TicoByte for May, 2012

Dear PC Club of Costa Rica Members,

Our next club meeting will be held this coming Saturday, May 19th, at the Pan American School in Belen at 9 AM. Coffee and snacks will be provided from 8:30 for those who like to come early and chat. Bring anything computer-related that you would like to show off, get fixed, sell, or give away.

Here are some items in which you might be interested:

Item 1.  Commodore pioneer Jack Tramiel dies.

Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak (iWoz), comments on the character and accomplishments of one of the greats in personal-computing history.

Item 2.  Would you like to sharpen your Microsoft skills?

Microsoft offers free Excel training for users of all levels. They even have a Mac version. There is a new format for showing large numbers in Excel. Also, check out this movie for 8 quick tips for Microsoft Word.

Item 3.  The origin of the dial phone is kind of funny.

The dial phone came out in 1891 because mortician/inventor Almon Strowger believed his local operator was deflecting business calls to his rival, the operator’s husband.  His invention took the operator out of the loop. This is part of a collection on the evolution of telephones.

Item 4.  Progress is happening in the world of electric cars.

CNET has published a report with 25 photos of past, current, and prototype electric cars and scooters from Edison to robots. From fold-up cars in rows like luggage carts at the airport to luxury models, the future looks bright for electric, hybrid, and fuel-cell cars.

Item 5.  NASA has some great ideas for future aircraft designs.

The space agency is shooting for 50% fuel consumption, 75% fewer emissions, and 83% noise reduction in some interesting designs. Google is funding a NASA prize for personal green aircraft designs also.

Item 6.  Sign of the times: NASA powers down it’s last mainframe.

Gina Smith reports that the Marshall Space Flight Center is shutting down NASA’s last mainframe computer, an IBM Z9 running Linux.  She speculates that the two-ton monster is just too expensive for the cost-cutting space-exploration agency to continue to operate.

Item 7.  One of the biggest advantages of Android over iPhone is widgets.

Jason Hiner, usually an Apple guy, has posted a photo gallery of  15 Useful SmartPhone Widgets. If you don’t like galleries, try the blog version, 15 Android Widgits that Will Make iPhone Users Jealous.

Item 8.  What do you think about juvenile cyber-delinquency?

Deb Shinder has posed an interesting question about laws that are turning kids into criminals. Something that started out as grad students playing around with a DARPA grant has become a vehicle for commerce and crime.

Item 9.  Our galactic center has revealed a secret.

Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, has been emitting flares that astronomers have called a “galactic burp” caused by the destruction of asteroids that cross its path.

Item 10.  You can now go to the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio online.

Tour exhibits of most every aircraft the USAF has flown; pan and zoom, listen to audio tracks, and watch explanatory videos. Click on map buttons to navigate through sections of the museum. Click the map again to make it retract. Hover over a plane to see its name. Zoom w/your mouse-wheel. Click on an item to “zoomify”. Look for the Mark 41 and Mark 28 thermonuclear bombs near the B-36. Woo hoo!

Item 11.  Have you ever wished for a keyboard for your iPhone?

Despite Apple’s insistence on not having one, you can buy your own for less than $50.  The Bluetooth Sliding Keyboard Case from ThinkGeek snaps onto your iPhone and makes text editing actually possible. For detailed photos, click here.

Item 12.  Check out this new portable hard drive.

CNET reviews a new 1TB portable hard drive that is priced around $135. The drive is waterproof up to a depth of 3 ft and it’s rugged enough to survive being dropped from 4 ft. It’s worth waiting through a short insurance commercial to watch the video in the review. More photos here.

Item 13.  3D printing comes to the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian has adopted the use of 3D printing technologyfor the National Museum of African-American History by copying a statue of Thomas Jefferson from Monticello. The results are stunning.

Item 14.  Are you unable to change margins in ribbon Excel print-preview?

Here’s how you can do it. Also, here are 10 Tips for troubleshooting Excel formulas and functions.

Item 15.  Do you like Apple’s style?

Here are 14 pictures of invitations to Apple events through the years with a brief explanation of each.

Item 16.  What are some things Microsoft is thinking about (besides Windows 8)?

Microsoft has displayed several new concepts at it’s annual Techforum. CNET has a review of 10 possibilites for Microsoft’s Brave New Future.

Item 17.  Here are some new picture collections that might make a good desktop background:

Space probes, Dust devils on Mars, Northern Lights & Solar Storms, SpaceEx. Austin Geeks, Sight Gags, Endangered Species

Item 18.  Not all robots look like humans.

Many are shaped to do specific jobs. Here is a selection of robots that are looking for real-world jobs.

Item 19.  Do you like YouTube?

Chuck has found some cool and Rarely Known YouTube Features that may interest you. You can use them to edit video, participate in contests, turn your phone into a remote control and lots more.

Item 20.  Infographics are graphical representations of statistics.

If you like that sort of thing, check out What Happens in a Single Day on the Internet. 294 billion emails are sent. Wow.

Item 21.   Are you an EverNote user?

If so, you might be interested in 10 Ways to Get the Most out of Evernote.

Item 22.  Apple battles Flashback malware.

Selena Frye reports on Apple’s latest attempts to fight Flashback (or Flashfake) by taking down the servers that help it work. The only antivirus software that can stop it, so far, requires a Java security update. Many have voiced concerns that Apple’s new position as sales leader may make it an increasingly large target for malware. Here is an article about Reducing the Risk of Contracting Malware on a Mac.

Item 23.  The $40 Raspberry Pi computer has shipped.

Nick Heath has provided a close-up look at the Raspberry Pi computer that techies have been waiting for months to see. It’s simple, but quite powerful. The provider has been swamped with purchase requests and it may be difficult for a while to get one. Here is an early review on using it.

Dick Sandlin

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