About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

September 9, 2014

Google Hero and Yet?

As you regular readers know I am a fan of Google and yet on occasion they fail me totally.  Mostly this is due to them doing away with applications I use and enjoy: Google Reader, Calendar Sync, iGoogle, Google Notebook just to name a few.

But I enjoy their products so much that I have purchased hardware from them.  Namely the Nexus 7, 2013.  They always add the "2013"; however, it should have been named Nexus 7.2.  Alas, they did not ask me.  It had been working very well until 90 days ago or so. 

Occasionally when I turned it from portrait to landscape the screen would not always, "flip" to match.  It was a bother at first and I ignored it for a while.  I could always start a program that must run in the correct alignment and then it would lock there.  That would be good until the next time I turned it.  I do not play many games but one day I had a few minutes and fired up, "Go-Go-Goat!"  You are required to tilt the tablet to make the goat jump in the correct direction.  Since the gyroscopic feature in the Nexus was dead he jumped straight up and died every time.   

I contacted Google and the nice folks there gave me three things to try as a solution.  They also told me that since I was under warrantee they would replace it with a rebuilt unit if these fixes did not work. 

Two of the resolutions were easy but regrettably did not work.  The third was easy to do but basically it was to reset my Nexus to the factory settings and rebuild it.  That takes a while and is quite a pain.  After putting it off for 2-3 weeks I did it and guess what?  That did not resolve the issue either.

I called tech support at Google again and they assured me my refurbished unit would arrive the following Monday.  Tuesday then Wednesday — I called again.  I was told by the first rep that it was already delivered…to Austin, TX.  What?!  I asked him to check my order and it was correctly set up with my address in Virginia.  He passed me along to a shipping person.  They were also pleasant and helpful. 

There was a problem with the shipment and he would check it and email me the next day.  You guessed this correctly too, nothing but the sound of crickets the next two days.  The next time I called I was apologized to and handed to a supervisory rep. 

Samantha was her name and I got a voice mail which assured me that she would return my message as quickly as possible.  She really did.  That afternoon I got an email from her saying she would investigate and let me know what was up within 24 hours. Sure?!

The next morning I received an email from her stating that she was sorry for the mix up.  She had found the problem, shipped out the correct unit which I should have by the end of the week.  She also gave me a credit to my Google account for having the hassle.

I got the Nexus Thursday, a day earlier than she had predicted.  Though it had taken three weeks instead of the initial, "couple of days" they did right by me.  I shipped mine back immediately and the replacement has been working fine. 

I will continue to be a Google Fan-boy for now.  Until they do away with a few more apps that I use.

March 19, 2013

Google, Are You Kidding Me?

I have always been a big fan, supporter, promoter, etc. of Google.  That is until recently and here is why they are starting to work their way off of my radar. 

Google is performing what is termed "Spring Cleaning" on several of their products.  They shut down services/apps which they do not believe are being supported by users.  Two that were announced last year were Google Calendar Sync which basically ended December 14, 2012 and iGoogle which is scheduled to shut down on November 1, 2013.

Google Calendar Sync Option ScreenPersonally, I used those two extensively, especially Calendar Sync.  Calendar Sync performed an extremely important function for me.  It matched up my Outlook calendar at work to my personal Google calendar online.  Using this syncing process then allowed me to share my Google calendar with my wife so she could keep up with when I was going on trips, meetings after work, etc.  I could also choose to share it with anyone else I chose. 

It was a painless process since you set it up once and never look back.  It automatically "synced" the two calendars immediately when changes were made.  Since the Google calendar is online you can get to it anywhere you have a computer.

It was a very good application for the seven or eight years I had it Google.  Of course, they do say if you are currently using it you may continue…on that computer.  I conclude that means, "Once you have a new computer Calendar Sync is kaput!"

iGoogle was bad news to many people, too.  This was basically a Google home page you could use on your browser.  You could arrange "widgets" to show weather, local movie listings, news articles from specific sites, maps/directions, games, etc.  It essentially served as a geek’s morning paper where you could get the news you really wanted to read. 

Now this week Google made another announcement concerning spring cleaning.  Another of my beloved apps and many other peoples’… (According to the uproar online) Google Reader bites the dust.  Google Reader will be gone as of July 1, 2013.  Gee, Google, thanks for the big advance notice!  If you want to sign a petition to keep GR around visit: and cast your vote.  You may join the other over 114, 500 people who had signed up within four days after the announcement was made.

Google Reader is and was in my opinion one of the best RSS Feed readers around.  We have talked before about RSS (Real Simple Syndication) so I will not belabor it.  Nevertheless, here it is in a nutshell.  It allows you to link to sites which offer RSS feeds (most sties) and get updates whenever they add comments or any content to the site. 

Google Reader logoGoogle Reader is simple to set up, is easy to use and has a very clean and user friendly interface.  I just recommended it to a group I spoke to a couple of weeks ago because it is so easy to use.

