Archive for January 27th, 2008

Steak ‘N Shake Manager Denies Drive-Thru Service To Deaf Mother [Customer Service]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Consumer Interest

Steak%20n%20Mock%20The%20Deaf%20Mother.jpgA Steak 'N Shake manager refused to serve Karen Plotz, a deaf mother of three, after she asked to place her order at the drive-thru window as allowed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The manager claimed it was "policy" to force Karen to order like any other customer:

"You'll have to drive around again so I can take your order through the speaker," the guy said.

"I can't hear back there, so I'll need you to take my order here," I explained.

"No, it's our policy. You'll have to just drive around and tell me your order and then I can take your order."

"I can't use the speaker, which is why I'm at the window giving you my order here!" I started raising my voice a little, as I was getting frustrated at the hoops he was putting me through.

So I told him about the Americans with Disabilities Act and I explained that taking orders through the window is an accommodation that I need because I can't use the speaker to place an order.

He kept insisting that orders need to be taken at the speaker. "If you had just let me know at the speaker that you needed accommodations then I could take your order through the window."

"But I'm DEAF! I can't hear on the speaker! When I drove up, the first thing that I told you was that I couldn't order back there because I can't hear through the speaker."

"No, you didn't tell me that," he said. "If you had told me about your disability then I could have accommodated you."

I sat there flabbergasted. I was getting more upset by the minute. All I wanted was the dang shakes! Then another car pulled up behind us.

"Look, if you're not going to take my order, I'm going to file a complaint and let the corporate office know about this."

"Well, I can call the cops on you for disrupting the business and holding up the drive thru."

"You're going to call the cops on me? I'm just trying to get service here!"

"I'm done with you." He abruptly shut the window, threw up his hands and walked away.

Steak 'N Shake's corporate overlords have apologized to Karen and asked to arrange meeting with the thoughtless manager. Karen wants the manager to apologize, which given the circumstance, is quite reasonable. A few free milkshakes wouldn't hurt either.

Steak and Shake Denies Service [A Deaf Mom Shares Her World]
(Photo: hkboyee)


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Omni Directional Wheels Make Parallel Parking and Donuts Easy [Clips]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

While we've already been impressed by Lexus' self-parking car, we're even more intrigued by a good omni directional wheel design. We're not certain of the source behind this video, but whoever worked on this project really needs to get in touch with Ford, Honda and our insurance adjuster ASAP. Just imaging the perfectly round donuts you could create with a full-sized version...or how much more fulfilling cutting off that jackass in the other lane at a 90-degree angle would be. [uberreview]


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Experience Great Travel for Less Money [Travel]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Uncategorized

plane.jpgTake the trip of your dreams for a lot less money simply by motivating yourself to search for the best prices. Nowadays, you can book airfare and a hotel—often in package deals—from the convenience of your home computer. Look into loyalty or rewards clubs for additional discounts. While you could do everything online with a simple click, it may be advisable to call the hotel directly and form a relationship with the hotel staff. Another suggestion is to take a trip during the off-season. As an added benefit, at many famous attractions, the lines are a lot shorter! Finally, while this advice might make those who plan ahead antsy, you may be able to book the cheapest deals at the last minute. Of course, if you don't want to spend any money at all, you can experience the benefits of travel without actually leaving your home, but if you're looking to get out, shop around and you will find. Photo by kevincollins.

Travel for Less Money This Year [CodePink.org]


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Sony Ericsson Adds 5 Million New Tracks to PlayNow Arena [Music]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

image_196.jpgWe all knew that Sony Ericsson would be expanding their PlayNow over the air music service and dub it PlayNow arena (and no, for whatever reason "arena" is not capitalized). Today it's official, and as expected, Sony Ericsson has added TrackID to the service, allowing users to ID and snag songs off of radio broadcasts.

But in addition, PlayNow arena will have 5 million new songs added to their old library through agreements with Sony BMG (of course), Warner Music Group, EMI, The Orchard, IODA, The PocketGroup, Hungama, X5 Music, Bonnier Amigo and VidZone. That's a lot of music to add for a day's work...especially when you consider iTunes' library is just 6 million songs or so.

For all the details, we've posted the full press release after the jump.

