DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

February 20, 2018

What is That?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , — Ron @ 5:21 am

I stumbled across a very interesting application for my phone the other day.  I have often thought it would be neat to take a picture of something and get information on the subject.

With the CamFind application you can. Find it at camfindapp.com.  It retrieves information fairly accurately on many, but not all, things that can be photographed.  It is built for iPhones, Android phones and Google Glass. (Why, since not many are out there?)  You can find links to the perspective stores at the main site mentioned above.

Basically, it is a search engine based on pictures.  When I first experimented with it I was in a local building and took a picture of the tiled floor at my feet.  Yes, I know that it strange but I thought, “OK, let’s give it a try.”  After a few seconds it filtered through several words that could or could not describe the tile and came up with an almost identical floor.  Not only that but it gave me links to other samples of the same or similar tiles and where I could purchase them.

I took a picture of a couple of Cardinals in our backyard (birds not religious leaders).  After running through a series of related and non-related words (once it flashed “red strapless dress”) it found cardinals.  It gave me links to similar pictures and sites with more information.

I tried a few more shots.  I took a picture of the shoes I had on.  They are beige slippers.  It returned information on brown loafers.  It is not perfect but will be getting better over time the more it is used.

Sample from CamFindNext, I moved to cars.  I took a picture of a Jeep Grand Cherokee (in a parking lot so now I am on a watch list somewhere) and it told me it was a 2018.  I am not sure about the date but it got the Jeep.  I took one of my car.  It recognized it as a Honda CR-V but it did not give the year…too old I am sure.

I will wrap this up after a couple of more examples.  I got very close to my TV so that you could not see the border of the TV.  I took a picture of an actor on the screen.  The result was, ads for “flat-screen TVs.”  My only guess is that it could tell by the slight pixilation.

My last experiment was food.  I made a sandwich, took a few bites and took the shot.  It filtered through and I thought it was going to settle on a” brown plush bear stuffed toy.”  However, at the last second it switched to “a slice of brown bread.”

OK, after my few examples I want you to go to your phone’s online store, download CamFind (or from the main site) and try it out today.  For you purists who need a useful piece of tech this is not it, but who knows how it will work a year or two from now?  At this time, it is for fun only and is not always that helpful.  But hey, go have some fun!

February 13, 2018

How Fast Are You Surfing?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:52 am

You know the feeling, you are at home and all of a sudden, the sites load very slowly.  You may be at the local coffee shop where they provide free Wi-Fi and it is unbelievably sluggish.  YouTube videos either stop and start while buffering multiple times in a couple of minutes or do not load.  Before you reboot…and find that nothing has changed check the internet connection speed where you are.

This service allows you to check your speeds through either a website, application and/or your mobile phone.

The site name is “Speedtest,” is found online at speedtest.net and is owned by Ookla.  Ookla began in 2006 with their home base in Seattle.  The parent company is Ziff Davis so that gives you the knowledge that it has a good pedigree.

Speedtext logo

This site does only three things but does them all well.  When you go to the site you will see a large circle with “Go” in the center.  Click “Go.”

It will test the ping rate and your download and upload speeds in just a few seconds.

First, some definitions.  Ping is the reaction time of your connection to the web servers.  It shows how fast you get a response after your browser has sent out a request. A fast ping (lower number) means a quicker reply back from the site.  This is especially useful in gaming.  The ping rate is measured in ms (milliseconds).

Download speed is simply how fast you get files back on your browser.  For instance, if you are downloading a picture or video you get them quicker, the higher the number.  Upload speed is how quickly you are sending your information up to the internet.  For example, when you are copying something up to Dropbox or emailing a picture.  High numbers are good for uploads too.  These last two are measured in Mbps (Megabits per second).

The website works fine; however, you can install the Speedtest application on PC, Mac or phones.  That way if the connection is slow the apps will get your numbers more quickly.  For your computer, go to, “speedtest.net/apps/desktop” to download the application.  I prefer these over the site.

imageFor your phones you can either go to the phone’s app store or directly to Speedtest, speedtest.net/mobile.

