DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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.

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 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

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?

October 31, 2017

Temporary Gmail Access

Rick emailed an interesting question about Gmail this week. His company uses Google’s product, “G Suite Business” for their email. With G Suite all email and cloud storage is handled by Google in the cloud. This can allow big savings in money, time and equipment for the company. I have used it before in the corporate environment and although different it works quite well.

Rick’s question was that he was going to be out of town for vacation. He wanted to turn over control of his email to a coworker. However, (smartly so) he did not want to give them his password. NEVER give passwords to anyone.

I found that Google has a Gmail delegation feature. A Gmail delegate is someone you give access to your email account without supplying your password. Once a delegate has access to your email they have limits as to what they may and may not do on your account. They can read, send, delete and reply to emails that were sent to your account. If Rick were a delegate of mine his address would show as the sender in any email he sent on my behalf. The sender would show “sent by rickwhatever@gmail.com.” Delegates also have the ability to add, edit and remove people from your Gmail contacts.

There are also several things that are not allowed. One of the main ones is that the delegate cannot change your password. So if your delegate turned out to be an evil individual they could not block you out of your account. They also cannot chat with anyone as you while in your account. Last, they could not change your Gmail account settings.

A person may be a delegate for any number of accounts. However, a personal Gmail account can only have up to 10 delegates (corporate G Suite accounts are limited to 25).

It is fairly easy to add a delegate to Gmail; though, it must be done online as you cannot add one from your phone’s Gmail app. Log into Gmail and click the Settings button that looks like a gear in the upper right corner. Next, select the “Accounts and Import,” scroll to the bottom and click “Add another account” under the “Grant access to your account” section. Enter the email address of your delegate (it must be a “gmail.com” address) then, “Next Step.” You will now be instructed to send them an email, by clicking a link to grant them access to your account.

Grant access

Grant access to another account

The person you add will get an email from you asking them to confirm that they will take access for a while. If they do not respond within a week the request will be withdrawn and they will not be your delegate. Also note when your delegate accepts your access they may not have access to your account for up to 24 hours.

Notification email to delegate

Notification email to delegate

If you are a delegate it is easy to access that account. Sign into your own Gmail account, click your account photo (upper right corner), then from the dropdown menu select the delegated account. A new window or tab will open with their email displayed. Have at it.

When you are ready to remove their access go to the same “Grant access to your account” area and click “delete” by your delegate’s information.

October 24, 2017

A Paper That Changed Our World

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

You know everyone makes mistakes; however, not many make as far reaching a mistake as Bill Burr.  Mr. Burr is the person responsible for the current password guidelines he dispersed and he now says the instruction was wrong.

He authored an eight-page document which was OK’d by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  He also mentioned that, “…the paper wasn’t based on any real-world password data, but rather a paper written in the 1980s.”   Unfortunately, the document he wrote went on to become the Holy Grail of industries around the world.  It made it so that all businesses, governments, etc.  updated their password policies to coincide with this new information.

Password graphicYou know the spiel if you are in the workforce today.   You should have capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, nothing related to your date of birth, children’s names, pets’ names and maybe a few more.  And the one that made me the craziest, you must change your password every 90 days and cannot repeat one within a certain time period.

In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal Burr was quoted as saying, “Much of what I did I now regret.”   It went on to say that none of these actually make your passwords that secure.  Especially the, “change it every 90 days” rule.  It was determined in a 2010 study at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill that updating passwords regularly can actually help hackers identify a pattern.  (You know you do it, changing just the last letter, number or symbol of a password you have used for years.)  I read another article stating that if you have never been hacked or noticed any strange happenings regarding your password you should never change one.

Guess what the new rules state?   A better solution is to create a password with four random words.  If you are allowed to do so you should include spaces.  This combo is supposedly harder to crack than the old revered password stylings.  You can even capitalize or use punctuation if you wish.  However, the length of the password is what discourages the hackers not the combination of letters, numbers and/or symbols.  The old rule of thumb about being at least eight characters long seems to be weak too.

So, my new passwords may be something like, “IscoffeeanElephantoraTomato?” or “Is coffee an Elephant or a Tomato?

I do have a couple of thoughts/concerns regarding the past guidelines…which we have found out could be bogus.  “They” always said not to use any word in the dictionary as this was how hackers started with their hacks. However, now it appears that commonly known words are OK.  Huh?  Who said that they should not be used the first time and where was their research documentation?   Is that one true or false?

All I know is that I hope where I work will quickly change the 90-day period between changes – life would be so much easier.

Change my passwords how often?!!!

October 17, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 7

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:46 am

This is the last week of our Chrome Extension tour and I have three of them left.  I have also saved the very best for last and you will not believe what it does, it is a miracle!  I am sure you will get my meaning at the end.

First up is, “LastPass: Free Password Manager.”  This is an app that will manage your password collection online.  It works very well as I have been experimenting with it for over a year now.  You can record your site passwords as you create, use or edit them on an online account.  This online LastPass account should have a good password (more about those next week).

If you add a username and password for a site to LastPass the next time you go to the site, you can autofill the answers with the extension.  Very quick and easy.

I do have one concern which has not been confirmed yet and may never be.  I cannot help but think what happens if someone hacks my LastPass password.  LastPass says that they have superior security for your safety and there has never been a major issue…but only time will tell.

Next is “Save to Pocket.”  I have written about GetPocket.com in the past and it is still an excellent site/app.  It is a site which allows you to save interesting sites for later viewing.  With the “Save to Pocket” extension all you need to do while viewing an attention-grabbing site is to click the button then that site will be saved to Pocket.  Later you can log into the Pocket site and view all of those older sites.  It allows you to tag them so that all of your recipes, art, technology, etc. sites can be easily found.

