TicoByte for May, 2011

Hello, PC Clubbers,

The next meeting of the PC Club of Costa Rica will take place this coming Saturday, May 21st.  We will meet in our usual place, the Pan American School in Belen at 9am.  Coffee and snacks will available from 8:30am for anyone who wants to come early and chat.  If anyone has anything they would like to sell or give away (having to do with computers), feel free to bring it and we will have a separate table where we can display it.  It ought to be fun.

Here are a few things I thought you might find interesting:

Item 1. Would you like to visit the world’s best art museums online?

Google Art Project makes it possible. Take a trip around the world’s greatest museums and discover the masters at incredible zoom levels. This new site has just opened using Google’s “Street View” software and it’s amazing.  You can view a video sample of its features.  Click on the Visitor Guide to start the video. YouTube has also gotten into the act with an Art Project channel.

Item 2.  Did you ever try to tell someone how to find our meeting?

When I first came to the club, I wound up talking to Chuck on my cell phone, in the car, with him taking me step-by-step down the streets of Belen.  I’ve produced a map (with lots of help from Ken)  that you can give to people who are interested in sampling a meeting.  Ken has put the map on our website.  I’ll bring a few paper copies to the meeting to share. If you want to print it, download it first with the lighting icon at the bottom.

Item 3.  Open Office (OO) users:  Oracle has bailed, but don’t panic.

Oracle has announced that it will discontinue development of Open Office.  They inherited it when they bought Sun and internal conflicts among OO contributers displeased the new owners.  A group of those contributors are  continuing the OO idea under a new name, “LibreOffice”.  Most of the major companies (except Oracle) that have participated in OO development have moved to stand behind the new project.  You can get more details here.  LibreOffice 3.3 has been released for Windows, Mac, & Linux and it’s available for download. It includes several new features (e.g.,  importing from Microsoft Works, SVG images for Draw, & Calc imports faster from Excel and supports larger worksheets).   Give it a try.

Item 4. Are you interested in travel?  If so, you should try this.

Check out the Virtual Tourist for Travel Guides, Hotel Reviews and a Travel Forum that’s shared by over a million members. You can build a map that shows all the places that you have a) lived in, b) visited, or c) would like to visit.  Membership is free.

Item 5. PC World has announced its list of the top 5 free antivirus programs for 2011.

Number 1 is Avast 6 which does a solid job, has a pleasant interface and scans quickly.  Number 2 is Avira 10 which does a solid job, but its interface needs a makeover.  Number 3 is Microsoft Security Essentials which is easy to use, but lags behind other products in detecting malware.  Number 4 is Panda Cloud 1.0 which is easy to use, but slower than average. Number 5 is Comodo 5.0 which performed well against new malware, but (they say) has inconsistent overall performance.

Item 6.  Is the OTV-2 a covert replacement for the Space Shuttle?

The Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) is a makeover of the USAF X-37B vehicle that is a smaller, unmanned, version of the Shuttle, but has the capability to stay in Low Earth Orbit for 270 days. The Republic of Tech says that skywatchers have penetrated its cloak of secrecy and plotted its orbital plan. You can see pictures and specifications of the OTV from Fox News. Check this site for tracking information. NASA says it’s a technology demonstrator for the design of the Orbital Space Plane (New Shuttle).

Item 7. Do you need a good, free media player? How about a PDF writer?

I’ve used WinAmp for years to convert proprietary Windows Media Audio  (WMA) files into WAV files, so I could edit them, and I recently revisited their site to download the latest version.  It now plays video too and has lots of new features. It can convert audio files from one format to another.

They also offer a download for Nitro, a great PDF writer and editor as well, which allows you to extract text from a PDF into a text file or images into an image file plus a lot more. You can mark up a PDF, add sticky notes, search, and highlight text.  It’s the best PDF editor I’ve seen and it’s free.

Item 8.  This month's meeting will be fun, as usual.  We always have a lot of laughs and learn a few things.  You’re important to make the meeting fun for everyone.  Chuck will be there to entertain and inform us and you will not be able to avoid laughing.  Bring a friend if you like and tell us what’s happening in your world.

Dick Sandlin

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