DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

June 27, 2017

Voice Assistants

Some of the big technology devices to hit in recent years are Voice Assistants. The idea first came about on TV with Star Trek in the ‘60s. This was when you could communicate by voice instructions with the computers. In the real world, “Siri” started on the iPhone 4S at its release in October 2011. And then, “Ok, Google” began in July 2012, and was first supported on the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. So yes, as always Apple created it first (like phones) and then others improve on it. Most will agree that OK, Google surpasses the Siri app at this point in time. Then there came Cortana from Microsoft, which was announced in January 2015 for Windows 10 desktops and mobile devices.

With those assistants you can look up weather, call people in your address book, get a phone number, get your map to plan a drive, etc. Be careful on that mapping part as I keep seeing articles about people getting lost using them. However, for us, Waze and Google Maps have always been spot on.

Google vs Amazon

Starting last year Amazon and Google started rolling out their devices, with Alexa, (the Echo and Dot seem to be the most popular) and Home respectively. There are other devices available but they are bought in insignificant numbers by comparison.

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Now the Voice Assistants are standalone devices and are selling like, well actually better than, hot cakes. According to the 2017 report from VoiceLabs, “Amazon Echo and Google Home…will sell more than 24 million units combined through the end of 2017.”

Amazon Alexa vs Google Home

They are devices that connect to your Wi-Fi and you speak to them. You can verbally ask questions, set alarms, get news, check the weather, get directions, find phone numbers, perform conversions, do math, find how long it takes to get somewhere (using local traffic conditions) and many more things.

I have been testing a Google Home and it is very, very accurate in both translating your voice and giving accurate responses. In the morning I asked it to tell me about my day. It proceeded to first give me the weather predictions for the day followed by my calendar’s agenda. Then it started telling me the news from various news stations. You can set the news channels you prefer if you wish.

To use the Google device you must have Wi-Fi, either an Android or iPhone device, the application Google Home installed and you are ready to go. The setup process took about five minutes including Google Home updating itself. It was quite easy.

It will also integrate with some other devices; although, at this time the Alexa mixes with many more. That means it can possibly run your TV, cut off your lights, communicate between you and some of your appliances, etc. The only other system I have that it works with is Google Chromecast hooked to my TV. So I can play items there automatically and control them by voice.

Amazon’s devices work pretty much the same; however, as usual, people debate over which is better online all the time. For me, since I am a Google/Android fan I would go for the GH, but either is good. Are these devices a need? No, but I am going to predict that we are going to see a lot more of them in the future.

If you get one do not forget to play with it. Ask it to tell you a joke, ask it how tall you are, ask it if the other device is any good, etc. It made me laugh when I asked it what the fox says…give it a shot if you get the chance.

January 24, 2017

2016 Sites in Review, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:42 am

This will be the last week of our look back at the links we talked about in 2016.  After that we get back on track with more good tech news and information.  So here we go with the October through the end of the year columns. 

  • OneNote.com, one of the best (secondary) applications that Microsoft has ever come up with.  If you are researching, planning or taking any type of notes you should check it out.  Online and downloadable versions are available and it comes pre-installed on Windows 10. 
  • Google Keep, keep.google.com – This is a great note-taker for short notes where you can set alarms for times and locations if you also use it with your phone and PC. 
  • iTunes.com, Apple’s music player app and you know it well if you have an iPhone or most any of the other Apple products.  You can also use it on a PC for your music.
  • Amazon.com, Hulu.com, and Netflix.com, three of the most popular video streaming apps/sites for TV shows and movies…current ones, some in the past and some only produced at those sites.  
  • RevoUninstaller.com, a much better program uninstaller for your PC than has ever come built into Windows.  It has extras, too, and I have actually bought this one (you know how I do not like to spend $.) 
  • WinDirStat.net, a program that searches and tracks your hard drive usage helping you decide what you may be able to remove.  Sorts your files by size, number and type.
  • Microsoft Games, rd.dblclx.com/2evl0en – Yes, they make games also and not just for Xbox.
  • Steam, steampowered.com – Probably one of the largest gaming sites out there, some free, some not so shop around.
  • Duolingo.com, a site where they say you can learn a language (choose from over 20) in just a few minutes a day. 
  • MultCloud, multcloud.com – First make sure you spell it correctly, there it is no "I."  This site allows you to combine all of your online cloud storage areas in one site.  Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. All there.
  • The following are silly, unimportant, and relaxing sites. (I posted these after the 2016 Presidential Election).  Take a look at them and see what they do or look back at the November columns and read about them first. Akinator – en.akinator.com, MyFridgeFood.com, Rock-Paper-Scissors-Game.com, WeirdorConfusing.com, PointerPointer.com, ThisIsSand.com, TheInternetFireplace.com, GeoGuessr.com, YouTube.com and hmpg.net.
  • Here is a list of some reputable online sites for purchasing… well just about anything.  I am sure you have heard of them all before.  Audible.com, Ebay.com, Overstock.com, NewEgg.com, PayPal.com, VistaPrint.com, Blinq.com and ShopGoodwill.com.
  • Facebook.com, you know the site and basically what it does.  Last year we looked at some of the security settings you should check on your account.  Next week we continue looking at that topic.  Go here to review with that column, rd.dblclx.com/2hVbumC.  

