Athletes Used to Study Climbing Habits of Orangutans

Research presented to the Society for Experimental Biology’s meeting in Salzburg, Austria used street athletes to measure the energy expenditure of different modes of navigating a forest. What they discovered was swaying from tree to tree was the most efficient mode of travel for the orangutan.

(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Orangutans, sometimes referred to as the “old man of the forest”, primarily dwell high in the tree canopy. They are the largest of the tree dwelling animals. Dr. Lewis Halsey of the University of Roehampton set out find out why it is they get about the forest the way they do. Using Parkour athletes, which are athletes that specialize in efficient movement around obstacles, they measured the energy it takes to move from tree to tree using different modes of locomotion. They outfitted the athletes with masks that measured their oxygen levels while performing various tasks similar to what the orangutans would do. Using humans as stand-ins was the only logical way as orangutans are not likely to cooperate with masks as they climbed about an obstacle course. In the BBC footage embedded below, you can see the athletes performing the various exercises.

[Video Link]

Parkour Research from University of Roehampton on Vimeo.

According to Dr. Halsey, the Parkour athletes were the perfect stand-in for they are “professional parkour practitioners (free runners) who display elite gymnastic and athletic abilities.” They used the athletes to measure 3 types of locomotion: swaying, climbing, and leaping. What the team discovered is that swaying through the trees is the most efficient way for these large animals to travel about. This also explains how the orangutans are able to live on a diet of mostly fruit which is not a significant source of energy.

These studies will provide more information about the habitat necessary to maintain the highly endangered species. For more information about the study visit the University of Roehampton’s website.

Google Doodle July 4th 2012

Google Fourth of July Doodle

Today, Google commemorated Independence Day in the U.S. with a whimsical red, white, and blue doodle, pictured above. Inside the letters of the doodle are the lyrics to a famous American folk song “This Land is Your Land”. Written by American folk singer, Woody Guthrie, the song describes scenes of America. Though many people today may not realize the song was a bit of a protest by Guthrie at the time, as he was sympathetic to communist causes. Wikipedia has a nice article about the song and information about little known verses that we seldom hear of today. The link can be found at

Google also took the initiative to post a link at the bottom of their website. Notice in the picture above, a link is circled in red. If you click that link, you will see a plea from Google to support a free and open internet. The internet is truly one of the last frontiers of freedom and governments and corporations alike, are doing all they can to censor it, control it, and quell the freedom of ideas that spread across it. Is the internet perfect? Absolutely not! To me that is just a reflection of those who use the internet, humans. We are not perfect so why would the internet reflect otherwise. There are grumbling even in the U.S. government and legislation is being written that threatens greatly the freedom we have on the internet. Google would like you to take action at this link They also have a flag that they have asked everyone to download with voices from history and today. It is free to download. Below is a video they posted as well.

Independence Day is a national holiday in the U.S. which celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thirteen colonies lifted their voices and declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was a bold step for the fledgling country and one that is celebrated nationwide every July 4th. Our country is merely a baby when compared with the ages of nations that surround us. I think it would do all of us well to take note of the Declaration of Independence. Spend a few minutes of this day and read what was on the hearts and minds of people a couple of centuries ago. You can find the transcript at Happy 4th of July everyone! May it be a safe, joyful occasion, and may freedom ring in the hearts of everyone today.

Meet the Eggasus: Personal Electric Vehicle of the Future is Now

It’s stylish, quiet, environmentally friendly, and innovative, but is the Eggasus everything it’s cracked up to be? The mysterious egg-shaped vehicle is set to be launched sometime this fall.


As it stands, very little is known about this eco-friendly car or the people who have designed it. On their website,, they claim they have been in the prototype and “specialty gas and electric vehicles for over 25 years”. The mission of the Eggasus designers is simple which is “to create a vehicle for the future today. Zero emission with an eye catching, out-of-this-world design, Eggasus moves you quietly from place to place or building to building in an all-weather enclosure.”

