I spend a good deal of time off the job thinking about the same kinds of issues I write about on a daily basis. To get a read on the economy, I ask retailers about sales (the answer I get depends on whether I'm perceived as an interested shopper or reveal myself to be a journalist); I note if the places I frequent -- theaters, restaurants -- are crowded or empty; I question service providers on how their business is doing. \nSo it should come as no surprise that I've taken up the cause of technology -- with somewhat of a different slant than US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who wants to know when it's coming back. \nFor me, the burning technology question of the day is: Can't anyone design a better mop? \nEffort in futility \nI'd been through what I thought were all the brands on the market, from sponge-type to string-type. They all start strong and end weak. The dirt absorbed from the first area of mopped floor is re-deposited at the opposite end of the room. Unless you change the water in your bucket constantly, sponge- or string-mopping is an effort in futility. \nLast year, I took up my dilemma with one of my colleagues, Steve Matthews, a Bloomberg consumer products reporter based in Atlanta. One of the advantages of working for a news organization is that someone always has the answer you're looking for or can tell you where to find it. \nMatthews suggested I try Swiffer. (OK, so I'm a little out of the mop loop not to have heard of Swiffer before then.) "A Swiffer home is a cleaner home," Procter & Gamble promises on the Swiffer Web site. "Transform your home. Transform your life." \nI was looking for a better mop; Swiffer promised to change my life. \nI immediately went out and bought a Swiffer (the hardware -- aluminum shaft with swivel head -- comes packaged with the dry mop) and a Swiffer Wet, which is what I needed for hardwood floors. I decided against the Swiffer WetJet, a powered version, for reasons I can no longer remember. (Matthews reports that the big battle right now is between the powered Clorox ReadyMop and Swiffer WetJet.) The Swiffer wet-mop system consists of the hardware purchased with the dry mop plus a package of wet, disposable clothes (handiwipes soaked in cleaning solution) that wrap around and attach to the head. \nDisposable culture \nThat part of the concept and design is excellent. We live in a disposable culture. The philosophy of planned obsolescence predated high-tech equipment: When was the last time you chose to have a toaster oven repaired? The Swiffer is great for quick mop-ups on bathroom floors. \nDust and hair (human and dog) adhere to the wet cloth, although the wet goes out of the mop quickly, leaving the detritus on the floor in a nice little line along the mop edge. \nWhere the Swiffer didn't pass muster with this consumer is on those tough spills on hardwood floors. I need a man's mop, something that can take the pressure when applied. The Swiffer is just too flimsy for the tough jobs. \nSome of the product endorsements on the Web site -- "best thing ever," "awesome," "a godsend" -- suggest Swiffer won't be contacting me as a spokeswoman anytime soon. Surely I can't be the only person who finds mop technology unequal to the task. \nA Moore's law for mops \nWe are producing faster chips, more powerful computers, higher speed phone lines and cars with global positioning systems to tell us where we are at any given moment (in case we forget). \nYet basic home products remain in a technological backwater state. \nMopping may not be new or sexy, but it has huge potential for technological innovation, not to mention a ready-made audience. \nI'd venture that more households own a mop -- and would spring for a new and improved one -- than a computer. \nMops and brooms are a US$450 million market, according to Information Resources Inc. The profit margins on the Swiffer Wet replacement cloths and Swiffer WetJet are high, Matthews tells me. \nP&G derived 30 percent of its sales and 37 percent of its profit from household cleaning products in the fiscal year ended June 2001. \nMoore's Law -- the idea that the performance of semiconductor chips doubles every 18 months -- may be the operative philosophy in the high-tech arena. \nWouldn't it be nice if there were a Swiffer protocol?
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
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The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South
‘CORRUPTION’: One DPP lawmaker and two KMT legislators were held incommunicado, while former NPP chairman Hsu Yung-ming was released on bail in the Pacific Sogo case The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that three lawmakers be held incommunicado amid a probe into allegedly bribery relating to an ownership dispute over Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). The three are Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) of the Democratic Progressive Party, and Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Also held incommunicado were Su’s office director Yu Hsueh-yang (余學洋) and Sufin’s office director Ting Fu-hua (丁復華), as well as Kuo Ke-ming (郭克銘), a political lobbyist and general manager of Knowledge International Consultancy (是知管理顧問公司). The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday raided the offices of six incumbent and former