Tico Byte - March 2008


Good day, members,

This is your reminder that the monthly meeting of the PC Club of Costa Rica will be this Saturday, at the Pan American School in Belen, at 9am (with coffee, donuts and conversation at 8:30am). So come early and meet with like minds. This time we will have a special guest: Mitch Frazier is visiting from the cold northern confines of the US of A. We will have our usual round robin of member's experiences and questions; so bring your notebooks and thinking caps. There is a full bill of exciting things to talk about. Come, participate and have fun.

And now on with the Byte.

Item 1: (One of my personal pet peeves:) Talking on that cell phone and driving.
Many states (including
California, New York, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Connecticut) have imposed laws requiring drivers to use hands-free devices to make phone calls. New Jersey even made violation of its law a first offense. But several studies over the years have found that talking on a hands-free device is not much safer than talking on a hand-held device. A study by the American Psychological Association of over 500 drivers found that talking on a cell phone cut activity in areas of the brain used for driving by half. Drivers focusing on a phone conversation had slower reaction times, were less likely to recall objects on the road, and had a hard time noticing traffic around them. Researchers also noted that hands-free devices in the car posed the same hazards as hand-held devices. Story at: http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/hughes/24247;_ylt=AkuOh.Xru8klClQ8J.xXRiEWLpA5


Item 2: New Firefox.

Firefox 3 beta 4 is hot off the presses, bringing an impressive speed boost and more refinements to Firefox's sleek new user interface. The most noticeable thing in the new beta is the blazing speed improvements, particularly with JavaScript-heavy pages like Gmail which load in about half the time of previous releases. The release notes say the speed boost comes from changes to Firefox’s JavaScript engine as well as the “profile guided optimization” that we've mentioned before. Aside from the speed, the fourth beta release of Firefox 3 also features new improvements to the user interface, particularly in Windows Vista where the UI now matches the look of other platforms. Vista now sports the “keyhole” back/forward buttons and some new glossy, Vista-looking icons, as well as native Vista widgets for web forms. Story at:  http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2008/03/new-beta-4-puts.html


Item 3: Heat tricks you should know.

Heat is like kryptonite for your precious system—it can slow your PC's performance to a crawl, fry the motherboard, and threaten your data. Check out these easy tips for keeping your desktop or notebook cool as a cucumber.Location, location, location: Have your CPU tucked away in a cabinet or hidden on the floor beneath your desk? Well... don't. Your system needs plenty of ventilation to keep cool—about a foot on every side, according to SmartComputing. And while the floor may seem like a relatively cool place for your CPU, it's also a breeding ground for dust and dirt, which could block your system's all-important cooling fans. Finally, keep your system in the shade—direct sunlight may brighten your mood while you're working, but it's a serious no-no for your components. Story at: http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/patterson/13583;_ylt=Akv3gpSAc0y1T4bV0mxFvKmSMJA5


Item 4: Wow. Intel and solid drives.

Although Intel has already formally entered the sold-state hard disk drives market, they do not have high-capacity flash-HDDs for notebooks and desktops just yet. Intel is currently offering only single-chip SSDs for pocket devices with 2GB and 4GB storage capacity. However, this situation should change very soon. Intel confirmed their intention to unveil a new line of solid-state drives for laptop and notebook PCs that will feature a storage capacity up to 160GB.

Story at: http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/storage/display/20080311123420_Intel_to_Launch_160GB_Solid_State_Drives_for_Notebooks.html


Item 5: The future of printing??

Hewlett-Packard Monday offered a peek into future printing technologies, introducing a new inkjet printer that prints thousands of pages per minute and ink that retains its shine even when exposed to extreme elements. HP's water-based Latex Ink is specially formulated to embed in a surface and become part of a media print, said Stephen Nigro, senior vice president of HP's graphics and imaging business. HP's Latex Ink can withstand snow and rain and is useful for large-format media used on billboards and outdoor signs.

Story at: http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/11/HP-shows-off-future-printing-technologies_1.html


Item 6: Again, more from Intel.

More big... er, small... news from Intel. A new CPU brand will be launching in the near future, called Atom, targeted at ultramobile devices like tiny PCs (think the Samsung Q1), and possibly even smaller devices like handheld web browsers. Why Atom? Because atoms are small. Get it? Intel is a company that, if nothing, is full of sophisticated humor. Atom will be not just a microprocessor but also a full architecture that specifies extremely low power consumption. Specifically, an Atom chip will draw between 0.6 and 2.5 watts of power, whereas a Core 2 Duo laptop chip might pull 35 watts. To confuse matters further, "Centrino Atom" devices must also include integrated graphics, a wireless radio, and a form factor that Intel must approve as appropriately thin for the Atom logo. Story at: http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/83831;_ylt=AjxbN1hTKBP6ANNoQEMdyTeSMJA5


Item 7: Exciting stuff.

Come to the next meeting and bring your big questions as Mitch Frazier will be there. If he can't answer it, I don't know who can. I will be in the states and Bill Vorih will be filling in for me.