TicoByte for March, 2013

Dear Club Members,

Our next meeting will be Saturday, March 16th, at the Pan American School in Belen at 9 AM.  As usual, you should come early for coffee, snacks, and chat at 8:30.  Please feel free to bring your favorite computer stories, as well as hardware or software that others might want.  Last time, we were in a differnt room, so watch for signs at the top of the stairs.

  1. Some writers are speculating that Microsoft is planning smaller Windows 8 tablets, like the iPad mini. The 7" or 8" form factor does have quite a following, so it might not be a bad idea.  Microsoft is already making Surface units that are as big as a table top.  You might have seen them on TV, especially on the police shows like Hawaii 5-0 or Bones.  So, tablets seem to be coming in all sizes these days.

  2. Have you heard the term "e-tail"?  Many don't appreciate this butchering of the language, but it's what some people are calling buying on-line, as opposed to "retail", which is the brick-and-mortar version.  A recent article looked at the ever-more-common practice of visiting a retail store, like Circuit City or Best Buy, with smartphone in hand.  A recent survey during the 2012 holiday season showed nearly 70% of shoppers used a mobile phone while in a retail store.  62% accessed the website or app of the store in which they were standing, and 37% accessed the website or app of a competitor to the store they were in.  The article reported a trend called showrooming where shoppers like to scope out a product in person, then buy it online -usually for less- from a rival, using a mobile device.  This often happens from within the brick-and-mortar store itself.  Is that cold or what?

  3. If you're interested in speculations about what computers will be like in the future, you might want to take a look at this article about Shuttleworth's one device.  The article describes an architecture where you really own only one computer.  It would be a lot like a cross between the smartphones and small tablets that we have today, only a lot more capable, of course.  That device would fit into different appliances for different purposes.  You could drop it into a gadget that has a desktop screen and keyboard (perhaps with extra memory, disc storage, and insertable media) and it would become like today's PC.  You could put it into the back of a comfortably-sized screen and it would be like an iPad.  You could point it at your TV and it would be a remote control that could send content to the screen.  I like this idea!  Perhaps it could have a reproducible little card that contained all your options, so if you lost it you could buy another one and put in your little card.

  4. Did you see the movie A Day Made of Glass, from Corning, that Tom Bosserman posted on the club's mailing list?  If you didn't, you must watch it right now.  This is a fantastic look into the future that is the most exciting thing I've seen in a long time.  Sure, it's a commercial of sorts, but just let your imagination loose for a minute and dream.  You don't have to buy anything.

  5. Have you heard the rumors about Apple making an iWatch?  I read about it in the New York Times!  The story is that the watch would be made using something like Corning's bendable Willow Glass (see above item).  The Chinese gadget site Tech.163 has reported that the watch would use a Bluetooth connection to an iPad and a 1.5" display for it's advanced functions, such as making and answering phone calls.  You can read the Chinese site if you use the Google Chrome browser with Google Translate.  Sony has marketed a SmartWatch that is similar, but lacks some of the reported functions of the iWatch.  I shudder to think how much this might cost.

  6. Everything is about "the Cloud" nowadays.  Chromebooks have come full circle back to the days when all the computing was done by the big box and everyone hooked to it with a "thin client", less-elegantly known as a "dumb terminal".  The comparison is not exact because the Chromebooks can actually do a few things on their own, but almost all of the computing is done in the cloud.  The author of this Chromebook article suggests that a good way to try out the concept is to use just the Chrome browser on your computer (and nothing else) for a day.  If you need additional power, add an extension to your Chrome browser and move along.  If you can do what needs doing that way, a Chromebook would work for you and save you a lot of money.  Acer sells one for $199, brand new.  You might also save more later because your Chromebook is unlikely to ever become obsolete.  The catch is you have no local storage and no external devices (except maybe USB).

Connie and I are travelling to Texas to greet the birth of a new grandchild, so I won't be at the meeting this month.  Please make sure that Chuck behaves himself in my absence.  (LOL)

I hope you have a great time at the meeting,

Dick Sandlin


Just in case......

LOL means,
"Laughs Out Loud".

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