TheCapitol.netCoursesConvenience LearningCustom TrainingPublicationsFaculty & AuthorsClientsStoreClient Care

Technology Archives

Why is Amazon insisting that its retail sellers break the law? must provide its retail sellers with the means to collect state sales tax on sales that are shipped to addresses in the retailer's state.

It is simply unbelievable that an allegedly sophisticated technology company like Amazon can not find a way to allow its retailers to comply with the law.

Why is Amazon insisting that its retail sellers break the law?

Also see this:

Orwellian? - "I'm a big fan of the Amazon Kindle, and think that electronic book readers are the future. But behavior such as that described on David Pogue's New York Times blog can do much to alienate prospective readers"

We're not fans of the Kindle because Amazon does not make clear enough that you are not buying a Kindle book, you are only renting it. And as this situation makes clear, what Amazon gives (or "sells"), Amazon can take away. We prefer other ereaders, like the Sony 505, the Sony 700, and other ereaders.

Also see

Renting books on the Kindle - "I wish they'd just call these Kindle book transactions what they are, but I guess 'Rent now with 1-Click® until we decide to take it back from you or maybe not' doesn't fit neatly on a button."

July 19, 2009 02:37 PM   Link    Comments (0)

Nitrogen in tires

Costco uses nitrogen to inflate tires it installs. A green valve stem cap is used to indicate that the tire is filled with nitrogen. Costco will fill your tires for free if you are a member.

July 30, 2008 08:27 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Aftermarket tire-pressure monitoring systems

July 29, 2008 06:17 PM   Link    Comments (0)

Piaggio MP3 - article roundup

Piaggio MP3 250

"No Age Limit: The Lincoln Highway Ride," Bernard Rosenbaum and Bob Chase cross the USA, from San Francisco to Times Square, on MP3 500s June 13 - June xx, 2008.

"First Ride: Piaggio MP3 400 and 500," by Jeremy Korzeniewski, AutoblogGreen, May 27, 2008

"Piaggio MP3 400: Not just a third wheel," by The Car Family, May 19, 2008

"2008 Piaggio MP3 400 Review: Three-wheeled scoot always draws a crowd," by Brad Puetz,, May 15, 2008

"Piaggio MP3 500ie: MD Ride Review . . .The Italians Trike Back," by Barry Winfield, Copyright Motorcycle Daily, April 10, 2008

"Piaggio MP3 Scooter...not your father's Vespa," by Adam Richardson, cnet, March 12, 2008

"2008 Piaggio MP3 500: Legendary scooter manufacturer launches two new three-wheelers," by Arv Voss, SFGate, March 8, 2008

"Review: Piaggio MP3 Scooter," by Brett Solomon, e-Gear, March 7, 2008

"2008 Piaggio MP3 500 Test Drive: Clever Trike Delivers 60 MPG, Tons of Fun," by Basem Wasef, Popular Mechanics, February 27, 2008

"Piaggio MP3 400 Test ride," Cafe Moto Vespa Club, February 8, 2008

"Piaggio MP3 Three-Wheel Scooter Review," by Jess, Modern Vespa, December 18, 2006

"Piaggio MP3: the hooligan scooter?" The Biker Gene, December 4, 2007

"2007 Piaggio MP3: Italian scooter is three-wheeled wonder," by Arv Voss, San Francisco Chronicle, December 1, 2007

"Gilera Fuoco - Sex On Three Wheels - First Ride: Piaggio's Wet Dream," by Roland Brown, Motorcyclist (July 2007)

"Piaggio MP3 400 ie," 2 Stroke Buzz, June 13, 2007

"Review of the Piaggio MP3," by David L. Harrington,, June 2007

"Piaggio MP3 400," by Brad Puetz, Two Wheel Freaks, May 5, 2008

"Piaggio MP3: A love triangle you can live with," Jim Palms, Sound Rider, Spring 2007

"Piaggio MP3 Scooters Getting Good Reviews," by Paul Crowe, The Kneeslider, April 30, 2007

"A three-wheeled extravaganza! Piaggio MP3, VentureOne, KTM X-Bow and Can-Am Spyder," AutoblogGreen, February 23, 2007

