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

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. 

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.”

July 12, 2016

Chrome Browser & Leoh

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:29 am

I have a home page I use on all of my browsers.  It is a web page I created a couple of years ago which I update quite often.  It has links to most of the sites I use on a regular or semi-regular basis.

Over the years I have updated, added, and removed links as needed.  Using this home page, I can click direct links that I have created to get to Gmail, Tech Republic, Microsoft, Double Clicks, and all of the other really good sites.  Plus, my bank, the DNR Online.  I also have my own background and a very nice weather station widget so I can always keep up with the most recent guesses from the various weather sites.

Part of Ron's Home PageRon’s Old Home Page

I have realized over the years that I have most of my commonly visited site addresses in my head.  I can type their URL in very quickly from memory.  So I do not really need most of my homepage page links.

So, several weeks ago I read about a new extension for the Google Chrome browser that sounds interesting. Its name is Leoh (leoh.io) and it sets up a very nice useful page when you open a new tab.

The original start page/tab with Chrome is one you are familiar with.  You know, the Google page with eight links to your most visited sites along with a few other Google links, shown below.  With the Leoh extension installed you get many choices on how to personalize your start page.

Original Google Chrome tab

First, it has numerous choices you can make about your new homepage.  You can choose a colorful background as well as your own or others’ photographs.  You can have the time and weather shown in several different formats.  There is also a links section which has Leoh, Google and other common ones which can be added to or removed from.  There is also an eye icon in the upper left of the page where you have your most visited sites just like on the old start page.

To change most anything on the start page look to the lower left corner and click the gear icon.  There you have all of the current settings available for Leoh.  Click around and you will easily figure out how to change your page.  Do not be afraid to experiment to get your own perfect page. Try the “Zen” mode for soothing videos.

Another neat feature that you can take advantage of is syncing Leoh.  If you, like me, have a couple of computers and have set up Google Chrome browser with your Gmail account, you know that it will sync your bookmarks, etc. between computers automatically.

If you have already set that up all information from Leoh is synced so no matter if you are at work or at home, your options and preferences set up on one computer will go out to all.

If you like to spice up your browser’s simple old start page, I highly recommend you take a look at Leoh.io.

Ron's current Leoh tab
Check the arrows on my Leoh page for things to check on yours.

May 17, 2016

Microsoft Took Control

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:19 am

A few weeks ago I wrote a series of articles about some Windows 10 tips.  I like Windows 10 just fine; although, I realize some of you out there do not.  But that is fine.   Choices and variety are usually good.

However, after a recent Windows 10 update I found something I was really annoyed with (I am too laid back to get mad, but I was close.)

I opened a link to a website after the update and the Microsoft Edge browser had replaced Google Chrome as my default browser.

No big deal since I am a geek and know how to "fix" Windows stuff when it happens.  So I went to set up Chrome as my default browser again.

Click on the Windows start icon on the lower left then type, "Default app settings."  You should perform that step after your computer has been on for a few minutes.  I have sometimes found that the search does not function well until all of your start up programs have finished.  Click the link to the default app settings at the top.  A new window will open where you will scroll down on the right to "Web browser" and the click "Choose a default." If anything but the preferred browser is shown in that icon you may change it to the browser you want to use when you click on any link.  You may have a grey "+" box which indicates no default is set.

Default apps

This has been the prescribed method to change most all default settings for the recent OS versions.  For instance, I use VLC (VideoLAN) for all of my music and video playing so both of those are set up there. 

But as I stated the last update(s) changed that.  You can set default apps for all except your browser now.  Microsoft took that away from you to make the world use MS Edge.  I do not care for Edge, along with many others. 

Here is the secret way to correct this issue which I found after Googling for quite a while.    While in the default app settings area scroll down a little more and click on "Set defaults by app."  This is where you set them up in older versions of Windows.  It is actually in your Control Panel.

Settings

Finally scroll down the list on the left of all of your applications.  Click the one you want to set as the default and then on the right click "Set this program as default."

Default apps

That "old way" overwrites the settings Microsoft has used to block other browsers from becoming the default in the latest updates for Windows 10.  

One last thought for you Windows 10 haters.  I read this article recently about what will happen after the July 29th cutoff date for getting the free Windows 10 upgrade. Please remember that capitalization counts, "rd.dblclx.com/stopW10". 

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