Off Topic

Buy a Dell Chromebook for $129.99

I have written about the advantages of Chromebooks many times.These low-cost laptops can meet the computing needs of most computer users, although these laptops are not suitable for anyone running high-end (and expensive) engineering, graphics, video editing, and similar software. However, Chromebooks are excellent systems for surfing the web, reading and writing email messages, using genealogy web sites, playing online games, and even for publishing an online genealogy newsletter. Yes, I love my latest Chromebook. It has become my primary computer when traveling.

See https://blog.eogn.com/?s=Chromebook for my past articles about Chromebooks. If you have questions about Chromebooks, I would suggest you read my article, The Myths About Chromebooks, at https://blog.eogn.com/?s=The+Myths+About+Chromebooks.

Now Dell is selling the Inspiron Chromebook 11 for $129.99.

Why You Might Want to Run Your Own Email, Address Book, and Calendar Server at Home

I just published an article entitled Why You Might Want to Run Your Own Email, Address Book, and Calendar Server at Home. It isn’t a genealogy article so I won’t publish it here. However, it describes how you can have a private email server that is immune from hackers and government spies. Therefore, I published the article in my other web site: the Privacy Blog at http://bit.ly/2GJLfyi.

While the article is not genealogy-related, I do suspect that some readers of this genealogy newsletter may be interested in improving their online privacy. Therefore, I will provide a brief mention here of the article and provide a link to it.

If you would like to read Why You Might Want to Run Your Own Email, Address Book, and Calendar Server at Home, go to http://bit.ly/2GJLfyi.

Mark Your Calendar: the Apocalypse Will Occur on December 28, 2019

You can party from now until December 28th. Run up credit card bills, spend your money in Las Vegas, get drunk, and have fun with other things. Why not? The world is going to end anyway late this year so you don’t have to worry about paying those bills.

This time it is for real, at least according to David Montaigne, a guy who has written multiple books about the end times, and bills himself as a “historian and “prophecy scholar.”

You might want to be aware that Montaigne’s record of predictions hasn’t been very good. Montaigne has previously claimed that the anti-Christ was going to return to Earth in June of 2016. But Montaigne is still here and is still making predictions about the end of the world. He insists this time it is for real.

Montaigne makes the following claims on his website:

Get a Refurbished Google Pixelbook for $600

UPDATE: This sale is now shown as “Sold Out.” No surprise. I expected these to sell out quickly.

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. Instead, it is about one of my other interests: computer hardware. If you are looking for true genealogy articles, you might want to skip this article.

Chromebooks are supposed to be cheap, right? Not always. There is one notable exception: the Google Pixelbook that normally sells for $999 to $1,649, depending upon the options selected. However, even this Pixelbook is now available at a lower price than ever before.

I purchased an identical Google Pixelbook while it was on sale a few weeks ago and I love it. However, I now wish I had waited a bit longer. A refurbished Pixelbook is now available for an even lower price than what I paid: only $599.99.

I have written often about Chromebooks. To see my past articles, start at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+chromebook&t=h_&ia=web.

Happy New Year!

The Simple Method of Adding a Huge Monitor to Your Computer

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. However, if you would like to learn of a cheap and easy way to add a television set’s display to your computer, this article may be of interest to you.

Are you using a rather small monitor on your computer, perhaps even using a laptop computer and its small screen? Do you also have a huge high-definition (HD) television set in your living room or family room? (Almost all television sets built within in the past few years are high-definition models.) Would you like to connect the TV to the computer and use its large screen as a computer display? The process is ridiculously simple, yet many people are not aware of this.

Here is a picture of the 49-inch high definition television in my living room, being used to check comments posted to this newsletter overnight.

Use a Word Processor in the Cloud

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. However, if you would like to learn of a cheap and very secure method of using applications in the cloud for word processing purposes, this article may be of interest to you.

If you already have a word processor installed in each of your computers and are happy with your present choice, you probably will want to skip this article. However, if you do not have a good word processor, or if you want to look at other possibilities, this may be the article for you.

Akshata Shanbhag has written an article in the Make Use Of web site that describes seven word processors and one text editor that are cloud-based, powerful, and are available free of charge for personal use.

If you are presently using Google Docs or Microsoft Word Online or some other cloud-based word processor and are frustrated by your program’s lack of some features you want, this is the article for you. If you need a better word processor for sharing documents with co-workers or with family or even with genealogy society members, this is the article for you. If you want a good word processor for a Chromebook, an iPad, or an Android tablet computer, this is the article for you.