"The Can-Am Spyder and Piaggio MP3 are trikes for the big kids," by Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2007

"Piaggio's MP3 Positioned As Practical Scooter For Earth-Lovers," Marketing Daily, January 23, 2007

"The Piaggio MP3: The Three Wheeler, With Two Front Wheels!" by Tasha Crook,, January 10, 2007

"Three-Wheeled Suspense," by Matthew Conkley, Popular Science, 2007

"Piaggio MP3 Three-Wheel Scooter Review," by Jess, Modern Vespa, December 18, 2006

"3-wheel scooter for the young and hip: Piaggio's new scooter puts two wheels in front for better stability and handling." By Peter Valdes-Dapena,, September 26, 2006

"Piaggio MP3: Three Wheels Better Than Two," Gizmodo, May 17, 2006

"Piaggio 3 Wheel MP3 Scooter," by Paul Crowe, The Kneeslider, May 11, 2006


June 21, 2008 01:37 PM   Link    Comments (0)

Comprehensive list of low-cost ultraportables

Roundup of light weight ultrpaortable computers, including the Asus Eee PC, Everex Cloudbook, HP Mini-Note, and forthcoming MSI Wind and Acer.

"Comprehensive list of low-cost ultraportables," from Lilliputing

. . . . . . . . .

April 25, 2008 07:27 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Piaggio MP3 250 - 3 wheel scooter

The Piaggio MP3 250 is a 3-wheeled scooter with 2 front wheels, increasing stability.

See also "Article Roundup," June 21, 2008


. . . . . . . . .

February 20, 2008 09:17 AM   Link    Comments (1)

Technology in emerging economies

So how well are emerging economies using new technology, really? Hitherto, judgments have had to be based largely on anecdotes. Now the World Bank has supplemented the snapshot evidence with more comprehensive measures.

Take-off to tomorrow, and to yesterday
The bank has drawn up indices based on the usual array of numbers: computers and mobile phones per head, patents and scientific papers published; imports of high-tech and capital goods. In addition, it uses things such as the number of hours of electricity per day and airline take-offs to capture the absorption of 19th- and 20th-century technologies. It tops this off with measures of educational standards and financial structure, which show whether technology companies can get qualified workers and enough capital. The results, laid out last month in the bank's annual Global Economic Prospects report, measure technological progress in its broadest sense: as the spread of ideas, techniques and new forms of business organisation.

Technology so defined is fundamental to economic advance. Without it, growth would be limited to the contributions of increases in the size of the labour force and the capital stock. With it, labour and capital can be used and combined far more effectively. So it is good news that the bank finds that the use of modern technology in emerging economies is coming on in leaps and bounds.

Between the early 1990s and the early 2000s, the index that summarises the indicators rose by 160% in poor countries (with incomes per person of less than about $900 a year at current exchange rates) and by 100% in middle-income ones ($900-11,000). The index went up by only 77% in industrialised countries (with average incomes above $11,000), where technology was more advanced to start with. Poor and middle-income nations, the bank concludes, are catching up with the West.

The main channels through which technology is diffused in emerging economies are foreign trade (buying equipment and new ideas directly); foreign investment (having foreign firms bring them to you); and emigrants in the West, who keep families and firms in their countries of origin abreast of new ideas. All are going great guns.

"Of internet cafés and power cuts," The Economist, February 9, 2008

February 17, 2008 04:07 PM   Link    Comments (0)

Amazon reviewers and Web 2.0

I had imagined Amazon's customer reviews as a refuge from the machinations of the publishing industry: "an intelligent and articulate conversation ... conducted by a group of disinterested, disembodied spirits," as James Marcus, a former editor at the company, wrote in his memoir, Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut.

