DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

July 11, 2017

Google Makes Some Changes

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:10 am

If you have followed my articles through the past 15 or so years, you’d realize that I have a love/hate relationship with Google. OK, it’s mostly love, but sometimes they really antagonize me.

Today, I have two Google changes for you: one insignificant and the other very significant.

First up is the one that will most likely have no effect on you. "Google Talk" was a social/ chat application that Google started back in 2005.

Now, I do not know how you feel, but I have more than enough communications ability with Facebook alone and do not feel the need for another. But many people differ, so I guess another app like this could have worked.

In reality, most people never used Talk. So, as of June 6, it was shut down.

Never fear, because Google is moving everyone that may have used Talk over to another Google platform, "Google Hangouts." Hangouts is another messaging app similar to Talk, but offers more, including video chat capabilities. I may talk more about it in the future – maybe before they shut it down, too.

Ron's Hangout...never used

Next is the great new change for Gmail. If you are or have been using the very good Gmail product for email, I hope you know the following; if not, you may be surprised.

In the information regarding Gmail when you sign up, it tells you that Google will be " scanning" your email for advertisement purposes.

Have you ever noticed the ads on the side of the screen in Gmail, sometimes showing you things you have been talking or thinking about?

That is because Google is taking a look at your emails and seeing what you are interested in.

It’s called targeted advertising. It works well for them to sell advertising to companies, knowing that they will be seen by people that are likely buyers. Now they say they do not scan any personal information in your emails, but personally, that is hard for me to believe.

Now for the big news: Google announced that they will no longer be scanning your emails at some point "later this year."

That’s good news, and I believe them. No, really, I do. With their paid email app, "G Suite," they have never scanned emails. This is because it was company information and, if scanned, it could be said they would have access to private company dealings. Google could have, whether guilty or not, found itself in big trouble if that was thought to be the case. They are going to match them up with the free accounts you and I have. No more "targeted advertising."

That last line was a falsehood. You will still be targeted if you use Google. If you are logged into your Google account and use Google.com to search, you are watched. Google knows every site you visit, what you buy, what your interests are, etc. That’s especially true in the Google Chrome browser. They record cookies on your computer, so they always keep track of you, just not your user information.

So, you will continue to see ads that interest you. There are ways around it, and one is to use a different search engine that does not track you. DuckDuckGo.com comes to mind first in that category. Even though it uses Google, you will not be traced. The user interface is not as likable as Google, but no one will be watching you.

Go visit DuckDuckGo search engine

July 19, 2016

You ARE Being Watched

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:41 am

I have mentioned before that if you have an Android phone or use Google Maps on any device, your movements are being recorded.  Just browse to “maps.google.com” for a peek.  Once there, click the menu (hamburger, three horizontal bars) on the upper left and choose “Your timeline.”  Take a look around and see where you have been…unless you have stopped this feature.  More about that later.

Google recently came out with another tracking function that you may not have heard of yet.  It is called My Activity and you can find yours at myactivity.google.com.

Basically this feature of Google follows you all over the web.  Pretty much anywhere you go online is recorded.  This activity page allows you to see when you visited websites (links are included so you can revisit them) along with everything you have searched for using Google.  It goes on to show you YouTube videos you have watched because Google owns that too.  All locations you have used in Google Maps are there.  Even the games you have looked for and played on your Android device have that history shown.  Finally, every app I use on my Google device is revealed.  I could see how many times I checked my Gmail and when I played a game of Hanging Free (the only online game I play).

By-the-time you read this who knows what else they may be finding out about you.  Well, Google is a search engine so what did you expect?

Now keep in mind that if you are not logged into your Google/Gmail account in your browser you are safe from being followed.  Keep in mind also that if you are using an Android phone, tablet or Chromebook, you must be logged into your Google account for everything to work.

Once you go to the “My Activity” site you will notice a declaration that states, “Only you can see this data. Google protects your privacy and security.”  You can click there and read all of the information Google has and how it is used.  I found it disquieting that their descriptions are done with little cartoons, since I personally do not like cartoons for important explanations.

My Activity MenuYou may ask, “Can I stop this!?”  Sure you can, I would not have tried to scare you like this unless I had a way out!  Go to your own My Activity page and to the right of each item you will see three vertical dots.  Click them and choose either details or delete and click the one you wish to perform. Next to the Day listing you can only delete.

Now if you just want to get rid of all of them try this.  Click the hamburger icon in the left corner next to “Google My Activity” and choose “Delete activity by.”  Once there use the controls at the top and choose what days you want to delete from your activity history.  Scroll to the bottom of the list and select “All time” and once deleted all of the information will vanish.

