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Design: It’s All About Alarm Clocks

Business writer and entrepreneur Seth Godin throws out product ideas like other people throw out orange juice cartons: For twenty cents or so, alarm clock manufacturers can add a chip that not only knows the time (via a radio signal) but knows what day it is too. Which means that they can add a switch that says “weekends.” Which means that the 98% of the population that doesn’t want to wake up on the same time on weekends as they do on weekdays will be happier (and better rested.) But he’s not touting a new alarm clock, he’s making a point: “So why doesn’t everyContinue readingDesign: It’s All About Alarm Clocks

A Show of Unwashed Hands

Ever been grossed out, a la Seinfeld, by someone who visits the bathroom but doesn’t seem to know what washbasins are for? You need the iGene:  i-Gene [sic] is designed for washrooms or areas where hand hygiene is critical. It detects movement and after a given period of time (pre-delay setting) will play the following real voice message. “Please wash your hands before leaving this area.” Usually, I’m not for any kind of nanny-state type stuff, but it does amaze me how few people (read: men) wash their hands after a spell in the bathroom. Now I’m up for not just installing an iGene inContinue readingA Show of Unwashed Hands

The Hot Air War

Are the days of the wet hand over? A few months ago I wrote in the WSJ about the Mitsubishi Jet Towel (subscription only; I did a version of the piece for the BBC World Service which you can download as a podcast here), which has been drying hands effectively around Asia for some time, now arriving on U.S. shores: I spotted it when I was gorging in a food court — a plastic-cased, cream-colored, wall-mounted device that looked like an attractive waste-disposal unit or, possibly, a mailbox. The only clue that it was actually a hand dryer was its proximity to the wash basins. UsingContinue readingThe Hot Air War

Indonesia’s Quake

For anyone interested in helping the victims of the Yogyakarta earthquake, in which thousands of people have been killed inside their heavy stone and slate homes, here’s Indonesia Help – Earthquake and Tsunami Victims. Sadly, this website was originally set up for the tsunami, now 17 months ago, but has been quickly resurrected to provide news and information on how to help. Even the website of the administration of the town of Bantul has updated its site with some news and photos of the quake. More information can be found at the airputih media center. The tsunami has clearly made local organisations and individuals awareContinue readingIndonesia’s Quake

Well-Meaning Pressure Group Or Sleazy Promotional Gimmick?

Maybe I’m getting too wary, but when I received a press release from something called the Internet Security Foundation, I wasn’t convinced. And I’m still not. The email was provocative enough: The headline ran “Microsoft’s Policy Leaves Millions Open to Identity Theft; Internet Security Foundation Releases Free Protection Tool”. An explanation followed that users were vulnerable because they erroneously believed that their stored passwords in Windows were safe because they appeared in asterisks. “The truth is,” the release said, “that such passwords are not normally protected in Microsoft Windows and can be easily reviewed by using software like SeePassword (www.SeePassword.com).” This is true. And aContinue readingWell-Meaning Pressure Group Or Sleazy Promotional Gimmick?

Update: One Of Microsoft Security Report Authors Fired

 One of the authors of the security paper (PDF file) that said Microsoft was a threat to national security has been fired, according to CNET. Cambridge, Mass-based @Stake, where Dan Geer worked as chief technical officer, said in a statement Thursday that the researcher had not gotten his employers’ approval for the study’s release, and that he was no longer associated with the company. Although independently financed and researched, the study was distributed by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a Washington-based trade association largely made up of Microsoft’s rivals.   A Microsoft spokesman said the software maker had not pressured @Stake to makeContinue readingUpdate: One Of Microsoft Security Report Authors Fired

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