Free Star Universe

Computer News and Views

April 16, 2014

Top 4 PC’s Under $700


Advances in technology mean once expensive components are coming down in price and can be found in lower-end. The reason is newer technology is constantly replacing components that may only be less than a year old. This means there are many options available for general purpose laptops and laptops to use for gaming. Review a few models which are the top 4 PC’s under $700.

Toshiba Satellite S855D-S5148 15.6-Inch Laptop

This model of laptop comes with different finishes. One of the better choices for an impressive looks is their ice brushed aluminum finish. Toshiba is a well-known brand and have released a great laptop that can be used as a gaming laptop of for general purpose. The main feature of this machine is the CPU which is an AMD A-Series Quad-Core A10-4600M running at 2.3 GHZ. The Max Turbo option for the CPU will increase the speed to 3.2 GHz.

ASUS K55A-DS71 15.6-Inch Laptop

This laptop from ASUS is one of the best machines that is available for under $700. The display of this laptop is 15.6 inches and has a 1355 x768 maximum resolution. The CPU is the Intel Core i7-3615QM with a maximum speed of 2.4 GHz. There is an Intel GMA HD graphics card and a hard drive which is 750 GB. The operating system is the 64-bit version of Windows 8.

Lenovo Idea Pad U41- 59372346

This is a graphite gray machine which comes with an Intel Core i7-3737U 2 GHz CPU. The speed can be accelerated with its dual-core capabilities. A user will enjoy 1 TB of hard drive storage and a maximum of 8GB of RAM. The machine comes with Windows 8 and is a great option for under $700.

Samsung Series 3 350V5C

Individuals looking for an affordable gaming or general purpose laptop will benefit from the many features included with this machine. Many current games and programs can be used on this laptop due to the Dual-Core i5-3210M 2.5 GHz processor from Intel. The hard drive space is about average at 500 GB.

If you want to know the best electronic cigarette available in the market, visit

March 19, 2014

Windows 8 – Game Changer of Epic Fail?


Windows 8 is a radical departure from the “old” Microsoft way of doing things. They were something of a latecomer to the mobile device party, and saw Windows 8 as a way of playing catch up, and firmly establishing themselves in the handheld market, while more firmly tying it to their more traditional (desktop) stomping grounds.

Prior to the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft basically had two and a half different operating system platforms. They had home-use operating systems (Windows ME, Vista, 2007, etc), a more robust (and generally more stable) corporate platform (NT/XP), and a still fairly new, still not all that fully developed “lite” OS for handhelds (Windows CE). Windows 8 attempted to change all that by doing away with the three “tiers” they had been developing, and combining everything into a cohesive whole.

In doing so, they had to take the distinct differences of the handheld device market into account, so right out of the gate, Windows 8 has a markedly different “look and feel” than any of its predecessors. In fact, the Windows platform hasn’t seen such a radical change since they went from Windows 3.1 to Windows 98, and this change is even larger and more profound than that older one.

From a technical standpoint, it’s hard not to count Windows 8 as a success. Microsoft did what they set out to do. They found a way to embrace all three of their OS “tiers” in a single, robust solution. Yes, it has its problems and limitations, but what Microsoft product have you ever bought that hasn’t? The company is famous for making products that are “good enough,” then spending years (or decades) polishing them till they begin to shine. That’s just how they do business. On the other hand, the company met enormous (and for the most part, unexpected, I think) resistance from its user base, who, for all the faults of the three-tiered approach, had simply grown accustomed to things the way that they were, and didn’t look kindly on the sudden change.

Perceptions on that front are slowly changing, and as time progresses, I think people will increasingly come to see Windows 8 as a net positive.

September 24, 2013

How Fast Has the Electronic Cigarette Industry Grown?

Electronic cigarettes that used to be a novelty few years ago is now hitting the market with a sales of $1.2 billion. There are over 100 different brands that sell e-cigarette products (see the full list of e-cigarette brands here)

The use of electronic cigarettes has attracted the attention of various tobacco users. It is claimed to be cheaper, healthier and does not have bad smell.


However, it has its own history of struggle that is still being continued. It was born in 1963, but the first modern electronic cigarette was introduced in 2004. Since then many have stood in its favor and many against it. It is really amazing to see how fast has the E-Cigarette Industry grown in the past 5 years


It was in year 2005-2006 these cigarettes after being made in china were introduced in western countries. In year 2007 it had started to make a little progress in the market and was continuing to become popular but the real battle started from 2008.


