WHAT CREDIT CARD NUMBERS MEAN

how credit card numbers workRedshed.co.uk/blog will decipher the meaning of that long string of numbers on your credit card. The first number, for instance, is the type of institution that issued the card, such as a bank. This is a garden supplies shopping site in England but has interesting information.

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TRACE AND DRAW

Crayola trace and drawTrace & Draw” is a free app from Crayola for iPhone/iPad and Android devices. Place a piece of paper over your screen and a drawing underneath shines through, allowing you to trace it. The opening screen tells you to buy a $20 Crayola clip to hold your paper, but that’s unnecessary. Besides this app, you can get lots of images to trace for free from Images.Google.com. Search on “black and white clip art.” Ordinary paper works fine if you turn up the brightness setting on your tablet.

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TIMELY TUTOR

TIMELY TUTORTimely Tutor” is an app for iPod/iPad/iPhone that asks children to take a break from playing video games and take a quiz. You can set the questions to appear every five minutes or every hour or any time period. Each set of questions in areas such as geography, science and math, costs 99 cents, but there are hundreds of them for each grade level up to the sixth grade. It’s up to you whether the kid is stopped from playing his game until he takes his quiz or whether he just gets a gentle reminder. You also decide how long the quiz is and what constitutes a passing grade.

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DOWNTON ABBEY’S BEST QUOTES

DowntonismsDowntonisms” is a 99 cent iPhone/iPad app for fans of the PBS series “Downton Abbey.” Pick a favorite character and listen to her best lines, while enjoying a slide show of snapshots from the show. Tag a line to add to favorites or share on social media. Here’s a line from Maggie Smith’s character, Violet: “I wonder your halo doesn’t grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara round the clock.”

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WHITEBOARD MAGIC

Epson Brightlink ProEpson has a new projector that turns your wall into a giant iPad. Anything you can do on an iPad you can also do on the wall by tapping on a whiteboard projected onto a wall.

It’s called the “BrightLink Pro,” and though it costs $2100 and up, depending on features, its power awed us. Besides turning your wall into a giant iPad, it can be used as an interactive whiteboard that colleagues can scribble on from 15 remote locations. Whatever they draw or write on the screen shows up on the same page everyone else is looking at. The display is in full color.

A small box mounts on the wall. It has lots of ports and all the necessary software already on board. Plug in your computer or a flash drive and run any program it has just by tapping a command on the projected icon. If you run out of space for a presentation, just add a page, up to 50, with all previous pages saved and ready to return to with a click.

The BrightLink won a “Gold Stevie” award for the best new business product. Don’t confuse this BrightLink Pro with the one reviewed by PC Magazine in 2013. Same name but new product.

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A READER QUESTION

computer virusA reader wrote to tell us he loves Microsoft’s free anti-virus software, “Microsoft Security Essentials,” and has been using it for years. But it doesn’t come on his daughter-in-law’s Windows 8 machine; Windows 8 comes with “Microsoft Defender,” which is only part of Security Essentials. So we recommended switching to Avast, which is free from Avast.com.

Some things to look out for in getting Avast for free: During set-up, you should click “register” and then choose the free version. At another point during registration, you should click on “basic” as your choice, in order to avoid getting simply a free trial of the paid version. Also: under “settings,” uncheck the boxes that allow the program to bombard you with messages; also change the default setting (which provides no updates) so that you get automatic updates. (Who would want to do them manually: only the programmer who wrote the code.)

By the way, we use Avast Mobile Security for Android phones, to stop malware, spyware and viruses. They say it also stops the prying eyes of a suspicious partner.

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COMPUTERS: AN ALTERNATIVE

10 YEAR JOURNAL-Back in the days when the world was young and computers were new, we had an editor who claimed he had developed an alternative technology that was both cheaper and had storage that lasted longer than disks.

He said it was a word processor that cost about a nickel. The words came out one end and the other end had an undo tip. Sometimes the word processing end needed sharpening but that took little effort. It was unaffected by power outages or software crashes, he said. Unless you had a dog, he added.

The real clincher, he said, was the storage medium. He called it “paper,” and anything you wrote on it could be saved and stored for centuries – as long as it didn’t get wet. This was a proven technology, he maintained, tested by writers living and dead. And the medium even came in a number of colors.

This seemed to us more of a fantasy than a technology that could actually be perfected and come into daily use, but we pass it along to you who might want to work on it. If you do, we recently came across an excellent “app” for this technology; it’s called a “journal.” It’s expensive though — $40, from a Japanese company that designed it to store information in decades.

For any given day in the “Ten Year Journal,” you’ll see the years 2015 to 2025 running down the right column, with four lines of space for each year. Put down today’s entry and next year, you can see what you wrote the previous year on the same day. You can get it at journal10.com. Remember to think long term. And be concise.

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SMARTY PANTS

Athos pants“Athos,” is a $99 pair of pants coming out in November that will analyze athletic performance.

The pants can tell whether your squats are using your left leg more than your right and also take your blood pressure. They can even tell you whether you’re using your muscles correctly on a stationary bike. The smart phone app glows green when you’re at your maximum.

There are a couple of negatives here: one user said it feels like a wetsuit, and you can’t wear men’s underwear (interferes with the sensors). The maker claims they’re machine washable. (No bleach, no starch.) More info at LiveAthos.com.

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GETTING THROUGH THE HUFFINGTON POST

HUFPOAn incensed reader wrote to complain about The Huffington Post’s requirement that you have a Facebook account before you can comment on their news articles. Well, it’s their business and no one has to use their site. But if you want to comment and you don’t do Facebook, here’s a workaround:

What probably bothers people most about Facebook is the loss of privacy. But you can sign up without ever posting a thing or filling out a profile. And despite their requirement that you use your real name, we know someone who uses only his first name and last initial. He uses that combo for first and last name, writing it twice, as in “Joe D Joe D.”

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BUILD YOUR OWN WEBSITE

build your own websiteYou don’t need to learn HTML coding to build a website if you use templates provided by Yola.com, Weebly and others. But to create an original, it helps to be a coder.

In the past we’ve praised the “Head First” books for their mix of learning and whimsy. But now we’ve read something better. “Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS and WordPress” by Nate Cooper and Kim Gee is the most readable, entertaining and helpful guide of all.

You won’t need anything but a computer to follow along in the book and create your own site, and they don’t assume you know anything to start with. Other books make you master HTML before turning to CSS, but this book simplifies both. The drawings help nail down the major points. The book is $20 from NoStarch.com.

 

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