I’ve smelled the future

Good news, everyone!
GotFuturama.com reports that the Smelloscope, invented by the erstwhile Dr. Farnsworth of New New York in 3001, has fallen through a time warp to the present day:

While commercial suicide booths and the personal Tube Transport System haven’t materialized yet, the Smell-O-Scope seems to be making advances. At least from the first looks.
CNN’s offbeat syndication of the AP article “Rangers sniff out odors at big farms” features a picture of the so-called olfactometer in use. While it can’t sniff particles at great distances (it does the opposite and dilutes incomming stink by an exact ratio) it sure looks just like a portable version of Farnsworth’s invention.

Security Lapses

From the always amusing As The Apple Turns comes a list of security flaws in the Mac OS:

Is it just us, or do these Mac OS X security advisories seem a little… well, tame compared to Microsoft’s? That said, which of the following Mac OS X security flaws should Apple fix first?

– Remote users can access the contents of any file you email them as an attachment

– People with physical access to your Mac can log into your account just because you wrote “MY PASSWORD IS ‘STUDLYDORIGHT'” in black Sharpie across the top of your display

– Every action you perform after logging in is visible in real-time to someone standing right behind you

– Anyone can obtain your admin password if you tell him what it is when he asks you

– If you leave your wallet on your keyboard when you go to lunch, someone might swipe it

Please hold.

If, after three or four months, a company’s automated phone system continues to inform you that they are “experiencing unusually high call volumes,” and that your wait may be “longer than normal,” then the call volume is not unusually high. It’s the normal volume of calls.
Just hire more phone people, OK?
Dish Network, this means you.

From the “duh” file

Via Reuters:

Too much TV may impair kids’ reading skills
Wed 29 October, 2003 09:47

By Brooks Boliek

WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) – The amount of time children spend in front of a video screen, whether it’s in a TV set or a computer, is roughly equal to the time they spend outdoors, according to a U.S. study.

Children ages 6 and younger spend an average of two hours a day using screen media — about the same amount of time they spend playing outside and much more than they spend reading or being read to, the Kaiser Family Foundation study found.

According to Kaiser’s research, children ages 6 and younger spend one hour and 58 minutes a day watching TV, playing video games or spending time on the home computer, while they spend two hours and one minute playing outside. By contrast, the kids spend less than 40 minutes reading or being read to.

“It’s not just teenagers who are wired up and tuned in; it’s babies in diapers as well,” said Vicky Rideout, lead author of the study, released on Tuesday, and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s vp and director for the study of entertainment media and health. “So much new media is being targeted at infants and toddlers, it’s critical that we learn more about the impact it’s having on child development.”

New interactive digital media have become an integral part of children’s lives, the study said, as nearly half of children ages 6 and younger have used a computer and nearly a third have played video games.

Even the youngest kids are widely exposed to electronic media, the study said, as 43% of those younger than 2 watch TV every day and 2% have a TV in their bedroom. On any given day, two-thirds of children younger than 2 will use a screen media for an average of slightly more than two hours.

The study, “Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers,” was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Children’s Digital Media Centers. It is the first publicly released national study of media use among the very youngest children, ages 6 months to 6 years.

“These are astonishing data,” said study co-author Ellen Wartella, dean of the College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. “Today’s preschoolers are starting to use media much younger than we thought. Where previous generations were introduced to media through print, this generation’s pathway is electronic.”

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Again: lawsuits are good for business

Once again, Microsoft is offering to settle a class action lawsuit which alleges (heh – that’s an understatement) that they engage in anti-competitive, monopolistic practices. And what do the members of the class get?
Why, vouchers to get $5 or $10 off hardware and software.

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to settle class-action antitrust and unfair-competition lawsuits brought by customers in the District and five states, making consumers eligible for vouchers worth $200 million in new hardware and software.

Not only is that token amount hilariously low, but doesn’t it just give Microsoft even more market share? And c’mon, $200 million to Microsoft is about what they spend on t-shirts in a given year.

These lawsuits are nothing but wastes of time. If you want to actually punish a company like Microsoft, fine them $200 BILLION. Heck, they can afford it.

Use your feet

I chuckled at Toyota’s description of the Bluetooth system in the new Prius… especially their description of using a touch screen for a hands-free system:

When combined with a Bluetooth® equipped phone, this global wireless technology allows the driver to transfer personal phone books to the navigation system and make hands-free phone calls through the navigation system’s touch-screen control panel.

Rod Roddy - C’mon Up!

From AP:

By RYAN PEARSON, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES – Rod Roddy, the flamboyantly dressed announcer on “The Price is Right” whose booming, jovial voice invited lucky audience members to “Come on down!” for nearly 20 years, died Monday. He was 66.

Roddy, who suffered from colon and breast cancer (news – web sites), died at Century City Hospital, according to his longtime agent, Don Pitts. He had been hospitalized for two months.

“He had such a strong spirit. He just wouldn’t give up,” Pitts said Monday.

Roddy had been ill for more than two years but tried to work as long as he could, said Bob Barker, host of “The Price is Right.” Roddy had been with the game show for 17 years.

“The courage he showed during those difficult times was an inspiration to us all,” Barker said in a statement Monday.

Barker recounted a recent visit to his friend: “I went to the hospital and sat on the edge of his bed and we laughed the whole time we were talking. He was still having fun.”