Given Amazon's lack of greater transparency, it's hard to judge the merits of the vote-swapping claims. What is clear is the corruptibility of democracy, Web 2.0-style.
. . .
This is not to say that a Top 10 ranking doesn't come with some sub rosa incentives for the reviewer. Free books, first and foremost; in an e-mail, Grady Harp told me he was "inundated with books from new writers and from publishers who know I love to read first works." This fall, when it invited select Top Reviewers to join its Vine program--an initiative, still in beta-testing, to generate content about new and prerelease products--Amazon extended the range of perks. "Vine Voices" like Mitchell and Harp can elect to receive items ranging from electronics to appliances to laundry soap. As long as they keep reviewing the products, Amazon's suppliers will keep sending them.

"Who Is Grady Harp? Amazon's Top Reviewers and the fate of the literary amateur." By Garth Risk Hallberg, Slate, January 22, 2008


. . . . . . . . .

January 31, 2008 09:27 AM   Link    Comments (0)

"Wi-Fi Users, Beware"

Next time you are sitting in a hotel lobby checking email on your laptop, be careful: The "businessman" in the next lounge chair may be tracking your every move.

Many Wi-Fi users don't know that hackers posted at hot spots can steal personal information out of the air relatively easily. And savvy criminal hackers aren't settling for just access to credit cards, bank accounts and other personal financial information; they love to sneak into your company's network, too.

Whether you're using a Wi-Fi hot spot at a hotel, airport or cafe, "you've got to assume that anything you are doing is being monitored," says Shawn Henry, deputy assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's cybercrimes division.

"Wi-Fi Users, Beware: Hot Spots Are Weak Spots. That Guy Across the Lobby May Be Invading Your Laptop; How to Go Online More Safely," by Joseph de Avila, The Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2008 ($ - subscription required)

. . . . . . . . .

January 16, 2008 09:07 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Very small cars - Peel from the Isle of Man, Moonbeam from Maine

Top Gear Peel P50 Report - The Smallest Production Car

Peel Trident & P50

The Moonbeam


November 17, 2007 08:47 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Design for the Other 90%

On view in the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, this exhibition highlights the growing trend among designers to create affordable and socially responsible objects for the vast majority of the world's population (90 percent) not traditionally serviced by professional designers. Organized by exhibition curator Cynthia E. Smith, along with an eight-member advisory council, the exhibition is divided into sections focusing on water, shelter, health and sanitation, education, energy and transportation and highlights objects developed to empower global populations surviving under the poverty level or recovering from a natural disaster.

Design for the Other 90% is an exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

The Q drum

"The real stars of the show, though, are the stories behind the designs." microscopiq, May 17, 2007

They don't need a handout. What they need is an opportunity.
. . .
A poor person actually only cares about one thing: making more money. If they have more money, they can get ahead, take their family out of poverty.
-- Martin Fischer, Kickstart International
The introductory video also provided an opportunity to explore an additional range of themes that may not be as apparent, running through the exhibition and this area of design: open source options, leapfrog technology, economic impacts, community building, testing and end-user research, low-cost innovations, social enterprise, humanitarian entrepreneurship, improved democracies and multiple calls to action.

"In Their Own Words," Design for the Other 90% blog, May 14, 2007

Design for the Other 90% (web site), an exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum through September 23, 2007. Cooper-Hewitt, web site, 2 East 91st Street, New York, NY, M-Th 10 am - 5 pm, F 10 am - 9 pm, Sat 10 am - 6 pm, Sun Noon - 6 pm. $ Admission fee.


May 23, 2007 10:07 PM   Link    Comments (0)

How do you order a burger, fries, and a milkshake in a library?

How do you order a burger, fries, and a milkshake in a library?


An excellent use of YouTube for marketing.

March 8, 2007 07:47 PM   Link    Comments (0)

Creative Zen Vision:M

A friend asked for advice on an MP3 player. Although we don't own one, we have read many positive reviews of the Creative Zen Vision:M. Froogle prices. Don't forget to get the silicone skin, AC adapter, and some screen protectors.

. . . . . .

December 9, 2006 12:27 PM   Link    Comments (0)

eBay buyers beware

There is a new scam on eBay. Analagous to phishing scams, except these are on eBay itself.

We have seen 2 listings that when clicked, took us off eBay and to an eBay sign in page that looked identical to the eBay sign in. Except the sign in page was hosted on a non-eBay site.

