eBay takes 15% off smartwatches, other gadgets in the UK and Ireland

Holiday shopping is upon us and eBay is thinking about PRESENTS – that’s the coupon code for 15% off certain categories. The deal lasts until midnight tomorrow and applies to customers from UK and Ireland. As usual, there are limitations: 1 redemption per customer, you need to spend at least £20 and you can get at most £50 off (T&C details here).

You can see all categories that are part of the deal over at eBay, but we’re interested in only a few of them: consoles and games, laptops, computer accessories and, of course, smart watches.

If you’re on a budget, you can skip straight to the Under £150 category. Otherwise, head over to the full listing that has Apple Watches (from Series 1 to 4), Samsung Gear (S2 and S3), Huawei Watches, Garmin watches, plus many others.

15% off smartwatches and other gadgets at eBay 15% off smartwatches and other gadgets at eBay 15% off smartwatches and other gadgets at eBay
15% off smartwatches and other gadgets at eBay

For example, a new Samsung Gear Sport is £160, which works out to £136 post discount. A new Gear S3 frontier is £161. An Apple Watch Series 3 (38mm) is getting close to the max discount – it drops £42 for a price of £238.

Again, those are new units, but there are plenty of refurbished ones too (at a suitably lower price).


Bozeman Computer Museum gets a boost from surprised visitor

Image result for Bozeman Computer Museum gets a boost from surprised visitor

 The Museum of Computers and Robotics, near the Montana State University campus, is the world’s oldest museum devoted strictly too computers. It’s also one of the few computer-only museums in the world.

Open six days a week with free admission, the museum, run by robotics expert George Keremedjiev, recently got a boost from a well-known Harvard software engineer.

Andromeda Yelton was in Bozeman to speak at the university. She had a couple of hours to kill before catching a flight home, so she took the advice of a local and dropped by the museum.

“I got there and was just blown away,” said Yelton, who says she was pleasantly surprised after she arrived at the hard-to-find location. “It doesn’t really look like a museum from the outside.”

Keremedjiev said that’s not an unusual reaction.

“People come in not knowing generally what to expect,” he said.

“As I kept walking around the museum, my mind kept being blown,” Yelton told MTN News. “There are these rare computing artifacts that are just capturing seminal moments in the history of computation.”

An Apple One computer is being offered at auction right now for big bucks. The Bozeman Computer Museum won’t need to bid. It has one. A gift from Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak.

The only surviving computer that was used to land a U. S. astronaut on the moon is in the museum. Yelton says it’s amazing what was accomplished with the technology available in 1969.

“The phone in your pocket, which is just like orders of magnitude more powerful than the computer that took us to the actual moon,” she said.

Long before the moon landing, the first computers started to come alive in World War II. Then electronic computers were born in the United States. They were room-sized giants that couldn’t compete with a wristwatch these days. You can learn about them all at the museum.

There’s a special room dedicated to women in computing. Yelton posted a selfie of herself in the room, posting: “Yes, I am totally taking a selfie in this particular exhibit.”

There’s also a section devoted to early computer games, including one that dates to the 1930’s. Yelton liked that, too.

“Games are what motivates so many people to learn,” she said.

Nearly every exhibit has three levels of information. A brief explanation, then a more in-depth take on the history of a given item and finally a deep dive into the details.

Keremedjiev said that makes the exhibits unusually user-friendly.

“All of this is understandable and you don’t have to be a geek,” he said.

Some of the rarest items in computer history are at the Bozeman computer museum. But the goal goes far beyond trying to preserve these relics from the past.

“It underscores that computers aren’t just things that descend from on high fully formed, like people built them,” Yelton said. “People had fun soldering these things together in their garages.”

The museum even looks toward the future with a quantum computing section.

Keremedjiev said once that technology is perfected, it “is going to turn computing as we know it on its head.”

Yelton’s tweets and photos from the museum brought the institution some welcome attention and gratification to the programmer who said it had “this sort of surprise twist ending where the museum joins Twitter and now they have lots of followers and it’s super fun and heartwarming.”

She also noted: “The museum says that’s only like six percent of their collection, so honestly they should get a bigger space and then I should spend all day in it.”

Keremedjiev said he’s working on that and hopes to open a bigger and better museum in its own building in Bozeman soon.


Staples and Office Depot have amazing Black Friday computer deals

Staples and Office Depot are bringing out some great

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Office supply store may not be the first things that come to mind when thinking about Black Friday sales, but don’t forget, they sell more than paper and pens. Both Staples and Office Depot will have amazing savings on Black Friday on everything from desk chairs and printers to laptops and headphones.

Neither retailer will open its brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving, but both will still start offering their big Black Friday sales online early.

The majority of doorbusters from Staples and Office Depot will be available early Turkey Day with the ability to pick up many items in-store Friday morning, while supplies last. Most Staples stores will open 7 a.m. Black Friday, and Office Depot and OfficeMax stores at 8 a.m.

The office supply stores’ Black Friday sales will run through Saturday, Nov. 24, but supplies are limited.


Idaho Falls students learn computer hacking – with permission


The idea of 16-year-old students breaking into computer systems and finding secret files may sound like a horrifying scandal. But under the eyes of two teachers in the basement of the University of Idaho-Idaho Falls, finding secret files was the goal.

For the last two days, Idaho Falls School District 91’s Computer Science class has taken trips to the computer lab at the university to take part in a controlled hacking competition. This event was the first time in the program’s three years that the students traveled off campus to gain more practical experience with computer systems by completing challenges in a “Capture the Flag” event.

Cathy Owen teaches the Computer Science class, which is part of the district’s Career-Technical Education programs and is based out of Compass Academy. A total of 12 students from Compass Academy, Idaho Falls High School and Skyline High School attend the Information Technology classes every day to learn about computer systems. Every school district in Idaho is required to offer computer classes by 2020, and Owen’s class is currently the only opportunity within the district.

