Dec 8, 2010

Nov - 24 2010 | By

Lovely astronomy program for all amjor platforms!

Use TWO displays with your Windows laptop or desktop:

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 Additional notes

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There's a free astronomy planetarium program called Stellarium. See the above link. The graphics were said to be very good.
It does require a graphics accelerator. Cheaper laptops or netbooks may produce jerky video.

Glenn said that a Black Friday sale item, a tablet PC <possibly the one mentioned in the last show>, wasn't an authorized user of Android. Though he didn't verify it, the apps for Android were not usable on it.
– If it looks to good to be true…
– Legit 7" & 10" tablets sell in the $300 to $500 range.
Paul said the Apple iPad has a custom chip, the A4, which makes it power efficient.
Glenn asked Paul about the available RAM on the iPad.
– It comes in 8, 16 & 32 megabytes.
Glenn said "these 7" units that are designed to run on the Google Android system" have 256meg of RAM, which doesn't seem like much. But Paul noted that the apps for the iPhone & iPad are pretty small and depend a lot on the operating system to do much of the work.

Paul mentioned the game called Angry Birds for the iPhone, the only game he's ever bought; it's $.99. He's impressed by the sound effects and played a sample.

The disclaimer:
The views and opinions expressed on this show are those of the speakers only and not necessarily KVMR its board, staff or contributors.

You used to need a special video card or add a second video card. to use a 2nd monitor.
It's now possible on all laptops and a lot of desktop computers.
Paul said all modern laptops of the last year or two can do "desktop extension" where the monitors work together to increase the size of the desktop: each showing a part of the larger display area.
– There's a link at the top to a document describing how to do it.
– The article is for Windows XP, Vista and Win7. <It sounded like Paul said it's possible for Win98, not sure>
– The computer has to have dual video ports.
– The Mac can do it but not some low end machines.
– On some Macs the option doesn't show up under the preferences settings
– The last remaining model of the iBook doesn't show that setting, but there is some software that allows that setting to be displayed. <Paul didn't name that software but said it was mentioned on a previous show>

Paul talked about Macs with a mini video port (like on a Mac Book Pro).
There are 3 types of Mac video ports:
– Some that look like a regular VGA of DVI output.
– Some that look about 1cm across called a mini video port.
– Some with a micro DVI port.
<It was a little hard to follow Paul, but I think what he was saying was…>
A mini video port can be made to use any modern flat panel display with an adapter you can get for about $3. One end will go into the Mac <mini video port presumably> and the other end will plug into either the VGA or DVI port of the monitor.

Glenn added that netbook computers usually wouldn't work well with this monitor extension process because the resolution is poor.

Paul said the resolution on Glenn's 12" netbook is 1024 X 768 and on smaller models it's 840 X 460.

At Best Buy Paul saw a Dyson fan that doesn't have a visible fan. The fan is in the base but the air was coming out of a circle attached to the base. The circular part was a wrap-around airfoil using the Venturi effect that increases the airflow by 15X. It's called a Dyson Air Multiplier. The airflow is non-turbulent and travels a long distance similar to the way laser light does because it's coherent. The down side is that the fan is over $200.

Glenn said he's seen Dyson hand air dryers that do an especially good job because they actually blow the water off your hands rather than just speeding up the evaporation.

Marilyn called. She bought an external hard drive for backup but it slowed the computer. Tech support told her to update her software (including Microsoft .NET Framework) & the hard drive firmware. She wonders if she can just turn off the hard drive while using the computer and turn it on again when she's not actively using it. She has about a week left to return it and wondered what to do.
– She'll probably have to do the updates as suggested.
– Since she doesn't have a high-speed connection, the suggestion was to take her laptop & drive to the library and use their faster connection.
– Return it & get another brand of hard drive.
– The reason for the .NET Framework is that the software the hard drive uses requires it. It's a programming framework and the software was originally written to use it — it's required.

Scott called. He has a Mac Book Pro built in 2008
He said the CPU diode goes up to 191deg before fan responds. He wanted to know how hot is too hot.
– 190 sound too hot, should be more like 170.
– Blow the dust out with canned air.
– Update the OS to get the latest fan control software. Normal Apple updates should get it.
– There may be a 3rd party utility that allows you to specify what temp the fan should kick in. Do a Google search.
– Get a notebook cooler. A powered cooler that runs off the USB power supply.
– On some Macs, the CPU & GPU will slow down when the temp gets too high. There's less heat produced at the slower speeds.

PC users may hear beeping when overheating occurs.

The free utility Speedfan was mentioned. It reports the temperature of various chips in the PC. What gets reported depends on what the manufacturer designed into the hardware.

Paul said he bought, for about $3 or $4, what's called a keyboard condom from Amazon. It's a membrane that goes over the keyboard to protect it from spills and such.

John called to say there's another free astronomy program called Celestia. It provides a point of view that's not limited to the surface of the earth. He thinks that it's available for the Mac as well as Unix. <Probably meant Linux>. See the above link.

Ken called to ask for opinions on ebook readers. Is it possible to turn a Mac Book into an ebook reader?
– If you buy a Kindle or have access to Kindle books, there is a reader for the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac Book and PC.
– The Kindle has a paper-like display and Glenn thinks it's the most reader-friendly in most lighting conditions.
– Paul said there's an app for the iPad so it can be used like a kindle.
– Unlike the iPad, the Kindle uses no backlight so it runs long time on a charge.

Paul talked about podcasting. Podcasts are subscription-based, time-shifted audio broadcasts. At the top are links for 2 to get you started.

One way to subscirbe to a podcast is to use iTunes.
– Open iTunes, click podcasts and click on the iTunes store. At the store, click on podcasts and search for, e.g., The Moth or Radio Lab <I love Radio Lab>.
– Some podcasts are free, some charge.
– When you find something you like, you can subscribe to it.
– You can then listen using iTunes or let iTunes put the audio into your iPod.

James called. He has an older computer running XP Pro. He wanted to know how to hook it up to his TV. The TV has S-video and the red yellow green <red yellow white?> composite connections. The computer only has a VGA port.
– Do an internet search for a "vga to composite converter" or "pc to tv converter".
– Paul did a quick search and found one at Tiger Direct for $29, he didn't know if it included the cables.

Last updated: 9:49 PM 12/8/2010