This year saw a change in the design of electronic cigarettes. Piezo element was replaced by a heating element to produce vapors. Many companies had entered the market to popularize this product but the WHO also came into scene and released its report stating that there weren’t enough research and proof to validate the use of electronic cigarettes. FDA that had ignored this product till now took its stance and declared it as unapproved medical product and started seizing all the shipments from China that contained this product.


This all continued till a company named Sottera, filed a case against FDA in 2009, under US Federal Court. Later many companies joined their hands against FDA and won the case. After this case, FDA released its advisory press stating that e-cigarette cartridges contained carcinogens and diethylene glycol that are dangerous for health. After this report, many countries such as NY, Suffolk, Brazil, Jordan, Israel, Panama, Australia and Canada banned this product. In 2010, many other countries joined the present countries and banned the product. FDA had won against the injunction but lost the final case. They refused to carry the case to Supreme Court.


It was year 2011 when e-cigarettes got a backup from various scientists. BMC and Addiction, Dr. Ricardo Polosa and The American Journal of Preventive Medicine released various studies showing the benefits of the product. Various other scientists and researchers also came forward for and supported the product in their interview and books. FDA finally had to include-cigarettes under tobacco regulatory framework.


2012 proved to be an eventful year. Dr. Farsallinos made a ground breaking study in favor of e-cigarettes. Many new products started to enter the market. It became the new favorite of industry. Finally, FDA held a hearing that was intended for the drug companies.


Battle will still be continued in 2013 with EU. The start of the year has seen many people who have stood for and against e-cigarettes. The future of e-cigarettes is unknown but with the entry of Tobacco Directives in EU parliament it seems that things are going to heat up soon.

March 11, 2013

Ann Winblad – software portability pioneer Part 2

Under MS-DOS it recognizes only one operator, but if the operating system were smart enough to recognize two, it immediately would initialize operator two as “op. 2,” and so on.

Q What multiuser operating system do you see emerging as the leader in the Forture 1000 market?

A We’ve really invested a lot of time and money in Xenix. We’ve followed Microsoft’s development in Xenix very carefully and have helped them work out a lot of bugs.

We hope our efforts will pay off very shortly.

Q It has been widely reported that IBM will offer Xenix 3.0 for its 80286-based computer that’s about to come out.

A Let’s just say I think our investment will pay off. We’ve also done the 286 port as well for the Intel [286/310] computer. Intel said they spent $4 million in doing the Xenix development work for the 286.

At Open Systems, our challenge is to try to do our development ahead of the technology. We have to work hard to make things run under these different environments. We have environmental [windowing] software coming in. We have new chip architectures and new networking standards. There are new versions of UNIX and Xenix coming out, and for the most part we have to guess, because most software vendors aren’t told about the new technologies until just before they come out.

Q You mean you haven’t had an IBM 80286 machine for a few months now?

A I can’t tell you what we have or don’t have, but four months isn’t a long time for doing a lot of coddling and developing under new operating environments and new chip technologies.

Q Why hasn’t Open Systems left the shelter of the accounting software market to explore other markets? Peachtree Software, one of your competitors, has stated that a software company should not concentrate its energies on one product.

A Financial analysts are predicting that Peachtree will sell $8 million worth of its accounting software this year, and $3 million of that will be overseas. So in the domestic market, they’ve totally lost share.

MSA believes their strength is working the channels like the best canister vacuum, so what do they do? They expand their accounting line by building a set of packages called Back to Basics that only run on PCjr. that’s one of the reasons they’ve lost money in the second quarter.

Second, they try to be experts in K through 12, so they go out and buy Edu-Ware and Design Works. How do they know about how to sell through Macy’s and K mart and those channels who buy K through 12? They have no experience with those channels.

They’re looking at a break-even year this year, even though they’ll have $25 million in sales, and that’s if they can move their PCjr products.

Q So you’re saying that a company is wrong to expand a narrow product line?

A I’m saying that you have to stay focused. Accounting software is a $275-million market and, in wholesale dollars, it’s a $150-million market, if you listen to the analysts who profess to know figures like that. So, if any accounting vendor could become dominant, they’d have a pretty good company going.

Q Obviously, you are a decision-maker in Open Systems. Do you receive the publicity you’ve been getting because you’re a shrewd decision-maker or because you’re female?

A Being female is a cheap angle for P.R. It’s hard to say whether it’s P.R. or prostitution, actually, because it is such a cheap angle.

But in this industry, you’re judged totally on capability. If you’re a bubblehead, no one will talk to you. You won’t know what’s going on. . . .

