Gizmo Watch March 2007

To Do: Be Generous shows one way the Internet can transform how you support causes you believe in. The company (“Councils of War,” February 2002) has tried to create a marketplace, like eBay’s, whose large number of sellers will attract large numbers of buyers, and vice versa. In this case the sellers are groups, mainly in poor countries, that are launching or running environmental, public-health, educational, or human-rights projects and the like. The buyers are people who can contribute amounts ranging from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars. Everything that is intriguing about online shopping—easily comparing offerings, finding possibilities you hadn’t been aware of—is here as well. I imagine most people will end up giving more than they intended and feel good about it.

For the gadget-minded: a new utility called GyroQ, by the English company Gyronix, sounds ridiculously simple. It pops up when you press Ctl+Q, at any time, in any program, and lets you jot down an idea, a phone number, a Web site, or a to-do item. Then, when you’re ready to pay attention, it lets you collect and sort everything you’ve noted, for appropriate actions. It works with Mindjet’s MindManager and is at its best with ResultsManager, from Gyronix. I use the system all day, every day. The three programs combined cost well over $300 and won’t be worth it for everyone. You can judge for yourself with a free trial.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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