Roddy’s announcing stints included “Love Connection” (1981-85) and “Press Your Luck” (1983-86), but “The Price is Right” earned him his greatest fame. “The Price is Right” remains one of television’s most popular game shows, and Roddy, with his flashy sport coats and booming voice, was a big part of the success.

“He started wearing those jackets when he joined the show,” Barker said. “He was quite a character. He was important to the success of the show. He had the spirit of `The Price Is Right.’ It’s a fun show. We did it with the hope people will forget their problems for awhile.”

Roddy, who taped his last show about two months ago, had colon cancer surgery on Sept. 11, 2001, and his left breast removed last March.

The diseases appeared under control following chemotherapy but flared up again, Pitts said. The two cancers, which Roddy had said were unconnected, prompted him to become a spokesman for early detection.

“I could have prevented all this with a colonoscopy and, of course, that’s the campaign I’ve been on since I had the first surgery,” he said in a recent interview on a CBS Web site.

Breast cancer, although typically associated with women, is diagnosed in about 1,500 American men a year, Roddy said in the CBS interview: “To everybody out there, ‘Get a mammogram!’ It can happen to men, too.”

Roddy was single. The only family member he talked about was his mother, who died several years ago, Pitts said.

Private funeral services will be held in Texas, with a memorial service planned in Los Angeles in several weeks, CBS said.

White House Priorities

Americans are dying every day in Iraq. Schools are crumbling. The economy is still in the toilet. No one knows the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. And this is what the White House is up to:

Protection From Pornography Week, 2003
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Pornography can have debilitating effects on communities, marriages, families, and children. During Protection From Pornography Week, we commit to take steps to confront the dangers of pornography.

The effects of pornography are particularly pernicious with respect to children. The recent enactment of the PROTECT Act of 2003 strengthens child pornography laws, establishes the Federal Government’s role in the AMBER Alert System, increases punishment for Federal crimes against children, and authorizes judges to require extended supervision of sex offenders who are released from prison.

We have committed significant resources to the Department of Justice to intensify investigative and prosecutorial efforts to combat obscenity, child pornography, and child sexual exploi-ta-tion on the Internet. We are vigorously prosecuting and severely punishing those who would harm our children. Last July, the Department of Homeland Security launched Operation Predator, an initiative to help identify child predators, rescue children depicted in child pornography, and prosecute those responsible for making and distributing child pornography.

Last year, I signed legislation creating the Dot Kids domain, a child-friendly zone on the Internet. The sites on this domain are monitored for content and safety, offering parents assurances that their children are learning in a healthy environment. Working together with law enforcement officials, parents, and other caregivers, we are making progress in protecting our children from pornography.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 26 through November 1, 2003, as Protection From Pornography Week. I call upon public officials, law enforcement officers, parents, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-eighth.


I can only assume that the hypenation of “exploi-ta-tion” in the third paragraph was put there so that the President would pronounce it correctly. And, excuse me, “PROTECT Act?” Boy, they love those catchy acronyms, don’t they? They hope we won’t notice what they’re actually doing, I suppose. Like the “PATRIOT Act.”

This administration is so bent on legislating and controlling our private lives and behavior – don’t forget that earlier this month was the “marriage week” – and I find that even scarier than their war-mongering and “preemptive strikes”.

(Thanks to the lovely Mac of gofish for the link and the healthy dose of outrage.)

Picture #1

Look ma, there’s a camera in my cell phone!
OK. I’m a gadget freak. But I tend to like really GOOD gadgets, and cell phone cameras don’t fit that profile – they’re too small and grainy. But it occurred to me as I was driving home today that I don’t carry around my real camera, and since the phone is usually always with me, why not use it? So, once Jann has a chance to write the script for me, I’ll post up tiny little grainy photos of my everyday life. Just ‘cos I can.

I thought conservatives were against frivolous lawsuits

Via fark/icv2:

During an interview broadcast today on NPR’s Fresh Air, Simpsons creator Matt Groening revealed that the Fox News Network had threatened to sue “The Simpsons” over a parody of the right-leaning news channel.  The highly sensitive news organization, which is headed by Roger Ailes, made headlines this summer with an ill-starred lawsuit against humorist Al Franken’s book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.  The Fox suit was thrown out in court and only succeeded in making Franken’s book a bestseller.  According to Groening, the “Simpsons” team refused to cut out the segment, which Groening told Fresh Air he “really liked,” figuring that Rupert Murdoch wouldn’t allow the Fox News cable network to sue the Fox Broadcast Network, which carries “The Simpsons”.  The Fox News Network did back down on its threat, although it has told “The Simpsons” creators that in the future, cartoon series will not be allowed to include a “news crawl” along the bottom of the screen, which might “confuse the viewers.”

Size Matters

Halloween candy comes in tiny little packets, which are labeled “Fun Size.” Frankly, I think it would be more fun if the packets were bigger.
Bars of soap come in packages that say “Bath Size.” Do you need a different size of soap if you’re taking a shower?
At McDonalds, there’s no small. Only “regular.” So, regular=small, large=medium, and supersize=large. Of course, in reality, supersize=could feed family of 6.
The smallest box of laundry detergent that I could find at the grocery store this morning was “Jumbo”. It was pretty small. If there was truth in labeling, it should have been a Fun Size.

Close to home

Gotta wonder:
The BBC News website includes a front-page story about the protests over Iraq in Washington today.
The Washington Post doesn’t seem to have a story on it’s site. Guess it was too far for the reporters to go.