Finally, go back to hamburger “Google My Activity” but this time choose “Activity controls.”  When there you may select which particular types of information you want to stop by clicking the on/off buttons.  Do not panic! There are only six of them to adjust.  I cut them all off on my account with the exception of “Location history.”

January 26, 2016

Retraction – Sort Of

Back last year in November I wrote about something I had received a lot of email requests about.  If you remember or were one of the writers it was regarding an application that could replace Google Calendar Sync.

Google Calendar Sync was a great application for those people who use a Google calendar as well as an Outlook calendar.  Usually that would be a combo between home and work accounts.  I recommended a new application I had discovered, used for the past year or so and found to be a good replacement for Google’s app.  It is called, "Calendar Sync +" (calendarsyncplus.codeplex.com) and is still a good app; however, I have found one that is even better.

As many of you may be aware last week I lost my job of the past 17 years due to a Reduction in Force of approximately ten percent of the employees.  This led me to find new ways to use Google and Outlook together.

Someone recommended a program to me called, "GO Contact Sync Mod." (googlesyncmod.sourceforge.net)  I have tried it and it is excellent.  It syncs calendar appointments very similarly to the one I mentioned before; however, it has one major difference.  As you can see from the title it also will sync your Contacts.  It will also sync Notes but that is not something that I have ever used. 

If you choose to give it a try the site will give you instructions. You basically start it and fill in a couple of blanks.  You start by entering your Gmail address in the upper left quadrant of the page.

The next thing you will need to decide is how you want it to sync the data.  There are five options.  Basically those options are for you to decide which way the sync flows (to which calendar) and which wins in case of differences.  Check the site for details and be careful as some of these settings could cause complications with your calendars if not done correctly.

Toward the end you need to enter your time zone to get everything accurate.  Then how many months in the past and in the future you wish to sync.  The last couple of items are pretty self-explanatory, one being if you want it to run automatically or not. 

If you try this out please let me know if it has been as useful for you as it has for me.  (Also, let me know of any positions that I may be able to fill.)

Ron's setup of GO Contact Sync Mod

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!

October 7, 2014

June 17, 2014

April 29, 2014

Online Docs May Be the Answer

Last week we looked at the confusion regarding the many choices with Microsoft Office.  I said I would have another solution for Lindsey and you this week.   

imageHere are two more good options.  Office Live or OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) depending on where you read about it or Google Drive (drive.google.com or just get there from any Google product you are logged into.)  Either of these are very good online solutions.  There are many ways to get Office Live.  I suggest using Live.com.  There you can sign up for a free Outlook.com email account which gives you access to everything you need.  You can also sign up with Yahoo! or Gmail accounts; although I have not experimented with those.  If you already signed in to other MS devices like a Windows PC, tablet, phone, Xbox Live, Outlook.com, or OneDrive, use that account to sign in.  Once there you can view and use your email, address book, calendar, online drive Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. To get to these click the labeled down arrow in the upper-left corner of the window.  Any of the files created can be stored in OneDrive so that you can retrieve them from any online computer.  They are all saved in the default MS Office formats so you can easily share them via email, etc.

imageVery similar products are available with a Google/Gmail account.  Setup a free account or you can use one you already have. Once logged in click the "Apps" button in the upper-right corner that looks like a small tic-tac-toe pattern, and then select "Drive."  You have a create button on this screen where you may choose from Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form and several others depending on what you normally use with Google.  The files you create here are saved on your Google Drive for later retrieval just as in Live.com.

Even though I am a Google fan boy, Google is not quite friendly to Microsoft Office file types.  That being said they work with MS products; they just take an extra step or two.  There are several ways to do this but they all require you to download the file to your local computer.  I suggest finding your file in the file list, right click on it and choose download.  You will be presented with a choice of what file type you want to use, so choose "Microsoft Word. (.docx) You will then have it in your downloaded files to share as a standard Word doc.

Another note regarding Google docs.  When right clicked you may also choose to "Share" the file.  If you choose email as an attachment you once again can choose the file format and MS Word is one of the choices.

Now the final note.  OneNote is a terrific app available only with the Microsoft suite.  If you are interested let me know via email and I will share that with you in the future.

There are many other options and features in both Microsoft and Google online offerings.  Lindsey chose to try both and make a final decision later.  How about you?