January 17, 2017

2016 Sites in Review, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:30 am

Today I will continue with the start of the 16th year of "Double Click" by providing more of last year’s links. If you missed it last week and would like to catch up use the following link to start at the beginning: rd.dblclx.com/p1-2016. If the site addresses are too long for print, as the previous one, I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app. The links are preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers. Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites. By visiting DoubleClicks.info you can click the links and go directly to the sites.

Let us begin in order of appearance.

  • Leoh Chrome Extension, leoh.io – a good looking new tab page for your Chrome browser (only), pictures, time, weather, links, etc. with a new picture every time you open a new tab in the browser.
  • Google Maps (maps.google.com) and My Activity on Google (myactivity.google.com) both by Google, both of these are excellent apps. If you have an Android phone or log into a Chrome browser, they will not do much. But if you do, check My Activity and see what they have on you.
  • Google Opinion, rd.dblclx.com/GoogleOpinions – make a little pocket money that you can spend at the Google Play store by answering questions.
  • Open Live Writer, OpenLiveWriter.org – an excellent replacement for the defunct Windows Live Writer (for writing in your WordPress sites), maintained by the same developers.
  • DoubleClicks.info – you know this is my site, come on out and explorer (shameless ad).
  • Unlocker, rd.dblclx.com/unlocker192 – unlocks and allows you to delete those stubborn files that are supposedly in use by another application.
  • Google Duo, play.google.com – found in the Play Store is a decent, newer app that is a communication app by you-know-who.
  • Facebook Messenger, found directly from your phones FB app or your phone’s store. A much better communication app that Google Duo and I am not even a fan of FB but I am of this app.
  • Ninite.com – a site you should use when you set up your new computer which allows you to get many of the free programs you may want in install and more.
  • Google.com/Chrome and FireFox.com – my two favorite browsers in order of preference.
  • Libre Office, libreoffice.org – a free Office Suite which is just about as good as Microsoft Office but free.
  • CCLeaner and Defraggler, piriform.com – two great utilities for your Windows computer and others at the site.
  • Malwarbytes, malwarebytes.com – the malware fighter no computer should be without.
  • VLC, videolan.org – the best video and audio player out there which is far superior to your computer’s default player.
  • Dropbox, rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox – in my opinion this is currently the best cloud file storage out there.
  • Thunderbird, rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax – a great free mail application which I prefer over MS Outlook which you will have to pay for.

Last year contained a lot of places to check online so next week we will have a final look at the last of them. See you then!

January 10, 2017

2016 Sites in Review, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:06 am

Welcome to the start of the 16th year of "Double Click."  Thanks so much for reading the hundreds of articles that I have spun up over this time.  Thanks also for the emails I continue to receive regarding every one.  It is very much appreciated so keep them coming. 

This January (as every year) I will be reviewing the sites I wrote about during the previous year.  If the site addresses are too long for print I have shortened them using the "bit.ly" app.  The links will be preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers.  Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites.  If you visit DoubleClicks.info you can click the links and go directly to the sites.

