Friday, February 27, 2009

Software resource for the cash-strapped

Just found a web site that is both "cool" and valuable. Those who suffer MCS usually are cash-strapped. Their computers, if they have one, can be out of date. So finding software that goes with past operating systems can be frustrating. Also, free software is to be preferred if financial resources are lacking. This site covers both problems.
Last Freeware version
There are 30 pages of programs, a couple that I use still, and it was fun for me to browse thru them. This is like the program version of The Wayback Machine.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Barcodes don't tell the story, sorry

There is a story making the rounds about how the first three digits of a product's bar code tells where the product was made – its country of origin. With all the worry brought on by reports of lead and mercury contaminated toys, knowing a product's country of origin looms large in our minds these days.

Unfortunately, this bar code idea doesn't work. You'll learn at that there are basically two things wrong with it:

First, the first three digits do give the country of origin, but not of the product – of the bar code itself. Those digits tell you what country assigned that code to the company. It's possible that that country is also where the product was made, but that would be just by chance. For example, a Philippine company would have numbers beginning with 480 assigned to it, but its products could be made anywhere, in the Philippines, China, Canada, anywhere, and still have a code beginning with 480.

Second, those first three digits do not appear in the Universal Product Code (UPC) that we see on all of the stuff we buy in the U.S. Instead, those tell-tail digits appear at the beginning of the European Article Number (EAN) bar code, a code rarely seen in the U.S.

Go to the Snopes rumor-busting web site ( to check out any rumor you hear and follow your nose. You'll most likely find information on what you're looking for. It's good to have a place you can trust pretty much when it comes to the weird and scary stuff you hear these days.