Friday, July 29, 2005

Podcasting: Now Hear This

In One Stroke, Podcasting Hits Mainstream

EVER since Steven P. Jobs returned to Apple Computer in 1997 after a 12-year absence, his company has thrived by executing the same essential formula over and over: Find an exciting new technology whose complexity and cost keep it out of the average person's life. Streamline it, mainstream it, strip away the geeky options. Take the credit.

So far, Apple has worked this kind of magic on digital video editing, wireless networking, online music selling, R.S.S. feeds (a kind of Web site subscription) and other technologies. Its latest attempt, however, will be music to an awful lot of ears. With its release of the free iTunes 4.9 software for Mac and Windows, Apple has just mainstreamed podcasting.

A podcast, as anyone under 25 can tell you, is an audio recording posted online, much like a short radio show. ("Podcasting" is a pun on "broadcasting," implying, of course, that you listen to it on your iPod or another music player.) The beauty of a podcast is that it's free and you listen to it whenever you like. And there are more than 7,000 podcasts "on the air" right now, on every conceivable topic. Their quantity and variety already dwarf what you can find on regular radio.

What makes podcasting a national dinnertime conversation these days, though, is that anyone can make one. You just need a microphone, a sound-recording program, and the tutorials that have already appeared at many points on the Web, including

Yes, some are corporate broadcasts, repurposed shows from traditional radio shows. But the real fun is finding the homemade ones, the amateur attempts made in somebody's basement with a laptop and a microphone. These can be unpolished and quirky, with plenty of dead air and "ums," but that's their charm. Podcasts, in other words, are the audio version of blogs - the Web logs, or daily text postings, that made up last year's hot dinnertime conversation.

Until Apple got its mitts on podcasting, the finding, sampling and managing of podcast audio files was time-consuming and scattered. First you had to find a podcast worth listening to, using directories like or Then you had to find, download and (in some cases) pay for a podcast-management program like iPodder (for Mac, Windows or Linux).

Three things give iTunes 4.9 enough heft to bring podcasts to the people. First, it manages the complete chain of podcasting command - finding podcasts, subscribing to them and transferring them to your iPod - beautifully and simply. Second, it's free. Third, it already has a vast following; millions of people already use iTunes to manage their music collections and iPods. Adding podcasts to that work flow feels like a natural evolution.

To get to the podcast selection screen, you open iTunes and click the Music Store icon. (Oddly, you don't click the new Podcasts icon. Doing that shows you the list of podcasts you've subscribed to so far, so it's empty the first time you try this experiment.)

Here you can see featured icons for new spoken podcasts, music podcasts, indie podcasts, and so on. There's also a list of podcast categories, a Search box (which works either by show name or by podcaster's name), and a Top 20 Podcasts list.

This is a coveted list to be on. Once you're on the Top 20 list or even the Top 100 list, your popularity benefits from a delicious cycle, because thousands more people will find your show and give it a listen. The Top 20 list usually includes the professional programming from National Public Radio and CNN, technology shows like Leo Laporte's TWIT (This Week in Tech), and, inevitably, the occasional sex-talk show. (Oh, yes - podcasts can be off-color. Hundreds of them bear the label "Explicit" on iTunes, and those are just the episodes that Apple noticed or was made aware of by users.)

Spot No. 1, though, is often occupied by something called iTunes New Music Tuesday, an Apple-produced show whose D.J. introduces and plays the latest pop music. It's a so-called enhanced podcast, a format that displays slideshow-like graphics at relevant points in the audio. These images appear right in iTunes (in the cover-art area) and even on the iPod itself, if it has a color screen. Cheerful geeks have already hijacked this feature to create, for example, podcasts that walk you through various acts of PC surgery, with photos popping up to accompany the spoken instructions.

To sample a podcast on iTunes, you click its name. A new screen appears, listing the last few episodes. A double-click starts playback. If you like what you hear, you can click Get Episode to copy the audio file to your computer, where you can either listen to it or have it transferred automatically to your iPod or iPod Mini. (If you have an iPod Shuffle or another brand of music player, the transfer isn't automatic; you must drag the podcasts onto the player's icon each time.)

And if you really like what you hear, you can click Subscribe. Now your iPod will always be loaded up with the very latest episodes, without any further work on your part. Pleasant touches abound: for example, the iPod remembers where you stopped listening to each podcast so you can pick up again later. And if you keep transferring a certain podcast series to the iPod without ever listening to it, iTunes politely notices and invites you to unsubscribe.

