Thursday, April 27, 2006

Year of the 4-seat hardtop auto-retractables

You have got to love these!

All are 4-seat hardtop autoretractable convertibles just hitting the market. The prices float between 25K and 35K, and with options the Volvo in particular can creep above 40K, which makes them reasonably affordable. I have them listed by my current preference. Once I gather pricing and specs Ill post a more complete matrix. Things that I am keen to observe include the reliability of all those top-folding moving parts, usefulness of the back seats, wind noise, and interior ergonomics.

To see just how impressive (and maybe delicate) some of this is, look at this video of the EOS at the Chicago Auto Show this year.
Volvo C70
Volkswagen EOS

Pontiac G6

Peugeot 307CC

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Smartest Man Alive

Its not every day someone can lay claim to the title "Smartest Man Alive", and certainly not looking like that. But here we are, aren't we?

Meet my idol, Philip Winikoff, who actually went door-to-door and offered free breast exams.... succesfully. Now of course part of his sales pitch was claiming to be a doctor, but in actuallity he drove a shuttle for a car dealership. To his credit however, both jobs require sensitive hands.

His dream job came to an end when he started to perform genital exams without rubber gloves and a customer decided to file a complaint.

You can read more about it here:

Also, for any females out there wanting free breast exams from a legitimate fake doctor, send me an email:


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New eBook readers that use paper as their display

For those of you not familiar with eInk, it is a company spun out of MIT research. They have technology for creating displays made literally of balls of ink to form printed pages that change on the fly.

Read about it here:

The good news for readers waiting for a quality eBook device is as follows:

1) The display looks like a printed page from a book. It is not backlit, which can cause eye strain, and is as easy to read under direct sunlight as it is by the bed. The MIT ink/paper system has a high enough contrast and resolution to mimic a printed page.

2) Battery power is only needed to change the display, not to maintain a static image such as text. Therefore as you read a page no power is used to refresh the image (as would be the case with LCDs). Batteries are only used when "turning" the page.

3) The display is thin and light-weight, making the new eInk-based readers the size of a paperback.

Sony's new reader based on E-Ink display technology is going to be out this Spring. Borders is expected to sell them as well as coupons for downloading books. I have some concerns about Sony and DRM, but we will soon know if it is a good system or not. I really would love to keep my entire library handy. I would love to have several books for long plane trips or hotel stays.

Sony also added the ability to show any PDF, and via a PC tool you can sync up blog and web page content for later reading. It can also play MP3s, but of course then you are draining your batteries faster.

Read about Sony's Reader here:

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Gosh I need a new computer

I'm sweating it out with an old Pentium desktop salvaged from a dot-com layoff in the area about 5 years ago. The problem is I am so surrounded by computers and technology during the day that I fight the idea of bringing it home. My wife wants us to get a laptop and do away with the old hand-crank.

Her thinking is we can move it freely out by the pool or in the kitchen and watch the kids. Seems like a nice idea, though Im not sure anyone needs email that badly. I shut down any resistance to the idea and began to study the laptop landscape. If there is one thing I like to do its to prepare smartly for a technology purchase. The real problem is it wasn't until two years ago that I finally got rid of my 1980 RCA television -- I just fight the purchase to the last moment.

So I set out last year to make sure I can get a laptop that will become our home PC for the next 5 years or so. I narrowed it down to this:

* Must be built well:
This means no 100% plastic cases. The Dell Lattitudes, the IBM Thinkpads, the Apple Macbooks are all built well with lightweight metal alloy frames or skeletons. I believe Alienware is in the hunt as well.

* Don't let cost be an issue:
I will spend upwards of $2.5K for a good machine that can last 5 years. I prefer this approach over frankenstein boxes that you upgrade periodically. This way your machine dies gracefully :) The cost amounts to be about the same anyway.

* Must be functional, but also portable:
Im not interested in a 17" desktop replacement laptop. They are loud, hot, and awkward to move. After using a 15" laptop for work for a while now I've come to the conclusion that a 14" widescreen is the best form factor that gives you a usable screen and keyboard, is light, and is easy to carry or pack.

* Must be fast:
To be a functional machine 5 years from now, you can't skimp out. I have targeted a 2.0 GHz Core Duo as the minimum, with 1 Gb RAM minimum. Also must have a GPU capable of 3D graphics. To be future-proof, Vista (the new Windows) uses a GPU for visual effects. The word on the street now is a GPU with directx 9, pixel shader 2.0 (used to be 3.0), and the new Windows driver model for Vista (ie: can't use XP drivers).

* XP vs MAC:
Not a fan of OS X. If you know XP, it can be both easier and more configurable. However Apple hardware is very good and with the ability to dual-boot (or get rid of OS X all together) I would seriously consider getting one of these. Nonetheless until I hear that Vista boots natively on the box with full support of their hardware I have to stick with a known PC vendor.

So where am I so far? I was disappointed with a Gateway laptop. I bought a high-end one and they canelled the line entirely, deciding to ship to me a different laptop. Jerks. I returned the laptop and will never get another from them.

I am now looking at the Dell Lattitude D620, and also waiting to hear about the rumored new Apple 13.3" MacBook Pro (pending more XP support).