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December 5, 2017

Syncing Outlook & Google Calendars

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:08 am

I wrote about one of Google’s great apps called, “Google Calendar Sync” in 2012.  Then in 2013 they did away with it.  It was an easy to use add-on for Google that made it easy to sync between your Outlook (usually work related) and Google calendars.  That way you could have your business appointments in Outlook sent down to your private Google calendar to have everything available in one place.  Then you would not have your doctor’s appointment in your work calendar, etc.  You could also sync in the other direction or both at the same time.  Great app!  Check here “rd.dblclx.com/2AhTpJ8” (caps count in all of these shortened URLs) for a list of the many Discontinued Google Products.

In 2015 I wrote about a good replacement, “Calendar Sync +” which did the same thing but was sometimes quite difficult to coordinate.  I used it until about a year ago.  It is still available and you can read about it at “rd.dblclx.com/1MlSy85” from my old article.

At that time a friend referred me to “GO Contact Sync Mod” at “rd.dblclx.com/GOSyncMod” which I liked better.  As a matter of fact, I still use that application.  From the title you would think it would only sync your Contacts but not so.  However, it also syncs your calendars.

Once installed it will sit quietly in your taskbar’s notification area unless you have not set it to “Run Program at Startup.”  That setting only starts the program but not the actual process of syncing.  There are several items needed to successfully set up GCSM.  First, set up your Gmail address which you have to also enter the password.  Next, set “Sync Profile” to my computer.  The next checkboxes are whatever you choose and are self-explanatory. I check both “Sync” and “Prompt Deletion” settings so that all deleted items are matched up.  That way I get a warning in case something is being incorrectly deleted (has not happened yet).  Now decide if I want to also “Sync Contacts” which will pull all of your Google Contacts into Outlook for you, or visa-versa.  I personally do not use that at work, but I do at home.

GO Contact Sync Mod screen

Yes, last week I said I no longer use Outlook which is true.  However, there is also a version of GCSM for Thunderbird which also works well.

The final step is to decide how you want it to sync.  In other words, sync both ways between Outlook and Google or only in one direction so that one of them has everything.  You can also decide which app wins if GCSM cannot figure it out (rarely after the first couple of runs).

There are more setup details on the Go Contact Sync Mod site at “rd.dblclx.com/GoSyncSetUp” if you care to check.

There are other alternatives on the web but for now this is the one that works best for me.  Of course, in another couple of years I may be writing about a better option as I have done this time.

December 1, 2017

Thanks Amazon!

Filed under: Tech Info — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 5:53 pm

So on November 20 I ordered this from Amazon:

Crucial 8GB Single DDR3/DDR3L1600

Crucial 8GB Single DDR3/DDR3L1600

It was supposed to arrive on Nov. 22.  On that day I received an email saying it would be delivered on Friday.  I checked the shipping and it was in Richmond in the morning and Michigan that afternoon?  Then it went to Connecticut?

Friday I received an email that it would arrive Saturday.

Saturday I got another one saying, no, now it is Monday.

I got it Monday, Nov. 27th.

I decided to call customer service this morning and let them know that it was late and they should be watching that more carefully at this time of year.  I thought maybe they would say thanks and give me 5% off my next order.

No, not even close.  They apologized all over the place and gave me a full refund of the entire price.  I told them I didn’t expect that but they said no matter that is what they could do.

This afternoon I got the full price back, $63.17…they told me it could take 3-5 days to get the $ back in my account.

Great service Amazon and your “ploy” worked… I am a very satisfied customer and will probably use them even more.

Maybe one day I will try the groceries online ordering there.

November 28, 2017

Thunderbird

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:26 am

Nope, I am not referring to a car, a new superhero movie or a cheap wine.  I am however talking about one of the better applications out there.  It is cross platform meaning it is available for Linux, Windows and Mac computer operating systems. However, at this time it is not available for iPhones or Android devices but we never know what the future holds.

OK, what is it for?  It is an exceptional email program. Thunderbird (rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax) was created by the people behind Mozilla’s Firefox browser.  Both of which are under constant development now.  Thunderbird developers took a break for a while but they are now back at it.

Visit Thunderbird

The current version, v.52.x has most of what Outlook has but one large difference, it is free.  One caveat to mention here.  If you are using Outlook for business with and Exchange Server do not consider using Thunderbird.  At this point it will not work.  But for users that have not bought Outlook or Office (in any of its many versions) I think Thunderbird will satisfy your email needs.

In my initial testing I found that it easily performed most of Outlook’s functions.  It has many plugins which are also free to add and you do not need the Windows Store to them.  The plugins give you added abilities you may not have, "out of the box."  Plugins have various uses, from different dictionaries, change colors of backgrounds, add different scrollbars and one of my favorites, "Provider for Google Calendar."  That addon/extension allows syncing between Google calendars and the calendar now built into Thunderbird.  So, you are always up-to-date on your appointments.  In older versions of Thunderbird is was much harder to make that happen.   