Apple clearly considers podcasting an important new audio format - so important, in fact, that you can't even hide the Podcasts icon in the iTunes music-source list (as you can the Music Store, Radio and Party Shuffle icons). Company executives must be ecstatic that the masses have adopted the term "podcasting" itself, evoking Apple's most popular product name with every utterance. (Makers of rival players, on the other hand, must be gnashing their teeth and every other body part. According to an article in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in fact, Microsoft employees are pointedly using the unappetizing term "blogcast," just so they won't have to say or type the word Pod.)

The big question is, why is Apple working so hard to claim the podcast phenomenon as its own? After all, the company doesn't make any money when you listen to or subscribe to a podcast. The Price column in iTunes says Free for every single podcast, and Apple says it has no intention of changing that.

Clearly, the motivation behind Apple's podcasting program is selling more iPods. You can certainly get podcasts onto other music players, but not with the effortless, automated flow of the iTunes-iPod system.

In other words, these free podcasts are just another feather in the iPod's cap. As an editorial at astutely observed, Apple is flipping the traditional business plan on its head. It's giving away the razor blades, but selling a staggering number of razors.

Not everybody is happy with Apple's podcasting ecosystem, by the way. Geeks have griped that, unlike other podcast programs, iTunes doesn't speed up downloads using high-tech tricks with names like ETags, compression and "last modified" headers. Early podcasters complain about the growing presence of the slick corporate 'casts, claiming that they're ruining the grass-roots, power-to-the-people feeling of the original podcasts.

And, of course, there's the perpetual wheel-squeaking of long-time iPod haters, who feel suffocated by the whole astonishing iPod juggernaut. They can only resent Apple's success in bringing podcasting to the masses with its own stamp all over it.

But all of that is whimpering in the wind. Overnight, iTunes 4.9 has already become the most popular podcast-management software on earth; Apple says that within 48 hours of its release, Pod people had subscribed to more than a million podcasts. Pockets of the populace may not enjoy the transformation of podcasting into a commercial, pop-culture phenomenon, but it's too late now. The people have spoken - or, rather, listened.

Thanks to David Pouge

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Low Down On Downloads

People who illegally share music files online are also big spenders on legal music downloads, research suggests.

Digital music research firm The Leading Question found that they spent four and a half times more on paid-for music downloads than average fans. Rather than taking legal action against downloaders, the music industry needs to entice them to use legal alternatives, the report said.

According to the music industry, legal downloads have tripled during 2005. In the first half of 2005, some 10 million songs have been legally downloaded.

Music 'myth'

More needs to be done to capitalise on the power of the peer-to-peer networks that many music downloaders still use, said the report's authors. There's a myth that all illegal downloaders are mercenaries hell-bent on breaking the law in pursuit of free music

Paul Brindley, The Leading Question
The study found that regular downloaders of unlicensed music spent an average of £5.52 a month on legal digital music. This compares to just £1.27 spent by other music fans. "The research clearly shows that music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers," said Paul Brindley, director of The Leading Question. "It also points out that they are eager to adopt legitimate music services in the future."

"There's a myth that all illegal downloaders are mercenaries hell-bent on breaking the law in pursuit of free music." In reality hardcore fans "are extremely enthusiastic" about paid-for services, as long as they are suitably compelling, he said.

Carrot and stick

The BPI (British Phonographic Industry) welcomed the findings but added a note of caution. "It's encouraging that many illegal file-sharers are starting to use legal services," said BPI spokesman Matt Philips. "But our concern is that file-sharers' expenditure on music overall is down, a fact borne out by study after study. "The consensus among independent research is that a third of illegal file-sharers may buy more music and around two thirds buy less. "That two-thirds tends to include people who were the heaviest buyers which is why we need to continue our carrot and stick approach to the problem of illegal file-sharing," he said.

Music To Go

The Leading Question survey also asked 600 music fans what devices they would be buying in the next year. One of the challenges will be to develop the perception of the phone as a credible entertainment device. A third planned to buy a dedicated MP3 player, while just 8% said they would be buying an MP3-enabled phone.

Reasons cited for not purchasing a music playing phone included worries about battery life and concerns about losing the handset, and potentially their music collection. The fact that phones tend to be frequently replaced also meant people had a low emotional attachment to them.

"The phone is not ready to replace the iPod as a serious digital music player just yet," said Tim Walker, director of The Leading Question. "One of the challenges will be to develop the perception of the phone as a credible entertainment device," he said. Providers need to look at features such as dual download to mobile and PC, back-up facilities and improved interfaces between PC and mobile, he said.

There is a huge potential market for MP3 phones. The survey found that 38% were interested in downloading full tracks to their mobile phones. And people are happy with the storage possibilities of phones with only 4% wanting to store more than 1,000 songs to take on holiday.

Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2005/07/27 08:10:56 GMT
That's Right 2005 © BBC MMV

Monday, July 25, 2005

Spectacular Sunrises & Sunsets!

