Category Archives: Computers

Revisiting the Bee Gees of home computers, the TRS-80

I was fourteen years old in 1977 when John Travolta strutted his stuff on the dance floor in Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees’ hits from the film’s score ruled the top 40 charts. The high falsettos of the brothers Gibb could do no wrong as they rhetorically asked How Deep is Your Love? and suggested that You Should be Dancing… yeah!

But it only took a few years before the crest of disco they were riding in flared-bottom, bejewelled, polyester pants would crash, and the three boys from down under would be the butt of many, many jokes, even by those of us who still had the double 8-track of the movie’s soundtrack tucked away safely for the sake of nostalgia.

Radio Shack’s TR-80 personal computer would suffer a similar fate.

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Is Google Street View ruining your vacation?

Earlier this month I took a road trip / pilgrimage to Indiana for GearFest, a big two-day music and sound event at Sweetwater’s facility in Fort Wayne. If you’re ever in need of any pro audio or music-related gear or just some advice, these guys are the real deal, and Sweetwater is one of the most customer-focused companies around.

Anyway, on my drive back I planned a couple of sightseeing stops along the way to break up the monotony (no offense Indiana and western Ohio, but you are flat and your roads are seriously straight).

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1 Reason is so cool

Even though I’m only offering up one cool thing about Time Magazine’s web site (I’m sure I could find more if I really tried), it seems the best way to get anybody to read anything these days is to make a list out of it.

So here’s my list:

1. Copy and paste a snippet from one of their articles into an email or document!

How many times have you been reading something awesome on the web and you’d like to send it to a friend? You could find the appropriate “share” button on the page, but you’re not sure exactly what will get sent in the email message, or what the site will do with the email address you provide. Too many unknowns.

And what if you want to include a specific snippet from the article in the message, to entice your busy friend to actually click the link and read the article? To accomplish that you have to copy and paste the snippet, and then copy and paste the article’s URL, and then if you want, add in some friendly link in your email instead of just the raw URL. It takes effort. Effort you can’t afford because there are 22 Cats Who Are Too Proud To Admit They Hate Snow on BuzzFeed that you need to get to. has *solved your pesky inconvenience!

Just copy a sentence or two from any article on their site and paste it into your favorite email or word processing app. Not only is the text copied, but also a line stating “Read more:” with a subject link and URL to the article. When I first saw that bit of magic, it made my day.

Sometimes it’s the small things. And, it’s not so much that Time is saving us a ton of time by adding this feature. But when a web site or app, a store or restaurant can make the mundane processes of life just a little easier, we smile… and we remember.

* Some other sites are doing this as well

The nation’s first bookless public library

It’s been an exciting week at the office…

It’s hard to think of a library and not picture stacks of dusty books. That’s what libraries do, and do quite well. But that image has been slowly changing and took a major leap forward in San Antonio, Texas this week.

Our newest customer at Polaris Library Systems made national headlines as the first all-digital public library in the country! That’s right, no physical books, no newspapers, no piles of old TV Guides, just computers and over 10,000 e-book titles that can be downloaded or checked out on over 600 loanable e-readers. The new $2.9 million Bexar County Digital Library opened its doors to the public for the first time on Friday.

As part of their vision for the library of the future, staff chose software from Polaris that allows patrons to search for electronic materials and manage their accounts. Our online catalog software also integrates with 3M’s e-book service in a way that helps make the process of searching for and checking out electronic books a truly seamless experience.

So, we’re psyched to be part of history and congratulate Bexar County for its bold move!

Find out more about this unique library from NBC Nightly News, and Time magazine.

I bought a Raspberry Pi… now what?

A few months ago I read a CNN article about a tiny computer that is essentially a miniature motherboard with ports for the typical peripherals. And it was only $25? Sign me up!

It’s called the Raspberry Pi, and after being on backorder for a month as I waited my turn with thousands of other geeks, it arrived at work a few days ago. A quick copying of the Raspbian operating system to an SD card, and plugging in a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and USB power adapter, was all it took to be up and running. Sweet!

The response from co-workers fell into two camps… either: “you got a Raspberry Pi!!” or “what the hell is that?” It is a fun bit of hardware to marvel at, but then comes the inevitable question, “what are you going to do with it?”

“Uh… I don’t know,” I say, before quickly diverting their attention to web sites featuring many of the cool things other people are doing with it, from custom cases to building a parallel computer to driving an Etch-a-Sketch. And kids are starting to use them in schools as learning devices, which is awesome.

But, I’ve got no clue yet what I might use it for and wonder how many of the million plus units that have been sold so far similarly sit like Charlie-in-the-boxes on islands of misfit toys waiting to be used for more than just a conversation piece. But I’ve got an elliptical trainer I don’t use either, and I spent a lot more than $25 on that!