headset weight with headband: 2.2 ounces.
- Warranty: one year
- "Ground" shipping is FREE to all 50 states.
Friday, August 15, 2008
It's approximately one-inch thin, weighs just over two pounds, has Windows XP and uses the Intel® Atom™ processor. Lenovo offers the IdeaPad S10 in two configurations, one with 512 MB of memory and an 80 GB hard drive and one with 1 GB of memory and a 160 GB hard drive.
The 10.2-inch screen IdeaPad S10 netbook comes in white and black as well as a glossy ruby red. Lenovo designed the keyboard to be 85 percent the size of a full-size laptop, and an energy-efficient LED backlit display helps provide longer battery life than traditional displays.
The IdeaPad S10 includes WiFi and also has an Express Card slot so users can enable the IdeaPad S10 for optional high speed mobile broadband2 connectivity. To optimize the social networking experience, the IdeaPad S10 comes with tools such as a built-in web camera for video messaging, and its two USB ports and a 4-in-1 multicard reader make connecting other devices and transferring photos, music and videos simple.
Lenovo engineered the IdeaPad S10 netbook to reduce the heat emitted on key contact areas such as the bottom of the PC, the palm rest and the keyboard. Additionally, Lenovo’s OneKey™ Rescue System3 helps users recover data at the touch of a button should a system error or virus occur.
The IdeaPad S10 netbook PC will be available beginning in early October, and prices start at $399.
This is a preview, not a review.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
While traveling, it's no big deal to stash the mouse in the PC bag, but the accessory wizards at Logitech have come up with a cool ideas for transporting a laptop and its mouse from room to room -- or even building to building -- when you're not carrying a full computer case.
The Logitech® V550 Nano cordless laser mouse, featuring the Clip-and-Go dock lets you conveniently clip the V550 mouse to your laptop – and go.
Always ready for use, the V550 Nano also features the Plug-and-Forget Nano-receiver – it’s so small that once it’s plugged into your computer, you can forget about it. The Nano-receiver stays nearly flush against the side of the computer (protruding just 8 mm), so it doesn’t have to be unplugged when you stow your laptop.
With increased mobility comes increased concern about battery life. You don’t want to be caught out and about with a mouse that’s run out of power. The new V550 mouse offers up to 18 months of battery life. Plus, the V550 Nano saves additional power by automatically turning off when it’s docked or when the Nano-receiver is stored inside the mouse.
To enhance your productivity, the V550 mouse’s scroll wheel can spin freely to let you move quickly through long documents and Web pages. Or, by pressing down on the wheel, you can switch to click-to-click scrolling mode and scroll precisely through lists, slides or photos. In addition, the button directly below the scroll wheel allows you to switch between applications (after installing software available at no additional charge from www.logitech.com/downloads).
The V550 Nano is offered in two colors: gray with silver accents and silver with blue accents. With the purchase of the mouse, you’ll receive two Clip-and-Go docks – one silver, one black. An included setup kit makes it easy to install the dock, and to remove it, if necessary.
The new Logitech mouse is compatible with both PC and Mac® computers, and the Clip-and-Go dock is compatible with all notebook styles. For more information, visit www.logitech.com.
The Logitech V550 Nano cordless laser mouse is expected to be available in the US and Europe beginning in late August. The suggested retail price in the US is $59.99.
This is a preview, not a review.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The Mopar hot spot will be sold and installed through Chrysler dealers. It is compatible with 2009 Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles as well as earlier models. Consumers can order new cars with the device or they can bring their car to the dealer to have it outfitted with the $499 hot spot, called Uconnect Web. Chrysler will not install the hot spots directly at the factory.
Chrysler’s Uconnect Web creates an EV-DO cellular connection that is then converted to Wi-Fi so that many passengers in the car can get secure Web access on their laptops, video game devices and other equipment, simultaneously, without wires, said Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet Mobile, which supplies the device to Chrysler. Autonet Mobile already sells a portable version of the car hot spot to Avis Rent A Car that can be rented for $10.95/day in major cities.
