Geekly Update - 24 February 2021

Category: Tech-News

Is it time to upgrade to Office 2021, or is your twenty-year-old copy of Word doing just fine? Should we be worried when robots start carrying guns? And is there a truly unlimited smartphone plan out there? Get answers in today's Geekly Update... it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. This issue is guaranteed to make you 146% smarter -- you'll see why. Read, think, and, comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

On Monday, NASA released a video showing the descent of the Perseverance Rover to the surface of the Mars. It’s the first time humans have been able to see the landing of a spacecraft on another planet. Unfortunately, the final seconds of the landing, as the “sky crane” lowers the Rover to the surface, are obscured by dust from the red planet’s surface. Still very cool to watch.

Panasonic's Nicobo is a $360 robocat with a $10 a month subscription fee. Nicobo, who looks more like a sock puppet than a feline robot, can wag its tail, turn around, blink its eyes, talk, and fart. Want one? Too bad, they’re already sold out.

Speaking of robot pets, what happens when you mount a paintball gun on a Boston Dynamics robot dog? Spot goes on a rampage in an art gallery set up for that purpose by MSCHF. Random website visitors will take turns controlling Spot as he moves about the studio. But Boston Dynamics isn’t happy about the use of their product in this way. "We condemn the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm or intimidation... Provocative art can help push useful dialogue about the role of technology in our daily lives. This art, however, fundamentally misrepresents Spot and how it is being used to benefit our daily lives."

The editors at Science Daily want you to imagine "if surgeons could transplant healthy neurons into patients living with neurodegenerative diseases or brain and spinal cord injuries." Northwestern University researchers are working on a technique to create these neurons in a laboratory using a form of 3D printing, starting with a patient's own cells.

Geekly Update 02-24-2021

Microsoft is announcing that Office 2021 will be available later this year for both Windows and macOS. Office is the desktop version of the popular suite for those who don’t want to subscribe to the cloud-based Microsoft 365 service. Meanwhile, Word 2000 still works fine on my desktop PC.

T-Mobile’s new Magenta MAX plan is true all-you-can-eat 5G data. It’s the first unlimited smartphone plan that doesn’t drastically slow your download speeds after you reach a data limit. Magenta MAX costs $47/line, and includes a free Netflix account.

Youtube has announced supervised experiences on YouTube, a new choice for parents with “tweens” that are too old for YouTube Kids. This supervised experience will come with content settings to limit the videos available to the under-13 users.

Fry’s Electronics, the iconic brick-and-mortar electronics store chain, is permanently closing nationwide. A company spokesperson says: "After nearly 36 years in business as the one-stop-shop and online resource for high-tech professionals across nine states and 31 stores, Fry’s Electronics has made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently as a result of changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic."

Frogger, the popular 80s-era video game that pitted frogs against busy traffic conditions, will soon re-emerge on the Peacock streaming service as a “toadally radical” game show. Contestants will have to “dodge treacherous traffic, leap over snapping gators and hop over hungry hippos to conquer the course.”

Starlink chief Elon Musk tweeted that the satellite-based internet provider plans to double download speeds to 300Mbps “later this year,” and reduce latency to 20ms.

Smart notebooks let you write on real paper with a real pen, and then transfer those notes to your smartphone or computer. Popular Mechanics reviews a few examples, including the $34 Rocketbook Core, which has 32 ruled pages that can be written on with the Pilot FriXion pen, and erased by simply using a damp cloth.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 24 February 2021"

Posted by:

Ken H
24 Feb 2021

I would almost switch to Starlink. I am in a "DSL or Satellite" only area, Cell service iffy. The $500 receiver is off-putting though. It is tempting since I have times when there is zero bandwidth on the DSL, usually about 9am to 11am, though not straight through. It does seem to have gotten better lately.

Posted by:

Reg Whitworth
24 Feb 2021

Sooo...can correspondents who use this newest version of office read and modify files from all earlier versions? Will I be able to modify those new files created in the upcoming version by my flashy up-to-date friends?

Posted by:

24 Feb 2021

I am sad to hear Fry's Electronics is closing.When I lived in the LA-Orange metro area (CA),going to a Fry's shop was an adventure.I often find stuff I wasn't looking for exactly and I would buy it.

Fry's always had an extensive supply of CAT5 and CAT6 ethernet cables in many different lengths.I will miss this particular shop. RIP!!

Posted by:

24 Feb 2021

I am also a devotee of MS Office 2000. It does everything I need without complex ribbon menus and features I’ve never needed or want to stumble over. MS offers a file converter for newer docx files and I don’t need to keep paying and paying while I wonder where in the cloud my precious files are.
I think they should offer a robust but much simpler version of Office you can buy once. Then I’ll upgrade.

Posted by:

24 Feb 2021

The FREE LibreOffice is almost indistinguishable from MS Office, so there is an extremely short learning curve.

Docs can be opened, changed (or not changed) then saved as an MS doc or a Libre doc.

Give it a try. It is free so there is nothing to lose if you do not like it.

