TicoByte for January, 2012

Dear Members of the PC Club of Costa Rica,

The first club meeting of the year will be Saturday, January 21st, at the usual place, the Pan American School in Belen at 9 AM.  Coffee and snacks will available from 8:30 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’ll have a separate table where you can display it.

Here are some items of interest.  The list is a little longer than usual this month because it’s the start of a new year.  Let me know if it’s too much.

Item 1.  CNET’s list of Most-anticipated Tech Products of 2012 is out.

Their list doesn’t completely match mine, but I found it interesting anyway.  Game consoles, tablets, phones, laptops, and cameras are featured.  It might be worth a look.

Item 2.  Did you know that gmail.com did not always belong to Google?

Google bought the domain from a famous cartoonist in 2004 and provided an alternate service for the displaced fans.

Item 3.  The book The Art of Pixar is an homage to their beautiful films.

Some of the pre-film, concept imagery from the book has been made available on the internet.  These 10 pictures are definitely worth a look.

Item 4.  Do you ever hit the Caps Lock key by accident?

It can make for quite a mess.  My new ziffy-wow keyboard doesn’t even have a light to indicate that Caps Lock is ON.  You can use a Windows Accessibility Option to beep at you when you do.  It’s not perfect, but it helps.

Item 5.  Are you paying too much for your accounting tool?

Justin James has five alternatives to Quickbooks that range from simple accounting to managing Purchase Orders and Inventory.  Some of them are actually free.

Item 6.  Scott Lowe reviews a good selection of ways to stay in touch.

I don’t use many of them, but I enjoyed checking it out.  My favorite was the last one, Windows Live Writer.

Item 7.  Can technology help in the fight against Alzheimer’s?

The BBC News has reported that Canadian researchers have found that some patients respond positively to direct electrical stimulation near the hippocampus of the brain.  It’s still very early days for this research, but, when caught early enough, Alzheimer’s Disease might possibly be reversable.  Baylor University has also come up with a research project that could lead to a memory pill for humans.

Item 8.  There’s a new Google Bar in town.

Mark Kaelin has a blurb about the new Google Bar navigation tool.  In a related item, did you know that 84% of Firefox’s funding comes from a little Google search box on the Mozilla browser?

Item 9.  LibreOffice is the free package that can do almost everything that Microsoft Office does.

Writer is the tool within it that has most of the features of Microsoft Word.  Jack Wallen has provided a great list of 10 useful LibreOffice Writer tricks for us to try.

Item 10.  Jack Wallen has written Major Leaps for Tablets in 2011.

He cites nine areas where the tablet computer has improved last year.  We will look for many of those to continue in 2012.  It’s worth a look even if you aren’t interested in a tablet, yet.

Item 11.  Electric guitars are technology, right?  They can be old friends as well.

One of my favorite guitarists of all time, Peter Frampton, got a wonderful present this Christmas.  His favorite guitar, thought lost in a plane crash, has been returned to him by loyal fans.

Item 12.  Microsoft is pulling out of CES.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that’s been held every year in Las Vegas since 1967 is losing it’s largest contributor. Click here to see some of the items that were expected to be in the show (which will have already happened by the time you see this).  Just in: photos of the farewell.

Item 13.  $10M prize offered for the first Tricorder.

The BBC is reporting that X Prize is offering $10M to whomever can create a medical device like the tricorder on Star Trek. The last X Prize went to the creators of the first privately funded reusable spacecraft, SpaceShipOne. The tricorder prize was kicked off at CES.

Dick Sandlin

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