Category Archives: Music

Virtual Currency Before Bitcoin

Although Bitcoin is the best-known virtual currency, it wasn’t the first. In fact, Bitcoin is just the latest of a multitude of schemes designed to supplement or replace traditional money.

 

E-gold

One of the first virtual currencies was E-gold, founded in 1996. E-gold was unique in that its virtual currency was backed by real, honest-to-goodness gold bullion. In essence, trading E-gold was basically the same as swapping gold ownership, but anonymously.

At its peak, in 2008, E-gold claimed more than five million user accounts. However, the anonymous nature of the currency made the service very attractive to crime syndicates looking to launder their dirty dollars into cleaner cash. Weak security systems also contributed to an influx of hacking and fraud from these same crime syndicates.

All of this led the U.S. government to get involved, and in 2008 the company’s management pleaded guilty to money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transfer business. The Feds froze all user accounts, amounting to more than $86 million in E-gold. The company itself closed its doors the following year.

By the way, E-gold was just one of several similar virtual gold payment systems back in the day. Competitors included GoldMoney and e-Bullion, which appeared equally shady. (E-Bullion’s owner was eventually arrested on charges of running an illegal money transfer business and of paying three hit men to stab his wife to death. Good folks there.)

 

Beenz and Flooz

In 1998, an interesting new website called Beenz.com was launched. The idea behind Beenz.com is that you could earn virtual currency (called Beenz) for performing a variety of online activities, such as visiting certain websites or shopping online. The Beenz you earned could then be spent on various online goods and services.

The site tried to position itself as “the web’s currency” that would challenge the world’s traditional currencies. That it didn’t succeed is now obvious. In fact, Beenz had a very short life, closing its virtual doors in 2001. It never got past the challenge of convincing governments around the world that it really wasn’t establishing a new currency, or of convincing users that it wasn’t all a big scam.

Records in FileMaker

In Chapter 3, “Exploring FileMaker Pro,” you became familiar with the FileMaker Pro application environment. You learned about the commands that FileMaker Pro provides and the various ways that you can access them.

In this chapter, you use what you learned to explore and work with the database you created. You change, add, and delete records; navigate through records and layouts; and much more. This chapter provides you a more thorough understanding of how to use a FileMaker Pro database.

 

Changing an Existing Record

When you created the Contacts database, FileMaker Pro automatically added the first record for you. With the exception of the First Name field, the record is empty. Let’s change that record by entering data in the fields.

  1. Click the Title field. A drop-down menu displays. Here, you can select a title. Select a value from the list. Notice that the field has a thin highlight around it. That’s how you can tell which field you are in.
  2. Click the First Name field. Enter your first name in the field.
  3. Click the Last Name field and enter your last name.
  4. Save the changes that you made to the record. In database terms, we refer to the act of saving changes to a record as committing the changes. To commit your changes, click anywhere in the content area of the window where a field or button isn’t present.

 

Adding a New Record

Let’s add a new record to the database. As you might have guessed, FileMaker Pro provides several ways to add records, including

  • Click the New Record button in the Status Toolbar.
  • Select the New Record command from the Records menu.
  • Use a keyboard shortcut. On a Mac, the shortcut is Command+N, and in Windows, it is Ctrl+N.

After you choose one of the previous methods, a new record is created. Again, with the exception of the First Name field, the fields are blank. Click the fields to enter some values.

Using Photos for Mac

It used to be that importing photos into a photo application was a big pain. Every different source of the photographs—hard drives, digital cameras, mobile phones—seemed to have a different, complex import process. With the latest version of Photos, Apple has simplified importing and, at least as far as devices go, after you know how to import from one source, you know how to import from the others.

 

Migrating an iPhoto or Aperture Library to Photos for Mac

If you have previously used iPhoto or Aperture and are switching to Photos, you need to know how to migrate your photo library into Photos.

 

Migrate a Library to Photos

  1. After launching Photos for the first time, click the Get Started button to open the Choose Library screen.
  2. From the list of iPhoto and Aperture libraries, select the one you want to migrate into Photos.
  3. Click the blue Choose Library button to open the Preparing Library screen that lets you know how much more of your old library needs to be migrated. This could take as little as a few minutes to over an hour depending on the size of your library. When it’s complete you’ll be taken right to the new Photos app.

Themes feature in Office

Microsoft introduced themes back in Office 2007, but sad to say, most people don’t understand themes today any better than they did back then. They could tell you that a theme has something to do with styles, formatting, and colors, but if you press them for details, you get averted eyes and foot-shuffling. Is a theme built into a document, or is it a separate file? Is a theme the same thing as a template? How do you share themes between applications? In this article, I hope to clear up some of the persistent confusion around what exactly a theme is and how it does its magic.

 

What is a Theme?

