DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 19, 2017

Meetings in Email

Before I start today’s topic I will answer emails I have received this from a couple of readers.  “Are you going to write about which computer I should purchase for Christmas?”  Sorry, but no for a couple of reasons.

First, I stopped doing this several years ago because they always sounded the same.  Next, it is fairly easy; purchase a good brand with the biggest numbers you can afford.  By, “numbers” I mean hard drive size, amount of RAM, number of ports, most pixels on the monitor, etc.   Third, due to the dates of the holidays this year, this is my last column until the second week of 2018 so there is no time.

I will answer this, to the outrage of many, “If money were no object what computer would you buy right now?”  If the first part of that statement were true, I would get the latest Microsoft Surface Pro version available.  I have used older versions (two years old) and they are very good.  That being said, some of them have a higher price tag than an Apple system which started out too high to begin with.

Now onto my last article of 2017.  I use calendars much of the time.  I, as many, use Outlook’s calendar at work.  For my personal use I am dependent on Google’s Calendar which is excellent.

No matter the calendar you use I have a recommendation which you may not have tried yet.  That is meeting invites.  Say you are having a party, meeting, lunch, whatever where you would like to invite other people.  We will also pretend you know all of their email addresses.  You can pretty easily set up an appointment with those individuals.  The following is for Google’s Calendar app but they all work much the same way.

Click in the date on your calendar and a new appointment will open.  A small window will open where you may add the title, edit the date, begin and end times for the meeting, but then click “More.”  Here you get to the details which are all optional.  The required information you have already entered so you could have hit “Save” before “More.”

New Appointment Start

You can set the new screen to repeat if it is weekly, monthly, etc.  Next you can add the location.  If you input an address in the location it is helpful for people who accept the invite if they use Google Maps or Waze for their travels.  It will pop up in those apps to warn them when they need to leave to get there on time.  Conferencing will allow you to use Google Hangouts to chat with people at the appointed time.  Add a note to the invite.

On the right is the really vital add in “Guests.”  Here you can enter the people’s names, if they are in your contacts list or email addresses if not.  Then when you Save the invite it will ask you to send the guests the invitation.  When they receive the emailed invite they can Accept, Decline or Tentatively accept the meeting.  You will be notified of their response which will be kept in the meeting information in your calendar.  That way you can check their intentions at any time.

 

Also, if you set notifications everyone who accepts an invite will be notified at the appointed time you have set.

Reviewing your appointments is easy too.  Open your calendar and click on the date to see all of the information.

Reviewing your meeting

December 5, 2017

Syncing Outlook & Google Calendars

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:08 am

I wrote about one of Google’s great apps called, “Google Calendar Sync” in 2012.  Then in 2013 they did away with it.  It was an easy to use add-on for Google that made it easy to sync between your Outlook (usually work related) and Google calendars.  That way you could have your business appointments in Outlook sent down to your private Google calendar to have everything available in one place.  Then you would not have your doctor’s appointment in your work calendar, etc.  You could also sync in the other direction or both at the same time.  Great app!  Check here “rd.dblclx.com/2AhTpJ8” (caps count in all of these shortened URLs) for a list of the many Discontinued Google Products.

In 2015 I wrote about a good replacement, “Calendar Sync +” which did the same thing but was sometimes quite difficult to coordinate.  I used it until about a year ago.  It is still available and you can read about it at “rd.dblclx.com/1MlSy85” from my old article.

At that time a friend referred me to “GO Contact Sync Mod” at “rd.dblclx.com/GOSyncMod” which I liked better.  As a matter of fact, I still use that application.  From the title you would think it would only sync your Contacts but not so.  However, it also syncs your calendars.

Once installed it will sit quietly in your taskbar’s notification area unless you have not set it to “Run Program at Startup.”  That setting only starts the program but not the actual process of syncing.  There are several items needed to successfully set up GCSM.  First, set up your Gmail address which you have to also enter the password.  Next, set “Sync Profile” to my computer.  The next checkboxes are whatever you choose and are self-explanatory. I check both “Sync” and “Prompt Deletion” settings so that all deleted items are matched up.  That way I get a warning in case something is being incorrectly deleted (has not happened yet).  Now decide if I want to also “Sync Contacts” which will pull all of your Google Contacts into Outlook for you, or visa-versa.  I personally do not use that at work, but I do at home.

GO Contact Sync Mod screen

Yes, last week I said I no longer use Outlook which is true.  However, there is also a version of GCSM for Thunderbird which also works well.

The final step is to decide how you want it to sync.  In other words, sync both ways between Outlook and Google or only in one direction so that one of them has everything.  You can also decide which app wins if GCSM cannot figure it out (rarely after the first couple of runs).

There are more setup details on the Go Contact Sync Mod site at “rd.dblclx.com/GoSyncSetUp” if you care to check.

