DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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

September 5, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 1

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

Before I get started on Chrome extensions, one thing about last week’s article, titled, “Read a Book”.  I received emails from several readers regarding the article on places you can get eBooks, audiobooks, etc.  There were several others that were suggested to me.  They were all good but I just picked a few of the ones that I was familiar with.  There are many others out there including all of the large bookstores; however, I can only afford to try a few.  I do not get free samples from companies like some of the big boys out there (hint, hint to the big companies).  I only mention the ones I have experience with (unless I state otherwise).  I test them before I tell you about them.  Oh yeah, one other thing: I do not get paid to mention them so you get my actual opinion on all that I write to you about.

Now onto Chrome extensions.

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An extension or plugin for any browser is small software that adds on or extends the capabilities of the “out of the box” browser.  It adds some sort of additional functionality to a browser that was not originally present.  Browser extensions can change a webpage in some way, add a new feature to the browser and give the browser more, “skills”.

I have read many articles over the years, and even written one regarding computer nerds’ favorite extensions.  I figured it is time to give it a go again as mine have changed over the years and some have been replaced.  This week I will start a multipart series listing some I use with a short explanation of each…in alphabetical order so I will not upset anyone.  To hurt a few feelings those I list are for Google’s Chrome browser; however, many are available for the other browsers too.

To get to your extension setting in Chrome, click the menu button (the three dots in the upper right corner of Chrome), then “More tools,” and finally “Extensions.”  Once on that page, scroll to the bottom and click “Get more extensions.”  Or Ron’s quick way – type “chrome://extensions/” in the address bar without the quotes.  When you arrive type the name of the extension given and you will get to the page to install them.

How to get to your Extensions

The first I will share is “Behind the Overlay.”  (Remove the spaces between the words to find it in the store, “BehindtheOverlay)  I have just started using this one.  For advertisements on sties we used to get a popup, then a pop under, next those that pop up when you get to a specific point on the page.  This new advertisement “getter” is the one you have seen recently which pops up a window and greys out the page you were viewing with a clickable ad.  If you search very carefully you may be able to find the “x” that will close it and return you to the original page.  The “x” is not usually very easy to see and next to another clickable link you may not want to use.  Beyond the Overlay ads is a button to Chrome at the top right side, where all of the extension controls will be.  Click the button and the ad page vanishes easily.

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I have run out of room today so, next week we start with an extension to help secure your browsing security.

August 29, 2017

Read a Book

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:55 am

I wrote a year or so ago about a couple of ways to get eBooks for your reading.  Things change and move on so today I would like to talk about them again.  Today we will discuss three them I have tested.

Just Read!

The first is a freebie with only one easy caveat, you must have an active library card.  The site is Overdrive (overdrive.com).  At Overdrive, you can “Borrow eBooks, audiobooks, and more from your local public library – anywhere, anytime. All you need is a library card.”  So, you must have a library card and your library must participate with them…which most do.  For instance, I have a library card with the Augusta County Library and they do participate.  Go to Overdrive to see if your library takes part.  If so you can check out eBooks or audiobooks for a fixed period of time for free.  The application is available for most platforms.  Do not forget about your physical library as they have a lot to offer.  The pro of Overdrive is “free” the con is that if the library book is not available at your library, either not there or checked out by someone else, you cannot get it until it is there.

Next is one that I am sure you have heard of, Amazon.com.  Amazon has many, many books that are easily read on the Kindle application.  Their application has its own name, “Kindle”, which I am also sure you have heard of before now. This app is available on most platforms too.  You can even get real, paperback or hardback books here including audible books on CDs.  They are offered in every format; however, there is a minimal cost for many eBooks.  Another very interesting fact is that Amazon bought Audible.com several years ago.  Audible.com is the major audiobook provider online at this time.  You can get a book a month there for $14.95 and listen to it forever as you have purchased it for your account.  With the combination of the two companies there is now “Whispersync for voice.”