A satellite photo shows the dust cloud off the Atlantic coast of Africa on July 19.

Large Dust Cloud Heads to U.S.

MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- An enormous, hazy cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert is blowing toward the southern United States, but meteorologists do not expect much effect beyond colorful sunsets.

The leading edge of the cloud -- nearly the size of the continental United States -- should move across Florida sometime from Monday through Wednesday.

"This is not going to be a tremendous event, but it will be kind of interesting," said Jim Lushine, a severe weather expert with the National Weather Service in Miami.

He said the dust could make sunrises and sunsets spectacular.

It might not have much effect on the rest of the country, said Scott Kelly, a meteorologist with the weather service in Melbourne.

"Maybe south Texas or Mexico if that dust cloud keeps moving westward, but nothing north of Florida, unless a weather system can dive southward and pull that air northward," he said.

Such dust clouds are not uncommon, especially at this time of year. They start when weather patterns called tropical waves pick up dust from the desert in North Africa, carry it a couple of miles into the atmosphere and drift westward.

If the dust is concentrated enough, it could create some problems for people with respiratory problems, said Ken Larson, a natural resource specialist with the Broward County Environmental Protection Department.

"If somebody is subject to a respiratory condition, if they see hazy skies, they might want to take a little more precaution, not participate in strenuous activity and stay indoors," Larson said.

Thanks to CNN, NASA & AP.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Is there supposed to be something special here?

In Search of the Characters of New York

If you are not the sort of person who cares deeply about the Old World subtleties of Fournier, the retro-hipster swirl of Ministry Script or the plain-vanilla, rock-ribbed dependability of Helvetica - nor the sort immediately able to identify the typeface you are reading right now as 8.7-point Imperial - then you were probably not aware that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg declared this week Type Week in New York City.

You also might have assumed that a group of a dozen people wandering around the Upper East Side on Thursday morning, snapping pictures of the unremarkable words "Public School 6" inscribed into stone above an unremarkable red door on East 81st Street were tourists in possession of a badly translated guidebook.

But they were actually admiring the inscription on purpose, remarking on its clean Bauhaus roots. And a few blocks away, they gave the third degree to the neo-Roman letters carved along the top of Regis High School.

"The 'R' is too small in the bowl, and too long in the leg," complained Paul Shaw, a New York type designer and calligrapher who was leading the group on what he called a letter-form tour of Manhattan, with stops to take in the Art Deco Bloomingdale's sign, the sputnik-esque Frank Lloyd Wright letters on the Guggenheim Museum and the work of Bruce Rogers, a demigod of American book design, in the form of a huge Emerson quotation adorning a wall of Hunter College.

These pilgrims were among about 500 people, some from as far away as Brazil and Finland, who have converged on the city for TypeCon, a yearly gathering of typographers, printers, designers, calligraphers and assorted, self-described font freaks and type nerds who can argue about kerning into the wee hours.

If nothing else, TypeCon, now in its eighth year, sets out to prove that the typographical crowd, despite its two-dimensional obsessions, can partake in all the three-dimensional joys of any conventioneers. The activities include a film festival (sample past title: "Helvetica It Hurts"), a citywide typographic scavenger hunt with cash prizes and even a temporary radio station, set up inside the Parsons School of Design on West 12th Street. ("Type is speech on paper," the station's slogan goes. "Typeradio is speech on type." The D.J.'s say, however, that it has not proved particularly exciting to talk about type, so conversation on the station, accessible on the Web at, has tended toward music, food and sex.)

"We do compare this to a Trekkie convention sometimes," said Tamye Riggs, the executive director of the Society of Typographic Aficionados, which organized the event. "People can get really obsessed about it."

But type types don't wear costumes like Trekkies or Civil War re-enactors. Instead, they often wear really cool T-shirts and designer eyeglasses and hand out exquisitely designed business cards on heavy card stock. Their conversation can quickly descend into the slightly self-satisfied jargon of any specialty, with talk of uncial script, ligatures and serif slants, along with frequent references to Trajan's Column in Rome, an ancient source of Western letter forms.

But unlike many kinds of buffs, they are quick to try to share their enthusiasm and knowledge with even the most ill-informed typographical philistine (who has never changed the typeface on his word-processing program and had no idea until he looked it up yesterday that his newspaper's body type was 8.7-point Imperial.)

"Bloomies!" Mr. Shaw exclaimed, raising both his hands like a religious supplicant as he emerged from a subway staircase on Thursday morning and caught sight of the Bloomingdale's sign, with its boxy letters, ended by a cartoonlike "s" that seems to have wandered over from a Disney movie.

"The 's' is so funky," said Craig Brown, a New Jersey graphic designer, who took the tour with others from San Francisco, São Paulo, Calgary, Pensacola, Fla., and Redding, England. "It's so out of place."

