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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taking Notes With The Livescribe Echo

This post isn’t about anything new, but I get asked about this every time I use it so I thought I would write about it. For the past two years I’ve been using the excellent Livescribe Echo recording pen to record my class lectures. I’m a painfully slow writer and I often just can’t keep up with what professor is saying as I furiously try to take notes. The Livescribe Echo has allowed me to take far fewer notes and concentrate to a much greater degree on what is being said in class. It does this by recording every pen stroke I make on paper, as well as capturing every sound that is made as I write. After class, I can transfer the recording to my PC and watch myself taking notes as I listen to the lecture at the same time. I can skip ahead to any point, or even play it back at 2x speed (yes people will sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks if you do the latter).

How does it accomplish this voodoo?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Terms of Service? I Most Definitely Never Read, and Now I Don't Have To

Terms of service (ToS) agreements are everywhere today. In fact, they are so ubiquitous that I’m pretty sure almost no one reads them when clicking through to install a new piece of software or use a new online service. I’m guilty as charged when it comes to that. I never have (or make) time, interest, or the legal skill to interpret them. Thankfully, a new site I've just heard about (thanks Ed T.) aims to bring clarity to what lies within these often long and painful to read documents.

The new site ToS;DR does what almost none of us do. The people behind the site actually read the terms of service agreements for many popular websites, companies, and software packages. Not only do they read them, but they summarize them concisely and even provide ratings from Class A (very good) to Class E (very bad).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Save the Buckyballs!

Do any of you like little office toys to play with as you sit in on lengthy conference calls? Do any of you have fidgety hands that always seem to want to be doing something like clicking a pen or tapping your fingers on the desk? If so, then Buckyballs might be for you…and they might get taken away.

See, it turns out that these simple, yet fascinating magnetic balls are a major hazard to children if swallowed. When more than one is ingested, they can cling together and pinch major organs resulting in the need for emergency surgery to remove them. As a result, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently filed suit against the manufacturers of Buckyballs and has ordered many retailers to stop selling them. It’s true, I can’t even find them, nor their competitor Magnet Balls for sale on Amazon.