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Mindconnection eNL, 2007-06-17

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In this issue:

  1. Product highlight
  2. Brainpower tip
  3. Time tip
  4. Finance tip
  1. Security tip
  2. Health tip/Fitness tip
  3. Miscellany
  4. Thought for the day
 

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.

1. Product Highlight

Habla Espanol with whatever you want to say
After our last edition rolled out, we received a flood of questions on the ES800 (and quite a few purchases--thank you!).

If you still have questions on the 800 series, click on the image at right. This will take you to a page that provides detailed information the Spanish version. It truly is a remarkable and useful device.

 

One of its features is sentence translation. With this particular device (ES800), you get more than word for word transliteration. The device applies some rules to what you type, to render a more accurate translation. For example, if it sees an adjective followed by a noun, it will transpose them when translating to Spanish. This renders the correct Spanish syntax.

The sentence translation feature draws from the 1,010,000 word dictionary, giving you quite a bit of leeway for free-form entry of whatever you want to say. But if you aren't a fast thumb-typer (physical keyboard) or find it tedious to tap out sentences with a stylus (virtual keyboard), you will love the 14,000-sentence phrasebook. It has a collapsible hierarchical structure, making lookups fast and easy.

And, yes, the 800 is pocket-sized. Flip the lid shut, and the case is only 6.6 x 3.9 x 0.9 in. So, it fits into many kinds of pockets and bags with no problem.

The color touch screen, adjustable color schemes, and adjustable font sizes give you a readability edge that is currently available only on high-end devices. That said, it's "pretty good" visibility under most conditions--but still not where we'd all like our devices to be. I have no problem seeing my screen indoors, but outdoors is a booger unless you're in the shade (where I tend to be anyhow).

That's about as good as displays get for now. I read in last Month's Computer Magazine that a display based on some animal or another (a butterfly, if I recall correctly) will be available in a few years. It's still quite experimental, but things look promising. So maybe we'll have "see clearly in any light" portable devices a few years hence and at a cost that doesn't make us gasp. (Side note: Computer Magazine is a property of the IEEE Computer Society www.computer.org. I am the Chair of the Kansas City Chapter, which covers a geographic area of about 600 square miles).

Well, back to the 800. Another benefit is you can convert this device to any of several other languages, just by inserting an inexpensive MultiMedia Card (MMC). You can also use the MMC to store MP3s on, so you can play music on the translator (we offer a headset to go with it) while you travel instead of carrying an additional device just for that function.

People who are already touchscreen device users say they have nearly zero learning curve. The problem is not everyone is a touchscreen device user. This is a fine device to start out with, though. The good news is I personally provide one-on-one support for our customers who need any kind of help for any reason. So if you're not a gadget person, don't let that stand in the way of your communicating with people who don't speak English.

2. Brainpower tip

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.

-- Mark Twain



3. Time Tip



4. Finance tip

Due to popular demand, I am resuming and continuing the energy savings discussion from our 22APR2007 eNL.

One reason Americans consume so much energy (three times the energy of the Swiss, per capita) is our wasteful clothing maintenance practices. Front-loading home clothes washers have only recently been introduced to the US market in any respectable presence. A seldom-recognized culprit is the wasteful way we use our dryers.

Now, I'm going to tell you a couple of instances where my ignorance has cost me plenty of money and hope you can learn from my mistakes if you didn't know these things.

Instance #1

A friend from New Zealand visited me, and I was surprised when he pulled his shirts out of the dryer after only 10 minutes. They were still wet. He shook them and hung them up on the rack mounted to one wall in my laundry room.

I was thinking this was another guy who just isn't domesticated and his fiancÚ must handle these kinds of things at home. So, I mentioned that the shirts still looked damp to me and suggested he put them back in the dryer. He said, "Give these a few minutes, and we can come back here and continue this conversation."

Well, they were his clothes. What did I care if they weren't properly dried? As it turned out, the weight of that moisture pulled the shirts to almost wrinkle-free condition in just five minutes or so. When I marveled at this, he looked at me funny and asked, "Didn't your mom ever hang clothes on the line outside?"

