About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with  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.
  • – 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.
  • and – 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!

August 12, 2014

Things Wanted, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:07 am

Following the past two weeks’ columns, I’ve received many responses.

So, I thought I would continue the series addressing common suggestions I offer regarding questions I frequently receive.

For instance, I am often asked, “Which is the best e-reader app?”

I use Android tablets and phones, but my suggestion holds true for most all systems.

10,000 FreeNook AppThe two that I use on my tablet and phone are “Nook” ( and 10,000+ Free eBooks Reader (, Android only).

I still use Nook because the Barnes & Noble Nook eReader was my first reader/tablet. I have several books through Nook that I cannot read on other devices; so, I stick with it.

The reason for my suggestion of 10,000+ Free eBooks Reader should be obvious: It offers free eBooks. Users have likely heard that before and been disappointed, but I’m not talking about classics, boring books or poor sellers.

All of the latest books are available free of charge, a service I believe the company is able to provide by charging for a small advertisement that pops up at random times while you read.

I can handle that just fine, given the positives.

For instance, I read several serialized novels. One Wednesday, I heard that the latest in the series had been released and I wanted to read it.

The next Monday, I checked the app and found the title in full, high quality.

Another question I frequently field is, “Which is the best tablet?”

Nexus 7 (2013)While that question is far too broad, I will say that I am partial to Android tablets. Throughout the years, I’ve owned a couple, and I currently use a Google Nexus 7.

It worked flawlessly until very recently but more about that in a couple of weeks.

So, which is the best tablet? It depends, but  I recommend finding a brand name and searching for reviews for a specific model.

I do not suggest the $49 tablets advertised at the local grocery stores. They are slow, don’t allow users to download many apps, have poor battery life and the touch screens will often have problems.

May 1, 2012

Android Apps, Part 2

Last week I wrote about some of the Android apps I use on my tablet and phone.  I asked you to let me know if you liked what you read.  If so, I would add to the list.  First, thanks for all the comments and second, here are the next ones in my list.

Also, keep in mind that all of the apps I mention here today can be easily found at Play Google using your Android device(s).  If you want to check them first on your computer go to, where you may also install them on devices from your PC.

To review, we covered these last week: Nook for Android, Barcode Scanner, Bible, Evernote, Facebook, Fox News, Moon+ Reader Pro and Office Suite Pro.

Here is the next batch.

Google Reader – This is one of my favorites. It allows you to keep up with all the latest news and information which interests you through RSS feeds.

Seesmic – This is for Twitter and Facebook reading, updating, etc.  It was one of the first. The market says it is still one of the best of these types of apps.  If you use both of these social networks it is good to have them in one place for access.

Soundhound – You are anywhere and hear a song.  You want to know what it is since it brings back fond memories or you want to buy it.  Within a few seconds this app identifies that song! Of course it gives you the lyrics, album cover and where to purchase it online along with other info about it, once the song is found.

StumbleUpon – this is one of the easier ways to discover new and interesting things from across the Web.  Tap the "Stumble!" button or add categories that intrigue you to discover photos, videos, web pages and more.  They are from recommendations of people sharing your interests.

TV Listings – This one’s function should be obvious.  There is also TV Guide; however, I prefer the way this looks.

USA Today – another news magazine app which keeps you up-to-date on their version of the news.  I like the Tech section best.

Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia containing more than 20 million articles in many languages.  Great informational data; however, it can be written and edited by most anyone online, so I don’t recommend it for concrete proof of anything. 

WordPress – this is for only the truly geeky of us out there.  If you have a WordPress blog you can use this app to write new posts, edit content, and manage comments on your site.

Yahoo! Sportacular – for those of you who know me well you may be amazed that I mention anything to do with sports; however, I do have a passing interest in some.  This app allows me to watch the sports and teams which interest me with as much or as little info as I want.

Keep those cards and letters coming! (Ok, emails.)

January 17, 2012

2011 Sites in Review, Part 2

As I stated last week, I annually provide links to all of the sites we have visited throughout the previous year at

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

  • Ccleaner use this application to keep your computer clean and running more smoothly.
  • Barnes and Noble the book store for paperbacks, hardbacks, Nooks, e-books and e-magazine plus. 
  • RocketDock an attractive and fun program launcher for Windows.
  • DropBox free cloud storage with auto-syncing, for your files and yes, use this link and I get some extra space, thanks in advance!
  • Windows Live cloud storage, email and many more applications for your online use.
  • e-Sword downloadable Bible for study, reading with commentaries and much more.
  • YouVersion an app that allows you to read, search and study the Bible via your smart phone or online.
  • Stumble Upon shows you categories you are interested in and gives you new sites every time you log on to read and learn about.
  • use this site (among many others) to verify the truth about the Nigerian prince who needs your help and many other online scams.
  • Calorie King go to this site and find out more than you may have wanted to know about all the food you eat…including fast foods.
  • Endomondo Sports Tracker this is installed on your smartphone and then you can track many "workout" things such as your average speed, altitude, length of workout, distance, and other related numbers. Use it with Google maps and see the path you have taken.
  • Fix My Phone check out one way you may be able to resuscitate your drowned cell/smartphone. 
  • Craigslist a site for buying or selling things online; however, I am not at all fond of it. Read the original article at and see why.
  • Help, I’ve Been Scammed check out why I am not fond of Craigslist.
  • WorldLingo Service free professional language translation online. They work in conjunction with Microsoft Office translations.
  • Toshiba Thrive in my opinion the best tablet C currently on the market…yes, including the fruit pads.
  • Netflix watch many movie and TV shows online. You can also order DVDs but you already knew this didn’t you?
  • Swype a smartphone and tablet PC typing program.
  • Skype allows you to call phones and other computers via the internet with the capability to have video along with your audio.  It is a free computer-computer and smartphone-smartphone service but for phone calls check out the rules on their site.
  • Android Market one of the several software sites for your Android phone.
  •, you already know what these are and if not, do not be concerned Google for them and read forever.    B-}
  • Connectify lets you set up your own Wi-Fi Hotspot.
  • PC Decrapifier will scan your system and suggest software you can remove which you most likely do not need. 
  • Ninite is where you can pick most of your favorite applications that you want installed on any computer you own.  Download a file to run on a computer and it will add those programs you picked. Quick and easy installs.