Mr. Shaw, bearded, with long graying hair and the zeal of the Ancient Mariner, led his followers at a furious pace from the Guggenheim all the way down to Madison Square Park, dipping in and out of the subway, where he showed examples of weird serifs in the tile work (the serifs on the middle bars of the "e's" on signs along the Lexington line lean from left to right, an odd variation that seems to connote speed), and revealed little-known subterranean typographical mistakes.

"Some of the 'h's' in the Borough Hall station in Brooklyn are upside down," he said. "The crossbar is in the wrong position. I think the workers had a drawing from the engineer, but - hey - they're working with tile and sometimes they were one line off."

At times on Thursday, passers-by would stop and stare, too, trying to figure out what all these serious-looking people were looking at. In front of Public School 6, a man paused, squinted at the red door and its seemingly prosaic inscription and then shook his head.

"Is there supposed to be something special here?" he asked.

Thanks to The New York Times Company Copyright 2005

Friday, July 22, 2005

Choosing The Right iPod

In the beginning (OK, in 2001), there was the original 5GB iPod—and we were lucky to have it. But in the past four years, Apple has made things a bit more complicated, adding several new members to the iPod family. Not too long ago, making an iPod-buying decision boiled down to exactly one factor: whether you had the money to pay for it.

Now that Apple offers three versions of its diminutive music player—the iPod shuffle, the iPod mini, and the color iPod (including the iPod U2 Special Edition and most HP-branded models)—at prices ranging from $99 to $400, there’s far more to consider. Will a small iPod or a large iPod serve you better? And is there any advantage to owning Apple’s iPod instead of one branded with the HP logo? I’ve had my hands on every iPod model Apple has released, so I’m in a unique position to give advice on finding the iPod that’ll be the best fit for you.

iPod with color display
Not long ago Apple offered the fourth-generation iPod—a model with monochrome display—and a separate iPod photo, an iPod that could not only play music, but display color pictures on the iPod’s screen as well as project those pictures to an attached television or projector. In June 2005, Apple brought color to all its full-sized iPods (the iPod U2 Special Edition included) and dropped the “photo” appendage from the iPod’s name.

The name change doesn’t mean that the iPod has lost any of its photo capabilities. As with the earlier iPod photo, you can use Apple’s $30 iPod Camera Connector accessory to load pictures from a digital camera onto the iPod without having to first process them in iTunes. (Normally, you need to load your pictures onto your Mac or PC, where iTunes processes them for iPod compatibility, and then run a sync to download them to your iPod.) The iPod with color display can also take advantage of the Apple iPod AV Cable (now a $19 accessory) to connect the iPod to a television or projector.

People who don’t need this iPod’s photo features shouldn’t dismiss it too quickly. Even though its photo capabilities are its most glamorous feature, the addition of color improves everything about the iPod’s interface. Calendar events are far easier to differentiate, Solitaire is finally playable (because with color you can tell one suit from another more easily), and color album art is just cool no matter how you look at it.

While the iPod with color display offers more storage than the iPod mini (offering capacities of 20- and 60GB versus the mini’s 4- and 6GB hard drive capacity), it takes an hour longer to fully charge than the mini (five hours versus four for the mini) and offers less skip-protection—providing up to 17 minutes of protection versus up to 25 minutes for the mini. It also offers less playtime-per-charge (Apple rates the iPod’s playtime at up to 15 hours of music playback and up to 5 hours of slideshow playtime though we’ve managed over 17 hours of playtime on a color iPod when pressing play and walking away). But this iPod boasts a larger display, which allows you to view three lines of text on the Now Playing screen as compared to the two lines displayed by the mini (and zero lines of text shown on the display-less iPod shuffle).

These iPods have all the music and storage features switched on—unlike the mini and the shuffle, this iPod allows you to record voice memos with a third-party voice recorder such as Griffin Technology’s $40 iTalk or Belkin’s $50 Voice Recorder for iPod with Dock Connector. You can also store and view digital pictures on the iPod with Belkin’s $50 Media Reader for iPod with Dock Connector (Belkin’s $40 Digital Camera Link for iPod with Dock Connector will download pictures to the iPod but you can’t view them without first processing them through iTunes).

The HP iPod models—called Apple iPod + HP—differ slightly from Apple’s offerings. As I write this, HP still offers a 20GB monochrome iPod priced at $300. It will also sell you a 30GB color model for $350 plus its own 60GB color iPod that’s identical to Apple’s offering except for the two companies’ warranty support.

