DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 29, 2015

New Computer Suggestions

Now that Christmas is over and you have a new Windows 10 computer, what should you do?

I suggest the first thing you do out of the box is run a windows update.  It may be running a second after you boot up the computer; however, check to make sure.

Windows KeyIt is quite easy to run an update.  You can click the start menu button (or press the Windows key) and type, "windows update." Next, click the "Check for updates" link.  It has a gear icon to identify the correct link.  Yes, there are other ways to get to that point; however, this is the easiest way.

 

Now, if it is there, click the "Check for Updates" box.  If it is not showing, it means that the system is already running an update.  Then you can relax and go back to what you were doing.

Check for Updates screenshot

I do have one word of advice.  I just experienced the update titled, "Windows 10 Version 1511."  This was a very large update and you may get it with a new computer or your existing Windows 10 computer if you have not already.  This one will take possibly an hour or more to complete.  Once it completed on my system it told me that several applications had been removed by Microsoft as they are not needed. 

Now wait just a minute, MS!  This is my computer and you need to calm down a bit.  I hope they stop this foolishness…soon.  The main one it removed is one of the ones I use regularly, the CCleaner utility.  After researching a bit I found that many people have been bothered by this.  To correct it you must reinstall the applications removed.  Then it will be fine until possibly the next update.

Next, as I have advised you in the past, be cautious of the "free" antivirus that came with your computer.  No, nothing is bad about the software at all but you need to be aware that "free" may not really be free.

Your antivirus software is probably excellent; however, you only get somewhere from a month to 90 days or so before it expires.  At that time you will get notices to renew your license. This means you have to pay to keep it active.  You would be surprised at the number of emails I get where people ignore those warnings and let their antivirus expire.  Then they email me with all sorts of problems, i.e., viruses running loose on their systems. 

I personally uninstall the "free" antivirus and get a free one that does not expire and leave me exposed.  However, you may want to keep your freebie until the point it notifies you of its expiration.  At that point either pay their fees or uninstall it and get a real free antivirus application.

Personally, I don’t advise paying because I hate giving money for things I can get free.  Currently I am using the Avast! Software but there are others out there that are also good.

December 22, 2015

Last Minute Tech Gifts

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:28 am

Do you need a present for a geek right now!  Well, you do not have much time left.  Christmas is in days.  What can you run out and get right now since Amazon does not have enough time to get it to you before the big day?

Here we go on a quick trip of tech gift ideas which do not cost too much.  All of them can be found around town in different stores…if you hurry.

Wrapped Presents

How about a thumb drive for your tech friend to store portable files on?  Or in the case of people whose cars have a USB port in the radio, they can load their music to it and listen as they drive about town.  I have seen and purchased 64 GB ones locally for $9.99.  Depending on how they have compressed the song files that thumb drive could hold an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 songs. They can also be used to store duplicate files from the My Documents or any other folders on their computer. 

ChromecastsNow a suggestion from Google.  If you have a Chromecast you know how well they operate.  They basically give you the ability to broadcast anything to your TV from your phone or computer.  If your friends have a Smart TV you already have many of the features. But if not, all you need is a HDMI port on your TV and you are set.  The retail price is $35.

Next how about a surge suppressor?  You have seen your friend’s desktop computer with everything plugged directly into the wall.  You know that sooner or later there will be a power spike of some sort that ruins his system.  Get a surge suppressor with several outlets and also ports for USB cables.  For anywhere from $12 to $50 you can save them a bundle. 

Everyone can use an additional USB charging cable.  People have phones, MP3 players, watches and many other devices that use them.  They get lost and even wear out over time.  There are many different types of connectors on the other end of the USB cable, so make sure you find the correct one.  Depending on the type I have seen them this week from six dollars to $15. 

How about a Tablet?  If your friend does not have one and wants to try one out now is the time.  How about for you kids and grandkids?  Just do not let them be on it all the time.  I found one for mine at $40.  In this price range the resolution is not that great for reading.  But the kids are playing games and they are fine for gaming.  I did see some quite serviceable ones for $80 that I would easily consider.  Of course, tablets get better and better for up to the $300 range.  These good prices are for Android devices only.  Windows and Apple products will cost significantly more.

Now I have recommended all of these gifts for your friends.  But let us be honest…these can be gifts for you too!  Either way, have a very Merry Christmas! 