Please do not forget to go to (oh, wait you are reading this here already) for the complete stories, along with many others.  This week and last only contained links I used during last year.  There are many other articles on the site and at that had no links but some great information.

That’s all for 2011!  I look forward to seeing you in the paper and online in 2012.

July 19, 2011

E-books vs. P-books

(   or Electronic books vs. 
         Paper/Printed books)

Several weeks ago I wrote about my wife’s e-ink Nook from Barnes and Noble.  I was surprised by the number of responses.  I had a small number asking why I did not write about the Amazon Kindle or some of the other e-readers.  The reason is that I do not get demos to test, so I have no experience with them.  (Of course, I would be more than happy to test out any of the others if the manufacturers would like to send them to me-hint, hint.)  We read, talked to people, researched and made an informed educated guess.  We chose the one we thought would be best for our use and pocketbook. 

Most answers were a toss-up : "I couldn’t stand not holding an actual paperback or hardback book…e-books are just a passing fancy, a fad."  Or, "I bought one last (fill in a calendar date) and I think they are great!"  No one wrote to say that they bought one and did not like it, quite the opposite. 

There were many reasons people liked the e-readers.   Take a look at the comments below and see if you agree, disagree, never thought of that or really just do not care. 

Some people said that the small size and being able to include 1,000 plus books was a big reason they liked theirs.  My wife included a couple of her thoughts…if it is windy outside, while reading, you don’t have to fight the wind to keep the pages from turning.  Also, bookmarks can’t fall out losing your place.  Since she has recently had wrist surgery she finds them lighter in weight and much easier to hold (or just laying it on the table to read is good for her). 

Others, like me, who are over 40, can change the font size to a larger or smaller size and even a different font if they wish.  That means that you may not need to use reading glasses to see the e-pages.

One very popular reason is: great convenience.  The convenience is you do not have to travel to the bookstore to get a new novel.  That would not influence my purchase of an e-reader since I love walking around a large bookstore and looking at all the available titles.

In closing, I have often heard that reflected light, like from a paper book, newspaper or e-ink (used with the Barnes and Noble Nook) is better for your eyes than direct light, say from a computer monitor or a color eBook reader shining into your eyes.  I checked with my eye doctor, Dr. Mary Alice Portillo, of Waynesboro, VA, for the validity of this thought. 

Dr. Portillo says that although the eyes are not negatively affected by either type of light, some people’s eyes become tired or more uncomfortable from the direct light of the computer screen.  However, it is really a personal preference for comfort.  So if you aren’t bothered by eye strain/stress from your computer screen, feel free to choose either type of e-book reader.

One last thought from me…I think these are some derivative of them are here to stay, these are not a passing fancy or a fad.  At least not for me since I bought my color Nook last week.

May 24, 2011

Motorola Xoom – Tablet PC

Motorola XoomI have spent a couple of weeks testing out Motorola’s entrance into the Tablet PC market with the “Xoom”.  I have to say that I am impressed.  These are slick devices.  If you are looking into the tablets, this could well be the one to get.

First of all it uses the Android (created by Google) operating system.  As an Android phone owner I am already partial to that particular system so that works for me.  It is using the latest Android system named “Honeycomb”.  With Google’s strange sense of humor they name all of the Android systems after desserts.  As an aside, they name them in alphabetical order with Cupcake (their first) followed by Donut, Eclair, FroYo (stands for Frozen Yogurt), Gingerbread and Honeycomb which is the most recent version.  “A” and “B” were prototypes which were never released.  Next comes either, “Ice Cream” or “Ice Cream Sandwich” depending on what you read.   

First off the battery life is excellent.  My own experiment took place like this.  I ran it for about three solid hours.  Then I handed it off to a friend.  He played, “Angry Birds Rio” for over six hours.  That was pretty good in my opinion.  I then took it back and messed with it for another hour or so.  Final battery charge remaining was over 50%.  That is a good battery life as far as today’s standards go.

The 10.1 inch screen is very clear and sharp, which is another good thing.  With its 1280 x 800 pixel resolution you can see most websites at full size.  It weighs about 1.5 pounds which is very easy to handle when surfing and reading books.  Yes, it is very similar to an ebook reader only it has many more capabilities. My biggest complaint is since it has a slick, shiny surface, like all tablets so far, the finger prints need to be cleaned off pretty regularly…and I believe I have fairly clean fingers.

The new Honeycomb OS is good; however, I needed some time to get used to it.  I am already using the latest OS, Gingerbread on my phone so it was familiar to me.

It is set up with two cameras.  “Two cameras?” you may ask.  Yes, one of the front for taking still pictures and videos and one on the other side, or “input” screen, to take videos of my “mug” when chatting with someone on Skype.   There are many programs available for the Xoom with more on the way.  They run the gamut from business to games, so you can get most anything you may be interested in.

Would I like to own a Motorola Xoom?  You betcha!  But for now I will wait.  The reason I will wait is that I spend much of my online time writing.  While online, I do a lot of typing.  The Xoom does have a keyboard that pops up when needed but you basically need to type with two fingers.  Since I type a lot, I type fast and it limits me.  Will I seriously consider buying one when they get a program working on it allowing faster typing…you betcha!

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