Club Computer Issues

We’ve been having some computer issues here at the Orchid Forum, and mostly it has to do with some malware that got onto some of our personal computers.  I have to tell you, I have been on the internet since the 90’s and things have come a long way!  It’s not just viruses that you have to watch out for, you have to watch out for all these malicious programs now that will steal all sorts of information from you and then either use it or sell it on the black market.

Recently a member had their computer compromised by “ransomware”.  Sally doesn’t even know where she got this problem from in the first place, but the issue was that the ransomware seized all of her information and then held it hostage.  She ended up having to throw out the computer and lost a lot of her information in the process, including photos and music that she had purchased.

The only way to prevent this kind of thing from happening is to ensure that you are careful and that you have adequate protection methods in place.

Recently we decided to try out Avast Internet Security after reading this review of Avast.  This software is excellent – it really was easy to use and set up, even for old folks like us.  We were trying to decide between that software and Enigma’s Spyhunter 4.  I will say it was kind of close but Avast won out for us just due to the several features that it had, such as the Avast Passwords application.

I’ve used security software before, and in fact I used to hate it.  But Avast has changed my mind – I actually like that it’s running on my computer.  I feel like I know what I’m doing when I open the applications.

The only other things that we can tell our members to do are the very basics of computer safety: don’t visit bad internet neighborhoods and don’t open emails that you don’t recognize.  Now, we understand that you can’t always prevent certain things.  However, you can do a lot.  I highly recommend trying out Avast – there is even a free version of it if you can’t afford Avast Internet Security.

Another thing that we like to do here at the Orchid Forum is to ensure that our data is backed up.  We use Backblaze on the servers and I have begun to use it on my own personal computer as well.  Backblaze automatically detects new files on your computer and then backs them up to the cloud.  This way you always have your data backed up, and you don’t have to rely on yourself to remember to run a backup.  Because if you’re like me, you always forget to do that stuff.

How about hearing from our readers?  Have you run into an issue with spyware or malware or a virus?  How did you deal with the problem?  Did you get your data back?  And what advice would you give people moving forward?


Effective Ways To Learn Spanish At Home

Everyone has different reasons for learning or wanting to learn a language. Some choose to do so for necessity, perhaps work related. Some wish to learn the basics for a summer vacation. Others have a desire to become almost fluent for an upcoming traveling adventure. Then there are those studying as an addition to a school or university program.

When you consider what language lessons you ought to take, Spanish ought to be at the top of the list. You will soon discover that it is a challenging, but rewarding, experience. There are many pitfalls to avoid, but also some shortcuts and simple techniques to use to ensure success. Whatever your reasons for studying Spanish are, there are many ways in which to study and here I will discuss some options available to learn Spanish at home.

The first important thing one needs to do when starting to study a new language is to make a plan and set some targets. Set aside certain times of the day and week that will be dedicated to studying. It is known that the mind adapts to routine activities, so get into good habits. Then think about how comprehensive you wish your Spanish to be and what the core areas to focus on are. Do you need a basic, conversational or business level?

In terms of learning methods, there are plenty from which to choose. A traditional tried and tested method to learn the Spanish language at home is through the use of textbooks. By reading explanations and completing exercises, one will be able to grasp the grammar associated with the Spanish language. To accompany the exercises, practice speaking aloud all words, sentences, and expressions.

Another option to learn Spanish from your home would be through audio CDs, which are available in abundance. These usually follow a story and will include sections for the learner to test themselves and practice using the dialogue. Their main advantage is that they can be listened to at anytime, when cooking, cleaning or simply relaxing on the sofa.

Nowadays, anybody can learn any language from their home through language learning computer software that provides either online or offline interactive classes. There are many available, some free and others that require a payment or subscription, and each varies in style and content. These types of classes provide activities on all aspects the language which can be completed as and when you have the time to do so.  Check out this writeup on one of our favorite programs, Rocket Spanish.

Other ways to assist in your learning could be as follows. Listen to Spanish music in order for your ear to become familiar with the sounds of the language. Try reading, and translating, short articles from Spanish to your own tongue and vice versa. Find a friend to practice with over a coffee or lunch.

The above mentioned are a few ideas to take into account in your quest to learn The Spanish language at home. Remember that fluency will not be achieved overnight, however, the harder you study the quicker you will reach your target.

Orchid Sexuality

Orchid sexuality is a very interesting topic that has been studied for decades.  It’s quite difficult to study the pollination patterns, however it’s interesting to note that certain elements can often produce great results.

Studying pollination in natural populations of sexually deceptive orchids can be difficult because of the brevity of each wasp visit and the often low frequency of pollinators. However, the populations of wasps and flowers are not congruent, and when “bait” flowers are introduced into populations of the appropriate wasp, males locate the flowers very quickly, and efficient experimental work is possible. Using this experimental approach with the deceptive orchid Drakaea glyptodon, Peakall (1990) identified two features that are critical to experimental design. First, following an initial rapid response at a single location, the number of visits declines dramatically and few visits are observed after 5 min. Relocation of the same flowers from several to many meters causes a renewed response. It is therefore necessary to move bait flowers regularly to maintain flower visits and to avoid trials near natural populations of the flower. Second, individual flowers can vary significantly in attractiveness, probably because of differing concentrations of emitted pheromones. Therefore, an attempt to use more or less equally attractive flowers is critical in pollinator-choice experiments. This is preferable to using many flowers of varying quality, which quickly deplete natural populations.

Although some pollination had occurred in these orchid populations, pollinators were uncommon. Therefore, each morning whole plants with fresh flowers were collected and transported in vials of water to an open eucalyptus woodland site (Felled Timber Road, Porters Retreat) 30 km west of Kanangra Boyd National Park, where the orchid was rare but the wasp pollinator was abundant. To test the hypothesis that floral height affects pollinator visitation rate, we conducted a series of choice experiments by synchronously presenting two flowers 15 cm high and two flowers at an alternate height of either 2, 8, 22, 30, 50, or 100 cm. In 1992, the alternate heights were restricted to 8, 22, 30, and 50 cm. The standard height of 15 cm was chosen because it approximated the maximum natural height of the flowers. Alternate heights ranged from ground level (2 cm) to 100 cm, which represents the maximum floral height observed for any sexually deceptive orchid in Australia. Thus, the experiments were restricted to biologically realistic heights even though thynnines frequently fly to and forage on shrubs and trees well over 100 cm high (Ridsdill Smith 1970a,b; Peakall 1990). To minimize the possible bias associated with unequally attractive flowers, we first selected flowers that each were attractive to the wasps in a preliminary presentation. In addition, each height choice experiment consisted of a set of 4, 6, or 8 trials in which different pairs of flowers were displayed together at each trial, and each flower was represented equally at both heights. At least three replicate experiments were conducted for each height choice with a different set of flowers. Each trial was conducted for 5 min at different locations and the time of day, number of wasp visits, and behavior during each visit were recorded. Many wasps circled the flowers, but a “visit” was recorded only if the insect landed on the plant.

Excerpt: Handel, Steven N., and Rod Peakall. “Pollinators discriminate among floral heights of a sexually deceptive orchid: implications for selection.” Evolution 47.6 (1993): 1681+.