DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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!

September 19, 2016

2016-09-19 Show Notes with WSVA

Welcome back to the Show Notes from today’s show with Jim Britt and me. Take a look here and also you can listen to the podcast if you missed the broadcast. Find out about the Note 7 issues and how could it affect Samsung in general.

Tech News

iPhone 7iPhone 7 What’s New?

  • Looks almost identical to iPhone 6 and 6S (came out September, 2014).
  • Better battery life.
  • Better camera lens system for better pictures.
  • No 3.5 mm headphone jack which almost all cameras, etc. have had for a long time. Now you can get a special iPhone only earbud that plugs into the power jack. (or Bluetooth Ron’s favorite by far.)
  • Now Waterproof and Dustproof to an extent.
  • Not many other new user features.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
PR Info at rollout:

  1. This now-launching Android phablet is eagerly anticipated around the world – the S Pen upgrade is long overdue.
  2. …the Galaxy S7… will steal the thunder of Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
  3. It’s certainly among the best phones available right now, big or small.

But then there was reality:

  • Release date August 19, 2016.
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 7A couple of reports of the batteries catching fire while plugged into 3rd party chargers. Outside of U.S.
  • More fires/exploding batteries all over the world.
  • Going off on someone’s kitchen table.
  • Going off in parked cars.
  • September 2, Samsung stops selling the Note 7.
  • September 8, most airlines have requested passengers not to board with them.
  • A Florida man has sued Samsung after his Galaxy Note 7 allegedly exploded in his pocket, causing second-degree burns. Reuters reports that Jonathan Strobel was in a Costco store in Palm Beach Gardens on September 9 when the handset caught fire.
    He said the phone burned directly through his pants, resulting in severe burns on his right leg. Strobel said he was also severely burned on his left thumb, after he reached over to try to remove the phone from his pants.
  • September 15, 2016, Samsung has announced a voluntary recall and exchange program on certain Galaxy Note7 devices in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The affected devices were sold in the U.S. before September 15, 2016. Since the affected devices can overheat and pose a safety risk, if you own a Galaxy Note7, it is extremely important to stop using your device, power it down and immediately exchange it using our U.S. Note7 Exchange Program.
  • In U.S you should return to the store where purchased started September 21, 2016 or 34 days on the market.Unsubstantiated Rumors:
  • The problem may lie in that Samsung discovered the iPhone 7 had a better battery life than Note 7. So they made the battery slightly larger than called for and there was a design flaw.
  • Shipments are delayed going back to Samsung as UPS and FedEx have both said they will not carry devices that “may” explode. They may now be in negotiations with a private carrier.

 

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.)
Sound Meter – Decibel

Check out this app to know how loud things are around you. Is it damaging your hearing, is the music in your car too loud. Check it out with, “Sound Meter – Decibel”.


Upvoted
A site that takes all the confusion out of Reddit and puts it in an easy to use format. Some fun, some serious.

  • The Resurgence of Coleslaw? Fans of the Oft-Ignored Side Dish Emerge From the Shadows Thanks to ‘Coleslaw Review’
  • What It’s Like to Be 24 and Living With Cystic Fibrosis
  • Hostage Negotiator Shares Tips on Getting What You Want
  • Man discovers Diary His Grandfather Kept During WWII—And He’s Sharing An Entry Every Day

Project Alexandria
The name sort of describes it but basically, do you know a book you enjoyed? If so enter it in the search, press enter and find several others that are recommended as similar for you to read.


Come back and visit next month on Monday, October 17th for more Technology news, information and fun!

Ron

July 20, 2015

2015-07-20 Show Notes

Welcome to the July radio show/podcast!  We had many callers with issues and some answers from me.  You can download or listen to the podcast here

Here are just a couple of the things we talked about today.

Tech News
Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children

Kids working?

Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens.

While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there’s no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.

  • In 2010, “The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.”
  • Before age 2, children should not be exposed to any electronic media, the pediatrics academy maintains, because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”
  • Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies and “using their imaginations in free play.
  • Teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers. 
       


A Guide to the Windows 10 Start Menu

MakeUsOf.com
The world is all aflutter about Windows 10 so here is a good intro to the new and improved Start Menu.

Since the release of Windows 95, the Start Menu has been the primary way for users to access their files and applications. Microsoft attempted to move away from this setup with Windows 8, creating a serious backlash. Now the Start Menu is back and better than ever for Windows 10.

However, there have been a few changes since the last time we saw the Start Menu. There’s more functionality and customization options packed in than ever before, but the best way to take advantage of it might not be immediately obvious. Use this guide to get a firm grasp of the basics, and you’ll soon be using the Start Menu like a true Windows 10 expert.


