Nov 30 2011

Nov - 30 2011 | By

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– They're tagged with #Zentech.
– When what's said is unclear to me (or I'm unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (" ") verbatim.

Editor's comments are delimited by < >

Paul explained why the Zentech website isn't working. It uses the content management system called Joomla, which uses the programming language called PHP. PHP was upgraded at KVMR but the migration was incomplete. Paul hopes to have it done in a week or so — when he finds the time.

Glenn said he got a Vizio tablet at Costco last night for $190. It has an 8" screen — many of the sub $200 tablets are 7".
– It has 4gig of memory with 2gig devoted to the Android operating system.
– It has the more responsive capacitive touch screen rather than the resistive type.
– It takes up to a 32gig micro SD card. Glenn got a 4gig card at Fry's for $4.99.
<I think this might be the one.
Another review here.>

Paul noted that most GPS units have resistive touch screens but they are used differently than tablets. Most input is simply pushing the screen rather sliding the finger, as on the tablet, so the resistive screen is adequate.

Other GPS units, like the Tom-Tom that Glenn has, will take voice input. Paul said it's amazing how much progress has been made in voice recognition because of the need to discriminate the spoken word from ambient noise.

Glenn thought he got an excellent deal at Costco on his Tom-Tom Via TM (TM meaning 'traffic maps').
– He got a lifetime of free map & traffic updates.
– He paid $170 with a $55 instant rebate (after paying tax on the $170)

Some newer GPS units have intelligent routing. When they plan your route, they take historical data into account. For instance, they don't assume the freeway you'll be taking is free of traffic, but look at typical travel times needed by other drivers in the past, for that time of day.

Paul also said the newer GPS units have TMC which is a method of picking up traffic data from local FM radio stations (transmitted in "spare frames").

The data is picked up by the GPS thru the car adapter power cord, which serves as a receiver <or maybe an antenna?>. If you run it on its battery or powered while plugged into your laptop, this feature will not work.

Paul recalled when calculators started to replace slide rules & log tables there was debate about allowing them in the classroom. In his opinion if you don't know what you're doing then the calculator will only make it worse. And if you do know what you're doing it takes the grunt work out of it

The guys like the Tom Tom GPS units because they are based on open source software.
– The sound files are Ogg Vorbis open format compressed audio. You can easily change them.
– You can mess with the maps and sound files, and if you mess up the file structure, you can reload all of the software into the unit.
– Glenn was impressed with its voice recognition.
– With the advances in hardware processing power such unites are now able to complement the advances in software. This has led to 3D animations and improvements in voice recognition.

Scott called saying he's using an old computer (running Windows ME) with an expired version of Norton Anti-Virus. A newer version of Norton expects a more modern machine. He's concerned about lack of protection.
– The Norton program itself is still working. He just doesn't have the latest files to deal with the newer viruses. The money you pay to Norton is for these updates.
– Uninstall Norton and instead go with AVG Anti-virus. AVG 2010 runs on Windows 98 so it almost certainly will work on ME.
– Norton is a bit of a processor hog and tends to slow down the computer, especially an older one like his.
– At some point there are going to be diminishing returns in keeping an older computer going. Consider replacing it. ME is no longer supported by Microsoft.
– Refurbisihed computers can be bought with Windows XP.
– Go to Overstock.com and search for Optiplex. These are 2 or 3yr old off-lease Dell computers running XP that Paul has seen for as low as $149.
– Once you have an alternate computer to use, you can put Ubuntu Linux, on this one and it should work fine without an anti-virus. Linux gets along well on some older machines. If you go to ubuntu.com you can get them to mail you a CD with Linux for cost of a donation.
– Look for holiday prices of about $300 for a lower tier Windows 7 machines at Fry's.
– This is a good time to get your important data off this machine. ME should be able to use a flash drive for backup. Installing Ubuntu will mean all of your data will be blown away.