Hmm. That, she did. And plenty of cotton items, too. Only dress shirts ever got ironed. "Where's your iron?" was his next question. I got it out, and went to get water for it. But, the water--which rusts irons out--wasn't needed because the shirts had enough moisture.

His method eliminated the energy loss of the extra dryer time. It also eliminated the reason most irons don't last long while reducing the amount of time the iron had to be hot. And, it extended the life of the fabric. His shirts took a few more hours to dry, but so what?

What about his other items? Things that didn't need ironing--basically everything but dress shirts--simply air dried on hangers or while hung over the sides of laundry baskets.

Instance #2

Now, you might think I understood the principles here and applied them across the board. Sadly, this was not the case. One day, I was shopping for new sheets when a man stopped to ask if he could help me. At first, I thought this was a clerk. Like I need help buying sheets--spare me. Then he introduced himself, and told me he was the regional buyer.

This immediately sparked the thought that I had a chance, as a customer, to get more of what I wanted stocked in that store. So, I told him I wanted the highest thread count sheets I could find but in a simple pattern. Like, just plain beige (to our female readers--it's a guy thing).

Being the sophisticated consumer that I was (ha, ha), I blurted out, "Do you have any 1,000 thread count sheets?"

He took a deep breath, then told me he had worked in the hotel industry and could tell me a lot about sheets if I wanted to know and wanted to get the right product.

Well, what the heck. I agreed.

He started off by asking me why I wanted such a high thread count. I said because the sheets last longer. He furrowed his brows and asked me if I had a problem with sheets falling apart or pilling or in some other way meeting their demise. Before I could answer, he said, "I'll bet you dry your sheets in the clothes dryer, don't you?"

Of course I did.

Then he asked, "Didn't your mom ever hang bedding on the line outside?" Deja vu!

He went on to tell me how heating distorts the fibers and causes breakdown in the material. "Do not put your sheets in the dryer. Hang them up. They will dry quickly enough, as they are designed to wick moisture away. We don't mind selling sheets to you, but we don't think you should be buying them simply because you are wrecking our merchandise in your dryer."

Applying the lessons

Plan your laundry chores such that you allow time and space for air drying your clothes and fibers. It is not necessary to dry everything completely. If you are really scared of putting away something that might be damp, set it on your dresser, chest, or other surface overnight and put it away in the morning. For example, go ahead and fold sheets but let them sit overnight before putting them in the closet.

In the winter, when adding humidity is essential, I dry many items by placing them across my floor registers. With pants, I position them such that the register air inflates them--they dry very quickly that way. (This may seem similar to how the Federal Reserve inflates your money, but that's an entirely different process).

Winter is also a time when certain rugs take on a great deal of dirt (this includes your floor rugs and William Shatner's toupee).

I wash these dirt-laden rugs at supper time, then run a small fan on low speed blowing across them until bedtime. They are usually dry by morning, and I get humidity that a dryer would simply have sent outside (along with air I had paid to heat up first).

If you take the time to examine how you do things, you can come up with less energy-intensive ways to do them. In summer, you can save energy by opening windows to get cool air at night or in the wee hours if the air is cool enough. Take care if you do this in the AM. The maximum pollen output time is, if I remember, between 0400 and 0900.

5. Security tip

We just had a break-in on my block. That was rather brazen, as we have quite a few folks who are out and about during the day, and the home without an armed occupant is rare around here. The burglars were also lucky to have missed getting a nasty canine surprise in a few homes, as well.

Unfortunately, many people rely on technology alone for their security or physical safety. This is a mistake.

