Thursday, October 20, 2005

Google Calculator

Google has quite a few extra web search features that can make your browsing experience just a little more efficient. One of these is the Calculator feature. You can perform conversions and calculations on the fly right in your browser. Just input your calculation into the Google search field, press the “Enter” key, and a page with your result will be displayed.

For example, lets say you come across a page that states a distance between two destinations as being 357 miles, but you are more comfortable with kilometres. Just enter “357 miles in kilometres” (without quotes) into Google and you’ll instantly get the result “357 miles = 574.535808 kilometres”

You can also perform other conversions, such as pounds to kilograms, Celsius to Fahrenheit, modern numbers to Roman Numerals and many more. The calculator supports a raft of mathematical functions including addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, square root, logarithm and others.

Combine the Google Calculator with a tabbed browser that has built in Google Search such as Mozilla Firefox and you can quickly perform calculations without surfing away from the web page your are examining.

Xandros Linux

A few months back I installed a copy of Xandros Desktop OS 3 Open Circulation Edition on one of my computers. The computer is an older, fairly low-end machine that was originally running Windows 98. Now that I have installed Xandros on this machine, I can choose at start-up to load either the Linux OS or Windows 98.

I was quite surprised at the simplicity of this installation. The install went very smoothly and I had Xandros up and running on the system in around an hour. The Express install feature can automatically set up a partition on your hard drive and install Xandros on it with a minimum of fuss. You are given the option of keeping an existing operating system or overwriting it completely. If you choose to keep the existing OS, Xandros will be installed alongside it and you can subsequently choose at boot-up which OS to use. During installation, you are required to set-up an administrator account and a single user account by supplying passwords and user names.

This version of Xandros is free for non-commercial use. Information on the Xandros site states that:

The Open Circulation Edition is a limited version of Xandros Desktop OS that can be download at no charge and freely distributed to others. It is strictly for non-commercial use, and no e-mail installation support is included.

Xandros is a great choice for those of us who are new to Linux. Windows users will probably find that they can find their way around Xandros quite easily. Xandros runs very nicely on my old machine and comes preinstalled with a raft of useful software.

Visit the Xandros website for more information.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Email Etiquette Tip: - DON'T SHOUT!

If you USE ALL CAPS in your email, you will immediately make yourself look like a newbie. For those of us who spend a lot of time hanging out in cyberspace, using all capital letters in a message is akin to shouting. For those new to the Internet, this restriction might seem silly. However, using all caps WILL adversely alter how people perceive you online.

Capital letters are best left for their intended usage and, sparingly, to emphasize a particular word or phrase.

If you wish to communicate effectively via email, the importance of Email Etiquette should not be underestimated.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

How do you pronunce "Linux"?

A vexing question, indeed! Since I'm beginning to seriously deepen my relationship with the Linux Operating System, I decided I'd better find out how to pronounce the damn thing correctly. The fear is that I will immediately identify myself as a clueless Linux newbie just by opening my mouth (grin). Mind you, at present, I am a clueless Linux newbie, but I'm hoping to remedy that sad state of affairs over the next few months.

Anyway, I've been doing some research and it seems that there are actually several ways of saying the word.

To me, "lynuks" seems the most natural at first. However, I’ve now taken to using the "linnuks" variation, which seems to be more popular in my neck of the woods at least.

Nibble or Nybble?

A reader has suggested that the correct spelling for "Nibble" (in a computer science context) should be "Nybble". The truth is that both spellings are correct, although "nibble" is probably the most common. According to a Wikipedia entry on the subject,
The term nibble originates from the fact that the term byte is a pun on the English word bite. A nibble is a small bite, or half a bite. The nybble spelling parallels the spelling of byte.

Many references suggest that both "nibble" and "nybble" represent 4 bits or half a bite. Others maintain that 1 nybble represents 8 nibbles in the same way that 1 byte represents 8 bits.

Name change: Nibbles and Bytes

A few months back I launched a new webzine called Nibbles and Bytes that was hosted as part of my Hoax-Slayer website. Nibbles and Bytes started out as a fortnightly webzine that featured material on a large variety of subjects. Nibbles and Bytes was intended as an expression of my desire to share some of the interesting and unusual things I've come across online.

Issues featured such items as:

  • Brief reviews of interesting and helpful websites

  • Personal comments about software that I'm trying out

  • Internet and computer tips

  • Unusual stories, factoids and trivia

  • A dash of humour

  • Basically, anything else that took my fancy (grin)

However, due to the desire to fulfil other projects (I tend to over-commit, the webzine stalled somewhat and new issues languished on my rather lengthy "to-do" list. Also, the subject matter and scope of this blog and the webzine tended to cover a lot of the same territory.

Therefore, I've decided to roll this blog and the Nibbles and Bytes Webzine into one package. The blog format makes it a lot easier and less time consuming for me to add new material.

Since I rather like the name "Nibbles and Bytes" I’ve decided to use it for this blog rather than the somewhat unwieldy "Software Reviews & PC Tips"

Just for the record…a byte is the common IT term for 8 bits. A nibble is half a byte.