In its Chrysler version, Uconnect Web is hardwired to the car’s electrical system and the device is usually mounted in the trunk and an antenna is mounted on the vehicle. It delivers download speeds from 400kbps to 800kbps with upload speeds averaging 400kbps. The Wi-Fi service operates within 100 feet of the car and the Wi-Fi connection is secured with WEP and other encryptions. Pratz said his system can work on all cellular and WiMAX networks.
In addition to the $499 fee is a $35 to $50 installation fee, a $35 activation fee and a $29 monthly subscription fee. The customer also pays $29/month in service charges. Chrysler will supply appropriate Mopar wire harnesses to outfit past Chrysler vehicles. (info from TWICE)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It has a new 7 megapixel CMOS image sensor, which captures videos and stills in FullHD (1920 x 1080) High Definition. It can also record up to 4 hours 20 minutes of 1920x1080 video or 8 hours 40 minutes of 1440x1080 video onto the built-in 30 GB Hard drive. Additionally, the built-in SDHC card slot provides added flexibility by allowing for Full HD video and still recordings.
The new DZ-BD10HA also offers a dubbing function that allows Full HD video to be transferred with the single push of a button from either the HDD or SDHC card to the Blu-ray drive, all within the camcorder, without having to connect to a PC.
Editing functions such as split, splice, delete, merge, and transitions can also be performed within the camcorder before dubbing. The Transcoding feature allows the camcorder to transfer full HD videos off the HDD or SDHC card to standard def DVD discs for sharing videos with people who do not own a Blu-ray player.
Face detection automatically detects and focuses on faces to provide the most true to life color accuracy and clarity. Additionally, Hitachi has developed a compact, low power consumption, quiet and highly reliable 8cm BD/DVD drive, which results in a 20% reduction in overall volume compared with last year’s DZ-BD7HA camcorder.
Suggested retail price is $1099.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The site also has a lot of info on the Batman TV series, Batman TV cartoons, Batman's enemies, plot summaries of the Batman movies, pictures of the Batmobiles, and even real people named Batman.
You can also order Batman DVDs, books, and posters; and cool phones that have nothing to do with Batman. The website is highly recommended, particularly because it's my own website.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Your humble editor has been cooking and eating clams for many years, but except for a couple of very unsatisfying experiences heating frozen clam strips (think of warm gummy worms), I'd never had fried clams at home before.
A while ago, I received a nice email from Mike Annable of Diggers Choice in Wareham Massachusetts, near Cape Cod. Mike buttered me up with compliments about my WeLoveClams website, and asked if I'd provide a link to the Diggers Choice site.
We get lots of requests for links, and, since the clam website is not my fulltime gig (neither are the blogs), I seldom have time to investigate the requests, and I don't link just anyone. But since Mike said that the folks in his office thought the site was funny; and only a few very enlightened people (not including my wife) appreciate my sense of humor, his request deserved special attention.
Anyway, I went to the Diggers Choice website, and immediately started salivating. I placed an order for a do-it-yourself fried clam kit, and the next morning the UPS driver left a box at my front door, and sped away without ringing the bell. This could have been a tragedy, but my dog barked and I opened the door.
Since I've encountered a lot of lousy fried clams, made by professional cooks in real restaurants, I was not at all optimistic about cooking my own. I'm an OK amateur, but really had no idea what was involved, and doubted that I'd produce anything edible on my first attempt.
The meal was amazing -- way beyond what I expected. I can't say that they're the best fried clams I've ever had, but they're definitely much better than most of the fried clams I've had.
Although our frying oil was of dubious quality, and our kitchen crew had never fried clams before, the amazing freshness of the clams came through. Many restaurants serve frozen clams, or "fresh" clams that have been hanging around for three or four days, after traveling for three or four days. These clams were on the beach on Tuesday, and in our bellies on Wednesday. We could definitely taste the difference.