Specifically, Apple provides a one-year warranty but only 90 days of free phone support; it further restricts those terms in that all repairs after the first six months require a $30 shipping and handling fee, and the free phone support applies to only one incident within the first 90 days after purchase. HP, on the other hand, provides a full year of both hardware warranty and phone support, with toll-free technical support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. HP also provides out-of-warranty support via e-mail. HP provides support only for Windows-formatted iPods, however.

If history tells us anything, HP’s models will soon match Apple’s lineup.

Capacity and Price 20GB (approximately 5,000 songs), $299; 60GB (approximately 15,000 songs), $399; iPod U2 Special Edition 20GB (approximately 5,000 songs), $329.

Ideal Usage and User If you’re looking for the ultimate in an iPod—a color display, the ability to view and project pictures, a decent amount of playing time, and enough storage for a very large music library—you and the iPod with color display were meant for each other.

iPod mini (second generation)
When Apple first released the iPod mini, the company positioned it as a competitor to other manufacturers’ high-end flash memory-based music players. But it wasn’t long before people forgot all about how the iPod mini compared to the competition and simply thought of it as a great way to shove a thousand tunes into the coolest looking music player on the market. The iPod mini has nearly the same functionality as the original fourth-generation iPod. Its screen is smaller, so it doesn’t display as much information as the larger iPods (the mini’s Now Playing screen, for example, doesn’t display the title of the currently playing album). The screen remains monochrome. And these iPods don’t support voice recording and media storage via third-party peripherals.

When you consider the price-to-storage ratio, the mini isn’t as good a deal as the iPod with color display. Cost per megabyte for the $199 4GB iPod mini is around 5 cents. And a megabyte on a $249 6GB mini costs about 4 cents. Compare this with about 2 cents per megabyte on a $299 20GB iPod, and you see that people who want the most for their money may pass on the mini’s cool exterior and handy size in favor of the higher-capacity iPod.

If you intend to put a lot of hours on your iPod, you’ll find the mini’s playing-time capabilities very attractive. Though Apple suggests that the 2G mini can play for up to 18 hours, I’ve been able to play nonstop music on a 6GB mini for more than 26 hours on a single charge. As I mentioned earlier, the best I’ve done with a color iPod is just over 17 hours.

Capacity and Price 4GB (approximately 1,000 songs), $199; 6GB (approximately 1,500 songs), $249.

Ideal Usage and User The mini, with its vibrant green, blue, pink, or silver case, is Apple’s most fashionable iPod. If you have a sense of style and want to store a goodly number of songs on a small, portable music player, you may just find it hard to resist.

iPod shuffle
Apple’s least-expensive iPod offers a host of advantages: it’s affordable enough to be an impulse buy, it sounds as good as any other iPod, it never skips (because it stores music on solid-state flash memory rather than a moving hard drive), it’s highly portable, and it holds more than enough music to get you through a long drive or a marathon run (though rated at up to 12 hours of play time, it can get much more). It doesn’t, however, include a screen for navigating to specific songs. And its capacity is limited enough that only people with very small music collections will be able to store an entire library on it.

Capacity and Price 512MB (approximately 120 songs), $99; 1GB (approximately 240 songs), $129.

Ideal Usage and User The shuffle’s non-skip nature and small size make it the perfect companion for exercising. And it’s easily cheap enough to become your second, “just kickin’ around” iPod. It’s also a good choice for kids (or adults) who tend to misplace their valuables. (Losing a $99 shuffle is a lot easier to swallow than misplacing a $400 iPod.)

With Thanks to Apple & Christopher Breen

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tre Bon!

Congratulations to Kaye and Ed on finally closing the deal on their groovy new place south of Paris in the west of France!

Friday, July 08, 2005


A who's who and what's what of sports bracelets. What started as a yellow 'LIVE STRONG' bracelet message through Lance Armstrong's foundation has grown into a rainbow of support through various colors, messages and materials. From baseball to diabetes research, the below guide decodes what your subway seat-partner may be supporting on his or her wrist.


Houston Astros— At the April 9 game, the first 20,000 fans were given a Believe bracelet, geared toward stroke awareness and sponsored by The Methodist Hospital. Astros outfielder Lance Berkman is a hospital spokesperson and not only helped endorse the bands but also wears one frequently. The bracelets, which are red or black, can also be purchased, with the proceeds earmarked for stroke research at the Methodist Neurological Institute.

Minnesota Twins— The club and the Twins Community Fund are selling red/blue rubber bracelets stamped with the words Go Twins! on one side and For The Twins Community Fund on the other. The Twins have sold 20,000 bands, raising almost $30,000 for the Twins Community Fund, the team's charity. The Twins' cost on each bracelet is $2, with approximately $1.50 going to the Fund to support youth baseball/softball programs initiatives.