April 1, 2014

Better Battery Life for Android

image I hear complaints from people all the time about how their phones’ battery life is poor.  Some say they won’t last an entire day.  Sometimes this is very true especially with older Android devices; however, the newer ones have pretty good strength between charges.  Of course, this depends on how you use your phone.

If you are like some folks I and constantly stare at your phone waiting to respond to the latest text message and/or Facebook item, then yes, you will have battery longevity difficulties.  There is absolutely nothing you can do about it other than talk to people in person.  As a matter-of-fact that is a strong suggestion to all of us.  Be personal with people and stay off of the "social" networks which actually do the opposite of making us more social.  But that is another story.

Other than the above one thing that can help is to go to your settings and change the time out on your screen.  This is the time that it takes for your screen to dim to dark after you use it.  The settings for this can vary by phone, but basically go to Settings/Display/Sleep and lower the time.  If it is set to two minutes change it to 30 seconds.  If that bothers you and you feel it is not good for you, go back and change it again.  No problem.  While is the Display area go to Brightness and set it to Automatic or dim it manually lower.  This is how bright your screen is and you can most likely dim it.  These are two of the larger battery hogs on your phone that you can control.

Anything that operates your phone while you are not using it can usually be changed for better battery consumption.  For instance, if you are not using your map feature to find your way through town cut off GPS which takes a lot of power.  To change it on my phone I go to Settings/Location Services and uncheck the "allow" GPS item.  I will not mention it again but the way I tell you to change all items here may vary by phone.  Another thing while in Settings is to got to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and stop both of them.  The only reason for Bluetooth is if you are using a headset earpiece and then you need it, but if not cut it off.  Wi-fi is a good feature but if you are outside nowhere near Wi-Fi you do not need for your phone to keep searching for it and wear down your power. 

While in the Locations area above look for "Location and Google search" and shut it down. Do you really need Google to know where you are when searching for "Blue Birds?"  Now you may if you are searching for a gas station but you could also just enter the Zip Code of the area you are in with Gas Station and get it that way.  Of course, maybe you do need it, login to your Gmail account and then go to, maps.google.com/locationhistory and let me know.  Muhahaha!  I bet you didn’t know that you were being followed did you?

Go back to Settings, click on Battery to see which apps are using your battery the most.  You may be able to click on the big power users and change their settings from there.  Change them so that you can get the most out of your battery.  Of course, the way I fight short battery life is to have a charger at my desk, bed and car.

February 25, 2014

February 18, 2014

Printing from the Cloud, Part 1

Several weeks ago after a column about Google Chromebooks, I received a great question from a reader and friend of mine, Joe. Joe asked about how he could set up Google Cloud Printer on his Chromebook.  After I researched and set it up I started receiving many other emails concerning the same question, so here we go.

If you have heard about it before, Google’s "Cloud Print" feature sounds great.  It will allow you to print documents to any printer having cloud print set up from anywhere in the world.

Image from Google.comThis is really convenient.  There are several things you must have to do this.  First, you must have a Google/Gmail account.  Next, a computer that is online and physically connected to the destination printer; obviously, they must work together at that location.  Also, for this to work both the destination computer and printer must be on, or you cannot print to them.  The reason for this is that you will actually be sending the file you want to print from your computer to the computer in another location which is connected to the printer, so they must be on and working.  All of this is accomplished through Google Chrome browser on both devices. 

The Google Chrome browser, "Chrome" has to be installed on both computers (the one you are printing from and the one connected to the printer). 

You must start the setup process from the computer which is physically connected to the printer, your destination device.  The first step is to open your Chrome browser, click the small wrench in the upper right-hand corner, (it could also be a small box with horizontal lines) click on Settings and then again on Settings located in the left navigation area of Chrome.

Scroll down to the bottom and click "Show advanced settings…"  Move down that screen until you see "Google Cloud Print."  You could click on "Learn more" for help from Google or read on.  Click the "Manage" button and then "Add printers."  You may need to sign into your Google account, if you have not already been in your Gmail, etc.  You will see a list of printers connected to that computer, click the checkbox for the printer and click "Add Printer."   You will now have a Manage Printer button, click it to see that your printer has been added.  Now that printer will be available on any computer on which you are running the Chrome browser and have logged in with your Google account.

You are now in the Caribbean with your notebook computer or Android tablet.  You want to print your memoirs to your home computer.  Click the Print button in your writing program, Word or Libre Office, or even a webpage.  You must be logged onto your Google account and have Chrome installed.  Next, you will change to the Google Printer previously setup by you at home and hit the print button.  When you get back home your documents will be waiting for you.

But wait, that is not the entire story…tune in next week for a better idea.

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