There are other alternatives on the web but for now this is the one that works best for me.  Of course, in another couple of years I may be writing about a better option as I have done this time.

October 31, 2017

Temporary Gmail Access

Rick emailed an interesting question about Gmail this week. His company uses Google’s product, “G Suite Business” for their email. With G Suite all email and cloud storage is handled by Google in the cloud. This can allow big savings in money, time and equipment for the company. I have used it before in the corporate environment and although different it works quite well.

Rick’s question was that he was going to be out of town for vacation. He wanted to turn over control of his email to a coworker. However, (smartly so) he did not want to give them his password. NEVER give passwords to anyone.

I found that Google has a Gmail delegation feature. A Gmail delegate is someone you give access to your email account without supplying your password. Once a delegate has access to your email they have limits as to what they may and may not do on your account. They can read, send, delete and reply to emails that were sent to your account. If Rick were a delegate of mine his address would show as the sender in any email he sent on my behalf. The sender would show “sent by rickwhatever@gmail.com.” Delegates also have the ability to add, edit and remove people from your Gmail contacts.

There are also several things that are not allowed. One of the main ones is that the delegate cannot change your password. So if your delegate turned out to be an evil individual they could not block you out of your account. They also cannot chat with anyone as you while in your account. Last, they could not change your Gmail account settings.

A person may be a delegate for any number of accounts. However, a personal Gmail account can only have up to 10 delegates (corporate G Suite accounts are limited to 25).

It is fairly easy to add a delegate to Gmail; though, it must be done online as you cannot add one from your phone’s Gmail app. Log into Gmail and click the Settings button that looks like a gear in the upper right corner. Next, select the “Accounts and Import,” scroll to the bottom and click “Add another account” under the “Grant access to your account” section. Enter the email address of your delegate (it must be a “gmail.com” address) then, “Next Step.” You will now be instructed to send them an email, by clicking a link to grant them access to your account.

Grant access

Grant access to another account

The person you add will get an email from you asking them to confirm that they will take access for a while. If they do not respond within a week the request will be withdrawn and they will not be your delegate. Also note when your delegate accepts your access they may not have access to your account for up to 24 hours.

Notification email to delegate

Notification email to delegate

If you are a delegate it is easy to access that account. Sign into your own Gmail account, click your account photo (upper right corner), then from the dropdown menu select the delegated account. A new window or tab will open with their email displayed. Have at it.

When you are ready to remove their access go to the same “Grant access to your account” area and click “delete” by your delegate’s information.

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

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.

image

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.

February 20, 2017

2017-02-20 Show Notes @ WSVA

Welcome back, do to holidays, job changing and a variety of other things I have not had the show for a couple of months.

But today you may relax, we are back. Listen in at WSVA’s podcast and enjoy the show now.

Enjoy!

Tech News

February 20, 2016

FORBES: Google’s Chrome Browser Crushes The Desktop Competition In 2016 and keeps crushingA seismic shift occurred in the way the world browses the web in 2016. Google’s Chrome browser supplanted Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the world market-share leader in desktop browsers. That’s a genteel way of putting it. “Google crushed Microsoft as Chrome dominates the desktop browser field” gives a clearer picture of what happened.

The market share numbers reported in this article come from Net Applications’ Net Market Share Report which measures unique visitors from approximately 40,000 global websites. Net Applications weights their results using the CIA’s internet traffic by country data. This reduces distortions caused by differences in a country’s percentage of global internet use and the percentage of its users captured by the websites Net Applications monitors.

IE remained the global market share leader until it fell into a virtual tie with Chrome in March 2016 when IE held 39.1% and Chrome had 39.09% market share. After that it’s been all Chrome. IE began 2016 with a 43.82% share and ended the year with 20.84%. In January, Chrome held a 35.05% share and it rose to 56.43% in December. The pattern continued in January of this year with IE falling to 19.71% share and Chrome rising to 57.94%. Game over.

Edge usage grew in 2016 but not nearly enough to offset IE’s loss. Edge began the year with 3.07% share and ended it at 5.33%. Almost all of the people who abandoned IE moved to Chrome.


Google Search a Specific site
Search for specific words or phrases on only one site and any site you know the URL to. Just type in Google like this –
“potatoes” site:wsvaonline.com
– with the quotes.


See you next month on March 20, 2017. Listen up!

October 18, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 3

For the last two weeks I have shared with you what I believe are some of the best applications you could add on to a Windows 10 computer.  That goes for Windows 7 back up to and including Windows XP.  By-the-way, just in case you have not heard anyone mention it lately you should not be using Windows XP any longer since it is no longer supported by Microsoft.