December 21, 2015

2015-12-21 Christmas Show Notes

Welcome to the Christmas 2015 show mainly giving you ideas for what to pick up around town before Christmas. These are geek-friendly so they may work for you or others. Have fun and listen to the podcast while you are here for even more information


We did get into the first web page ever displayed yesterday, December 20, 1990. It was only seen by local viewers.

The real public site was on August the next year. The original code was never captured for the future; however, here is a very close to exact recreation.

http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html


  • Smart Watches ~$250 (Wearable Tech) LG Watch R – lg.com
    Motorola Moto 360 – Motorola.com
    Pebble – pebble.com


  • Fitness Trackers (Wearable Tech) Fitbit – fitbit.com
    Jawbone, Garmin and many more.


  • Cameras (Point n shoot) or Digital SLRs From $100 to $17,995 (used Mamiya DM56 last year it was $19,995)

  • Tablets Lower Prices may reflect older versions
    • Surface Pads (Microsoft) $900
    • iPads (Apple) $600
    • Androids (anyone except MS and Apple) – $300
      Samsung Galaxy Tablets seem to be the most talked about, depending on whose review you see, but it is also has one of the higher price points.

  • SSD Hard Drive These drives are replacing the regular disk hard drives we have been using since circa 1980.

    They are digital so they boot almost immediately and are much faster and retrieving and storing data.

    Many makes and sizes; however, now you can get good ones on sale starting at around $65 for 248GB.


  • Stop and Grabs

    >>> Thumb Drives

    >>> Surge Suppressors

    >>> Cables

    >>> Bluetooth Keyboards


Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ron

December 15, 2015

Another Tech Christmas Gift

Filed under: Columns — Ron @ 5:56 am

OK, personally I love to exercise.  I love to walk to the car from the house and then drive to work.  I love flexing my arms as I raise food to my mouth.  Get the picture?  Therefore I cannot give much personal information on the following.  However, I have friends and family members who talk about these "fitness" gadgets all the time.

Check various fitness trackers with Google I am talking about Fitbit and the like.  There are many items advertised as fitness trackers.  I have the smart watches Pebble and the Moto 360, which I wrote about in previous articles.  However, in my opinion they are not the best for tracking fitness, at least not the versions I have. 

Fitbit Charge HRThe Fitbit Tracker is the one I will refer to today as it is one of the most popular type of these fitness gadgets.  Basically, it uses a three-dimensional accelerometer to track your movements.  It will measure steps taken to calculate how far you walk every day.  You must enter in data to help it such as your height, weight and gender.  This is supposed to make it more accurate in tracking your steps which also can be converted to miles…or in my case yards.

Depending on the model and brand you have they can track your pulse, calories burned, how far and intensely you walked or ran and some even provided a different logarithms for going up and down stairs.  It can then display that information on the face of the tracker screen and/or transfer it to a website so you can display it on your computer (brand and model dependent).

They may also have a sleep tracker built in to let you know when you get a good night or bad night’s sleep.  I have used this several times with my Pebble and found that it does track my light, regular and deep sleep patterns when I wear it.  This is fine but no where can I find out how to get batter sleep.  So I feel you get info without application.  That being said they also have a vibrating alarm in them to wake you up in the morning.  I really like that since it wakes no one else in the house.

Jawbone Fitness Trackers

Now, it is time for Ron’s thoughts about tracking your walking throughout the day.  I am a geek so when I got my Pebble I set up the tracker one day with all the accurate body build information requested.  I went on a walk and counted each step.  When I finished I compared what the tracker said compared to my actual count.  It was off about 20% on about a mile walk.  Come on folks that is not that good a result.

I talked to several other fitness tracker users who also did comparisons.  So far, their experiences regarding accuracy vary.  The steps are consistent over time. 

As one person put it, "Before the tracker I did not pay any attention but now I will park farther from a door in the parking lot to see if I can increase my numbers."  Several others said something similar.  So in my opinion it is a good thing to get more exercise.  It should not matter if you walked two miles or twenty.  As long as you walk 0.01 mile more the next day you are improving. 

Prices on these go from around $99 up to $250.  Shop smart!

December 8, 2015

Another Christmas Gift

When work, vacation time and life all work together my wife and I like to go camping.  Many times we are camping in areas without electricity.  Now do not misunderstand, since I am writing about camping in December.  We DO NOT camp, other than in a warm hotel, during the winter.  However, it did get me thinking about something that could be a good gift for you to give this year.

