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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Things that Chap My Ass About 2010

[Transcript of an actual conversation I recently had. See if you can figure out which side is me]

I’ll send it over to you, what’s your fax number?

My what?

Fax number. I’ll fax it over to you.

Fax it over…  Dude, seriously, just email it.

No. I like to keep a copy.

Keep a copy? What are you using, a fucking typewriter?

I wish. Can’t get ribbons any more. Sigh. So I type it up in the word processor, then print it out. Then I fax it. That way I’ve got a copy for my records.

Nobody says word processor any more.  And paper records? Of routine correspondence?

Yes. Of course.

Dude, email does that for you automatically. Email it to me. Print out a copy for yourself, if you need paper.

It’s not the same.

How is it not the same?

It’s just not.

Did you get kicked in the head by a cow? Like when you were in the barn this morning doing the fucking milking?

Huh?

Yeah, back there in the 18th century where you live, did a cow step on your head? And isn’t all that paper dangerous, you know, with the candles you use for lighting?

Ha ha, seriously, what’s your Fax number?

_____________

 

For the love of free WiFi, folks, It’s 2010.

It’s time to let go of a few things.

It’s time to dump certain technologies into the dust bin of history along with buggy whips and steam powered Babbage engines.

Starting with fax machines. 

Seriously, Fax?  Fax?  Are we kidding here?  Great idea…in the 1990’s. Perfect back when The Two Corys needed to exchange script ideas and the addresses of their favorite coke dealers.  But nowadays, you what?  start out on a computer in digital format, convert it to analog by printing it out, convert it back to digital at stone age resolution, transmit it via POTS at speeds approximating those of an ancient Sumerian carrying cuneiform tablets on the back of a mule, convert it back to analog – and then if you’re really a technology horse you scan it back into a computer using some kind of OCR PDF technology. Here’s an idea, why don’t you copy the document to a stack of 5.25” floppies and send them via Snail Mail? You can listen to your Sinatra albums on 8-track while you wait for an answer.

And speaking of POTS, it’s about time to lose the 1, don’t you think?  You know, that damned annoying 1 that you used to have to dial if you wanted to make a long distance phone call from your official Ma Bell black rotary dial phone?  “We’re sorry, you must first dial a one before dialing this number” or “We’re sorry, it is not necessary to dial a one before dialing this number.” Arrgh! Make up your fucking mind.  What is the deal with this bullshit? I don’t have this crap with my cell phone, it just knows whether it needs a 1 or not. Sometimes I dial a 1, sometimes I don’t and it makes no difference at all.  How the hell is it possible that my little cell phone has more brains than the entire corporate infrastructure of AT&T?

I swear if it wasn’t for the fax machine, I’d just get rid of the landline altogether.

In fact I’m about sick and tired of paper. Period.

Take paper receipts.  Seriously folks, what in the hell?  People are always handing you a receipt, I get one with my coffee purchase in the morning, one with my gas, one with my donut, one with lunch, and the newspaper, and the stuff I buy at the hardware store on the way home. Christ, I’ve got pockets full of these bloody things.  I’m probably personally responsible for denuding entire swaths of South American rain forest in order to make the pulp to make the paper for the shear number of goddamned receipts that fill my pockets. And God help me I should lose one, because all the shop related ones need to be sent to the IRS at the end of the year.  And they just keep getting longer and longer, don’t they?  I got a coffee at Starbucks yesterday (Hey, if I’m going to destroy the rain forest, I might as well get it caramel flavored at $6 a cup, right?) and the receipt was longer than Glenn Beck’s liquor store shopping list. What the hell could possibly be on there? The complete text of War and Peace? Glenn Beck’s liquor store shopping list? I got a coffee, and my receipt was four feet long, probably a good thing I didn’t get a brownie too or Al Gore would have had to take a out hit on me.

