January 2006

12 Jan 2006 [link to here]
timely nonsense

I'm getting travel insurance for my upcoming trip so that if I get hurt or sick in Laos, I can be evacuated to a country with better hospitals. I found something funny in the policy offered by World Nomads, who specializes in insuring international travel. They have this to say about the coverage period:

Insurance shall be effective at 12:01 A.M. on the date the scheduled Trip begins.


Coverage ends at midnight on the date of return selected, ...

12:01 A.M. and midnight where? My home (assuming I have one)? Where I'm going or returning to? Where I happen to be at that moment? Their corporate headquarters? If it's defined by where I am, then what happens if the policy expires, then I board a plane and go somewhere that midnight hasn't passed yet? Am I covered again until it does?

I don't expect most contracts to specify this sort of thing clearly, but I did think this sort of company would know better. Surely it's come up before.

(I ended up choosing a different company because this one doesn't cover cycling outside of commercial tours. I looked at several insurers, and they all had similarly ambiguous contracts.)

13 Jan 2006 [link to here]
patent pending

Five or six years ago, after tripping over my laptop's power cord too many times and damaging both the laptop and the plug, I came up with the idea of attaching the cord to laptop with a magnet. I decided not to patent it, since that's a huge hassle and is rarely worth the trouble. I did consider sending the idea over to Apple, since they seemed to be the only company who might actually put that feature in a product, but I never got around to it. In the end, all I ever did with my idea was tell my friends about it, which is what I do with most of my ideas.

Well, at some point someone else thought of it and Apple just announced a new laptop sporting the feature. I don't regret not patenting it, but I do regret not posting about it sooner. Not only would that have been useful for showing you all how clever I am, but it also could have served as prior art to keep Apple from patenting it (and without a patent, the feature might have appeared in more laptops). Let that be a lesson to me.

18 Jan 2006 [link to here]
I'm off

I leave for my trip tomorrow. Some last minute updates:

my picture in the paper