5 TED TALKS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE — AND OTHER NEWS

Encylopedia.com lets you search over 100 encyclopedias and dictionaries and come up with different sources for subjects as diverse as global warming, horse racing and Vercingtorix, leader of the Gauls fighting Julius Caesar. “5 Ted Talks That Will Marginally Improve Your Life–” Search on that phrase to find some fascinating 15-minute talks. One is on body language, another on taking talking walks instead of sit-down meetings. The average person sits over nine hours a day — not good. MuchLoved.com lets you create a lovely tribute page on the web for free. Joy made one for her favorite aunt, who passed away this month at the age of 92. You can password-protect the site or leave it open. Others can send photos […]

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APP HAPPY WITH CHUCK AND ADA

“Lovelace & 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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PHOTO MATH

PhotoMath, a free app, lets you take a picture of an equation and get an answer plus the steps involved. (Does not recognize handwriting.) Assuming you already have it on a screen somewhere, this is easier than re-typing the mathematical expression at sites like WolframAlpha.com. PhotoMath already has 11 million downloads for the iPhone and Windows Phone version. That’s a lot of downloads but it didn’t work for us. You try it. An Android version is coming soon.  

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THREE PROGRAMMING BOOKS FOR KIDS

– “Lauren Ipsum” by Carlos Bueno is the story of a little girl who must find her way home by thinking like a programmer. It may do for children what Douglas Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher, Bach” did for Joy back in the 1980s: get them excited about programming ideas. The name “Lauren Ipsum” comes from the dummy text used as filler when printers don’t have the actual text of a page yet or want to show off a font. It’s been around since the 1500s, when an unknown printer used assorted type to make a specimen book. The book’s title character tackles classic problems like “Zeno’s Paradox” and “The Traveling Salesman.” Each chapter connects to a real-life computer science lesson in […]

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AFFORDABLE COLLEGES ONLINE

AffordableCollegesOnline.org offers real degrees from universities such as Oregon State, University of Illinois and Penn State. They offer a series of guidebooks for veterans, the disabled and those for whom English is a second language. There’s also a financial aid section with forms and guides.

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AN INTERACTIVE PERIODIC TABLE

Ptable.com is an interactive periodic table. We clicked on “rhenium” and learned it’s used in jet engines. Who knew?

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FREE SPEED READING TOOL ON THE WEB

Spreeder.com is a free speed reading tool. Paste the text you want to read in the window on the page and the words will flash by at any speed you choose. (This reminds Bob of an old Woody Allen joke: He learned speed reading and went through Tolstoy’s massive “War and Peace” novel in six minutes. He said it seemed to be about Russia.) Because you don’t have to keep a finger on your place, you’ll find your reading speed increasing by 50 percent the first time you try it. We did. The site gives you sample text to practice with, but we went beyond that: We pasted in a bunch of text from “Tarzan of the Apes,” free at […]

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SAY IT IN FARSI

Livemocha.com is a language learning community that covers more tongues that you ever thought you might want to know. Say it in Farsi (Iranian), or Zulu (South African tribal language).

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TINKERBOX: FREE GAME FOR TEACHING ENGINEERING

“Tinkerbox HD” by AutoDesk is a free puzzle game for iPhone/iPad/iPod, for teaching basic engineering concepts. Build outrageous machines or download popular inventions

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WEIRD BUT TRUE!

“Weird but True!” from the National Geographic. It’s a free kids app for iPhone/iPad/iPod that lets you in on some of Nature’s strangest secrets. Like: Cheetahs can change direction in mid air while chasing prey. Or so they say.

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