DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

February 20, 2018

What is That?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , — Ron @ 5:21 am

I stumbled across a very interesting application for my phone the other day.  I have often thought it would be neat to take a picture of something and get information on the subject.

With the CamFind application you can. Find it at camfindapp.com.  It retrieves information fairly accurately on many, but not all, things that can be photographed.  It is built for iPhones, Android phones and Google Glass. (Why, since not many are out there?)  You can find links to the perspective stores at the main site mentioned above.

Basically, it is a search engine based on pictures.  When I first experimented with it I was in a local building and took a picture of the tiled floor at my feet.  Yes, I know that it strange but I thought, “OK, let’s give it a try.”  After a few seconds it filtered through several words that could or could not describe the tile and came up with an almost identical floor.  Not only that but it gave me links to other samples of the same or similar tiles and where I could purchase them.

I took a picture of a couple of Cardinals in our backyard (birds not religious leaders).  After running through a series of related and non-related words (once it flashed “red strapless dress”) it found cardinals.  It gave me links to similar pictures and sites with more information.

I tried a few more shots.  I took a picture of the shoes I had on.  They are beige slippers.  It returned information on brown loafers.  It is not perfect but will be getting better over time the more it is used.

Sample from CamFindNext, I moved to cars.  I took a picture of a Jeep Grand Cherokee (in a parking lot so now I am on a watch list somewhere) and it told me it was a 2018.  I am not sure about the date but it got the Jeep.  I took one of my car.  It recognized it as a Honda CR-V but it did not give the year…too old I am sure.

I will wrap this up after a couple of more examples.  I got very close to my TV so that you could not see the border of the TV.  I took a picture of an actor on the screen.  The result was, ads for “flat-screen TVs.”  My only guess is that it could tell by the slight pixilation.

My last experiment was food.  I made a sandwich, took a few bites and took the shot.  It filtered through and I thought it was going to settle on a” brown plush bear stuffed toy.”  However, at the last second it switched to “a slice of brown bread.”

OK, after my few examples I want you to go to your phone’s online store, download CamFind (or from the main site) and try it out today.  For you purists who need a useful piece of tech this is not it, but who knows how it will work a year or two from now?  At this time, it is for fun only and is not always that helpful.  But hey, go have some fun!

January 30, 2018

Information Regarding Your Car

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:33 am

A couple of years ago I bought something for my car that was new on the market.  You know something about me if you have read this column for any amount of time.  That is that I do not like to spend money unless something is really useful or not available for free.  I also like gadgets and new software.  This device covered all those bases for me and I thought you may like it also.

A friend of mine got an Automatic adapter for themselves and really liked it.  After these couple of years, I realized I have never mentioned this device to you, so here we go.

Automatic Pro

The developer, Automatic Labs, a subsidiary of Sirius XM Holdings Inc., developed this adapter that fits in most cars built after 1996.  You can check their site at Automatic.com and see if your car can use it or not.  It is approximately one-fourth the size of your cell phone and probably twice as thick.

It plugs in to the computer port (OBD-II) that your mechanic plugs their computer into to find out if your car is having any issues.  Basically, you plug it in, install the application on your phone and it starts working. There are two versions the Automatic Pro and the Lite adapters.  I will talk about the Pro’s capabilities here.  To compare the two, visit the site.

It will provide you with the same thing your mechanic can find out; however, it not only generates a code but tells you exactly what it means to the welfare of your automobile.  But then it goes beyond that service and provides much more information about your car and even some about you.

You can keep track of your fuel fill-ups, miles per gallon and your trips.  You can choose to separate personal from business miles and expenses.

It is also able to track your car’s location.  That includes where in the huge parking lot you left your car.  Other apps do that too but not with all the extras.

It also has many other apps that could be useful like if you have a serious accident. (I guess that is determined by how hard you get hit.)  Their trained responders will contact you, emergency services, and even someone else you choose if you want them to.

The thing I personally like is that it is watching my driving and gives me a report monthly.  It suggests ways I could change my driving to get better mileage and longer lasting tires, etc.  It also tells me how I compare to their huge database of drivers who use the Automatic devices.  I found that I am a relatively conservative driver who brakes well and does not accelerate too fast.  However, if shows on a map if I exceed the speed limit anywhere by any amount at any time.  Of course, that rarely if ever happens, well maybe once or twice.