March 11, 2013

Ann Winblad – software portability pioneer Part 1

In the past few months, articles about 33-year-old Ann Winblad have been splashed across the pages of Cosmopolitan and Fortune, as well as many computer trade magazines.

She has appeared on many local and national radio and television talk programs. She is, as they say in the news media, “in demand.”

Though Winblad’s formal title is executive vice president of Open Systems Inc., America’s third-largest vendor of microcomupter accounting software, Winblad’s actual identity is that of a bright, aggressive, well respected woman.

Along with four others like Facebook marketing strategy, Winblad founded Open Systems in 1979 after working as a systems analyst for the federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, where she still makes her home.

As legend has it, Winblad and her partners started Open Systems with a mere $500; in September 1983, Winblad sold her share of the company to UCCEL Corp. of Dallas for $4 million.

Today, Winblad is the only Open Systems founder who has not taken the money and run.

She travels constantly for UCCEL, helping that conglomerate to identify companies it may wish to acquire. Winblad works for Open Systems as a “utility player,” sitting in on sales negotiations, directing package redesign or product repositioning.

Open Systems Inc. sells accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, general ledger, inventory, payroll, purchase-order processing, sales-order processing, job-costing and report-writing software for the IBM PC, among other micros. The programs run under several operating systems, including PB-DOS, UNIX and Xenix.

In the following interview, conducted in late July at PC Weekhs offices in Needham, MA, Winbald examined the industry and her own success in it. By Sam Whitmore

Q How did Open Systems identify the potential of the multiuser software market so quickly?

A When Open systems started out in 1976, we concentrated on writing multiuser software for the Cado computer, which ran a complicated operating system called Cadol. Then we went to NCR, which was bringing out a line of low-end mini-computers.

This was 1978, before anyone had thought of the implications of microcomputers. We went from one multiuser proprietary project to another.

Finally, in 1981 or 1982, IBM set the world on fire with MS-DOS and established it as a standard.

Because our background was in multiuser software, our programs were totally overdesigned for single-user operating systems like CP/M and MS-DOS, and so for the last three years we’ve been sitting on all the work we’ve done.

With our software, IBM PC users can upgrade to a networking environment by just adding a piece of software from us because the source code in our programs is multiuser code.

January 11, 2013

Pacemakers are the Ultimate Computers Part 3

The next major advance was American Optical’s patent for “demand” pacers. Like the original fixed-rate devices, these had only a single lead threaded to the ventricle, but that lead served the dual function of sensor and stimulator. If a naturally occurring current signaled the pacemaker that the ventricle was contracting as it was supposed to, the pacemaker did nothing. But if the ventricle failed to contract, the pacer would fire “on demand” a stimulating impulse. Not only did this device no longer compete with those natural stimuli able to break through the heart block, but it also substantially reduced current drain on the battery. And with a projected lifetime of only 18 months to two years, anything done to prolong the battery life of those early devices would also prolong the period before a rundown unit had to be surgically replaced.

Wilson Greatbatch again stepped in, however, and changed the course of pacemaker history by introducing long-lived lithium batteries to the pacemaker industry. With a projected life in the neighborhood of 10 years, these batteries essentially ended the market for other types of pacemakers overnight. The reigning industry standard, until lithium took over, had been mercury zinc. Because it gave off a sodium hydroxide gas, early pacemakers using these batteries had to have permeable shells. Lithium put an end to that, and the industry quickly adopted the medically preferable hermetically sealed canisters.

Meanwhile, Cordis launched pacemakers into the computer age. In 1972, it introduced the first pacemaker that could be reprogrammed noninvasively, the Omni series. “This was revolutionary in its time,” Fischer recalls. Initially marketed for about $1,250 each, these pacemakers “employed CMOS circuitry, hybrid circuits,” and a number of other state-of-the-art digital techniques, he says. Physicians didn’t care what made them run. What sold them was the ability to change the pacemakers’ pulse rate (how many stimuli per minute) and output current–after implantation.

The rest of the industry followed Cordis soon after. It was the advent of lithium batteries that encouraged this, Fischer now believes. With implants lasting longer, the advantage of being able to adapt–rather than exchange–a pacer to meet a patient’s changing needs became obvious, as well as the need for more needs to be met in terms of how to pass a drug test.

