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July 10, 2008 10:08 AM

Hungry? Urbanspooners shake it up with "Magic 8 Ball" for iPhone

Posted by Nancy Leson

No one has a more primitive cell phone than mine -- and that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it:

Call me old-fashioned, but I'd rather take photos with an actual camera. Text messaging? Uh, what's that? "Mom! You're from the Stone Age!" says my kid -- and he's only off by a few millennia. But lately I've been considering upgrading my phone to something more, oh, 2008. Like an iPhone. Which captured my attention when it debuted last year, thanks to David Pogue's right-up-my-corny-alley music video. I laughed, I cried, it was better than "Cats"!:

This week in his Tech column, Pogue "sang" about the new-model iPhone 3G, in which he mentioned another reason to croon, "I want an iiiiiiiiiiiiPhone": Urbanspoon's new "third-party application." Like Pogue, I'd heard about the Seattle-based company's ingenius new toy for Apple's hot commodity -- from Urbanspoon's co-owner Ethan Lowry himself, seen here sharing his fonduta fries recently at Quinn's on Capitol Hill:

Ethan e-mailed with his big news: "We've built an iPhone application that helps you find a place to eat when you're seized with indecision," he said. "It's a cross between a Magic Eight Ball and a slot machine." He explained that you shake your cellphone (after keying in a neighborhood, a food type -- like Italian or Thai -- and a general price-range), and "we find a good nearby restaurant" -- "we" being the Urbanspooners. And he sent this "quick-and-dirty" video demo of the application at work:

Oooh. I can feel myself caving. After all, as a kid back in the Stone Age (OK, the Brady Bunch era), I regularly shook my Magic 8 Ball while asking that ever-important question, "Will Paul Altman marry me?" The ball's answer, again and again: "Outlook not so good," "Very doubtful," "My sources say no" -- and the ball was right: he married his high school sweetheart, Fran Benson.

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