We are not totally wilderness campers meaning that if we have cell service we like to have our phones available.  You know – kids, grandkids, aging relatives…use your imagination. So cell phones are good to have with us.  When out camping without electricity sometimes the phones’ batteries give it up.

In comes the gift, a portable “gadget” charger.  There are maybe a million of them out there.  No, I have not counted but there are a plethora at least.  I have tested a couple and then last year about this time I saw one that was highly rated in an ad and on a great sale.

It is called a “Kmashi 15000mAh External Battery Power Bank” and it works quite well.  I bought it last Christmas for us to use, you guessed it, when camping.

Front view of Kmashi 15000mAh Charger

The Kmashi regularly sells for $59.95 but last year Amazon had a special for the holidays making it $19.99.  At that price and with the excellent reviews I bought one.  There are a couple of less expensive and more expensive versions of the Kmashi that respectively supply less or more power.  A rating higher than 15000mAh power means that instead of charging a device three or four times like mine, it will charge them more times.  A smaller number means the opposite.  This is true for all of these charger types.

I tested mine when I bought it and it took several hours to charge the unit itself but once charged we got about four phones or tablets charged before it needed a recharge.  It has four lights that show you the power remaining on the charger as it works.  That lets you know when it is running out of power.  It also has three ports and an on/off button.  Two of the ports are for inserting your charging cable and then connecting to your phone.  They are regular USB ports and yes, you can charge two devices at one time.  The final port is where you charge the Kmashi itself.


Graphic below is (from left to right) charging port, on/off button
(barely visible), 4 power lights, over under ports to phones/tables, etc.

Controls view of Kmashi 15000mAh Charger

If you think this is something you or a friend may like, Amazon is offering another deal right now.  Here is a link to the device: rd.dblclx.com/1PG9nRf.  Before you check out of your shopping cart use DNWS3612 as your coupon code.  This code will reduce the price even further to $12.50.  If you are a prime member you will not even need to pay shipping.

Of course, buyer beware, this code worked for us, yes we bought another one for a gift, as of this writing.  But if the code does not work for you, Google for another one.

December 1, 2015

A Watch for Christmas, Part 2

Last week I introduced you to Smartwatches.  I think they are terrific gadgets…especially for the more geeky among us.  They provide lots of information as I mentioned last week when I outlined many things the two I have are able to do.  We will compare them today. By the way, the prices listed are for the versions I have (first version of each brand) not the newer versions now available.  Check current prices if you are interested in these and online for other brand names.   

The Moto 360 (original version $250) is a much prettier watch.  It has a very colorful, bright sharp screen and a tremendous number of interesting and useful watch faces.  As a matter of fact I have even made a couple of my own.  I can see very little pixilation unless I get my eyes closer than necessary to the watch. 

When you swing your wrist up to look it lights up so you can see it for a few seconds, then goes back to black.  It stays lit for a very short period of time.  You may have five items you want to check and have time to see two or three. 

There is one button control and touch screen control.  When you get a phone call you can see the number calling, and the picture of the caller if it is in your address book.  You can slide the face one way to answer and another to hang up.  You cannot use the phone to talk to the caller (Dick Tracey would be sad) so you still have to pull your phone out of your pocket or wherever it may be to answer. 

The largest problem that I have with the Moto 360 is the battery life.  It charges so you do not have to replace batteries; however, a max of 12-14 hours on a full charge is not good performance in my book.   

The Pebble (original version $149) watch faces are more limited and not color but consistent with most regular digital watches today.  It has the standard gray/black screen. (See DoubleClicks.info for a few views.)  However, that being said the watch is constantly viewable.  It uses e-ink which allows me to see the watch all the time unless in the dark.  As with the Moto 360 you flip your watch-arm up as you normally would to view the time, then the light comes on.

The Pebble has four button control without touchscreen.  The biggest PLUS for me is that once a week is usually the only charging it needs. 

They are both interesting and good functional gadgets.  Still with the charge time and the constantly visible watch faces I vote for the Pebble, even though it is not as cool and "glamorous" looking as the Moto 360.  Pebble now has some color versions which I have not seen so it may be even better now.  

Below are the Moto 360 (left) and the Pebble (right) with their chargers.

Moto 360 being charged                                Pebble shown with charger

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