I highly recommend you use this site or app if you are wondering why your speed is lagging.  One slight difference is that with the phone apps you do not (at this time) get “GO” but a “Begin Test” button.  Also, the apps give you some information the site does not.

Keep the following in mind.  When you are at the coffee shop everyone there with a phone or computer is also sharing your connection.  They are notoriously slow if many people are present which includes the employees’ phones.

At home, you may be paying for 50 Mbps download speed and find you are only getting 25 or so.  This is normal as your Wi-Fi is sending your signal across the house through walls and may be further away from your device.  Or someone at home may be watching a movie on Netflix.  You will not get full speed as promised unless you are connected directly into your router by cable.  So, you do not call and complain to the service provider unless it is significantly slower than it should be.

February 6, 2018

Chrome Password Manager

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:00 am

I have stated before that my browser of choice is Google Chrome.  In my opinion it is “currently” the better browser of the main ones.  At the end of 2017, W3Counter states that the top browsers used are Chrome, (59%) Safari, (15%) Firefox, (9%) Internet Explorer/Edge (8%) and Opera (4%).  Notice the significant gap between the top two contenders.

They all have an account password manager of some sort.  These managers are used to keep track of your user account names and their corresponding passwords for websites.  This information is required to log in when you visit those sites.  They work in different ways and today I will tell you how to set up and use the one in Chrome.  If you favor one of the others, Google for information regarding the specific password manager.  Basically, you visit a site after the browser has saved your username and password for that site and it will prefill it making it much quicker to get into the site.

It is quite easy to cut them on and off in Chrome.  Some people do not want their browser to keep track of their passwords.  It could be a problem if they left their computer unattended.  Then others could easily access their accounts with the usernames and passwords already filled-in.

First, check and see how Chrome is set for you.  Click the three dots (ellipsis) in the upper right-hand corner of the browser.  Look toward the bottom of the list and click “Settings.”  At the top of the Settings window in the “Search settings” box, enter “passwords.”  There are several areas here which you can examine; however, be careful about changing anything unless you first understand what you are changing.  (Use Google again.)

We are only going to look at one specific area this time: “Manage passwords.”  Click the words “Manage passwords” and you will be in the manager for Chrome.  Notice at the top right corner, “Search passwords.”  Here you can type in a value that you have a password for and it will find that account.

Below that is a simple On/Off selector.  Click the button on the right, gray is Off and blue is On.  Off stops Chrome from memorizing your usernames and passwords.  It is set “On” by default, so if you never realized it they have all been recorded up to this point.

After that you can allow it to auto sign-in which allows the usernames and passwords for sites to be prefilled for you.

Now for the good stuff.  We will say you forgot your Amazon account password.  Type “Amazon.com” into the search passwords box at the top right.  It will find you Amazon account login info.  From left to right it gives you five items.  First, website name, then username, password (hidden by asterisks) an eye icon and an ellipsis.  The last one, the ellipsis (three vertical dots) does not do much when clicked other than give you the choice to delete the specific account info.

The eye is the important one.  Click it.  If you use a username and password to set up your computer you will have to enter that password to see the password, sans asterisks.  If the correct computer password is not entered the site password will not be revealed.  If you do not have a computer login password anyone on your computer can see your passwords.

Delete or check them as you wish since you now know the secrets.

You can see mine below, hopefully blurred enough to keep you out of my super-secret info. (Yawn…)

Google Chrome password manager

Ron’s view of Google Chrome password manager

January 30, 2018

Information Regarding Your Car

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:33 am

A couple of years ago I bought something for my car that was new on the market.  You know something about me if you have read this column for any amount of time.  That is that I do not like to spend money unless something is really useful or not available for free.  I also like gadgets and new software.  This device covered all those bases for me and I thought you may like it also.

A friend of mine got an Automatic adapter for themselves and really liked it.  After these couple of years, I realized I have never mentioned this device to you, so here we go.

