DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

February 20, 2017

2017-02-20 Show Notes @ WSVA

Welcome back, do to holidays, job changing and a variety of other things I have not had the show for a couple of months.

But today you may relax, we are back. Listen in at WSVA’s podcast and enjoy the show now.

Enjoy!

Tech News

February 20, 2016

FORBES: Google’s Chrome Browser Crushes The Desktop Competition In 2016 and keeps crushingA seismic shift occurred in the way the world browses the web in 2016. Google’s Chrome browser supplanted Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the world market-share leader in desktop browsers. That’s a genteel way of putting it. “Google crushed Microsoft as Chrome dominates the desktop browser field” gives a clearer picture of what happened.

The market share numbers reported in this article come from Net Applications’ Net Market Share Report which measures unique visitors from approximately 40,000 global websites. Net Applications weights their results using the CIA’s internet traffic by country data. This reduces distortions caused by differences in a country’s percentage of global internet use and the percentage of its users captured by the websites Net Applications monitors.

IE remained the global market share leader until it fell into a virtual tie with Chrome in March 2016 when IE held 39.1% and Chrome had 39.09% market share. After that it’s been all Chrome. IE began 2016 with a 43.82% share and ended the year with 20.84%. In January, Chrome held a 35.05% share and it rose to 56.43% in December. The pattern continued in January of this year with IE falling to 19.71% share and Chrome rising to 57.94%. Game over.

Edge usage grew in 2016 but not nearly enough to offset IE’s loss. Edge began the year with 3.07% share and ended it at 5.33%. Almost all of the people who abandoned IE moved to Chrome.


Google Search a Specific site
Search for specific words or phrases on only one site and any site you know the URL to. Just type in Google like this –
“potatoes” site:wsvaonline.com
– with the quotes.


See you next month on March 20, 2017. Listen up!

February 7, 2017

My Visit to the Dark Side

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:35 am

I recently had the opportunity to test an iPhone, 5S.  Keep in mind as I continue I began this as an Android fan-boy.  But in my new position I have been asked to test specific phones to decide on which one best works for me.

So, several weeks ago, I began my journey to the Apple iPhone.  Before I go on I will say that before I wore it out I had an Apple iPod, Classic 80 and it could not be beat by any other mp3 player on the market.  If they had not been discontinued I would own a newer now but oh well, life goes on.  So, it is not like I absolutely cannot stomach their products, I really liked my iPod.

Since I previously worked in the cell phone industry, I could use most any phone made.  However, I have started out with and remained loyal to Android phones since they came out.  No reason other than the iPhones were more expensive and I didn’t really think the features were worth the extra money.

A few weeks with an iPhone may not be a fair comparison regarding years with Android but here is what I think.

iPhone 5s              Galaxy S6

The iPhone seems to be snappier in execution of applications.  The applications seem to run better and to be more stable than on Android.  I did not time anything. It was just a feeling I got as I used it regarding the “snap.”   I like the size and width of the iPhone, but more on that later.  I liked some of the default apps/abilities loaded on the new iPhone.  Since I now have meetings in many different time zones around the world, I like the system because it let me set phones for any time zone and have them side-by-side which was quite convenient.  I believe this to have been caused by the carriers but I found that I dropped far fewer calls on the iPhone than I had in the past with Google’s OS.

Those were most of the pros, now some cons.  Above, I mentioned the smaller size as a pro.  I did like that a lot at first; however, after a day or so I found that I did not like the screen size.  It is much smaller than the Galaxy S6 I dumped for this phone.  Next, something that has always bothered me about Apple products is the cost.  Not only is the hardware pricier but the applications cost you, too.  Most every Android app I used for free was 99 cents and up for Apple.  Next, the battery life of the 5S was much less than my Android S6.

The largest difference that I grew to dislike on the iPhone was being locked into their “desktop.”  How many ways can you say, “boring?”  You get the round icons to launch the apps, you can rearrange them and move them to different screens but that is all.  No widgets for weather, phone calls, music, video, etc.  The desktop contains the installed apps, the date and time and a search and message bar if you swipe down from the top.  Android allows you to install widgets for most every application running so you get a live preview any time you look.

In my opinion the android system is much more user-friendly and much more useful than the iPhone.  I will stick with my Google based systems.  I will also say that I did not hate the Apple OS as much as I thought I would.  It is a good system and very functional, but just like my computers I will stick with Windows PCs (with some Linux) and Android for my phone.  You may not like what I said but now I have actually tried one out.

