Tag Archives: World Business Report

Podcast: The Joy of Monitors

The joy of having more than one screen, and controlling other computers from one keyboard. It’s less nerdy than it sounds. This is podcast version of my BBC World Service column, which runs on the World Business ReportDownload it and/or subscribe to the podcast feed here. For more on extra monitors, check out my resource page here.

(This link should work. Thanks Syd, for pointing out the error.)

Podcast: Bacteria at Your Fingertips

Here’s another podcast from the BBC’s World Business Report: this one is on how to prevent the gunk in keyboards from killing you, and it derives from a Loose Wire piece I did for WSJ.com and The WSJ Asia on September 30. (Subscription only, I’m afraid.) Here’s a snippet:

The gunk in your keyboard could kill you. Really.

An exhaustive poll of my friends reveals that all sorts of stuff is being spilled over the average keyboard: biscuit crumbs, mango, fizzy beverage, the odd stray cornflake, nail varnish, rice, soy sauce, coffee, wine (red and white), hand cream. Under your keys lie a faithful record of every snack, lunch and beverage break you’ve had at your desk since you joined the company. It’s like typing on a pile of week-old dirty dishes.

This isn’t only somewhat gross (and likely to lead to the keyboard’s demise at some point) but it also makes your main data input device a Petri dish of bacteria and other microorganisms that could kill you before the job does. A study conducted by Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, concluded that the computer keyboard was the fifth most germ-contaminated spot in an office. (Topped only by your phone, your desktop — home to an impressive 10 million bacteria — and the handles on the office water fountain and microwave door.) Out of 12 surfaces studied the toilet seat came in cleanest, in case you’re wondering where to have your next lunch break.

Download keyboards.mp3

Podcast: The Technology of Hotels

I’ve been recording pieces, usually derived from my WSJ.com and WSJ Asia Loose Wire columns, for the BBC World Service’s World Business Report for more than a year now, and they’re a lovely bunch of guys. (Here’s a link to Jonathan’s recent house move. As someone who hasn’t live in London for nearly 20 years I’m jealous.) Anyway, some listeners have requested a podcast type repeat here, and the BBC have kindly agreed to allow it, so here’s the first podcast of my BBC pieces for now: on hotels. Download Hotels.mp3

Hopefully, if I’ve done my sums right, this will appear as a podcast in the RSS feed. Apologies if it doesn’t. More to follow.

Loose Wires

Just a note to WSJ.com subscribers who have been asking why some of the recent columns haven’t showed up on my corner of WSJ.com: The problem is now fixed, and you can see them here:

Apologies for the delay. There won’t be a column this week because of the holiday season, but I’ll still be adding bits and pieces to this blog. I’ve also recorded some more editions of Loose Wire for the BBC World Service’s World Business Report, which will appear on Fridays on the radio, or via the World Business Report link on this page.

Have a happy holiday, everyone.

Loose Wire Reopens For Business at The AWSJ

Today is the launch of Loose Wire in The Asian Wall Street Journal, following the shift of my old homestay, the Far Eastern Economic Review, to a monthly newsletter format. Of course Dow Jones own both publications, so it’s not that great a change; the column actually used to appear there a few years back, when it was just called Asian Technology. So in a sense I’m going home, although I’ll miss the FEER folks, who were an excellent and motley crew.

I’m not quite sure of the link to the AWSJ stories and columns, but for sure they’ll be subscription only. The permanent home to my column at WSJ.com is this, where Loose Wire will continue to appear. I’ll pass on more when I know it. Oh, and I still do my spot on the BBC World Service’s World Business Report. (More on that here.)

For readers of the AWSJ, thanks for reading. For FEER readers, I hope you’ll come across. For pure blog readers, none of this will mean that much to you. But thanks for reading anyway. This blog will continue to go on as before, and will act as a repository for extra bits and pieces that I couldn’t manage to fit in the AWSJ column.

Oh, and further to my piece in today’s Personal Journal on telecommuting, here are a couple of suggestions for wannabe teleworkers that we didn’t have space for on the page:

  • If you want to be mobile in the house, you still need to think about surfaces. Laptops are too hot to have in your lap, and while commercials show people happily working with laptops resting on their bed, on the carpet or on their spouse’s stomach, in real life this doesn’t happen without lawsuits. Buy a laptop rest, such as the Laptop Desk from Lapworks ($30) or the Intrigo Lapstation (which may, sadly, be out of business, as I can’t get into their website. This was a great product, since it not only served as a good work surface, but also doubled as a portable table you can use on the floor, in bed, or by the pool.)
  • For those wedded to the desk, I’d recommend buying a second monitor for your computer. Most desktop computers and laptops support spreading your display across two screens, and with prices of flat screen LCD monitors falling, it’s a no-brainer to buy one. Trust me: It’s a great timesaver to be able to read stuff on one screen, and type on the other. Just make sure your computer supports dual monitors before you buy.

If you’ve got any more tips for telecommuters, please let me know.