Technology trends for 2011
According to JWT Technology, a marketing communications company, here are some things to watch this year.

Decline of the cash register — Apple’s point-of-sale system is now available to retailers, allowing salespeople to take a customer all the way through a transaction, even referencing stored data to provide more personalized service.

Digital etiquette — The more addictive texting, social media and other digital habits become, the more we’ll need some rules of etiquette. Watch as more people implore friends and family to show some digital decorum.

F-commerce — While only a few brands currently sell directly through Facebook (including Victoria’s Secret, 1-800-Flowers.com, and Delta Airlines), look for “f-commerce” to take off in the next year. By allowing Facebook visitors to shop without leaving the site, brands add a social influence to the transaction — and bring a concrete return on investment to social media. Group-manipulated pricing —

Group buying online took off in 2010. As the idea matures, we’ll see more inventive variations. Rather than have a fixed price — as with many of these services — the price will decrease in real time as more people opt in. This gives shoppers more incentive to spread to buy, buy, buy.

eading’s rebirth — Research indicates that e-readers lead to an increase in reading. With initiatives like Worldreader, e-readers are even bringing books to more people in low-literacy countries such as Ghana.

Tool refresher — Part 3
Two-ton engine hoist:
A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

Phillips screwdriver: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paperand- tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt. Can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

Straight screwdriver: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into nonremovable screws and butchering your palms.

Pry bar: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50¢ part.

Hose cutter: A tool used to make hoses too short.

Hammer: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most-expensive parts adjacent to the object we are trying to hit.

Utility knife: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

Bottoms up!
The brains over at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories have unleashed a new bartending machine, Drink Making Unit 2.0 The unit features elements borrowed from sources as diverse as pet stores, chemistry labs, and Japanese gardens. It dispenses any six fluids, in metered and selectable quantities, and sports an extra-snazzy control panel.

The machine is based on what is known as a “deer chaser,” a mechanism used in Japanese gardens. Also known as a shishi odoshi, or sōzu, it is a type of water fountain that features a pivoted, unbalanced vessel — which gradually fills with water. When it reaches a certain level, the balance shifts, the tube tips over, and the water runs out. As the tube is empty, it then tips back into place, making a sharp noise as it lands — a sort of auditory scarecrow. The cycle repeats, providing a slow, periodic, noise to the garden.

In this case, the deer chaser is used as a means of metering out liquid; pouring in liquid just until the tube tips over, and then repeating for as many “tube fulls” of volume are required.

The machine consists of six graduated cylinders attached to flasks that dispense different fluids. The cylinders tip and fill a funnel. Once the funnel has all the liquid necessary to make a drink, the funnel seals, and the liquid is dropped into the glass waiting below.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.