Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dressing like Beyonce not good enough? Live like her too...

i love to see old-fashioned, suburban JC Penny score a deal with hip, urban MTV. Kudos to them.

JC Penny is selling MTV Cribs home furnishings:

I always thought people would love to buy furniture and floorplans seen in movies, like Batman and Lord of the Rings.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Can you hear it?

never thought you'd get a tatoo?

think again...

HP's new promotion, that costs just pennies.

Friday, January 14, 2005


And, for those that don't want for YellowArrow to prompt you, just ask for anything:

Follow the Yellow Arrow to the Wizard

i find this to be pretty creative...

and, almost functional:

what can be done with this?

can it catch your eye to tell you something about the High Line?
tell you about Open House New York?
about a pile of snow, then it tells you the temperature in the Bahamas, with the BudgetTravel web site, so you want to pick up BudgetTravel and book a trip to the Bahamas?
about a store that rips you off?
about Trumps bad architecture?

What if there was a huge one of the side on an airplane?

A car?

A building?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

What Can This Pen Do For You and Your Field?

New Computer Pen Reads Handwriting And Can Talk Back

January 12, 2005; Page B1

In a consumer electronics market flooded with iPods and Xboxes, LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. is making a play for 8-to-13-year-olds with a talking digital pen that answers math problems, corrects spelling and plays fantasy baseball games.

The product, called FLY, is a "pentop computer" from LeapFrog and Swedish technology firm Anoto AB. The $99 gadget is essentially a pen with computer electronics that captures text in a digital file as the user writes on special paper covered with barely visible gray dots. As bulky as a thick magic marker, FLY uses a small camera hidden under the tip that records writing at about 75 frames per second. The pen's software can "read" a user's handwriting or drawing and then orally respond.

For example, a student can draw a "calculator" pad on the paper, touch the pen to the numbers of an equation and hear the answer through the pen's speaker. Writing out an equation, say, "2+2," generates the same result. The pen will answer "4." It can give hints on how to do long division, spell words or quiz students with interactive worksheets. Handwritten English words can be translated through the pen's speakers into Spanish or French.

The pen can also be used musically: a rectangle drawn into eight slices becomes a keyboard's eight notes so the writer hears different notes when touching each slice. Similarly, a set of drawn circles turn into a drum kit, with different percussion sounds generated by touching the circles with the pen. Users can compose music using different beats and sounds, which can then be downloaded as a cellphone ringtone.

The $99 FLY computer pen.

Basic computer functions such as an alarm clock and calendar are available. The calendar would note that soccer practice starts at 4 p.m. on Mondays. At that date, the pen reminds the user of the practice.

LeapFrog plans to begin selling the pen in the fall, and it's already thinking about some possible complications. If a user writes an obscenity, for example, the pen may respond with an oral message like, "You can't say that." And while illegible handwriting is another possible problem, LeapFrog thinks that by age 8, most kids' penmanship will be good enough to be recognized by the computer.

Since the pen isn't yet on the market, some unexpected glitches could crop up. The pen holds a lexicon of about 70,000 words, but if a user writes a word that isn't covered by the program, the pen will say it doesn't recognize the entry and advise the user to try again. FLY has limitations: its calculator cannot do fractions, for instance.

While LeapFrog and others have made technology-driven products for young children, there is very little available for kids as they head into their teens. Jim Marggraff, an executive vice president at LeapFrog and developer of FLY, believes the pen's ability to deliver high-tech computer capability in the low-tech format of pen and paper is not only learning-friendly, but also the start of a "new medium of technology."

Leapfrog has tried to give the pen features that will make it cool for tweens. Products for girls include an interactive diary that asks users questions to stimulate journaling. Boys can play an interactive fantasy baseball game that uses Upper Deck baseball cards and comes with sound effects like the crack of a bat and an announcer's voice.

Mr. Marggraff began thinking about FLY in 2000, when he saw a story about Anoto in Wired magazine. At that time, Anoto's technology was being used as a business-to-business tool in the legal and health-care industries. Anoto developed a special pen that, when used with the dot paper, would download writing into a computer. When used in a doctor's office, for example, a form filled out with the special pen and paper would be stored in the office's computer system.

Adding LeapPad's audio technology would create a new type of computer product, Mr. Marggraff thought -- one that could do "everything a Leap can do without the LeapPad," he says.

Although versions of pen computers have been around for about a decade, analysts say FLY is the first such device aimed at kids for educational purposes and therefore might be a hard sell to teachers and parents. "Overall the educational market is slow to adapt technology," says Tim Bajarin, president of technology research firm Creative Strategies Inc. who has used FLY. "Parents sometimes have an aversion to using technology even for educational things, especially parents from an older generation."

