Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User
October 2, 2008, 12:22 pm
Last week, I wrote an entry on my blog <http://nytimes.com/pogue> that
began like this:
"One of these days, I'm going to write a book called, 'The Basics.' It's
going to be a compendium of the essential tech bits that you just assume
everyone knows–but you're wrong.
"(I'll never forget watching a book editor at a publishing house
painstakingly drag across a word in a word processor to select it. After 10
minutes of this, I couldn't stand it. 'Why don't you just double-click the
word?' She had no clue you could do that!)"
Many readers chimed in with other "basics" that they assumed every computer
user knew–but soon discovered that what's common knowledge isn't the same as
I'm sure the basics could fill a book, but here are a few to get you
started. All of these are things that certain friends, family or coworkers,
over the years, did *not* know. Clip, save and pass along to…well, you know
who they are.
* You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web
* When you get an e-mail message from eBay or your bank, claiming that you
have an account problem or a question from a buyer, it's probably a
"phishing scam" intended to trick you into typing your password. Don't click
the link in the message. If in doubt, go into your browser and type
"www.ebay.com <http://www.ebay.com> " (or whatever) manually.
* Nobody, but nobody, is going to give you half of $80 million to help them
liberate the funds of a deceased millionaire…from Nigeria or anywhere else.
* You can hide all windows, revealing only what's on the computer desktop,
with one keystroke: hit the Windows key and "D" simultaneously in Windows,
or press F11 on Macs (on recent Mac laptops, Command+F3; Command is the key
with the cloverleaf logo). That's great when you want examine or delete
something you've just downloaded to the desktop, for example. Press the
keystroke again to return to what you were doing.
* You can enlarge the text on any Web page. In Windows, press Ctrl and the
plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts); on the Mac, it's the
Command key and plus or minus.
* You can also enlarge the entire Web page or document by pressing the
Control key as you turn the wheel on top of your mouse. On the Mac, this
enlarges the entire screen image.
* The number of megapixels does not determine a camera's picture quality;
that's a marketing myth. The sensor size is far more important. (Use Google
to find it. For example, search for "sensor size Nikon D90.")
* On most cellphones, press the Send key to open up a list of recent calls.
Instead of manually dialing, you can return a call by highlighting one of
these calls and pressing Send again.
* When someone sends you some shocking e-mail and suggests that you pass it
on, don't. At least not until you've first confirmed its truth at snopes.com
<http://snopes.com> , the Internet's authority on e-mailed myths. This
includes get-rich schemes, Microsoft/AOL cash giveaways, and–especially
lately–nutty scare-tactic messages about our Presidential candidates.
* You can tap the Space bar to scroll down on a Web page one screenful. Add
the Shift key to scroll back up.
* When you're filling in the boxes on a Web page (like City, State, Zip),
you can press the Tab key to jump from box to box, rather than clicking. Add
the Shift key to jump through the boxes backwards.
* You can adjust the size and position of any window on your computer. Drag
the top strip to move it; drag the lower-right corner (Mac) or any edge
(Windows) to resize it.
* Forcing the camera's flash to go off prevents silhouetted, too-dark faces
when you're outdoors.
* When you're searching for something on the Web using, say, Google, put
quotes around phrases that must be searched together. For example, if you
put quotes around "electric curtains," Google won't waste your time finding
one set of Web pages containing the word "electric" and another set
containing the word "curtains."
* You can use Google to do math for you. Just type the equation, like
23*7+15/3=, and hit Enter.
* Oh, yeah: on the computer, * means "times" and / means "divided by."
* If you can't find some obvious command, like Delete in a photo program,
try clicking using the right-side mouse button. (On the Mac, you can
* Google is also a units-of-measurement and currency converter. Type
"teaspoons in 1.3 gallons," for example, or "euros in 17 dollars." Click
Search to see the answer.
* You can open the Start menu by tapping the key with the Windows logo on
* You can switch from one open program to the next by pressing Alt+Tab
(Windows) or Command-Tab (Mac).
* You generally can't send someone more than a couple of full-size digital
photos as an e-mail attachment; those files are too big, and they'll bounce
back to you. (Instead, use iPhoto or Picasa–photo-organizing programs that
can automatically scale down photos in the process of e-mailing them.)
* Whatever technology you buy today will be obsolete soon, but you can avoid
heartache by learning the cycles. New iPods come out every September. New
digital cameras come out in February and October.
* Just putting something into the Trash or the Recycle Bin doesn't actually
delete it. You then have to *empty* the Trash or Recycle Bin. (Once a year,
I hear about somebody whose hard drive is full, despite having practically
no files. It's because over the years, they've put 79 gigabytes' worth of
stuff in the Recycle Bin and never emptied it.)
* You don't have to type "http://www" into your Web browser. Just type the
remainder: "nytimes.com <http://nytimes.com> " or "dilbert.com
<http://dilbert.com> ," for example. (In the Safari browser, you can even
leave off the ".com" part.)