OK, those are the only news stories and Windows 10 info we had a chance to talk about today. Listen to the podcast for the details and what else went on today.

I hope to see you back next month on August 17th.

Ron

March 10, 2015

February 17, 2015

Google Tricks, Part 1

Looking over my articles, I realized I’ve never written about a few fun — but widely unnecessary — tricks available through Google.

Keep in mind, to use each of these tricks, you must start with a fresh Google.com page, not one from a previous search. You can also use the, “I’m Feeling Lucky” search button, if available; however, it does not usually show once you start typing.

Also, leave out the quotation marks when following the directions for searches below, or they will not work properly.

First, a few silly tricks: Try typing either “tilt” or “askew” and search, watching your Google window carefully. To undo it, type “untilt” and hit enter.

For a real trip, type “do a barrel roll” and press enter.

Do a Barrel Roll now!

Make a bet with a friend and type “flip a coin” in the search bar to see what you get.

Are you one of the many, “Six Degrees of Separation” players out there? If you’ve not heard of it before, people name a celebrity and if their opponent is wise enough, they can come up with no more than six other people to connect that celebrity with Kevin Bacon. Type, “Frank Sinatra bacon number” and see that how Frank and Kevin are related. Yes, in less than six steps: Frank Sinatra and John Lithgow appeared with Johnny Carson; then, John Lithgow and Kevin Bacon appeared in Footloose.

Sinatra's Bacon #

In the mood for a game? Try typing, “Google Pacman,” search and then click the graphic with, “Click to play” in yellow.

For all of you Doctor Who fans out there type, “Google Who” search and click the “Doctor Who 50th Anniversary — Google Doodles” link to play.

Both of these should pop up first in the search results.

Maybe you are dieting and wish to compare foods? Try typing, “banana vs green beans” in to Google (or any other two foods). Omit the period after “vs,” or it will not work.  You will see a graphic of the two foods with some dietary information for each. Directly below that small area, you will see a down arrow which will provide more information for each food when clicked.

If you need to know the weather for most anywhere in the world, try, “forecast Castelsardo” or use a zip code, if you know it.

Try, “sunrise” or “sunset” for any location in the world. Zip codes will work for this, too. If you found this information useful or interesting, let me know via email and I will share a few more for next time. 

Sunrise or Sunset anywhere

January 13, 2015

2014 in Review, Part 2

This week I will continue with the second half of the links we talked about last year at DoubleClicks.info.

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with bit.ly.  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • CNet and Download (both part of CBS Interactive), great reviews, “how tos”, etc. of most everything tech at the first site and good downloads on the other.  
  • Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, three popular free email and information providers.
  • Thunderbird – a very good email application for computer that can incorporate all of the above emails on your desktop.
  • Firefox.com – One of the most popular internet browsers.
  • Coffitivity and Rainy Mood  – fun sites which make soothing noises while you work.  
  • Barnes & Noble Nook – the B&N ereader, Nook.
  • 10,000+ Free eBooks – a place to get free ebooks including the most recent of many for Android only.
  • CCleaner, Defraggler, Recuva and Speccy – four great computer utilities from Piriform.
  • iTunes – media player and controller for all Apple products.
  • Mighty Text – enables you to send and receive text messages from your phone in your browser.  You may also dial your phone from this add-on.  
  • SnagIt  and Screenshot Captor – the first is a paid screen shot application with many features. The captor is a free app that is similar but does not have as many abilities.
  • Livescribe – the home of the Livescribe pen that records your meeting’s audio and syncs the audio to your written text. Not free.
  • Cogi – a phone application which allows you to capture, review & share the highlights of meetings and lectures.
  • Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s, Five Guys, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Starbuck’s, Wendy’s are just a few of the many fast-food shops having apps so you can order on your phone. 
  • Calorie King – a site for your computer or phone to get dietary information on all the stuff you order from the aforementioned sites.
  • Realtor.com and Zillow.com – two excellent sites to use if you are buying or selling your home. 
  • Fitbit and Ringly and Water Dancing Droplet Speakers, Spreengs and Shoulderpod are several interesting gadgets you can buy for presents for yourself or others.
  • Ninite – a site that lets you get many applications to quickly install them all at one time without stopping all along the way to ask you questions.
  • AVG or Avast! – two of the better free antivirus applications. 
  • Malwarebytes – the best free app which checks your computer for nasty malware.
  • SpeedTest – you may check the speed you are receiving from your service provider at any time. 
  • Typing Web – if you need typing lessons or a refresher course here is the place to get help.
  • Steam Powered – a few free and many for a cost game site. 
  • PayPal – a very secure site for making online purchases.  

Stay tuned for 2015 and have a very Happy New Year!