Boston Celtics— I Am A Celtic green bracelet, along with donations at regular-season home games in April, raised more than $50,000 to donate to the family of Hector Paniagua, a Lawrence, Mass., high school basketball star who was shot outside a nightclub March 27th and left paralyzed. The rest of the proceeds go to the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, which assists children in need in New England. About 36,000 have been sold.

San Antonio Spurs— Have sold 100,000 Spurs black bracelets, raising more than $139,000 for the Spurs Foundation, which supports physically, emotionally and economically underserved youth.

Washington Wizards— Their Pure Energy black bracelet raised more than $64,000, going to UNICEF for Tsunami relief.


Houston Comets — The Comets will give away a pink bracelet to the first 5,000 fans at their Breast Health Awareness game on July 30. To raise money for the Pink Ribbon Fund, the Comets will do an auction on the concourse.

New York Liberty— Have sold 5,000 Liberty Cheering For Children sea-foam green bracelets at home games. The money goes to the Madison Square Garden Cheering for Children Foundation, which has committed to build 10 playgrounds throughout the New York metropolitan area.


Atlanta Thrashers— About 80,000 True Blue blue bracelets have been distributed over the last year, largely tied to community development programs. They were given out free at school assemblies, reading events and fan development functions.

Detroit Red Wings— The Believe red bracelet was produced by the Red Wings and Ilitch Charities for Children, with proceeds earmarked for children with cancer and AIDS. More than 50,000 have been sold. "Believe" was the Red Wings slogan following the 1997 Stanley Cup and the subsequent limousine accident that left player Vladimir Konstantinov and masseuse Sergei Mnatsakanov seriously and permanently injured.

College sports

Bowling Green— Two bracelets are the rage on campus: orange BGSU Falcons bracelets, $1.99 at the campus bookstore, and red Multiple Sclerosis Society bracelets, at $5, which were passed out by former BGSU hockey goalie Jordan Sigalet, who announced this past year he had MS.

Colorado— Head football coach Gary Barnett designed 250 black woven bracelets with DTRT (Do The Right Thing) stitched in white. He presented them to coaches, players and staff — after they had read a mission statement Barnett had written and agreed to honor the principles set forth.

Duke— About 33,000 Duke For Life blue bracelets have been sold, with the proceeds ($48,000) going to the Emily Krzyzewski Family Life Center. The mission of the Center is to create an environment that fosters the development of life skills that are fundamental to reaching one's highest potential. Coach K, who started the center in his mother's name, the Blue Devils coaching staff and the players all wear the bracelets.

Florida — Head football coach Urban Meyer worked closely with several student leaders on campus on a community service initiative and fundraiser surrounding the Spring Game (the Orange and Blue Debut). Student leaders sold orange and blue spirit bracelets, with proceeds benefiting the Children's Miracle Network. Fans could pick a color, then cheer for that respective team in the April 9 game. Fans who purchased the bands of the losing team (blue) were then asked to assist members of the UF coaching staff and football team in planting more than 400 crepe myrtle trees on Radio Road on campus.

Fresno State— The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) produced Fresno State Bulldogs red bracelets to raise money (as they had no budget) so they could provide more opportunities in terms of teambuilding and social activities for student-athletes. They have sold 3,500 at $2 each.

Michigan— The athletic department and C.S. Mott Children's Hospital have teamed up to sell blue M Go Blue for Mott bracelets to raise money for a new children's and women's hospital at the university. Football coach Lloyd Carr is co-chair of the Champions for Children campaign, with University Regent David Brandon, a former Wolverine football player.

Minnesota— Head basketball coach Dan Monson, a big admirer of the Live Strong bracelet, designed a special band for his team. The maroon bracelet, which was not available to the general public, was stamped with Mindset, and every letter stood for something. It became the credo for the basketball team.



N-Not about me


S-Serve the Program and each other



Meanwhile, Minnesota's women's ice hockey team created their own blue Unbreakable bracelets, in honor of long-time equipment manager Bonnie Olein, who was diagnosed with colon cancer at the end of February. With the bracelets on their wrists, the Gophers won their second in a row NCAA championship. On July 12, the team will be honored at the White House, and Olein will be there with them.

Ohio State— The Buckeyes have jumped on the wristband wagon with numerous designs. The first bracelet, introduced last football season, is stamped with Tradition, People, Excellence, with more than 150,000 sold. Proceeds go to the Student Athlete Scholarship Fund. The latest bracelet projects include a "fan pack" band (You Win With People) and a three-pack (Go Bucks, Buckeyes, Hangonsloopy). Projected sales: 150,000 units, $250,000 in proceeds.

St. John's— When the St. John's baseball team played Notre Dame in a three-game series shown on ESPN and CSTV, the players wore purple Got Guts bracelets to honor a teammate, Matt Tosoni, who is redshirting this year. Tosoni was a starter in 2004 and had to sit out because of ulcerative colitis. The bracelets were purchased through a foundation that does work for people who have colitis.