The Eggasus is a personal transporter with a futuristic design. It is meant to be used in congested urban areas, campuses, and as a rolling billboard. It’s basically a 3 wheel scooter with an enclosure around it to protect the driver from the elements. It was a finalist in the “Manufacturing & High Tech” section of the Sierra Nevada Innovation Challenge, which is hosted by Innovate North State, a public/private partnership to build economic development for rural northern California. In the challenge, competitors had six minutes to convince the judges of their particular genre why their product will revolutionize the industry. Below, is a short embedded video showing off the “eggs”traordinary vehicle.

The Eggasus team has decided to fund their project using the social media route. They have posted a $50,000 goal on Indiegogo. You can help fund them at The vehicle appears to be going for a starting price of around $5000. To be honest, it is hard for me to get real “eggs”cited about Eggasus because there are so many questions left unanswered. Hopefully, they will get more specifications about the vehicle posted on their website soon.

Tutorial – PowerPoint 2010 Basics Lesson 8: Building a Logo in PowerPoint

This is lesson 8 in a series of PowerPoint Tutorials I have been doing. If you are interested in the previous lessons and would like to catch up, see the Table of Contents at the bottom of this post. In our last lesson, we played with shapes a little. We learned how to use the rotation handle to turn a text box 90 degrees. We also inserted a horizontal scroll shape and added text to it. Today, I would like to play with shapes a little more, but with a different purpose in mind. Today we’re going to use PowerPoint to create our own custom logo.

Pictured below, you can see the logo that we’re going to build in this lesson. In doing this, you will learn several different concepts when it comes to working with shapes and graphics.

Sample Logo

First, let’s add a new blank slide to our presentation. Now, let’s add some shapes to our slide. From the “Shape” menu on the ribbon, select the “Oval” shape. It should be listed under the heading “Basic Shapes”. Now, by clicking and dragging, draw an oval about half the size of the slide. It should look something like what is pictured below.

first oval

Now, draw a second oval that covers the majority of the slide. Don’t worry about hiding the oval you already have. We’ll get that all straightened out here in a second. You should see something like I have pictured below.

Second Oval

Now I know that you are probably concerned that your little oval is now covered up. This is no big deal as it is still there. You have to think of these shapes as layers, kind of like a sandwich. You can change this order at will. First, let’s change the color of this second oval to something darker. Double-click the middle of the big oval. This should highlight a “Format” tab on the ribbon. Now, find the tool that says “Shape Fill” and select a dark blue color from that dropdown. Under “Shape Outline” select “No Outline”. Now, let’s get our little oval to the front. The way we’re going to do this is by right clicking the big oval, find the menu option that says “Send to Back” and then select “Send to Back”.

send back

Now you should see the lighter colored oval in the front. Now my little oval is way too small so I am going to resize it by clicking it, grabbing the corner dots, and dragging them out to resize the shape. Go ahead and give this a try. Try to make it just slightly smaller than your big oval. Once you do this, the next thing to do is get these two ovals aligned center. If you hold the “CTRL” key on your keyboard and then push the letter “A” on your keyboard, this will select all objects on the slide. Once you have everything selected, choose the “Align” button on the ribbon, as seen below.


We’re going to do this twice. First, we will select “Align” and choose “Align Center”. Then, we will choose “Align” and select “Align Middle”. Now everything is perfectly centered on the slide. Referring back to our logo earlier, you will see we have a globe in it. To get this picture, go to “Insert” on the ribbon and choose “Clip Art”. On the right side of the screen you will get a search box. Type “globe” and check to make sure that “photographs” are selected under the “Selected media file types” box. Once you have this set, click “Go”. Now you will see a variety of globe related images. Find the blue globe with gridlines and click it. This will insert the globe into your slide and will probably cover your ovals. Select the globe and shrink its size by using the resize handles, or dots, and shrink it down.