January 7, 2013

Pacemakers are the Ultimate Computers Part 2

Wilson Greatbatch was an electrical engineer detailed to Cornell University’s animal behavior farm when he first learned about heart block in 1952. He recalls that physicians, “It knew I could fix it, but not with vacuum tubes and storage batteries.” So when transistors became more widely available, he was ready. By 1958 he had teamed up with the physician William Chardack, and in May of that year they implanted in a dog one of Greatbatch’s first fixed-rate pacers. It ran four hours.

The first artifical pacemakers for humans countered heart block by sending out an electrical pulse at a factory-set, fixed rate, usually about 70 times a minute. A wire lead to deliver the pulse was attached to the device, usually implanted in the shoulder, and threaded to the right ventricle of the heart via a vein. Known as fixed-rate pacers, those first devices acted just like a clock, sending out a timed pulse with a prescribed voltage and amplitude–whether the heart needed it or not.

In October 1958, two Swedish researchers implanted the first totally embedded pacemaker in a human. And in 1959, using a Greatbatch device, Chardack repeated the feat in this country. Even though their circuitry was simple–two transistors and about seven others parts–at 7 ounces those early devices were heavy, about three to five times heavier than those on the market today. But patients didn’t object. “We did 10 patients that year and then licensed the device to Medtronic,” Greatbatch says. “It was a licensing arrangement that lasted 10 years. During that time [Medtronic] became number one in the industry.” It has maintained that position ever since, with about 39% market share this year, compared to 17% for Cordis and 18% for Intermedics, forecasts Kenneth Abramowitz, hospital supply industry analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., New York.

The problem with fixed-rate pacers was that stimulation of the ventricle “could end up so inappropriately timed that you would lose cardiac outpout,” notes Frank M. Fischer, president of the implantable products division of Cordis Corp., Miami. “There have been clinically documented cases of tachycardia [abnormally rapid heartbeat] caused by fixed-rate pacers,” he notes. And since tachycardia can result in death, he says, “it is generally accepted that fixed-rate pacemakers are not a satisfactory medical treatment.”

This complaint about fixed-rate pacing is something Cordis officials don’t mind pointing out; Atricor, their initial entrant in the pacing field, was the first device marketed to prevent this form of asynchrony. Instead of having a single electrode, Atricor had two. As in other devices, the lead to the ventricle provided a fixed rate, stimulating pulse. But the sole function of the second lead, threaded into the right atrium, was to listen for atrial activity. Once its electrode picked up the signal, which triggers atrial contraction, the pacemaker began counting off an appropriate period–known as an AV delay–after which it would order its ventricular electrode to fire.

What’s ironic, Fischer says, is that this device achieved in 1963 what has only recently become standard. “Today’s rage is ‘physiologic pacing,’ and physiologic pacing is just an attempt to maintain that AV synchrony,” Fischer explains. Nevertheless, Atricor never became very popular, because of the difficulties associated with the surgery and keeping the atrial lead in place.

January 7, 2013

Pacemakers are the Ultimate Computers Part 1

They’re among the world’s smallest programmable computers. Built onto a chip roughly four tenths of an inch square, each packs a single 4- or 8-bit microprocessor, upwards of 15,000 transistors, and a memory that’s best measured in nibbles, not bytes. But don’t let size fool you, for this is no toy. The digital wizardry driving the latest generation of cardiac pacemakers times and controls the functions of sick and aging hearts.
Programmable pacers also represent the cutting edge of the $2.3 billion pacemaker industry in this country, one that since its inception has been extremely innovative, competitive, and profitable. Now the Big Three manufacturers–Medtronic, Cordis, and Intermedics–face unprecedented pressures as the federal government begins a campaign to throttle pacemaker fraud, abuse, and skyrocketing product costs for the 150,000 annual implantations. How the industry will weather this challenge is anyone’s guess.
What seems certain, however, is that both profit and rate of innovation will be affected. And it has been suggested that at least for the near term, device programmability may determine whether the industry leaders maintain their robust health. Indeed, Medtronic, the largest pacemaker company with annual revenues exceeding $400 million, enjoys a 14% after-tax profit margin.
Pacemakers were initially developed to overcome heart block, a condition where the body’s electrical signals, which trigger the heart to beat, fail to carry their message throughout the entire heart. A snag occurs at the electrical conduit between the heart’s upper and lower chambers, the atria and ventricles. With intermittent heart block, perhaps only every second or third electrical signal gets through. With complete heart block, no signals pass. Sometimes the ventricles tire of waiting for a message that never comes and fire at some arbitrary and inappropriate time, resulting in a heart rate that will grow dangerously slow and perhaps irregular. Patients with complete heart blocck may develop cardiac arrest or erratic beating, both potentially fatal conditions.