Google Honors Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday with Doodle

Google is honoring the 200th birthday of one of the literary greats, Charles Dickens. The Doodle will appear on the February 7th which marks his 200th birthday. In the image below, you can see the beautifully illustrated tribute to one of the most popular English authors of the Victorian period, and possibly of all time.

Dickens Google Doodle

The doodle is a combination of many characters from his stories and is set in the Victorian theme.  If you are a parent or teacher, you might consider using the doodle as a teaching tool. You could ask your children to identify the various characters represented in the illustration.

It is hard to pick which of Dickens’ works that would be considered his best. However, I am personally touched by “A Christmas Carol” as it has been a part of my Christmas tradition since I was a child. Who could forget characters like Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim. Dickens had a way of bringing out the realities of a harsh world, yet incorporate characters like the Christmas ghosts to spark the imagination.

Tomorrow will be a celebration across the globe as fans of the English writer will celebrate his 200th birthday in many ways. In fact, and entire website has been dedicated to the event. If you go to you can join in with people from all over the globe to show appreciation for this great man. The website is full of information about Dickens. There is an event calendar where you can find events close to you.

Hopefully you can take a moment to pause and reflect on the birthday of a great man who added so much to literature. If you don’t, we may have to consider you a “Scrooge” and “Bah Humbug!”.

Must Have Super Bowl XLVI Apps

Super Bowl
You’ve worked so hard to get ready for the big game! You have the chicken wings, cheese dip, and your favorite beverage. Throw in some decorations and good friends and you have all the makings of a great Super Bowl party! But wait! This is the 21st century. Everyone knows you need great apps to kick things up a notch, and I have just the thing to make you look like the smartest fan in the room! Here is my compilation of must have Super Bowl apps.

Official App

It seems only logical to start with the NFL’s official “Super Bowl XLVI Guide” to start off our list. This is a free app and is available for both Android and iPhone. The app connects you to the sites and sounds of the Super Bowl. You can get 3D interactive maps of the stadium and keep up with all the buzz. You can also use it to navigate your way around Indy if you’re there for the big game. [Download Android | Download iPhone]

Official App

If you want to take it to the next level, you might want to consider using the NFL’s Super Bowl XLVI Commemorative App Presented by NFL Magazine. This app is very inexpensive, currently priced at $2.99. It includes a lot of video and follows each team’s road the Super Bowl. You get Super Bowl history, videos, and there will be bonus features after the game. Above, you can see some screenshots from the app. [Download Android | Download iPhone]


For the New England Patriots fan, the official New England Patriots app is a must have. This is a free app available in both Android and iPhone formats. Here is a list of features as quoted from the developer description:

– Latest news
– Live video press conferences
– Tons of audio and video
– Live in-game blog
– Game day information, including real time stats
– Game schedule
– Exclusive photo galleries, including cheerleaders

[Download Android | Download iPhone]

Giants App

For the New York Giants fan, the official New York Giants app is also a must have. This too is a free app available for both Android and iPhone. Here are just a few of the items listed on their developer description:

– News: Real-time breaking news from the Giants, previews of upcoming matchups, post-game blogs
– Video: Video-on-demand clips of Giants’ press conferences, coach and player interviews
– Photos: Gallery of game-time action
– Audio: Podcasts
– Stats: Real-time statistics and scores from the official NFL stats engine, head-to-head stats of the Giants and their opponents, player stats, drive-by-drive stats, box score and out-of-town scores from around the league
– Standings: Division and conference standings
– Fantasy: Keep track of your favorite fantasy players
– Depth chart: Shown by offense, defense and special teams
– Social media: Aggregated Twitter of all of your favorite Giants tweeps, check in to the stadium on game-day, one-click tweet of all media items, one-click Facebook posting of all media items

[Download Android | Download iPhone]


Last, and certainly a very exciting entry to our list, is Shazam. Yep, you heard me right! Shazam, mostly known for its music discovery service, has announced a new service called Shazam for TV™, and will be offering a Super Bowl experience. If you use Shazam to listen in on your favorite Super Bowl ads, you could win one of more than a million giveaways. Here are some of the exciting giveaways mentioned on their website:

  • Toyota – the ad will include a sweepstake to win two Camrys – one for you and one for a friend.
  • Best Buy – Best Buy’s spot will feature two of Shazam’s founders. Additionally, Best Buy is running a $50 gift card offer for consumers looking to buy and activate a mobile phone in 2012.
  • – when viewers use Shazam to tag the ad, will donate $1.00 to one of seven charities, up to a maximum $100,000.
  • Pepsi – the new ad that features the winner of the X FACTOR – Melanie Amaro performing Otis Redding’s song “Respect” – will invite people to unlock a free video.
  • Teleflora – viewers who tag Teleflora’s “Give” ad starring super model Adriana Lima will receive a secret offer.