And as long as we’re on the subject of paper, checks, I hate checks, no, strike that, I hate check writers.  I’ve said it before and got lambasted by certain Random people who shall remain nameless. But, damn, it’s 2010.  If we can’t get rid of checks, can we at least have a special line for check writers…with the rest of the Amish and people who still use paper phone books?

Camera film and recording tape are long gone and good riddance, replaced by memory chips. Lots and lots of memory chips. I’ve got a chip for my Nikon, I’ve a different chip for my pocket camera, I’ve yet another chip for my phone, and another one for for my MP3 player and when I count them up I find I’ve got SD and SDHC and miniSD and ProSD and MemorySticks. I’ve got fast chips and slow chips. Hell, I’ve got fish and chips. I’ve got ten different kind of memory chips. It’s 2010, can we please settle on a fucking standard?  And don’t get me started on the fifty different kinds of USB cables, I’m still trying to find the right kind to plug my BetaMax into my HD-DVD recorder.

English Units of Measure. Hell even the English don’t use English Units of Measure anymore. Everybody else on the planet has managed to move on into the 21st Century. Not us though, we’re still measuring shit using units based on the number of barleycorns there are in a handbreadth or the number of stoneweight in a keg. For crying out loud, even the dimmest goatherd in those countries where they speak the clickclick language and worship rocks can manage the metric system, what the hell does that say about us?  I realize we tried to make the switch way back in the 1970’s and it was an abysmal failure – I remember the whole disastrous thing. But see we were still listening to AM radio back then, which is about one step, technology wise, above smoke signals.  Seriously, show of hands, how many of you have listened to AM Radio in the last year? Last ten years?  Now that it’s the 21st Century, it’s time to shitcan both English Units of Measure and Amplitude Modulation. Of course, if you do listen to AM Radio, you hear the conspiracy nuts who’ll tell you that making Americans switch to that commie metric system is just one more step towards the New World Order and how posting road signs in metric just makes it easier for the invading socialist armies.  I’d like to leave the conspiracy nuts back in the last century while we’re at it.

Tin cans (and yes I know they’re not made out of tin anymore). Cans? We might as well be using clay jars.  I get a can of green beans or corn out of the pantry, I’ve got to cut it open with a tool and dump the contents into a microwave safe dish so I can heat it up. Why the hell don’t the beans come in a microwavable container in the first damned place?

How about we get the hell rid of incandescent light bulbs too?  It’s ten years into the new millennium and we’re still lighting our wigwams with the burning light of a glowing wire in a glass bulb powered by burning coal. We might as well be using rendered whale fat and a wick. 

 

I could go on, you know I could, but I’ve got to take the dogsled into the trading post and write a check for a new dial-up modem.

What technology do you think should be retired?

(You can fax your comments to me and I’ll send you a receipt)

42 comments:

  1. I have a fax/scanner/copier. I can't figure out how the scanner works and I've never bothered running another phone line the 50' it would take to hook it up.

    I'm also supposed to be able to send and receive "faxes" on my laptop. Not so much.

    I realize these are both faults built into the user (me), but if they'd just dump the technology, I could stop feeling like a douche for my inadequacy.

    That and underwear bombs are sooo last decade.

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  2. Microwave. fucking MICROWAVE? Sorry, I hate microwaves. :|

    CDs and DVDs need to go, I just had this conversation with my nephew. On demand, and online video/audio has replaced them. Of course I still need "Logans Run" on DVD because its never on "On Demand".

    FM radio. Ick. Satellite radio gives me the same "stations" no matter where I am in North America with NO commercials. Well, maybe not Alaska... I was in a friends car and he had the FM radio on its bascially "All commercials all the time" and 3 stations. Miserable.

    Land lines. If you live out in the middle of nowhere with no cell coverage, well then I guess its "ok", but why else would you want a land line? Get a Google Voice account and rock on.

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  3. I'm a limited-tech Luddite. I won't give up my incandescent bulbs because fluorescent bulbs hurt my eyes.

