DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

July 21, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 1

Today I will look at a few questions I have recently received starting with one regarding last week’s Chromebook article.

I have always thought it funny when you write one thing and get totally different responses.  From the Chromebook discussion last week I received the following two statements.

First is, “[on] your assertion of Chromebooks from $129, implying they are inexpensive – I went to eBay and the 2015 model sells there … and found them at $1,500.00 … a far cry from $129 to $199.”

I went to eBay and the most expensive Chromebook I found there was $1,820, even better.  The same model, the “Google Chromebook Pixel 64GB” was on Amazon for $1,610.  It has a street price of a little less.


Ron's Samsung Chromebook

Ron’s Samsung Notebook,
paid $169 over 18 months ago.

The latest version now sells for $179.
Great notebook and well worth the price.



I did not say that the range of $129 to $199 was the upper or lower limit but in that range you could find a decent computer.  I also found a Windows Notebook far exceeding $1,500.  I found one for over one million but that one comes with a handmade wooden case, encrusted with diamonds and other bling.  (Before anyone gets upset I also found a Chromebook at the same price similarly decorated.) You can find them for whatever you are willing to pay, but I still stand by my original range.

The other was someone who bought a student/relative of theirs a “Chromebook and printer for right around $250.00.”  Congratulations to them on finding a great deal on a computer and printer for that young person.  (Also, proving my point.)

Sometimes I get many questions on how to perform a particular process on my computer.  I get questions asking me what is your favorite program or website you use to do _________.    I will give you a few over the next week or so if your emails show interest in the topic.  If you have questions do not forget to email me.

I may not always have the best plan; however, they work successfully for me.  Remember also that I really like the word, “free” so you may be able to do these things other ways for a cost.

Avast! splat logoOne of the more popular emails I receive is, “What antivirus software do you recommend?”  I currently use Avast! Antivirus (avast.com) on all of my computers, with the exception of work.  Work is controlled by others.  To be honest they are all similar but every year or two I review evaluations of all of the free antivirus software.  I then choose the one that scores the best and appears to have a good “ease of use” factor to me.  You can pay for others as well as Avast! if you wish.  In my opinion some of the “big boys” out there are bloated and slow a machine down too much for me.

Next week we will look at a few more questions and answers

June 15, 2015

2015-06-15 Show Notes

Welcome back to the podcast and show notes for today.  Remember the third Monday of each month at 9 am on WSVA radio you can find myself and Jim Britt talking tech.

Below are some of the things we mentioned on the show.  Use the links to go directly to the site.

Tech News
Windows 10 Free – you heard it right!
Microsoft.com/Windows10

Microsoft is making Windows 10 free to licensed/registered Windows 7, 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users.

  • You must download and install in first year after release.
  • Year starts, July 29, 2015.
  • Licensed to that specific machine for the life of the machine (not clear on what happens if you rebuild it in the future.)
  • Rumored to also be free to people with an unlicensed copy, but that remains to be seen.

I have tested it out and some findings are…

  • For those that loved Windows 7, you will most likely like this.
  • For those that hated Windows 8.1, you will most likely like this.
  • The much hated Metro screen is gone and just showing up a little in the Start Menu but can be rearranged, in the test version I had you could not totally remove it but no one knows for sure about final version.
  • MSIE is gone now you get Microsoft Edge.
  • Cortana has arrived in all platforms. Named after Cortana, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game series. Now Cortana is your personal digital assistant. (Think Siri or OK Google, but not quite as smart yet.)

Microsoft to Introduce $149 Windows 10 Notebooks

Despite a lackluster start, Chromebooks are becoming relatively popular in the super-budget end of the portable market. This has worried Microsoft for some time. After all, with a Google-centric experience, not to mention an operating system in the form of Chrome OS, there’s little if anything to be gained here by Microsoft and everything to lose. That’s why it’s targeting the Chromebook specifically, with a most likely Windows 10-based $149 laptop.

I am using my Chromebook now and it does most everything I need…not all but I guess 95% of everything I do…not at work. The prices are killing lots of other “low cost” notebooks. Say, $150 compared to $350.