[Download Android | Download iPhone]

I hope you enjoy these apps and that your favorite teams wins big for the Super Bowl! Now, can you please pass the guacamole?

NASA Releases First Images from Dark Side of the Moon

For many years “The Dark Side of the Moon” was just a really cool album for Pink Floyd fans to enjoy. Now, because of NASA’s twin GRAIL lunar spacecraft, the dark side of the moon can be enjoyed by all. Recently, NASA released the first images and video from the dark side of the moon.

The GRAIL mission consists of two identical spacecraft equipped with a MoonKam (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students). The mission seeks to involve middle school students and will allow them to pick the areas of the moon they would like to study. Recently, the twin craft were given the names “Ebb” and “Flow” by a group of fourth graders from Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., after they won a nationwide naming contest. On January 19th, NASA tested the MoonKAM on “Ebb” and brought back some spectacular pictures.

In the image below, you can see the south pole of the far side of the moon. You can see that it is riddled with impact craters covering its surface.

Southern Pole

South Pole of the Far Side of the Moon Courtesy: NASA.GOV

Toward the bottom of the image above, you will see an impact crater with a star-like feature in the middle. This is Drygalski’s crater and is about 93 miles wide. This feature is thought to be created billions of years ago by a comet or asteroid impact.

NASA also produced this very short video clip that gives you a quick North to South glance at the dark side of the moon.


This is an exciting opportunity for middle school students to be engaged in a mission first hand. Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, is leading the MoonKAM project along with undergraduate students at the University of California in San Diego. Middle school students will actually be the ones controlling the cameras on the GRAIL mission. The purpose of this mission is both for education and public outreach. Engaging young ones hopefully will ensure interest in the space program for years to come.

If you are a teacher and would like to engage your classroom in this program visit for more information. You can also find out more about the GRAIL mission by visiting Of course, we at Techie Buzz will do our best to keep you up to date as well. For the best of science, visit

New Zealand Scientists Catch Mysterious “Supergiant” Amphipods

A team of scientists, from the University of Aberdeen and National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), captured an elusive “supergiant” amphipod near deep-sea vents off the coast of New Zealand. Amphipods are crustaceans and are usually found in the deeper regions of the ocean.  You can kind of think of them as the insects of the sea. Although, to me they look like they could be some kind of alien monster if they were magnified. They are usually very tiny, ranging somewhere between 2 to 3cm. There is a “giant” species known from Antarctica which measures around 10cm. So what makes a “supergiant”? One of the “supergiant” amphipods caught on this expedition came in at a whopping 34cm long!

Supergiant Amphipod
Courtesy: Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK.

The term “supergiant” stems from the 70’s when the elusive creatures were last caught off the coast of Hawaii. None have been caught since then until now. The team used a deep-sea vehicle designed by the University of Aberdeen equipped with a camera system, along with traps to capture the amphipods. The traps were set 7000 meters deep in the sea in the hopes of catching another elusive creature called the snailfish. When they pulled the traps aboard they got a big surprise. University of Aberdeen’s Dr Alan Jamieson said,

“The moment the traps came on deck we were elated at the sight of the snailfish as we have been after these fish for years.

“However, seconds later, I stopped and thought ‘what on earth is that?’ whilst catching a glimpse of an amphipod far bigger than I ever thought possible. It’s a bit like finding a foot long cockroach.”

Alan Jamieson holds one of the new finds. Courtesy: Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK

When it comes to deep-sea exploration, persistence pays off. The team had been to the Kermadec trench, where these “supergiant” amphipods were discovered, twice before they made the grand find. Dr. Jamieson said, “a few days after the discovery we deployed all the equipment again on the same site and we didn’t photograph or capture a single supergiant; they were there for a day and gone the next.”

Deep-sea exploration has brought about many discoveries lately, and goes to show that there is so much left to be explored in our own little corner of the globe. Recently, we shared with you the discoveries found at the Cayman Trough where scores of shrimp previously unknown to man were found. We also shared with you the story of an Antarctic expedition that produced a new species of crab. Hopefully expeditions like these will help scientists tobe able to ascertain why these particular species get so much larger than their cousins.

For more information about this expedition, go to the University of Aberdeen’s website

Boost Your Small Business on Facebook

Facebook has rolled out a new contest called Small Business Boost. The contest is geared toward small businesses and seeks to give away up to $10 million in free advertising.

Facebook announced the contest on their “Marketing Solutions” page. To compete in the competition you have to have a Facebook business page, be based in the U.S., and have at least 50 “Likes” for your page. The contest lasts until April 1st. Here are the prizes that you can earn for your small business page:

  • Get $50 in free ads if you have at least 50 likes on your Page
  • Get $100 more in free ads if you add 100 more likes to your Page before April 1, 2012
  • Win $10,000 more in free ads if you are one of the top 10 pages that gains the most new likes before April 1, 2012

Facebook also posted the following video with a little more information.

