TicoByte for December, 2011

Esteemed PC Club members

The December meeting is replaced this year as usual by the Christmas Party on December 10th, this time at the Cariari B&B. There will be a ₡3,000 per person charge to cover expenses. Click here for more details and directions. Be sure to bring a strange gift for the Yankee Gift Swap. I hope to see you there!

Even though we’re not meeting this month, the world goes on:

Item 1.  Steve Jobs had another company bigger than Apple.

He bought Pixar from LucasFilm in 1986 and sold it to the Walt Disney Company 20 years later, becoming Disney’s single largest shareholder. But he didn’t buy it to make it a huge animation house, he had other ideas.  Additionally, Jake Garmon provides  a critical review of Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs that shows its pros and cons from a geek perspective.

Item 2.  Humanoid robots are back. Some aren’t very human-like, though.

The Japan Robot Association kicked off the 19th International Robot Exhibition (iRex) in Tokyo last month with a display of humanoid robots that work more safely and effectively with humans in work environments.

Item 3.  Got too much money? Like wood?  We’ve got just the thing.

This Japanese company will sell you a wooden keyboard for $1,140 or a rubber-band rifle for $470.  It would certainly make an impressive Christmas gift.  Check it out.

Item 4.   Throughout all of human history up until 2003 we created 5 exabytes of data (five billion gigabytes). We now create that much every day.

Capability-wise, Bing is creeping ahead of Google in the search engine wars because of Microsoft’s deal with Facebook and Twitter.  Google+ is fighting back, but will it be enough?.

Item 5.  Are there any Excel users out there?

If you are one, you might want to read this article about how speed up your Excel spreadsheets.  This is especially important for large sheets.

Item 6.  Do you ever have trouble using the Office Ribbon?

Microsoft Office Labs has provided a great script to install an extra tab on the Ribbon in Word, Excel, or Powerpoint that lets you search for commands.  Watch the cute movie and click on “Try it” to download the script; then double click on the script to install the tab.  If the movie won’t play because Silverlight has crashed, look below the lower right corner to watch it as a WMV file. (Chrome is having a problem with Silverlight now.

Item 7.  Intel celebrates 40 years of chip making.

It’s hard for me, since I spent 22 years with Texas Instruments, who won a nasty court battle against Intel to prove that TI (not Intel) invented the integrated circuit; but now that Intel is our neighbor in Costa Rica I’m happy for them.  That’s a lot of chips! Compare the die shot of the i7 (the last photo) with that of the 4004 (the 2nd photo) to see how much more complex things have gotten.

Item 8.  The SOPA bill is yet another attempt to control internet content.

Hollywood’s latest attempt to stop internet piracy is in the House.  SmartPlanet reports that this latest attempt to bell the tiger is very controversial, as it would cripple innovation and damage many currently thriving businesses on the web. The compromise reached in the previous law would be removed and the Chinese model of internet control installed.

Item 9.  Google waves goodby to Wave.

Google announced last year that it was going to shut down Wave due to lack of public interest in the tool. I ‘ve received email advising that waves will all be read-only after January and the service will shut down at the end of April, 2012.

Dick Sandlin

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