Another advantage over the pros: In restaurants, your cooked clams can sit around for ten minutes, drying out under the heat lamp until the server brings them to you. If you order a large portion, the second half will be cold before you finish the first half (and cold fried clams suck). When you make your own clams, you cook a small portion (maybe a dozen per person) and eat them while they're hot and juicy. After you finish, it takes just a minute or two to make a second batch, and a third batch, and a fourth batch, and...
Frying clams at home is a great party idea. It's easy, and will provide your guests with a unique experience -- much hipper than fondue or tacos or s'mores. It's fun, too; and you can probably convince guests to cook and clean while you concentrate on eating and drinking.
Also, consider making fried clams with your sweetie for an intimate Valentine's Day dinner. Clams are great aphrodisiacs; and clams and beer are two of the vital food groups necessary for nurturing human brain cells.
Most people have never had really good fried clams, and with next-day delivery of a Diggers Choice Fried Clam Kit, there is no reason to settle for second-rate clams. CLICK for the Diggers Choice website. They're also a great source for delicious lobsters, steaks, oysters, shrimp, scallops and more. If you can't get lucky after serving one of their meals, try a new deodorant!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I always strongly point out to our customers how important it is to put surge protectors on the AC power line and on the phone lines that feed their phone systems, and that more damage occurs because of power surges on the phone lines than from the power lines.
I just learned that network cabling needs to be protected, too. More about that below.
We tell our customers that if they don't buy the protectors when they buy their phone systems, they'll buy them for the next phone system after the first phone system get fried. On just one day last week I wrote two letters to insurance companies for customers whose phone systems got fried.
Over the weekend, our own office was attacked by high voltage. We had protection -- but not enough protection. We could have had more protection, but maybe enough protection simply does not exist
During a really severe storm on Saturday, the electric company's meter on the side of the building actually EXPLODED and was launched about six feet off the wall.
We lost our phone system, voice mail, several computers, printers, a copier, test equipment, alarm system, security camera and monitor, air conditioner circuit boards, thermostats, two network switches, cable modems, half of our lights, and probably more that we haven't realized yet. A lot of what was damaged, was protected by "good" protectors.
For most of Monday, we had just one phone line and no Internet or email.
One network switch that got wiped out also sent surges that killed the network cards in six computers, and may have been responsible for killing several of the PCs that held the network cards.
Now I'm going to put protectors on each segment of the network. We'll have a link for the protectors here soon. Please protect your valuable gear. You can't protect 100%, but try.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York said Monday that the so-called network DVR, which records programs on a faraway computer rather than near the TV itself, does not violate copyright law.
The ruling, a turning point in a two-year legal battle, represented a major victory for Cablevision, which wants to offer network DVR services through existing cable boxes. It also dealt a significant blow to media companies that had sued to stop the technology, including Turner Broadcasting and the major TV networks.
For most consumers, the decision does not make much difference. If Cablevision ultimately builds out the system it has in mind, it will simply make it easier for Cablevision customers who do not own DVRs to get recording capabilities through their cable boxes.
In May 2006, when Turner filed the initial copyright infringement suit, DVRs were in 1 out of 14 homes with televisions in the United States. The technology has rapidly gained household share, and is now present in one in four homes. The growing prevalence of the technology has made Cablevision’s initial ambitions seem less threatening and radical.
The Turner suit was joined by 20th Century Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC, and other plaintiffs. They jointly alleged that the network DVR technology violated copyright laws by storing television recordings on a central server. In 2007 a lower court agreed with the media companies, saying that use of the technology “would be engaging in unauthorized reproductions and transmissions” of copyrighted content.
Cablevision appealed and Monday’s ruling declared that the technology “would not directly infringe” on the media companies’ rights.
The media companies will now consider appealing to the US Supreme Court. “We respectfully disagree and are considering the appropriate next steps in this matter,” said James Anderson, a spokesman for Turner.
