Portable-browsing app can ease fear of public computers

If you need to use a hotel computer, but are worried about getting hacked when you do online banking or email, consider taking a thumb drive or memory stick with a portable app for Web browsing.

With a portable version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, free from PortableApps.com, you can use a borrowed computer with ease. No one will ever know you were there. Just plug in your USB drive and go.


Nobody acts their age anymore. In fact, We Are All the Same Age Now is the title of a new book by data analyst David Allison.

A recent survey of 100,000 people in the U.S. and Canada shows that the old demographic stereotypes are wrong. Nobody acts their age, gender roles have changed and income doesn't correlate to behavior as it once did. What seems to correlate best are interest groups or character types.

Examples include workaholics, hunters, loyalists, environmentalists, techies, adventurers, savers, spenders, and anti-materialists. In each of these categories, agreement on values, needs and expectations was over 75%. In traditional categories, like "men," "women," "millennials," or income range, agreement on survey answers was around 10% or less. You'd think people in the category "people with no children" would be somewhat alike. But they disagreed with each other on 95% of issues.


A reader writes that he loves his convertible computer, something we never seriously considered. It's a tablet and a laptop in one. When he's not typing, he folds it back and reads books and articles on it like he would if he had an iPad. He finds it very handy.

At a recent trade show, Dell announced a new one of these, the latest version of the XPS 13 2-in-1, starting at $999 for one with the slower i3 processor. It will probably be double that price for a faster i7 processor. However both will use the new 10th-generation technology. Another improvement: The webcam is now at the top of the screen, which makes sense unless you plan to show pictures of your belt buckle.

A convertible laptop solves the problem we've had with having a separate tablet, like an iPad or a Kindle Fire. We can never find it when we want it. So we end up reading articles on our phone or computer screen.


You can watch Mona Lisa talking, though there is no audio. A team from Samsung also brought Salvador Dali, Thomas Edison and Marilyn Monroe to life.

This is all thanks to Samsung's Artificial Intelligence Center in Moscow, which learned how to make a talking head that turns, speaks and makes expressions, even from a single picture. We saw it in a ZME Science article. Search "AI Can Create a Realistic Talking Head from a Single Picture or Painting" to get all the details. The next challenge is to make them dance. It's an important step toward artificial actors.

A revived Humphrey Bogart could play a lot of roles.


For serious joggers, walkers and cyclists, a Fitbit tracker may not be enough. Yet they might not need an Apple watch, either, if they don't care about phone calls on their wrists or a ton of apps. The $80 Runtopia S1, $20 less than the latest Fitbit Inspire, is good if you're willing to take time to learn all its features.

The watch is more rugged looking than an Apple Watch, but either a man or a woman could wear it. The display shows pace, length of workout, heart rate, a stopwatch and a compass. A logbook on the watch saves your recent runs, walks and bike rides. It also displays calories burned and average altitude. We found it all a bit confusing, noticing that it added the steps from yesterday to today's, because we forgot to start over.

A nice surprise is your workouts are rewarded with digital coins that can be used in the in-app store. The top prize is an Apple Watch, which costs 349,999 coins. (Don't hold your breath.) You can earn twice as many coins if you're a premium member, but that costs $24 a year. But it adds features like training for a marathon or losing weight.

The instructions are minimal, but we like it. Joy especially liked a vibration that told her to get up and move after she'd been sitting too long. It also reminded her to drink water.

Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at bobschwab@gmail.com and joydee@oncomp.com.

Business on 06/08/2019