Virginia— The athletic department's marketing and promotions office created two bracelets in the school colors — an orange Orange Fever bracelet and a blue Uncompromised Excellence bracelet. More than 15,000 have been sold at $2 each. The purpose was to continue to develop the Orange Fever brand and to participate in a national fundraising phenomenon on behalf of the United Way.

Washington State— The Cougars generated increased attendance at a men's and a women's basketball game by giving away 5,000 crimson bracelets stamped with Go Cougs. Says Leslie Cox, director of athletic marketing, via email: "We were very strict about the fact that going to the game was the only way to get a bracelet. Our attendance for both of those games increased significantly. Our fans still wear them, and we get requests all the time to do the bracelets again next year."

Western Michigan— Two years ago, as a sign of unity, the men's hockey team started wearing bracelets made from ice skate laces, an idea of Andrew Dwyer, now a senior defenseman. They fused together the ends of the laces by burning them with a match. When the team got knocked out of the playoffs, coach Jim Culhane proclaimed he would not take off his bracelet until Western Michigan advanced to the Super Sox Championships. Culhane and several players are still wearing their skate lace bracelets.


Andy Baskin, one of the Fox Sports Net Ohio broadcasters, who works Cleveland Indians games, wears a blue bracelet for Cystic Fibrosis. His brother Bruce recently died from the disease.

"My brother bought 500 of them about two weeks before he went in the hospital," Baskin writes in an e-mail. "It was cool over the last four months to see all of the nurses at the clinic wear them. My family still wears it. For me, it's a constant reminder of what is important in life, and that every breath counts."

Angela Glazer, the wife of Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive vice president Joel Glazer, designed a blue bracelet to create awareness and educate people about endometriosis, a painful disease that affects 5 1/2 million women and girls in the USA and Canada and millions more worldwide. It occurs when tissue, like that which lines the uterus, is found outside the uterus, usually in the abdomen. The wording on the bracelets is Endrometriosis-Live Life-Think Positive.

Former NCAA champion breaststroker Dave Denniston wears his white Send It Forward bracelet to empower himself to walk again. He was paralyzed from the waist down in a sledding accident last February. The motto comes from a drill in a breaststroke training DVD he produced a few years ago. "The idea is to take all your energy and send it forward," explains says Denniston, who has sold 2,800 bracelets at $5 each and raised $15,000. That, with other fundraisers, will help pay for his rehabilitation at Project Walk in Carlsbad, Calif.

Jerome Bettis, Pro Bowl running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, created a yellow and black tie-dyed bracelet, stamped with Bus & 'Burg Caring For Kids on the front and Bus36 on the back. A portion of the proceeds go to Bettis' "The Bus Stops Here Foundation," which funds programs that foster self-esteem and educational success in children.

Jason Taylor, Pro Bowl defensive end for the Miami Dolphins, created a red bracelet stamped with Jason Taylor Foundation. More than 7,000 bracelets have been given out, in exchange for a $1 donation per bracelet to the Foundation, which supports and creates programs for South Florida's children in need. The Foundation used the bracelets in conjunction with its "Big Screens-Big Dreams" program, inviting nine high school basketball teams to an advance screening of the movie Coach Carter. Each athlete was given a bracelet as their "ticket" into the theater.

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin wears a blue bracelet to create awareness for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. His 16-year-old daughter Alexi has juvenile diabetes. He and Alexi are spokespeople for the disease, and he's never seen without the bracelet.

Thanks to Jill Lieber, USA TODAY

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bitchin' Projector

Originally uploaded by H. Michael karshis.
This is really sweet. A totally self-contained home theater solution. The DV10, from Optoma, integrates a DVD player, a set of speakers (two 5-watt stereo) and a projector. Next time you're ready to kick back and watch a movie, surf or game, place this puppy 5ft away from a white wall, and dig "Jaws" on your 50inch screen, right then and there. Dude, it’s even HDTV compatible! That's right, "Go Spurs Go!

Of course, you can use it like a standard projector as well. It comes with a bunch of I/O connections (Composite (RCA), D-sub 15 VGA (analog RGB/component/HDTV), S-Video, RS-232 communication, Stereo audio in, Stereo audio out, Optical audio out), so you can game, connect your satellite, hook up your real sound system, etc.

It features brightness of 1,000 lumens, a contrast ratio of 4,000:1 and a bulb life of 2,000 hours.

Damage? $1500.

