Don’t you hate it when you’re using some bit of technology – a program or gadget or whatever – and it’s almost exactly what you want… but there’s one little thing that’s really irritating about it? I’ve had that a few times lately with all the new things that have come out over the last year or so.
But I’ve just found out two of the things that bugged me are sorted… but first, as promised last time…
First webcam on the web
I promised last time to tell you about the first webcam on the web. It’s one of those little things that started off as a few techies having a bit of fun and led to a massive change in the way computers (and the internet) are used.
Back when the internet was pretty new and most webpages didn’t even have any pictures on them, a bunch of people in the Computer Department at Cambridge University were fed up.
They were fed up because they only had one coffee machine and sometimes one of them would walk across the corridor, down the steps and across another corridor to get a cup of coffee, only to find the machine was empty.
So they rigged up a special digital camera, connected to a computer, pointed it at the coffee machine and wrote a clever bit of a program to let them look at what it could see via the web.
Then they could just check from their desk before going to get a cup of coffee.
On the one hand it shows how daft real techies could be – they could have just bought another coffee machine for the people on the different floor.
But on the other hand, look at how much it’s changed the world. The work they did led to webcams and things like Skype, so Mum and Dad can see Alastair & Edward playing and talk to them even in between visits. Last time Alastair was even showing them a book he likes, and telling them about one of the pictures. All because some computer scientist was too lazy to walk down the corridor unless he could get a coffee at the end of it
Windows 8 – a tiny change, a big improvement
When Windows 8 came out, a few of my complaints about it were to do with emails.
I still have some of those complaints (for example the built in email program can’t deal with POP3 emails – which is the kind a lot of people in the UK use). But they’ve fixed one of the things that I thought was nuts.
You couldn’t add a person to your address book or contacts or whatever you want to call it direct from an email they sent you. In most other email programs you click on the email or on the person’s name and select an option something like “Add to contacts”.
And now that’s how it works in the Windows 8 Mail app, too.
I’m quite chuffed in a way. In my book, I said something along the lines of “You can’t do this at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft fix it soon”. And they have!
My one niggle with the iPad sorted
While I’m at it, my biggest niggled with the ipad is now sorted, too. This time it’s not that it’s fixed, it’s that there’s a way around it that I didn’t know about before.
When you’re using the on-screen keyboard on the iPad, there’s no apostrophe. You have to press a button that gives you extra symbols, then press the apostrophe, then press the key to go back to the letters. It’s a bit annoying. Sometimes you could leave it out and it would automatically add it in, but it wasn’t always clever enough to do that. wasnt for example would become wasn’t but if you typed well, it would stay well, not become we’ll.
But if you hold down the comma key, a little apostrophe appears above it – move your finger to that and you get an apostrophe, much more easily than the long way round.
I know, I know, it’s a tiny niggle anyway. But it’s made me happier using it!
7 Ways to really mess up your PC – 36 copies left
I happened to be chatting to Laura as she was doing our regular stock check yesterday and she mentioned that we only have 36 copies of “7 Ways to Really Mess Up Your PC” left. We’re not planning to reprint this one, so when it’s gone, that’s it.
Oh, and it does cover how to avoid the 7 ways to mess up your PC, not just how to make them happen!
You can read a bit more about it here www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/7ways.htm
Or if you’d like to order while there’s still time, you can ring 01229 777606 or email us at [email protected] – as usual, you can have it on a no risk free trial, so you only pay if you decide to keep it.