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 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!

December 16, 2014

Tech Christmas, Part 2

Last week, I suggested a few techie Christmas gifts. Some readers requested a few more; so, they are as follow.

Let’s start on a slightly different foot. This is similar to the musical cards that play songs or prerecorded messages when opened, but it’s a little different. At spreengs.com, users can create their own video card.

Users create their own video, then upload it to the site, at which point it is completed and mailed to recipients. Or, the company can mail users the card, envelope and USB wire, so the video can be uploaded to the card and sent. The first option costs about $5 more. The few that I looked at ranged about $ 20- 40.

447_mifi5510lFor a gift that keeps on giving — for a monthly fee — try a personal Wi- Fi Hotspot. These small devices supply users with highspeed Internet connections. Speeds are fastest with 4G coverage. Sometimes, I use one for work and it usually gets from 7 to 12 mbps download speed, which is enough to watch movies.  Shown here is the Verizon Mi-Fi that I use which works very well with 4G.

Prices vary for the hardware to the monthly charges for the amount of data used. However, before buying one, check if your cellphone has a hotspot capability, as it may be less expensive.

Tablet sales are down about four percent this year; but tablet keyboard sales are up approximately 90 percent. Users can take an old tablet and, add a Bluetooth keyboard, which costs from $20- 50. Users have found that this is much more convenient than typing on a tablet without a keyboard. You can also get a new tablet with a keyboard included; however, the cost will likely be much higher.

Also available are Mighty Purses, a fusion between fashion and technology available at mighty- purse. com. These bags have a lightweight, built- in battery and a cable for phone charging. They are available in a variety of colors and designs. Prices on Amazon. com run approximately $80- 100.

The Shoulderpod S1 (shoulderpod.com) is a $ 34.90 gadget that attaches to most any cellphone, with or without a case, and has three functions. First, it has a camera grip mode that can be attached to the phone and a grip and strap for users’ hands and wrists, respectively. Second, it has a desk mount mode, which allows users to stabilize without a tripod. Third, it has a mount to attach the phone to the tripod.

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April 21, 2014

2014-04-21 WSVA Show Notes

Today we had the April show on WSVA, 550AM.  If you have 40 minutes to learn some new tech info and listen to Jim Britt and I having fun…take a listen here.  A few calls, a few issues, a few news items and a lot more.  Enjoy the links we talked about below.

Tech News
Heartbleed Explained
If you’re an IT professional, gadget blogger or token geek in your circle of friends, chances are, you’ve been hounded relentlessly over the past couple of days about "this Heartbleed thing."

"Do I need to update my antivirus?"

"Can I login to my bank account now?"

"Google already fixed it, right?"

We’ve heard them all, but the answers aren’t all that clear or simple. In an attempt to take the pressure off — it is the weekend after all — we’ve put together a primer that should answer all of those questions and a few more. Next time someone asks you about that "Heartbleed thing," just shoot them in our direction.


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.)
SnapSeed

Snapseed is the only photo app you’ll want to use every day. It makes any photograph extraordinary with a fun, high-quality photo experience right at your fingertips. Anyone can enhance, transform, and share their photos with ease using incredibly advanced features from the leader in digital photography software. Built-in Google+ capabilities make it even more powerful to share your images with your friends and family.


Links mentioned:
"Play Some Music"
EndGadget
Sometimes, having your entire music collection in your pocket can be a bit overwhelming. When there are hundreds (or in our case, thousands) of tracks at your disposal, where do you even begin to listen? To help thwart that paralysis of choice, Google is going to do the guessing for you with its latest tweak to Search. From Google Now or the search bar, simply say the magic words "play some music" and your Android device will start playing a random Play Music "I’m feeling lucky" mix that’s based on recent listening habits.


  • Rent an MBA abcnews.go.com
    The best business brains can now be hired on the cheap and by the hour. Two new websites make it possible for companies and individuals to get consulting help from young MBAs newly minted from such top business schools as Harvard and Wharton.

