FASCINATING SCIENCE BITS

ifl scienceIFLscience.com has fascinating bits, including “21 GIFs that explain mathematical concepts.” For instance, did you know that the number Pi (3.14159 etc.), is equal to the distance traveled by rolling a wheel exactly one revolution? That distance turns (ha, ha) out to be 3.14 times the diameter. This is true no matter what size the wheel.

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WHO’S LOOKING AT YOU KID?

twitterIf you’re one of the 271 million Twitter users, you may want to know how many people are potentially viewing your tweets. Go to Analytics.Twitter.com to find out. We found that our tweets were received daily by around 1800 people. Of course, just because someone is getting your tweets doesn’t mean they’re actually reading them. Stop us before we tweet again!

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MAKING A PHOTO BOOK

photobookIt sounds so easy. Shutterfly.com automatically assembles a photo book for you. No more placing photos in albums, or even buying an album.

Here’s the problem. When a family member sends you a link to their Shutterfly photos, it’s likely to have only a few dozen pictures you actually want. But instead of taking your selection and putting those into a book for you, they put in the whole thing. Bob’s son just sent him 278 photos, and the resulting book would have cost us $83 plus shipping and taxes. Forget that.

To get the photos we wanted, we checked off our favorites, making a new album with 50 photos in it, selecting from the ones we were sent. This time it only cost us $11 for a 5 by 7 book. Lesson learned: Don’t click “Make a photo book” until you’ve created a new album.

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ORGANIZING PHOTOS

photosWe recently used ScanMyPhotos.com to have a big box of our favorite old photos scanned and placed on a DVD. They charged $159 but it was worth it. We then used Kooboodle.com to store them online, and this was free.

ScanMyPhotos was easy to use but requires some work on your part. We ordered the service online and they sent us a pre-paid mailing box to put our photos in. It was the first time we’d looked at these photos in years. They gave us six months to get the photos back to them and of course we dilly dallied for a few months, because it’s sort of a pain going through all those photo albums to look for the gems.

They required photos of the same size to be grouped with rubber bands, and for extra fees they will provide more services: For $70 you can have your photos digitally enhanced, for $13 you can have them put on a flash drive in addition to a DVD.

Kooboodle searched our hard drive for photos and put copies of all of them in private storage online. This is a nice service, especially since its free for as many photos as you have.  It’s owned by ClickFree, a company we’ve written about them many times, because they make backing up easy.

Having your photos stored online makes them easy to skim through and easy to select ones to send to print or email. Highly recommended.

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YOUR RING IS LISTENING

RinglyYou’d have to be living on Mars to be unaware of all the smart watches coming out this year. But did you know you could also get a smart ring?

Ringly” has $195 rings with a choice of emerald, onyx, pink sapphire or moonstone. Each ring connects to your iPhone or Android phone by the phone’s Bluetooth wireless chip and will vibrate and light up when a call or message comes in. That could be handy if your phone is set to vibrate. You might otherwise miss a call if it’s in a purse or bag. Of course the ring has no screen, so you won’t know who’s calling unless you look at your phone. You can  set it to flash only when certain people call or text.

Ringly needs charging every two days; just put it in its jewelry box, connected by USB to a power source.

 

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GOOD STUFF FOR LESS

certified refurbishedYou don’t have to buy a new tablet or computer to get a good one, any more than you have to buy a brand new car. “Refurbished” machines are items returned to the store or the manufacturer, but they’re not lemons.

According to Digital Trends, an online magazine, refurbished tablets and computers are subject to more rigorous testing than ordinary machines. After a person returns something to the store, retailers want to be darn sure there’s nothing wrong with it. From our own experience, we know that some equipment labeled as “refurbished” is brand new and has never been opened; a company ordered too many and returned the surplus.

Apple has an online store where refurbished iPads sell for $420, an $80 savings. At other company sites, smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, cameras, and TVs are discounted by as much as 50 percent. To find the Apple refurbished department, go to Apple.com, click “store” and scroll down to the bottom of the page. In tiny print, you’ll find “refurbished and clearance.”

Similarly, Amazon has an outlet store at Amazon.com/outlet. You can find others by going to Google.com or any other search engine and adding the word “outlet” to your search term. For example, a search on “Sony Outlet.” or doing the same for Dell, HP, Nikon, New Egg, Best Buy and many others, turns up their bargain basement divisions.

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CAT’S PAW TRACK

GPS PawTrack collarThere’s a new version of “PawTrack,” for monitoring your kitty. It’s a GPS collar that keeps tabs on tabby. The collar is $125 and the service is $10 a month. It lets you know when your furry purry returns home, when it sleeps and where it goes when it roams the neighborhood. The new version is due in November.

But you may want to re-think the need to let your cat outdoors. We Googled the words “dangers of letting cats outside,” and found a list of potential problems, including ticks and fleas, car accidents, poison and cat fights. Outdoor cats live on average four to five years, we learned, while indoor cats live 12 to 15, with some living as long as 20 years. On the other hand, maybe a short eventful life is best.

(Bob says it has been experience of many years as a newspaperman, that articles about cats draws more readers than any other subject except movie star scandals.)

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WORLD SUNLIGHT MAP

World Sunlight MapDie.net/earth has a “World Sunlight Map.” It shows where the sun is shining at  the moment you are looking at the map, also which areas are in darkness.

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SAY IT IN FARSI

language learningLivemocha.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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TWEET TWEET

twitterMany people tell us they’re confused by Twitter. What is it? Who’s out there? And what are they saying? Oh: And why would we care?

Twitter delivers “tweets.” And each “tweet” is no more than 140 characters. But there’s usually a link in there to a longer story. Tweets can come in to your computer, your phone, or whatever you have that can connect to the Internet. You can get pages of tweets from sources and subjects you select and they can range from bits of chit-chat about family members to what’s happening in the Congo.

Surprisingly often the source of those tweets may be from someone right on the spot, perhaps snapping a picture long before a reporter gets there – because tweets can include pictures. They can be hot, hot, hot. When the U.S. sent a Seal team to capture Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, someone who lived nearby tweeted that there seemed to be  two military helicopters headed for that walled compound a few blocks away. He thought they looked American. Fortunately for our side, the target wasn’t connected to Twitter at the time.

That was in the early days. Today, there are more than 500 million tweets a day. Aye, there’s a the rub, as some playwright once remarked.  So you have to pick your shots, selecting who you want to hear from and what subjects and/or locations you want to hear about. Go to Twitter.com, sign up, and be careful, because some people think nothing of sending a hundred messages a day – and we are not exaggerating. Nobody has that many interesting things to say. Read more »

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