    And I won't give up my land-line because my cell-phone doesn't always work inside my nice and comfy plastered house that is lined with chicken-wire to support the plaster.

    I have a spinning wheel and a loom too.

    Hey! I got a word that's a real word on the verification this time: calico.

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  4. Nick from the O.C.January 1, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    I listen to AM radio nearly every day ... I really like our local news station, with traffic updates every 10 minutes. Sometimes I also listen to sporting events on the AM radio.

    Always in my car, of course. The same car in which I ripped out the very nice standard radio and replaced it with a touchscreen interface iPod/Nav/DVD player. I also ripped out the standard cassette deck and replaced it with a satellite radio receiver.

    But give up my AM? No way, Jose.

    meruse = Mensa members do not simply peruse a book, they meruse it.

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  5. Good God! You people are dragging me back! No wonder we don't have personal jetpacks and colonies on the moon!

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  6. Well, hey, I do live around the Amish, so I guess I'm exempt. And don't under estimate the tech-savviness of the Amish. They've got cell-phones, website, solar cells and CFLs.

    And yeah, the CFLs and LEDs hurt my wife's eyes as well.

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  7. Well Jim, I can transfer money directly into my brother's account, but I'm assuming you don't want to share your bank account information with me, so you'll have to get a check.

    Also, I love FM radio. I can pick it up anywhere in the house, whereas our Internet radios and XM radios are limited to certain rooms. (Heaven forbid I lose even a second of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me as I'm going through the house.)

    sestica = a short celebratory church official

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  8. Just as long as you don't try to fax me a check, Michelle.

    And AM radio, we're talking about AM, not FM. Big difference.

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  9. If you come back to Japan, you better bring your AM radio if you want to listen to Armed Forces Network, because that's the only place they broadcast.

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  10. Ray, if I never hear AFRTN again, I'll be perfectly happy - though I admit the WWII VD commericials are pretty funny.

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  11. Fax machines - yep, they can go away.

    Paper checks - the alternative is debit cards or cash. The problem with debit cards is that poor people and people with bad credit can't get them. Yes, bad credit will stop you from getting a debit card.

    Businesses often get screwed with debit cards. They're supposed to cost the merchant less of a fee than credit cards, but that's not always true, depending on who you have your credit card merchant account with.

    Some bills either can only be paid by check, or a fee is assessed if you pay electronically or by credit/debit card.

    And worst, I've seen people in huge battles with banks when a debit card has been incorrectly charged and the person didn't keep the receipt. With a check, you have an audit trail.

    Streaming music/movies - that's all great if you have high-speed internet and can afford the technology needed to actually stream to a TV. But a lot of people can't afford the technology, high speed is not available everywhere, and a lot of people can't afford high speed.

    AT&T has told the FCC they should schedule a phase-out of land lines. Many people don't use land lines any more. BUT.

    Land lines are cheaper for most people than cell phones. They're necessary for DSL. Cell phones still don't have the voice quality that land lines have even under ideal signal conditions, and are useless for the most part in rural areas. Here in Ely, cell phone reception is fine in some parts of the city, sucks in other parts, is useless in some buildings, and useless in most of the surrounding countryside.

    Yes, I'm dumping my land line because I'm tired of paying for a phone that doesn't get used all that much. But in my apartment my cell phone sucks, and works only in certain spots.

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  12. Sorry Jim, while reading your post, my 14 year old scratched his head and and asked, "WHAT is a betamax?". He has no reference for this animal. Although he claims to know what a Beta Fish is!. Please inform him - I could suggest the tubes but that would subject him to all kinds of crazy.

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  13. I moved my bank account more than 10 years ago. I've used 32 checks since I opened the account (and I'm pretty sure I've voided at least a couple of them).

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  14. speeds approximating those of an ancient Sumerian carrying cuneiform tablets on the back of a mule

    This is why I always come back to Jim's blog!

