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What We’re Reading: March 22 – March 28

Floor plan apps, charm school for brokers, and what’s the best episode of “Seinfeld”

Two floor plan apps showed up in the news this week: RoomScan and MagicPlan. Both are free – have you tried either of them? Any thoughts?

With low inventories and fierce competition, New York City real estate brokers are turning to coaches and trainers to make themselves softer and gentler to their clients.

Is Twitter looking at eliminating the hashtag (#) and the at (@) symbols? The service has stagnated in recent years in terms of users. Something like a billion users have tried twitter and then left. Some think part of the problem is that ‘ordinary users’ view the @ and # as well as RT and DM as computer code and as something outside of their comfort zone. Will this help twitter break through?

How far would you go for the perfect cup of coffee? A Canadian inventor in Thailand is betting a small fortune that his brew made from elephant dung, the world’s most expensive cup of joe, is the next big thing in the world of coffee.

HTC released its latest version of its flagship android phone, HTC One. The Wall Street Journal says last year’s best Android phone has only gotten better.

If access to Microsoft Office has been the only thing keeping you on your laptop, it might be time to cut the cord – Microsoft has finally released an Office app for iPad.

Learn how to protect your online privacy with these tips from The Wall Street Journal.

Enjoy debating the merits and demerits of your favorite TV shows? Want to find out what is regarded as the ‘best’ episode of a particular series? Check out Graph TV, a new online interface with a simple premise. Type in the name of your program and Graph TV will take the IMDB ratings of each episode and create a simple graph. Seasons are color coded and rolling your mouse over a point will tell you the corresponding episode. It’s interesting to see how some series progress up the chart (Breaking Bad) and some fall down the slide (surprisingly M*A*S*H). And which episode of Seinfeld is the ‘best’: a tie between “the contest” and “soup nazi”.

Apple and Comcast are reportedly in early talks about joining forces for a streaming TV service.

An article from Slate Magazine proposes that Blue Bottle coffee shops might be a welcome new antithesis to Starbucks. Based out of San Francisco, Blue Bottle cafés are distinctly different from competitors’ stores: each café is unique, with layouts that vary by location. The coffee is the focus: signage is sparse (most stores are marked only with an image of a blue bottle) and décor is minimalist in design. There is no Wi-Fi, paper cups (paper=inferior drinking experience), or special concoctions; “At Blue Bottle, a cappuccino is a cappuccino, and it comes in cappuccino size.” Patrons seem to enjoy the understated approach: Blue Bottle has developed a cult following, and there are now thirteen stores with more to come.

Dominique Ansel, the inventor of the cronut, has another hit on his hands: the chocolate chip cookie milk shot.

This week we finished a book that sat on our shelves for entirely too long: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta Lacks is as important a historical figure in the United States (and globally) as Christopher Columbus or George Washington. Her cells, known in the science world as “HeLa,” have singlehandedly saved the lives of millions, and continue to benefit us all in countless ways. Because of her, scientists have found cures to numerous diseases, enjoy a greater understanding of genes and chromosomes, and cellular behavior and development. Thousands of scientific breakthroughs were made from the use of her cells. The story takes many interesting bends and twists and presents the emerging issue of ethical tissue research. Though filled with legal and scientific concepts, Skloot presents the concepts in a compelling and provocative manner.

Just in case you were worried about the zombie apocalypse, you will know where to go to for safety.

Dave

Senior Information Specialist

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