Marilyn called. When she uses her laptop at a friend's house to connect wirelessly to the internet, the connection is spotty. She's actually hitchhiking on the wireless signal of her friend's neighbor. She wants to know if she can be connected by dialup and wireless at the same time.
– If you know who this neighbor is (know where the signal is coming from), you might ask them to put their wireless transmitter closer to your location…or position yourself closer to it.
– Paul seemed to think it would be ok to have both connections going at the same time though he's only tried Ethernet & wireless simultaneously.
– If this laptop uses an external wireless receiver, you can try to extend the antenna cable so the antenna can be placed in a better spot.
– Use Netstumbler — software that scans for wi-fi signals in your vicinity and reports the signal strength. You'll be able to wander around and find the best location for a strong signal.
– For the Mac there's macstumbler.com.

In closing, Marilyn mentioned that Bodega Bay has great free public wi-fi.

Nikki called. She's been think of buying either an iPad2 or laptop. She just wants to use the internet & do email.
– It depends on your budget.
– You can get a new laptop with Windows 7 for about $300.
– Both guys like and use an ASUS. Fry's has had them for $298 with 15.6" screen. http://www.asus.com/
– Glenn said if money isn't an issue go with an iPad2.
– The software for the iPad2 is cheap. For example, Writer for iPad is a word processing program for under $10. Many apps are free.
– You can get a external Bluetooth keyboard for iPad, nevertheless, it's not a good platform for extensive writing.
– Go to an Apple store and try one out. You may want to make an appointment on apple.com first.
– Paul said Safari is the only browser for the iPad but Glenn said he's seen one called Download Lite <I guess this is it> that runs on the iPhone. <Implying it will work on the iPad>
– Safari on the iPad doesn't run Flash content but Apple does have an app for viewing Youtube videos (normally requiring Flash). But Glenn said he knows someone using that app and it will not play some Youtube videos.
– Download Lite does do Flash.
– If you decide on the iPad, get the wi-fi version. Don't get the one with 3G built in because that will require a service contract with a phone company to use their phone network, and there's usually a data cap (limit on the amount how much data you can receive per month).
– Ask how long a trial period you have so you can bring it back if you don't like it.
– Download Lite is available thru the App Store

Nikki asked if the guys recommend getting Apple Care at $169 for 2 years.
– Search Ebay for a better price.
– Email the guys: zen at kvmr dot org and they have info for getting it at a discount.
– Apple Care is especially useful if you're going abroad. It makes getting service easy.

Niki also asked for a wireless provider in Weimar, CA. She's currently using a satellite service. She was also wondering about Verizon mi-fi cards.
– Paul mentioned ColfaxNet. <I think this is it>
– The mi-fi cards use the phone network for the connection and there are monthly data limits. Wi-fi may be a better choice.

Ken called. When he drags the scroll bar on the right side of a window, the page jumps in sections.
– Glenn suggested that he might have changed something in Control Panel -> Mouse -> Mouse settings.
– Some browsers allow you to have either smooth scrolling or "large" scrolling. Check your browser settings. Use the browser's help section to search for something like 'scrolling preferences' or look around under 'options' in the menu to see if you can spot a relevant setting.
– Do a Google search for 'scrolling preferences' or 'erratic scrolling' (try different search words).

Sharon called. She's going abroad and wondered if she'll need to get a device for looking up bus schedules and hotels, etc, or whether her smartphone would suffice.
– Glenn doesn't think the tiny screen of an phone would be adequate.
– If you stick with the phone, you can use it on wi-fi without unlocking it.
– If you use your current phone network while abroad, you can be hit with big charges for roaming internet use. Stick with wi-fi.
– If you want to use a SIM card purchased in a foreign country, you'll have to have an unlocked phone. Check with AT&T (her current carrier).

She asked if getting an iPad would be cheaper.
– Probably not cheaper but much more enjoyable.

Last Updated: 11:05 PM 12/3/2011