The toughest group to convince may be the target audience themselves. Although still popular with the 3-to-8-year-old set, LeapFrog products for older students haven't fared as well, says Harris Nesbitt analyst Sean McGowan, who has not seen the pen. LeapFrog's brand recognition could hurt more than it helps in marketing to this age group, he says, as most of them "aren't going to be caught dead with a LeapFrog product."

When LeapFrog released LeapPad in 1999, its mix of sophisticated computer-chip capability and educational content invigorated the sleepy electronic learning-aid category, turning the company into an industry leader with more than 75% of the market for preschoolers. But in the year-to-date to November, industry-wide sales of electronic learning products were about $650 million, basically flat from the 2003 period, according to NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y., market-research firm.

LeapFrog took a hit in December when it retracted its estimates for 2004 earnings, citing a slowdown in reorders and issues with inventory. In the third quarter, LeapFrog had net income of $20.2 million, down 39% from $33.4 million in the year-earlier period.

The FLY launch, starting with an event today in New York, will be a big gamble for LeapFrog, which has put a chunk of its $56 million research-and-development budget into a four-year effort that pulled together more than 300 engineers, designers and consultants. The pen is part of LeapFrog's push to expand into the consumer electronics space and reach beyond its traditional customer base of young children who use its LeapPad interactive books.

The company also has formed a network of developers, including companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Walt Disney Co.'s Disney Publishing Worldwide, MeadWestvaco Corp. and General Electric Co.'s NBC News to create content that can be used with the pentop computer platform. LeapFrog says it will work with H-P to develop digital paper that can be printed on select H-P LaserJet printers.

Retailers such as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will stock the pen and its software near the consumer electronics section rather than in the toy aisle.

About 50 kids, ranging in age from 8 to 13, have been testing the pen for LeapFrog, giving input on everything from color combinations to game applications. Daniel Araujo, 13, one of the testers, says he would likely use the pen for homework and to play games. "I think it's really different," he says. "I've never seen a pen that can talk to you."

LeapFrog sees the new technology as a way to develop a nearly unlimited amount of content with other companies. The company says it will look into areas such as interactive comic books, graphic novels, magazines, trading cards and paper-based electronic games. "We're viewed as an educational toy company, but we don't view ourselves that way," says LeapFrog Chief Executive Tom Kalinske.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Are These Two Articles Related?

January 5th, 2005

BROOKLYN : CITY PAID MAN TO BABY-SIT FOR OWN CHILD For three years, the authorities said, Robert Brown baby-sat for Essie Porter's youngest son and daughter. Ms. Porter was on welfare and either in job training or working part time, prosecutors said, so under welfare law, the city paid her child-care provider, Mr. Brown, for his services - more than $10,000 over the years. There was only one problem, prosecutors said: Mr. Brown failed to disclose that he was the father of one of the children, Jaquan, 11. The law says that parents are obligated to care for their children and are not entitled to be paid for it. Both Mr. Brown, 31, and Ms. Porter, 40, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, were arraigned yesterday on charges of felony welfare fraud. They each face maximum sentences of seven years in prison. Andy Newman (NYT)

ROCHESTER: ADDICT ORDERED NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN A Family Court judge who last year stirred a national debate about parental responsibilities ordered a second drug-addicted prostitute to have no more children until she proves she can look after the seven children she already has. The 31-year-old mother, identified in court papers only as Judgette W., lost custody of her children, ranging in age from 8 months to 12 years, in child-neglect hearings dating back to 2000. The youngest child and two others tested positive for cocaine at birth and all seven were removed from her care. The Dec. 22 decision by the judge, Marilyn O'Connor, was made public yesterday. In a similar ruling last March, Judge O'Connor ordered a drug-addicted, homeless mother of four to not bear children until she won back care of her children.

Monday, January 03, 2005

How to Boost Ad Pages for Publications

Vogue Puts Mortar in E-Commerce
Only Advertisers Who Buy
Print Space Will Be Allowed
To Hawk on New Web Site

January 3, 2005; Page B4

It is no secret that fashion companies have been slow to embrace the boom in online retailing. But Vogue magazine, the bible of the fashion world, has found a way to promote online fashion sales while also bolstering its ad pages.

This March, Condé Nast Publications' Vogue will launch, an online-shopping Web site with a twist. Only fashion companies that advertise in Vogue's March issue will be allowed to sell their wares on the site. comes after a successful online experiment in September called -- not surprisingly -- That venture showed Vogue could help sell fashion goods online while selling ads.

The venture illustrates how magazines are discovering innovative ways to sell ads, amidst intensifying competition from specialized cable-TV channels and online media.

Vogue won't keep up on the Web permanently. It is instead going online at peak times in the fashion world. Vogue's March issue is the magazine's first big look at new spring fashion, and will stay up on the Web for six to eight weeks. September made sense because that is when women who aren't typical Vogue readers pick up the magazine to plot their new fall wardrobes.