Automatic Pro

The developer, Automatic Labs, a subsidiary of Sirius XM Holdings Inc., developed this adapter that fits in most cars built after 1996.  You can check their site at Automatic.com and see if your car can use it or not.  It is approximately one-fourth the size of your cell phone and probably twice as thick.

It plugs in to the computer port (OBD-II) that your mechanic plugs their computer into to find out if your car is having any issues.  Basically, you plug it in, install the application on your phone and it starts working. There are two versions the Automatic Pro and the Lite adapters.  I will talk about the Pro’s capabilities here.  To compare the two, visit the site.

It will provide you with the same thing your mechanic can find out; however, it not only generates a code but tells you exactly what it means to the welfare of your automobile.  But then it goes beyond that service and provides much more information about your car and even some about you.

You can keep track of your fuel fill-ups, miles per gallon and your trips.  You can choose to separate personal from business miles and expenses.

It is also able to track your car’s location.  That includes where in the huge parking lot you left your car.  Other apps do that too but not with all the extras.

It also has many other apps that could be useful like if you have a serious accident. (I guess that is determined by how hard you get hit.)  Their trained responders will contact you, emergency services, and even someone else you choose if you want them to.

The thing I personally like is that it is watching my driving and gives me a report monthly.  It suggests ways I could change my driving to get better mileage and longer lasting tires, etc.  It also tells me how I compare to their huge database of drivers who use the Automatic devices.  I found that I am a relatively conservative driver who brakes well and does not accelerate too fast.  However, if shows on a map if I exceed the speed limit anywhere by any amount at any time.  Of course, that rarely if ever happens, well maybe once or twice.

I moved it from one of our cars to the other and wanted all the stats reset for the current car. I had to contact the support people by email to do so.  You cannot reset the device yourself.  It did not take long and they were very helpful.  I would have thought you would be able to do that for yourself.

January 23, 2018

PIN or Password

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:51 am

From emails I hear many got new Windows 10 computers for Christmas and it is encouraging you do use a Pin and not a Password to secure it. Is a four-digit pin a good idea to use over your either character password? Microsoft says it is a very good security feature for your computer. I say it may be after reviewing their thoughts.

When you first log onto a new W10 system it will ask you to log in with your Microsoft user account. If you do not have a MS account, i.e., Outlook.com, Hotmail.com or Live.com, it will encourage you to create one in Outlook.com.

After you are done logging in with your MS account (also called a linked account), you can use that email address and password to log into W10. You could also create a local account on your W10 PC and log in with that username and password.

If you are unsure of how MS/linked accounts differ from a local one check one of my previous articles, “Windows 10, Part 2” (rd.dblclx.com/LocalAcct). Microsoft also has a site telling you the pros and cons of each, (rd.dblclx.com/localvslinked).

It is easy to set up a pin. When logged into your computer click the Windows button on your keyboard. Type, “sign in options” and when you see it, click it.

Sign-in options

Scroll down to “PIN” and follow the directions.

Setup PIN

So, if you use your password for your login it should be long and cumbersome to keep others out. If you decide to use a pin, the default setting if a four-digit pin just like your bankcard uses. To me that seems too simple if someone really wants to hack your PC.

Here are some of the reasons MS says it is a good idea. One is that your pin is local to that PC. This means that you can set up different pins on each computer you own or use. It is tied to the hardware of that specific computer so if someone were wise enough to get it they would not have your Microsoft Account password too. That would keep other things like your email safe.

This makes good sense to me but since we are humans do we want to have to remember the various pins for each of your systems? Also, if like me you use an application to check your email all you have to do it start the app and there your email is, you do not need to enter a password. If bad guys get on your computer they have your email already. Even if you check your email online, like Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc. I am willing to bet that you allow your browser to “memorize” your password for you so you do not have to type it in each time. Again, the hacker has you.

MS also says that you can make your pin more complicated. To do so start at the same “Sign in Options” window and scroll to PIN. Now click create or change pin, next click the checkbox by “Include letters and symbols.” Finally, you may click “Pin requirements” to see how hard you can make it, then create one.