Apple vs. Android

July 26, 2016

Make Money with Google?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:37 am

Well, after the turmoil I created worrying you about Google watching you online last week, today you can get’em back! 

I thought today I would show you how to make some money off of Google.  Now be warned.  You will not be able to quit your job or buy a new car but you can make a couple of bucks when you have a minute to kill.

Google Opinion Rewards logoI started using Google Opinion Rewards about two weeks ago (rd.dblclx.com/GoogleOpinions).  I saw a write up on it from an RSS feed about Google which I receive every day.  I thought hmm, sounds like fun. So I gave it a try.

The way it works is occasionally you will get a survey on your Android device, sorry not for any other devices at this time.  For me the survey is usually about something I have never heard of.  I got one asking if I had read a specific magazine in the past week.  Easy answer since I had never heard of the magazine.  It then asked only two more follow up questions.  When I finished it added $0.34 to my Google account. Of course, it is not money to spend anywhere but at the Google Play store for apps, books and movies provided by Google.

The surveys are very consistent never having more than five or six questions and many have less than that.  Being so short you can take one in much less than a minute.  The app write-up says you will get one or more a week.  I got seven the first week, a few more the second week and this week (two days in) I have gotten none. 

Google Opinion RewardsThe questions also interested me concerning the article I wrote last week.  If you did not see it and are interested find last week’s newspaper or visit DoubleClicks.info.  One question I was asked sounded something like, "Have you been to a Honda, Ford, GM or Nissan dealership recently?"  Interestingly, three days before I had been to one of those dealers to have my car repaired.  I responded affirmatively and then it wanted to know how many days before I had gone.  The options were all less than a week except the last one which was, "More than 1 week."

From the information I told you about last week we know that Google knows where I went from my phone.  They previously knew I was at the dealership via that device.  My thought was, "Interesting, they are checking to see if I am honestly taking the survey or not."  They have not asked anything about how much I paid or what something cost.  They are very general questions.

Now what you have all been waiting for…how much money has Ron made with this thing?  OK, first the least money I have made for a survey was $0.10.  The most I made was $0.63.  And the total for the twelve days I have received surveys was an astounding – are you ready for it?  $6.89, which is not that much, but hey, it is technology, it is fun and it is not Pokémon. 

March 15, 2016

Updates

Picture of new Waze mapHere is one update to the last two columns I wrote about Google Maps and Waze for Android devices.  Guess what?  Waze released a new version of its excellent product.  It has a couple of nice new features but mostly it was cosmetic with a few navigational changes.  I believe it looks better, is quicker and well worth the time for the upgrade.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Another update that took place toward the end of 2015 was the Google Chromecast.  This device allows you to view most anything you can watch on your computer on your TV.  Of course, you have to plug it in and do a quick setup.  I had the first version of Chromecast and all was well.  They rolled out the second one and all continued to be well.  Then early this year they did another update which was to work with either the older or newer devices.  It may have been well for some but not me. 

I used an older broken Android phone to "act" as my remote control for our Chromecast.  The phone had not been able to make calls for years.  However, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features functioned perfectly so for those it remained useful. 

After the update the Chromecast app failed.  I could no longer control, start or even make the application run with the old phone.  When I started the application it looked good then a message came up saying it had to restart, over and over again.

I uninstalled it, reinstalled it, rebooted the phone, etc.  You know, all the techie things you should do.  Nothing worked.  I then Googled and found other people with the same or a similar issue.  They suggested downloading the previous version from a now-defunct site.  I did and it all worked well again but within a week or so the new version was pushed back on my phone automatically and it started all over again.

To make all things good once more I installed the new version of Chromecast on my current Android phone and now all is well.  I just do not care for using my phone as my TV remote.

CCleaner main screenNow the Windows 10’s update:  I was basically and still am a W10 supporter with a few caveats you have read from me before now. Here is one more.  

After a recent update Microsoft decided that CCleaner (one of my favorite third party apps) could be a danger to my computer.  So instead of warning me about it and letting me make a decision as to what should be done, guess what?  The programming brains behind W10 decided it should automatically be uninstalled from my system!  All I had to do was reinstall it but what if I had not seen the small warning message when it rebooted?  I would have spent a long time trying to figure out what happened.  W10 can do this to you for a multitude of programs, so be cautious and read all the pop ups.  

March 8, 2016

Map Follow Up

Last week’s column generated a lot of email questions and comments.  I did not realize there were a lot of Google Maps and Waze users out there.  Some people had never heard of Waze and now are trying it out.  Let me know how you like or dislike it as you experiment. 

