Best of Tech Talk Edition
- Segments taken from previous shows
Email and Forum Questions
- Email from Arnie: Hi Dr. Shurtz, I read an article about Eye-Fi and the fight over SD card standards. This is a good tech talk topics. – don’t you agree? Does this mean one can take a digital photo and somehow send it to a computer, iPad, or other device? What’s this all about? Arnie McKechnie, Davidsonville, MD
- Tech Talk Responds: The Eye-Fi card is the first wireless memory card. It looks, stores media, and fits into cameras just like a regular SDHC card. The Eye-Fi card has built-in Wi-Fi that effortlessly transfers photos and videos to your iPhone, iPad, Android device or computer. The issue is that the SD card association (www.sdcard.org) wants to create a wi-fi standard using the intellectual property in the Eye-Fi card. Expect litigation as this moves forward. This is a normal event as standards evolve.
- Email from K.C.: Dear Dr. S: I cannot afford a smart phone, but I constantly hear and read about smart phone apps that I would like to have and use. Is it possible to use smart phone apps on a computer? (I also do not have wi-fi, in case wi-fi might be a way of using apps.) K. C.Hutchison
- Tech Talk Responds: Cell phone apps cannot be installed on a computer. However, some apps have been written for both. For install the Kindle reading app can be installed on a PC, Mac, Andoid, or iPhone. Many games are written for all platforms. Search for the name of the application and see if it is available for the PC.
- Email from Desirable: Dr. Richard Shurtz, I listen every Saturday morning while exercising on the treadmill–You are keeping me Fit : ). I work as a business consultant and it is common to be asked to figure out if something we are posting on a client’s website is 508 compliant. A guy I work with knew about this application–JAWS: http://www.freedomscientific.com/product-portal.asp and recommended I try it out on a 100 slide slidedeck I’d composed.
- My slides have a LOT of screenshots captured from within the software tool that this PP presentation was written for– to instruct user community on how to use it. Unfortunately, JAWS did not read/recognized the screenshots, nor did it acknowledge the legend I’d created to instruct on what the inserted shapes. Are you aware of an way to meet the 508 compliance mandate while using screenshots– since, after all, using screenshots in a user guide for a software application is very popular with most clients I’ve worked with. Your insights are most appreciated Doc : ) Desirable
- Tech Talk Responds: Your screen captures are in JPG format. You can convert to PDF and JAWS will read the PDF. If you want a more intelligible reading of the image, however, I would suggest a well written caption when explains each screen shot. There are not other options for images unless you use a separate OCR program. A good JPG to PDF converter can be found on the web. Many are free. Just google “JPG to PDF converter.”
- Email from Darin: Dear Dr. Shurtz, I wanted to clarify what I just heard about the differences between these two programs. It sounds like you talked about PhotoShop Elements vs Lightroom. The biggest difference is that Lightroom is noted for having phenomenal cataloging capabilities for your photo library, while PS Elements has none. Lightroom is also a little more powerful when it comes to photo editing. Left out of the equation, though, is PhotoShop CS5. That’s the more professional and technical photo editing software that can really get into the nitty gritty details of photo editing. It’s also used for high-end graphic design, which the other two programs don’t really have. The only thing it lacks is Lightroom’s organizational structure. A lot of people (and I need to start doing this too, since I’m terrible at organizing my photos) use CS5 and Lightroom in tandem. Love the show! Darin
- Tech Talk Responds: Darin, thanks for the clarification. You are right they are complimentary programs. Photoshop is the world’s leading pixel manipulator. There is no other program like it for complete control over the look and feel of your digital image. No other program offers the same level of local image repair or allows such artistic creativity.
- However, Photoshop is useless when you need to find your favorite images. Searching, sorting, and organizing are not part of its capabilities. These are Lightroom’s strengths.
- Not only can Lightroom help you organize all of your files but it can also help you manage the whole digital imaging workflow. Lightroom is designed to help you from start to finish. You get the most bang for your buck once you learn to use Lightroom to empty your memory card, to sort through your files, to set your initial raw file conversion, and to push the finished product over out to the web or to your printer. Lightroom handles the whole chain of events with speed and grace whereas Photoshop really only functions as an image enhancer.
Profiles in IT: Liuus Torvalds
- Linus Torvalds was best known as the developer of the Linux operating system.
- Linus Torvalds was born on December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland.
- Named after Linus Pauling (winner of Noble Prize in Chemistry). Torvalds later claimed to have been named after the blanket carrying, Linus, in Peanuts.
- His mascot is a Penguin, named Tux
- Web site: http://www.linux.org/
- His parents were communist radicals and other children used to tease Linus about it.
- His grandfather bought him a Commodore VIC 20, one of the first personal computers, and Linus learned to write computer games for it when he was twelve.
- In 1988, Linus began studying computer science at the University of Helsinki. He invested in a better computer with a 386 processor and began learning the assembly language for the processor. He coded a number of advanced software projects, including a floppy disk driver and software assembler.