The next issue we have is the globe has a white background. How do we get rid of that? No problem! Double click the globe and look on the ribbon toolbar for a button labeled “Color”. From the “Color” menu select “set transparent color”. Notice your mouse changes. Click on the white area in the picture. Notice all the white background disappears. Now all we need to do is center the globe. Same concept as with the ovals, just click “Align” and then “Align Middle” and “Align Center”.

Last but not least, let’s add our “Techie Training”. Click the “Insert” tab and choose “WordArt”. Select a style that you like. You will see a text box that says “Your Text Here”. Type “Techie Training” in that box. Now, you will notice in my logo, I have the text arched. To achieve this effect, click “Text Effects”, choose “Transform”, then select the “arch up” effect. Once you have the arch, click the edge of your WordArt shape and drag it to the top of the smaller oval. Once everything is in place, do another select all command or ctrl+a. With everything selected, right click the middle of the logo and choose “Group” and then “Group” again from the submenu, as pictured below. Voila! Now you have all the shapes combined together as one unit that all move together. Right click this logo and select “Save picture as” and you can save your new logo as a file on your computer! How cool is that?


Hope you have enjoyed today’s lesson. As always, please feel free to ask questions or send comments.

PowerPoint Basics Table of Contents

China’s Shenzhou-9 Space Mission A Success!

China’s Xinhua news agency reports today that “China’s Shenzhou-9 Mission Successful“. The crew of the groundbreaking space mission landed safely in inner Mongolia on Friday. This marks a significant milestone in China’s rapidly developing space program.

This mission was historically significant on many levels. As earlier reported by our own Debjyoti Bardhan, China successfully docked their spacecraft with the Tiangong-I Space Station module not only once automatically, but a second time using manual controls. Also, of historical significance is the first female Chinese astronaut, Liu Yang, pictured on the far right below.

China's Astronauts
Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang, and Liu Yang being celebrated after their return(Courtesy Xinhua/Zhang Ling)

Once on the ground, medical staff entered the capsule to report that all were in good condition. While in the capsule the astronauts reported to their command center, “We have returned, and we feel good.”

The success of this mission serves to bolster confidence that China can be a formidable player in manned space exploration. They are now confident that they can move on with the next stages of their space program.

The success of the procedure shows that China has completely grasped space rendezvous and docking technologies and the country is fully capable of transporting humans and cargo to an orbiter in space, which is essential for the country’s plans to build a space station around 2020.

It will be interesting to see how China’s future plans work out. Until now only the Russians and Americans were able to achieve such missions to space. Until this point the Americans had mostly objected to any participation by China in the International Space Station missions. China is spending massive amounts of money to bring this program online to the tune of billions of dollars. Hopefully, someday our countries can unify around a common goal and pool their resources to better serve all of humanity. For the time being, it appears everyone is just showing off what they can do on their own. Congratulations to China on this historic achievement!

Tutorial – PowerPoint 2010 Basics Lesson 7: Inserting Shapes

This is Lesson 7 in a series of tutorials on Microsoft PowerPoint 2010. If you would like to start from the beginning of the series go to the Table of Contents at the end of this page. Previously, we started a new blank presentation, added a blank slide, and inserted a text box. We played with the fonts and backgrounds on the text box as well. Today, I would like to continue by showing you how to insert shapes and manipulate them in different ways.

Last week we inserted a text box and put a background in it. See mine, pictured below.

Text Box

Notice the green circle directly above my name. This is a rotation handle. You first have to have the text box selected to see this. If you put your mouse over it, the mouse turns into a circular arrow. If you click and hold that green dot, then move the mouse to the left and right, you should notice that the box rotates around. You can always hit the undo button if you don’t like the results. Go ahead and rotate your text box 90 degrees and place your name on the right side of the slide, see below.

Rotated Text

Notice the section on the ribbon labeled “Drawing”. There you will see a variety of shapes in a box with a downward pointing arrow to the right.

Drawing Toolbar

As shown below, click the arrow to drop down a selection of shapes you can add to a slide.