This seems like a really nice opportunity for a small business however, it is a little confusing why the contest wasn’t more widely announced.

Facebook Marketing

While you are on the marketing page, you might also want to check out the other apps on the left side of the page. The “Start to Success Program”, highlighted above, has resources to help small businesses with Facebook advertising. The first 5000 will get $50 in free advertising.

Facebook is quickly becoming the medium of choice for advertisers. I think it is great that Facebook is offering a contest like this however, I believe they could do more to inform small businesses of ways they can get the most out of Facebook advertising. Now that rumors are swirling about Facebook’s possible IPO coming up, it will be interesting to see what they will offer and if there will be opportunities for small businesses to share the wealth. Hopefully Facebook will make this marketing information more accessible in the near future. In the meantime, take advantage of this contest while there is still time. Good luck!

Express Your Life with Timeline Movie Maker

Let me tell you about a nifty website that you will want to add to your online repertoire. It is called Timeline Movie Maker. Timeline Movie Maker allows you to take elements from your Facebook timeline and incorporate them in a short movie that you can share with your friends. It could use some refinements. However, it is simple to use.

When you first arrive at their website you are greeted with the following:

Timeline Movie Maker

There are no fancy tutorials or instructions, just a big green button that says “Make Your Movie”. When you click it you get the typical app permission window you see when you install anything related to Facebook. See the picture below.

App Permission

When you click the “Log In with Facebook” button the app gets to work. In the image below, you can see how the app automatically starts going through your Facebook timeline and gives you an indication of where it is in the process.

Making the Movie

Before you know it, you hear music playing and a video montage of your Facebook timeline streams right before your eyes. When the video finishes you see the window picture below.

Remake the Movie

If you like the movie as is, then simply click share and it will post to your Facebook timeline for all to enjoy. However, if your experience is like mine you probably won’t want to do that right away. Notice in the picture above, there is a picture highlighted with a red circle. The app randomly pics images from your timeline so something as mundane as a map of where you checked in at the dentist shows up in the movie. Fortunately, at this stage they give you the opportunity to select a different picture. If you see a picture you don’t like simply click it and the picture will change. I have to admit I would rather have had a dialog box where I could go to the picture I wanted to put in there. Unfortunately, you have to click the picture until it finally finds a picture you like. You can also change the soundtrack using this dialog. Once your finished selecting the pictures you want, click “Remake Your Movie”.

Your movie will regenerate and will give you another preview. If you are happy with the movie simply click the “Share” button. Now you will see the window pictured below.


Please make note of the options in the top right corner. Above you will see where it says “Friends of Friends”. That is pretty lenient and you may not want that to be who sees your new movie. Make sure these permissions are set the way you want them to be. When you’re happy with it, click “Share Link”. There will now be a link to your movie that your Facebook friends can enjoy.

Timeline Movie Maker is pretty fun and definitely simple to use. I could think of a lot of ways to make it better though. Hopefully there is more to come. In the meantime, give a try and tell us what you think. I believe you might find this little web app entertaining, despite its shortcomings.

Create Family Photo Calendar Using Word

Here’s a quick tutorial I hope you will enjoy. Let’s face it, what Grandma doesn’t want a picture of their little pride and joy hanging on their wall? A photo calendar can be both useful and cherished gift. They’re also a breeze to create using Microsoft Word. Just follow these simple instructions.

First open Word. I am using Word 2010 for the purposes of this tutorial. Click the “File” tab, select “New”, and then choose “Calendars” under Templates heading. See the picture below.File Tab

Next, choose the appropriate year.


For this tutorial I have chosen the “Basic 12 month Photo Calendar”, as pictured below.

12 Month

When you double click the selection, Word will download the template and then present you with 24 pages. You can see an example of this pictured below. Each month has a picture page and a calendar page.Pages

The pictures are just stock photos that sort of act as place holders until you replace them. To replace the pictures with your own, click on them. You will see an example of this pictured below.

Change Picture

When the sample picture is selected, you will get an option in the top left corner to replace the picture. Click the icon in the left corner. This will open up a dialog box which will allow you to choose a picture from your computer. See the example below.


Select the picture you want to add to the calendar and choose the “Insert” button. Now you will see the selected picture on the page.


Just below the picture is a caption box. If you click on it, you can add a caption to your picture. Now, all you have to do is repeat these steps on the other calendar pages and you will have a sweet little calendar to give Grandma!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to comment or ask questions. I love hearing from my readers!


Grid Lines Missing in Excel Spreadsheet [Tutorial]

I came across an interesting problem with one of my end users the other day. They said they couldn’t see the lines on their spreadsheet anymore. This is usually a pretty easy problem to solve. In the image below, you will notice that by going to the “View” tab and clicking the check box beside “Gridlines”, you can toggle the lines on and off. Unfortunately, this was not the problem in this case.