Wasabi: the New, Low Cost Cloud Storage Service

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you might want to skip this one. However, if you would like to learn of a cheap and very secure method of storing data in the cloud for backup purposes, this article may be of interest to you.

Wasabi is a brand-new cloud storage service. The company is so new that not all the planned “bells and whistles” are yet available. However, the present implementation hows a great deal of promise. In short, Wasabi appears to be perfect for Macintosh and Windows users looking for a simple way to use cloud storage at very low prices.

I signed up for Wasabi a few hours ago and, so far, it seems to work well. I am using Wasabi in the same manner as an external disk drive. Installation and operation was simple. If I do encounter problems with Wasabi in the future, I will publish a follow-up article at that time.

The most obvious advantage of Wasabi is the price: $.0049 per gigabyte/month which equals $4.99 per terabyte/month (all prices are in US dollars).

With the Next Version of Microsoft Windows, Say Goodbye To Your Windows PC As You Know It

NOTE: This article is not about genealogy but I suspect many Windows users will be interested in it. If you are looking for true genealogy-related articles, I suggest you skip this one.

Huge changes are coming from Microsoft. A new rumor is going around that claims Microsoft is switching from SELLING Windows to RENTING it instead. Some users think it will be an improvement while others believe it will be a major step backwards to computing in the way it was done in the 1970s when very expensive mainframes did all the computing and all data input and output by humans was done by using remote “dumb terminals.”

Microsoft is getting ready to replace Windows 10 with the Microsoft Managed Desktop. This will be a “desktop-as-a-service” (DaaS) offering. Instead of owning your own copy of Windows, you’ll “rent” Windows by the month. Microsoft already does this with Microsoft Office 365. Other companies, notably Adobe, also have software rental models, replacing the old concept of purchased software.

How to Get in Touch With Loved Ones During and After a Disaster

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, it is information that I suggest everyone should know, so I am offering it here. If you are looking for a true genealogy-related article, you might want to skip this one.

From flash flooding and hurricanes to earthquakes and tornadoes, disaster can strike at any time. One of the first things on the minds of those directly or indirectly involved in such situations is the well-being of their loved ones.

 

When Hurricane Harvey pounded Texas and Louisiana in 2017, many users on Twitter and Facebook reached out to strangers for help in locating their missing loved ones. Success was limited as these services were overwhelmed. There are better ways of communicating.

Depending upon the nature of the emergency, all electricity, telephones, and even all cell phone towers might be out of commission. In such cases, the use of telephones, cell phone towers, the Internet, and other high tech means of communications will be useless. If you really need to make contact under those conditions, your choices are limited. I’d suggest contacting a nearby ham radio operator and asking him or her to relay a message for you. Many ham operators, but not all, are prepared for such conditions and can make long-distance contacts using equipment powered by batteries or generators.

This article will focus on the days following a disaster as communications systems come back online or for those situations when some, but not all, of the high-tech communications systems do not go off line. I would suggest everyone should think of their own preparedness for power outages, whether caused by weather, automobiles running into telephone poles, or any other calamities.

Legend of Loch Ness Monster will be Tested with DNA Samples

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy but it does concern DNA, something of interest to many genealogists.

For hundreds of years, visitors to Scotland’s Loch Ness have described seeing a monster that some believe lurks in the depths. University of Otago (New Zealand) professor Neil Gemmell says he’s no believer in Nessie, but he wants to take people on an adventure and communicate some science along the way.

Gemmell said that when creatures move about in water, they leave behind tiny fragments of DNA. It comes from their skin, feathers, scales and urine. He said his team will take 300 samples of water from different points around the lake and at different depths. They will filter the organic material and extract the DNA, he said, sequencing it by using technology originally created for the human genome project. He said the DNA results will then be compared against a database of known species. He said they should have answers by the end of the year.

Details may be found in an Associated Press article at: http://bit.ly/2GIB9KA.

Social Security Cards Issued by Woolworth

The most misused Social Security Number of all time was 078-05-1120. In 1938, wallet manufacturer the E. H. Ferree company in Lockport, New York decided to promote its product by showing how a Social Security card would fit into its wallets. A sample card, used for display purposes, was inserted in each wallet. Company Vice President and Treasurer Douglas Patterson thought it would be a clever idea to use the actual SSN of his secretary, Mrs. Hilda Schrader Whitcher.

Off Topic: Perhaps the Most Secure “Burner Phone” of All?

I wrote a rather technical article about how to create a highly secure and private version of a cell phone. However, the article has nothing to do with genealogy or with history so I decided to not publish it here. If you think you might have an interest in the topic, look in the other blog that I write: the Privacy Blog at https://privacyblog.com/2018/04/30/perhaps-the-most-secure-burner-phone-of-all.