Notice that as you put your mouse over the various shapes that a little description pops up over the shape. The shapes are also categorized. Find the category called “Stars and Banners”. In that category select the shape called “Horizontal Scroll”. Your mouse will change into a cross. You can now click and drag across your slide and a shape will be created where you drag.


Notice in the picture above, the scroll is created and filled with a blue color. I am not real happy with the width so to change the width, I will position my mouse over the center dot on the right side of the scroll. Why the center dot? If I choose one of the corner dots, it will resize the entire shape. By clicking the center dot on the right side, and dragging to the right, I can lengthen the scroll.

Lengthened Scroll

Now I have the scroll covering most of my slide. With the scroll selected, as pictured above, start typing the words “Welcome to My Presentation”. Notice that the words are typed directly on the shape, but are very tiny. If you select the words on the shape, you will get a font box, as pictured below.


Go ahead and select the text and choose a different size, such as 40. Now the words are nice and large across the scroll. Now, let’s add some pizzazz to the words. With the words selected, click the “Text Effects” dropdown on the ribbon toolbar, as pictured below. Under the “Text Effects” menu, choose “Reflection”, then choose a reflection style.


Notice the subtle, yet effective contribution the reflection makes on your text. Let’s go ahead and save our presentation. Our next lesson will go more in depth with shapes. We’ll learn how to arrange and order shapes on a slide as well. As always, please feel free to comment on our tutorials or ask questions.

PowerPoint Basics Table of Contents

Facebook Changes Your Email Without Your Permission

It’s one of those moves that leaves me scratching my head saying, “What the heck!?!” If you haven’t looked at your Facebook profile lately, you might want to take a minute and check it out. It appears Facebook has decided to switch everyone’s default email address to an “@facebook” account. Problem is, they didn’t even bother telling us of the change, much less asking us for permission to do so.

Not too long ago Facebook rolled out its “Gmail Killer” email service. For most, it was clunky at best and honestly, most people already have a well established email address to begin with. In other words, the service didn’t really catch on. So, much to the surprise of many users, Facebook changed the listed email address on everyone’s profile. They even decided on an email address for you. For instance, if your profile is “”, then your new Facebook email address is “[email protected]” Fortunately, there is an easy way to get your email address back.

Go to your wall or profile and click “About”. On the “About” page there is a section listed with “Contact Information”. See the picture below for an example. Click the “Edit” button to change the default email address displayed.

Facebook Contact Info

When you click the “Edit” button, it will take you to a place where you can edit all your contact information. Find the section at the top labeled “Emails”. See image below for an example.

Find the email address that you would like displayed, and click the dropdown arrow on the right, as displayed in the picture above. Click the selection that says “Shown on Timeline”. If you don’t want people to use your “@facebook” address, then select “Hidden from Timeline”. Then save your settings when you are finished.

This is an outrageous ploy on Facebook’s account and is not something that builds trust. This blogger actually said it best when they described this as a “Man in the middle attack”. That is serious stuff folks. Facebook needs to hear about this from you and me! This isn’t safe, it is sneaky, and it makes me wonder about the future of Facebook and whether they can ever be trusted.


Editorial: Does Anyone Understand IT In the Small Business?

Every day I am inundated with phone calls and emails from companies offering me the greatest solution IT has ever known. To be honest, I have almost stopped answering my phone when I don’t recognize the number, primarily because it’s a bit embarrassing when the sales person on the line is offering me a solution to a problem that, as a small business IT manager, I could only dream of. They immediately begin rattling off technical buzz words which I am sure are meant to impress me into thinking that they know what they are talking about, but I have to say, most of the time, they leave me thinking they have absolutely no idea what I through on a daily basis. Did they even bother to research my industry? Most electrical contractors the size of the company I work for don’t even have an IT person. It always tickles me a little when some poor guy, who I know just recently graduated with his MBA, wants to reach out and talk business on my level. Yeah man, let’s talk white papers and return on investment. Even better let’s use words like deduplication and virtualization! I love talking about stuff like that (sarcasm font needed here). I don’t want to name names but you big time companies out there with all your solutions have no idea what small business IT needs. So let me give you a few pointers and maybe, just maybe that burned out IT manager might start answering your calls.

