Reporters on the Job

A Car for Sale? Sometimes journalists learn something in the course of their work that alters their own lives, and even saves them some money. Thursday, staff writer Peter Ford was in Nantes, France, reporting on the efforts by this city to reduce its dependency on the automobile.

In Paris, where he lives, the Metro is his preferred mode of travel. It's more efficient. "It can take twice as long to drive across town as it does to travel by Metro," he says. But he still keeps his expensively garaged and insured car for weekend trips to the countryside and the occasional nonrush-hour errand.

"It has often struck me that this is not economical," he says, "but I do like the convenience of having a car when I need one. While researching my story I discovered that a French company has recently launched a service like Zip Car in Boston, which would allow me to rent a vehicle by the hour. I could probably use the short-term rental a couple of times a month and rent a Mercedes Benz for my holidays for less than it costs me to be a car owner."

What's in Your Cupboard? No country has a corner on collecting underutilized gadgets. Today's story from Britain is matched by a survey asking Australian consumers what were the most "useless" appliances they've purchased. See the results below - and send us your pick for the most useless item in your cupboard or closet.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Australia's top 10 most useless gadgets

1. Hot dog maker
2. Facial sauna
3. Foot spa
4. Electric massager
5. Ice cream maker
6. Waffle iron
7. Heated hair rollers
8. Pie maker
9. Nail dryer
10. Milkshake maker
- Source: Australian Consumers Association

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