DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

September 26, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 4

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:55 am

As I start off this week many of you have written me asking about other extensions.  A friend who reads the articles, knowing how I use my computer, suggested I put in more extensions than I had originally planned.  So, today I will continue by showing you the Chrome Browser Extensions I intended to.  However, I will add some more that I had not initially planned.   This also means that although I started listing them in alphabetical order that is no longer the case.  Enjoy!

First today is “Annotary” which allows you to click the icon and save the page to read later online at Annotary.com.  There is also much more.  You can use an electronic highlighter which comes built in to highlight anything on the page.  You can add a note regarding your thoughts on the article.   I really appreciate and enjoy using this note taking feature.  When I am reviewing articles for items to write about I use it to add my thoughts about the things I read and want to share with you. There is more so check it out.

Next, “Boomerang for Gmail” has several interesting features.  The main is that once you give it permission to access your Gmail account it will let you send the email at a later time.  You can choose a time limit, i.e. hours, minutes or a future date/time to send an email.   Programs like Outlook and Thunderbird already have this built in; however, Gmail does not.  This is a free add in but there is a limit of 10 messages per month.  If you have more than that you can choose to pay a monthly fee.

Boomerang for Gmail

This one is for very specific users, the ones who use KeePass as their password keeper called, “CKP – KeePass integration for Chrome.”  This basically allows users of KeePass to add the password capability into Chrome for quicker access.  That way you do not have to open the stand-alone program to get to your site passwords but only use the link for CKP.  I have written about KeePass several times over the years so check for it on DoubleClicks.info.

This next one may be very useful for some yet useless to others.  Pretend you have a webpage you are reading with several valuable (to you) links on the page.  You would like to keep a list of the links only.  You do not need the graphics, write up or ads that are also on the page.  Enter, “Copy Links” which does just what it says.   After you install the extension, go to a page you want the links from, click the “Copy Links” icon. It gives you several choices of what to copy, you click and nothing happens.  At least nothing that you can see.  But if you use the paste controls on your computer it will paste all the links that were on the page.  No additional text just the plain “http” address without graphics, etcetera.

Keep those emails coming and I will see you for the next few weeks with some more Google Chrome Extensions.

September 19, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:12 am

For several weeks, we have been looking at some of my favorite Chrome browser extensions. Last week we ended with a couple that could save you money while shopping online. Today we will start with one that makes your startup window better looking and functional too.

Leoh New Tab” is the next extension I will bring to your attention. As with all the others go to the Chrome Web Store and type the name quoted above. When installed it will set up a very picturesque useful page when you open a new tab. Last year I wrote an article entirely related to Leoh so check the site for many details.

Leoh New Tab

Leoh New Tab

Next one of my favorite and most useful Chrome extensions, “Mighty Text” which was one that made my list of favs from years ago. Mighty Text” allows you to send and receive SMS and MMS using your computer. The only prerequisites are that you use Chrome and have an Android phone.

Mighty Text syncs with your phone and actually uses your phone to send and receive the messages, pictures, etc. It pulls in your contacts list from your Gmail account so that you can send messages to people from your list using only their name. It allows you to text message, send pictures, etc. from your phone while at your computer. I do not have to pull my phone out while working to read or answer a message…very convenient.

Mighty Text

Mighty Text

Another valuable extension is “Office Online.” It is so good there are many imitators out there. Make sure you add the one that states, “Office Online Microsoft Corporation.” Basically, it is a free Office cloud version. This is almost as good as the full-blown version. As I have said before it will handle most anything that Office users would ever have a need to perform in Office. (Yes, I know, Google Docs is good too, but my preference is Office.) You can run One Drive, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Once you install OneNote Clipper I wrote about several weeks ago, all the features OneNote are immediately available. This is truly a very useful and productive addition to Chrome.

Office Online

Next up is, “Print Friendly & Pdf.” This extension does a great job of taking any webpage that you want to read, email, save for informational purposes or as one of my friends puts it allows him to read the NY Times without all the “junk” included. When you are on a page click the extension’s button and the magic begins. It will generate another view of the page without ads and other distracting, non-related junk on the page. It will then allow you to print it, create a PDF or email the file to someone. I personally like to save it as a PDF file then email if from my own email account.

