DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

October 11, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 2

Last week we looked at several programs I recommend to be good additions to a Windows system.  They are either better than what comes on a PC or those applications may not usually be found on a new computer.  Of course, the apps are free…you know me. From the responses I have received you want more.  So here are some additional applications for you.

You need a good cleaner and CCleaner (piriform.com) is great.  I have previously written about it in length so go check those older articles.   CCleaner can speed up a slow computer and get it to start faster while cleaning up unneeded files. Well worth the $0.00’s. 

ccleaner

Oh boy, now a biggie…antivirus software.  There are several good ones to pick from. Avast (avast.com) and AVG (avg.com) always come to my mind first.  They are closely followed by Avira (avira.com), Bitdefender (bitdefender.com) and Panda (pandasecurity.com).  Take your pick.  They are good and all have a free and paid version.  You may even choose to stick with "Windows Defender" which comes pre-installed on your computer.  It is really pretty good.  Just make sure you run one of them, but only one at a time or they can interfere with each other.  

Avast! site          AVG logo          Avira logo     

Bitdefender logo          Panda logo

Another good protection app you need is Malwarebytes (malwarebytes.com) which takes care of threats.  The free version needs to be run manually by you; whereas, the paid version runs automatically.

Malwarebytes logo

How about the best video/audio player?  There is only one and it will run on most anything you own, PC, iPhone, Android, etc. and that is VLC (videolan.org).  The great thing about this app other than dependability and quality is that it can play every video or audio format you can put on it.  That includes DVDs as well as Blu-Ray discs. 

VideoLAN (VLC) logo
 
Now to online storage or cloud storage.  There is really only one name in this area that I prefer, Dropbox (dropbox.com).  It is solid, works flawlessly and also allows for quite a bit of storage space.  There are others but for free, Dropbox does it for me.  You have files that are important to you and Dropbox is dependable, enough said.

Dropbox logo

Now email apps.  I personally like online email, mainly Gmail; however, you as well as a large percentage of people like an app to take care of email.  Thunderbird (rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax) from Mozilla, the Firefox browser people is excellent.  It is reliable, high quality and easy to set up if you pay attention to the instructions.  I would also say the built in email program in Windows 10 is a good basic email app but there are not many advanced features.  Also, with the Windows app you will be on your own setting up your email. 

Thunderbird logo

Next week a few more. 

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.

January 28, 2014

Chromebook

Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

January 20, 2014

2014-01-20 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome to the show for January 2014 and Happy New Year to you and yours!  Below are links to the sites we talked about today and here is the podcast if you missed part of the show.

Have fun looking around.

Tech News
Tablet ownership in U.S. surges
Thirty five percent of Americans own a tablet and 24 percent own and e-reader, according to the latest study from Pew Internet Research.Pew documented a big jump in tablet ownership. In November 2012, 25 percent of Americans owned a tablet {September 2013, 35 percent}. The findings illustrate the democratization of tablet computing and the impact on lower-cost models beyond the larger version of the iPad.

This article sums up the tablet and e-reader ownership breakdown for Americans 16 years old and up. It’s also worth noting that previous Pew studies on tablet ownership in the U.S. started at age 18 and up.


Chromebooks Enjoy 21% of Notebook Sales in 2013
According to NPD (a major national market research company), Chromebook sales hit a total of 1.76 million units between January and November of this year, which is quite a bit of a jump from the 400,000 units that made it out in 2012. In total, NPD’s figures indicate that Chromebooks jumped from virtually nothing in 2012 to 21 percent of all notebook sales in 2013.A recent press release from Amazon itself confirms that Chromebooks took two of the top three spots for “holiday best sellers” – specifically, a Samsung Chromebook and an Acer Chromebook.


Spiders force Toyota to recall 800,000 vehicles
Toyota has announced a voluntary recall of some 803,000 cars due to airbags inadvertently deploying — and the blame appears to be spiders inside the air conditioning units. Toyota’s recall notice states that some 2012 and 2013 Camry, Venza, and Avalon vehicles are experiencing problems with their air conditioning condenser unit housing — apparently, condensation and water has been leaking into the airbag control module. In most cases, that’s just causing the airbag warning light to turn on, but a few times the driver side airbag has deployed without warning.However, according to CNN, the cause of the leak is rather unsettling if you suffer from arachnophobia. Spiders and their webs are apparently responsible for clogging the air conditioner drainage tubes, causing the water spillover onto the airbag control module.


