MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

Vol. 2008c

Welcome to this edition of The MadMod Computing Newsletter.   We hope that you enjoy the features of each issue and learn some computing skills along the way.

First, a reminder to make backups of your important files, and to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.   Second use a software firewall and/or a router if using broadband.   Last, obtain all the critical Windows updates.

Featured in This Issue
1.     E-Mail with Thunderbird
2.     'Lightning' Calendar Extension
3.     Your Shot Jigsaw Puzzle Generator (website)

1.    E-Mail with Thunderbird
Thunderbird is a free, open-source, e-mail client that can be downloaded and installed in a Windows, Mac or Linux computer from that also has the Firefox browser download link.  Thunderbird has a good junk filter, behaves much like the e-mail clients in a Windows computer, is easily customized and has a comprehensive address book.  Thunderbird is my preferred e-mail client now running on my Ubuntu 8.04 notebook computer.

Thunderbird allows off-line e-mail work reading letters, composing new ones, etc.  (If using Thunderbird on a Windows or Mac computer, be sure that you have an up-to-date anti-virus program that can scan the messages. (anti-virus not necessary for Linux computers)  E-mail downloaded into an e-mail client such as Thunderbird, with messages deleted from the e-mail server, is not available from other computers once it's downloaded from the server.

My preferred web-based e-mail client is still Yahoo Mail, but I only use that occasionally when I need access to my new e-mail on the road.  It requires an active Internet connection to use Yahoo Mail, but it has the advantage of being backed up on Yahoo servers.  Further, messages through Yahoo Mail get a complete scan with their e-mail anti-virus client.

2.    'Lightning' Calendar Extension
Thunderbird's customization allows for what are called extensions.  My favorite extension (available from the site) is 'Lightning' a full-featured calendar that sits inside of Thunderbird.

Lightning allows for colored event categories, decisions on how the calendar should be displayed, whether it should be flipped 90 degrees and so forth.  The events are easy to configure with start and end times, required detail, a choice of the category and whether or not it repeats.  While it doesn't sync yet with my Palm Tungsten E2, the calendar is easy to load, read and print.  Perhaps in a later release, the Palm calendar will synchronize.

3.    Your Shot Jigsaw Puzzle Generator(website) This is an online, interactive, jigsaw puzzle that is generated from the great photos of National Geographic.  There are hundreds of puzzles available with new ones appearing daily.  Most puzzles can be assembled inside of 10 minutes by just using the mouse to select and move the pieces.  When pieces join, there is a small clicking sound.  Pieces once selected are oriented properly to fit the pieces already in place.

I should warn you that the puzzles are very addictive (solitare and suduko come to mind) with some puzzles much harder than others.  Puzzles usually have about 48 or 60 pieces.  The more competitive users, can attempt to best their assembly times.

What also attracts are the high quality of photos.  Just studying them for a bit allows for anyone a chance to learn some new photography techniques--particulary with close-up lenses and special effect filters.

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E-mail to the editor at, David Mawdsley

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