I moved it from one of our cars to the other and wanted all the stats reset for the current car. I had to contact the support people by email to do so.  You cannot reset the device yourself.  It did not take long and they were very helpful.  I would have thought you would be able to do that for yourself.

January 23, 2018

PIN or Password

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:51 am

From emails I hear many got new Windows 10 computers for Christmas and it is encouraging you do use a Pin and not a Password to secure it. Is a four-digit pin a good idea to use over your either character password? Microsoft says it is a very good security feature for your computer. I say it may be after reviewing their thoughts.

When you first log onto a new W10 system it will ask you to log in with your Microsoft user account. If you do not have a MS account, i.e., Outlook.com, Hotmail.com or Live.com, it will encourage you to create one in Outlook.com.

After you are done logging in with your MS account (also called a linked account), you can use that email address and password to log into W10. You could also create a local account on your W10 PC and log in with that username and password.

If you are unsure of how MS/linked accounts differ from a local one check one of my previous articles, “Windows 10, Part 2” (rd.dblclx.com/LocalAcct). Microsoft also has a site telling you the pros and cons of each, (rd.dblclx.com/localvslinked).

It is easy to set up a pin. When logged into your computer click the Windows button on your keyboard. Type, “sign in options” and when you see it, click it.

Sign-in options

Scroll down to “PIN” and follow the directions.

Setup PIN

So, if you use your password for your login it should be long and cumbersome to keep others out. If you decide to use a pin, the default setting if a four-digit pin just like your bankcard uses. To me that seems too simple if someone really wants to hack your PC.

Here are some of the reasons MS says it is a good idea. One is that your pin is local to that PC. This means that you can set up different pins on each computer you own or use. It is tied to the hardware of that specific computer so if someone were wise enough to get it they would not have your Microsoft Account password too. That would keep other things like your email safe.

This makes good sense to me but since we are humans do we want to have to remember the various pins for each of your systems? Also, if like me you use an application to check your email all you have to do it start the app and there your email is, you do not need to enter a password. If bad guys get on your computer they have your email already. Even if you check your email online, like Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc. I am willing to bet that you allow your browser to “memorize” your password for you so you do not have to type it in each time. Again, the hacker has you.

MS also says that you can make your pin more complicated. To do so start at the same “Sign in Options” window and scroll to PIN. Now click create or change pin, next click the checkbox by “Include letters and symbols.” Finally, you may click “Pin requirements” to see how hard you can make it, then create one.

Setup more complex PIN

But wait! If I already had a good strong complicated password for my original login why do I need to create another one that is hard to remember?

That is why I said it “may be” a good idea but I just do not see it from what I have learned. I use it because my four-digit pin is easy and quick but maybe not the most secure…what do you think?

December 12, 2017

Tunnels on the Internet

At a recent speaking engagement, I was talking to the group about security.  This discussion was centered on Virtual Private Networks or VPNs.  Since 1996 when a Microsoft employee created a secure tunneling system for computers, VPNs have been around.  It was not as we know a VPN today; however, it certainly set the process in motion.

Basically, a VPN is a “tunnel” through the internet that connects a specific group of computers.  This network keeps out anyone who does not have the proper keys to work with the others.  Businesses first started using VPNs to connect their data networks between different locations around the globe.

A VPN keeps out the bad guys, or not even bad but just people you do not want looking at your data.  In more recent times VPN usage has been encouraged for individuals too.  This statement may lead you to ask, “Why?”

The reason is security.

If you go into a local coffee shop and check your spam email you may be fine.  But if you have private email which you are sending and you do not want others to see, a VPN may be needed.

When you are in a coffee shop, or any public Wi-Fi for that matter, it is most likely an open connection.  That means anyone walking by can access the internet through that business’s network without a username or password.  They may even require usernames and passwords but you do not own that connection.  You do not know who else is there in the background.  You consider that a nice feature, which it is; however, there could be nefarious people nearby lurking about seeking your information.