Whispersync allows you to purchase an eBook from Amazon and then get the same book in audio format from Audible (much less expensively than the monthly charge).  The neat thing is that you can either read or listen to the book when you would like.  When you “open” the book next time, it will be at the same place in the book.  So, whether listening or reading you will always be up-to-date.  Their slogan is, “Add narration to your Kindle books and switch seamlessly between reading and listening. Best of all, you’ll never lose your place.”

If you are an Amazon Prime member you can even pick up a book for free on occasion.

One that I have not tried yet is called, “Scribd” (Scribd.com).  Their pitch is slightly different from others.  It is “…a reading subscription that is available anytime and on any device. Enjoy access to 3 books and 1 audiobook each month – plus unlimited access to magazines and documents – for $8.99 / month.”

There is one other I will give a short remarks about that we have used.  Hoopla (at hoopladigital.com) is another “hooked” to the library system.  You can “Instantly borrow digital movies, music, eBooks and more, 24/7 with your library card.”  You log in with some information, including your library card number, and you have access to many books.  Again, like Overdrive if your library is out, so are you and you cannot get the book (both have the ability to add you to a waiting list.)  This one is useful; however, it has been my experience that the application, though available in most platforms, is not as trustworthy as some of the others.

August 8, 2017

Read to Me

Over several of the past weeks we have talked about talking to your devices.  Whether asking for them to give you directions, the temperature, local movies playing, the time, etc.  We also spoke about dictating to some of your devices and word processors.  For some it could, and does, make it much easier to type documents.  Those articles generated many emails, which I appreciate so keep them coming.  So today we move on to something similar but different.  

Today we look at the other side of the spectrum…getting them to "start" and complete the conversation, sort of.

Microsoft Office online and Office 365 (online) have both come out with a recent addition, "Immersive Reader."  It is also available for the local office clients if you have joined the Office Insider program and have the Windows 10 operating system.  Personally, I have not joined because you get software that is not ready for primetime and may have some issues.  Since I use my computer for day-to-day work I do not want to take any chances.  Although, thinking about it does sound interesting!?

Immersive Reader is part of Microsoft’s Learning Tools for Education.  They are looking for ways to help students who need help in particular areas to get it.  So far it is all free too, thanks MS!  

Immersive Reader has several fascinating features built in. 

You must first get into your Office online account, which is also free.  If you have not created an account it is quite easy.  You can get there via several different URLs but to keep it simple I would use "office.com."  You can use a new or existing MS free email account (outlook.com or live.com) or create one with any email address you already have.  I use an Outlook.com account to keep things straight between MS and my Google accounts. 

Once there open an existing Word (or OneNote so far at this time) and click the "View" button in the ribbon.  A new ribbon will open and one of the first few on the left is the "Immersive Reader" button, so click it.  It will open the file in a different view.  The letters will be larger, to assist people who are vision impaired and they are spaced farther apart than you may be used to which is for those who are dyslexic. 

Immersive Reader button

At the bottom of the screen you will have a Play/Pause button with very short instructions and three icons in the upper right corner, see below.  They are letters, books and a face.  Once you click the play button a pleasant slightly computerized sounding lady will start reading the document and highlighting the words read as it proceeds.  This can help significantly improve many peoples’ reading skills in various areas. 

View of Immersive Reader screen

The icon with letters allows you to increase or decrease the size of fonts and spacing between letters or lines.  The icon of books will let you look at syllables and highlight different parts of speech as it reads…I need this one.  The last icon, the face allows the reader to control the speed of the voice reading back the words.

If you wish to start reading at a different location in the document click the word with your mouse and start it playing again.  The reader will start there and continue. 

Neat addition to office and they will be improving it as time goes by.

May 9, 2017

Web Page Saver and More

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:38 am

For years now I have not had enough time to read all of the interesting things I run into online.  And also, years ago, I wrote about a new app called Pocket (getpocket.com).  Pocket allows you to save webpages from your Chrome browser to view later.  To read them you return to the GetPocket.com site, open the website and read on.

