Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
October 18, 2007
By DAVID POGUE
As a tech writer, I'm in the business of providing answers. Sometimes people ask me questions one at a time ("What camera should I buy?"), and sometimes the substance of the question is implied because I have a tech column ("What's new?").
But I've got a lot of questions, too—a lot of them that I don't have answers for. In fact, I've been keeping a little list.
Some of them are answerless because nobody knows the answer. Some may have answers, but only industry insiders know what they are. And still others are answerless because they're incendiary hot-button issues, and there's no consensus.
I thought: What better way to find the answers than to lay out my list for the reading public?
So here they are: Pogue's Imponderables.
* Why is Wi-Fi free at cheap hotels, but $14 a night at expensive ones?
* What happens to software programs when their publishers go out of business?
* Would the record companies sell more music online if it weren't copy-protected?
* Do cellphones cause brain cancer?
* What's the real reason you have to turn off your laptop for takeoff?
* Why can't a digital S.L.R. camera record video?
* Wi-Fi on airplanes. What's taking so long?
* Who are the morons who respond to junk-mail offers, thereby keeping spammers in business?
* I'm told that they could make a shirt-pocket digital camera that takes pictures like an S.L.R., but it would cost a lot. So why don't they make one for people who can afford it?
* How come there are still no viruses for Mac OS X? If it has 6 percent of the market, shouldn't it have 6 percent of the viruses?
* Do shareware programmers pay taxes on all those $20 contributions?
* How are we going to preserve all of our digital photos and videos for future generations?
* Why are there no federal rebates or tax credits for solar power?
* Why do you have to take tape camcorders out of your carry-on at airport security, but not the tapeless kind? Couldn't you hide a bomb equally well in either one? (Actually, I have about 500 more logic questions about the rules at airport security, but I have a feeling they'll remain answerless for a very long time.)
* Laptops, cameras and cellphones have improved by a thousand percent in the last ten years. Why not their batteries?
* SmartDisplay, Spot Watch, U.M.P.C., Zune… when will Microsoft realize that it's not a hardware company?
* Why don't public sinks have foot pedals?
* Why don't all hotels have check-in kiosks like airlines do?
* Five billion dollars a year spent on ringtones? What the?
* How come cellphone signal-strength bars are so often wrong?
* Do P.R. people really expect anyone to believe that the standard, stilted, second-paragraph C.E.O. quote was really uttered by a human being?
* Why aren't there recycling bins for bottles and cans where they're most obviously needed, like food courts and cafeterias?
* Why doesn't someone start a cellphone company that bills you only for what you use? That model works O.K. for the electricity, gas and water companies —and people would beat a path to its door.
* Why doesn't everyone have lights that turn off automatically when the room is empty?
* What's the deal with Palm?
* Why are so many people rude on the Internet?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Here's a peek through a different window on what life is like in Iraq -- What Cats Know About War.
Thomas Friedman on global warming and Al Gore, if you don't have time to read the whole thing, just read this -- "In sum, Al Gore has been justly honored for highlighting -- like no one else -- the climate challenge. But we still need a vision, a strategy, an army and a commander in the White House who can inspire young and old -- not only to meet that challenge but to see in it the opportunity to make America a better, stronger and more productive nation. This is our crucible moment."
And now for something a bit lighter, and very clever, Regrets Only by Henry Alford (and a whole lot of other people).
In all seriousness though, what is becoming of us in this country? Frank Rich talks about The 'Good Germans' Among Us in his piece today. Again, don't have the patience for this, just read the end -- "Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those 'good Germans' who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It's up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war's last supporters fillibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country's good name."
If you are still with me (and you can see what I've been doing all day between loads of laundry) you have gotten to the real treat. Want to be ROTFLOL? Check out who wrote Maureen Dowd's column today, in A Mock Columnist, Amok.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Hard to believe it, but yesterday was one month since Willy died. What saved us from wallowing in a very dark hole those first days was a previously planned trip to Atlanta. We'd been thinking that we'd have to skip it, because even though we had altered our petsitting plans to include Willy staying with the vet, it seemed clear he was too sick to leave. Then he died. And we decided to go. It was the best decision we could have made. There is nothing like being with very close friends who love you and respect your feelings, and also getting some distance, to make extreme pain bearable, and even to help you forget for a while.
We haven't been to Atlanta without dogs for a while, but we had planned it that way so we could get out into the city and not worry about coming back and walking dogs. So we hit the road Friday afternoon September 7th and arrived late that night north of Atlanta in Alpharetta. It was so good to be with Barbara and Steve again.
We walked a new trail, went to a fascinating Benjamin Franklin exhibit at the Atlanta History Center, saw a musical version of The Women of Brewster Place at the Alliance Theater that didn't live up to expectations and some photography at the High Museum that exceeded expectations. Had good food and great companionship. It was hard returning home to a catless house, but our spirits were lifted up immeasurably by the visit.
Love those Schindlers.
Fun with Ben, a remarkable genius. (Or possibly a time traveler, as Barbara is convinced.)