Setup more complex PIN

But wait! If I already had a good strong complicated password for my original login why do I need to create another one that is hard to remember?

That is why I said it “may be” a good idea but I just do not see it from what I have learned. I use it because my four-digit pin is easy and quick but maybe not the most secure…what do you think?

January 16, 2018

2017 Sites in Review, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:40 am

Today I will continue with the start of the 16th year of "Double Click" by providing more of last year’s links.  If the site addresses are too long for print, I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app.  The links are preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers.  Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites. 

Let us begin in order of appearance.

Google.com – you know this one as the most used and well-known search engine today.
DuckDuckGo.com – even with the silly name this is another very popular search engine that uses Google and others to get your searches; however, it does not record your searches as the big boys do. 
Dictate.ms – an add-on to the Microsoft Office Suite allowing you to dictate your Word, PowerPoint and Outlook files. 
OneNote 2016, rd.dblclx.com/onenote-ron – download the newest OneNote application from Microsoft if you do not have it already.  This is one of my favorite apps today. 
Feedly, feedly.com – a good place to gather and read all of your RSS feeds from your favorite sites.
Daily News-Record, dnronline.com, CNN, cnn.com and FOX News, foxnews.com – three great news sources, especially the first one!
Overdrive, overdrive.com, Amazon.com, Scribd, scribd.com and Hoopla, hoopladigital.com – several sites where you can get free and paid books and novels to read with a couple allowing audiobooks. 
Gmail.com – of course one of the better free email accounts but last year I showed you several new tricks for using Gmail.
Google Docs, docs.google.com – a good free MS Word replacement for creating documents.
Online OCR, onlineocr.net – an online app that converts a graphic with words printed in it to a text document; Google Docs and OneNote, mentioned above will also perform this task. 
Facebook.com and Google Calendar, calendar.google.com – I showed you how to combine events from FB and put them in your Google calendar and others.
Thunderbird, rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax and Firefox, rd.dblclx.com/2iHBvaX – Mozilla’s email application and the third most downloaded browser for 2017. 
GO Contact Sync Mod, rd.dblclx.com/GOSyncMod and Calendar Sync+, calendarsyncplus.codeplex.com – these two applications can be used to sync your Outlook and Google Calendars, also your contacts in the case of the first one. 

Well, there you go from this week and last a review of all of the sites we visited in 2017.  Starting next week, we will be looking at more computer and technology information that will help you have a Happy Tech 2018! 

January 9, 2018

2017 Sites in Review, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:27 am

It seems like it has been a while since the last time I wrote to you but I hope you have had a couple of good 2018 weeks and have about 50 more!

It is hard to believe but today we begin the 17th year of the "Double Click" column.  I want to thank all of you for reading the approximately 800 articles and writing in response.  Again, thanks for the emails I continue to receive.  Not only does it let me know the articles are actually being read but I really enjoy talking to you (and getting new article ideas from you).  So please keep them coming!  

This January (as every year) I will be reviewing the sites I wrote about during the previous year.  If the site addresses are too long for print I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app.  The links will be preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers.  Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites (caps count). 