Sony Ericsson expands PlayNow(TM) arena with 5 million new tracks

Signs deals with 10 major record labels to broaden content offer and bring enhanced PlayNow(TM) service to consumers

Cannes, France - 27th January - Sony Ericsson today unveiled the next stage in the evolution of PlayNow(TM) arena, its popular over-the-air (OTA) download service. At the MIDEM conference in Cannes, Sony Ericsson announced deals with 10 major record labels, adding over 5 million new tracks to its extensive catalogue. Sony Ericsson also unveiled the design and URL for PlayNow(TM) arena and launched PlayNow(TM) Uncut, (formerly M-Buzz(TM)) a music promotional space for new, unsigned and developing artists.

Record label partnerships

Today Sony Ericsson announced partnerships with 10 of the largest international and regional music labels including: Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, EMI, The Orchard, IODA, The PocketGroup, Hungama, X5 Music, Bonnier Amigo and VidZone, adding over 5 million new tracks to PlayNow(TM) arena. Sony Ericsson is currently negotiating further deals with a host of regional labels to further broaden the variety of music available and bring a wealth of localised content direct to the consumer.

Sony Ericsson introduced PlayNow(TM) in February 2004 as the easiest way to pre-listen and then purchase polyphonic ringtones directly to your phone. The service has proved a hit with consumers and is now available in 32 countries around the world, with annual free and premium downloads through both PlayNow and Fun & Downloads having reached more than 200 million. Since launch, the scope of the service has expanded to mirror the functionality of Sony Ericsson's phones to include mastertones (MP3 ringtones), games, full music tracks, themes and wallpapers. In November 2007 Sony Ericsson announced its intention to further develop its PlayNow(TM) service with PlayNow(TM) arena, offering access to a greatly expanded range of content and combining the power of the PlayNow(TM) catalogue with unique applications like TrackID(TM), which identifies songs and allows them to be downloaded directly to your phone or PC.

Speaking at the Sony Ericsson event at MIDEM in Cannes, Sony Ericsson's Executive Vice President, Anders Runevad, presented the enhanced PlayNow(TM) arena service and emphasised the importance of industry partnerships delivering digital content and an unparalleled multimedia experience:

"We are delighted to announce deals with such high calibre record labels. This will help realise our vision for PlayNow(TM) arena as a service that will be developed in collaboration with our partners. Our commitment is to work with the industry to ensure we are building an experience-based and intuitive content delivery platform, enabling the development of an ecosystem that provides a unique experience for the consumer and a business model where everybody prospers."

With mobile games remaining a key focus, Sony Ericsson has also added 250 new games through existing deals with leading games manufactures such as EA Games, Gameloft, THQ, Glu, Digital Chocolate and I-Play. Sony Ericsson users download more games to their phones than users of any other mobile phone brand*. These deals take another step in cementing its number one position in the mobile games market.

PlayNow(TM) Uncut

PlayNow(TM) Uncut (previously know as M-BUZZ(TM)) is a pro motional space for breaking new and emerging artists via Sony Ericsson's product, content and marketing channels. PlayNow(TM) Uncut showcases selected, pre viously unreleased tracks, videos, artwork, interviews, tour dates and other artist information on Sony Ericsson mobile phones and the web at www.playnow-uncut.com.

The rebranding and alignment with PlayNow(TM) opens up new channel opportunities for artists and enables the site to target consumers worldwide, including the United States of America for the first time. With an international reach, the service has always been about presenting the best new talents from around the world, whatever their style or native language. Apart from the current streaming possibilities, the highest rated and most listened to tracks will be made available for sale in the music section of PlayNow(TM) arena. For artists, this will add revenue possibilities to the already extensive promotional benefits of appearing there.

One Arena. Unlimited experiences

"The PlayNow(TM) arena is an open environment that offers something for everyone. We see PlayNow(TM) Uncut as the edgy version, whilst the PlayNow(TM) music section is more a case of familiarity, giving consumers something they know and are already comfortable with. Consumer experience is our absolute priority and we will continue to develop PlayNow(TM) arena as a service that appeals to all consumer segments and lifestyle trends," said Martin Blomkvist, Head of Content Acquisition & Management at Sony Ericsson.

The PlayNow(TM) arena will be brought directly to the consumer at: www.playnow-arena.com

The PlayNow(TM) arena will launch in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland in May 2008 with more European markets to come at the end of Q2 2008 and further expansion in Europe, Americas and Asia during Q3 and Q4. Sony Ericsson predicts that the PlayNow(TM) arena will be active in close to 30 markets by the end of 2008.

TrackID(TM)

The growth in popularity of the TrackID(TM) application has rocketed around the globe, presently recording more than 200,000 hits per day equal to more than two each second, a figure that has doubled in the last three months. TrackID(TM) will be an integral part of the PlayNow(TM) arena experience, offering an instant way to first hear a track - for example, in a coffee shop or on the radio - and then get it to your phone and PC. The PlayNow(TM) arena itself will feature TrackID(TM) Charts, created by consumers in real time using TrackID(TM) around the world. This will allow consumers to see what songs other users are searching for and wanting to hear the most, both globally and in their own market.