Thunderbird has options that I prefer over other email applications.  One of them is a view setting. It is called, "Unread Folders – Compact view."  This gives you a one-line view of each email account (if you have multiple accounts as I do) but only the accounts that have email you have not read.  To get it all you need to do is click the dropdown menu above your mail folders and choose it, easy.  

Even though it uses more memory than Outlook it has run well for me.  Thunderbird has also not slowed down my systems or locked up/frozen from time-to-time.  This has occurred in Outlook for me…sometimes often.  It also has an excellent spam filter that can learn as you go.  It allowed me to install all of my email addresses including free Outlook.com, Hotmail (Hotmail has been replaced by Outlook.com), Gmail, personal domains and a friend tells me that iCloud addresses will also work. Consequently, I believe that most any email should work – other than some work accounts due to security. 

I now enjoy Thunderbird on all of my personal systems.  The only issue I have had is that I cannot us it on my work PC.  The antivirus on that PC marks it as some sort of problem file and wipes out my passwords in Thunderbird.  Not a biggie if you only have one account.  To overcome the issue, you need to enter the account’s password when Thunderbird starts. However, when you have many email accounts it becomes unwieldy. 

All around a great application!  You should give Mozilla’s other application, the Firefox browser a shot too as it is also a cut above (rd.dblclx.com/2iHBvaX).

Firefox Browser

November 21, 2017

November 20, 2017

2017-11-20 WSVA Show & Podcast

Filed under: WSVA Show Notes — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 2:31 pm

Here we are again, a little late getting this online, but it is Thanksgiving week!  The podcast is here and the notes are below for the main topics.


    • Informed Delivery® by USPShttps://informeddelivery.usps.com

      Digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon! Informed Delivery allows you to view greyscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mail pieces and track packages in one convenient location.Images are only provided for letter-sized mail pieces that are processed through USPS’ automated equipment.


Amazon Key Services


 

  • ‘Payment by vein’ — Fingopay – bbc.com/news/technology-41346717

    A supermarket in London is trialling a biometric payment system that uses the unique vein pattern in fingertips to pay for goods. Costcutter said it would consider rolling Fingopay out more widely if the test, at Brunel University, was successful. An electronic reader maps the user’s finger veins, generating a unique key.During registration, users need to link their finger pattern to their credit or debit card and then they can pay for goods without the need to be carrying any cash or cards. The technology has been developed by electronics giant Hitachi, with biometric payments company Sthaler licensed to roll it out in the retail sector.Nick Dryden, chief executive of Sthaler, said the system would appeal to young people. “Today’s millennial generation now expects a higher level of ease, security and efficiency from the way that we pay.” he said.
    Fingopay


  • Insulin Pump and Other Implantable Device Hackinghttps://www.wired.com/2017/03/medical-devices-next-security-nightmare

    HACKED MEDICAL DEVICES make for scary headlines. Dick Cheney ordered changes to his pacemaker to better protect it from hackers. Johnson & Johnson warned customers about a security bug in one of its insulin pumps last fall. And St. Jude has spent months dealing with the fallout of vulnerabilities in some of the company’s defibrillators, pacemakers, and other medical electronics. You’d think by now medical device companies would have learned something about security reform. Experts warn they haven’t.
    Wireless Devices that could be hacked

November 14, 2017

Convert a Picture to Text

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 5:40 am

There have been times in my computer career when I have had a real need.  I do not know about you but I bet you may have had this need too.  That is, you have a screenshot or a photo of something with a lot of text printed on it and you would like to retype that information.

It could be a contract you want to edit, a copy of a letter or anything else with text that you would like to edit and/or reproduce.  It happens often in offices. Occasionally someone will send you a PDF file (Portable Document Format) that you cannot make corrections or changes to, then what?

Well, I have a couple of ways you may be able to fix this situation.  There is a term called “OCR,” meaning “Optical Character Recognition.”  OCR is a widely used method of converting printed documentation into text.  Once OCR’d, documents may be stored as a text file, edited, searched or displayed online.

There are many ways to use OCR to convert a printed file to a text file.  I will mention three which I have heard a lot about (in alphabetical order).  Be warned: once converted to a text file there will be errors.  You must proofread them in detail to make sure you have the correct wording.

First up is Google Docs.  You can save a graphic file with text on it to your Google Drive, right click it and choose to “Open with Google Docs.”  It will convert it to a Doc file that you can type in and edit away.

Next, the one I use most often for all of its features is Microsoft’s OneNote application.  With OneNote you use “Insert” then “Pictures” to insert the graphic file.  Next, right click the graphic and choose “Copy text from picture.”  Somewhere near the picture you will have a text box open up ready for editing.