    SP

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  15. Vince, I bet your closets and basement are overflowing with stuff from decades past, aren't they?

    This post is about getting rid of stuff, not coming up with really good reasons to keep it. Now, I want you to go clean out the basement and don't come back up until you make real progress.

    ;)


    Melissa, I'd say to your son that BetaMax was sort of like the ZUNE.

    Also, you let your 14 year son read my blog? Damn, I'm gonna have to start watching my language.

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  16. Paper checks - yes, those need to go. Medieval remnants, the whole pulpy mass of them. I live in the midwest, though, where cash is a sign of weakness - I knew I'd moved to a new world when I stood behind someone buying a candy bar and a Coke with a check.

    When do we get personal lasers? And how much is my sentence reduced for vaporizing someone writing a check in the express lane?

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  17. Get rid of landlines? Good grief.

    Although things have improved vastly in recent years, there are still plenty of areas around here without decent cell reception, and I'd assume things are even worse in more rural areas. And Vince is right about the clarity--it's simply not as good as land lines.

    listee = the recipient of a lister

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  18. We dumped our land line a few months ago. No regrets at all.

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  19. Landline? Well, technically I do still have one as my IP telephone comes from my cable company. Fax machines? Well, I do work for the government - nuff said. Last time I had to send a fax from home I found a website that would do it for me. For free.

    schypsy - the way Jim sometimes feels after writing a "chap my ass" blog entry...

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  20. After playing around with Google Wave for a month, I can see the end of old school email coming. :)

    I have invites, if anyone wants one.

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  21. Dear Stonekettle Station,

    I really liked your line about the metric system:

    'For crying out loud, even the dimmest goatherd in those countries where they speak the clickclick language and worship rocks can manage the metric system, what the hell does that say about us?'

    Let me attempt to answer your question.

    Basically, you (and the UK and the USA) chose the wrong method to upgrade to the metric system. And many, many people are still trying to 'go metric' using the wrong metrication methods.

    I have observed metrication upgrades done in as little as a single day, and sadly, I have also observed metrication transitions that have taken more than 200 years.

    As I have been studying the metrication process since the mid-1960s, I have seen loads of methods that people choose to make their inevitable metrication upgrade. See http://www.metricationmatters.com/docs/ApproachesToMetrication.pdf for comparisons of the four main approaches to metrication.

    Cheers,

    Pat Naughtin

    Geelong, Australia

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  22. Nick from the O.C.January 1, 2010 at 10:48 PM

    sadly, I have also observed metrication transitions that have taken more than 200 years.

    And thus, another immortal inadvertently reveals himself.


    And also note the alliterative name ("Metrication Matters") which is only one letter removed from "Lazarous Long". QED.

    mismu = unit of Japanese measurement, roughly equal to the length of one California roll.

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  23. It's interesting that AM radio made your list of technologies to be retired-- the others may all personally annoy you, but the existance of AM broadcasts you don't listen to can't be a significant thorn in your side, can it? :)

    In places like Dillingham or Kotzebue, the only commercial stations are AM stations. The issue isn't installed tech base-- listener radios are presumably AM/FM-- but the propogation characteristics of AM transmitters allow a wider service area than an equivalent FM transmitter on the same tower. Because of this, most of AK's FM transmitters are on the road corridor (or in South East), where populations are not particularly disperesed.

    Retiring AM licences would mean removal of commercial radio service to many of the smaller interior villages. (Though most of the bush transmitters are community operations and NPR affiliates, the stations are still commercial stations to the FCC)

    Retiring those licences also doesn't free up bandwidth for cell or wi-fi, because that band is shared by the FAA NDB system. That's admittedly an ancient system which should be retired, but there are instrument approaches (especially in AK) which due to shadowing of GPS signals by terrain can't be easily/cheaply replaced. Until that system goes away, the majority of the AM band won't be up for grabs.

