Tag Archives: the Christian Science Monitor

Model Presidents, And An Updateable Heirloom

I’m a huge fan of The Atlantic Monthly, but sometimes I suspect it’s less for the articles and more for the ads. This month’s edition, for example, has two notable products up for grabs.

First, there’s the Toypresidents, limited edition 12″ talking action figures which are “not just electable, but collectable” (“Each collectible comes with its own individually numbered Certificate of Authenticity”). The ad in the mag includes a figure who could be more or less anyone, but turns out to be Bill Clinton. He says things like “Education is a critical national security issue and politics must stop at the school-house door”.

For $30 one is yours. Who would want one of these things? Apart from me, I mean. As the Christian Science Monitor reported last week, the dolls “demonstrate an American adage”: If you make it, someone will buy it.

That may well go for globes currently being advertised by Eureka Globes, which are both antique-looking enough to qualify as “heirloom quality” but also, apparently, “updateable” (“A removable pin releases the globe from the meridian for easy replacement”). Nothing like an heirloom that you can pass onto your grandchildren, confident that they can easily update it to reflect changes in geopolitical boundaries, loss of land-mass to global warming, etc etc..

Column: Under the Wire

UNDER THE WIRE

The Latest Software and Hardware Upgrades, Plug-Ins and Add-Ons

from the 5 June 2003 of edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review , (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

History Scanned

The past is being digitized — fast. The ProQuest Historical Newspapers program has just finished scanning more than a century of copies of The Washington Post to its existing database. The database includes each page from every issue, in PDF files, from 1877-1987. The program has already done The New York Times (1851-1999), The Wall Street Journal (1889-1985) and The Christian Science Monitor (1908-1990).

Cellphone with Character

Somewhat belatedly, Nokia is getting into the handwriting phone thing, aiming itself squarely at the huge Chinese market. On May 20, it unveiled the 6108, created in the firm’s product-design centre in Beijing. The keypad flips open to reveal a small area on which Chinese words can be handwritten with a stylus. A character-recognition engine will convert the scrawls into text, which can then be sent as a message. The phone will be available in the third quarter.

Security Compromised

A new survey reckons “security breaches across the Asia-Pacific region have reached epidemic levels.” In a report released last week, Evans Data Corp. said that 75% of developers reported at least one security breach — basically any kind of successful attack on their computer systems — in the past year. China is worst off, from 59% of developers reporting at least one security breach last year to 84% this year. It doesn’t help that most of the software is compromised: Tech consultant Gartner has recommended its clients drop Passport, the Microsoft service that allows users to store all their passwords, account details and other valuable stuff on-line, saying Passport identities could be easily compromised. This follows a flaw revealed earlier this month by Microsoft after an independent researcher in Pakistan noticed he could get access to any of the more than 200 million Passport accounts used to authenticate e-mail, e-commerce and other transactions. Microsoft says it has resolved the problem and does not know of any accounts that were breached. Gartner’s not impressed: “Microsoft failed to thoroughly test Passport’s security architecture, and this flaw — uncovered more than six months after Microsoft added the vulnerable feature to the system — raises serious doubts about the reliability of every Passport identity issued to date.”

Son of Napster

Apple’s apparent success with iTunes seems to have prodded some action in the on-line music market. Roxio, maker of CD recording software among other things, said last week it would buy PressPlay from Universal Music and Sony Music Entertainment for about $40 million in cash and rename the whole caboodle Napster, which it earlier bought for $5.3 million. Pressplay offers radio stations and unlimited tethered downloads for $9.95 a month in addition to song downloads that allow for CD burning. My tuppennies? None of this will work unless companies put no restrictions on the files downloaded. Emusic does it that way and it’s why a lot of people keep coming back.