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Posts Tagged ‘virtual’

Jump on the virtual stock market with WeSeed

August 24, 2009 3 comments

I’m not too good with numbers – my former maths tutor will echo that statement, but neither neither am I a gambler. Therefore getting involved with the stock market is hardly a natural step; I’m far from being ready to take the plunge.  Therefore I’ve had to settle for the next best thing to hone my skills (or lack of) before even considering investing real money. WeSeed allows users to invest virtual money in real companies, as well as incorporating other enjoyable features to make the experience a little bit more approachable, even to innumerates like me.

WeSeed makes the process of buying shares simple

WeSeed makes the process of buying shares simple

After signing up and confirming your account, you’ll need to chose how much money your portfolio starts with. There are three predefined options to choose from: $100,000, $10,000, $100, or you can opt to choose your own starting amount. I chose to start with $10,000 (about £6000) since the larger amount seemed to lack challenge, whilst the lower amount promised to limit my investments to next-to-nothing.

You’re then able to begin choosing which companies you want to invest money in by searching for either the company’s name, or an area which you’d like to invest in. Therefore, if you’re pining for some Microsoft shares, you can search for that directly, but if you have no company in mind, searching for a general area will bring up companies which relate to it – eg searching ‘gardening’, ‘computers’, or ‘sport’ will yield relevant businesses that you may wish to pour some of your virtual cash into.

After investing, you’re able to keep track via your personal portfolio. This is a listing of all the companies that you’re a shareholder of and your shares’ status. You’re able to see at a glance whether there’s been a rise or fall in the the worth of your shares and your portfolio’s total value. It’ll also save you searching for the company to view more detailed information, since each can be clicked to whiz you off to the company’s page. In addition groups are also available which are designed to group like-minded people together – ranging from housewife groups to lovers of technology. You’ll be able to compete with other groups to make the best  investments and gain advice from others to help you choose your investments.

The lack of ability to invest in companies which don’t have a US presence was a little annoying, but it certainly didn’t detract from the fun of juggling the virtual dollars. You can get started at www.weseed.com.

Run other operating systems with VirtualBox

As promised in the Windows 7 review, I’ve penned (or more accurately, typed) a review of Sun VirtualBox. This software allows you to install multiple OSes without overwriting or risking your current setup. Being the cautious fellow that I am, this prospect sounded appealing since I wasn’t willing to install it in a separate partition for fear of causing my files to implode. Therefore, Sun VirtualBox sounded like a smashing way to test out Windows 7.

Running Windows 7 on an XP host

Running Windows 7 on an XP host

After downloading and installing, you’re greeted with a window which allows you to add new operating systems. Clicking ‘New’ launches the wizard which guides you through adding one. You’ll need to fill out such things as name and type of operating system (eg, Windows XP, Ubuntu Linux, etc.) In addition, you’ll need to select how much RAM and video memory to devote to the virtual machine. I’d suggest not going past half, or you might end up with your host OS getting a bit upset. In addition, you will need to set up a virtual hard disk to store the operating system on; this will put by a defined amount of storage space for the virtual machine to use. Once you’ve walked through all the steps, you’ll probably want to check the settings of the OS before you run it. Click the newly listed item and then click ‘Settings’ to check everything is dandy. If you weren’t asked to do it during the setup process you’ll need to tell the software where to find the OS file. This is a .iso file which contains the stuff needed to run your OS. Choose ‘CD/DVD-ROM’ in the settings, and tell VirtualBox where to find the iso file. This will either be a downloaded file, or a disk. You can find much more in-depth help through the help menu within VirtualBox itself.

The first time you start your virtual OS, you’ll probably notice that the size is very small, and your devices might not work quite right; this could include audio or video cards not functioning correctly, and it’s also very likely that your Internet connection won’t work in the virtual machine yet. These mild catastrophes because the drivers for your PC haven’t been installed. Luckily, VirtualBox will do this automatically for you if you click on the ‘Devices’ menu, followed by ‘Install Guest Additions’. This will then mount a virtual CD which can then be run in the usual way in the guest OS which installs drivers to make things work properly. After a restart, everything should work smashingly; unless you’re using Linux, where getting your devices to work might be a little bit more a struggle.