Print Friendly & Pdf

September 12, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:48 am

Last week I started a look at some of my favorite Chrome browser extensions.  We started with "Behind the Overlay."  To learn how to install them check out last week’s column.

Today we will start with one for your security.  We all keep reading about protecting your privacy while online and I agree that is important.  When you are in a coffee shop, fast food joint, airport, basically anywhere that offers free Wi-Fi you could be giving away information.  If you are at one of those places and visit your bank’s site to check your balance, etc. you could be giving away your username and password.  A VPN protects your data while on that Wi-Fi connection.  For more info search Google for, "What is VPN?"  However, many of the VPN applications cost money and some of the free ones are questionable.  One of the many solutions is to install "Hotspot Shield."  It is free with an upgradable premium version and it easily adds the extension to your browser. 

Hotspot Shield

Like all the other VPN apps it basically provides a "pipeline" to reroute everything from your computer to a secure server where no one else can see what goes on.  It can also show you in a different location.  That way you could watch a TV show in England that you may not get in the U.S.  They also provide an application for your computer if you wish.  I am using it now in a coffee shop and it shows my computer as being in the Netherlands.  I am actually in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  You can use it without signing up for anything; however, you will get ads and requests to rate it, etc. 

Next one of the few that is still in my favorite extension list is, "IE Tab."  I wrote a separate article about this in February of this year, so go check that out for lots of details.  But here is a quick review.  "IE Tab" allows you to view those pesky websites that will only allow you to use the Microsoft Internet Explorer or EDGE browsers to view their sites.  This is fairly old-school developing but it is still around.  Use "IE Tab" and you can enter the sites you want to view correctly in Chrome.  It works well.

IE Tab

The final ones for today are "Invisible Hand" and "Honey."  (Yes, I said I would list these extensions alphabetically last week but these are similar and I like IH most so it is first.)  They are both shopping extensions that work well to save you money online.  Invisible Hand works by popping up when you are looking at buying something on a site.  It will be searching the web in the background for the same item at a better price.  When/if it finds it, you can click the suggested link and go to the other site.  Be careful as I have noticed that it does not always include shipping or free shipping in its calculations. 

Invisible Hand

"Honey" works a differently.  When you are on the checkout screen on the site you are purchasing your product from Honey goes to work.   It quickly scans the web looking for discount coupons that may help you out.  It has worked sometimes for me and occasionally it does not; however, it is worth installing it to save some money. 

September 5, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:29 am

Before I get started on Chrome extensions, one thing about last week’s article, titled, “Read a Book”.  I received emails from several readers regarding the article on places you can get eBooks, audiobooks, etc.  There were several others that were suggested to me.  They were all good but I just picked a few of the ones that I was familiar with.  There are many others out there including all of the large bookstores; however, I can only afford to try a few.  I do not get free samples from companies like some of the big boys out there (hint, hint to the big companies).  I only mention the ones I have experience with (unless I state otherwise).  I test them before I tell you about them.  Oh yeah, one other thing: I do not get paid to mention them so you get my actual opinion on all that I write to you about.

Now onto Chrome extensions.

image

An extension or plugin for any browser is small software that adds on or extends the capabilities of the “out of the box” browser.  It adds some sort of additional functionality to a browser that was not originally present.  Browser extensions can change a webpage in some way, add a new feature to the browser and give the browser more, “skills”.

I have read many articles over the years, and even written one regarding computer nerds’ favorite extensions.  I figured it is time to give it a go again as mine have changed over the years and some have been replaced.  This week I will start a multipart series listing some I use with a short explanation of each…in alphabetical order so I will not upset anyone.  To hurt a few feelings those I list are for Google’s Chrome browser; however, many are available for the other browsers too.