A theme is a named group of settings that you can apply to a document to change its appearance. At a minimum, it includes three elements: colors, fonts, and effects. (In PowerPoint, your choice of theme also affects a couple of other aspects of the presentation, such as background image and variants.) Themes have names, such as Facet, Integral, and Ion; these names are the same across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, so you can use the same theme in each application for consistency.

A theme is not the same as a template. A template is an entire document file (or workbook, or presentation), but with a different extension to designate it a template rather than a regular document. It’s a full-fledged reusable sample. A theme, on the other hand, is just a collection of settings that can be applied to a document.

Is a theme a separate file? Well, it depends on what you mean by theme. The word can refer to the current theme settings in a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document file, and in that sense, a theme is contained within the document to which it is applied. But theme can also refer to a file with a .thmx extension that stores theme settings independently of any data file

Working with Seasonal Time Series

Matters get incrementally more complicated when you have a time series that’s characterized in part by seasonality: the tendency of its level to rise and fall in accordance with the passing of the seasons. We use the term season in a more general sense than its everyday meaning of the year’s four seasons. In the context of predictive analytics, a season can be a day if patterns repeat weekly, or a year in terms of presidential election cycles, or just about anything in between. An eight-hour shift in a hospital can represent a season.

This chapter takes a look at how to decompose a time series so that you can see how its seasonality operates apart from its trend (if any). As you might expect from the material in Chapters 3 and 4, several approaches are available to you.

 

Simple Seasonal Averages

The use of simple seasonal averages to model a time series can sometimes provide you with a fairly crude model for the data. But the approach pays attention to the seasons in the data set, and it can easily be much more accurate as a forecasting technique than simple exponential smoothing when the seasonality is pronounced.

The data and chart shown in Figure 5.1 represent the average number of daily hits to a website that caters to fans of the National Football League. Each observation in column D represents the average number of hits per day in each of four quarters across a five-year time span.

 

Identifying a Seasonal Pattern

You can tell from the averages in the range G2:G5 that a distinct quarterly effect is taking place. The largest average number of hits occurs during fall and winter, when the main 16 games and the playoffs are scheduled. Interest, as measured by average daily hits, declines during the spring and summer months.

 

Text in a Microsoft Office Application

Adding text in an Office application is easy; just start typing. If the default text formatting doesn’t suit your needs, however, Office also offers numerous text formatting and customization options.

The Home tab in Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Excel is home to a solid collection of text-formatting tools, giving you the option to select a font style and size; change text color; or apply bold, italic, and underlining to your text. You can also align text, use WordArt to create sophisticated text objects, search for and replace text, and use the Font dialog box for more advanced formatting.

Finally, you can fix any spelling errors by performing a spell check—something you need to do on every Office document.

You can also save your files in file formats that offer backward compatibility for co-workers still using older versions of the Office applications. And the Office applications (such as Word and Excel) provide you with compatibility-checking tools that help negate any issues with files shared with users of legacy Office applications.

As already mentioned, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint use the open XML file formats by default when you save a file in these applications. And you have a number of other file format options in these applications, if needed.

Publisher 2016, on the other hand, saves publications by default in the .pub file type. The .pub file type is “directly” compatible with Publisher 2013, through Publisher 2003. Although Publisher does not enable you to save a publication in the open XML file format (like Word and Excel), you can save Publisher files in the XPS file type, which is an XML file format for “electronic paper.” Publisher also has file types available that you can use to make your publications backward compatible with collaborators who are using previous versions of Microsoft Publisher.

The Workout App on the Apple Watch

The Workout app is somewhat similar to the Activity app, but instead of being designed for use at all times while you’re wearing the watch, this app allows you to collect and analyze data related to actual workouts.

To use this app, launch it from the Home screen of the Apple Watch (see Figure 5.23), and from the main menu, select the fitness-related activity you’re about to participate it. Options include Outdoor Walk, Outdoor Run, Outdoor Cycle, Indoor Run, Indoor Walk, Indoor Cycle, Elliptical, Rower, Stair Stepper, or Other.

When you’re ready to begin a workout, follow these steps to activate the Workout app on your watch:

  1. From any watch face you’ve selected to be displayed on the watch’s screen, press the Digital Crown to access the watch’s Home screen.
  2. Tap on the Workout app icon to launch the Workout app.
  3. When the main menu appears, tap on the type of workout you plan to engage in.
  4. Depending on the activity you select, a submenu screen enables you to Set Calories, Set Time, or Set Miles, or select Open (if you have no goal in mind, but simply want to track your workout-related data). If you select the Set Time screen, a timer appears, showing 0:00, with a negative sign (–) icon on the left and a plus sign (+) icon on the right. Tap the + icon to set the desired duration for your workout. Press the Start button, shown in Figure 5.24, to begin your workout.