However, over the past couple of years, others have taken the Pocket offering and improved on it.  One of those I have successfully started using is called Annotary. 

Before you install the extension in Chrome go to Annotary.com and sign up for a free account.  This site is where your webpages will be stored and you can come back to visit them at any time.  Then, just as with Pocket, go to the Chrome browser store and look up "Annotary," then finally install the extension like any other.

You will now have a new icon on your Chrome’s extension bar with an "a" in a yellow box.  This is your Annotary icon. Annotary icon

Now surf the web and work, read or research away.  You find an incredibly long, detailed discussion you would like to read but you do not have the time.  You can then click your Annotary icon and save the page to read later at Annotary.com.

However, there is much more you can do with that page.  You can use an electronic highlighter which comes built in.  You can highlight most anything on the page and then 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. 

I make "Collections" for each topic I am researching.  Collections are what Annotary calls a group you create in your site where you can place what you are reading.  The default is Miscellaneous; however, you can create as many as you wish, they are almost like folders. 

Ron's Annotary Public Page

One thing that is not spelled out very clearly in their information is that the default collection setting is public, not private.   So, anyone can read you pages saved, when they visit the main Annotary site.  However, you can easily open a collection and mark them private so no one but you can see them.  Be aware that the default setting is Public so unless you change that setting everyone can see your saved pages. 

You can also share your pages with others and they can add comments to your pages too.  There are many good uses for this app for me for research.  There are also others that are similar to it but this is the one I have settled on.

Give Annotary a try.  Now I have to get back to Pocket and review all those articles I forgot about over the years and maybe move some of them to Annotary. 

June 28, 2016

Have You Ever Considered Audiobooks?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:38 am

Have you read any good books lately?  I have and there are millions to choose from.  Today I have a recommendation: any book by Harlan Coben if you like a good mystery.  Start with his first, "Tell No One" and you will be hooked (rd.dblclx.com/28Vh6IA).  However, since I write about Tech, enough of the book reviews.

imageI love to read but I am on the road much of the time and it is really difficult to read while driving.  That being said I highly recommend audiobooks.  There are many services out there including a great one called, "Your Public Library," which has many audiobooks, including CDs and other formats.  The library system also is closely linked to Overdrive.com.  Overdrive’s is a global network founded in 1986 and includes more than 27,000 libraries and schools. Go to their site with a valid participating library card (most libraries participate but you can go to the site and see if yours does or ask your librarian) to check out books.  Once there you may check out eBooks or audiobooks for a fixed period of time, just like your library, for free. 

One of the biggest names in audiobooks is, "Audible" found at Audible.com.  These books are not free but if you are an avid reader of current authors try it out.  They have had a deal on it for quite a while with your first book being free then $14.95/month afterward for one book per month.  You can get most authors in a wide range of categories from adventure to science along with occasionally free mp3s.  The quality of these recordings is excellent.

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Another site that I endorse is Podiobooks, Podiobooks.com.  All of the audio books here are free, yes absolutely free.  However, I need to give you a couple of caveats. Most likely you will find authors there you have never heard of before.  These writers are just starting out or have written several books and not been published…yet.  Some of the books are excellent and some are so- so.  You can try any you like.

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You will have to search for them by the types of books you are interested in.  I have found some excellent books at Podiobooks and some that I listened to for 20 minutes and then gave up.  They are all originally done as weekly/monthly podcasts, read by the authors.  Sign up with your email address to be notified each time another "chapter" has been posted to the site.  However, if you are like me and want an entire book right now, search for the "completed" books, download all of the podcasts at once and listen to them at your convenience.

Most of the books there are read by the author which I enjoy.  Again, like the books, some are excellent and some do not have the greatest voices.  So give it a try.  It is well worth the money!

If you have a long commute or a friend who likes to read but can’t see well enough to read any longer, these sites are a great way to go.