The real effect of an alarm system, for example, is that it merely tells an intruder that s/he has less time than anticipated to conduct a burglary. Here's the general sequence of events:

  • Silent alarm goes off, maybe local one does also.
  • If phone line has not been cut or if alarm system operates wirelessly, it will call the alarm company after the preset waiting period. This is normally 45 seconds, but may be longer.
  • The alarm company gets the call, and after a few seconds a live operator places a call to the phone number listed on the alarm agreement.
  • If the burglar doesn't pick up and tell the alarm operator the code (which is nearly always 1234 because people are too lazy to change it or the first four digits of the house number), the operator will follow some protocol for an unanswered alarm followup.
  • Probably 3 to 4 minutes after the alarm is triggered, the alarm company operator notifies the police.
  • Because alarms trigger more false calls than actual ones, the police generally don't drop everything to respond. The burglar knows this, especially if the burglar has managed to get your system to trigger a couple of other false alarms in the past couple of weeks. The burglar counts on ten minutes before the police show up.
  • Because this is an unknown situation, the police generally will not approach the residence until a backup has arrived.

Do you see the pattern, here? People think an alarm protects their property. That's obviously not true. Nor is it true that the police are your private armed security force--there simply are not enough police to go around.

There is nothing wrong with having an alarm system. But make it part of an overall security plan for your home or business.

A final note on alarm systems. If you get more than one false alarm in a month and you can't positively verify who triggered it, consider that an early warning that you're being cased and a strike is probably going to happen soon. Your first line of defense is to upgrade your deadbolt locks and to secure your windows. This is especially important if one of these false alarms occurred while you were sleeping.

Of course, you know that this situation requires you to keep at least one firearm within easy reach (along with hearing protection, eye protection, and a flashlight). Within easy reach doesn't mean in the nightstand (requiring you to open a drawer), nor does it mean sitting out in plain sight. Under your pillow may sound ideal, but it's not--that's uncomfortable and you'll have to smell gun oil all night. One good solution for a pistol is to slip it into a gun rug and slip that just under your mattress skirt. (If your bed doesn't have a mattress skirt, get one. In addition to hiding a firearm from plain sight, it reduces dust accumulation under the bed).

Most experts will tell you a shotgun is the best weapon for home defense. But can you really grab one if some oaf has just jumped on you with a knife while you were sound asleep? A pistol makes a good addition to your home protection tool collection, for the same reason that police officers carry pistols on their hips instead of strapping shotguns to their belts.

If you are concerned about ruining your bedspread or carpeting by shooting an intruder who is on top of you with a knife, a long-barrel .44 Magnum makes for an effective club when brought sharply to the side of the attacker's head. But then, so does a 5-cell flashlight. Have both handy.

If you are traveling, don't leave firearms behind in your unoccupied home. You can leave them with your local police dept (they will be happy to store them for you) or with a neighbor.

Some people store firearms in a safe deposit box provided by their bank. This is probably not a good idea. Think about it. You are going to walk into a bank with a firearm? If this is what you intend, visit the bank and make an appointment to do this. The bank will probably arrange for a security officer to accept your (unloaded) weapon(s) outside and bring them in for you. Ditto for removing them. But your bank may outright refuse. There are other places to safely stow these personal protection devices during your absence.

Another option is to check the right to carry laws in the states you intend to visit (unless you are flying, in which case bringing your personal protection devices with is a huge hassle most people just won't go through), and bring your protective firearms with you. Many seniors opt for this practice, for obvious reasons.

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

7. Miscellany

  1. A dime has 118 ridges around the edge, but it still isn't worth much. The US CONgress has 435 members and isn't worth much, either.
     
  2. We don't run ads in our newsletter. We do get inquiries from advertisers, all the time. To keep this eNL coming, go to www.mindconnection.com and do your shopping from there (as appropriate).
     

  3. Please forward this eNL to others.

8. Thought for the Day

Anybody can make an excuse for a dumb decision. Making decisions based on sound reasoning, however, is a talent worth building by exercising it at every opportunity.

 

Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola
Mindconnection

Authorship

The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.

Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.

Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).

The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).

Personal note from Mark: I value each and every one of you, and I hope that shows in the diligent effort I put into writing this e-newsletter. Thank you for being a faithful reader.

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