Sony Ericsson at Midem 2008

Sony Ericsson will be showcasing its PlayNow(TM) arena music store as well as demonstrating its latest handsets and accessories at booth R31.01 at Midem 2008 in Cannes, France.



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Lumin’s MultiTouch display does… uh, multi-touch

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

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If you've absolutely, positively got to have a multi-touch display system right this second, look no further than the Germany company Lumin and its creatively named MultiTouch. For an undisclosed price (available on request) you and your loved ones can be pawing all over the 42-inch, 1024 x 768 display, which is powered by a Mac Mini and can be coupled with Apple's wireless keyboard and mouse. The screen -- which is quite similar to the LG.Philips display we got our mitts on at CES -- is driven by Lumin's proprietary software, and allows you to do all Surface-esque manner of tricks, like zooming, rotating, and panning with various finger / hand combinations. The company also appears to be offering rear-projection, front-projection, and "shaped" screens, though none of those seem to be sporting touch capabilities. Check out the super-cool video after the break and see what's happening over there.

[Thanks, Mike]

Continue reading Lumin's MultiTouch display does... uh, multi-touch

 

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Wii Raincheck, Shoulda Coulda Woulda [Update]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

wiipart.jpgWho would've thunk? A month after Christmas, retail-priced Wiis are still pretty much sold out everywhere. And while ours sits in our entertainment center gathering dust, many others still only own Wiis in their hearts, hopes and dreams.

The moral of the story? Apparently those who scored a Wii in Gamestop's Wii Raincheck offer weren't so foolish for plunking down $250 upfront to receive their console one month later. Just as Alanis Morissette warned us back in the 90's: you live, you learn. [i4u]


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Build a Home Theater PC for Less than $200 [DIY]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Uncategorized

mobo.jpgWhen expenses are a big deal, curbing spending is a wise option. If you're in the market for a new computer (or even just a home theater system), blogger Paul Stamatiou suggests hardware that can comprise of one of the cheapest and smallest DIY computers I've seen to date. Your motherboard will cost a low $65. The RAM is about $20, and the 250GB hard drive is also $65. However, if you scout for good deals online, you may get them for cheaper than the recommended prices. The design doesn't require a case, according to Paul (but you can buy a decent mini-ITX case which will fit this motherboard for an extra $65), and some may argue that it's not as good as an HTPC as it is a spare PC, but as a cheap alternative, you really can't go wrong.

DIY: 200 Dollar PC [Paul Stamatiou]



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Manage Your Clipboard with ClipX [Featured Windows Download]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Uncategorized

clipx.jpgWindows only: Manage multiple items in your clipboard, including text and images, with donationware application ClipX, a clipboard manager that sits in your tray and stores everything you copy. ClipX keeps track of hundreds of items that can be easily retrieved with just a few hotkeys, all of which are customizable. Once you press your desired hotkey combination, your stored items are displayed, and you can then choose whatever you want pasted into any application that you have open. If you're editing a document and need to copy and paste often, ClipX should make clipboard management a whole lot easier. ClipX is donationware, Windows only. Thanks, Jesse!

ClipX


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Surfacesound Compact Saves You Cost of a Ticket [Bluetooth]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

surfacesoundcompact_sm.jpgThe SurfaceSound Compact may be simply another bluetooth car speakerphone on paper, but its interface and design has definitely grabbed our attention. The visor-mounted SurfaceSound connects to your phone after the microphone is pulled down into position. This simple, tactile method of activation is superior to the usual button press and would make speakerphone usage easier to become a habit.galleryPost('bluetrekss', 3, '');

Though the $100 MSRP seems steep, it's on par with other bluetooth devices at launch. The SurfaceSound Compact has a rechargeable battery rated for 15 hours of talk time or 22 days of standby, and features Bluetooth 1.2 connectivity. We just hope Bluetrek and Contour Design have paid equal attention to sound quality, as now we need devices like this to stay legal. [Product Page via iLounge]


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Chase Sends Mixed Signals [Time To Switch Banks?]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Consumer Interest

Chase%20Says%20Switch%20Banks.jpg[January 20, 2008. Image thanks to Pete!]

This juxtaposition sends the wrong subliminal message. Something for Chase to fix when their website returns from scheduled system maintenance.


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