    The same 35-hour consulting job for which a traditional, blue chip firm might charge $20,000 might cost as little as $1,500 on these sites. That’s, in part, because the participating MBAs typically are ones still in school or just starting out on their careers; it’s also because the websites don’t carry the same overhead as traditional consulting firms.


    Have a great afternoon and let me know what you would like to hear about on the show next month, Monday, May 18th.

    Ron

  • 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!

    January 21, 2013

    2013-01-21 WSVA Show Notes

    Today we covered the technology news of the days, sites you can visit and use along with HGTV shows, the Kardashians and even…yes, Paris Hilton.  What those last ones you may wonder.  To find out check out the podcast from today.

    Tech News
    Structural Shift in PC Market
    Worldwide PC shipments dropped 4.9% in the fourth quarter pointing to a structural shift rather than just a weak economy, according to new data from technology research firm Gartner Inc. (IT)

    "Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by "cannibalizing" PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC."


    Apple Rumored to be developing a new "Have to Have" Gadget
    The idea of a smartwatch is nothing new; we’ve seen plenty of wrist-borne accessories designed to work alongside smartphones, and even some running smartphone platforms themselves. Pebble, with its e-ink screen, looks like it will be quite nice (if it ever actually ships), especially for iOS users. What about an official Apple smartwatch, though? You can wear an iPod on a wrist strap, but that’s not quite the same thing. Well, Apple might just have a full-blown smartwatch project in the works, at least according to some new rumors out of Asia.

    Supposedly, Apple and Intel have been working together on this smartwatch, which would feature a 1.5-inch OLED display. The watch would talk to your iPhone over a low-power Bluetooth connection.

    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.)
    Pitfall

    Remember 1981 and Indiana Jones? Do you also remember Activision’s Atari 2600? Finally, how about Pitfall and Pitfall Harry? I remember it well as I spent many hours trying to avoid the jaws of the alligators on my Atari system.

    The graphics are significantly better that the old sprites and game play from the last century and now you can play it on your phone!

    Escape the wrath of an angry volcano while collecting ancient treasures in PITFALL!, an adrenaline-fueled, free-running adventure set in a deadly jungle with twists and turns that will always keep you on your toes.

    Interesting article about the original.

    USB Pet Rock
    USB Pet Rock!
    It’s back, it’s bold it’s beautiful! Just like the original up updated for the current times.


    About.Me
    about.me
    About.me is a free service that lets you create a beautiful one-page website that’s all about you and your interests. Upload a photo, write a short bio, and add your favorite social networks to show the world the big picture of you. We’ve focused on enabling you to:

    Quickly build a personal web page that points visitors to your content from around the web. It is like an online business card.

    Check out mine at About.me/rondoyle or my personal one I made myself.


    Futuristic A-Frame Glasses Will Adjust to Fit Any Face
    gizmodo.com
    For some, the task of finding a pair of glasses or sunglasses is an epic task. Not only do you have to find a pair that compliments the shape of your face, but they also have to fit your face. With that in mind, designer Ron Arad designed the A-Frame line of glasses that can expand and contract to sit comfortably on any face address the latter issue.


    Wonder Page
    www.wonderpage.com
    Wonderpage is a new visual, private & social bookmarking tool, it also serves perfectly as browser start-up page with super sweet bookmark grid display.

    It gives you a thumbnail of each webpage you "bookmark" so that you can make this your home page on your browser and get to the places you visit regularly online very quickly.


    WakerUpper
    wakerupper.com
    At this site enter the date, time, phone number and message; then your phone will…

    • Set a wake-up call at a specific time.
    • Remind yourself of important events.
    • Remember to take medication on time.
    • Escape from a boring date or meeting.
    • Remind child or spouse to do chores.
    • Set reminders for tasks and follow-ups.

    My Space
    myspace.com
    Justin Timberlake is the one that is bringing back MySpace.

    Will it succeed this time around? Who knows, but Justin is making a stab at it. It is very different, check it out and see if you think it will make it against Twitter, Facebook and all the other social networks.

    That is all for this month. Take a look around, let me know your thoughts about all the links and info today.


    Have a great month until Jim and I see you next month on February 18th.

    Thanks,

    Ron

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