FILEMAKER“Filemaker 14″ is a popular database created by Apple as an alternative to Microsoft’s Access. The company is offering free training to help people create Filemaker databases that run on iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac and the web. Get it at



Samsung Chromebook1Google’s  Chromebooks now account for 49 percent of U.S. computer shipments to schools in grades kindergarten through 12, according to a recent report from Futuresource.

Chromebooks use the Google Chrome operating system. Unlike other systems it exists on the web, and whenever you boot up your Chromebook computer, the home web site fixes any problems. So it stays clean and fast no matter how long you own it.  Dell is the largest supplier.

Nearly everything you do takes place online, which makes it ideal as a second computer, or for anyone who uses a computer just to check email and surf the web. Every time you turn on a Chromebook, you sign in to your Google account, (sign up for one for free if you don’t already have one). When you’re finished with it, you sign out and someone else can sign in. They’ll see their own icons and have personalized pages.  Prices start at around $170.



MUSIC HEARTSeven Hobbies that Can Make You Smarter:   Click those words to find out all seven. Top of the list is playing a musical instrument: It strengthens the connection between your brain hemispheres in ways other activities don’t. (An interesting sidelight to that is we have noticed that many of the best programmers are also musicians.)  Other top hobbies for brain power include reading, exercising, working puzzles and meditating.



the world economy explained in two cowsThe World Economy Explained with Just Two Cows:  For example, the dairy cow business in different countries: “A French Company: You have two cows. You go on strike, organize a riot and block the roads because you want three cows.” Or: “A Swiss Company. You have 5,000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them.”



road tripThe Obsessively Detailed Report of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips. Click on the link  or visit to retrace on the map, the journeys taken in “Wild,” “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” “Roughing It,” “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” and many others.


40 THOUSAND ARTISTS ON ARTSY has a lot of art: 300,000 images by 40,000 artists. There are over 230,000 works for sale, ranging in price from $100 to a few hundred thousand. We liked their from van Gogh page on Artsy dot netVincent Van Gogh page, with his bio, over 70 works, articles and exhibit listings. (An aside: Bob went to the Vincent van Gogh Museum in Holland one time, and there was a sign in the parking lot that said: watch out for wild boars when you get out of your car. You don’t see that in your average museum parking lot.)



samsung galaxySamsung is so sure that iPhone users would like a Samsung phone better if they tried one out, they’re offering a 30-day trial of the latest Samsung Galaxy and other Samsung phones for $1.

The deal includes a free data plan, not restricted to any carrier, so you can really enjoy your new toy. Go to from your iPhone to get in on the deal, or call 800-578-4452. Unfortunately, demand has been so great that they’re temporarily out of phones. But they plan to get more in soon.



ilumiNow there are light bulbs that respond to apps on your smartphone. You can control the lighting from anywhere in the world.

Of course you can already do that with several different home control systems and these are sold everywhere: on the Internet, department stores and many hardware stores. So what’s new here? Well, these bulbs that have their own wireless receivers built into the base and so … you can call your bulb. (Be careful what you call it.)

As they say these days: there’s an app for that. And it’s free and works with both Apple and Android phones. You can change the colors produced by the new bulbs and even make their light dance to the beat of selected music. We tried a couple of these new bulbs and though they don’t keep the beat very well, but there is some action — though nothing the boys in the band would recognize.

We started with the $60 “Ilumi” from The most likely use for something like this is to change the color to suit the situation. Blue light is supposed to be good for waking up, for instance, and making you feel alert. Yellow or orange light is for mellow evenings. Green and purple are open to your own interpretation. You can also shake your phone to turn on a dim light for a gentle wake-up. (Might wake Joy up, not Bob.) Unfortunately, the Ilumi must be controlled by Bluetooth. It isn’t the kind you can control from outside the house.

Next up was the Philips Lux Starter Kit for $80. It came with two bulbs and a hub. You can keep adding bulbs at $20 each to your system and control them all from one phone app. The bulbs didn’t change color with the tap of an app, but we could turn them on and off and adjust the brightness level. So we left the lights off, drove several miles away, and tapped our app to turn on the lights so they’d be on when we got back. Sure enough, they were on.

Okay, so that’s a reasonable use. You come home, the hallway’s dark, Joy trips over a box, things could get serious. It may be cheaper to just leave the hall light on when you go out, but we’re talking high tech here; anybody could just leave the light on when they go out, that’s not going to impress anyone.

All these remote control bulbs are LEDs; that’s “Light Emitting Diodes.” The light is there, but different. They’re rated in lumens. A one-thousand lumens bulb is about as high as it goes unless you have some secret weapon, and is roughly equivalent to the old 75 watts. If you’re used to 100 watt bulbs or higher, it may not be enough. So you may be squinting, but you will save a pile on electricity. The bulbs last for 22 years.



“Podcasts” are radio shows you can listen to with an iTunes or Podcast app on your phone or tablet. We’re using “Podcast Addict” on our Android phone. From iTunes or a Podcast app, you can find thousands of shows to listen to. Here are our favorites so far:

freakonomics radio– “Freakonomics Radio” has quirky stories about funny problems all over the world that get solved with a little economic sense. How San Francisco solved its parking problem is a good one. During heavy demand they raise the parking meter fees. In Los Angeles, on the other hand, 40 percent of all cars parked at meters pay nothing — because they have handicapped or official business signs in their windshields. (Are there that many handicapped people in Los Angeles?) You can also hear these shows on their website,

— “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” can be heard as a podcast as well as a regular radio show. Years ago on a whim, we made a large (for us) donation to National Public Radio and got to go behind the scenes on stage while the stars of the show were warming up. We had hardly ever listened to the show, and were the only ones back stage besides the stars themselves. We found it amusing, and have since enjoyed the show many times — the podcast, that is, rather than the live version.

— “The Moth” has true stories told by those who experienced them. We listened to a woman’s tale of winning the top role in her elementary school play, a parody of the old TV show “Gunsmoke,” when she was eleven. The audience laughed at her portrayal of sexy Miss Kitty perched on a bar. She thought they would be stunned by how glamorous she looked, but later she realized her natural calling was to become a comedian.



AARP fraud action has access to information about identity theft, investment fraud and the latest scams. Cell phone apps are slightly safer than using a computer for online banking, but AARP says either one is safer than mailing in a payment. If you’re a victim of fraud, call AARP’s hotline at 877-908-3360.