If you have a VPN connection on your device, you log in with your own username and password to a server at another location.  It is similar to “drilling” a tunnel through the local internet Wi-Fi connection you are on.  That stops anyone from seeing what you are sending or receiving, keeping your information private.   This includes your login and all transactions on your bank account if you use it while there.  All banks use “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure,” you know the URL that starts with “https.”  That “S” means that it is secure but again someone may be digitally looking at your keystrokes while in the open and recording them for their use.  If you use a VPN they should be stopped dead in their tracks from getting your info.

The VPN encrypts the information you send to be unencrypted only by the person/organization to whom it is meant to be delivered.

Check the short video below to see how a VPN works. 
Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words.

Also, many people use VPN for a location setting.  If they were to want to watch a TV show in a foreign country but it was not allowed out of that country, you could use VPN.  It would camouflage their actual location and appear to be in that country.  But they could actually be on the other side of the earth.  What if someone is in a county that will not allow free speech but wants to blog about the injustices or issues there?  With VPN they could do so and not be discovered by their governments.

This is only a high-altitude flyover of what a VPN is and how it can be used.  If you are interested look for more information online.  Remember, a VPN that you pay nothing for may be exactly what it is worth.  Shop around and read reviews as a good one will cost a little.

November 21, 2017

October 17, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 7

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:46 am

This is the last week of our Chrome Extension tour and I have three of them left.  I have also saved the very best for last and you will not believe what it does, it is a miracle!  I am sure you will get my meaning at the end.

First up is, “LastPass: Free Password Manager.”  This is an app that will manage your password collection online.  It works very well as I have been experimenting with it for over a year now.  You can record your site passwords as you create, use or edit them on an online account.  This online LastPass account should have a good password (more about those next week).

If you add a username and password for a site to LastPass the next time you go to the site, you can autofill the answers with the extension.  Very quick and easy.

I do have one concern which has not been confirmed yet and may never be.  I cannot help but think what happens if someone hacks my LastPass password.  LastPass says that they have superior security for your safety and there has never been a major issue…but only time will tell.

Next is “Save to Pocket.”  I have written about GetPocket.com in the past and it is still an excellent site/app.  It is a site which allows you to save interesting sites for later viewing.  With the “Save to Pocket” extension all you need to do while viewing an attention-grabbing site is to click the button then that site will be saved to Pocket.  Later you can log into the Pocket site and view all of those older sites.  It allows you to tag them so that all of your recipes, art, technology, etc. sites can be easily found.

Of course, be careful or you will have more than you have time to read.  I try to keep my list trimmed down and I still have over 60 sites to catch up on.

Now the one you have all been waiting for.  This one is not perfect but it does a lot of good things for you if you are tired of the way Facebook works.  “Social Fixer for Facebook” was created by an individual, Matt Kruse, who was tired of how Facebook worked for him.  It was a personal project that has now significantly evolved.   Read more about him and it at socialfixer.com.Social Fixer logo There are many things you can adjust using this extension for Facebook; however, it will only work on that browser.  So, if you go to another browser or another computer without Social Fixer installed you will get the same old FB.

Here you go, the number one thing this app does well…drumroll please…it allows you to filter out many, many political posts so you do not have to see them.  There are many other “filters” that you can apply to remove other types of posts and make FB perform in different ways but the first one I mentioned is the winner for me!

October 10, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 6

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:39 am

This week we will continue examining Chrome Extensions.  They will all be related to one item…Google.  Since I have gotten emails thanking me for this series of articles I have bad news for those who liked it, we only have one more to go after this one.  For those of you that were bored that could be good news.

Google Docs, Google Keep, Google Sheets and Google Slides are the group of extensions we will look at first.  Here I must be honest – they are not that helpful to me.  Basically, they allow you to add a desktop icon to your desktop or menu item and when clicked they will open up the particular app.  I have found the same thing can work by creating a shortcut in your browser for any of them that do the same thing.  So I cannot whole heartedly recommend them.

Google Docs Offline is a good workable extension.  It will allow you to open, edit, review and save Google files while you are not online; hence the name.  If you create or edit a document while offline the next time you get back online, they will sync up and your new/edited files will be put on Google Drive in the cloud.  Using this extension, you will always have the latest copy while online or off.  This is a neat feature and one that I do recommend.