One person brought to my attention that there do not appear to be many Waze users.  My experience has been that it depends on where you are traveling.  There are many more Wazers in big cities and fewer in the smaller areas. 

Wazers at nightFor the uninitiated, Waze shows small icons for other Waze users on the map.  You can see when other Wazers are nearby.  However, if you search for it online you find that Wazers on the map do not update in real time.  Their icons and Waze username may be delayed by five minutes or more.  They appear to sit still until you drive past them and they vanish off of the bottom of the map.  They may also vanish and reappear later in a different location.  I have read this is done for several of reasons.  One is that it would take considerably more bandwidth to provide live updates.  Another is they do not want you to be distracted from your driving as you look around trying to figure out which is the other Waze driver.  Also, since it is not live, people cannot be stalked using Waze.

 

Several wrote about what I have recently heard called the "lazy" search.  Say you are out of the area and want seafood for dinner.  In both Google Maps and Waze you can search "seafood restaurant" and find a list of seafood serving places to eat.  The reason I say, "serving" and not "seafood restaurants" is that it may be a burger joint that also has a fish sandwich, so buyer beware.  You can also search for a type of place near another place.  For instance, "steak restaurant" near XYZ Hotel" and you would get a good local listing around your hotel.  Pretend you went to a place to eat years ago and all you can remember is it was near 17th Street.  Try search for a "restaurant near 17th Street" and chances are very good that you will find it quickly, if it is still open.  Another neat feature a reader gave me; when searching for places like the above if you scroll down you can find Filters.  You can filter by "currently open," "ratings" and several others when available.

Pizza

Vineyards, Waynesboro, VA

Burger Joints, near me

Search for, “Pizza, Charlottesville, VA”

Search for, “Vineyards, Waynesboro, VA”

Search for, “Burger Joints” near me.

Waze

Google

Waze

Sabrina wrote about a feature I had not known about before.  If you watched people in the olden days use a map, some would hold it with North always point up.  Others would twist and turn the map along the way so they were always looking the way they were moving.  Well Google Maps allows this too.  See what happens if you tap the compass icon on your map while you are driving.  There you go, either North always up or you are diving the way you are looking (the default setting).

Have fun but please pay more attention to the road than your maps!

March 1, 2016

Google Maps Mobile

A couple of notes.  One, this is for Android Google Maps only unless I mention another format.  Two, I still prefer the Waze application for long trips because it shows accidents and police locations…if you are interested in those particular items.  Three, in June 2013, Google bought Waze for $1.1 billion.  To me #3 is a significant point since currently they have significantly different features.  The two combined would be GREAT!   Hopefully soon Google Maps and Waze will become one.

I discovered some good features on GM (Google Maps).  I recently spent a week in a large city I know absolutely nothing about so I used GM extensively.

First off you can load two specific addresses titled, “Home” and “Work.”  You put in the address and title it appropriately.  That way you can always get to those two locations quickly.  You could also type in addresses each time you use a location and after a few uses they will be memorized in a dropdown list.

At first I was a little frustrated as I traveled to many specific destinations. I searched online to find out how to add more than two locations which would stay in the dropdown list.  As I said above I could travel to them several times, but I did not care to enter the address several times to get it “registered.”  I did find a way.

You type in an address and swipe it up once you find it on the phone.  There you will find a star.  The star turns gold and becomes a favorite.  The next time you need to go there click the address box and these new favorites will be listed under your home and work locations.

Google Maps Restaurant Example

Google Maps Restaurant Example

Another feature, on the desktop version also, is the restaurant listings.  In the address bar type in the name of a restaurant you are looking for, say, “Bubba’s Burgers.”  The restaurant and its address will be found very quickly.  Again, you can swipe up and find ratings by other users, opening/closing times, and my favorite: the busiest times of each day so I could schedule eating around their rush hours.  You may also click call, save (the star) and a link to the website.  Many restaurants also have an online menu link for planning ahead at a new place.

Google Maps, Times of service

Google Maps, Times of service

You can type any business and most of them have the call, save and website along with other information.

I also appreciate the satellite view so that as you ride through a new city you can identify buildings along the way…like new eateries.  OK, so I like to eat.

Regarding the website, maps.google.com:  A very nice feature is that you can click your arrival time under options.  So if next Wednesday you need to meet someone at 2:00 pm you can enter that in.  It will take you the best way for arrival at that time.

On the site you can plan multiple destinations, email the link to your email and open it on your phone so you can go place to place on one map.  I have not found a way to do that in the phone app but will continue to look.