Grid Lines

When I got to the users PC, I saw a screen similar to what is pictured below. I did the step above only to find that she did have “Gridlines” toggled on.


Why weren’t the grid lines showing up? It didn’t make any sense. As is almost always the case, it’s the little things that people forget to tell you they were doing that will point you in the right direction. I discovered that the user had filled the cells with the color white. When you put a fill color in a cell, the gridlines disappear unless you have applied a border to that cell. Once I figured out what they did, the fix was pretty easy. In the picture below, you will see the “Fill Color” button selected from the “Home” tab on the ribbon toolbar. With the cells you want to fix selected, click the “Fill Color” button and choose “No Fill” from the menu. Like magic your gridlines will reappear.

No Fill

I hope you found this quick tutorial helpful. If you have any feedback or would like a question answered, please feel free to write. We love hearing from our readers.

For more tutorials, check out!

Wikipedia Plans Blackout to Protest SOPA

Wikipedia Blackout

Students doing research for a paper due on Thursday better buckle down and study hard tonight! Wikipedia won’t be an option starting at 5:00AM UTC tomorrow. Wikipedia plans to stage a blackout in protest of the controversial legislation called SOPA. Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director, Sue Gardner, wrote:

“The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate — that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.”

Yesterday, our own  reported that U.S. Representative “Eric Cantor(R-VA) announced that he will stop all action on SOPA”. This news brought widespread joy for many internet users across the globe however, the reality is we’re far from out of the woods on this. There’s big money behind this bill and this recent action threatens to merely slow down the proponents of SOPA. To be perfectly honest, there is probably big money on both sides of this issue.

RIAA and MPIAA, which represent the entertainment industry, are the biggest proponents of this bill. On one hand they have legitimate concerns because of the piracy that is proliferated on the internet. However, on the other hand, the entertainment industry is a victim of its own inability to stay relevant in today’s society. They see many turning to alternative forms of entertainment via the internet and they know there is money to be made there. The problem however, is that instead of coming up with innovative ideas to draw a new generation of customers, they prefer to legislate the competition out of existence. The means by which SOPA would address online piracy would create a lot of collateral damage. Wikipedia recognizes that they could easily be damaged with this legislation.

One concern that Wikipedia had in making this decision, is that they prefer to be politically neutral. According to their letter, the decision to stage this protest wasn’t taken lightly. Though Wikipedia articles are considered neutral, its existence is not, which is what prompted Wikimedia Foundation board member, Kat Walsh, to write:

We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression. For the most part, Wikimedia projects are organizing and summarizing and collecting the world’s knowledge. We’re putting it in context, and showing people how to make to sense of it.

But that knowledge has to be published somewhere for anyone to find and use it. Where it can be censored without due process, it hurts the speaker, the public, and Wikimedia. Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or if your views are pre-approved by someone who does, the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to.

Tomorrow, I hope the blackout is deeply felt and that it calls us to action. Take a moment and learn what SOPA and PIPA are all about and make your voice heard. Though some of the intentions of this bill are good, the fact is the legislation in its current form is bad. The internet is the last frontier of true freedom we have on the planet. We need to appreciate its importance and stand up for it the best we can.

For more information see Wikipedia’s Letter:  English Wikipedia anti-SOPA blackout

Google Honors Martin Luther King Jr. with Doodle

MLK Doodle

Google is keeping the dream alive today by honoring Martin Luther King Jr., who is arguably the greatest proponent of civil rights to have ever lived. The artwork was done by award-winning artist, Faith Ringgold, who uses painted quilts to tell stories. The whimsical design is obviously meant to appeal to the heart of a child and incorporates U.S. flag colors red, white, and blue.

Martin Luther King Jr. day is observed the third Monday of January, which is very near his birthday of January 15th. The holiday, much like his life, was met with opposition in the 70’s but finally Congress was able to come to its senses and President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law on November 2, 1983. According to Wikipedia, the holiday was first observed on January 20, 1986.

Perhaps the most well-known moment in Martin Luther King Jr.’s life is his “I Have a Dream” speech that was given at the 1963 March on Washington. You can view this speech in its entirety below. This speech is about 17 minutes. If you would like to hear the “I Have a Dream” part, forward to about minute 13.


This speech occurred before my lifetime but its impact is still felt today. My heart is both saddened by the transgressions of my forefathers who enslaved a people for their own selfish gain, and yet is inspired by the words of Dr. King who used peaceful means to inspire a movement in America. When I look at a world that still glorifies the shallow and vain lives of celebrities, I am reminded of King’s powerful words:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I too hope someday that my children will live in a world that recognizes the higher ideals of good character and hard work.

For more information about Dr. King, you can visit King Center website at