A Pivot Table in Excel

Although pivot tables provide an extremely fast way to summarize data, sometimes the pivot table defaults are not exactly what you need. In such cases, you can use many powerful settings to tweak pivot tables. These tweaks range from making cosmetic changes to changing the underlying calculation used in the pivot table.

In Excel 2016, you find controls to customize a pivot table in myriad places: the Analyze tab, Design tab, Field Settings dialog, Data Field Settings dialog, PivotTable Options dialog, and context menus.

Rather than cover each set of controls sequentially, this chapter covers the following functional areas in making pivot table customization:

  • Minor cosmetic changes—Change blanks to zeros, adjust the number format, and rename a field. The fact that you must correct these defaults in every pivot table that you create is annoying.
  • Layout changes—Compare three possible layouts, show/hide subtotals and totals, and repeat row labels.
  • Major cosmetic changes—Use pivot table styles to format a pivot table quickly.
  • Summary calculations—Change from Sum to Count, Min, Max, and more. In a pivot table that defaults to Count of Revenue, change it to default to Sum of Revenue instead.
  • Advanced calculations—Use settings to show data as a running total, percent of total, rank, percent of parent item, and more.
  • Other options—Review some of the obscure options found throughout the Excel interface.

 

Making Common Cosmetic Changes

You need to make a few changes to almost every pivot table to make it easier to understand and interpret. Figure 3.1 shows a typical pivot table. To create this pivot table, open the Chapter 3 data file. Select Insert, Pivot Table, OK. Check the Sector, Customer, and Revenue fields, and drag the Region field to the Columns area.

How to Adding Pictures and Graphics in Publisher

In Chapter 2, “Working with Page Elements,” you learned how to make adjustments to the page elements such as margins, orientation, paper size, color schemes, and backgrounds. In this chapter, you learn how to add and work with visual elements such as photos, WordArt, borders, and accents. Then, Chapter 4, “Adding Text Boxes,” shows you how to create and work with text boxes, so you can sneak in some information with your visuals.

Without question, adding photographs to your publication is the most popular way to incorporate colorful visuals. Realistic, razor-sharp-focused images immediately elevate a publication’s status and the credibility of the information within it. Publisher 2016 has a powerful collection of picture tools.

 

Inserting Pictures

Pictures are a powerful way to communicate. They guide readers through a publication by catching their eye, creating interest, illustrating key ideas, and controlling the flow. Key concepts can be reinforced and clarified by using informative picture captions and relevant images.

Think about the last marketing piece you got in the mail. What initially drew enough of your interest to glance at it, rather than just tossing it into the recycle bin? Unless it’s an “everything is free” flyer, it was probably the illustrations. Bright, colorful, briefly informative—they communicate as much as the text. Even more so to a reader in a hurry.

 

Inserting Pictures Stored Locally

When the image you want to use is stored either on your computer, or a computer on your network, you simply browse for the file to bring it in to the publication. In the next section, you learn how to locate an image online.

  1. Click the Insert tab on the Ribbon. The Pictures command button is in the Illustrations group, along with the Online Pictures, Shapes, and Picture Placeholder command buttons.
  2. Click the Pictures command button. The Insert Picture dialog box opens.
  3. Use the Navigation pane on the left to browse to the folder that contains the picture you want to insert. If you are unsure how to browse through folders on your network, ask someone for help.
  4. When you find the correct image, select it, and then click Insert (or double-click the image). Publisher inserts the image into the publication.

 

Inserting Pictures Stored Online

  1. Click the Insert tab on the Ribbon. The Online Pictures command button is next to the Pictures button in the Illustrations group.
  2. Click the Online Pictures command button. The Insert Pictures dialog box opens. This dialog box has Bing search built-in and a link to your OneDrive account. There are also links to help you insert photos from your Facebook and Flickr accounts.

Started with Office Sway

Specific topics in this chapter include the following:

  • Creating a Sway account
  • Finding your way around Sway
  • Creating a new Sway
  • Signing in and out of Sway

Getting started with Sway is easy—sign up using your Microsoft account and begin designing. You can create a Sway from scratch or convert a Word document, PowerPoint presentation, or PDF to Sway. If you’re not sure where to begin, view sample Sways to discover how they were designed and use these for inspiration or as a template for your own Sways.

 

Creating a Sway Account

Creating an account on Sway is a simple, straightforward process. All you need is a Microsoft account and access to the Internet through your computer or iOS mobile device.

 

Create a Sway Account

You can quickly create a free account on Sway (https://sway.com). When you create your account, you open a blank Sway canvas at the same time.

Navigate to https://sway.com in your browser, and then click the Get Started button.

  1. Enter the email address of the Microsoft account you want to use with Sway.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Enter your password.
  4. If you want to remain signed in, select the Keep Me Signed In check box.