To get to your extension setting in Chrome, click the menu button (the three dots in the upper right corner of Chrome), then “More tools,” and finally “Extensions.”  Once on that page, scroll to the bottom and click “Get more extensions.”  Or Ron’s quick way – type “chrome://extensions/” in the address bar without the quotes.  When you arrive type the name of the extension given and you will get to the page to install them.

How to get to your Extensions

The first I will share is “Behind the Overlay.”  (Remove the spaces between the words to find it in the store, “BehindtheOverlay)  I have just started using this one.  For advertisements on sties we used to get a popup, then a pop under, next those that pop up when you get to a specific point on the page.  This new advertisement “getter” is the one you have seen recently which pops up a window and greys out the page you were viewing with a clickable ad.  If you search very carefully you may be able to find the “x” that will close it and return you to the original page.  The “x” is not usually very easy to see and next to another clickable link you may not want to use.  Beyond the Overlay ads is a button to Chrome at the top right side, where all of the extension controls will be.  Click the button and the ad page vanishes easily.

image

I have run out of room today so, next week we start with an extension to help secure your browsing security.

August 29, 2017

Read a Book

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:55 am

I wrote a year or so ago about a couple of ways to get eBooks for your reading.  Things change and move on so today I would like to talk about them again.  Today we will discuss three them I have tested.

Just Read!

The first is a freebie with only one easy caveat, you must have an active library card.  The site is Overdrive (overdrive.com).  At Overdrive, you can “Borrow eBooks, audiobooks, and more from your local public library – anywhere, anytime. All you need is a library card.”  So, you must have a library card and your library must participate with them…which most do.  For instance, I have a library card with the Augusta County Library and they do participate.  Go to Overdrive to see if your library takes part.  If so you can check out eBooks or audiobooks for a fixed period of time for free.  The application is available for most platforms.  Do not forget about your physical library as they have a lot to offer.  The pro of Overdrive is “free” the con is that if the library book is not available at your library, either not there or checked out by someone else, you cannot get it until it is there.

Next is one that I am sure you have heard of, Amazon.com.  Amazon has many, many books that are easily read on the Kindle application.  Their application has its own name, “Kindle”, which I am also sure you have heard of before now. This app is available on most platforms too.  You can even get real, paperback or hardback books here including audible books on CDs.  They are offered in every format; however, there is a minimal cost for many eBooks.  Another very interesting fact is that Amazon bought Audible.com several years ago.  Audible.com is the major audiobook provider online at this time.  You can get a book a month there for $14.95 and listen to it forever as you have purchased it for your account.  With the combination of the two companies there is now “Whispersync for voice.”

Whispersync allows you to purchase an eBook from Amazon and then get the same book in audio format from Audible (much less expensively than the monthly charge).  The neat thing is that you can either read or listen to the book when you would like.  When you “open” the book next time, it will be at the same place in the book.  So, whether listening or reading you will always be up-to-date.  Their slogan is, “Add narration to your Kindle books and switch seamlessly between reading and listening. Best of all, you’ll never lose your place.”

If you are an Amazon Prime member you can even pick up a book for free on occasion.

One that I have not tried yet is called, “Scribd” (Scribd.com).  Their pitch is slightly different from others.  It is “…a reading subscription that is available anytime and on any device. Enjoy access to 3 books and 1 audiobook each month – plus unlimited access to magazines and documents – for $8.99 / month.”

There is one other I will give a short remarks about that we have used.  Hoopla (at hoopladigital.com) is another “hooked” to the library system.  You can “Instantly borrow digital movies, music, eBooks and more, 24/7 with your library card.”  You log in with some information, including your library card number, and you have access to many books.  Again, like Overdrive if your library is out, so are you and you cannot get the book (both have the ability to add you to a waiting list.)  This one is useful; however, it has been my experience that the application, though available in most platforms, is not as trustworthy as some of the others.

August 22, 2017

Be Fed Your Favorites

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:34 am

Do you get up every morning and go to your phone or tablet to read the latest news and information?  If so, do you have those favorite one, two or 20+ sites you visit to get the latest news?  There is an easier way to do this without visiting each site individually which you should try.  I have mentioned RSS feeds in Double Clicks once or twice before in 2013; however, things are always changing.  RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.”  There is a site that has been around for a while and it has improved RSS feeds with age.  As a matter of fact you do not have to know much about RSS any longer to benefit from them.