So, here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

Facebook Settings, facebook.com/settings – you can read my article for details but I show you how to make a few important changes to your security in FB.
Facebook Deletion, facebook.com/help/delete_account -  where you go to totally delete your Facebook account…if you have had enough.
Chrome Extensions, chrome://extensions – this works ONL:Y in the Chrome browser – go here to add extensions which allow you do perform specific functions in Chrome. 
Surface Pro Computers, rd.dblclx.com/2BZ3Bag – get information on the latest Microsoft computers sales and data available at Google.
Netflix, netflix.com – you know this one, check out movies, TV and more for monthly fee.  
Amazon, amazon.com – I know you know this one as you have most likely purchased or gotten something from there just a recently.
PayPal, paypal.com – where you can securely make online payments for most anything online.  
FBI (Internet Crime Complaint Center), rd.dblclx.com/fbifrauds – both are places to check and report online problems.
US Government Online Safety, usa.gov/online-safety – get more help and information about online scams.
Pocket, getpocket.com – a place to record sites that you visit and wish to visit again later.
Annotary, annotary.com – similar to Pocket with more features like making notes and highlights to those sites.
Google Maps, maps.google.com – maps and more along with being able to track your friends/family (rd.dblclx.com/2q6A0pi).
Alternative To, alternativeto.net – check this site to find less expensive or free applications for other more expensive ones.
Libre Office, libreoffice.com – one of the top Office applications available for free today.
Dropbox, rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox – my favorite online cloud storage site.
Lucid Charting, lucidchart.com – a free alternative app for Visio for making charts, obviously.
7-Zip, 7-zip.org – an application which allows you to combine files into one larger file to store or send where you can also add password protection.
Gimp, gimp.org – a great photo/graphics editor; however, there is a large learning curve.
Belarc Advisor, belarc.com – find out all the information about your computer with this application and probably more than you need to know.

See you next week for the last half of 2017 in review. 

January 2, 2018

Next column will be up on…

Filed under: Columns — Ron @ 5:21 am

January 9, 2018, due to the holidays.

Have a great 2018!

 

December 26, 2017

Due to Christmas and New Years there will be…

Filed under: Columns — Ron @ 5:02 am

No Double Click column until January 9, 2018.

So make sure you come back and read more then.

To all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

December 19, 2017

Meetings in Email

Before I start today’s topic I will answer emails I have received this from a couple of readers.  “Are you going to write about which computer I should purchase for Christmas?”  Sorry, but no for a couple of reasons.

First, I stopped doing this several years ago because they always sounded the same.  Next, it is fairly easy; purchase a good brand with the biggest numbers you can afford.  By, “numbers” I mean hard drive size, amount of RAM, number of ports, most pixels on the monitor, etc.   Third, due to the dates of the holidays this year, this is my last column until the second week of 2018 so there is no time.

I will answer this, to the outrage of many, “If money were no object what computer would you buy right now?”  If the first part of that statement were true, I would get the latest Microsoft Surface Pro version available.  I have used older versions (two years old) and they are very good.  That being said, some of them have a higher price tag than an Apple system which started out too high to begin with.

Now onto my last article of 2017.  I use calendars much of the time.  I, as many, use Outlook’s calendar at work.  For my personal use I am dependent on Google’s Calendar which is excellent.

No matter the calendar you use I have a recommendation which you may not have tried yet.  That is meeting invites.  Say you are having a party, meeting, lunch, whatever where you would like to invite other people.  We will also pretend you know all of their email addresses.  You can pretty easily set up an appointment with those individuals.  The following is for Google’s Calendar app but they all work much the same way.

Click in the date on your calendar and a new appointment will open.  A small window will open where you may add the title, edit the date, begin and end times for the meeting, but then click “More.”  Here you get to the details which are all optional.  The required information you have already entered so you could have hit “Save” before “More.”

New Appointment Start

You can set the new screen to repeat if it is weekly, monthly, etc.  Next you can add the location.  If you input an address in the location it is helpful for people who accept the invite if they use Google Maps or Waze for their travels.  It will pop up in those apps to warn them when they need to leave to get there on time.  Conferencing will allow you to use Google Hangouts to chat with people at the appointed time.  Add a note to the invite.

On the right is the really vital add in “Guests.”  Here you can enter the people’s names, if they are in your contacts list or email addresses if not.  Then when you Save the invite it will ask you to send the guests the invitation.  When they receive the emailed invite they can Accept, Decline or Tentatively accept the meeting.  You will be notified of their response which will be kept in the meeting information in your calendar.  That way you can check their intentions at any time.

 

Also, if you set notifications everyone who accepts an invite will be notified at the appointed time you have set.

Reviewing your appointments is easy too.  Open your calendar and click on the date to see all of the information.

Reviewing your meeting

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