Next is Google Voice which in my opinion is one of the best applications supplied by Google second only to Google Search itself.  I use this extension often.  It does take a bit of setup so I suggest you go here, support.google.com/voice, and get instructions.

Google Voice Sample

There are many features of Google Voice (GV for short).  First it gives you a free phone number for GV use.  You match it to your phone and the fun begins.  One great feature is that it allows you to read any voicemails you receive on GV.   Yes, Google translates it, almost immediately, into an email and sends it to your Gmail account.  The translation is not always perfect but it is usually very close.

Voice & Email Spam Stopping Power

List of recent calls which can be blockedIt will also allow you to text from your computer and/or mobile phone.  Another neat trick is that you can personalize your voicemail greetings.  You may have separate ones for individuals or groups in your Google Contacts as well as a different one for strangers.

It offers good protection from spam calls which I mentioned several weeks ago.  Another of my favorites is that you can use several phones for the account.  This means that you could take the original call on your cell, go into your home and continue the call on your landline, or office phone, or spouses phone and on-and-on.

One last feature about the app before I finally get to the extension.  It will let you to listen to people leaving you a voice message.  You can listen without them hearing you and decide if you would like to interrupt and speak with them or let them go straight through to voice mail.

The extension allows you to see a list of calls received, text other phones, go to your inbox for GV or change options.  I use my GV number for all incoming calls.  In my greeting I tell everyone that if you do not leave a message I will block your number and no longer receive calls from them.  That way if I get a hang up or a message that I am under investigation by the IRS (which is happening way to often now that people are scamming phone numbers) I block and delete the offending number with GV.  It is a bit of a cumbersome process which I hope Google simplifies soon but it works great.

October 3, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 5

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 5:23 am

Thanks to the emails I have received I will continue this week with many of the Google Chrome browser extensions that I like and/or find useful.

First this week is the "Email this page (by Google)" extension.  If you use Gmail, which you are since you are using Chrome or you would not be reading this, this extension could be beneficial for you.  Have you been online before surfing the web and see a neat site you want to send to someone?  I have many times, sometimes wanting to send it to myself for later use.  I always had to copy the link, open Gmail, paste it in the email, type in the email address to send it to and then hit Send. 

To use, "Email this page" click the extension while you are on the page you want to send.  Gmail will open with the title of the site in the Subject line and the link in the email both automatically.  All you need to do it enter who it is going to and hit Send.  Many steps shorter and much quicker. 

Image of a new email from Email this Page-by Google

I am going to step away from the extensions for a paragraph or so for something related to the above.  If you are a Gmail user as I am, this is a neat trick.  While in Chrome and on your Gmail account, click the menu button, (three dots on the upper right corner) then "More tools" and finally "Add to desktop."  A box will pop up asking you to rename it (if you wish) and a checkbox to "Open as window."  Check the box, or leave it checked if already done and click "Add."  You will now find an icon on your desktop and when opened Gmail will open in its own window, not in your browser. 

Larger View

All emails will be viewed in that window but all links you click in those emails will open in Chrome. You can minimize it and leave it open on your computer while you continue using Chrome.    

image

I take it a step further and right click the newly created desktop icon and choose either or both "Pin to Start" and/or "Pin to taskbar."  Then you can delete the desktop icon if you would like to free up some room on your desktop.  You now have an interesting new way to use Gmail.  This will work with any webpage you view on Chrome.  So, if you like to regularly visit the DNR or the Double Click site, create icons for them too!

The last extension today is "Feedly checker."  I wrote about Feedly two months ago so check that article if you need a refresher.  I get many news and tech stories from Feedly.  With this extension, the small Feedly icon on the extension bar will show how many unread articles you have in your account.  You can right click it after you install it and set the button to either; dropdown and show you the latest posted article or go to the Feedly site and you can view them all.  I use the second.  That way I do not have to check the site for news if I need some and nothing has been added to the feeds.  Great time saver and convenient too.