Of course, be careful or you will have more than you have time to read.  I try to keep my list trimmed down and I still have over 60 sites to catch up on.

Now the one you have all been waiting for.  This one is not perfect but it does a lot of good things for you if you are tired of the way Facebook works.  “Social Fixer for Facebook” was created by an individual, Matt Kruse, who was tired of how Facebook worked for him.  It was a personal project that has now significantly evolved.   Read more about him and it at socialfixer.com.Social Fixer logo There are many things you can adjust using this extension for Facebook; however, it will only work on that browser.  So, if you go to another browser or another computer without Social Fixer installed you will get the same old FB.

Here you go, the number one thing this app does well…drumroll please…it allows you to filter out many, many political posts so you do not have to see them.  There are many other “filters” that you can apply to remove other types of posts and make FB perform in different ways but the first one I mentioned is the winner for me!

October 10, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 6

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:39 am

This week we will continue examining Chrome Extensions.  They will all be related to one item…Google.  Since I have gotten emails thanking me for this series of articles I have bad news for those who liked it, we only have one more to go after this one.  For those of you that were bored that could be good news.

Google Docs, Google Keep, Google Sheets and Google Slides are the group of extensions we will look at first.  Here I must be honest – they are not that helpful to me.  Basically, they allow you to add a desktop icon to your desktop or menu item and when clicked they will open up the particular app.  I have found the same thing can work by creating a shortcut in your browser for any of them that do the same thing.  So I cannot whole heartedly recommend them.

Google Docs Offline is a good workable extension.  It will allow you to open, edit, review and save Google files while you are not online; hence the name.  If you create or edit a document while offline the next time you get back online, they will sync up and your new/edited files will be put on Google Drive in the cloud.  Using this extension, you will always have the latest copy while online or off.  This is a neat feature and one that I do recommend.

Next is Google Voice which in my opinion is one of the best applications supplied by Google second only to Google Search itself.  I use this extension often.  It does take a bit of setup so I suggest you go here, support.google.com/voice, and get instructions.

Google Voice Sample

There are many features of Google Voice (GV for short).  First it gives you a free phone number for GV use.  You match it to your phone and the fun begins.  One great feature is that it allows you to read any voicemails you receive on GV.   Yes, Google translates it, almost immediately, into an email and sends it to your Gmail account.  The translation is not always perfect but it is usually very close.

Voice & Email Spam Stopping Power

List of recent calls which can be blockedIt will also allow you to text from your computer and/or mobile phone.  Another neat trick is that you can personalize your voicemail greetings.  You may have separate ones for individuals or groups in your Google Contacts as well as a different one for strangers.

It offers good protection from spam calls which I mentioned several weeks ago.  Another of my favorites is that you can use several phones for the account.  This means that you could take the original call on your cell, go into your home and continue the call on your landline, or office phone, or spouses phone and on-and-on.

One last feature about the app before I finally get to the extension.  It will let you to listen to people leaving you a voice message.  You can listen without them hearing you and decide if you would like to interrupt and speak with them or let them go straight through to voice mail.

The extension allows you to see a list of calls received, text other phones, go to your inbox for GV or change options.  I use my GV number for all incoming calls.  In my greeting I tell everyone that if you do not leave a message I will block your number and no longer receive calls from them.  That way if I get a hang up or a message that I am under investigation by the IRS (which is happening way to often now that people are scamming phone numbers) I block and delete the offending number with GV.  It is a bit of a cumbersome process which I hope Google simplifies soon but it works great.

October 3, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 5

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 5:23 am

Thanks to the emails I have received I will continue this week with many of the Google Chrome browser extensions that I like and/or find useful.

First this week is the "Email this page (by Google)" extension.  If you use Gmail, which you are since you are using Chrome or you would not be reading this, this extension could be beneficial for you.  Have you been online before surfing the web and see a neat site you want to send to someone?  I have many times, sometimes wanting to send it to myself for later use.  I always had to copy the link, open Gmail, paste it in the email, type in the email address to send it to and then hit Send. 

To use, "Email this page" click the extension while you are on the page you want to send.  Gmail will open with the title of the site in the Subject line and the link in the email both automatically.  All you need to do it enter who it is going to and hit Send.  Many steps shorter and much quicker. 

Image of a new email from Email this Page-by Google

I am going to step away from the extensions for a paragraph or so for something related to the above.  If you are a Gmail user as I am, this is a neat trick.  While in Chrome and on your Gmail account, click the menu button, (three dots on the upper right corner) then "More tools" and finally "Add to desktop."  A box will pop up asking you to rename it (if you wish) and a checkbox to "Open as window."  Check the box, or leave it checked if already done and click "Add."  You will now find an icon on your desktop and when opened Gmail will open in its own window, not in your browser. 

Larger View

All emails will be viewed in that window but all links you click in those emails will open in Chrome. You can minimize it and leave it open on your computer while you continue using Chrome.    

image

I take it a step further and right click the newly created desktop icon and choose either or both "Pin to Start" and/or "Pin to taskbar."  Then you can delete the desktop icon if you would like to free up some room on your desktop.  You now have an interesting new way to use Gmail.  This will work with any webpage you view on Chrome.  So, if you like to regularly visit the DNR or the Double Click site, create icons for them too!

The last extension today is "Feedly checker."  I wrote about Feedly two months ago so check that article if you need a refresher.  I get many news and tech stories from Feedly.  With this extension, the small Feedly icon on the extension bar will show how many unread articles you have in your account.  You can right click it after you install it and set the button to either; dropdown and show you the latest posted article or go to the Feedly site and you can view them all.  I use the second.  That way I do not have to check the site for news if I need some and nothing has been added to the feeds.  Great time saver and convenient too.

Feedly checker icon on my Chrome browser

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