The Russian Government wants to Block Zello, But Can It Really Do that?

NOTE: This is another off-topic article: it has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one.

This is a follow-up article to the one I wrote about Zello, the free walkie-talkie emulation software for cell phones, a few days ago at http://bit.ly/2H9TWjw. Zello is a great app that gives users excellent one-to-one and one-to-many communications capabilities. Now the Russian government thinks that Zello is an evil thing. Well, it is evil in the eyes of a repressive government. The Russian government wants to block all usage of Zello. It seems that Zello is another example of the type of secure communications service which the Russian regime is determined to stop its people from using.

The regime of President Vladimir Putin sees apps like Zello as being a threat rather than a vital communications tool. That is because apps of this nature are frequently used by opposition groups to coordinate protests and opposition to the Putin regime.

There is but one problem: blocking all Zello users within the country will be a difficult, maybe impossible, task.

The Zello App Can Help Save Lives During Major Storms and Has Many Others Uses Also

NOTE: This article is off-topic: it has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one. However, it is something that I believe all cell phone users should be aware of. The online app called Zello could save your life. It is also a great way to communicate with groups of people, such as relatives or members of a search-and-rescue organization. I have been using Zello for non-critical communications for a couple of years now and would hate to be without it.

Zello converts your Android or Apple iOS or Blackberry cell phone or your Windows computer into a general-purpose walkie-talkie. It is sort of a high-tech replacement for CB radio except that Zello converts your cell phone into a free 2-way radio with worldwide range. I have used the free Zello app to talk with friends and relatives in North America free of toll charges while I was walking along the streets of Singapore as well as when I was in New Zealand. I have also used it to talk with communications hobbyists in South America and in the Sahara desert while I was driving in my automobile in Florida.

Zello also was recently used in the Houston area, New Orleans, all over Florida, Puerto Rico, and in other Caribbean islands during the recent hurricanes when wired telephones and emergency two-way radio towers (police, fire, ambulances, and others) were destroyed by the hurricanes. Cell towers also were sometimes knocked offline during the hurricanes but usually were the first communications systems to be restored to operation once the winds subsided.

Perhaps the greatest story of all was the use of Zello by the “Cajun Navy” during Hurricane Irma. According to Wikipedia:

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Steve Morse Creates a New Online “Applying 2016-2018 Tax Brackets” Calculator

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy except that Steve Morse is famous for his “One Step Genealogy” web pages at https://stevemorse.org/. Steve is now branching out into other topics, helping to simplify the use of complex information.

Steve Morse created his “One Step Genealogy” web pages that have since become standard reference pages for millions of genealogists. He also created the “Viewing ObamaCare Health Plans in One Step” several years ago. Steve hasn’t been standing idly by as more complex information is becoming important to every American.

The so-called tax reform bill looks like it is about to be passed by Congress and signed by the president. Indeed, it is complex and has many, many changes. Some taxes will be lowered while others will be raised. Steve apparently decided to help simplify the information.

The new online “Applying 2016-2018 Tax Brackets in One Step” uses the tax brackets for various years to compute the federal tax for any income up to one million dollars. The years covered are 2016, 2017, and 2018. There are two 2018 calculations — one is based on the tax brackets under the old tax plan and the other is based on the tax brackets under the new tax plan.

A Family Tree that is Out of This World

This isn’t a pedigree chart drawn to strict genealogical standards, but it is amusing. With the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie being released this week, this is is a “must have” for any genealogist who is also a Star Wars fan.

You can see the Star Wars Family Tree at http://images.amazon.com/images/G/01/video/stills/star-wars/sw3-famtree.l.jpg

Microsoft Office is Now Available on Chromebooks

This article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, I have written often about Chromebooks, the inexpensive laptop computers. (See http://bit.ly/2zNe4HY for my past articles about Chromebooks.) This is a follow-up to the earlier articles.

Perhaps the most common question about Chromebooks is, “Can it run my favorite Windows (or Macintosh) programs, such as Microsoft Word?” The answer was “No.” However, that is changing.

Chromebooks are designed to be used with the cloud and run programs that are stored on servers in the cloud. There are thousands of such programs available. See https://play.google.com/store/apps?hl=en for a list of the available apps that run on Chromebooks. The genealogy apps may be found at: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=genealogy&c=apps&hl=en.

HOWEVER, Microsoft has now released versions of Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive) written especially for Chromebooks. The Chromebook versions have most of the functionality of the Windows and Macintosh versions, although a few features may be missing.