There are many other readers out there which have been recommended to be good replacements for Reader.  I have tried numerous quantities of them.  I will not mention those which failed my examination totally; however, there are two which are OK.  I need to state: they are still not as clean as Google Reader.  I would say the first runner-up is "feedly" ( and at this point in my research, the closest one is "Newsblur" (  Let me know as you continue the hunt for the best replacement.

Thanks, Google.

March 27, 2012

Keep Up with Google Reader

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:33 am

Do you have several (or way more than several) websites or blogs you like to visit each day?  Come on; admit it, many days you go to work and if you have time you visit your favorite 5-10 websites and blogs (BLOG is a WeB LoG, sort of like a Captain’s Log). 

There are a huge number of RSS Readers out there in the market.  The large majority of them are free (my favorites) with a few having a modest price.  To find some readers go online and Google for "RSS Reader," "Feed Reader" or the entire enchilada, "RSS Feed Reader".  Of course, you will find so many it will quickly become confusing.  That is why I am here today. 

I hope to save you some time and searching.  I recommend using Google Reader for several reasons.  It is free and comes automatically with your Google/Gmail account.  It is easy to use.  It keeps all of the things you are interested in (and you choose) in one place for easy access.  As with all readers it updates each time you log in so you see the newest information every time you use it.  And another good thing about Google Reader is that if you have a smart phone, especially Androids, you can use it from your phone too.

If you have a Gmail account, type "" into the address bar of your browser (without the quotation marks of course).  If you are already logged into Gmail or Google, you will be automatically logged into your Google Reader account.  If you have not logged into your account yet, do so.  If you don’t have a Google account, choose, "Sign In".

You will have a list of the latest "Recommended" sites.  These are some random sites which Google Reader is saying you may want to look at and follow online.  At the bottom of each one you can choose, "Not Interested" and it won’t be there next time you log in.  

Once you find a site, like you want to read posts from, put that site address in the Google Reader search bar.  Google will then search the site for RSS feeds (Real Simple Syndication) and find the feed asking if you wish to subscribe.  If you choose to do so, which I would highly recommend, you will be "fed" the latest posts as they hit the site.  Also, keep in mind that many browsers add RSS feeds differently.  I like Firefox because when you click a RSS feed on a site is asks where you want to add the feed.  It then provides a dropdown list and includes Google Reader in the list. Just click it and it is "magically" added.

See more RSS symbolsEvery time you go to a website look around for the word "RSS" or the little, usually orange emblem which looks like a dot with two arcs to its upper right.  Check this article on to see what I mean.  You can click on either of these and get the RSS feed address or instructions on how to use them.

I do not have enough space here to tell you all the other wonderful things you can do with this reader from Google, so have fun exploring.

March 20, 2012


Well I have been given a "fan-boy" title.  Since I have been writing about Google’s many products and features for a few weeks I was emailed recently and asked why I was such a Google Fanboy. 

I have used that term before (re: Apple) so figured this time I would look it up and online at Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.  MW said that a fanboy is a boy who is an enthusiastic devotee (as of comics or movies).  OK, I agree I am an enthusiastic devotee of Google and I sometimes wish I were a boy, so "sticks and stones…"  One very interesting thing I found was that the term was first used in 1919.  I wonder what they were fanboys of in those days… possibly the Treaty of Versailles or Lady Astor? 

OK, on to my next "fanboy" item.  Google has created a neat place to keep track of all the latest news, sports, weather, emails and on-and-on.  If you are a Gmail account owner you get this free and can customize it the way you like.  This "place" is called iGoogle (

Go to the site and if you aren’t already logged into your Gmail, log into the site with your Gmail username/email address and password. 

Once logged into your account you get a default setting of iGoogle.  This default changes from time-to-time.  Today I saw four "gadgets"; the Weather for Chicago, current date and time, YouTube Spotlight Videos and CNN’s top stories.  These can all be edited, removed or rearranged on the page.  For instance you could change it from Chicago weather to your local zip code to get current weather happenings.

The Hamster GadgetGadgets are mini windows made by Google users which offer active content and can be placed on your iGoogle page.  They may be placed on any page you own.  Beware!  This is for the more adventurous only!  Check out for samples.

Ron's iGoogle My iGoogle page contains eight gadgets I like.  First is Google Latitude which shows all of my friends’ locations in Google maps if they choose to reveal them to me.  Next is a gadget showing my Gmail, followed by my calendar, RSS news feeds, local weather, movies currently running at my local theaters (with times, etc.), FOX News and last a How to of the Day. 

You can choose from thousands of different gadgets and take that literally…there are currently over 280,000 of them.  To install one you click the gadget link on your page, find one in the new window, open and click Install.  That’s all there is to it.

Now let’s get real, many of them are time wasters like adding a hamster on a wheel to your page or a spider that follows your cursor around. I just have to ask, why?   However, some of them are very beneficial for personal or business uses.

Set up your own iGoogle page and let me know which gadgets you like.

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