As they could in September, visitors to will be able to buy certain styles featured online by clicking a "buy now" icon on an advertiser's online ad, assuming the ad is set up for electronic-commerce or linked to an e-commerce site. Otherwise, ads will provide information about bricks-and-mortar stores where the featured items can be purchased.

As in September, the price of admission for fashion companies is the purchase of a full-page national ad in Vogue, which now costs about $100,000.

Mike Gets His Groove On

January 3, 2005

Bloomberg Gets Endorsement From an Influential Black Minister

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg traveled to the Allen A.M.E. Church in Jamaica, Queens, yesterday to accept the endorsement of Allen's influential pastor, the Rev. Floyd H. Flake, a former Democratic congressman who backed Mr. Bloomberg's opponent, Mark Green, in 2001.

Mr. Flake said he was backing Mr. Bloomberg because of his record of improving the city's schools and his leadership in the years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"I like the mayor because he just goes about the business of doing his work," Mr. Flake said at a news conference, held after the church service at a nearby center for the elderly. "He has not pandered to blacks, to whites, to Jews or any race. He has stood firm and spoken on behalf of the citizens of New York. He is the best representative, I think, that we could possibly have."

For his part, Mr. Bloomberg was content to bask in Mr. Flake's kind words. He did not take any questions, and made only a few remarks.

"I'm not quite sure what to say," the mayor said. "I'll start with, 'Thank you.' I said to the reverend when he told me he was going to endorse me - I didn't call him and ask him; he called me - I said, 'All I can promise you is I will work as hard as I possibly can and do what I think is right.' "

Nowhere is Mr. Bloomberg's awkward connection to nonwhite voters more evident than on his visits to the city's black churches, where he almost always sits placidly, hands folded on his lap, as everyone around him leaps and sways to gospel music.

Yesterday, sitting in the front pew at Allen, Mr. Bloomberg, once again, was the last one on his feet clapping to the beat. But politically, at least, he seemed to find his rhythm with Mr. Flake's endorsement.

Mr. Flake's announcement was not surprising; the minister had signaled that it was coming two years ago during an earlier visit to Allen by the mayor, who, only half-jokingly, called it "my first endorsement for re-election." But it was significant nonetheless, given that Mr. Bloomberg has struggled to improve his standing among nonwhites since getting about 25 percent of the black vote in 2001. According to a recent Marist poll, Mr. Bloomberg received a 52 percent approval rating among whites, but only a 36 percent rating among blacks.

Douglas A. Muzzio, a professor of political science at Baruch College, said Mr. Flake's endorsement signaled that Mr. Bloomberg was not content to cede the votes of African-American and Hispanic New Yorkers to the Democrats.

"Clearly, he needs to cut into that vote," Mr. Muzzio said. "He needs to pick off votes, and the middle-class, homeowning black voter in Queens and other places in the city is a ripe target for the mayor."

Democrats seeking the nomination include Charles Barron, a city councilman from Brooklyn; Fernando Ferrer, a former Bronx borough president; C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough president; Gifford Miller, the speaker of the City Council; and Representative Anthony D. Weiner. In addition, Steve Shaw, an investment banker from Manhattan, has announced his intention to challenge Mr. Bloomberg for the Republican nomination.

For Mr. Flake, who endorsed Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1997, backing a Republican candidate is nothing new. His sermons are heavy on the same theme of personal responsibility that Mr. Bloomberg likes to hit upon, as the mayor did again yesterday during remarks to worshipers at the church, where his promise to crack down on disruptive students in city schools drew loud applause.

Mr. Flake credited the mayor's "business acumen" for helping the city come through the economic downturn following Sept. 11, 2001, and said there were lessons for black voters in Mr. Bloomberg's emphasis on private initiatives and management style, as opposed to continued reliance on government programs.

"We can no longer as a people, and I'm speaking specifically now to African-American people," Mr. Flake said, "consider our plight and our future to be merely one where we will get what we want based on social and political processes. There must be an understanding of economics, and I don't think that anyone who will enter this race or is in this race has the ability to see the economic realities of this city better than the mayor who stands beside me today."

Mr. Flake's warm endorsement was also leavened with a dose of pragmatism: He openly thanked Mr. Bloomberg for his support of major redevelopment projects sponsored by Mr. Flake's church, including $1.8 million in city housing funds, awarded last fall, for a housing and retail development in Jamaica, and zoning approvals needed for construction of the senior center where the press conference was held.

"The mayor's office, as you know, is one that can have a lot of impact," Mr. Flake said, adding, "We just praise God for the opportunity to be an instrument that the mayor can use to help better the community and better the city."