REMARKABLE PHOTOS

monkey and catTwitter.com/AwkwardGoogle has some remarkable photos. We liked the monkey who adopted an abandoned kitten, a bridge made of trampolines, and sea otters who hold hands in their sleep so they don’t drift away from each another. (So cute.) And there’s a picture of a  barge carrying a dozen large ships. (Cheaper than sailing them in one by one.)

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37 WAYS TO MAKE IKEA STUFF LOOK EXPENSIVE

 ikea before and after37 Hacks to Make Your Ikea Stuff Look Expensive” has clever decorating ideas. Sometimes it’s as simple as replacing the legs on a couch or adding leather drawer pulls to a dresser. Other hacks will bring out your inner crafter.

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MAKING PHOTOS PERSONAL

photofy3photofy2Photofy adds personal touches to photos. The new version has stock backgrounds: if you want to make it look like you’re lounging in Tahiti, lounge ahead.

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TIME LAPSE VIDEOS

0timelapseInstagram’s Hyperlapse creates time-lapse videos. It will work with the iPhone’s front-facing camera, so you can take time-lapse videos of yourself. (Be still my selfie heart.)

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NOTES AND REMINDERS

0GOOGLE KEEPGoogle Keep makes it easy to take notes on your computer, phone or tablet. Write a note on one device and its synced on another.

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ATTENTION MAGAZINE LOVERS

MAGAZINESJoy’s friend Frieda loves Atlantic magazine, but never thought to download its app until we suggested it. Come to think of it, we didn’t either. We subscribe to a number of magazines and newspapers but only recently downloaded their apps.

Apps make it easy to save and share your favorite articles. They replace the piles Joy gets so riled up about when they clutter our apartment. And you don’t have to cut out clips and mail them. Bob hates to throw anything away; now he doesn’t have to. We downloaded the apps for “Smithsonian,” “Science News,” “Consumer Reports,” “Barrons,” “National Geographic” and others.

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GOOD OL’ COBOL

programmers headThe programs sitting in IBM mainframe computers might be perfectly good but unusable on today’s machines. A company called Raincode is offering a free solution.

Many of those large computers are programmed in COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language). This is particularly true of banks, which are often slow to change. To translate COBOL into something a modern computer can read you need what’s called a compiler. Raincode.com offers a free one. The result is code that’s as fast as if it had been written for more modern machines.

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GAMES CAN MAKE YOU SMARTER

portal 2According to researchers at Florida State University, playing the video game “Portal 2″ makes you smarter than training your brain with the well-known Lumosity system.

They divided 77 volunteers into two groups, asking each to play either Lumosity or Portal 2 for eight hours. Standardized tests later measured problem solving, spatial skills and persistence. All Portal-playing volunteers had an edge over the Lumosity volunteers. It’s a small study, but it confirms what we’ve often thought and said: Video games are challenging.

Games are big stuff and command a wide audience. “League of Legends,” for example, which can be played for free or with a membership fee, has 70 million players who log on at least once a month and 20 million who play every day. Best guess, from a guy we know in the business, League of Legends has about 20 percent of the market. “World of Warcraft,” which cannot be played for free, has about 10 million regular players. From previous studies we’ve seen, we know that most players are not teenagers, but are overwhelmingly in their mid 20s to 30s. Joy says she doesn’t care about the study. Lumosity is fun and makes her feel smart.

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USING OTHER LANGUAGES WITHOUT LEARNING THEM

translateWe wanted to invite our new neighbors, a Japanese family, to dinner but the wife doesn’t speak much English. So we used Google Translate.

First we created a document in Microsoft Word, and used the “insert” command to put a fun picture we got from Bing.com/images. At Translate.Google.com, we typed “Please come over for dinner. We would love to see you. Our phone number is …. You choose the date.” Google detected that we were using English for our source; we then chose Japanese for our translation. Our neighbors were delighted with the results and said it was just a little off.

We were curious, so we did a reverse translation. We copied the Japanese text from our document and pasted it into the translator. It read: “Please come in for sometime dinner. We want to see you. It is our phone number. You select a date.” Not exactly fluent Japanese but they got the message.

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DIRE PREDICTIONS

malwarebytes anti-malwareHere are some scary predictions for 2015 from MalwareBytes, makers of a free popular anti-spyware solution. We have used it for years.

— “File-less Payloads” We’ll see an increase in malware that isn’t an actual file on your computer but runs only in your computer’s memory. These are real tough to get rid of.

— “Ransomware” This is malware that messes up your phone and the party who placed it there demands a payment to remove it. Of course, if you’ve backed up your phone’s data, you can revert to the original factory condition and then re-load.

— “Wallet Malware” Using your phone to pay at the counter is just one more function that makes your phone vulnerable to attack, so people should add security software to their phones.

–“The Internet of Things” could make many devices vulnerable. What if your thermostat is attacked because it’s connected to the Internet? Could get real hot or ice cold inside.

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