Ron’s Windows App Recommendation
FileHippo App Manager
Application Updater
The App Manager does what, “Windows Update” does for the Windows Operating system. The difference is that FileHippo has created this for many of the other applications on your computer.Go to the link above and click the green, “Download Latest Version” button and install.


Portable Apps
PortableApps.com
PortableApps.com is the world’s most popular portable software solution allowing you to take your favorite software with you. A fully open source and free platform, it works on any portable storage device (USB flash drive, memory card, portable hard drive, etc), cloud drive (DropBox, Google Drive, etc), or installed locally. With millions of users all over the world and a full collection of open source software as well as compatible freeware and commercial software and partners in the software and hardware industry, PortableApps.com is the most complete solution for life on the go.


The only article I have ever written that the papers refused to PRINT next…

God Mode
This is a longstanding trick for Windows computers and although. I have not tried it in Windows 10; however, I hear it works in all versions of Microsoft OS’s back to Vista (only some versions of Vista).

Basically when you follow these directions you can adjust anything in Windows OS in one place. You do not have to go to each area of the Control Panel to get to them.

Be warned that you can mess stuff up, so I suggest only Geeks use this
(which they probably already know about this) or calm, self-controlled normal people.

    To create the God Mode function do the following in order.

  1. Pick a place to put it, I like my desktop.
  2. Copy the following not including quotation marks, “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}“.
    • “GodMode may be changed to anything you want to title the folder. That is the title the geeks-of-yore named it, I call mine Super User (spaces are OK too.)
  3. Right click and chose, “New/Folder”.
  4. Paste the copied text as the blank folder’s name.
  5. Click off of the newly made folder, which will change it’s icon.
  6. Double click the new “app” to launch it and take a look.
  7. Again, read carefully and only change what you intend to, one at a time and test after making more changes.

If you want to create it and look, just don’t change any items. Then when you are done all you need to do is delete the folder. GodMode Window


That is all for this month. I hope to see you back here next time, July 19, 2015 at 9am. Ron

April 14, 2015

A Few Questions Answered

There are several things I have written about through the years which I get questioned about regularly.  I thought today we would look at a few that have evolved into something more as well as some that have vanished from the e-landscape.

Coffitivity pictureOne of them was a site with some fun, soothing sounds.  It is Coffitivity.com.  Go there and listen to murmuring, clinking, you know, regular coffee shop sounds.  Coffitivity now has been upgraded with an Android and Apple app for your phones.  The site promotes that, "Research shows it is pretty hard to be creative in a quiet space."

Rainy Mood logo

Another was RainyMood.com and you can probably guess how it is used.  However, there is a new one out there which does what the previous ones did plus more.  Go check out ASoftMurmur.com for many choices.  There is not only rain, but thunder, wind, birds, coffee shop sounds, crickets and more.  So if you like working with background sounds, go for it.  Just remember ear buds for those sitting around you – unless you want them to look around for the crickets!

I also have readers ask me quite often which browser is the best.  I am very impartial with regard to this question.  For no particular reason other than it is really the users’ opinion.  The top three, in my opinion, are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer in that order from top to bottom.  This is illustrated with my website visitors.  Those are the top three used by those who visit DoubleClicks.info.  The bottom three are the BlackBerry browser followed by Amazon Silk (one I had never heard of but it is made specifically for some Amazon devices) and Opera tied for last place. 

Google Chrome logo                         Firefox logo                         MSIE logo

My personal preference for the past year or two is Google’s Chrome browser.  The reason is I like some of its features and add ins.   

As an aside, which is really funny to me, Apple is the number one Operating System used by folks visiting my site (49% followed by Windows at 33%).  Why, "funny?"  Because I only discuss Windows and hardly ever, if ever, Macs. 

One of the only graphics I could find of Eprint-StudioFinally, here’s one I get many, many questions regarding.  It was called Eprint-Studio.  To jog your memory this Android only app allowed you to download most any recent book on your device to read.  I had one book that was out in hardback one week and available on Eprint the next week.  These books were all free. 