This week my favorite note taking app(s):  I have two in this category.  The first is already included on Windows 10 and is for detailed notes, OneNote.  OneNote is the app you should use if you are writing a book or important document with a large amount of research.  OneNote is also found online (onenote.com) and is one of the best of the Microsoft programs though often overlooked.  The second one is for quick notes, voice reminders, lists and more from Google.  Google Keep (keep.google.com) is available for most mobile platforms too.  A quick and convenient way to make simple or not so simple notes.

OK, a very good utility I use to uninstall programs I no longer want or need is called Revo Uninstaller.  This application will remove everything necessary from your computer when uninstalling applications.  You can use the regular Windows uninstall program but it may, and usually does, leave a lot of leftover junk behind.  This takes up space on your hard drive and could slow down your system.  Revo will wipe all of the old program off.

Last week I said to use VLC for your audio/visual needs.  For music and videos, it is a great app.  Then I had a reader write and chastise me regarding iTunes (itunes.com).  I know it is hard for many of you who have listened to me over the years to believe but I like iTunes.  Yes, I know it is an Apple product but it is good; however, you really only “need” it if you have other Apple products to connect to.  So in good conscience I suggest you use iTunes if you have an iPhone, etc.

Next for all of you photo bugs out there:  A very good photo editing software which is easy to use and free is Adobe Photoshop Express.  You can download this one from the Windows Store.  It will allow you to make standard contrast, brightness, etc. settings on a picture or automatically correct it for you.  Go to the DoubleClicks.info site and check out a picture I edited.  You may also use it on your iPhone, Android or Windows phones.

Take a look below at the same picture, before and after
a one button click edit with Adobe Photoshop Express.

Original Photo

Edited Photo

Now for watching TV and movies online if you are so inclined:  Netflix.com is the one I go to.  I have tried Hulu.com (with advertisements even though you pay) and Amazon.com (where you may still pay additional per individual shows/movies).  For those reasons I am sticking with Netflix.  Do not forget they all offer specific applications to download and install which offer a better experience than watching on your browser.  Also, you can get quite a few shows from the stations’ websites, most free but some of them (CBS) charge you to watch their shows.

See you next week!

October 4, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 1

I am asked quite often what programs I would set up on a new computer.  I usually answer these email inquiries individually.  However, today I thought I would start a series of articles regarding the apps I get quizzed on most often.

This is in reference to applications I like better than those supplied with Windows computers.  They are not necessarily the best programs to accomplish their assigned tasks but the ones I like best.  You may certainly go to DoubleClicks.info or email me and share your opinions.  Also, these are all free…you know me.

Ninite logo

When you get a new computer go straight to Ninite.com. Ninite offers almost 90 applications that you can add to Windows in one visit.  You click check box next to the program you want to install and when finished download the resulting executable file.  Run it and all of the programs you chose will be installed to your computer.  It will take a while depending on how many you choose but it is quicker than going to each site, downloading a file and then installing each individually.  Most of the programs I will talk about here may be found at Ninite.  It has always worked flawlessly for me.

Next on my list is a browser since both of the versions of MSIE (Edge included as one) are OK browsers but not the best.  I choose Google Chrome for my favorite and run it as my default browser (google.com/chrome).  My second vote would be for Firefox. (firefox.com

Google Chrome Browser logo                             Mozilla Firefox Browser logo

Now the biggie?!  Do I recommend Microsoft Office? If so which version and if not what office application do I use?  Tough question as I use Microsoft Office 2016 on my main computer.  It is an excellent office suite.  However, when that license expires, and another charge is levied by MS for its continuation (i.e., cloud versions) or whatever else may financially "get" me, I will switch.  I will happily switch to Libre Office (libreoffice.org) which is an Open Source application. (translation = free) 

LibreOffice logo                            Microsoft Office 2016/365 logo

Libre Office is equal to the MS Office Suite is most respects for the largest majority of users.  The main difference between the two is that LO uses a menu driven system like MS Office did up until version 2007 where it switched to the Ribbon.  By-the-way, after almost 10 years of using the Ribbon in Office I still think the menu system was better.  But back to Libre Office as a great replacement for the best known office suite.   For a very detailed comparison between LO and MO go here

The last one for this week is what PDF viewer do I favor?  The most well-known is Adobe Acrobat (get.adobe.com/reader); however, you basically may only view PDF files using that application.  If you need to create or edit them, you need to pay for the application.  Guess what?  Libre Office, as well as Microsoft Office, can view, edit and create PDF files.  So if you have one of them you have no need for another application that does less.

Adobe Acrobat logo

Next we will look at some utilities, a great video player, video chat and more!

August 15, 2016

2016-08-15 Show Notes with WSVA

Filed under: WSVA Show Notes — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 11:17 am

Welcome back to the site for the podcast and show notes from today’s show.