Naff instructions aside, the software itself is rather smashing. You have the choice of running the machine in a few different ways. The first being in its own window like any other programme. This allows you to move it around, resize, or maximise it. The second is running it in full-screen mode, which gives the illusion of being the only running OS on your system. Finally, you can run it in in ‘Seamless mode’, which allows you to use both simultaneously – for instance it will place both taskbars at the bottom and you’ll be able to work with applications from both OSes on one desktop.

Performance seems pretty good, but this is primarily dependant upon the specification of your computer. You can alter the settings later until you achieve the right balance – such actions as upping the RAM allowed or enabling 3D acceleration show improvements when using the virtual OS. You can download the software from www.virtualbox.org.

Explore yourself with Visible Body

I will unashamedly tell you that I don’t like Biology: I don’t want to know how things inside me work. I’ve been sick and nearly passed out at one point during the torture which others like to call a ‘biology lesson’. But I shan’t let this unreasonable inability to learn about the human body prevent me from doing it online! ‘Visible Body‘ allows me to do just that: it provides a snazzy interactive platform for touring a virtual body.

Visible Body.com allows you to explore the human body in-depth without getting your hands dirty.

Visiblebody.com allows you to explore the human body in-depth without getting your hands dirty.

It’s simple to use: you’ll need to create an account in order to experience its full wonder, then you’re ready to launch the body. The first time you load it up you’ll probably see a blank white screen until you click the little button at the top which asks you to install something called ‘Ubiquity Web Player’ – you’ll need this to run the virtual body. It’s a quick, easy and safe install. After that mild kerfuffe you can get cracking.

The body will then take quite some time to load – it’s a bloody complex thing; give it time! Whilst you watch and wait patiently for the little bars at the top right to reach the end, rest assured that you’re in for a treat. The program is loading the various layers of the body for you to explore. Chances are, you’ll see the skeleton pop up first, but there’s much more to come. Patience is a virtue.

Once you’ve come close to beating yourself senseless against the desk in a fit of… patience, you’ll be ready to get exploring. On the left hand pane there’s a list of the different systems which you can explore. If you click the little green ‘Add’ button, unsurprisingly, that system will appear on the body. You can add and remove the systems as you see fit. There’s also some navigational controls to the left of the body – something that looks like a compass which this lets you navigate around the body; a zoom slider which allows you to move in closer on certain parts; and a few buttons underneath which are fairly self-explanatory, such as ‘Hide’ and ‘Reset View’.

This navigation can be made easier by using the mouse to drag around instead of using the provided buttons: click and hold on an area of the body and drag the mouse to spin the poor chap around; zoom in and out with the scroll-wheel; or hold down the scroll-wheel and drag the mouse around to move the body around.

You can click individual parts of a system to see its name appear on the left hand pane, providing a dandy opportunity to find out the names of just about every little bit of the body; even the smallest of bones! Similarly, you can also hide certain parts of the body by clicking on an area, and then clicking the ‘hide’ button. For instance, you could hide parts of the skull to peer into the lovely looking grey matter inside. I get endless pleasure from giggling at googly-looking eyes and brain hovering in mid-air of their own accord after I’ve hidden the other layers. Small things for small minds, I know.

I hoping for even more future improvements, such as a slightly more friendly user-interface, and perhaps little bubbles which could be toggled on or off by the user which tell you what part of the body you’re looking at. In addition, little optional messages that give concise and simple information about different systems, organs, and other parts of the body would be a great educational addition for everyone.

Even for someone like me who is afraid of even the implication of blood or something in any way related to human bodies, this website is an incredibly fun and educational experience. It looks to be a fantastic resource for everyone: casual dapplers, students, teachers, hypochondriacs. Give it a go at www.visiblebody.com. You won’t be disappointed!