Network DVRs could add recording functionality to tens of millions of digital cable boxes across the country, and only a simple software upgrade would be needed. Tom Rutledge, Cablevision’s chief operating officer, called the decision a “transformative opportunity” for the cable industry. “We can now provide high-quality DVR capabilities to almost all of our customers in a very short period of time,” he said. “It changes cable’s competitive posture against satellite; it makes the services less expensive to provide; and it makes it easier to upgrade the services.”
Most DVRs, popularized by TiVo, rely on an internal hard drive to record television episodes. They enable users to play back programming and fast-forward past ads. The network DVRs developed by Cablevision have the same capabilities but without the hard drive. Instead, they record the programs on the cable operator’s centralized servers, saving money and avoiding the trouble of installation.
Cablevision says it has not yet determined whether it will introduce the network DVR service to its 3.1 million cable customers. Craig E. Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, said the ruling could have “seismic implications across the media landscape. In short order, effective DVR penetration could now jump to north of 60 percent of cable households (that is, all digital cable subscribers). That means a huge increase in the number of viewing hours per day potentially subject to ad-skipping.”
Network DVRs also prop open the door to new methods of advertising. Cablevision could insert ads dynamically, customizing and updating commercial pods for different consumers and at different times.
In court, the media companies argued that network DVRs were tantamount to video-on-demand, and that they should receive license fees for the recording. Cablevision and the appeals court disagreed. The company noted that each user would record programs on his or her own individual server space, making it a DVR that, as Moffett put it, has a “very long cord.” (info from The New York Times)
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
The obvious reasons are that they have LOTS OF STUFF, the prices are good and they ship quickly; but I'd like to point out two advantages that you folks may not be aware of.
(1) People who buy a lot, like me, can save a huge amount of money on shipping charges, with the Amazon Prime program.
You pay $79 a year, and get unlimited FREE two-day shipping on everything Amazon sells, and you can upgrade to next-day shipping for just $3.99. There's no minimum order size, and no maximum weight. You can use it for a two-buck book, or heavy-weight audio or video equipment, and you can even try the program FREE for a month.
(Keep in mind, however, that the Prime deal does not apply to independent merchants who sell through Amazon, so pay attention to whose stuff you are actually ordering.)
(3) Amazon has their own branded credit cards, issued by Chase Bank. You can use any credit card to buy from Amazon, but if you use your Amazon card, you can get FREEBIES from Amazon. You earn three points for each buck you spend with your Amazon/Chase Visa at Amazon, and one point for each buck spent anywhere else.
Once you've accumulates 2,500 points, Amazon sends you a $25 reward certificate that you can redeem online.
No here's where it gets even better.
I have two Amazon cards, one for business and one for personal use. Last month I used the business Amazon card to pay about $15,000 in business bills, and they sent me $150 in reward certificates that I was able to use to buy merchandise to re-sell. The profit is pretty darn high when both the cost of goods and cost of shipping are ZERO.
Amazon, we love you!
Friday, August 1, 2008
Strangely, every year we get five to ten thousand dollars in checks paying for purchases that were already paid for with plastic.
The trend seems to be increasing. It happened three times last week alone, and the redundant payments come from a wide range of customers including small businesses, blue chips and government agencies -- who should have sophisticated accounting systems to avoid double paying. The problem seems to be caused by bookkeepers who mistake paid receipts for invoices requiring payment, and enter them into their systems and then the checks are generated.
We call our customers, explain the situation, have some laughs and shred the checks. But I have to wonder how many busineses are not as honest -- or are just not as careful -- as we are. At a time when profits are elusive and many businesses are slipping into Chapter 11, double payments could be wasting millions, or even billions.
It's impossible to know the total amount of the waste. For some companies on both sides of the sloppy check processing, it could mean the difference between profit and loss.
In addition to the wasted money of the double payments that are not caught, there's the cost of time wasted generating the unnecessary check, and the postage, and the time wasted by the company that received it. I would not be surprised if some companies, especially in this tight economy, quickly deposit every check that comes in and figure that they'll have the use of the money for a few months until the customer notices the error, or maybe keep it forever.
Tell your accounts payable people to pay attention. A receipt is not an invoice!