Tico Byte for February, 2007


Dear members,


We have an exciting meeting this month, with lots of instruction and interesting presentations. Our school director, Michael Genis will talk about a reading program for preschoolers, with which you might be interested in participating. We will have Alfonso Perez, the owner of the PC Doctor in the Cariari, talking and demonstrating the new Mac and the Treo. We will show you the benefits and explain how to do on line banking here in Costa Rica. There will be a demo and explaination of how to really use your RSS feed. We will discuss and demonstrate lightweight applications for Windows. Roy will have USB thumb drives for those who ordered them. The last hour will be an installation of Ubuntu on Bill Lawerence's desktop computer. This month we will have a larger room so as to make it more comfortable for all. And there will be lots of time for breaks so that all can interact as they would like. All this and donuts and coffee, too. Come and bring a friend. Next Saturday, Feb. 17th, 8:30am at the Pan American School, in Belen.


And now on with the Byte.


Item 1: Thinking of staying with Windows XP?


One of the favorite topics of conspiracy-minded readers is the notion that Microsoft is about to shut down support for Windows XP, forcing hapless users to buy Windows Vista.


Story here:  http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=188


Item 2: With all the discussion about Windows Vista and how good Mac is in comparison, there is a lot of talk about how they stack up against each other. This site has a whole list of comparisons so that you can do someof your own evaluations:




Item 3: Something I ran into recently: a website here in Costa Rica that has portable computers. The site is: www.tuportatil.net. I haven't been to their store, but their site looks interesting as it has new, used and rentals. I will also hand out a flyer from Second Call, another new and used portable computer (as well as desktop) store in Escazu that has good service.


Item 4: And about that new camera you want to buy ...


For an industry that’s built on science, the technology world sure has its share of myths. Thousands of people believe that forwarding a certain e-mail message to 50 friends will bring great riches, that the gigahertz rating of a computer is a good comparative speed score, or that Bill Gates once said “640K of RAM ought to be enough for anybody.”


But one myth is so deeply ingrained, millions of people waste money on it every year. I’m referring, of course, to the Megapixel Myth.


complete story: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/08/technology/08pogue.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin


Item 5: A Google test search engine can be found here: http://www.searchmash.com/


Try here: http://www.searchmash.com/about/features.html


As is says: SearchMash lets you search the internet in new ways. It is constantly evolving as we come up with ideas and figure out what works and what doesn't. Check back here from time to time to see what has changed, and also to tell us which ones are useful to you. Please bear with us when the site is unavailable as we are limiting its use.




Item 6: Web 2.0 and so what?


Here's a place to start learning:


The idea of reductionism holds that the nature of complex things can always be reduced to simpler, more fundamental ideas.  In contrast, Tim O’Reilly’s now-famous meme-map of Web 2.0 is a terrific piece of largely holistic analysis.  Holisim, which is the opposite of reductionism, says that the properties of any given system cannot be determined by the mere sum of its parts.  In a small but important way, this captures an essential aspect of the debates that swirl around Web 2.0 and the next generation of the Web in general.




Item 7: Computers mimick the brain?


Researchers at the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research have used a biological model to train a computer model to recognize objects in busy street scenes, such as cars or people. Their very innovative approach, which combines neuroscience and artificial intelligence with computer science, mimics how the brain functions to recognize objects in the real world. This versatile model could soon be used for automobile driver's assistance, visual search engines, biomedical imaging analysis or robots with realistic vision. It also have many potential applications for neuroscientists, to design augmented sensory prostheses for example. And the researchers are thinking about a commercial implementation of their technology.


Story here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=487


Item 8: Want to look better?


Computer scientists have already tried to digitally enhance our images. Today, let's look at the 'Beauty Function' developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) and who promise a more beautiful you. Their program was based on a survey of 300 men and women who were asked to rank pictures of peoples' faces with varying degrees of beauty. Not only it produces results in minutes, but it works. "Volunteers agreed that 79 percent of time, the effects of the Beauty Function — which can be applied to both men and women — made a face more attractive." This software could be first used by plastic surgeons. But this enhancement might soon also become available on your digital camera.


Story here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=483


Item 9: And what the heck?


Every once in a while I run across a new Web 2.0 company so unique, so cutting edge…that I just have to profile and promote it. Such is the case of Useless Account. From Brisbane Creative, Useless Account is one of those products that reminds you why we do what we do.


Story: http://blogs.zdnet.com/web2explorer/?p=322


See you all at the meeting on Saturday. It should be lots of fun.