Check out Feedly

That site is Feedly (feedly.com).  I have been using it for years and it is very convenient for keeping up with the news in which I am interested.  First when you visit the site you need to create a Feedly account with an email address or associate either your:  Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Evernote or an Enterprise (your company must sign up) information to login.  I have been using my Google account association for years with no adverse effects.

Once you are logged in we know you read the Daily News Record so in the, “What source do you want to follow?” box, type in, “http://dnronline.com,” then wait for a few seconds and look below where you typed.  You will see (currently) two links.  Notice under the dark titles you will see, “13 followers / 1503 articles per week.”  Since this link is more active you should probably choose that one.  I would not worry about the number of followers stated as it is not very accurate.  Once it is added to your collection you will have each article posted on the DNR site sent to your Feedly page and can read a portion of the articles there or click the link to go to the DNR site.

Sample Feedly Page

Try a large news site (http://foxnews.com or http://cnn.com) and you will see many different feeds arranged by titles/topics.  Click the “Follow” button to the right site of the ones you are interested in and read the new posts anytime you wish.

If you click on the RSS feed links on a site you will see gibberish, below.

Click to see the detail of an RSS page-unreadable to most

Once you click to read an article it will gray out that post to mark it read.  You may also click the small checkmark to the right of the article to mark it read.  The next time you load Feedly previously viewed posts will be gone to make room for all the new articles.  You can click a link to save them to read later and they will remain.

You may see a RSS link on any website and if it interests you click that link, copy the URL after it loads and add that to Feedly.  As that page updates you will get the new info.  Some people like to read Google News.  If you are one of them you can add their news posts to Feedly also.  For example, go to the news section in Google for “Technology,” scroll to the bottom of the page and click the RSS link.  Now copy that URL in your browser’s address bar and add it as a new feed to Feedly.  You will now start getting immediate updates to that news feed.

There are many other options for Feedly so test them out when you can.  None of them will permanently destroy anything so click at will without fear.

August 15, 2017

OneNote & Clipper

In 2014, I wrote about a newer Microsoft application called OneNote.  It was and is still an excellent free program.  Even if you do not have Office you can still get OneNote for free.  Go to OneNote.com to read all about it.  Also note that OneNote comes with a preinstalled version in Windows 10.  It is not quite the full version but you can get the entire thing by going to this much shortened link, rd.dblclx.com/onenote-ron.  It is also available for most smartphones, PCs, Macs and most any device that can connect to the internet.  Yes, both OneNote (also most of the Office apps) and Clipper are available on the cloud at Office.com.

Visit Office online

If you gather information for any reason, i.e. article research, recipes, sports, or simply thoughts, OneNote is something at which you should take a serious look.

OneNote uses an organizational process you may be familiar with – a paper notebook, like you used in school…no matter when you graduated.  Your OneNote notebooks consist of Sections and Pages.  I research columns and put related ideas, files, pictures, links and entire webpages in a section for each specific article idea.  Over time I have built up a lot of information.

I can copy and paste most anything into OneNote, including pictures of any kind.  Something interesting to mention is that most graphics you put in OneNote which have text on them are searchable.  It takes a while converting the graphic text to actual text in the background.  Think how helpful that could be.  You can paste the link to YouTube and most any other video site into a page and the video will be added to the page in OneNote and be fully playable on that page, with a link back to the original.

You can get much more detail on OneNote online, Google for it.  But now onto OneNote Clipper (also easy to find more about online).

Clipper is a browser add-on that started out about three years ago which makes OneNote even more productive.  Add it to your browser which is a very simple process in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, which are the ones I tested it on.  It can also be installed on Edge but in my opinion, it was too convoluted to mess with.  It does not work on all browsers.  Next, you must have a free Microsoft account.  If you do not have one, go to Office.com and signup for an email account. Then you get all of Office online.

