Data: Retirement Confidence Survey The $725 Suunto Golf Computer Watch uses global-positioning-system technology to help you judge your distance from the hole. Program the watch during a round on the course, and in the future you'll get a readout of the distance to the green from any point in the fairway. Just don't consult it in serious play -- it's usually against the rules. Of the leading companies that rent DVDs over the Web -- Netflix, Blockbuster's FilmCaddy.com, and Wal-Mart.com -- we wondered which would get the films to us the fastest. After signing up for a free trial of each service online, we ordered three movies: just-released 8 Mile; the 1999 drama Magnolia; and tough-to-find 1979 flick, A Little Romance.
Wal-Mart did the worst, taking six days to send only 8 Mile. Netflix needed just two days to get us 8 Mile, and three more to ship Magnolia. Despite boasting the biggest library, Netflix didn't have A Little Romance. FilmCaddy did, and delivered it, plus the other two titles, in an average of 3.7 days, for top honors. Cognex CEO Robert Shillman was mad about his company's 2002 results, and he looks like Alfred E. Neuman of MAD Magazine. So he designed the annual report of Cognex (CGNX
), a maker of supermarket scanners and other electronic "vision" machines, as a MAD parody. On the cover is a cartoon version of Shillman with one Neuman characteristic he lacks -- the trademark gap between his two front teeth.
"We're MAD...about Machine Vision" is one of the most creative annual reports this year. The "You Know You Really Need Machine Vision When..." section, done in a MAD comic strip style, illustrates the mishaps that can occur without Cognex machines -- birth control pills with the wrong expiration date.
Shillman notes 2002 was Cognex' second unprofitable year in its 16-year history -- it had a $6 million loss on $114 million in sales. "We're associated with the tech biz," he says. "We took a dive. But that didn't stop us from having fun." The report gave shareholders more than a laugh, though. Because it used cheap paper, it cost just $1 per copy, vs. $4 for a glossy version. Total savings: $100,000.