So beware: before signing in to your eBay account after clicking on a listing on eBay itself, check the URL in your browser address line to make sure it is Plus, a genuine eBay listing does NOT require that you sign in again to view the listing.

eBay does offer the eBay Toolbar, which has eBay's Account Guard built in.

Bottom line: be careful when looking at listings on eBay and be sure you only sign in to eBay on the eBay web site.

August 7, 2006 11:36 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Ethanol / Back Up Energy Usage


[Vinod Khosla, who helped found Sun Microsystems] is particularly enthused by “cellulosic” ethanol, a highly efficient way of making fuel from agricultural waste. President Bush touted this new technology in his recent state-of-the-union speech, suggesting that it may come to market in six years. In typically impatient form, Mr Khosla wants to halve that gestation period.
. . .
Mr Khosla is convinced that “this fuel is greener, cheaper, more secure than gasoline--and this shift won't cost the consumer, automakers or the government anything.” There are undoubted attractions to ethanol. But making the switch will surely not be as easy or cheap as he suggests. Retail distribution is one obvious problem: fewer than a thousand petrol stations in America sell the most desirable blend of ethanol fuel today. Expanding infrastructure will cost money and take time, and the oil industry is not exactly enthusiastic. And cellulosic technology, which seems so promising today, may take much longer than expected to achieve commercial scale, or might fail altogether.

What is more, the OPEC cartel is suspected by some of engineering occasional price collapses to bankrupt investment in alternative energy. Mr Khosla concedes that after he made his ethanol pitch at this year's Davos meeting, a senior Saudi oil official sweetly reminded him that it costs less than a dollar to lift a barrel of Saudi oil out of the ground, adding: “If biofuels start to take off we will drop the price of oil.”

"A healthier addiction: Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley billionaire, who wants to save the world from oil," The Economist, March 23, 2006

Back Up Energy Usage

Strange though it seems, a typical microwave oven consumes more electricity powering its digital clock than it does heating food. For while heating food requires more than 100 times as much power as running the clock, most microwave ovens stand idle—in “standby” mode—more than 99% of the time. And they are not alone: many other devices, such as televisions, DVD players, stereos and computers also spend much of their lives in standby mode, collectively consuming a huge amount of energy. Moves are being made around the world to reduce this unnecessary power consumption, called “standby power”.

"Pulling the plug on standby power: Energy: Billions of devices sitting idle in “standby” mode waste vast amounts of energy. What can be done about it?" The Economist, March 9, 2006

Executive Order 13221-Energy Efficient Standby Power Devices (3-page pdf)


. . . . . .

April 11, 2006 06:57 AM   Link    Comments (0)

"First Hill Hearing To Be 'Live-Blogged'"

The rise of blogs within Washington made this breaking news inevitable: A House subcommittee for the first time will make room for citizen journalists to "live-blog" a congressional hearing.

The International Relations Subcommittee on Global Human Rights, Africa and International Operations will hold the hearing Wednesday at 10 a.m., and the topic is most appropriate. The panel will examine the role that U.S. companies like Google and Yahoo play in filtering Internet content in countries like China.

"First Hill Hearing To Be 'Live-Blogged'," Beltway Blogroll, February 13, 2006


Congressional Directory 2006
Congressional Directory 2006

February 14, 2006 12:07 AM   Link    Comments (0)

How NOT to use the Internet

The staff of U.S. Rep Marty Meehan wiped out references to his broken term-limits pledge as well as information about his huge campaign war chest in an independent biography of the Lowell Democrat on a Web site that bills itself as the "world's largest encyclopedia," The Sun has learned.

The Meehan alterations on represent just two of more than 1,000 changes made by congressional staffers at the U.S. House of Representatives in the past six month.

"Rewriting history under the dome: Online 'encyclopedia' allows anyone to edit entries, and congressional staffers do just that to bosses' bios," by Evan Lehmann, The Lowell (Massachusetts) Sun, January 27, 2006

Wikipedia relies on its readers to create, expand and correct its one million entries on a variety of subjects, but the site's managers also keep track of the Internet addresses of those who make changes.
. . .
It has often been said that Congress acts like a bunch of high school students with a trillion-dollar budget. Now it appears that it also employs some staffers who haven't gotten over the locker-room prank phase of their adolescence.

