Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Smell Ya Later

Just saw this one in one of the media blogs I read:
Japan's NTT is out to make the world smell better, one cell phone at a time, with a new service that lets users download scents with the ringtones and images they get from the I-Mode mobile Web site.

According to mocoNews, during the cellco's 10-day trial of the Mobile Fragrance Communication service, consumers can download a "Fragrance Playlist." The fragrance data gets transferred from the phone to a dedicated device that's pre-loaded with base fragrances, which then combine to create the requested scent. The fragrance is then dispensed from the device as the accompanying audio or video file is played on the phone.

A non-mobile version of the Fragrance Communication service is already in use in homes and movie theaters in Japan.
I want to know what the scents are. If this eradicates body odor and bad breath in the future I’m all for it. I’ve spent too many afternoons smothered under some construction worker’s sweaty, skunky arm pit on the 'L.

Where do I buy stock in this company?

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Generation

My generation's attachment to our youth is odd considering our youth was practically yesterday. For as much as we rapidly embrace new technology, iPods, widgets, blogs, GPS, we still clutch onto our childhood toys with white knuckles.

I've read some reports of twentysomethings paying exorbitant sums for pieces of their past. Also, our tech-savvy generation has modified retro gadgetry to embrace new-fangled doodads. I present exhibit A, B and C:

Left: A NES wallet.
Center: A retro-fitted Sony Walkman case for your iPod.
Right: Some sort of computer fashioned out of an NES shell.

My sister, who lives on her own and has embraced capitalism, keeps it vintage with the original NES and Sega systems and our trove of games. The NES still demanded the requisite scientific blowing on game cartridges to coerce them into submission. Unlike today's systems that rarely falter, the old school systems required finesse.

Until recently, the Nintendo was working as it always had, whether or not the game played was left to the Fates. My sister informed me that one night the NES sang its last polytone; displayed its last 8-bit graphic. It shorted out after more than 10 years of (shoddy) service. After some tears, my sis and her boyfriend set out on a quest to replace the irreplaceable. To Disc Replay they ventured. For the low price of $50, a new (old) Nintendo was purchased.

The value of a system seems to be modeling a U-curve. As you'll see on the graph above, the NES debuted, as I recall, with a price tag of about $100 in 1985 [Wikipedia says $200]. It was hip, revolutionary, the future.

Then Sega came out in 1991. Dropping Nintendo's allure and price. With each passing year, new systems would come out that far surpassed the graphics and acoustics causing a Nintendo to be less of a demand. Funcoland -- not much emphasis on "fun" at that establishment -- refused to buy back Nintendos, Segas, [insert system name here]. That place should have been called "We Rob From Children."

But of late, used game retailers are peddling our past again.

We seem to be craving a piece of our youth as we enter adulthood. Call it an early-mid life crisis. Instead of a red convertible that may be out of our income bracket, we gather up our gadgets of yesteryear.

As we decide how much to put into a 401k and discover office politics aren't that different from those in elementary school, we search for pieces of our past.

We're like kids who just had their bottle taken away. We clamor until we get it back, whatever the cost. The difference is that unlike childhood years when a summer's savings from mowing lawns was needed to obtain the desired system, it now takes less than a day's pay.

So raise your sippy cup, which has something stronger than formula, to the days of simplicity and youth.

Everything Is Bracketable

Here's another long overdue post. Have you noticed that publications and Web sites establish all sorts of brackets about a month prior to March Madness?

Suddenly everything is bracketable: candy, celebrities, landmarks.

I suppose it is human nature to categorize things and establish what is best through head-to-head competitions.

Chicago Magazine had this to match up places to match up.

The Trib had daily battles where it urged readers to go to their site to voice their choice after the field had been narrowed down to two.

What we need now is the meta bracket pitting one bracket against another for the best bracket of brackets.

Overdue Program At The Libes

Just a quick note about an article I read in the March 31 Newsweek. Here's a snippet from the article:
Some libraries, including Portland's downtown branch, have already instituted an exclusion system to penalize bad behavior: one day for shaving in the bathroom, three years for fighting. But the Philadelphia Free Library, in partnership with Project H.O.M.E., a local nonprofit, has a more enterprising program. It pays homeless patrons to monitor the restrooms, and it plans to employ them at a new café. Participation in the program, like the library, is open to all.
At first read I thought how good this program in Philly is by empowering the homeless. Rather than having existing staff patrol the aisles of books, allow the homeless to police themselves. But then I thought of how this might further disrupt the situation. The library, unintentionally, will elevate those policing their fellow homeless to a new tier. Consequentially, I fear that power struggles will result where friends will have to turn each other in for misconduct.

It reminded me of the Stanford prison experiment (1971) conducted by Zimbardo where students were assigned roles of prisoners and guards. The guards quickly became authoritative and abusive.

Creating work for the homeless is a valuable and noble deed. Hopefully, the partnership will foster future opportunities for the homeless.