It was advertisement supported, so you got to check out ads every few pages.  I have no idea why, (OK to be honest I can guess) but it no longer works.  I went to the site several months ago to get a new book and, "POOF!" it had vanished with no information.  My guess as to why; I imagine it was not quite legal or was discovered to not be on the up and up.

I have found nothing to free to replace it yet but there are many sites where you can purchase most any book in e-format. 

January 6, 2015

2014 Sites in Review, Part 1

Welcome to the beginning of our fourteenth year together with the Double Click column.  Every January we review the sites that we visited in the previous year.  Today is no different.  So as always, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app so the links may not look quite right.  Without further ado…here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

Thanks for reading the column and emailing me with your great questions.  I love writing it and hearing from you! 

  • Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and ABC – add ".com" to any of those to view TV shows, movies, video clips, etc.
  • Chromecast.com – this Google device allows you to broadcast anything from your Android, iPhone or Windows phones and computers to your TV.
  • Chromebook.com – Computers that run the Chrome OS (Google) and have everything you need in the Cloud. 
  • Google Drive/Docs,  – Google’s Office substitute and a good one it is, with this you may not need to purchase Microsoft Office.
  • McAfee – one of the many antivirus applications available for your computer’s protection.
  • Libre Office and Open Office – the two leaders in the free Microsoft Office replacements.  Both are good; however, fall short in some areas. 
  • Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, IxQuick and StartPage – add ".com" to any of these for search engines, the last three do not track your searches but the first three do.
  • Google Location History – this site will show you where you have been in the recent past on Google Maps. 
  • Copy, bit.ly/roncopy – free online cloud storage, use the link shown and get 20 GB instead of 15 at Copy.com.
  • Dropbox, bit.ly/use-DropBox, same as above; however, you get 2 GB, many people prefer this to all the other online storage options since it was one of the first.
  • Google Drive and OneDrive, (by Microsoft) – Google’s and Microsoft’s cloud storage sites both at 15GB free. 
  • OneNote, Microsoft’s great note taking application, free online.
  • MultCloud, put all of your cloud storage on one site (notice spelling, no "i").

Tune in next week for the last half of the sites we visited in 2014.

February 25, 2014

January 28, 2014

Chromebook

Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

January 21, 2014

Chromecast

This is a very popular way to convert your "almost" smart TV into a fairly intelligent one…at a very low cost.

If you have not heard about it yet the item is called Chromecast which was developed by Google. It is a dongle…STOP!  Some of you may need to know what a dongle is so let me explain.  

A dongle is a relatively small device which plugs into a computer and can take on different jobs depending on what the dongle was created to do.  For instance, it could be used as an adapter to allow a specific device to be used like an external hard drive or a game controller.  A dongle could also be utilized to allow you to plug one sized cable into another size, like converting an USB plug to a micro USB plug. 

The Chromecast is a small device measuring roughly 2.8" x 1.4" x 0.5" and looks a lot like a thumb-drive (another dongle type device).  It is very light weight, too at about 1.2 oz.

Chromecast is a digital media device which you plug into an HDMI port on your computer.  HDMI is the larger USB plug present on many newer digital televisions.  It allows you to transfer uncompressed video data and compressed/uncompressed digital audio data from one device to a compatible computer monitor, digital television, or audio device. In other words, instead of plugging your new Chromecast into your TV you could plug in your notebook computer and do about the same thing.  However, you would be putting wear and tear on your much more expensive computer to watch streaming shows on your TV.

Once plugged in and the easy five minute setup is done, you can stream (watch from the internet using your home’s wi-fi) movies and your favorite TV shows to your large screen television.  This is much better than watching from your small computer monitors like many people do now.  There are many other devices out there which already do this; however, the prices range from $70 to close to $200 and some have a recurring fee.  Chromecast costs only $35 and has no future expense.  It is very inexpensive and Google updates it with new features regularly which allow it to do more.  Now for you Apple folks out there it does not work with Apple TV, sorry.