- In 1990, he began learning Unix when the university purchased a MicroVAX system.
- UNIX was common on huge computers with many users, but it was bulky, expensive, and impractical for personal computers.
- Torvalds had a PC that came MS-DOS. He installed Minix, a PC-compatible mini-mimic of UNIX, but he wanted something more flexible and user-friendly.
- In 1991 Torvalds spent several months writing a compact operating system for his PC.
- He almost called it Freax, but later decided on Linux.
- He posted an announcement to the Minix group on USENET, and made the Linux source code available to other nerds free of charge.
- Programmers everywhere started adding their own improvements.
- Eventually companies like Red Hat, Corel, Caldera, and TurboLinux began selling their own versions of Linux.
- Linux quickly became a symbol of the open source movement, with a tuxedo penguin as its mascot.
- Torvalds earned his masters degree in computer science at the University of Helsinki.
- From 1997 to 2003, Linux worked for Transmeta Corporation.
- To handle Linux matters, Linus created the Linux Foundation, a non-profit corporation that holds the trademark name Linux.
- In 2004 he was named one of the world’s most influential people by Time Magazine.
- At this point, he has actually written about 2% of the kernel.
Looking back: View from 1995
- Title: Hype Alert: Why cyberspace isn’t, and will never be, nirvana
- Source: Newsweek, February 27, 1995
- Author: Clifford Stoll
- Here are a few quotes from this misguided article. Read and chuckle.
- The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper.
- No CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.
- Anyone to post messages on UseNet. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. When most everyone shouts, few listen.
- Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don’t know what to ignore and what’s worth reading.
- Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore. : And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach.
- Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.
- We’re promised instant catalog shopping. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet,the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.
- What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee.
- STOLL is the author of “Silicon Snake Oil–Second Thoughts on the Information Highway”
History of QWERTY Keyboard
- This layout was devised and created in the early 1870s by Christopher Latham Sholes, a newspaper editor and printer who lived in Milwaukee.
- With the assistance of his friends Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule he built an early writing machine for which a patent application was filed in October 1867.
- The first model constructed by Sholes used a piano-like keyboard with two rows of characters arranged alphabetically.
- His “Type Writer” had two features which made jams a serious issue. First, characters were mounted on metal arms or typebars, which would clash and jam if neighboring arms were depressed at the same time or in rapid succession.
- The solution was to place commonly used letter-pairs (like “th” or “st”) so that their typebars were not neighboring, avoiding jams.
- While it is often said that QWERTY was designed to “slow down” typists, this is incorrect – it was designed to prevent jams while typing at speed, yet some of the layout decisions, such as placing only one vowel on the home row, did have the effect of hobbling more modern keyboards.
- In November 1868 he changed the arrangement of the latter half of the alphabet, O to Z, right-to-left. In April 1870 he arrived at a four-row, upper case keyboard approaching the modern QWERTY standard.
- Dvorak designed a keyboard which minimized the movement required by the typist. A more efficient design, but few use it because it is hard to learn to type again.
Viral Video Week: A Brief History of Pretty Much Everything
- This video carries the viewer from the creation of the universe to man leaving Earth to explore that universe.
- Along the way, the flipbook-style animation retells evolution, the rise of civilizations, and the theory of relativity.
- It was made by 17 year-old Jamie Bell from the UK.
- Jamie drew and filmed the project for art class.
- It 2100 pages contained in about 50 jotter books.
- He worked on it on-and-off for about three weeks.
- The YouTube clip has attracted more than 1 million viewers.
- Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNYZH9kuaYM
Blind soldier can See with Tongue
- Lance Corporal Craig Lundberg, 24, from Walton, Liverpool, can read words, identify shapes and walk unaided thanks to the BrainPort device.
- Lundberg lost his sight after being struck by a rocket propelled grenade while serving in Basra in 2007.
- He was chosen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to be the first person to try a pioneering device – the BrainPort, which could revolutionise treatment for the blind.
- The BrainPort converts visual images into a series of electrical pulses which are sent to the tongue. The different strength of the tingles can be read or interpreted so the user can mentally visualise their surroundings and navigate around objects.
- The device is a tiny video camera attached to a pair of sunglasses which are linked to a plastic “lolly pop” which the user places on their tongue to read the electrical pulses.
- You get lines and shapes of things. It sees in black and white so you get a two-dimensional image on your tongue – it’s a bit like a pins and needles sensation.
- One of the things it has enabled him to do is pick up objects. He can reach out and pick them up when before I would be fumbling around to feel for them.
- Unveiling the BrainPort at the MoD headquarters in Whitehall, US Major General Gale Pollock, who worked on the scheme, said the BrainPort has 400 points sending information to the tongue connection.
- Designers plan to expand this to 4,000 points, which would vastly upgrade the clarity of the image.
- Users cannot speak or eat while using the BrainPort so designers are hoping to create a smaller device that could be permanently fixed behind the teeth or to the roof of the mouth, enabling more natural use.