Headed west on the Massachusetts Turnpike, I pass a car being operated by a young woman who has both hands firmly on the steering wheel, just like they teach when you get your license. Rather than the classic 10 o'clock-2 o'clock positioning, however, hers are clamped more like 11:45 and 12:15, or the optimum setup for thumb-texting on whatever mobile device it was she had balanced in between.
And texting she was, most furiously.
Dangerous behavior, yes, but barely noteworthy these days and not what made me do the triple-take.
That would be her left foot.
Her left foot?
You heard me, her left foot, which instead of being on the floorboard near its significant other, her right foot, was sticking out the driver's side window practically begging passersby to play This Little Piggy. ("This little piggy went to market … this little piggy is admiring itself in the side-view mirror …")
Texting like a madwoman, toes flapping in the breeze, tooling on down the highway: This diva was not only the embodiment of distracted driving, but a genuine trailblazer.
Coincidentally, Massachusetts on July 2 became the 29th state to outlaw texting while driving, although clearly the prohibition had failed to impress Miss Twinkle-Toes, presuming someone had bothered to message her the news. And my guess would be that she didn't notice my head shaking as I passed her either.
At least she wasn't speeding.
(Final thought: Yes, it has occurred to me that I didn't see what I think I saw; that this scene was actually a variation of the old foot-sticking-out-of-the-trunk gag. Maybe. But the young lady and her seat were definitely reclined, as if to facilitate a full-scale left-foot escape; so if it was a gag it was a darn good one.)
Wikipedia's Million-Dollar Faux Pas
Hey, look, someone donated a million dollars to Wikipedia - anonymously, no less.
At least that was the headline on Digg and we could all see it was true because there was a link to the online database of donors and a plain-as-day screen capture with a red circle around the amount and everything.
A million smackaroos from a benefactor too shy to even accept a public thank-you? Now that's news, so I fired off an e-mail to Jay Walsh, Wikipedia's head of communication, to see if A) he could confirm that it was indeed true; and, B) if he could tell me anything at all about the bashful donor. Walsh's reply:
"In fact it turns out there was a slight glitch in how that donation was reported through our system. The amount is 100% correct, but the donation should have been attributed to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. We've corrected the link. This is the third part of a three-year, one million dollars per year grant that was announced back in March, 2008.
"Glad the Digg folks pointed this out, and we're now tracking the comment/donation input system a bit more carefully."
There are easy wisecracks to be made here about Wikipedia and accuracy. Too easy.
Of course, rarely does a week go by without someone helpfully drawing attention to an error of my own doing. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.
This story, "Driving While Texting, Sinking to New Lows" was originally published by Network World.