December 2, 2014

October 28, 2014

Livescribe

I went through almost my entire college career without taking notes.  I found that when I took notes I was busy writing and missed what I really needed to get from the lecture.  I was/am not good at shorthand; neither the genuine one nor my own made up version.

Lo-and-behold, technology triumphs again!  This creative technology started out in mid-2000s and after an iteration or two became known as, "Livescribe."  

Basically, you have a Livescribe pen and special paper.  The pen basically contains an ink cartridge and a laser camera in the tip.  It also has a cap, on/off switch, small screen, USB port for charging and syncing data, microphone, speaker and an audio jack.  Costs vary depending on where you get them.  Check out Livescribe.com for information on the current three versions.  Each one does a little something different. 

You tap a button on the paper labeled Record with the pen, hear a beep and start writing notes.  When you are done, tap the Stop label.

Livescribe Pen and NotebookLook at the notes you just took and they look, well like notes.  However, the paper has almost imperceptible dots on it.  Now tap at the beginning of the notes and the pen will play the audio portion of what it recorded in your written text.  If you were to number five items and tap on number four, the speech you were listening to when you wrote "4." will play.  A friend of mine uses his for illustrating sophisticated Network Diagrams.  When he goes back in his notebook and taps on one line in the diagram, it plays back what was being said at that time so he is reminded of every component.  Amazing! 

I heard of these before and thought it was a silly gimmick and a waste.  When my friend Nick pulled his out at a meeting we recently attended and started using it I was e-awestruck.  He tapped a note he had taken a year ago at the previous year’s seminar and I could hear what it was all about.

All of the audio and written information is stored in the pen.  Once you are done with your note taking you can attach (depending on the version of pen you have) the pen to your computer and transfer the information there.  It creates a PDF file of the information.  Later you can open the file with the free Adobe Reader and read the notes.

But that is not all.  The recording is also in the PDF file.  Simply click on a line with your mouse like you did with the pen on paper. The audio recording will play back on your computer speakers.  It is much clearer on the computer than the pen.  Also good in the event of a lost paper notebook.

Simply explained, the laser camera in the pen tip records what is written on the paper using the small dots to coordinate its position.  The camera records everything that goes on the paper.  The audio is obtained in the tiny microphone which synchronizes with the text.  All of this data is stored in the pen’s memory.

It does a lot more, search for Livescribe online and see the demos.  I think I will make a note about that!

September 16, 2014

Good News and a Warning

A few weeks back I wrote about an application you could use to retrieve deleted files from a computer’s drive, SD Card, etc.  This was really highlighted when I got an email from Tom in Harrisonburg, about his adventure with that application, Recuva

It began with, "I took a deep breath, downloaded, installed and ran Recuva on my wife’s defunct mini-SDHC card from her phone…"  Tom went on to tell me that Recuva fully recovered about 90%, over 600 photographs and eight videos.  These had been taken on her phone and then the card failed.  Now the grandkid photos were back.

He was so impressed he bought the Pro version.  I like hearing good news from all of you, so let me know if you read something that helps you out. 

Now a warning for all of you Android phone users.  If you sell, give away or toss your phone/tablet in the trash there are two things you should do first.  Number one is to remove your SD card if you have one installed.  It may contain many things about your system, possibly pictures you have taken, downloaded files, sites you visit, etc.  Next, you must perform a "factory reset" of your device.   

FYI, here is the way to do a factory reset.  Note: devices may vary slightly.  Go to Settings, select Privacy and then "Factory data reset."  You will get a big warning about setting your phone back to the way you got it out of the box when you bought it.  It may give you the choice to also wipe your SD card.  Choose, "OK" and it will be wiped clean. 

Until recently I would say you are now safe to get rid of the phone/tablet.  But new information has come to my attention.  It is now known that some disreputable people have been known to get old phones and recover information.  They run software like Recuva or other similar "rescue" apps and get a lot of information back from the erased system. 

You think,"That is fine, my pictures are of me fully clothed unlike some recent celebrities."  But what about your email username and password?  Or you bank account login, a personal letter you wrote, your Dropbox account and on-and-on?  Your personal data could be retrieved.

Locked filesThere is a safe way to get around this problem many geeks suggest implementing.  You add one new procedure to your Android device before you execute the factory reset.  Encrypt your device.  Encryption basically scrambles your device’s data with a cryptographic key so that only you can access it with a great password.  That way it cannot be accessed without that encryption key.  You can do this on your device at any time; however, it has a couple of drawbacks.  It can cause battery drain, it can also slow down your device and if you decide you do not like your phone encrypted it cannot be undone without a factory reset.  That causes a loss of all data.

Look under Settings and then Security to encrypt your phone/tablet.  Once encrypted you may then run a factory reset and if someone looks into recovering your data they end up with a recovered scrambled mess.  Your information will be safe.  

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