Frustrated Man

Building a Relationship Still Matters

One of the biggest frustrations I had early on in my stint as an IT manager was with a major online computer sales outlet. There I had “a guy”. I liked this guy. This guy listened to me and to what I had to say. He called me about once a week and genuinely built a relationship with me. He knew that I didn’t have a budget. He knew there was no such thing as a 3 year rotation on desktop rollouts. For you big time CIO’s reading this article, I will wait a second for you to pick yourself up off the floor. I know that had to be hard on you. Anyway, he understood we couldn’t do 20 thousand dollars a year in desktops. Then, out of the blue, my “guy” writes me a note introducing me to a new “guy” and he goes riding off into the sunset never to be heard from again. This next guy is pretty cool. He seemed to catch on pretty quickly but his calls were less frequent and when he did call, there was more a focus on some new promotion that they had going. Most of the time the promotions were well out of the scope of reality. It was long at all before he’s introducing me to another “guy” to manage my account. I quickly realized that this company charged a premium price for all these “guys”. I am sure for the enterprise customer, these “guys” come in real handy, but to me they were just added cost. I could go online and find exactly what I needed at a much cheaper price. You see, the relationship was gone. Understand something, small business people are all about “people”. We live and die by relationships. We have to be mindful of what we say and add value to our services to compete with the big boys. You big companies with your sales forces and constant promotions and moving around employees to squeeze out new numbers need to understand that frustrates the customer on the other end.

Don’t get me wrong, the online retailers aren’t the only ones who don’t get relationships. The telecom industry is completely out of touch with small business. We use a cloud based IP telephone system and quite frankly, because of the relationship I have with their people, have found them to be very helpful. About twice a year, I will get someone from the big telco companies call on me. These guys are really sharp. They come in all fancy dressed and sharp tongued and just immediately tear down the company I am currently using. In about a 30 minute conversation they are ready to get back to their office and whip me out a quote that they know will just dazzle me. They call the next day beside themselves that I haven’t signed the contract over to them. Seriously??? Do they honestly think I trust them? Am I confident that they will handle the transition to their service with care? Hey you guys realize we’ve used your customer service from our homes, you know the ones with endless phone prompts that may or may not get you where you need to be? Am I going to turn the life blood of my business over to you after a 30 minute conversation? No! As for cell phone companies, they disgust me so bad I am not sure I even want to go there. I am not sure they even have decent enterprise solutions, much less small business.

Tutorial – PowerPoint 2010 Basics Lesson 6: Working with Slides and Text Boxes

This is Lesson 6 in a series of tutorials on Microsoft PowerPoint 2010. If you would like to start from the beginning of the series go to the Table of Contents at the end of this page. In the previous 5 lessons we worked with a built-in template that comes with PowerPoint. Templates are an easy way to learn PowerPoint and usually have little pointers in them to help you along the way. Today, I would like to start a new presentation and work with slides and layouts.

Let’s open PowerPoint 2010. You should see a window similar to the one below. By default, PowerPoint has no theme applied and is kind of a simple black and white style. You should see one slide like the one below. This is called the “Title Slide” layout. In this layout there are two text placeholders, one for a title and the other for a subtitle.

Main PowerPoint Window

Slides are the fundamental element of the presentation. Just like old slide projectors, you can design slides in PowerPoint that can be clicked through in a certain order to present information. There are many predefined layouts for slides built into PowerPoint. We went over this a little in previous lessons. Let’s take a look at some of the different layouts available to us.

Slide Layouts

If you click the “New Slide” dropdown, you will see the different layouts, pictured above. Each of them are pretty self explanatory. I would like to choose the “Blank” slide layout just for fun. You should now have two slides in your presentation. One with the “Title Slide” layout and one with the “Blank” layout. Click between them and notice the differences. “Blank” pretty much is a clean slate where you can design the layout however you like.

