TechMan Texts: Microsoft’s Office apps are a big deal

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Microsoft made a long-awaited announcement last week — its Office suite of applications is available for the iPad.

Each of the main components of Office — word-processing program Word, Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentation software — is available as a separate free download.

Although the apps are free, you must buy the $100-a-year Office 365 subscription, which is available as an in-app purchase, to create or edit a document. Without that, the apps only allow you to view documents.


So what's the big deal? For one thing, your iPad may become much more useful in the workplace because many businesses use Office as their productivity software. Second is that you will be able to use your iPad to receive and manipulate documents in some of the most popular formats in the world — .docx for documents, .xls for spreadsheets and .pptx for presentations. Even without buying Office 365, you will be able to view documents in those formats on your iPad.

So it is a big deal — and another way to take your work home with you.

Good blob: reported on a bloblike container called Ooho! that is made through a process called spherification, which shapes liquids into spheres. It could be used as inexpensive packaging for water that also is a biodegradable alternative to plastic bottles. A compound made from brown algae and calcium chloride creates a gel around the water and costs only 2 cents per unit to make.


Ride the wind, cowboy: Last Wednesday, Texas got almost one-third of its electricity by harnessing the wind. According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the Lone Star State's power grid, a record 10,296 megawatts of electricity was supplied by wind turbines. That's enough to provide 29 percent of the state's power, and to keep the lights on in over 5 million homes, reports.

Please stop using our product, please: Microsoft has launched a new promotion that offers Windows XP users $100 off the purchase of a new PC that costs more than $599 through the Microsoft Store from now until June 15, according to GeekWire. Buyers also will get 90 days of free support and free data transfer from their old XP-powered PC.

The idea is to get users off Windows XP, which Microsoft is ending support for a week from today. After that, security flaws found by attackers won’t be patched, leaving XP users open to attack, GeekWire reports.

Brainy idea: A team of neurosurgeons in the Netherlands has removed the top section of a woman's skull and replaced it with a 3-D printed implant. The 22-year-old woman suffers from a disorder that has increased the thickness of her skull, causing reduced eyesight and severe headaches, according to


A lotta TV: The Internet Archive ( has begun digitizing the first of 40,000 tapes recorded from television over a lifetime by Philadelphian Marion Stokes in her home, according to Fast Company. In order to digitize each tape, it needs to be played by a cassette reader. In addition to digitizing the tapes, the Internet Archive plans to make the collection searchable. Much of the former librarian’s collection is recorded on Betamax, and the equipment to play it is quickly becoming extinct.

Connectivity aircraft? Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, announced last week that the company was creating a lab of up to 50 aeronautics experts and space scientists to plan how to beam Internet access down from solar-powered drones and other “connectivity aircraft,” the New York Times reports.

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