Ain’t Technology Grand?

My friend Steve, visiting Taiwan on business, posted this picture on facebook of a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been over there, but even back in the ’90s, American businesses were all over the island.  Even so, traveling to Taiwan and China was about as lonely an experience as you could imagine.

It’s not that the people weren’t friendly, not at all.  The Chinese are very friendly, hospitable people.  But it’s their home, not mine, and it’s normal to crave contact with your loved ones.  But in those days, phone calls were very expensive and we were allowed to expense only one call home per week.  Besides, there’s a twelve hour time difference between there and here.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m away from home I’m always wondering what Jan and the kids are doing.  When you’re in the Far East the answer is almost always the same.  They’re in bed.

The time change is still the same.  As I write this it’s 10:30 in the morning in Saint Louis and it’s 11:30 at night in Taipei.

But, thanks to the Internet, the communications gap is gone.  Facebook, Twitter, even video chat make instant communications possible.  A person in Taiwan can actually see live images of family and friends for just the cost of an Internet connection.  No time limits.  No bad connections.  Just instant communications.

There are a lot of things wrong with the Internet, but when it comes to staying in contact with family, friends, and business associates, there’s nothing like it.


Consumer Electronics–Good news?

In my younger days I was a regular attendee at the International Consumer Electronics Show, both as an exhibitor and as a buyer.  At the time it was the biggest trade show in the world.  It may still be, but I’m not positive of that.  At any rate, it’s definitely one of the biggest.

An AP story is reporting that it will be smaller this year than it was in 2009.  But the article goes on to point out that pre-Christmas consumer electronics sales in the United States were up 5.9% from the same period last year.  That’s not bad for products that aren’t exactly necessities.  In fact, following a successful November-December exhibitors were signing up for the show as late as last week.

Always looking for good economic news, I’d say that this is a good sign for 2010.  Floor space at CES isn’t cheap.  Suppliers scrambling for floor space the last week of December is surely a good sign.  It will be interesting to see how other shows fare in the coming months.

Will It Mulch?

The following is brought to you as a public service by MTS:

By now you’ve most likely seen, or at least heard of, BlendTec’s amazingly viral video series called “Will It Blend?”  The star of the show is the BlendTec blender which gobbles up two-by-fours and golf balls and other seemingly unblendable stuff.  The videos are wildly popular and BlendTec has seen their sales increase exponentially because of them.

Well, not to be outdone, I may have discovered the next series of videos which I plan to call “Will It Mulch?”  Much like the idea for “Will It Blend”, my idea not something that I planned.  Yesterday I was cutting my mother-in-law’s very large back yard with her very old riding mower.  Flying along at breakneck speed (the leaves were falling faster than I could get to them) I was enjoying my favorite podcast (Click the link to see what it is.) when the voices suddenly went still and I heard what can only be described as a sickening sound.

My worst fears were realized when I looked down to see the plug from my earbuds dangling naked from its white cord.  Like Ralphie’s Christmas turkey, my iPod was “gone, all gone.”  As you can see from the photo, the same mower that needed two passes to grind up a leaf had anhialated my iPod in a single pass.

Unfortunately, no one was there with video camera to record the tragedy and I haven’t the desire or the cash to repeat it, so maybe my video series won’t come to be.  But keep this in mind.  The riding mower may not be able to make a decent Margarita, but when it comes to destroying electronic equipment, it takes a back seat to no one.  So if you must listen to podcasts while you mow, be sure your mp3 player is firmly attached to something.

R.I.P. iPod Nano

R.I.P. iPod Nano