APP HAPPY WITH CHUCK AND ADA

app for ipad -lovelace and babbageLovelace & Babbage” is a free iPad app for a comic book about the lives of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage.

Ada, born in 1815, was the daughter of the “mad, bad and dangerous to know” poet, Lord Byron. After being steered toward math to tame her wild blood, she invented the first computer language for the first computer. (The computer was never finished but was fully conceived by Babbage.) A print version just came out, for $21, re-titled “The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.”

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THE FOREVER MONTHLY BILL

NetflixWe recently found out we had been paying a monthly bill for more than a year for something we didn’t even want. If we hadn’t canceled a credit card, we wouldn’t have noticed.

This perpetual billing stems from giving out your credit card number for a free trial. “You can cancel at any time,” the pitch always says, and of course you can – but people often forget. It’s called a business plan, but it’s more like a business scam. For instance we recently got a pitch from Netflix for a free month of their movies and shows. Now we have nothing against Netflix and in fact were once customers, but to get the free month we had to give them credit card info. What are the chances that after the week is up we’ll forget to cancel the service? For us, pretty good. In fact, we would guess that the percentage of people who forget to cancel these free offers is substantial. Read more »

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TECH ADVICE FROM THE CARPET CLEANERS

musicWe overheard one of the best tech conversations ever from two guys who were cleaning our carpet. They debated the merits of just about every new gadget out there, and then went on to music creation. One of them was an amateur music producer, so we listened carefully when he said he uses “Ableton”  music software. We immediately tried the 30-day free trial version from Ableton.com. (We didn’t have to give them our credit card number.) Read more »

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GIVING UP ON HEWLETT PACKARD PRINTERS

printer troubleWhen we went on the web for a solution to fix our neighbor’s printer, we discovered a whole slew of complaints about the HP Photosmart series. Our own experience hasn’t been good either.

Our neighbor Ida’s problem started when her brand new black ink cartridge failed. She bought another one. That didn’t work either. Ida is in her mid-90s so we called HP Tech support for her. The HP tech guy had us run numerous tests – the usual stuff. Then he asked us to hand wash the cartridge. Never heard that one before; didn’t work anyway. So he advised Ida to buy a new printer, and before we could stop him, began delivering a non-stop pitch for the latest model. Forget about it, we finally got to say.  Ida agreed. She had already bought and junked two HP printers in two years.

Not until sitting down to write this column did we find a solution that has worked in some cases. Take the faulty ink cartridge out, close the lid, and let the printer reset itself. (It will give you a message about the missing cartridge.) Make sure there are no bits of tape adhering to it, shake it up, then replace it and see if it works. Read more »

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3D PRINTER INFO SOURCE

1pie chartWith all the new 3D printers, new materials and new software, it’s hard to keep up.  The information blasts can be dizzying.

Senvol.com/database has a free search engine for sorting through all the materials and all the machines out there.  We did a search on materials. First, we had the option to specify ceramics, polymer (plastic), sand, wax, composite or metal. But that was just the beginning. From there we could choose the tensile strength, the flexural strength and many other variables. There was another category for how well the material withstands various temperatures and another for the material’s hardness and density. The machine selection has 37  printer manufacturers to choose from and a lot more variables to specify. This is a happy hunting ground for an engineer or a hobbyist.

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AFFORDABLE 3D PRINTER

tiko 3D printer at kickstarterA 3D printer used to cost $3000 and up. Now there’s one called “Tiko” for $179.

It’s not out yet, but you can read all about it at Kickstarter.com. In the first three hours on the site, it raised more than the $100,000, which was its goal. With a month still to go, it has blown past $584,000.

This mirrors the history of other technologies: expensive at first, gradually coming down. Joy’s first computer cost $5,000; a new one now, many times more powerful, costs a tenth of that.

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BEST KITCHEN ADVICE

Kitchen tips website --keeping a cake fresh with bread

Bread with toothpicks keeps a cake fresh.

Quora.com/What-is-your-best-kitchen-advice has dozens of great kitchen tips. Did you know oiling the shells of your eggs will make the eggs last three or four extra weeks? Wrap celery in foil and it will last almost a month. Poke a lemon with a toothpick if you just need a few drops, then seal it up again with tape. The readers’ comments are great.

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HORSE RACING ON THE WEB

HORSE RACINGHRTV.com has replays of major horse races. Bob was recently looking for the Florida Derby, and couldn’t find it. Joy finally found it by Googling “Florida Derby race replay.” That’s when we found out they had video of many major races including some long past.

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EMAIL MARKETING

rebels guide to email marketingEmail marketing service companies provide templates for emailed newsletters, ads and fundraising materials. They also help target your audience, time your campaign, and analyze the results. Finally, they’ll send you a warning if you’re in danger of getting blocked for sending too much email.

Here’s an example of costs from one of the leading companies, “MailChimp.” They let you send up to 2,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free; beyond that, it’s about $10 a month. There’s a comparison of major services at email-marketing-options.com.

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APP HAPPY: LOCAL EVENTS, MOVIE PASS, MENU MAGNIFIER

Movies_by_Moonlight– “Localeur” gives you local tips for 14 large U.S. cities. It’s also available without the app at Localeur.com

–“MoviePass” lets you see a new movie at a local theater every 24 hours. It’s $42 for a three-month pass. Get it at MoviePass.com.

–“EyeReader” for iPhone makes it easy to see a restaurant menu in low light. It uses your phone’s light, and magnifies the text. Android eye reading apps here. “Magnifier” for Android is similar.

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