OneNote for Chrome page

Clipper allows you to “clip” anything you see on a website and add it automatically to a notebook.  You see a site you want to include in your research, click the Clipper icon in your favorites bar then choose either “Full Page“, “Region“, “Article” or “Bookmark.”   Full Page gives you a screen shot of the entire web page, however links do not work. A link to the original page is provided. Region allows you to convert a selected area of the page to a graphic.  Article grabs the textual information making all links active in the page.  Finally, Bookmark, which will add a link to the original page and a few words from the site.

Screenshot of OneNote Clipper in use

Your choice is then added to a notebook you select. Go check it out and enjoy!

August 8, 2017

Read to Me

Over several of the past weeks we have talked about talking to your devices.  Whether asking for them to give you directions, the temperature, local movies playing, the time, etc.  We also spoke about dictating to some of your devices and word processors.  For some it could, and does, make it much easier to type documents.  Those articles generated many emails, which I appreciate so keep them coming.  So today we move on to something similar but different.  

Today we look at the other side of the spectrum…getting them to "start" and complete the conversation, sort of.

Microsoft Office online and Office 365 (online) have both come out with a recent addition, "Immersive Reader."  It is also available for the local office clients if you have joined the Office Insider program and have the Windows 10 operating system.  Personally, I have not joined because you get software that is not ready for primetime and may have some issues.  Since I use my computer for day-to-day work I do not want to take any chances.  Although, thinking about it does sound interesting!?

Immersive Reader is part of Microsoft’s Learning Tools for Education.  They are looking for ways to help students who need help in particular areas to get it.  So far it is all free too, thanks MS!  

Immersive Reader has several fascinating features built in. 

You must first get into your Office online account, which is also free.  If you have not created an account it is quite easy.  You can get there via several different URLs but to keep it simple I would use "office.com."  You can use a new or existing MS free email account (outlook.com or live.com) or create one with any email address you already have.  I use an Outlook.com account to keep things straight between MS and my Google accounts. 

Once there open an existing Word (or OneNote so far at this time) and click the "View" button in the ribbon.  A new ribbon will open and one of the first few on the left is the "Immersive Reader" button, so click it.  It will open the file in a different view.  The letters will be larger, to assist people who are vision impaired and they are spaced farther apart than you may be used to which is for those who are dyslexic. 

Immersive Reader button

At the bottom of the screen you will have a Play/Pause button with very short instructions and three icons in the upper right corner, see below.  They are letters, books and a face.  Once you click the play button a pleasant slightly computerized sounding lady will start reading the document and highlighting the words read as it proceeds.  This can help significantly improve many peoples’ reading skills in various areas. 

View of Immersive Reader screen

The icon with letters allows you to increase or decrease the size of fonts and spacing between letters or lines.  The icon of books will let you look at syllables and highlight different parts of speech as it reads…I need this one.  The last icon, the face allows the reader to control the speed of the voice reading back the words.

If you wish to start reading at a different location in the document click the word with your mouse and start it playing again.  The reader will start there and continue. 

Neat addition to office and they will be improving it as time goes by.

August 1, 2017

Phone Spoofing

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:15 am

Time for Ron to do a little whining as two things have recently popped up that bug me.  I figure they may also bother a few of you.  They are local phone number calls and Facebook tracking us.  This week Phone issues, next week Facebook.

I posted to Facebook (this is not about tracking yet), and talk to people about it, when it comes up, that I am tired of all the “fake” phone calls I get from local numbers.  I feel like I should know them since they “look” like numbers of family or friends.  They are always from area code “540” with prefixes like “476,” “478,” “433” and others of local origin.

And many times, immediately before or after those calls, I will receive one from another toll-free number.  They are all obvious ads or scams.  When I do not answer, which was often and is now all the time, they rarely leave a voice message.  If they do leave a message it could be the IRS telling me that all of my resources are being taken as they speak.  My bank accounts, home, furniture and cars are all being taken for taxes I owe.  It may be an advertisement for a monetary investment, buying gold, funeral arrangement deals, insulated windows, cars, contests I have won, etc.