Once you plug your Chromecast into your TV it has a small port on the other end to plug in the power cable.  Most televisions will have a power port on the back, if not you can plug it directly into a wall socket. 

If you have accounts (some requiring a fee) with Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus and/or Google Play Movies or another you can watch them on your TV now.  If you listen to music on a site like Pandora you can run that through your TV speakers too.  Even better, if you can play something in your Google Chrome browsers on the computer or phone you are broadcasting from, you can watch it on your TV using Chromecast. 

One example of this is what happened with a buddy of mine and his wife who are big "Castle" fans.  They do not have cable TV so every week a few days after the original broadcast of the show they would watch it at ABC.com on their notebook.  Now they start it up on the same computer at the same site and it is then sent to their big screen TV.  This is much more comfortable and easier to see.

Here is the bad (or good) news.  In my opinion you will not have to use Chromecast in the future. It and devices like it will become obsolete.  I believe that in the very near future you will only be able to purchase Smart TVs and they will already have wi-fi capabilities already built into them.  A large number of new sets today are already set up that way.  But until you buy your new TV, $35 is an easy way into the future.

January 20, 2014

2014-01-20 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome to the show for January 2014 and Happy New Year to you and yours!  Below are links to the sites we talked about today and here is the podcast if you missed part of the show.

Have fun looking around.

Tech News
Tablet ownership in U.S. surges
Thirty five percent of Americans own a tablet and 24 percent own and e-reader, according to the latest study from Pew Internet Research.Pew documented a big jump in tablet ownership. In November 2012, 25 percent of Americans owned a tablet {September 2013, 35 percent}. The findings illustrate the democratization of tablet computing and the impact on lower-cost models beyond the larger version of the iPad.

This article sums up the tablet and e-reader ownership breakdown for Americans 16 years old and up. It’s also worth noting that previous Pew studies on tablet ownership in the U.S. started at age 18 and up.


Chromebooks Enjoy 21% of Notebook Sales in 2013
According to NPD (a major national market research company), Chromebook sales hit a total of 1.76 million units between January and November of this year, which is quite a bit of a jump from the 400,000 units that made it out in 2012. In total, NPD’s figures indicate that Chromebooks jumped from virtually nothing in 2012 to 21 percent of all notebook sales in 2013.A recent press release from Amazon itself confirms that Chromebooks took two of the top three spots for “holiday best sellers” – specifically, a Samsung Chromebook and an Acer Chromebook.


Spiders force Toyota to recall 800,000 vehicles
Toyota has announced a voluntary recall of some 803,000 cars due to airbags inadvertently deploying — and the blame appears to be spiders inside the air conditioning units. Toyota’s recall notice states that some 2012 and 2013 Camry, Venza, and Avalon vehicles are experiencing problems with their air conditioning condenser unit housing — apparently, condensation and water has been leaking into the airbag control module. In most cases, that’s just causing the airbag warning light to turn on, but a few times the driver side airbag has deployed without warning.However, according to CNN, the cause of the leak is rather unsettling if you suffer from arachnophobia. Spiders and their webs are apparently responsible for clogging the air conditioner drainage tubes, causing the water spillover onto the airbag control module.


Government Recalls.gov
rercalls.gov
To provide better service in alerting the American people to unsafe, hazardous or defective products, six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions have joined together to create www.recalls.gov — a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.


The Door Lock of the Future is Here
Kwikset Kevo
Kwikset has rolled out the Kevo lock. A door lock that receives a signal from your Smartphone (iPhones only right this minute) or a coded key fob and can open when you touch the lock. If you forget your phone it will open with a regular key that you can find buried somewhere on your key chain.

Check out the video and see what you think, especially with a $219 price tag.


Waze
waze.com
Get the best route, every day, with real–time help from other drivers.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

Free available to most all types of phone OS’s.


Free Backup Software
Cobian backup, cobiansoft.com
Allway Sync, allwaysync.com
Two good free backup applications for making sure you do not loose your important files.


