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Monday, May 31, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
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GeekMan is new must-have toy

Compiled by Seattle Times technology staff

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Seattle-based Accoutrements brought the world Nancy Pearl, a librarian action doll with the kung-fu zip. (Press a button on her back and her hand moves up to her lips in a convincing shushing motion.)

While she hangs out in Rem Koolhaas buildings, this next superhero might be more visible in, say, Redmond.

Toronto novelty-toy maker Happy Worker has unveiled The GeekMan, an action figure whose superpowers include ungodly coding abilities, analytical reasoning and less-than-ideal personal hygiene (company said it, we didn't).

The 6-inch doll dons thick, black-rimmed glasses, jeans and a black T-shirt, resplendent with a pocket protector. He comes with a laptop computer, PDA, portable coffee mug and a tiny watch.

The creators recommend using GeekMan for confessional and public-speaking practice.

"Your GeekMan, due to the fact that he's entirely composed of inert plastic, is an excellent listener," they wrote. "If you need to confess your sins against technology (such as being forced to install inferior software against your will, or practicing less than ideal coding formatting), GeekMan will listen without judgment."

GeekMan's catchy slogans include: "That's not a bug, it's a feature."

Serving up sales


Sales of servers worldwide reached $11.5 billion in the first quarter, a 7.3 percent increase from the same period last year.

Source: IDC

Unfortunately, he's not yet featured in Seattle stores. Find out more at www.happyworker.com.

Mechanical cranes: Carnegie Mellon University doctoral candidate Devin Balkcom designed and built a robot that can perform origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into shapes ranging from flowers to animals.

Why origami?

Balkcom, who studies at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, wrote on his Web site (www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~devin) that his primary interest is the concept of manipulation. "Origami is a fresh challenge for the field of robotic manipulation," he said. "Paper is flexible; robots are best at manipulating rigid things."

While the machine folds simple objects such as airplanes and hats, Balkcom wrote that he is working to understand more complicated origami skills.

40-carat forecast: Why has online jeweler Blue Nile's stock performed so well since its May 20 debut?

A hint comes from the State of Retailing Online 7.0, an annual study conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of Shop.org.

Online retailers last year came into their own, finding the right balance between selling a product, finding new customers and keeping the ones they already had.

Online sales last year passed the $100 billion mark, while more retailers figured out how to make money. According to the study, roughly 79 percent of retailers surveyed were profitable, up from 70 percent the year before.

The study also said to expect stronger sales growth this year. It predicts online sales to grow 27 percent, to $144 billion.

Blue Nile saw its shares close Friday at $33.73, up 64.5 percent since its debut.

The women of Amazon: At Amazon.com's annual meeting last week, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos told shareholders that all the models featured in the Web site's beauty store are employees, who posed free.

"We have some attractive employees and we're very appreciative of their above-and-beyond duty to the (store)," he quipped.

Let's hope they got a free loofah for their troubles...

On the record

Deals: The state of New York awarded a five-year contract to Redmond-based ADIC for storage hardware, software and related services.

New products: Kirkland-based Talisma introduced Talisma QuickStart and Talisma Interaction Suite 6.0 for customer-relationship management.

Download can be reached at biztech@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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