To add content to this slide, let’s click on the “Insert” tab on the ribbon toolbar. There are tons of options here. For now, let’s click the “Text Box” option. Notice your mouse changes into a little cross, as pictured below.

Text Box

When you see this mouse, you can click and drag over the slide and it will create a text box. Go ahead and give it a try. You should now see a rectangular area surrounded by dots. If you click inside the rectangle, you can type text into the box. Go ahead and type your name. You can see what mine looks like below.

Text Box

What happens when you click outside the box? Notice that the little dots disappear and you only see your name. If you click your name, the dots will reappear. Let’s add a border to our text box. With the text box selected click “Shape Outline” on the ribbon toolbar as pictured below. Notice in the picture below, there is a variety of colors as well as, line styles and thicknesses that you can apply. Choose a color you like.

Shape Outline

Now, click outside of your text box and you should see that you have a nice border around your name. Let’s center our name in the box. Click the “Home” tab and choose the “Center” button located in the “Paragraph” group on the ribbon. Once you have your name centered, double-click your text box and notice that it takes you to the “Format Tab”. In the same area that we added the “Shape Outline” we will also find “Shape Fill”. Let’s add a fill color, or background, to the text box. Click the “Shape Fill” dropdown arrow and select a color. Now you will see your box has a background color. Note that if you pick one that is dark, you may need to change your font color to make your name visible. For this example, it might be a good idea to pick a light background.

If you double-click your name in the box, you will get a little font menu box pop up, as pictured below. I highlighted it with a green box.Font Menu

Here you can adjust the font type, size, color, alignment, and much more. Let’s change the font size to something large. Notice in the picture above, the number 18. If you click the arrow beside that you will get a dropdown of numbers. I chose 44. Notice how much bigger your box is now.

Let’s go ahead and save this presentation. Name it “Fun with Slides” or something and we will continue working with these text boxes later on. For now, thanks for reading Techie Buzz, and if you have questions please feel free to email me at [email protected]

PowerPoint Basics Table of Contents

Tutorial – PowerPoint 2010 Basics Lesson 5: Viewing the Presentation

This is Lesson 5 in a series of tutorials on Microsoft PowerPoint 2010. If you would like to start from the beginning of the series go to Lesson 1(Table of Contents at the end). In Lesson 4 we added a new slide layout that let us put two pictures side by side. We inserted a picture and added a frame and effects to it. If you haven’t already, go ahead and add a picture to the second picture placeholder and put captions underneath both of the pictures. If you haven’t gone through the previous lessons, you might want to do so or some of what I am telling you to do may not make sense. Below, you can what my slide looks like. Of course, you won’t have the same pictures that I do, but no worries about that. Just pick from the pictures you have available and we’ll go from there.

Main Slide

Since PowerPoint is primarily a presentation software, I thought now might be a good time to show you how you can put this new presentation in presentation, or “Slide Show” mode. Pictured below, you can see the ribbon toolbar with the “Slide Show” tab selected.

Slide Show

You will notice that I have circled the button labeled “From Beginning”. This is what you select when you are ready to present your presentation. The “From Current Slide” button basically will let you look at the particular slide you are editing at the moment. This comes in pretty handy when you’re not sure how a particular slide will look in a “Slide Show”. So far in these tutorials, we have used a real simple format. We chose a template to work from and added a couple of slides with pictures. When you click the “From Beginning” button, you will notice that your presentation will start in full screen mode. To progress to the next slide, click the left mouse button and it will move to the next slide. Continue doing this until all the slides have shown. At this point you should see a screen that says “End Show”. If you click this screen then your “Slide Show” will end and you will be back to where you can edit your presentation. Also note that any time during the presentation, if you hit the “Esc” key on your keyboard your presentation will end. Go ahead and give your presentation a try. When you are finished make sure you hit save.

This concludes Lesson 5. Make sure to keep coming back as we will continue to show more features of PowerPoint. As always, please feel free to ask questions. Thanks for reading Techie Buzz!

PowerPoint Basics Table of Contents