"Congress Is an Internet Virus," by John Fund, OpinionJournal, January 31, 2006

And kids, don't do it from home, either.

If you want to learn about some of the proper and effective uses of the Internet ...

Media Relations Handbook for Agencies, Associations, Nonprofits and Congress, by Brad Fitch
Media Relations Handbook for Agencies, Associations, Nonprofits and Congress, by Brad Fitch

February 1, 2006 06:27 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Back up your data ....

When Linda Cerniglia went back to school, it took her almost seven years to get through all the prerequisites, the labs, the research. And it took a thief just moments to grab her purse, with the only copy of her master's thesis stored on a tiny jump drive inside.

For anyone who's ever obsessed about a project but forgotten to back up the data, watched a computer screen fizzle just before a deadline or left crucial documents in a cab -- here is a story about backing up, and moving forward.

It's about how Cerniglia almost went crazy, then took a deep breath and thought like a crook, acted like a cop and ended up in a big trash bin -- all in pursuit of her master's degree.

"Student Finds a Stolen Thesis by Thinking Like a Thief," by Susan Kinzie, The Washington Post, December 22, 2005

. . . . . . . . .

January 4, 2006 07:17 AM   Link    Comments (0)

What's in a SmarTrip card

SmarTrip card

dcist took a SmarTrip card apart and found:

the SmarTrip isn't just an RFID tag. It's also a Smart Card: an electronic identification card that performs calculations on its own. In SmarTrip's case, this means keeping track of the balance on your card — that's how the card can work on MetroBus. Because the balance is stored on the chip, there's no need for a network connection to a central database.
. . .
the rest of the card acts as an antenna — the card needs a pretty big one in order to gather enough charge for its return transmission. We estimated the antenna's length at around 40 inches.

"Dissecting the SmarTrip," dcist, December 14, 2005, with photos.

We think we'll keep using ours in the card format....

Not sure how to use the subway in DC? See our page on "How to Use the Subway (Metrorail or "The Metro") in Washington, DC"

December 14, 2005 12:57 PM   Link    Comments (1)

Paperless Hill offices?

The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) tracks lawmakers’ spending habits, as well as the amounts each congressman returns from his or her MRA to the U.S. treasury at year’s end. The NTU will release its most recent study later this month.

Citing an early finding of the report, NTU spokesman Peter Sepp told The Hill that total House spending on printing and document reproduction rose to $16 million in 2004 from $11 million in 2003.

“This is a strange trend in a Congress that is supposedly committed to information-age technologies like BlackBerrys, e-mail and websites,” said Sepp.

"Lawmakers spend on big screens, popcorn," by Jonathan E. Kaplan and Mandy Kozar, The Hill, November 8, 2005

The paperless office has been discussed for years and hasn't arrived yet.

Far from ushering in a "paperless office," for example, computers, e-commerce, fax machines, and other information technologies have fueled paper demand, creating more "information consumers" who routinely print web pages, e-mails, and other verifications of electronic information.

"No End to Paperwork," Editor, Wendy Vanasselt, 1998, updated June 2001


. . . . . . . . .

November 9, 2005 01:35 PM   Link    Comments (0)

Cool Tool - Flight Tracking from FlightAware

FlightAware is "A free and powerful flight tracker that will change how you think about flight status, tracking, and analysis."

Check out this very cool movie ... "Animation of all flight movements tracked by FlightAware during a 24-hour period in September, 2005"

Live Flight Tracking: "View schedule and track activity for any private (IFR) or commercial flight. See scheduled, enroute, and recent flight activity for any airport."

via Lifehacker

November 8, 2005 12:05 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Politics and the Internet - potpourri

Reports and Articles


. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

November 7, 2005 06:30 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Photos through a microscope

BoingBoing describes the winner of this year's Nikon Small World Photomicrography Contest: "this first-prize entry of a fly's face at very high magnification is magnificently squicky." October 27, 2005.