* On the iPhone, hit the Space bar twice at the end of a sentence. You get a
period, a space, and a capitalized letter at the beginning of the next word.
* Come up with an automated backup system for your computer. There's no
misery quite like the sick feeling of having lost chunks of your life
because you didn't have a safety copy.
What are your favorite basics-that-you-thought-everyone-knew? Let us know in
the comments for this column at nytimes.com/pogue <http://nytimes.com/pogue> !
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Another Encouraging Chart From Goldman Sachs:
Another Encouraging Chart From Goldman Sachs
Henry Blodget | Oct 9, 08 2:48 PM
In the past, when stock returns have been as crappy as they have been over the past 10 years, it has been a great time to buy. History never repeats itself exactly, so this time could be different, but Goldman offers yet another exhibit suggesting that the market's collapse has likely created a nice opportunity for long-term investors.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
By Margot Habiby
Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil for November delivery fell as the dollar rebounded from a one-month low and after the October contract climbed more than $25 a barrel in its final trading day yesterday, a record one-day gain.
Oil rose to its highest since Aug. 21 yesterday as traders scrambled to unwind positions on the October contract, the dollar declined the most against the euro since January 2001 and on speculation a proposed $700 billion U.S. bailout package for the finance industry may bolster the economy and shore up demand.
``The dollar will be the focal variable in the coming days because the Treasury proposition and the bailout plan could have a significant impact on the dollar,'' said Christopher Edmonds, the managing principal of FIG Partners Energy Research & Capital Group in Atlanta.
Crude oil for November delivery fell 74 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $108.63 a barrel at 9:13 a.m. Sydney time on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Yesterday, the contract rose $6.62, or 6.4 percent, to $109.37 a barrel.
Oil has risen 20 percent since Sept. 16 as lawmakers pledged fast consideration of the Treasury's plan to buy devalued mortgage-related securities.
The October contract rose $16.37, or 17 percent, to expire at $120.92 a barrel yesterday on the Nymex. It touched $130 in intraday trading, as traders who sold the October contract last week, when oil dipped close to $90, had to buy the futures back.
In a squeeze, a trader has gone short by selling contracts betting that the price will decline. In the last days before the contract expires the trader must buy back the same number of futures or be forced to deliver the underlying oil.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is ``closely monitoring'' yesterday's gain in oil prices on Nymex for potential manipulation, the agency's acting chairman said.
``We are working closely with Nymex compliance staff to ensure that no one is taking advantage of the current stresses facing our financial marketplace for their own manipulative gain,'' Acting Chairman Walter Lukken said in a statement.
The dollar was little changed at $1.4793 per euro at 8:35 a.m. Sydney time, from $1.4774 yesterday. It has rebounded since dropping 2.1 percent yesterday to $1.4866, the weakest level since Aug. 22, on concern the U.S. bailout package, which would buy assets from financial firms, would inflate the budget deficit.
``Traders are trying to figure out what this bailout and stimulus package is and what it means,'' Edmonds said. ``To say that it means the consumer is alive and well and energy demand is going to pick up to pre-dip levels is way, way premature. At some point in the not-too-distant future, this package has to be paid for, and the economic repercussions are pretty significant for the taxpayer.''
Crude oil prices are ``too high'' because the global economic slowdown may spread and cut consumption, the International Energy Agency's deputy executive director said yesterday.
``The economic slowdown in the U.S., Europe hasn't gotten into China, India much, but at some point you have to presume it will,'' William Ramsay said in an interview in Bangkok yesterday.
The Paris-based IEA, which advises 27 developed nations on energy policy, was set up in 1974 in response to the Arab oil embargo.
Brent crude oil for November settlement rose $6.43, or 6.5 percent, to settle at $106.04 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange yesterday.
Gasoline for October delivery fell 0.38 cent to $2.70 a gallon in New York. Yesterday, it increased 10.41 cents, or 4 percent, to settle at $2.7038 a gallon in New York. Regular gasoline, averaged nationwide, declined 1.8 cents to $3.739 a gallon, AAA, the nation's largest motorist organization, said today on its Web site. Pump prices reached a record $4.114 a gallon on July 17.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Saturday, February 09, 2008
World bourses lost 5.2 trillion dlrs in January: credit rater
World stockmarkets lost 5.2 trillion dollars (3.6 trillion euros) in January thanks to the fallout from the US subprime crisis and fears of a global economic slowdown, Standard & Poor's said Saturday.
"If investors thought the market could only go up, January's wake-up call pulled them back into reality," the independent credit ratings' provider said.
Standard & Poor's said the world's equity markets lost a combined 5.2 trillion dollars as emerging markets fell 12.44 percent and developed markets lost 7.83 percent to register one of the worst starts to a new year.
"There were few safe havens in January as 50 of the 52 global equity markets ended the month in negative territory, with 25 of them posting double-digit losses," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&Ps.
