DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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

October 18, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 3

For the last two weeks I have shared with you what I believe are some of the best applications you could add on to a Windows 10 computer.  That goes for Windows 7 back up to and including Windows XP.  By-the-way, just in case you have not heard anyone mention it lately you should not be using Windows XP any longer since it is no longer supported by Microsoft.

This week my favorite note taking app(s):  I have two in this category.  The first is already included on Windows 10 and is for detailed notes, OneNote.  OneNote is the app you should use if you are writing a book or important document with a large amount of research.  OneNote is also found online (onenote.com) and is one of the best of the Microsoft programs though often overlooked.  The second one is for quick notes, voice reminders, lists and more from Google.  Google Keep (keep.google.com) is available for most mobile platforms too.  A quick and convenient way to make simple or not so simple notes.

OK, a very good utility I use to uninstall programs I no longer want or need is called Revo Uninstaller.  This application will remove everything necessary from your computer when uninstalling applications.  You can use the regular Windows uninstall program but it may, and usually does, leave a lot of leftover junk behind.  This takes up space on your hard drive and could slow down your system.  Revo will wipe all of the old program off.

Last week I said to use VLC for your audio/visual needs.  For music and videos, it is a great app.  Then I had a reader write and chastise me regarding iTunes (itunes.com).  I know it is hard for many of you who have listened to me over the years to believe but I like iTunes.  Yes, I know it is an Apple product but it is good; however, you really only “need” it if you have other Apple products to connect to.  So in good conscience I suggest you use iTunes if you have an iPhone, etc.

Next for all of you photo bugs out there:  A very good photo editing software which is easy to use and free is Adobe Photoshop Express.  You can download this one from the Windows Store.  It will allow you to make standard contrast, brightness, etc. settings on a picture or automatically correct it for you.  Go to the DoubleClicks.info site and check out a picture I edited.  You may also use it on your iPhone, Android or Windows phones.

Take a look below at the same picture, before and after
a one button click edit with Adobe Photoshop Express.

Original Photo

Edited Photo

Now for watching TV and movies online if you are so inclined:  Netflix.com is the one I go to.  I have tried Hulu.com (with advertisements even though you pay) and Amazon.com (where you may still pay additional per individual shows/movies).  For those reasons I am sticking with Netflix.  Do not forget they all offer specific applications to download and install which offer a better experience than watching on your browser.  Also, you can get quite a few shows from the stations’ websites, most free but some of them (CBS) charge you to watch their shows.

See you next week!

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.

November 3, 2015

OK Google, the All Hearing iEar?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:32 am

There were a couple of interesting electronic add-ons to our world a few years ago.  One called Siri for iPhones/Apple devices and “OK Google” for Google devices.

Google The All Hearing iEar?For my Android phone I simply say, “OK Google” and tell it whatever I am looking for.  If I need help finding a store I say, “OK Google,” adding a slight pause then, “Where is the closest florist?”  It will usually give me a list of florists in my immediate area.

In recent months I have heard about people wondering if Google ever stops listening.  And if not, what is it finding out?  Some think we are being spied on by nefarious eavesdroppers.  Can Google and Apple be gathering everything we say?  Like your morning conversations, your private spoken out loud thoughts, singing in the car on the way to work ad infinitum.

I will say that yes, Google collects a lot of data about you that you may not appreciate; however, listening to your voice all the time…highly unlikely.  It does listen for the beat, tone, intonation for the words, “OK Google” which starts it working.

That being said, what does Google collect about you from your audio commands and questions?  Not only that, but how about your Chrome browsing history, (if you are logged in with your Google account) emails, travel and more.  Sounds a little “big brotherish” does it not?

To check on this information, edit and or stop it all, first log into your Google or Gmail account.  Then go to, “history.google.com” and look around.

On the left side there is a dropdown menu with three short vertical lines for you to click.  There are six areas where Google collects information.  They are, “Web & App Activity,” “Voice & Audio Activity,” “Device Information,” “Location History,” “YouTube Watch History” and “YouTube Search History.”  If you did not realize it, Google purchased YouTube in October of 2006, which is why you see that specific item.

Google Web & App Activity screen

Once you have looked around and either laughed or cringed click on, “Voice & Audio Activity.”  I am sure you have already checked it out but it is fun to listen to yourself speak to Google and read how it may have sometimes been improperly interpreted.

If you want them gone you may delete them by checking them and hitting the Delete button.  You may also head to any of the six areas you want to delete and click the three dots in a vertical column on the upper right and choose “Delete Options.”  From there you can choose either Today, Yesterday or Advanced.  Advanced allows you to choose “All time” to remove all of them.

What if you what to get rid of OK Google’s ability to remember what you say, where you go, or what you have watched on YouTube?  First make sure you have deleted all activity as we discussed above.  Now click the three dots in the upper right for the “Menu,” “Settings,” and “Show More” controls.  You will now be presented with a listing of the six items.  Start flipping the switches for each setting to off (changes the buttons to gray).

The only ones I keep on are Places you go and Information from your devices.  All the others are off for me.  But for you conspiracy theorists out there…could they still be listening?