1 ringy dingy - Lilly Tomlin

Faking phone numbers is called “spoofing.”  Spoofing is when the caller knowingly fakes the data sent to your caller ID on your phone.  This disguises their real number.  It is usually used to trick the called person into giving away personal information for criminal reasons.  U.S. law and FCC rules forbid most types of spoofing.

You may say, “Well surely this is illegal in the US.”  But the FCC has the “Truth in Caller ID Act.”  This act states that they prohibit, “…any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.”   But guess what?  If they have no intention to harm anyone or cause anyone to be harmed spoofing is not illegal.  I would like to thank US lawmakers for allowing spoofers to call and bug me several times a day.  Since they rarely leave a message in my voice mail they are not harming me…other than mentally.

So I have a plan to fight number spoofing, in my own little way.  If anyone calls me who is not in my address book, (I only have a cell phone) I do not see their name on the phone display and they do not leave a voice mail message I do not answer.  I will then block the number and delete it from my phone.  That number will never be able to distract me again.  If it calls my phone it gets dumped into the void.

So basically, if you call me for any reason I suggest you leave a message if I do not answer.  I could be busy or maybe your name does not show up in my phone.  Either way if you leave no message you will be blocked.

Someone said that I may miss important calls.  For instance, from a doctor, hospital, distant relatives or regarding prizes won.  It has been my experience when “real” people want to get me they give a message so I will get back with them.  But whatever, after I block a few bazillion numbers maybe it will calm down.

July 25, 2017

A Flashback and the Future

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

Before I start on today’s column I have a little flashback to last week.  I mentioned other voice recognition apps like Office’s new Dictate.ms last week.  I received an email from a couple of readers last week chatting about Google Docs.  Yes, Google Docs has speech-to-text capabilities also.   However, I have never tested it.  I would imagine it is no better or worse than the others.

If you wish to try it go to your Google Docs online, choose Add-ons and click, “Speech recognition SoundWriter.”  Then go for it.  Let me know how it works for you…better or worse than any others you have tried?  And thanks for keeping me on my toes with the emails…keep them coming.

Google SoundWriter setup

Today I want talk to you a bit about something that many of my readers can be encouraged by.  I have lost count of the number of emails and conversations I have gotten into regarding how someone can get broadband coverage in rural areas.  Yes, they can get satellite TV, yes, rural areas can get internet through phone lines (slow speeds) … but what about real fairly reliable high-speed internet?

Within the past month Microsoft came up with a plan.  Around the first of this month MS talked about an idea to bring broadband internet connectivity to rural areas of the U.S.A.  The Microsoft Rural Broadband Initiative involves using the portion of UHV television bands that allow wireless signals to make it around blockages like buildings, hills and even travel longer distances.  With that and some other technologies they can get high speed to most all areas in the US.

This graphic shows current connection areas.This graphic shows current connection areas, click for detail.

At this point in time they are talking relative high speeds of 25Mbps.  The FCC states that 25 megabits per second is the definition of high speed broadband.  I have also read that means that approximately 23 million people in rural areas cannot get that speed.  For comparison, it has been said that you have to have a minimum of 8Mbps to stream video decently.  So, folks can easily watch Hulu, Netflix and all the other streaming services and broadcast channels that stream if they get this service.

OK, how long will you have to wait?  Currently they say that it should start rolling out in 2018 and be finished in 2022.  Is that true? Well only time will tell but I imagine they are a little overly aggressive at first.

Even the politicos are getting onboard thinking about the necessity of localities for emergency services, doctors, businesses and more that could benefit from this.   President Trump has put some money into the latest infrastructure budget to include funding to enhance Broadband access in rural communities. The politicians on Capitol Hill are also calling on federal agencies to help reduce costs on both sides of the aisles.

The reality is that it will most likely be here in the not too distant future.  It will cost a bundle to set up.  Even then not everyone will be able to access it.  However, it will be much better than the alternatives we currently have.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: