Tico Byte - January, 2010

 

Happy new year, all PC Club members.  May your new decade be filled with all you desire in your life.

 

The next meeting of the PC Club will be this coming Saturday, January 16th, at 9am at the Pan American School, in Belen.  Come earlier, if you like and hang out with friends over free coffee and donuts.  This month we will try to enlighten you about the latest revolution in 3G devices and how they may apply to your personal world.  Of course, we will answer all your questions and talk about whatever is new and exciting to our members.  So bring your curiosity, and have fun with all your friends.

 

Now, on with the Byte:

 

Item 1: If you travel and are concerned . . . 

 

A document obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) using Freedom of Information Act laws, clearly demonstrates that scanners used at US airports will store and transmit passenger images. According to the documents obtained by EPIC, here, the scanners have hard drives, USB ports and Ethernet connectivity and pose questions about privacy, according to the organization. The machines have a range of privacy settings that can be chosen by the airport authorities, and run on Microsoft Windows XP. EPIC says on its web site that the specifications contradict assurances made by the TSA. The privacy filters can be disabled and image files exported as human "strips". The organization said that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has withheld other documents it's seeking.

 

Story here: http://www.tgdaily.com/security-brief/45453-body-scanners-will-transmit-and-store-passenger-images

 

Item 2: How would you like to rent Windows??

 

For the past few years, Microsoft has been conducting experiments in various countries as to how and whether “renting” software could become a viable business model. The answer seemingly must have been yes, since Microsoft quietly added rental SKUs, as of January 1, to the list of license types available to customers worldwide. Though some industry watchers consider Microsoft’s various annuity licensing options — like Software Assurance, via which users pay for the right to use Windows, Office, and other Microsoft products, in chunks over a period of three years — to be “rental” programs, they technically aren’t. Under the newly introduced rental program, a customer would pay a flat fee to use Windows or Office 2007 (Standard or Professional versions) for a year.

 

Story here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=4930

 

Item 3: Microsoft and money; the world is changing.

 

Two interesting tidbits of news about Microsoft today. First is that the company is to make it legal to rent both Windows and Office. The second is an analysis on how slates will affect the Redmond giant’s bottom line. Both are interesting reading, but both also are indications of the problems that Microsoft is likely to encounter over the coming years. See, when zealots debate the old “Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux” argument, it’s a widely held belief within the Mac and Linux camp that it is one of these platforms that represent the greatest threat to Microsoft’s dominance. Utter nonsense.

Take a look at Microsoft’s business model. It’s all about selling expensive software to users, and then, later on down the line, selling those same people an upgrade. Rinse and repeat. But this model is not what it used to be. The problem facing Microsoft is that as hardware prices drop, this puts pressure on Microsoft to lower prices. Moreover, the problem is that as CPUs get faster, hard drives get bigger, and components become more and more integrated, the pressure will continue.

 

Story here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=6687

 

Item 4: TV watchers take note; may be better to watch your computer screen.

 

A study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation suggests that watching TV - or sitting in front of a PC for that matter - can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke by a staggering 80 percent. The survey assessed 7,000 Australian people based on the amount they watched TV and continued monitoring the people for six years. The findings showed that every hour spent being a couch potato increased the risk of cardiovascular ailments by 18 percent.

 

Story here: http://www.tgdaily.com/business-and-law-brief/45449-watching-tv-ups-heart-attack-risk-by-80

 

Item 5: "May our tongues be gentle, our emails be simple and our websites be accessible."

 

Steve Jobs, sometimes called the Blessed Steve Jobs or Saint Jobs of Cupertino, has had the blessings of God bestowed upon all his works and trumps. A story in today's Times of London relates how the Reverend Canon David Parrott bestowed the blessings of God from the pulpit in the church of St Lawrence Jewry. The good Reverend is said to have uttered the immortal line: "May our tongues be gentle, our emails be simple and our websites be accessible."

 

Story here: http://www.tgdaily.com/mobility-brief/45448-ipod-iphone-get-blessing-of-god-almighty

 

Item 6: The technology industry is going retro — moving away from remote controls, mice and joysticks to something that arrives without batteries, wires or a user manual.

 

In the coming months, the likes of MicrosoftHitachi and major PC makers will begin selling devices that will allow people to flip channels on the TV or move documents on a computer monitor with simple hand gestures. The technology, one of the most significant changes to human-device interfaces since the mouse appeared next to computers in the early 1980s, was being shown in private sessions during the immense Consumer Electronics Show here last week. Past attempts at similar technology have proved clunky and disappointing. In contrast, the latest crop of gesture-powered devices arrives with a refreshing surprise: they actually work.

 

Story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/technology/personaltech/12gesture.html?ref=technology

 

Item 7: fun with friends

This Saturday.  Come on down!

See you then,

Chuck