Six ON/OFF Choices with Ron's two selected

April 20, 2015

2015-04-20 Show Notes

You missed another good show today if you could not join us at 9:00 am on WSVAWSVA but here is the podcast along with a list of some of the things we talked about.  Enjoy reading and listening.

Tech News
Binoculars That Use Digital Trickery to Give You Super-Sight
Wired.comWhether you’re a dedicated bird watcher or a stealthy sniper, you require a quality pair of binoculars to extend and sharpen your visual capabilities. Ricoh’s new peepers pack in a ton of features so that you can spy that short-tailed albatross even if it’s a foggy day and your hands are shakier than Gene “The Waco Kid” Wilder’s in Blazing Saddles.

They will eliminate interference from fog, rain, or snow – magnify distant objects from 6.6 to 13.2 times their original size – keep view steady with image stabilization – have built in infrared mode for use at night – you can record what you’re seeing onto an SD card, either as video or as still images. They are also designed for outdoor use, they’re waterproof and dustproof, and a GPS radio inside lets you record the location of images and videos you take.

Priced at ONLY $4,200.


Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
Pool Bar
A Game for a Change
Android owners can enjoy the superb 3D Graphics, accurate physics and quality opponents found in our iPad and iPhone games. Works on both phones and tablets!Full touch screen interface, allows for accurate and intuitive control and spin. Easy to use swipe system for aim and shoot.

Features:
+ 9 Ball, 8 Ball US and 8 Ball UK
+ 1 or 2 player
+ 4 Characters to choose from
+ 3 AI difficulty levels
+ Supports both HD and non-HD displays


Wonder How To
wonderhowto.com
Wonder how to use chopsticks, manipulate irrational people, cook the best burger everytime, figure out which you would prefer iPhone or Android?

Go to this site and search to your hearts content learning how to do lots of different things. Although, it seems to be more on the technology side than others.


Stumble Upon
StumbleUpon.com
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine (a form of web search engine) that finds and recommends web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.


Proxy Settings
A caller had an issue that sounded like it could be related to Windows Proxy settings. Here is what Microsoft suggests for a probable fix.


Laptop Batteries
There is not as much need to be afraid of the cost for laptop batteries as there used to be. The prices on most older (2+ years old) have dropped significantly. I have one that is between 4-5 years old. I bought a new battery for less than $20 from Amazon.

I will warn you to be careful of who you buy it from. Make sure that they have a higher rating for previous sales and check out the comments from other purchasers to see how service was. Usually you will be fine; however, sometimes you may get a bad battery and have a hard time returning it for a replacement.

I do not get paid to endorse Amazon or any other company but if I get a good deal and good service I will certainly share that info.


I hope that you will visit us next month at WSVA or here, at DoubleClicks.info. 

For the May 18, 2015 show we will be looking at a few e-vacation tricks and many other techie things.

Ron

February 16, 2015

2015-02-16 Show Notes

Here are the Monday morning links and podcast if you missed it live.

Have a great day and see you next time.

Tech News
Windows 10 is a free upgrade for all 7 and 8.1 users
Engadget.com

Wondering how much Windows 10 will set you back? In most cases, nothing. Microsoft has announced that the new operating system will be a free upgrade in the first year for everyone using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1. The company sees Windows as a service rather than a product, Terry Myerson explains. Yes, Microsoft is partly following in Apple’s footsteps (OS X upgrades have been free since Maverick), but it’s hard to complain about getting a big update for free.


This sounds too good to be true and I’ve read where this is only for OEM (short for original equipment manufacturer, which is a misleading term for a company that has a special relationship with computer producers. OEMs are manufacturers who resell another company’s product under their own name and branding.) or for everyone.  Only time will tell for sure.
 
Worst passwords of 2014… …are just as awful as you can imagine

Please sit down. We need to have a talk. It seems some important points about computer safety and security have completely gone over the heads of a certain portion of the population. If you’re one of those people whose passwords look like "9$RxkU#55zx!%winning1," you can go ahead and leave. If your password looks like "1234567890" or "qwerty," it’s time to repent and change your ways.

    Here are the top 10 worst:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345
  4. 12345678
  5. qwerty
  6. 1234567890
  7. 1234
  8. baseball
  9. dragon
  10. football

 
Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
WPS Office
VIEW ANY FILE TYPE
WPS Office can open almost any document including PDF, TXT and Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. This means when you use WPS Office to open a document from email or your favorite cloud service, you can be sure it will look exactly the way it would on your PC.

CREATE AMAZING DOCUMENTS
WPS Office comes loaded with features similar to what you’d find on a PC office solution. This includes advanced text and paragraph formatting options as well as the ability to add and edit images, shapes, tables and charts directly into your presentation or document.

EASY FILE SHARING
With WPS Office you can share your files through email, Evernote and more. You can also share presentations with others over WIFI or directly to other DLNA compatible devices.

CONNECT TO YOUR CLOUD
Using WPS Office you can access and edit documents from your favorite cloud drive. When you are done editing, WPS Office will automatically save them back online.