“This outreach is putting these lessons into high schools to show students what is available for them,” Owen said.

The New York Times reported Nov. 7 that an estimated 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs will be available but unfilled by 2021.

Capture the Flag competitions involve teams of hackers and computer scientists competing to solve puzzles created to test their thinking and computer skills. Some events involve creating a server for each team and earning points for breaking into other team’s systems, while others are a list of challenges created for the contest. A team from Idaho National Laboratory won one of the world’s largest Capture the Flag tournaments at DEF CON in 2010. INL broke ground in April on the Cybercore Integration Center, which will host an advanced electronics lab that will be used for cybersecurity and infrastructure security research.

The program’s contact at the University of Idaho-Idaho Falls is assistant professor Michael Haney. Haney and Owen met earlier this year while running the Cybercore Summer Camp program, an intensive three-day program that included it’s own Capture the Flag event. The high school doesn’t have the network and facilities to run the event during the year, so Haney agreed to let the students go through the challenge at the university computer lab.

“We’re giving them an opportunity to try a real-life skill and see examples of what they would see in their careers,” Owen said.

Not every student in the class is looking for a career in cybersecurity. Brandon Collette, 17, attends Compass Academy and took the class because he was interested in web design. He said he was surprised by how much he enjoyed seeing the computer systems from the view of the hackers and problem solvers.

“There’s a lot of coding we do for websites and that is something I’m interested in,” Brandon said.

Thursday’s hour-long competition gave teams a wide variety of challenges to test their knowledge of computers and systems. Some of the questions were straightforward trivia, asking about web security and abbreviations. Some involved digging through the source code of pictures and files they downloaded or modifying their computer’s IP address to access new sites. There were codes that needed deciphering and multistage problems.

Students could ask for help from Haney and the two graduate students in the class, but they also had the entire internet at their fingers as a resource. Most of the problems solved by the students were worth 20 or 30 points, but one team cracked a 600-point problem with some creative Googling.

“A lot of classes will tell you not to look for answers on Google or Wikipedia. But those can be very good resources and we want them to learn how to use them well,” Haney said.

As the competition unfolded, the rankings for the five teams were displayed in real time on a screen at the front of the lab. Skyline student Cole Johnson, 16, enjoyed the process of actively learning about the computer systems even when his team, the Hackers, was not leading the contest.

“I expected more of a race between the teams. But it’s less of a rush and more thinking to figure it out,” Cole said.

The teachers understand the risk of teaching high school students how to hack into computers. The school district is currently investigating a virus that has infected its computer systems and trying to determine the extent of the attack. Wednesday’s class started with a discussion about the ethics of hacking and legal ways for these skills to be put to use, before preparing the students for the competition.

Haney mentioned several ways that these hacking lessons could be put to good use by the students. There are “bug bounties,” rewards given by companies for hackers who find issues in their security software and alert the company to the problem instead of using the bug to steal information. Haney also said that the skills the students learn here could prove helpful in preventing these hacks in the first place.

“Some of these students could end up working for the government or for company security systems. And if you’re going to do security, you have to know what the hackers are capable of and what the risks are,” he said.


Ask SAM: Why can’t I find computer shells at Goodwill?

Image result for Ask SAM: Why can't I find computer shells at Goodwill?Q: In the past, I would go to the Goodwill store on Peters Creek Parkway and buy many used computer shells — a computer with no hard drive or RAM. In the past three to four months, there have been almost no computer shells to buy. I was recently told by one of the staff that they now sell the computer shells to one buyer. Is this true?


Answer: “What you were told is not accurate,” said Sara E. Butner, communications manager for Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, in an email reply to SAM. “All of our items, including computer shells, are sold on a first come/first served basis.

“We do turn the newest shells into rebuilt, usable laptops to sell in stores — and they tend to sell quickly,” she added.

Q: How many mass shootings of three or more victims have there been in the past three years? How do the fatalities compare to earlier years?


Answer: Sadly, there have been more mass shootings in recent years than we have room to list here.

According to a database compiled and maintained by Raleigh TV station WRAL, three of the five deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history were in the past three years. The five are the music festival in Las Vegas in 2017 (58 killed), the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016 (50), the Virginia Tech campus shooting in 2007 (32), First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017 (27), and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 (26).

From 2016 to Nov. 12, the chart shows 31 shootings with three or more fatalities in 2016-18.

You can see the database, which is searchable by date, site, and number killed, at WRAL’s website. We have created a direct link to it at tinyurl.com/shootingchart.

The database goes back to 2005, but also includes two notable earlier shootings, the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and the 1986 Edmonton, Okla., shooting that gave rise to the term “going postal.” In each of those cases, 15 people were killed.

Q: My granddaughter has a medical problem, a nerve disorder of the face called trigeminal neuralgia, that causes extreme pain. How can I find out more about this?


Answer: “The condition can be caused by processes such as a blood vessel being too close to the nerve, a lesion compressing the nerve, diabetic nerve injury, multiple sclerosis or trauma/injury to the nerve,” said Dr. Arvind Gomadam, a neurologist at Novant Health Neurology & Sleep.

“Treatment is usually dependent on the cause of trigeminal neuralgia and is typically medications. Surgical management is an option for severe cases or cases due to a compressive lesion.”

The American Academy of Neurology’s website, www.aan.com, has information on the condition. We have created a direct link to a helpful two-page article with basic information about the condition at tinyurl.com/neuralgialink.

If you don’t have Internet access, you can go to your nearest library or ask a relative to look it up for you.

We have not found any local support groups for it, but we hear from any we will run a follow-up.