Finally, one of the many online/cloud versions available is “Online OCR” onlineocr.net.  Click the Select file button, find your photo on your computer, upload it, check the language that it is in, choose the format you want (either .docx, .xlsx or .txt) then Convert.  In a few seconds you can download the finished product.

Now my opinion of the three/four.  The one I had the most problems with was unfortunately Google Docs since I am a Google fan boy.  As I did with all four, I ran several different files and got varying times to finish from seconds to minutes.  All of them gave what I would call poor accuracy.  Many errors in the “translation” from graphic to text. Keep was extremely slow in comparison.

OneNote was good on the time and accuracy; however, it is not available in the online version.  It only works on the paid or free desktop versions of OneNote.  Still I liked the results.

Online OCR did as good  a job as OneNote.  It was quick and just as accurate (remember none are perfect).  However, I would not upload sensitive information to be converted by an unknown online service.

Pledge of Allegiance

Pledge of Allegiance converted by Online OCR

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of
Ameri  and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

There are more options but these three were the ones I decided to test from all I had heard and experienced.  Have you tried any?

November 7, 2017

Could mobile phone data replace census?

Filed under: Tech Info — Ron @ 1:05 pm

Statisticians experiment with tracking people’s movements to find out about their daily commute.

Source: Could mobile phone data replace census?

Wait, Stop That Email

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:16 am

I know I have been writing about Google products for the last couple of months.  Since they are the number one free email provider in the world that makes sense…for me anyway.  Today we will talk about one that many have asked me about over the years… the “oops” button (my lingo). Not just for Google’s Gmail but Microsoft’s (Hotmail, Live and Outlook.com) as well.  They are respectively, the first and second most popular free email services online.

Pretend you just sent your boss an email telling him you have had it.  As you hit “Send” you freak out and know you should not have done it.  What can you do?  Well you could start packing up your office in a box.

You may also have the option of recalling that email.  It is available in both Gmail and Outlook.com accounts.  It is also available in the Outlook application that you or your office may use.  Today we will talk about the online versions.  If you need to know how to use it in Outlook application check with your support team.  I agree Microsoft has overused the word “Outlook” in too many areas that are email related but different products.

In both Outlook.com and Gmail you have the ability to not recall exactly but to cancel an email delivery.

In Gmail click the menu gear on the upper right corner of your screen then click Settings, shown below.

Settings Control for Gmail

You should be at the General tab, if not select that one.  Scroll down to the fifth item “Undo Send” and look to the right.  There you will find two controls.  First you check “Enable Undo Send” then select the amount of time you want to have to make the decision to stop an email.  The minimum is 10 seconds with a maximum of 30.  Once done scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the “Save changes” button.

Undo Send settings

Now when you send an email from Gmail you will have a 30 second chance to stop the email.  You will have a menu bar appear at the top of the Gmail window which says, “Your message has been sent. Undo View message.”  Click “Undo” and the message will be stopped and opened up.  If you close it you will find it in your drafts folder.  There you can edit it to resend or delete it as you wish.

To set this up in Outlook, click the menu gear icon.  Choose Options at the bottom of the list.  On the left under Mail/Automatic Processing click “Undo send.”  There you will have the same two settings called “Let me cancel messages I’ve sent for:” and the time.  The times are the same as Gmail, 10 to 30 seconds.

Outlook settings                                                                Set up Undo Send in Outlook

At the time of this writing the feature was not available in Yahoo mail, the third most popular free email.  I am surprised at this; however, they all have their pluses and minuses. I read in one of the Yahoo support forums that you save your “questionable” email as a draft and consider sending it before you actually do.  Come on now…really?

Microsoft quietly announces end of last free Windows 10 upgrade offer | ZDNet

Filed under: Tech Info — Ron @ 4:55 am

More than a year after ending its free Windows 10 upgrade program, Microsoft is getting ready to shut down the last official free upgrade extension. The news wasn’t exactly shouted from the rooftops.

If you’ve been waiting to claim your free Windows 10 upgrade using the “assistive technologies” exception, you need to act soon. In a quiet change to an obscure web page, Microsoft announced this week that those exceptions will end on December 31, 2017.

Source: Microsoft quietly announces end of last free Windows 10 upgrade offer | ZDNet

November 6, 2017

Thunderbird — Software made to make email easier.

Filed under: Tech Info — Ron @ 3:53 pm

I think this is the best email client out there for PC. I have been using it for a while after Outlook (a RAM hog IHMO) and it took a little getting used to but worth it over the long haul.

Have at it.

Software made to make email easier. Thunderbird is a free email application that’s easy to set up and customize – and it’s loaded with great features!

Source: Thunderbird — Software made to make email easier. — Mozilla

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