Tech News

OK, Google: 160 valuable voice commands for Android

Android has actually had a robust voice command system in place for ages — and the number of things it can do for you is expanding all the time.

In fact, Google may be preparing to unveil a newly rebranded and even more conversational version of its virtual assistant later this year, but you don’t have to wait to start making the most of your mobile device’s listening smarts.

  • Enable/disable [battery saver mode] (and other system features, such as mute)
  • Take a photo/selfie
  • Record a video
  • What time zone is [most any city] in?
  • Do I need an umbrella today?
  • Where’s the closest [bowling alley]? (or most any other business)
  • When’s the sunrise in [anywhere]?
  • Set a timer for [10 minutes]
  • Call [anyone in your Google address book], mobile/home/work
  • When is the sunset tonight?

Nintendo’s NES Classic Targets Gaming Geezers

Nintendo ..recently.. unveiled its latest gaming console: the NES Classic Edition, a mini replica of the original home console that can connect directly to a TV via an HDMI cable.

The system features 30 built-in games from the 8-bit era, including fan favorites such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN and Kirby’s Adventure.

“We wanted to give fans of all ages the opportunity to revisit Nintendo’s original system and rediscover why they fell in love with Nintendo in the first place,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America.

“The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is ideal for anyone who remembers playing the NES, or who wants to pass on those nostalgic memories to the next generation of gamers,” he added.

The system, which will be available this fall for US$59.99, will ship with a newly designed NES Classic Controller patterned after the original NES controller. It will include an HDMI cable and an AC adapter.


Historical Software
Did you have an old Atari game console or one of the many others from back in the day? Go to this site and play them again, just like when you were a kid.

This collection contains selected historically important software packages from the Internet Archive’s software archives. Through the use of in-browser emulators, it is possible to try out these items and experiment with using them, without the additional burdens of installing emulator software or tracking down the programs. Many of these software products were the first of their kind, or utilized features and approaches that have been copied or recreated on many programs since.


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.)

Google Opinion Rewards

Answer quick surveys and earn Google Play credits with Google Opinion Rewards.

Getting started is easy. Download the app and answer basic questions about yourself. We’ll then send you surveys around once a week, although it may be more or less frequent. You’ll get a notification on your phone when a short and relevant survey is ready for you, and can receive up to $1.00 in Play credits for completing it. Questions can range from, “Which logo is best?” and “Which promotion is most compelling?” to “When do you plan on traveling next?”

Availalbe for Android devices only.


I hope you enjoyed this month’s show. Come back the third Monday of September to find out what is going on in Tech then!

Ron

July 26, 2016

Make Money with Google?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:37 am

Well, after the turmoil I created worrying you about Google watching you online last week, today you can get’em back! 

I thought today I would show you how to make some money off of Google.  Now be warned.  You will not be able to quit your job or buy a new car but you can make a couple of bucks when you have a minute to kill.

Google Opinion Rewards logoI started using Google Opinion Rewards about two weeks ago (rd.dblclx.com/GoogleOpinions).  I saw a write up on it from an RSS feed about Google which I receive every day.  I thought hmm, sounds like fun. So I gave it a try.

The way it works is occasionally you will get a survey on your Android device, sorry not for any other devices at this time.  For me the survey is usually about something I have never heard of.  I got one asking if I had read a specific magazine in the past week.  Easy answer since I had never heard of the magazine.  It then asked only two more follow up questions.  When I finished it added $0.34 to my Google account. Of course, it is not money to spend anywhere but at the Google Play store for apps, books and movies provided by Google.

The surveys are very consistent never having more than five or six questions and many have less than that.  Being so short you can take one in much less than a minute.  The app write-up says you will get one or more a week.  I got seven the first week, a few more the second week and this week (two days in) I have gotten none. 

Google Opinion RewardsThe questions also interested me concerning the article I wrote last week.  If you did not see it and are interested find last week’s newspaper or visit DoubleClicks.info.  One question I was asked sounded something like, "Have you been to a Honda, Ford, GM or Nissan dealership recently?"  Interestingly, three days before I had been to one of those dealers to have my car repaired.  I responded affirmatively and then it wanted to know how many days before I had gone.  The options were all less than a week except the last one which was, "More than 1 week."

From the information I told you about last week we know that Google knows where I went from my phone.  They previously knew I was at the dealership via that device.  My thought was, "Interesting, they are checking to see if I am honestly taking the survey or not."  They have not asked anything about how much I paid or what something cost.  They are very general questions.

Now what you have all been waiting for…how much money has Ron made with this thing?  OK, first the least money I have made for a survey was $0.10.  The most I made was $0.63.  And the total for the twelve days I have received surveys was an astounding – are you ready for it?  $6.89, which is not that much, but hey, it is technology, it is fun and it is not Pokémon. 

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