DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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.  

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.

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!

May 20, 2014

Google, What are you Telling Me?

As you regular readers know, I like Google.  Google is not perfect but they have many great apps.  In the past I have been disappointed in their corporate decisions to do away with some of their more desirable apps.  For instance iGoogle homepage, Calendar Sync and Google Reader to name a few.

I learned something else disappointing this week.

Over the past year or so I have become a fan of Google’s Chrome browser.  Before any of you run out and switch to Chrome from Firefox, (my old favorite) remember the most important thing when deciding on a browser is, "How do you like it?"  You do not have to change but 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.

I use a Google tablet, the Nexus 7 2013 I also use the Chrome browser as my default browser on the Nexus.  In recent months I have purchased Google’s Chromecast which basically allows you to turn your almost Smart TV into a full fledge Smart TV for $35.  As I originally wrote this past January, it is an excellent device at an excellent price.

Basically, if you are using the Chrome browser on your computer you can play a video in your browser, or music or slideshow which you already know.  If you have a Chromecast device hooked up to your TV you can "send" that media to your TV to enjoy it on a full screen and hear it through better speakers.  This makes it a much more pleasurable experience than watching or listening on a smaller screen. 

Chromecast buttonWhen you have something playing, or getting ready to play, in your computer’s browser you click the Chromecast button and it automatically appears on your TV.  It is a very easy to use and it shows quite a good picture and sound.

So I have three Google products running, their tablet, their browser and their Chromecast.  They are all in excellent working order.  This week my wife and I missed one of our favorite TV shows, "Castle."  If you go to ABC.com you can view their shows shortly after they air on the site.  This is true for most of the networks. 

I started up my tablet, went to ABC.com, got "Castle" running and guess what?  No Chromecast button so I could not send this show to the TV.  Please note:  I could, once I hooked up my notebook computer, but that was not my intention. 

I Googled for what I was doing wrong and there was not a tremendous amount of information about it online.  So I called Google support and guess what?  Even though I am running all Google products in working order they do not yet have a way to "Cast a Tab" with an Android tablet or phone.  I asked if it was being worked on and they "thought so" but there is no expected completion date. 

What are they thinking?  But who am I?  What are your thoughts?

February 17, 2014

2014-02-17 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome to the February, 2014 podcast.  Listen to the podcast here and check out some of the sites we talked about below.  Have fun and let me know if you know of something you would like to hear about next month, on March 17, St. Patty’s Day, where I will be wearing my Doyle Tartan Kilt, to bad for you it is radio.

Tech News
The Bacon Bowl
It’s a question that veteran “As Seen on TV” marketer Scott Boilen asked when he was given the opportunity to introduce yet another bacon product to an already crowded marketplace. But Boilen couldn’t resist the invention, a simple gizmo that turns a few strips of bacon into an edible shell. And so the Bacon Bowl was launched by Boilen’s Allstar Products Group via a series of infomercials in late 2013.

In a brief period, Boilen’s New York-based company has sold more than two million units of the $10.99 bacon cooker, making the Bowl a success story potentially on par with the Snuggie, to name Boilen’s biggest “As Seen on TV” hit.


Chromecast by Double Clicks
Chromecast is another great inovation by Google. Get my take on it from a recent article.


NYPD using Google Glass as a crime fighting tool
Google Glass for NYPDTHE New York Police Department is taking a page out of the RoboCop playbook — outfitting cops with Google Glass so a suspect’s life story can flash right before their eyes.

Law enforcement sources told The New York Post department bosses bought a few pairs of the futuristic eyewear and are beta testing them with the hopes of using them out in the field.

“It’s in the early stages,” a source said of the NYPD’s use of the specs. “A handful of people are testing it out.” The high-tech glasses — which integrate a computerised interface into the wearer’s field of vision — could allow cops to instantly see a suspect’s arrest record, mugshot and other key information.


Before Target, they hacked the heating guy
One of the biggest known corporate breaches in U.S. history has been traced to the air-conditioning repairman.

Hackers first broke into Target’s TGT +1.49% network last year by stealing the login credential of a heating-and-air-conditioning contractor, a person familiar with the investigation confirmed Wednesday. The hackers went on to steal 40 million credit and debit card numbers.


There you go for this month. Again, check out the podcast and see if you agree or not with the “Police on Cell Phones” side-track from this morning.

Have a great day!

Ron

February 4, 2014

Adobe

Adobe makes many products which are used on Windows computers today. Every now and then you are reminded to update Adobe Flash. If you are the normal computer user you probably just click the “Install” button and continue on.

First, let me provide a quick history of Adobe Flash. It started out in the 1990s and was originally called SmartSketch, later turning into FutureSplash. In 1996 it was purchased by Macromedia and became “Macromedia Flash.” In 2005 it was purchased by Adobe. As a side note; Adobe was approached about purchasing the software when known as “FutureSplash” but turned it down. It was rumored that Adobe purchased Macromedia for $3.4 billion in 2005…what a deal they got a few years later.

So what is Adobe Flash /Player? Flash is the code working on your computer and Player is the part that plays the flash files. They are two separate apps but they are basically inseparable. An easy definition of Flash would be that it is coding which allows videos, games and many other types of animations to work on your browser. A large percentage of websites use Flash. Some you may have heard of are YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Plex, most all of the Cable and Broadcast TV streaming sites, a large number of gaming sites, and many actual games which run separate from a browser.

It is rumored that the new version of Web sites, HTML 5, will someday negate the need for Flash but it is not near that point at the current time.

One thing to know about Adobe is that it is a big well-known company in the software market. Look at Adobe.com and check out their product list. You will find over 50 individual products. You have heard of some of them. You know those PDF (Portable Document Format) files you find everywhere on the internet and need to read? Most likely you are using Adobe Reader to open and view them.

See Boggie change...right before your eyes, but not in real life.Another very popular application you may have heard of is Adobe PhotoShop. If you have not heard of it I guarantee you have seen the end products produced by this application. Look at almost any picture of most of the celebrities and models around the world. You know the ones in the magazines with the perfect skin color and texture, the perfect white teeth, no moles anywhere on their skin… you know, the beautiful people. They have been PhotoShopped. Sorry but they are just not that perfect, even the bone structure can be changed with this application. Look at this video (bit.ly/L2WzFI) and be amazed as PhotoShop total “remakes” Boggie, a singer with whom I am not familiar, into an almost unrecognizable version of herself as one of her songs plays. After you watch it tell me what you think. Think too, you just watched it using Adobe Flash through YouTube and created via Adobe PhotoShop.

Installation screenBack to the updates. When you are asked to update Flash, Reader and maybe others, you will either be directed to their site or it will start downloading automatically. Either way, be cautious since it will try to add McAfee Antivirus software to your computer in the background. I have never understood why a strong mainstream company would do that, but they do. If you install from the website, uncheck McAfee on the main page before you download the app. If you run it automatically you will get a “custom” or “standard” setup, choose the custom and “uncheck” McAfee.

Understand that there is nothing wrong with McAfee, it is an excellent antivirus software; however, you should only run one antivirus program on a computer at one time. Hopefully, you already are running something for that purpose.

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.

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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