    I hope you'll reconsider your objection to AM radio.
    -TF

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  24. Just found this: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Why-the-HELL-should-I-have-to-press-1-for-English/178345368375?ref=nf

    and would like to drop a link to your post on the subject into the comments.

    Do you want to deal with the death threats?

    Also to the commenter on AM radio, it travels in hilly country because of the frequency not the modulation method. Television, uses AM and has the same transmission problems as FM radio. The FM frequencies are between TV channels 6 and 7.

    However FM radio uses a much wider band width 200kH vs 10 kH, so there would only be room for 2 or 3 channels in the alloted frequency space.

    Metric is as screwed up as Imperial (and the Brits used a different version than the US). 12, 8 and 16 all have advantages over 10, and the pure mathematician would argue for a prime multiplicand such as 2, 7 or 11. A meter was to have been 1/10,000 of a quadrant of the earth at the equator, but they measured the earth incorrectly. The same holds true for the definition of liter and gram, as the result.

    Inches are commonly broken into binary units not decimal units although units based on either 3 or e would be more efficient.

    Why is a rule with two points 100 units apart superior to a rule with three points, two of which are 180 units apart, with the intermediate point and the third one 32 units apart. If one is using degrees as a unit, they should be based on a multiple of 60.

    At least the metric version of the compass didn't catch on, the one with 400 grads (that quadrant again) instead of 360 degree. Engineers use radians anyway.

    The US is metric by the way, we just translate it down so the natives can understand it. If you look at an ANSI document all measurements are in the SI system, possibly with English(American version) in parens following.

    Have a nice day.

    tades - dude speak for frog offspring.

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  25. See David gets me, personal lasers for zapping check writers in the express lane? Yes!

    Metrication? I have learned a new word today. Thanks, Pat in Australia. I'm not particularly surprised to find that we're doing it wrong. Not surprised at all. If you could show how the metric system prevents gay marriage or outlaws abortion, the US would be all over that shit.

    tfernando, you're right, of course. I withdraw the objection.

    Warner, sure, link away. I've been a little lean on the death threats lately, probably need to write another abortion post or something about Palin or an abortion post about Palin, yeah.

    "Why in the hell do I have to dial 1 for English" is probably the top search hit on Stonekettle Station, that and "Konlabos with a K."

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  26. ::sigh::

    I have to admit, it chaps my ass whenever somebody complains about fax machines.

    Not because I'd have one at home, but because there are areas--for instance, law and medicine--where paper documentation is still important, and where stabs at replacing paper records with electronic communications remain half-assed, possibly impractical, possibly undesirable, and raise assorted ethics question.

    Take a hypothetical Motion And Order For Bond Reduction, which might be signed by an attorney, an Assistant District Attorney and a judge and then faxed to the county jail. Or a release for medical records which said attorney might get his client or client's guardian to sign before faxing to the client's psychiatrist, whereupon the psychiatrist can fax back copies of his non-electronic records on said client.

    I won't say you couldn't ever do these things electronically--perhaps signatures will all become electronic, or maybe The-Powers-That-Be will give everyone a PIN that can appear somewhere on a virtual document--but the fact is that some social institutions are wedded to paper.

    Granted, some jurisdictions are allowing for the electronic filing of legal documents, and there's a push for converting medical documentation to all-electronic. But those things are far from universal, not-yet-implemented everywhere, and in some situations the problem isn't purely technological or budgetary--there are statutory and/or professional privacy and ethics issues that are still being grappled with by various regulatory authorities.

    And so those of us who toil in those fields like our fax machines not because we want to like them but because we have no other choice right now.

    As for digital photography: funny thing about that is that being able to shoot to a memory card is what's made it possible to get into photography. Digital processing is cheap, I can shoot as much as I want and delete the failures and re-use the memory card nearly indefinitely, and messing with the images on my computer is a helluva lot more practical and economical than converting a bathroom to a photo lab and storing toxic chemicals by the gallon.

    But what's the first thing I nearly always do with an image when I have it up on my computer screen? Used to be I added ersatz "film grain" by hand, 'til I found a pretty good script that does it for me.

    Film grain. Fake film grain. Because it's pretty. Because when you look at a real photograph closely, what you notice is those subtle imperfections in the medium that make it look natural, that give it a kind of life.

    And digital sound? I'm not going to knock it, not entirely--I've taken to skipping CDs altogether, a lot of times, and just downloading music from Amazon.com. But in terms of recording, which I don't really do anymore, I miss tape. I understood tape, which is part of it, better than I understand the hard drive mixer/recorder I have in storage. But also: analog is warm, Jim. When analog clips, it saturates the tape and you get groovy distortion. When digital clips, it squawks. And when it squawks, you also have nothing--there are ways you can salvage low-level analog distortion, but digital distortion is just a bunch of ones, a lot of irretrievably lost data.

    So, in short: ambivalence about digital media.

    ingfr: subdivision of Oceana's bureaucracy charged with oversight of territories formerly identified as Great Britain and Western Europe--"After the MOI released Winston, he briefly worked as a filing clerk for INGFR, before his ultimate, final disappearance in 1986."

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  27. About... gosh ... 10 or 15 years ago, I went to a California Bar convention, and some guy stood up in front of the assembled with a digital camera and said, "This is the end of photographic evidence as we know it."

    He overstated things, of course -- the legal system is getting by OK with digital photographs, as a general matter. But you can't question the authenticity of a film picture in the same way that you can argue a digital photo may have been photoshopped. I think there's still a place for film -- much like Eric's point about faxed signatures -- when you really need objective evidence of what you've seen.

    Landlines can go, though -- I ditched my landline for a Magicjack about a year back, and though the call quality isn't always as good, it's worth the cost savings. And I no longer have any use for AM radio since my news and traffic station became "the new home for Dr. Laura."

    "Pranter" -- reindeer formerly employed by Santa Clause; now works with Dennis Miller.

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  28. Well that's just typical, trust the lawyers to screw up progress.

    ;)

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  29. And doctors, Jim. Don't forget the doctors.

    ploom: the sound made by an exploding mattress factory.

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  30. Sadly, I can't help you here, I'm not a big "move on to something new just because it's new" kind of guy. I listen to AM radio because I don't have to pay a monthly fee and there is a good local station on it.

    I don't use faxes but when we refinanced our house and the company was in a different state I had to dig the old fax machine out of the closet and fire it up. I think it would be nice not to need it but frankly I don't trust 100% digital signatures. I'm not that computer-literate but I've created my own digital signature and signed Word docs with it and thus it basically means nothing. Until there is a foolproof way of generating a digital sig we are going to have to fax.

    I have a landline and use it for 90% of all calls, I have a cheap all-you-want-everywhere calling plan and never have to worry about if my minutes are off-peak.

    and I have no interest in downloading or streaming movies into my computer, why would I want to watch a movie on a 22" monitor when my 70" is in the next room - yes I could set up a whole wireless network in my house and then spend the next 5 years trying to explain to my family how to watch a simple movie - its bad enough now that I have 5 remote controls and I use 1 button on each one.

    Seriously, to switch from dvd to broadcast takes 16 button pushes on 3 different remotes- I have to switch aspect ratios, switch inputs and of course I can't just select the input, I have to scroll (slowly) down the list of inputs that have never been used. The DVD "universal" remote handles 10,000 different kinds of TV's - except mine - same for the satellite remote and the TV remote. Yes I can go and purchase an aftermarket universal "learning" remote but I shouldn't have to.

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  31. Mark, We got my grandmother a Logitech Universal remote for Christmas, and it's FABULOUS--it truly is universal and it's really easy to set up AND you can create your own commands, such as turning on closed captioning every time you turn on the TV, and turning OFF closed captioning every time you turn on the DVD player.

    intlea = one of those damned word shortenings for how smart someone is.