December 10, 2013

My Favored Browser

Apparently there are a few of you getting new computers for Christmas.  (Do not let the kids read this if they do not know about it.)  I have received many questions about what to do to set them up.  I have several suggestions; however, one of the best I have written about before.  If you missed Ninite, go to DoubleClicks.info and search for "Ninite" to read all about it. 

The next most popular question I get is something like, "I can’t afford to pay the $99.99/year for Office 365 or $399.99 for Office Professional."  In my opinion there is one very clear answer, "Libre Office."  If you have not read my information regarding it before go to the site and search for "libre."

Finally, there is the question I don’t believe I have tackled before.  The question is usually stated as, "Ron, what is the best browser for me to use?"  The answer is easy, "I have no idea, thanks for asking."

Now on to a slightly more helpful answer, since for you personally, I have no idea what you would favor.  There are many excellent browsers out there and they all have some features which may be better or worse than one of the others.  To me it is sort of like brands of cars.  One person would say that a particular car manufacturer has the only good cars available…the best in the world.  The next person will tell you why they hate those cars with good reasons.  It is all a matter of personal taste and preference.

So the following is my personal opinion concerning browsers.  Keep in mind that when I started out on the internet, the browser everyone wanted was called, "Netscape" and would cost you around $50.  Now owned by AOL, it has pretty much disappeared from the scene and is free.  All browsers are now free so the cost barriers are gone.

Here are the top five in use today in alpha order.  I have included a short description, my opinion and the percentage of people using this on average this year as of the end of October.  

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  • Chrome, "Get a fast, free web browser, one browser for your computer, phone and tablet."  You can tell who owns this puppy by the link.  I think this is an excellent browser and my #2 favorite.  It is fast and does allow you to have the same bookmarks, etc. between your devices. 52.08%
  • Firefox, "Different by Design, Proudly non-profit, Innovating for you, Fast, Flexible, Secure." OK, this is my favorite, again it is a preference since I am used to it and have been using it for years.  It has more "plug-ins" than the others which are added features allowing you to do different tasks online.  28.49%
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer, included with each and every Windows computer sold and must be left on your computer for other things to work properly.  I use this for work only as our company makes all of its software for MSIE only; however, with some Firefox plugins I can make most things work on FF instead.  12.55%
  • Opera, advertised as the smallest and fastest browser in the world!  For me this is an OK browser but just doesn’t have the snap and pizazz of others.  1.73%
  • Safari, you can tell by the URL who owns it.  My opinion on this one is the same as Opera, so again personal preference.  3.95%

The top three here have always been the top three by percentage for many years; however, they have jumped back and forth in order for a few years.  Google’s Chrome browser is excellent and if you do not have a preference yet, try it or any of the others and form you own opinion.  They are all able to do what you need, so enjoy the variety.

July 2, 2013

Google Reader is Now History

Yes, just two days ago Google Reader (that well known and beloved RSS feed reader) was removed from the Google stables.  Google announced it in March of this year and I have already ranted about the unfairness of it all, the degradation, and the sadness that has overcome us all…so enough of that, let’s get over it and move on. 

Google - RIPIf you were a Google Reader user you know how simply and easily it provided you with the latest information from the websites you actually liked to read.  It was uncomplicated, easy to use and worked very well.  Since the announcement was made in March of this year you have been searching for a replacement.  And now I will tell how you should proceed.

Well, OK, not really but I do have a couple of thoughts.  First, Google basically mislead us all.   The have created a new Reader, “Google Currents,” which is very similar to the original with several exceptions, ok it really is not the same.  They call it "Awesome," "Terrific," "Exciting," etc.  I call it harder to use, more difficult to add your RSS feeds to, more modern – meaning many more graphics, and heavier on bandwidth and pretty flare. Sorry, it is nowhere near as straightforward or easy to read and navigate as the old version. 