Trip through DC                    A few details for DC trip

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 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

November 24, 2015

A Watch for Christmas, Part 1

A Watch for Christmas

I recently had a chance to test out two smartwatches for an extended period of time: The Moto 360 by Motorola which came out in 2014 and the Pebble from 2012.  The Pebble was a Kickstarter project which raised over $10 million in 30 days by donations from complete strangers who liked the idea.  That was the biggest and quickest of Kickstarter at the time.

What is a “Smartwatch?”  Today “Smart” means connected to the internet like a smart-TV.  A Smart TV allows you to access the internet and watch programs there instead of on cable or broadcast shows.  So basically smartwatches are connected to the internet currently through your smartphone’s apps.  They connect to each other with Bluetooth, some with Wi-Fi, then on to the internet.

They are not quite as “new” as you may think.  The first smartwatch was called the “Wrist Computer” which was released in 1985 under the name of “Seiko Epson.”  There were others of note leading up to the current day selection of many brands and models.

They allow you to see who is calling, answer your phone, read text messages, emails, weather alerts, temperatures, battery strength of the watch or phone and more.  They both allow you to see text messages along with from and subject lines of emails and maybe a few lines of the email.  However, neither will let you answer those emails and texts with anything but prewritten messages.  These are similar to, “OK,” “I’m running late,” “I just left,” etc.  You can also create some of your own canned responses.  The two I have can give you maps that vibrate before you need to turn.  So basically they are gadgets.  Smartwatches seem to be coming out with new “smart” features most every day.  Of course there are apps which allow you to sleep better, wake up gently, count steps you take, inform you of how many calories you have burned by taking those steps and more.

The Pebble has a rectangular portrait shape and the Moto 360 was the first round smartwatch.  But as round as it is, it has what is referred to as a “flat tire.”  The bottom of the screen has a dark, flat area where the ambient light sensor and display drivers are contained.

Pebble Watch Face

Pebble Watch Face

Moto 360 Watch Face

Moto 360 Watch Face

They both have unusual chargers that do not “plug” into the watch but do have a regular USB port on the power end.  The Pebble has a magnetic charging wire with four posts that attach to on the left side of the watch.  The Moto 360 lays in a cradle to charge wirelessly except for the power to the cradle wire.

Next week we will take a look at my comparison between the two types of smart watches as they are different in many ways.

March 24, 2015

Android is Not Just for Adults Anymore

Over the years I have put age appropriate apps on my Android tablet for my grandkids to play.  Now, while I am a pretty good grandpa, I do not like letting a small child run around the house swinging the devices around their heads and throwing them to each other.  So at a young age they learned that if you are using grandpa’s stuff, sit down and relax.  They have not had a problem doing that…well, ok, they did at first.

They all like to watch fun videos online.  You know, usually it has to do with a cat or a dog doing something cute.  Sometimes another youngster singing a funny song and on-and-on.  I would go with them to YouTube.com and have to preview almost each video.  I do not know if you noticed YouTube videos or not but they sometimes have videos of some things that you may not want young ones to view.  Also, if your kids are at the age where they can read a little the language sometimes supplied by other viewers is reprehensible to say the least.

YouTube for Kids imageYouTube came out with a new app for Android properly named "YouTube Kids."  You may search for it by name at the Google Play Store or use this link, "bit.ly/1H2lAuF" and caps count in the link.

YouTube Kids provides kid friendly videos including Sesame Street, Super Simple Songs, Thomas and Friends and many other kid videos.  They have also removed all of the comments so they will not see, read or hear anything that many may consider inappropriate.  IT is a slick little app and this grandpa recommends it.

Pitfall! imageAnother that my eight year old loves is "Pitfall!"  It is a remake of the old Atari game I used to play where Pitfall Harry runs and jumps over collapsing bridges, across waterfalls and under and over outcroppings to get to the end.  That being said the graphics are far, far superior to that of the original which makes it an entirely new game.  I will say that I play this one on occasion too.

There are drawing/painting apps, letter games, piano keyboards, "paper dolls," animal pictures and games and even the talking apps like "Talking Ben the Dog" (do not get that one; it becomes tiring to old people but kids love it).  Most of these apps you can find for free and some are for a small fee.

Kids Math imageFor actual learning and not just games look for "Kids Math." It is just like it sounds; it has some simple "games" for youngsters.  Simple addition, subtraction, sequencing and higher/lower number arranging, with lots of graphics are there.  So they may actually learn something along the way. 

Last but not least, lots of children’s books are also available.

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