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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 3, 2000

Smart ring

Got a cell phone you don't use tucked away in a drawer somewhere? I don't suppose you'd have the charger, too, would you? The battery? Sweet! Box it up and send it to the Wireless Foundation, a non-profit that's itching to get its hands on your old mobile, no matter what state it's in. It will refurbish it and give it to victims of domestic violence. In addition to getting a tax receipt, your old phone could change somebody's life for the better. Now that's the smartest call you could make.

Brit shoppers 1, U.S. shoppers 0

Who would have thunk it? Those jammy Brits are getting free PalmPilots with which to order their groceries. They tap in their items, get suggestions on others, sync the Pilot and casually stroll to the store the next day to pick up their goodies. Sure, it costs a few bucks to place the order but wouldn't you go for it if it were offered here? A few weekends ago I found myself in St. Augustine and playing with a self-service checkout in a grocery store. It's a step in the right direction, and let's hope the U.S. chains are watching this online ordering thing with hawk-like attention.

Aural empowerment

Seeing this version of Linux for the visually impaired reminded me of an impromptu online conversation I had with a young guy who had been blind since birth. As I typed, my words were read back to him via a speech synthesizer. Very cool. He had gotten the computer bug but found Windows to be unusable. When it crashes, you can't see what's going on. He found that the text-orientation of Linux was right up his alley. It seems that somebody's officially put together a version of Linux called ZipSlack and you can read more about it here.

Technology for good or evil?

If you had a device capable of capturing a couple of week's worth of keystrokes, how would you use it? Would you give it to a writer who would be devastated by the loss of a creative stream? Or would you put it on your boss' PC to capture confidential information? Perhaps the ethical question is more interesting than the device itself -- especially considering its inconspicuous size. Personally I'd use it for good and watch how my editor's little mind works as he whittles away my column each week.

The RAM is next to the chicken bones

Remember that old Apple computer ad campaign, "What's in your PowerBook?" If Macs are defined as the tool of the creative elite by their content, then PCs really are the computer for the rest of us if this page is to be believed. Chuckle as it brings tech support jokes to life and illustrates what not to load into your personal computer.

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