Bob has reviewed it, search this site for his opinion.

Posted by:

24 Feb 2021

Absolutely right about Word, my 97-03 version does most of what I want except when it makes silly mistakes. I do have a 2010 just in case, but I actually keep Libre Office around specifically to open the latest Excel or Word files.
Would love to just use Libre Office but it's just too clunky, with things in the wrong place (you have to hunt to save something) and its Track Changes for correcting documents (students, articles &c) is dreadful

Posted by:

24 Feb 2021

I too use Word 2000 on Windows XL. Can Word 2000 be installed on Windows 10?

Posted by:

Ernie Joe
24 Feb 2021

Have Office Professional 2000 and Office Professional 2007, both on C.D.s. Though I now only use 2007. 2007 loads onto Win 10 platform with no issues. And, not for nothin', M.S.'s yearly "subscription" fee for its newest Office software sticks in my craw. Another "hand in my wallet". This is hyperbole, but it seems like every time I turn around, someone wants to have "access" to my bank account with a yearly subscription or an "automatic" payment!! (Must be my age? Or, am I now a Born-Again Skinflint?) Ciao, people.

Posted by:

24 Feb 2021

I use Apache Open Office and Google Sheets to keep track of all of the books I read. There are some quirks in both of them.
Sheets only prints now in PDF, which is a handicap for me. I can't edit a PDF can I?
Sheets cell formatting won't carry over to Apache.
Apache can't copy and paste from one file to another without converting the paste to an image that is hard to work with. One cell works fine but more that one doesn't. I can't edit an image can I?

Posted by:

25 Feb 2021

When I attempted to install Office 2007 on a Windows 10 PC it dramatically reduced performance. I have often found the older, i.e. unsupported versions of Outlook are not always compatible with email servers of various companies.

As for Micro$$oft's pushing the annual subscription to Office 365, Office 2019 is available as a one time purchase; Microsoft tries to hide that fact and I've read the new 2021 version will still be available as a one time purchase.

Posted by:

Robert Brown
25 Feb 2021

Let me make it clear at the beginning of this note that in general I dislike subscription software.
But if you have at least 2 people in the household, the deal with Microsoft Office 365 is incredibly good. So good you wouldn't believe me if I described all the benefits. You'll have to look it up for yourself to believe it.

Posted by:

Mr Howard Bretman
25 Feb 2021

if you are having any trouble using Office 2000 on Windows 10 machines load it using compatibility mode. Then use the file converter to run docx etc.

Posted by:

25 Feb 2021

While I have Office 2007, (inherited from my software professional late wife) I rarely use it. My preferred Office suite is, and has been for years, Libre Office, which is not, in my experience, clunky, as ardj would have it, nor are things in the 'wrong place' - just different ones. Microsoft's idea of the 'right' way of doing things is not the only way. I'm a great believer in open-source software, and I resent being held to ransom by a company as large and as wealthy as Microsoft. While ever people insist on kow-towing to Microsoft's demands, they'll just get richer and make us poorer by only giving us what THEY want - not what we need.
Oh, and Robert Brown? Libre Office's deal is even better value than Office 365's. $0 for unlimited personal users, apart from a completely voluntary donation.

Posted by:

Colin Bain
25 Feb 2021

Office - The only difference that the "upgrades" make for me is that I have to re-learn where to find the function I need. And of course I need to click more times for the stuff I do need any way!

Posted by:

25 Feb 2021

Interesting that so many people want "something for nothing" (SFN). MS created Office to allow people an elegant (yes, I know, opinions differ) and integrated way to handle word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. within its Windows environment. They spent millions on its development, which the SFN folks believe they are entitled to receive for free. Why? Can you build on your own what MS did? Probably not, or you wouldn't be kvetching about it. MS is a corporation, and has every right to charge for its product, in whatever way it wants. It's the capitalist system. Don't like it, find something else, as some posters here suggest.

No one demands Ford or GM to give away their cars and trucks for free, or Domino's or Pizza Hut to charge nothing for their food, so why should MS for its products?

Posted by:

25 Feb 2021

It is a sad moment to walk in history lane of Fry's Electronics. Manhattan Beach (SoCal) store, in the '80s, was the only watering hole for geeks/nerds of the era. It was a 50-mile road trip from Newport Beach but it sure beat MarVac (Costa Mesa) 'rummage' sale. In the '90s, their 8-page Friday local newspaper circular was the proverbial bible for us, and engineers would gather together for early coffee break. Each Friday, someone would be elected to take a trip (Anaheim and/or Fountain Valley store) with a laundry list of items to purchase before they were sold out. In latter part of the '00s, their newspaper ads (down to 1/2 page) started to advertise ham sandwiches.
Sad day indeed but it was NOT "changes/challenges in the retail industry" that was the last nail in their coffin. I am guessing that MicroCenter will not be able to endure the plight of the retail industry either: Thank you, Amazon!

Posted by:

Bob Kinsler
26 Feb 2021

If they are upgrading Frogger will they also upgrade the game with the birds trying to knock off those pigs?

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