Quad Core Android PC in a Keyboard Computer in a Keyboard
An entire Android computer in a keyboard?!

Hook up your monitor and a mouse, if needed, and you have a computer. $299 is a bit high but if you think you need one, wait a few months.


See you next month, listen online on WSVA, March 16, Monday from 9-10 am.  If you miss the live broadcast come back here and listen a little later in the day…or next depending on my workload.

Ron

January 13, 2015

2014 in Review, Part 2

This week I will continue with the second half of the links we talked about last year at DoubleClicks.info.

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with bit.ly.  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • CNet and Download (both part of CBS Interactive), great reviews, “how tos”, etc. of most everything tech at the first site and good downloads on the other.  
  • Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, three popular free email and information providers.
  • Thunderbird – a very good email application for computer that can incorporate all of the above emails on your desktop.
  • Firefox.com – One of the most popular internet browsers.
  • Coffitivity and Rainy Mood  – fun sites which make soothing noises while you work.  
  • Barnes & Noble Nook – the B&N ereader, Nook.
  • 10,000+ Free eBooks – a place to get free ebooks including the most recent of many for Android only.
  • CCleaner, Defraggler, Recuva and Speccy – four great computer utilities from Piriform.
  • iTunes – media player and controller for all Apple products.
  • Mighty Text – enables you to send and receive text messages from your phone in your browser.  You may also dial your phone from this add-on.  
  • SnagIt  and Screenshot Captor – the first is a paid screen shot application with many features. The captor is a free app that is similar but does not have as many abilities.
  • Livescribe – the home of the Livescribe pen that records your meeting’s audio and syncs the audio to your written text. Not free.
  • Cogi – a phone application which allows you to capture, review & share the highlights of meetings and lectures.
  • Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s, Five Guys, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Starbuck’s, Wendy’s are just a few of the many fast-food shops having apps so you can order on your phone. 
  • Calorie King – a site for your computer or phone to get dietary information on all the stuff you order from the aforementioned sites.
  • Realtor.com and Zillow.com – two excellent sites to use if you are buying or selling your home. 
  • Fitbit and Ringly and Water Dancing Droplet Speakers, Spreengs and Shoulderpod are several interesting gadgets you can buy for presents for yourself or others.
  • Ninite – a site that lets you get many applications to quickly install them all at one time without stopping all along the way to ask you questions.
  • AVG or Avast! – two of the better free antivirus applications. 
  • Malwarebytes – the best free app which checks your computer for nasty malware.
  • SpeedTest – you may check the speed you are receiving from your service provider at any time. 
  • Typing Web – if you need typing lessons or a refresher course here is the place to get help.
  • Steam Powered – a few free and many for a cost game site. 
  • PayPal – a very secure site for making online purchases.  

Stay tuned for 2015 and have a very Happy New Year!

September 23, 2014

June 3, 2014

Try a New Browser

Last week I talked about an issue that was happening with Google’s Chromecast and Chrome browser related to Android tablets and phones.  I stated there, "…you could always try various browsers from time-to-time and find out what you may like.  It is easy to change back at any time."  When I wrote that I did not realize it would generate so much interest.  I received numerous emails asking if it is so easy, how is it done?

So here we go.

MSIE LogoAll windows computers come with Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) built in as the default browser.  Keep in mind that whether you use that browser or not DO NOT try to uninstall it.  It is hard to do but if you get it off of your computer some other things on your computer will not work correctly or not at all.  That browser is tied to other areas of the Microsoft operating system.

The other most popular browsers are, in order of usage, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, (already on your Windows system) Safari (created by Apple – available for both iOS & Windows devices) and Opera.  This information is from 2012 through today, according to W3Schools.com which tracks this data.  In 2011 Chrome and Firefox were swapped. 

Google Chrome                    Apple Safari                    Opera

So let us pretend that you want to try out Chrome and stop using MSIE for a little while.  Go to the site referenced above.  Click the download button and the application will start to download.  Depending on your settings it may ask if you want to run the application and you may also click, "Yes."  If you download it, find the downloaded file and double click it to start the installation.  If you chose to "run" the application you will now be at the installation screen.

It will ask you if you want to make it your default browser.  This means that if you click the check box for it to be default all of your links will open in Chrome after the installation completes instead of MSIE. 

Each of the others will install pretty much the same way.  You could even install all of these browsers at the same time.  Then you will have to choose which one you want to be the default browser. 

Choosing which browser is your default is easy in Windows 7 and 8. You just need to do a quick search.  In W7 click the start button and type, "default programs" and in W8 use the search feature and do the same. To get to search press the Windows key and tap the "S" key.  You may need to select "Set your default programs."  Once in the default program screen your default applications will be listed on the left side.  Find the current default browser and click on it once.  Then, "Choose defaults for this program" and you will see all of the current settings for the default browser.  To change it, choose the other browser you want to use from all of the choices provided.

Set your default programs

In Windows 7 it is sometimes easier to go into the Options of any browser and choose it to make it the default.  This will work with Windows 8 too with the exception of MSIE.

Happy surfing!

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