The seven-week break I took on Workbench, which just ended 11 words ago, is the longest since I began my personal blog in 1999. I'm doing some work in social media these days and thinking about launching a new company to commercialize software I've been developing for my own use the past six years. I also am deep into the manuscript for a new edition of Sams Teach Yourself C++ in 24 Hours. My absence did not make Target employees fonder, as a recent comment to my five-year-old tale of shopping humiliation ... read more

An old black-and-white hepcat commercial for Beech-Nut Gum made me curious if the gum -- available in five flavors including Chlorophyll "for the breath" -- is still being sold anywhere. Hometown Favorites, an online store that sells 2,000 well-known old-time products that are difficult to find today in stores, claims that Beech-Nut Spearmint and Wintergreen Gum is no longer being made. Beechies are available in spearmint and peppermint. ... read more

Paul Stamatiou pens an extremely detailed article on how to make the most of Black Friday, the annual day in which Americans race to stores before dawn to resupply themselves with enough consumer goods to last the winter. I have simpler advice for how to make the most of Black Friday: Don't go shopping. I'm a recovering doorbuster who has been clean for two years. As I told a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, I decided that no price was too high to avoid standing armpit-deep in a crowd of unwashed computer ... read more