TicoByte for July, 2011

Dear Members of the PC Club of Costa Rica,

The next club meeting will be this coming Saturday, July 16th, at the usual place, the Pan American School in Belen at 9am.  Coffee and snacks will available from 8:30 AM for anyone who wants to come early and chat.  If you have anything that you 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 you can display it.

Item 1. Does your patience need inspiring?

Sometimes mine does.  This guy displays more patience than anyone I’ve seen lately.  Check out what he can do with toothpicks and a little glue. For example, he made a Golden Gate Bridge out of 30,000 toothpicks and another out of only one.

Item 2.  Are you a good searcher on the computer?

Chuck is going to explain the art of using your computer to search for things at the meeting this month.  This is your chance to learn how to use one of the most useful services that your computer can provide.  There are many tips and tricks that he will demonstrate for you and he will answer all your questions about the different ways that you can find things online.

Item 3.  The Vatican website now has a Virtual Tours section.

You can now wonder about through the Sistine Chapel with a single click. In the comfort of your favorite chair, you can view the Tomb of St. Peter and many other sites that you may have only dreamed of seeing. There are eight major sections offered and each is extremely well done.  Beautiful choral music accompanies you on your tour, but you can mute that if you prefer silence.  I recommend slow mouse movement at first to avoid dizziness.  The display uses Flash display technology, so you’ll have to have that available, but you shouldn't have to load any special tools to see the show.  You can look in any direction and zoom in and out to view the beautiful artwork.

Item 4.  Would you like to fly from Paris to Tokyo in 2.5 hours?

The European aerospace company EADS has announced a low-polution design for a rocket plane that could do just that.  the plane would take off using jet engines powered by seaweed biofuel and switch to rockets powered by hydrogen to climb to an altitude of 20 miles above the earth. The company hopes to have a prototype by 2020 and production by 2050.

Item 5. As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about...

The BBC has reported a new “botnet”, called TDL, that has been discovered hiding in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of many Windows machines. The program allows someone to take over your computer from the internet and use it for nefarious purposes.  The program uses it’s own encryption system and peer-to-peer networking (similar to BitTorrent) to make it very difficult to trace. Analysts are still working to develop a cure.

Item 6. What ever happened to lighter-than-air technology?

Sure, it’s hard to get anyplace fast in them, but I find them interesting anyway.  Check out this article on Zeppelins.  The radios they carried were high-tech at the time.  A blimp pilot told me that when you go too fast (over 30 mph) in a blimp, a dimple appears in the front and you have to slow down. They might not be fast, but they have great hang time.

Item 7.  Are you aware of “filter bubbles”?

Eli Pariser, speaking in a TED talk, explains how Google and other internet giants tailor the return you get when you search, based on what it thinks your interests are.  Watch this 9 minute clip of his talk to learn why this could be a problem.  Thanks, Chuck, for pointing this out.

Item 8.  New US Army rifles have radio-controlled bullets.

In the never-ending search for better uses for technology, the Army is preparing to send special rifles to Afghanistan that can stun or kill the enemy even if he is hiding behind cover. The smart bullets are 25 mm shells that communicate with the rifle in flight and explode with the force of a hand grenade.  This could be the biggest thing in ground warfare since the American colonists refused to stand in line and hid behind rocks to fight in New England.  Plans include developing a version of the bullets that can stun instead of kill the enemy. Imagine what the police could do with those.

Item 9.  This month's meeting will be fun.  We always have a lot of laughs and learn something.  You are important to make the meeting fun for everyone.  You can’t help laughing and you might hear something really helpful.  Bring a friend if you like and tell us what’s happening in your world.

Dick Sandlin

Top of Page Back to 1st Page