Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Now with the Weather Report, Here's Mr. Coffee...

Have you heard the term that tech companies love to use, "convergence"? It means combining several functions into one device. Sometimes it's a good idea, but I recently read about one that sounds just plain dumb.

There's a new coffeemaker coming out (in time for the holidays, coincidentally!) that will display real-time weather data. This Robocop version of what used to be a simple appliance uses a "smart objects" technology that Microsoft has been pushing for a number of years.

Apparently this Mr. Coffee on steroids (though actually it's made by Salton) uses a wireless data system that will automatically show your current weather conditions and forecasts. Oh yes, by the way, this weather station may rain on your budget parade: The coffeemaker will list for $200.

Bill Gates talked up the technology behind this coffeemaker as far back as 2002, and said it would have a big impact. But the technology has been slow to be adopted (I wonder why).

Do we really need a coffeemaker to tell us the weather, since so many other gizmos can do the same thing? For $200, does the thing even make good coffee? Just because engineers can put an electronic gizmo in everything, does that mean they should? And what if you go for that all-important first cuppa joe in the morning and the coffeemaker crashes, giving you the message "Abort, retry, fail"?

There's a marvelous invention called the window (not made by Microsoft) that lets a person visually capture weather data in a real time, fast-refresh format, including cloud formations, precipitation details, and more. And it never needs an upgrade (unless a kid hits a baseball through it).

I'll let the gadget freaks and early adopters buy this high-tech weather station/coffee machine. I'll stick with my current model, the one that does nothing but make good coffee.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Borat: Make Glorious Lawsuit for Benefit My Accountant

A central theme of Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy "Borat" involves Cohen duping people into making believe he's a real journalist making a real documentary. Naturally, many of the participants come out looking like fools and are not happy about it. Two fraternity brothers from a South Carolina university are suing the film over racist and sexist comments they made on camera. They claim a production crew for the film took them to a bar and got them liquored up before filming them for what they were told would be a documentary to be shown outside the U.S. They also claim that the name of their univserity and fraternity would not be used.

Frat boys being induced to drink alcohol in excess and behave like idiots? Hmmm,,, something tells me they don't have much of a case. That and those release forms that they signed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Honey, I Poked the Picasso

Casino owner Steve Wynn made a very artistic statement a few weeks back when he accidentally poked a hole in the world's most expensive painting. The Picasso work is one that Wynn owns–and that he had just agreed to sell to for $139 million. Wynn was showing the painting at his office in the plush Las Vegas hotel when he accidentally poked it with his elbow, creating two three-inch tears in it.

Hollywood screenwriter Nora Ephron recounted the incident in her blog at the Huffington Post , noting that Wynn has an eye disease that can cause him to misjudge distances. Wynn was pretty casual about the whole incident; no one got hurt, he said, and he took the incident as an omen that he shouldn't sell the painting after all.

My take: And I thought it was bad when the cat peed on the rug...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Kevin Federline is Ex'ed by Text

Say it ain't so, Britney! Or at least say it ain't so, well, tacky. Britney Spears dumped husband Kevin Federline via text message–and he read the message while he was in Canada being filmed for a reality TV show. A Web video of Federline reading the text message–which happened right after he said Spears was his biggest fan–become the most-viewed video on YouTube on Thursday, receiving more than a million hits. Now that's a celebrity breakup with so many media/technology angles that it makes your head spin. With fans like Britney, who needs enemies?

OK, so K-Fed has dubious musical talents and has a habit of mooching off of women with money. But c'mon, we're not talking about blowing off a casual boyfriend, K-Fed is her husband, for God's sake–and the father of her two children. Wouldn't you think that would at least warrant a phone call? Does Britney's baby need to text Mommy when she needs a diaper change?

NEWS FLASH: A Burrito is Not a Sandwich, Judge Rules

You'll no longer have to get into those lengthy philosophical arguments with your friends over whether a burrito is a sandwich or not. A Massachusetts judge has ruled that the Mexican specialty is NOT a sandwich after all.

The subject came up when the Panera bakery/cafe chain sued to prevent Qdoba Mexican Grill from opening a restaurant in a shopping center in Shrewsbury, Mass. Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the shopping center from renting space to another sandwich shop, and it tried to invoke the clause to stop Qdoba.

Superior court judge Jeffrey Locke relied on sources including Webster's Dictionary and testimony from a chef and a former federal agriculture official to rule that burritos and other Qdoba menu items are not sandwiches. He noted that sandwiches are commonly understood to include two slices of bread and not items such as burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and other foods made from a single tortilla stuffed with filling.

Glad that's been cleared up so I can go out to lunch with a clear conscience about what I'm eating.