All 26 developed equity markets posted negative returns in January, with 16 losing at least 10 percent of their value.
The January declines negated all previous market gains, leaving all of the developed markets in the red for the trailing three month period.
In Paris, the stock exchange lost 12.27 percent over the course of January, 15.27 percent over the past three months, more than wiping out its gains over the last 12 months -- down 0.74 percent).
The situation was even worse in London -- down 8.85 percent in January, down 16.54 percent for the past three months and down 2.22 percent over 12 months -- and in the US, which was down 6.07 percent in January, down 10.78 percent over three months and down 2.42 percent over 12 months.
The story was similar in Japan, where the market lost 4.47 percent in January, 10.31 percent over three months and down 10.44 percent over the past 12 months.
In Germany, in contrast, although the stock exchange lost 13.72 percent in January and 13.84 percent over three months, it was up 13.43 percent over the year.
Equity markets in emerging countries also suffered heavy losses in January, apart from Morocco which gained 10.17 percent and Jordan, which was up by 3.11 percent. Turkey was the most affected with January losses reaching 22.70 percent, followed by China on 21.40 percent, Russia on 16.12 percent and India at 16 percent.
But only Argentina and Taiwan slipped into negative territory for the 12-month period.
Copyright © 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AFP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Agence France Presse.
Print Story: World bourses lost 5.2 trillion dlrs in January: credit rater on Yahoo! News
Venezuela Denies Oil Assets Frozen
Friday February 8, 6:09 pm ET By Fabiola Sanchez, Associated Press Writer
Venezuela Oil Minister Dismisses Exxon Mobil Court Orders As 'Judicial Terrorism'
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's top oil official accused Exxon Mobil Corp. of "judicial terrorism" on Friday, but said court orders won by the oil major do not amount to confiscation of $12 billion (8.3 billion euros) in assets.
Exxon Mobil has gone after the assets of state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, in U.S., British and Dutch courts as it challenges the nationalization of a multibillion dollar (euro) oil project by President Hugo Chavez's government.
A British court last month issued an injunction "freezing" as much as $12 billion (8.3 billion euros) in assets.
But Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said: "They don't have any asset frozen. They only have frozen $300 million" in cash through a U.S. court in New York. As for the case in Britain, PDVSA doesn't have "any assets in that jurisdiction that even come close to those sums" of $12 billion (8.3 billion euros), Ramirez said.
Ramirez called it a "transitory measure" while the state company, known as PDVSA, presents its case in New York and London. Exxon Mobil is also taking its dispute to international arbitration, which Venezuela has agreed to.
But Ramirez, who is PDVSA's president, said Exxon Mobil "hasn't respected the terms of the arbitration" and said Exxon Mobil's claims in the Venezuela nationalization dispute "don't even come close to half the sum of $12 billion claimed by them."
Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Margaret Ross said the company had no comment on Ramirez's statements.
Ramirez said the court cases "don't have any affect on our cash flow, don't affect our operational situation at all."
Ramirez said Exxon Mobil sued in New York, London and the Netherlands to dispute the terms under Chavez's nationalization last year of four heavy oil projects in the Orinoco River basin, one of the world's richest oil deposits.
"We don't have any decision by any court that's definitive," Ramirez said. "We have a preventative measure in a court in New York that we have a right to respond to, and we are going to."
He accused the Irving, Texas-based oil major of employing "judicial terrorism" and trying to generate "financial nervousness" around PDVSA.
According to documents filed last month in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Exxon Mobil has secured an "order of attachment" on about $300 million (207 million euros) in cash held by PDVSA. A hearing to confirm the order is scheduled in New York for Feb. 13.
In a Jan. 24 "freezing injunction" by a British High Court, the court said that "until the return date or further order from the court," PDVSA "must not remove from England or Wales any of its assets which are in England or Wales up to the value of $12 billion (8.3 billion euros)."
The court also said that if PDVSA disobeys the order, it could be held in contempt of court and be fined or have assets seized.
The credit rating agency Fitch Ratings said the British court order would "have a minimum impact on the company's day-to-day operations, as well as its near-term credit quality and financial flexibility." The agency noted that most of PDVSA's assets are located in Venezuela and the United States, where the company has refineries.
But Fitch Ratings also noted that the outcome of the arbitration process with Exxon Mobil remains uncertain and that "a negative outcome of the arbitration could pressure the credit profile of PDVSA."
Other major oil companies including U.S.-based Chevron Corp., France's Total, Britain's BP PLC, and Norway's StatoilHydro ASA have negotiated deals with Venezuela to continue on as minority partners in the Orinoco oil project.
ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil, however, balked at the tougher terms and have been in compensation talks with PDVSA.
Ramirez said Venezuelan officials have had "very important meetings" with ConocoPhillips Chairman Jim Mulva and have made progress toward an agreement. "I think we're on a path to achieving it," Ramirez said.
As for the dispute with Exxon Mobil, Ramirez said "we're going to value fairly what would be its compensation, or not if that be the case."