Feedly checker icon on my Chrome browser

September 26, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 4

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:55 am

As I start off this week many of you have written me asking about other extensions.  A friend who reads the articles, knowing how I use my computer, suggested I put in more extensions than I had originally planned.  So, today I will continue by showing you the Chrome Browser Extensions I intended to.  However, I will add some more that I had not initially planned.   This also means that although I started listing them in alphabetical order that is no longer the case.  Enjoy!

First today is “Annotary” which allows you to click the icon and save the page to read later online at Annotary.com.  There is also much more.  You can use an electronic highlighter which comes built in to highlight anything on the page.  You can add a note regarding your thoughts on the article.   I really appreciate and enjoy using this note taking feature.  When I am reviewing articles for items to write about I use it to add my thoughts about the things I read and want to share with you. There is more so check it out.

Next, “Boomerang for Gmail” has several interesting features.  The main is that once you give it permission to access your Gmail account it will let you send the email at a later time.  You can choose a time limit, i.e. hours, minutes or a future date/time to send an email.   Programs like Outlook and Thunderbird already have this built in; however, Gmail does not.  This is a free add in but there is a limit of 10 messages per month.  If you have more than that you can choose to pay a monthly fee.

Boomerang for Gmail

This one is for very specific users, the ones who use KeePass as their password keeper called, “CKP – KeePass integration for Chrome.”  This basically allows users of KeePass to add the password capability into Chrome for quicker access.  That way you do not have to open the stand-alone program to get to your site passwords but only use the link for CKP.  I have written about KeePass several times over the years so check for it on DoubleClicks.info.

This next one may be very useful for some yet useless to others.  Pretend you have a webpage you are reading with several valuable (to you) links on the page.  You would like to keep a list of the links only.  You do not need the graphics, write up or ads that are also on the page.  Enter, “Copy Links” which does just what it says.   After you install the extension, go to a page you want the links from, click the “Copy Links” icon. It gives you several choices of what to copy, you click and nothing happens.  At least nothing that you can see.  But if you use the paste controls on your computer it will paste all the links that were on the page.  No additional text just the plain “http” address without graphics, etcetera.

Keep those emails coming and I will see you for the next few weeks with some more Google Chrome Extensions.

September 19, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:12 am

For several weeks, we have been looking at some of my favorite Chrome browser extensions. Last week we ended with a couple that could save you money while shopping online. Today we will start with one that makes your startup window better looking and functional too.

Leoh New Tab” is the next extension I will bring to your attention. As with all the others go to the Chrome Web Store and type the name quoted above. When installed it will set up a very picturesque useful page when you open a new tab. Last year I wrote an article entirely related to Leoh so check the site for many details.

Leoh New Tab

Leoh New Tab

Next one of my favorite and most useful Chrome extensions, “Mighty Text” which was one that made my list of favs from years ago. Mighty Text” allows you to send and receive SMS and MMS using your computer. The only prerequisites are that you use Chrome and have an Android phone.

Mighty Text syncs with your phone and actually uses your phone to send and receive the messages, pictures, etc. It pulls in your contacts list from your Gmail account so that you can send messages to people from your list using only their name. It allows you to text message, send pictures, etc. from your phone while at your computer. I do not have to pull my phone out while working to read or answer a message…very convenient.

Mighty Text

Mighty Text

Another valuable extension is “Office Online.” It is so good there are many imitators out there. Make sure you add the one that states, “Office Online Microsoft Corporation.” Basically, it is a free Office cloud version. This is almost as good as the full-blown version. As I have said before it will handle most anything that Office users would ever have a need to perform in Office. (Yes, I know, Google Docs is good too, but my preference is Office.) You can run One Drive, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Once you install OneNote Clipper I wrote about several weeks ago, all the features OneNote are immediately available. This is truly a very useful and productive addition to Chrome.

Office Online

Next up is, “Print Friendly & Pdf.” This extension does a great job of taking any webpage that you want to read, email, save for informational purposes or as one of my friends puts it allows him to read the NY Times without all the “junk” included. When you are on a page click the extension’s button and the magic begins. It will generate another view of the page without ads and other distracting, non-related junk on the page. It will then allow you to print it, create a PDF or email the file to someone. I personally like to save it as a PDF file then email if from my own email account.

Print Friendly & Pdf

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