Browser History
Check Browser History for all Browsers
Sometimes you may want to make a return visit to a website that you saw a day or 20 ago. You may use multiple browsers like many people and do not want to go view the history in each browser. With this app from NirSoft.net you can check the histories of all of your browser at the same time and get a report of what has been seen.

If you have cut off your History feature on your browser you will not be able to retrieve this information.


Your Fingerprint may be your new Password
Biometric Scan Comes to Android 2014
The FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online) has claimed in a new technology news statement, that the first Android handsets with biometric scanners will be released in the first half of next year, to help to remove the dependency on traditional app and web passwords.

This technology news was meant to be available for any web-based service or manufacturer so that traditional text-based passwords can be replaced with these biometric alternatives. Michael Barrett, the PayPal chief information security officer, and the president of FIDO, has explained that the increasing support and power of the group has meant that it will become possible for the mobile internet to become considerably safer to use in a very short period of time. That way, swiping a finger across the smartphone will be all that is required for the access of an individual’s own online accounts, but that they will remain safe from being accessed by anyone else.


If I Die
ifidie.org
This website provides a way for you to write and store letters to your friends. Each letter, when finished, will be stored securely and encrypted with a special password of your choosing. No one will be able to read any of your letters while you’re still alive.

A couple of “safegaurds” are in place to keep them from firing off by mistake.


New ‘Bond gadget’ set to let us breathe under water sunshinecoastdaily.com.au Bond-like rebreather
It is the James Bond gadget on everyone’s wishlist.

A South Korean designer has taken inspiration from the movie spy’s “rebreather”, which allows the user to breathe under water.

Clipped on a diving face mask, the Triton device acts like a fish gill to extract oxygen from water so that the user can keep breathing while under the sea.


That is all for today.  See you again next month on Monday, February 17.

Keep those cards and letter emails coming!

September 30, 2013

2013-09-30 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome back for all of the news and other items we discussed today on the show.  The podcast from this show will not be available.  Sorry but there were technical difficulties which I have nothing to do with and, “I know nothing” about it.

Have fun!

Ron

Tech News
The declining PC sales has found new hopes with the arrival of Chromebooks and Windows touchscreen notebooks.
The release of these new laptops from rival companies helped the PC market achieve sales above than expected during a period where kids and teens go back to schooling. The rise in sales can still continue up to the holiday season according to some analysts. The statistics also show that the PC market still has a solid base and is not nearing to be a dying market despite increase in smartphone and tablet shares.


Get you Renoir, Chagall, Salvador Dali and all the other major Artists work at Amazon.com
Amazon’s new Fine Art store features paintings, drawings, mixed media works, photography and art prints. From new artists to famous artists the Fine Art store features artworks and paintings for sale from a multitude of periods and styles including: Pop art, Abstract art, Modern art, Contemporary art, and much more.

They focus on highlighting a wide variety of artists, painters, Contemporary artists, Renaissance artists, Modern and Post-Modern artists;find an artist that fits your style in our Fine Arts store. The Fine Arts store features many types of artwork including: canvas prints, abstract paintings, oil paintings, drawings, photography, mixed media works, and collages to add to your home, art gallery, professional workspace or other. As we continue to grow our collections of artworks, the Fine Arts store is sure to have something for everybody whether you are an experienced collector or looking to find your first piece of art.


Discrete Pants Checker
YouTube.com
Your fly is checked automatically to see if accidentally left down…oops.


Google Chromecast
google.com
Get started in 3 easy steps: plug Chromecast into any HDTV, connect it to WiFi, then send videos and more from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your TV with the press of a button.


Moxie Showerhead
kohler.com
Your music. Your shower. Your time. To chill out. To sing. Refresh. Energize. Escape. The Moxie showerhead + wireless speaker delivers up to 7 hours of music, news and more by pairing wirelessly with your device enabled with Bluetooth® technology. Just you + water + clean, clear sound.


Android Device Manager

Google Site, no need to install anything
The Double Clicks article with more info will be available tomorrow morning.
Security for on-the-go users.

  • Locate it.
  • Ring it.
  • Lock it.
  • Erase it.

 


See you next month!

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