Muscoid fly (house fly) (6.25x), by Charles Krebs
Muscoid fly (house fly) (6.25x), by Charles Krebs, Charles Krebs Photography, Issaquah, WA

We also like the 15th place winner:

Geranium flower (20x), by Dr. Shumel Silberman

Geranium flower (20x), by Dr. Shumel Silberman, Ramat Gan, Israel

The 2006 Small World Calendar is available for purchase here.


. . . . . . . . .

October 29, 2005 07:17 AM   Link    Comments (0)

"Block Flash popups in Firefox"

Here’s a great tip from Pete Bevin (via Dvorak) if, like me, you’ve been seeing a rash of popup windows in Firefox recently. It turns out these are being generated via Flash and escape the popup blocking in the browser.

”It turns out that some clever people figured out that you could launch popups from Flash, getting around the Firefox default settings.

Fortunately, you can get around it:

To find out how to turn these annoying Flash popups off, read the post "Block Flash popups in Firefox," theofficeweblog, October 19, 2005

October 24, 2005 09:06 PM   Link    Comments (0)

Congressional Bloggers

How many Members of Congress have blogs? We count nine.

We have a list here. If you know of others, please post in the comments or send us an email: hobnobblog -at-

Also See

"How Congress Uses Blogs," from Congress Online Newsletter (Congressional Management Foundation), July 1, 2005

"A Capitol Hill Presence in the Blogosphere: Lawmakers Try to Balance Value of Openness With The Medium's Blunt Tone," by Brian Faler, The Washington Post, October 11, 2005; Page A15

October 21, 2005 09:31 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Google Print - AAP Sues Google

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Google over its plans to digitally copy and distribute copyrighted works without permission of the copyright owners. The lawsuit was filed only after lengthy discussions broke down between AAP and Google’s top management regarding the copyright infringement implications of the Google Print Library Project.

The suit, which seeks a declaration by the court that Google commits infringement when it scans entire books covered by copyright and a court order preventing it from doing so without permission of the copyright owner, was filed on behalf of five major publisher members of AAP: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Pearson Education, Penguin Group (USA), Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons.

"Publishers Sue Google Over Plans To Digitize Books," press release, Association of American Publishers, October 19, 2005

We are experimenting with Google Print and have made four titles available:

We are cautiously optimistic that the increased exposure online will lead to more sales of our books.

October 19, 2005 05:38 PM   Link    Comments (0)

"Air Force testing new transparent armor"

The US Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is testing a new kind of transparent armor, clear aluminum aluminum oxynitride, that can stop hardcore .30 and .50 caliber armor-piercing bullets.

"Transparent armor," BoingBoing, October 19, 2005 (with link to AF press release)

October 19, 2005 05:28 PM   Link    Comments (0)

SAFE: Design Takes On Risk - at MoMA

Just in time for the wave of catastrophes plaguing our fragile planet, some top designers unveil a series of aesthetically pleasing objects that could be handy in dangerous situations, from the banal to the apocalyptic. . . . Directly inside the entrance to the exhibit stands a paper home that could withstand the huffing and puffing of the breathiest big bad wolf. Two people can assemble the fire-resistant Global Village Shelter in 15 minutes, unfolding it like a giant work of origami.

"Designer Gear for the Apocalypse," by Aaron Dalton, Wired News, October 17, 2005

From MoMA:

SAFE: Design Takes On Risk, the first major design exhibition at MoMA since its reopening in November 2004, presents more than 300 contemporary products and prototypes designed to protect body and mind from dangerous or stressful circumstances, respond to emergencies, ensure clarity of information, and provide a sense of comfort and security. These objects address the spectrum of human fears and worries, from the most mundane to the most exceptional, from the dread of darkness and loneliness to the threat of earthquakes and terrorist attacks.

SAFE: Design Takes On Risk, MoMA, October 16, 2005 - January 2, 2006, 11 West 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, New York, 212-708-9400


NYC Subway MTA map | Straphangers interactive map | schedules | HopStop

October 18, 2005 09:58 AM   Link    Comments (0)