Government Recalls.gov
rercalls.gov
To provide better service in alerting the American people to unsafe, hazardous or defective products, six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions have joined together to create www.recalls.gov — a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.


The Door Lock of the Future is Here
Kwikset Kevo
Kwikset has rolled out the Kevo lock. A door lock that receives a signal from your Smartphone (iPhones only right this minute) or a coded key fob and can open when you touch the lock. If you forget your phone it will open with a regular key that you can find buried somewhere on your key chain.

Check out the video and see what you think, especially with a $219 price tag.


Waze
waze.com
Get the best route, every day, with real–time help from other drivers.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

Free available to most all types of phone OS’s.


Free Backup Software
Cobian backup, cobiansoft.com
Allway Sync, allwaysync.com
Two good free backup applications for making sure you do not loose your important files.


Browser History
Check Browser History for all Browsers
Sometimes you may want to make a return visit to a website that you saw a day or 20 ago. You may use multiple browsers like many people and do not want to go view the history in each browser. With this app from NirSoft.net you can check the histories of all of your browser at the same time and get a report of what has been seen.

If you have cut off your History feature on your browser you will not be able to retrieve this information.


Your Fingerprint may be your new Password
Biometric Scan Comes to Android 2014
The FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online) has claimed in a new technology news statement, that the first Android handsets with biometric scanners will be released in the first half of next year, to help to remove the dependency on traditional app and web passwords.

This technology news was meant to be available for any web-based service or manufacturer so that traditional text-based passwords can be replaced with these biometric alternatives. Michael Barrett, the PayPal chief information security officer, and the president of FIDO, has explained that the increasing support and power of the group has meant that it will become possible for the mobile internet to become considerably safer to use in a very short period of time. That way, swiping a finger across the smartphone will be all that is required for the access of an individual’s own online accounts, but that they will remain safe from being accessed by anyone else.


If I Die
ifidie.org
This website provides a way for you to write and store letters to your friends. Each letter, when finished, will be stored securely and encrypted with a special password of your choosing. No one will be able to read any of your letters while you’re still alive.

A couple of “safegaurds” are in place to keep them from firing off by mistake.


New ‘Bond gadget’ set to let us breathe under water sunshinecoastdaily.com.au Bond-like rebreather
It is the James Bond gadget on everyone’s wishlist.

A South Korean designer has taken inspiration from the movie spy’s “rebreather”, which allows the user to breathe under water.

Clipped on a diving face mask, the Triton device acts like a fish gill to extract oxygen from water so that the user can keep breathing while under the sea.


That is all for today.  See you again next month on Monday, February 17.

Keep those cards and letter emails coming!

January 7, 2014

2013 Sites in Review, Part 1

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year since we last talked.  I wanted to say, "Thanks!" to all of you readers who support the "Double Click" column by reading and writing over the past 12 years.  It is very much appreciated.  Please keep it up.  I always enjoy hearing from you.

It is the time of year when I review all of the sites mentioned during the previous year.  As always, have fun remembering, discovering, or rediscovering all the info! 

If the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them using "bit.ly" for print, so the links may not look quite right.  Without further ado…here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Online music streaming sites;  "Slacker Radio" (slacker.com), "Spotify" (spotify.com), "Maestro" (maestro.fm), Last.fm and the one I like best…Pandora (pandora.com).   These are accounts for listening to most any type of music imaginable. 
  • Google Musicmusic.google.com.   Google’s music site is similar to above; however, you can also upload up to 20,000 of your own songs and listen to them online from any device.
  • Daily News-RecordDNROnline.com.  My flagship newspaper, read it often! 
  • Double Clicksdoubleclicks.info.  This column’s site, read it often, too!
  • Portable Appsportableapps.com.  A site where you can get apps that are… well, that’s obvious.  
  • Microsoft Officebit.ly/1kJ3oK4.  You know this one, "The" most popular office suite of programs.
  • Libre Officelibreoffice.org.  One of the two most popular free office suites.
  • Solutosoluto.com.  One of many ways to speed up your computer and keep all of your applications up to date, not just the Microsoft ones. 
  • Lynda.com. A paid online training site for many different applications used today.
  • Microsoft Office Trainingbit.ly/1cBOoM9.  Good free office training.
  • YouTube.com – among millions of other videos you can find excellent Office training videos created by people like you and me.
  • Google.com – the most popular search engine.
  • Gmailgmail.com.  Google’s branded email.
  • A Toy Train in Spacebit.ly/1bHdbc3.  A dad uses a Raspberry Pi computer to take his son’s toy train into space and return with some great video of the ride.
  • Newsblur.com, Feedly.com, TheOldReader.com, Pulse.me and Flipboard.com.  Several of the many popular RSS feed readers to replace the dead and gone Google Reader.  They vary for mobile platforms and web viewing.