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  32. Michelle, I hate my Logitech universal remote, the damned buttons are so small I cant press just one with my big fingers, it's the same reason I hate text messeging on my cell.

    colaccer: playing soccer with a coke can.

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  33. Thodor, this one has giant buttons and a touch screen--the goal was something my grandmother could easily use. (Buttons and controls are bigger than those on the individual components.)

    Of course, it was not an inexpensive purchase, but she should now be able to watch DVDs and the satellite TV and also listen to the radio. Previously, about half the time she could watch DVDs, and that's about it.

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  34. Can we get rid of pennies, please? Everyone just round up or down to the nearest nickel and get rid of those damned things. The check writers will love it ;)


    breflu - sniffles, sore throat, gut aches, and fever over your lunch break. 'Course, it might have been the 4 chili dogs you just wolfed down...

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  35. Pennies, yeah, good call. The damned copper costs more than the stupid things are worth. The US Mint looses money stamping out pennies.

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  36. Michelle, Thodr, I have the Harmony all in one remote. Works great, sounds similar to what Michelle is describing and I can program the thing by plugging it via USB into my computer and then going to the Harmony website. Simple and easy and you can hook dozens of complex scripts to a single button push. I wouldn't want to be without it.

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  37. Checks come in handy when your wallet has been stolen and you're waiting for two weeks for your new debit cards, but you can't wait to pay bills or buy groceries or purchase medicine for your pet.

    Not that I have any first hand knowledge of that.

    Also, I like to listen to The Stephanie Miller Show while I'm getting ready for work in the morning. Guess what? It's on AM.

    But I have no landline and use on online fax service when I need to send something that requires a fax. Just scan in signed forms and send it on over. Then again, I live in a high population area. Cell reception isn't much of an issue here.

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  38. C.E.

    Just try using a check in a NYC store without three forms of valid I.D., fingerprints, a DNA sample, retinal scan and E.E.G.

    Your check here without the rest of the stuff in your wallet would be useless.

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  39. I'm breaking myself of the landline habit- along with television. I finally got a converter box, only to realize there was nothing I cared to watch, no matter how many digital channels it was spread over.

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  40. There's a fax-by-email service that you can even get for free if you don't mind giving people an out-of-state number.

    Also, I have DSL but don't have a land line - I only have a cell phone.

    Some places that accept your debit card have a receipt-by-email service.

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  41. I know I'm a bit late to the game here; this is like leaving a comment on Benjamin Franklin's blog, just to say, "Hey. Dood. that electricity thing of yours turned out to be really COOL!" However, I'm noob here, and still familiarizing myself with the lay of the land. I thought it would be worthwhile to mention that at least a couple of the things mentioned in your post have been (or are being) addressed.

    #1. The fax thing. Seriously. If someone asked me for my fax number, they'd end up giving up & walking away in shame long before I stopped laughing. He wants to keep a paper copy? Okaaaay. Print out your paper copy, stuff it into your 'Archaeologists will laugh at me one day' file & then email the doc to me, perhaps?
    Or, you can just sign up for a Google Phone account & give 'em that number. The beauty of it is, once they've dialed your number to deliver their fax, you can then direct them into a contact list reserved for vinyl siding salesmen, televangelists & the nutcase who's been calling you for three years thinking that just once, the person who had your number prior to you will answer.

    #2. The can thing. That's the main reason I'm responding here, because I first saw this just a couple of weeks ago. Me likey. Me wanty:

    http://daily-gadget.com/gizmodo/2011/01/06/this-soup-is-cooking-in-its-packaging-wireless/

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  42. Yeah, it's a little late, but your riff on checks reminded me. XKCD recently pointed out: If you want to buy a gun, you have to show your ID. If you want to pay for that gun by check, you have to show TWO forms of ID.

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