December 3, 2001-- Newsletter #159

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
December 3, 2001--Newsletter #159

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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Did you hear...

If you bought that young one in your family the Cozy Coupe Computer Mouse, then take it back. The U.S. government is issuing a recall of over 49,000 of the toy car mouse sets. It seems the trackball can pop loose and cause a choking hazard.

Look for Web-heads to start using Sony's Elio card soon. The Elio card has a microchip that, when used at sites that accept it, makes online shopping as quick as a swipe or a wave. The cards should start coming into circulation in April.

You think your stock options have tanked? Scott Blum has reacquired for, get this, 17 cents a share. Oh well, it's said that this season should be great for online buyers.

It's been announced that Microsoft has started selling a version of Windows XP, named "Embedded," to companies for use in ATMs and slot machines. Bally's is already on board putting the system into one-armed bandits. Does this mean we're going to soon see commercials with flying ATMs as Madonna croons?

Some hackers broke into and emailed subscribers their credit card numbers and expiration dates. Woah. Someone really does get Playboy for something other than the pictures. I'm an article man myself. I am most concerned with what fashions are on for this Holiday season. I'll be partying at Hef's. Then I won't.

Now on to today's topic...

No. No. No. No. No! That's just not right!

Sorry. I have to vent. I know it's going to make me look like a bad guy, but it's bugging me.

Some things should not be digital.

I just read an article on USA Today Tech that proclaims that Harvard (pronounce that Hah-vahd) is going to send out acceptances to students via email.

No. No. No. No. No! That's just not right!

Yes. I know it's expedient. Yes. I know it's good for getting quick return acceptances. Yes. I know it good for students living in foreign countries, but it's not right.

Half the fun of applying to college is getting that letter, in that crisp envelope, turning it over and over in your hand attempting to figure out if you'd been accepted. I always tried to figure it out by weight. The heavier the envelope, the more forms there were to fill out, thus I got in. The lighter envelopes contain only the words, "Sorry, don't show up in the Fall."

It just loses something when sent via email. I would think a university as steeped in tradition as Harvard would recognize that. It's not just them either. The same article proclaims Tufts, Rutgers, the University of Dayton and Northwestern, are also starting to send out email notifications. You most likely get a letter as well as the email, but the email arrives surely first. That's not right.

What exactly does the subject line read?

If it's something like, "Someone from Harvard wants to speak with you," it'll get killed off as dirty-site Spam.

And another thing, digital family photos aren't being sent to me via the mail any more. I am getting them via email. I used to get a nice Olan Mills snapshot in the mail, pull it out of the envelope, comment about the people and then put it up on the fridge with one of my many Elvis magnets.

Now I get them sent to me over the Web. I don't have a photo printer. Even if I did, I wouldn't print it because the shot has been compressed and it won't look very nice. If I do break down and print it on my Deskjet, I get a bunch of dots that, if you squint real hard, kind of look like my cousin Tom. He's a blond. He also likes to ski and snowmobile a lot. Shots with a lot of white in them don't print nicely.

Finally, and I'm going to catch all kind of heck for this, but what must be said, must be said.

Virtual greeting cards are not equals to real greeting cards.

Look, here's the thing. There are some holidays where virtual greeting cards are more than appropriate. They include Groundhog Day, Halloween, possibly Thanksgiving, a friend's birthdays, and most low-level Hallmark-created Holidays. However, these virtual cards are simply not equals to taking the time to go to the store, read the texts, pick out a winner, fill out the envelope, and drop it in the mail.

I'm sorry, but sending your mother a virtual card on Mother's Day should mean no stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner. I had a student proclaim that he was too busy to buy his Mom a card and that he would find time to send something from How's that strike you mothers out there?

There is an art to picking a card and taking the time to write something, don't just sign it, and send it off.

"But Joe," you might say, "Isn't it the thought that counts?"

Sure - next time your wife is having a birthday, send her a virtual card with the message, "I'm thinking of you." See what her reaction might be.

Virtual is OK. It's easy. It's free, but there are just some things that shouldn't be handled in an OK, easy, and free manner. Cards are one of them.

If you want to send a virtual card in tandem with a real card, go for it. Just don't rely on the OK, free, and easy to be the end all.

It's just like giving socks, underwear, or music from the late 1970s for Christmas.

No. No. No. No. No! That's just not right!


That's that. Thanks for reading the rant.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: It's generally agreed that the first Christmas card was created in 1843 by J.C. Horsley for Sir Henry Cole. Only 1000 copies were made of that first card. By 1880, the tradition had taken hold and the U.S. Post Office was asking people to please mail early for successful delivery before December 25th.

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