July 2009 Meeting: Balloons, Bibles and Photo Story 3

By Alonzo (Lon) Hosford
The Hunterdon Computer Club is one of a few computer clubs that holds meetings in the summer months as well as monthly all year long.

The summer of 2009 is turning out to be no different.

PRESENTATIONS
This meeting had two presenters, Bruce Arnold and Don Colombo, both members in good standing in the club. As well both volunteer their time to the Hunderdon Senior center as instructors.

Bruce provided two topics. His first topic was a software program he devised  to help students at the senior center with hand coordination using a computer mouse. Bruce noted in his work at the Senior Center folks new to computers often had a difficult time clicking and double clicking the mouse without also moving their hands.

Bruce wrote the program in C++ he calls the “Balloons Program” that randomly draws circles or, more affectionately, balloons of various sizes and colors on the computer screen. One balloon on the screen randomly shows an ‘X’. The user’s of the program then need to click or double click on the ‘X’. If they are successful the balloon is removed and an ‘X’ is randomly placed on a remaining balloon. To pass the test all balloons need to be removed in less than one minute.

As part of the presentation on the “Balloons Program”, Bruce outlined the C++ program code and what it needed to do to make the program work. He did that in a way you did not need to know programming but with the raw source code in view. The “Balloons Program” can be downloaded at www.barnold.us/Balloons.

Bruce’s second topic was on a Bible program that shows Bible verse, lets you search them and compare two or more of them line by line. Bruce collaborated on this program with the Minister Gary Rose of Florida who had already digitized the Bibles into an Access database.

Bruce designed the www.CompositeBible.com web site for Minister Rose. Bruce ported the Access database to the free MySQL database popular on web hosting services. Bruce showed the software components: HTML, PHP and MySQL and how they produced the pages we see on the web. He made the point that no one typed in the Bible text you see on the pages, rather it is dynamically selected from the database by the PHP language and the PHP language then makes the HTML. HTML is what a web browser uses to show a page.

The www.CompositeBible.com site also offers magnificent pictures taken by the Hubble Telescope, an audio Bible, and many choir sung religious hymns.

Bruce also explained about Amazon.com’s Kindle: Amazon’s 6″ Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation) and that www.CompositeBible.com Bibles are available on Kindle.

Don Colombo provided a super mini presentation on his use of Photo Story 3. Don outlined the steps to use the program and then demonstrated a presentation he made on recent trips into Peru. Don’s daring exploits in the trip and the pictures of the people in those areas quickly overshadowed the Photo Story program features he masterfully integrated to give us all a real treat.

Q&A

1. Google Operating System. I introduced the news that Google was planning its own operating system. Google Chrome is being used to run some “Net” books and this spurred Google into  a plan to develop that into a full operating system. Don Colombo added to the discussion about his “Net” book and experiences. A cartoon view of Google Chrome. A starting point for learning more.

2. Cell phone data services. The use of data services from cell phone companies was discussed. Bruce Arnold clarified the distinction between a wireless data connection and cell phone data service connection for internet. Wireless connections need an ISP and a nearby, within 100 or so feet, router to connect. Cell phone data service internet uses cell towers. Your computer needs an “Air Card” to connect with cell phone data service internet. Each cell phone carrier requires its own “Air Card”.

Don Columbo pointed out the data speed is about what you get with basic internet DSL and in general is not speedy but adequate. I pointed out the last time I looked at Verizon data service plans, their terms of service had a monthly metered amount.

3. Firefox upgraded slowing down browsing. A question was raised about the upgrading of FireFox on a Windows Vista machine resulted in slower web browsing. The suggested test was to temporarily disable all the “Add ons” in Firefox and note if there are any improvements in speed. If there are, then enable them one at a time to see which might cause the loss of speed.

Some thoughts included that too many add-ons might be the problem as well.

I pointed out I had a similar problem Internet Explorer 8 updated on a Windows XP machine. IE 8 would no longer load a page when connected to the Internet although Firefox on the same computer would. I mentioned to get around this problem was through the Control Panel. However rechecking later found it is not. Go to Programs->Accessories->Systems Tools->”Internet Explorer – No Plugins” to start IE without plugins. This solved the problem. I have yet to investigate the offending plugin but the only one I remember installing is XMarks.  [8/3/09 Update: I found that there was a FoxMarksDLLBHO Class that once disabled allowed the ususual launch of IE. However I had to disable all plugins and use a lot of trial and error. In the process the Flash Player plugin was removed just from disabling. I reinstalled it from the Flash site.]
CLUB BUSINESS

1. The club has rescheduled the breakfast for the October meeting. It was tentatively scheduled for August, however the Hospital has a lot of programs running for October and it could help them and us. The location is tentatively set for the Country Griddle in Clinton, New Jersey. Check back to see the official posting on the meetings page.

2. Paul Glattstein updated everyone on the official club picture site and should contact him  and email any pictures you want posted. You can also access the site from this site’s Photos tab.

3. I pointed out that I set up a Youtube account for the club, but no Videos, so if you want a Video posted, get it to me so we can encode and post it. Glynn Gillette asked about recording club topics. I suggested any good quality camera that can pickup voice could be tried or just record voice. As soon I get a video posted, I will add the link to our Photos page.

4. Scott Crabtree pointed out that the Senior Center has newer programs designed for smaller classes and provided a hard copy of the July schedule. As well Scott outlined the free student eligibility is a Hunterdon resident and 60 years old. Volunteers can be under 60 and there is some cross training flexibility for volunteers who do not meet the requirements to help expand the teacher resources.