You have to pick from Google’s list of feeds which are laid out by topic.  You can also search by author’s name, feed title, etc.  For instance, before I wrote this column I set up my own Double Clicks Currents site.  If you would like to add it to your Currents you first need to install Google Currents.  Oh, did I mention that it is only available on Android and Apple devices?  Did you notice that last sentence where I left out your PC?  Correct, you cannot read your articles on your own computer.  What is up with that?  With Google Reader you could read some on your smart phone, then on your computer hours/days/months later and go back to your smaller device to read the remainder.  Now you only have your smartphones and tablets; that seems like a big step backward to me.

Currents and Double ClicksOK, back to adding my "feed" to your device.  Once you have Currents installed look to the top and click on "Add Subscription" and scroll through the lists (Double Clicks is not there, yet but maybe it will be by the time you read this) click and add what you wish.  To add my site, click the search icon, yes the ever present magnifying glass, and search for either "Ron Doyle" or "Double Clicks."  That should lead you to one of my articles. Right now the only ones are under those search terms.  Click on one of them and choose Add Subscription.  It will then be added to your growing list of interesting reads. 

There are many other things you can do with Currents but there is not enough space to explain it to you here.  Like I said it is not easy to operate but if you search for something like, "How do I do ???? on Google Currents" you will get more help.

Stay tuned for some more suggestions next week.

June 28, 2011

Nook

OK, although I never thought I, or my wife would participate in the latest technological “fad,” we have.
 
It’s confession time here.  I bought one; but it is mainly for my wife’s use.  The culprit is an eBook Reader.  Yes, a month or two ago I bought a Nook which is sold by Barnes & Noble stores.  Now one aside here:  If you know me you know that I am tight, a penny-pincher, cheap and any of the other words with the same connotation.  So I bought one of the black and white or e-Ink, refurbished ones for about half the price of buying one new.  It has the same guarantee as new, so I figured, “What the heck, let’s give it a spin.”

Again, being a miser, I first went out and got some old Edgar Rice Burroughs books I had read as a kid.  They are free all over the net.  I downloaded mine at Project Gutenberg.

imageI am an avid reader, when I have the time, and figured I would miss the tactile sensation of holding a paper book.  I found that after about three minutes I was lost in the book and could care less about the feel. I have to admit I liked the experience.

My wife likes to read (especially in the summer when school is out) so we bought her first e-book.  This is in a continuing series she reads and she likes it too.  And not having to stack the book somewhere to store it is good, too.  Once read you can archive the book, go back another day and re-download it for another reading.  We also now have a book or two from Barnes & Noble Nook site.

The Nook I bought will also surf the net (in black and white, or e-Ink) but it is not really an enjoyable experience.  However, if you get one of the new color Nooks (Nook Color) it is a good thing…not bad at all.  With the Nook Color you can surf the net, check email and do many things that you can do on more expensive tablet PCs.  It also has the Android operating system which is another plus in my opinion.

That being said, it is not a fully developed Android tablet with access to the Market and the full gamut of Android applications and features.  It does have some of the Android Market at this point but not the major part, although I imagine that will change in time.

You can also get full copies of most of your favorite glossy magazines with lots of photographs on the Nook Color.  It is excellent to read them this way and there are no trash byproducts when you are finished.  Magazines for the e-Ink readers display gray-scale images and most images are omitted from these.  Many newspapers are also available for e-readers.

There are a couple of things you should note.  If you read mostly indoors, even in rooms with miserable lighting, the Nook Color is a good choice with a listed battery life of about eight hours. If you read outdoors at a picnic bench or on vacations at the poolside, get the e-Ink reader like I did. E-Ink displays look their best under bright light and require reading lights or ambient room lighting indoors.  The e-Ink is amazing to see in action, but not in poor light.  This one also has an advertised battery life of ten days, yes, days… not hours. Also, the lack of a touch screen on the e-Ink reader makes navigation awkward on anything other than books.

Speaking of books, you can get most of the latest titles Barnes & Noble carries for your reader.  The prices are below the prices of printed books, so that is another good thing.

I now disagree with my first statement.  I do not believe it is a fad as something like it will be around for a long time.

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