July 13, 2006
Are you getting your money's worth from caller ID? Some callers can't be identified because their information is blocked or unavailable, but in other cases the callers aren't named because the customer's phone company simply doesn't want to spend the money to obtain the data. A small Boston Globe test of caller ID accuracy found several instances in which Verizon Communications and Comcast Corp. didn't provide a caller's name because they didn't want to pay the extra money. The price is minimal on a per-call basis - often a penny or less a call - but spread across a telecommunications giant's many customers, it can quickly run into the tens of millions of dollars.
May 21, 2006
When James Madison wrote the First Amendment, presumably he had no idea that one day it would protect fundraisers who call your house, obtain a donation for what you thought was a good cause and then pocket most of the money. But that's what the amendment does, to the lasting shame of the charity industry and the judges who confused misleading telemarketing spiels with sacred free speech. In a 1988 case involving Baltimore's National Federation of the Blind, the Supreme Court blessed schemes in which only a few pennies on each donated dollar end up with a nonprofit.
September 18, 2003
If you have only one or two telephone jacks, in odd places, in your house, Siemens Gigaset SL3501 expandable cordless telephone system ($220) might appeal to you. Once you buy the SL3501 base kit, you can create wireless connections with up to four Gigaset SL30 telephones ($150) - or any Siemens 4000 or 4200 series telephone handset. Just plug in your SL3501 base station to the telephone jack, then find locations for the handsets. You'll need a nearby electrical outlet for each phone station; these recharge the handset battery in each handset.
February 13, 2003
For those of us who know how to save a buck and more efficiently use technology, caller identification boxes seem like a mighty waste of money. After all, an answering machine allows you to screen calls without having to squint at a little box with a telephone number on it to figure out whether you want to pick up or not. Nevertheless, the Olympia OL3000 InfoGlobe ($50) was such a neat gadget that I went ahead and sprang for Caller ID on my home telephone just to see it in action. With a brilliant floating LED display that shows telephone numbers, time and date of calls, current date and day, the Globe made Caller ID worthwhile for my middle-aged eyes.
April 7, 2002
Flower power is blossoming for a new generation of girls with large daisies and tulips in bold hot pinks, oranges and yellows showing up on bed sheets, comforters, rugs, frames, shelves and desk sets. Target (below right) offers a "Flowers Etc." bed in a bag for $79, which has matching furniture. Hecht's "Pick A Petal Ensemble" starts at $99 for a comforter, bed sheets, sham and skirt. American Girl (top right) features a "Daisy" three-piece bed set at $120. Sears is spreading its garden theme with tulips, daisies and butterflies and in items ranging from $39.99 for comforters and sheets to a $24.99 butterfly rug. Stop and smell the flowers at these stores or check them out online at www.target.
August 21, 2000
Subsidiary launched in Columbia to aid security on Internet PricewaterhouseCoopers has launched a new subsidiary, beTRUSTed. The company, with headquarters in Columbia, will provide digital certificates for businesses hoping to conduct secure Internet transactions. Information: www.betrusted.com. Technology firm OK'd to sell phone system MIT Group, a technology company based in Columbia, has received authorization to sell 3Com NBX 100 Business Phone Systems. The all-in-one system includes voice mail, automated attendant, Caller ID, conferencing, call forwarding, messaging and speed dialing.