So, here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Instance Mail, InstanceMail.com – a place to get a temporary email address, use once and toss it.
  • GO Contact Sync Mod, googlesyncmod.sourceforge.net – the best Google/Outlook Calendar syncing program I can find since the demise of the original Google app.
  • Dropbox, rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox – yes, that same old name I talk about every year.  But if you want to store files online (the Cloud) this is my recommendation.
  • Preventing Windows 10 Updates, rd.dblclx.com/1XpVqHN – MS changes their pages often, this is now for preventing driver updates but was originally for stopping W10 from updating.
  • Google Maps, maps.google.com – the name says it all for this great map app. 
  • Waze, waze.com – the name does not say it all for this one but in my opinion, it is an even better map application than Google Maps; even though they are both owned by Google.
  • Two apps that disappeared in 2016, Google’s Picasa photo editor/viewer and Copy.com a competitor to Dropbox, both are greatly missed.
  • VideoLAN, videolan.org – the best free video player application out there.  I recommend it over the built-in video viewer in Windows 10.
  • What if you do not upgrade, rd.dblclx.com/stopW10 – one of the guesses made as to what would happen if you did not take the Windows 10 free upgrade?  In reality nothing much, you can still get it but you will not be continually bothered by pop ups nagging you to do so.
  • Startup Delayer, rd.dblclx.com/startupdelayer – you can use this app to delay apps which start in the background when you power up your computer.  It could make it boot much more quickly.
  • KeePass, keepass.info and LastPass, lastpass.com – These are both good password keepers or vaults.  I use Keepass for my main password vault; however, LastPass seems an easier choice for many and has many extra features. 
  • Avast!, avast.com – one of my past favorite free (and paid version also) antivirus applications.
  • Avast Clear, rd.dblclx.com/avastuninstaller – this is a link to software you may need if you try to totally uninstall Avast from your computer. Sometimes any of the antivirus apps can be hard to uninstall.
  • Audible, audible.com and Podiobooks, podiobooks.com – these are two audiobook sites for those of you who may have a longer trip to work than most, or are traveling on a trip.  They give you the opportunity to listen to a book.  Audible, not for free, has the most recent titles out.  Podiobooks has authors who have not yet been discovered so you may find a great unheard of author.

See you next week for the last half of 2016 in review. 

March 12, 2013

Where Do You Want to Send It?

I often receive questions about how to change the "Send To" items which are found when you right click a file and scroll down to "Send To."   Some people feel there are too many items; others believe there are too few. Then there are those who don’t see the particular one they would prefer.  You may find some of these listed as options: Compressed (zipped) Folder, Desktop (create shortcut), Mail Recipient, My Documents, CD Drive or Fax Recipient (in my opinion the least used/useful of any).  The "Send To" feature has been around since Windows 95.  I previously wrote about it in XP days; however, it has significantly changed.

First, you need to decide what you want to do.  In this example we will plan two things; first a removal from the list, then we will add an item.

remove Fax RecipientWe will remove the "Fax Recipient" item from the list.  I have never met anyone who has a use for it and I bet you do not either. 

For real fun hold down your shift key and right click on a file.  While still holding the shift key go to the "Send To" link and see what you get…yes, everything Microsoft thinks you may possibly want.  In my opinion, there are way too many options.

 

 

 

 

You will need to find out where the links to these items are stored on your computer.  The hard way is to go to "C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo."  Before you stop reading let me tell you the easy way to get there.  Click the Start button in the lower left corner of your desktop and type, "shell:sendto" without spaces and without the quotes.  After pressing the Enter key a folder will open with all of your default "Send To" areas.

Next, the really easy part awaits you.  To remove an item like "Fax Recipient" you right click the item and choose delete.  You may delete it the way you normally delete files…whatever makes you happy.  Immediately after you delete it from the list, try right clicking on a file again, scroll down to "Send To" and you will notice the item you delete will be gone.

For our added item we will add the "My Pictures" folder since you may find it very convenient to add pictures directly to that folder. 

Path for PhotosGo to the, "shell:sendto" folder again.  Yes, the same place you were before.  Right-click in an empty area of that folder and select "New" and "Shortcut."  Next to the textbox that states, "Type the location of the item," click the "Browse" button.  To find the pictures folder, click your username, scroll down and click on "My Pictures," then OK.  For the final step you can use the name entered for you.  In this case, "My Pictures" or you can change the name to whatever you want. To finish it off, click "OK." 

If you accidentally delete one of the items and want it back, open your "Recycle Bin." Find the one you removed, right click it and choose "Restore."  It will be added back to the list.

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