That's Right. Bitchin' Projector

Friday, July 01, 2005

Beijing Clinic Ministers To Online Addicts

BEIJING, China (AP) -- The 12 teenagers and young adults, some in ripped jeans and baggy T-shirts, sit in a circle, chewing gum and fidgeting as they shyly introduce themselves.

"I'm 12 years old," one boy announces with a smile. "I love playing computer games. That's it."

"It's been good to sleep" says another, a 17-year-old with spiky hair, now that he's no longer on the computer all day.

The youths are patients at China's first officially licensed clinic for Internet addiction, a downside of the online frenzy that has accompanied the nation's breathtaking economic boom.

"All the children here have left school because they are playing games or in chat rooms everyday," says the clinic's director, Dr. Tao Ran. "They are suffering from depression, nervousness, fear and unwillingness to interact with others, panic and agitation. They also have sleep disorders, the shakes and numbness in their hands."

According to government figures, China has the world's second-largest online population -- 94 million -- after the United States.

While China promotes Internet use for business and education, government officials also say Internet cafes are eroding public morality. Authorities regularly shut down Internet cafes -- many illegally operated -- in crackdowns that also include huge fines for their operators.

State media has also highlighted cases of obsessed Internet gamers, some of whom have flunked out of school, committed suicide or murder. Nonetheless, Internet cafes continue to thrive, with outlets found in even the smallest and poorest of villages. Most are usually packed late into the night.

Dr. Kimberly Young, a Bradford, Pennsylvania, clinical psychologist whose 1998 book on Internet addiction has been translated into Chinese, says she's not surprised the Chinese would face problems with Internet overuse.

"They are catching up with a lot of our technology, and certainly at that juncture, are now able to run into some of the same difficulties," Young said.

While treatment programs were virtually nonexistent in the United States a decade ago, she said, dozens of clinics and countless individual therapists such as herself offer counseling and treatment in her country.

Various fixations

Programs are growing elsewhere, too.

Just a few years ago, Young says, she attended a conference in Switzerland where she was the only American out of some 200 academics and clinicians who gathered to address Internet addiction.

Tao's government-owned clinic, which began taking patients in March, occupies the top floor of a two-story building on a quiet, tree-lined street on the sprawling campus of the Beijing Military Region Central Hospital in the heart of the Chinese capital.

A dozen nurses and 11 doctors care for the patients, mostly youths aged 14 to 24 who have lost sleep, weight and friends after countless hours in front of the computer, often playing video games with others online.

Some come voluntarily, while others are checked in by their parents. Many say their online obsessions helped them escape day-to-day stress, especially pressure from parents to excel in school.

Some can't stop playing games, while the older ones tend to be addicted to online chats with the opposite sex, Tao says. Others are fixated on designing violent games.

Tao, a psychiatrist for 20 years who specializes in treating addiction, estimates that up to 2.5 million Chinese suffer from Internet addiction, though others are skeptical.

"As the number of the Netizens grows, the number of the addicted people will grow as well, but we should not worry about the issue too much," says Kuang Wenbo, a professor of mass media at Beijing's Renmin University. "The young men at the age of growing up have their own problems. Even if there was no Internet they will get addicted to other things."

A reporter was allowed to talk to patients at the clinic on condition they not be identified by name.

"I wasn't normal," said a 20-year-old man from Beijing who used to spend at least 10 hours a day in front of the screen playing hack-and-slash games like Diablo.

"In school I didn't pay attention when teachers were talking," he said. "All I could do was think about playing the next game. Playing made me happy, I forgot my problems."

The 12-year-old, a new arrival, spent four days in an Internet cafe, barely eating or sleeping.

A soft-spoken 21-year-old man from northeastern Heilongjiang province who had been in the clinic for 10 days said his addiction had helped him escape from family pressures about his studies.

"I would stay up for 24 hours. I would eat only in front of the computer," he said.


Tao's team has put together a standard diagnostic test to determine whether someone is addicted, then uses a combination of therapy sessions, medication, acupuncture and sports like swimming and basketball to ease patients back into normal lives.

They usually stay 10 to 15 days, at $48 a day -- a high price in China, where the average city dweller's weekly income is just $20.

The routine begins around 6 a.m. and includes sessions on a machine that stimulates nerve impulses with 30-volt charges to pressure points.

Some patients receive a clear fluid through intravenous drips said to "adjust the unbalanced status of brain secretions," according to one nurse. Officials would not give any other details about the medication.

Patients also nap, write diary entries or play cards. Their rooms are sunny, each decorated with artificial flowers, Winnie the Pooh comforters and a 17-inch television.

Tao says the long-term effects of treatment are generally successful, but it's not easy to keep patients from again giving themselves over to Internet temptation.

"It would be hard to give it up completely," said the 20-year-old from Beijing. "I'll take it step-by-step."

CNN Tecnology Report from The Associated Press