Well that takes us through the middle of 2013.  Check out part two of the year in review next week.

February 26, 2013

Program Installations with a Twist, Part 2

Last time we discussed Portable Applications for your windows computers.

There are several great things about portable programs.  One being they are independent which means they stand alone.  For instance, when installing them you select only one folder. Once installed, you will find that program and all of its related files in that folder.  This is totally unlike windows installations of today.

Being completely self-contained enables you to move the folder to any other location on your computer or copy it to another computer and it works.  It also works absolutely the same as it did in its previous location.  Also, they give you a brilliant solution to one of life’s larger windows headaches (IMHO).  If you do not like the program, you can delete the folder and it is gone … totally.

So much for the refresher course.  Now we can get onto some of the important info I did not tell you last time.  For instance, what are some of the applications available today as portable applications or programs?  Here is a very short list.  There are many different types of games.  One of my favorites is “Atomic Tanks” and of course, “Sudoku.”  Next, how about a great portable browser-namely Firefox’s latest version.  There is a very good email program, (if you do not check your email at online sites) “Thunderbird.”  Do you need an excellent graphics program which challenges the abilities of other high priced ones?  Try, “Gimp.”  There are many types of RSS-Feed readers and music managers/players.  Have you ever used the full version of VLC for CD and/or DVD playback?  If so and you like it, get the portable version.  Several good chat/IM applications are available so look for them too.

imageThe last three (and there are many, many more) biggies that I will mention today are first, the Office replacements that many know and love, “Libre Office” and “Open Office” are both available.  The final bigwig program is “Skype.”

These programs, which I have tried, run as well as the full blown versions.  I really can’t complain.  Of course it also depends on your computer, but they are worth a try. If you want to give them a shot.

Oh, did I forget to mention that all of these applications are free, yes totally without hidden advertising (at least, that I have run into yet).

One thing before you start downloading all of these programs.  Make sure you have uninstalled the full version before you start playing with the portable version.  If not you may get the computer and yourself confused.

imageFinally, where do you find the portable applications?  Easy, go to “PortableApps.com” and click on the, “Get Apps” link at the top of the page.  There are other sites out there; however, this is one of the first and best.

When you install them where you downloaded the file will be the automatic location of the program, so choose somewhere else.  If you have a portable thumb drive plugged into your computer it will automatically choose to install the program there.  The reason is these programs were actually created to run on thumb drives for portability; hence the name.  Once installed go to the file with the word Portable” on the end of it and double click it.  This starts the application.

If you do not like the program and want to delete it, delete the folder containing the program and you are done, without reboots or any worry about it clogging up your system with useless cruft.

April 24, 2012

Android Tablet Apps

I always receive emails from Android users asking what apps I like to run on my phone and tablet.  I always have to insert when I mention phones that I work for NTELOS Wireless, so there you go.

Anyway, I thought instead of writing each person individually for a while I would tell you all here.  I know many in world like iPhones and all they offer, but I am an Android lover so I won’t mention them much.  However, NTELOS started carrying iPhones just last week so when I get a hold of one my opinion may change slightly… nah.

imageI wrote an article about some apps back in January of this year but these are always changing.  For instance, then it was called the Android Market;s now it is named Google Play and found at a different URL: play.google.com.  I guess one of the reasons the name changed is now you can purchase more than just Android apps.

OK, here is my list of apps I use and like most.  There are others that may do the same things but I like these or have not heard of the others yet. So if you have suggestions please shoot me an email and let me know.

All of these can be found on Google play if you search for them.

Nook for Android – if you are a Barnes and Noble e-book reader you can use this app to read on your phone or tablet PC instead of your nook.

Barcode Scanner – Scan barcodes on products and look up prices and reviews. Also QR for websites, information, contact, etc.

Bible – (by LifeChurch) great bible app with many versions.  You can study; use an annual reading plan and more.

Evernote – this app lets you take notes, photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders, etc.  You can then make them searchable and sync them across most platforms so you can find them anywhere.

Facebook -I cringe recommending this since I am not a fan, but lots of people use it, even me on rare occasions. 

Fox News – I am not much into news but this app works well and that’s the news for now.

Moon+ Reader Pro – You know me; I don’t like to pay for apps, but pay for this one I did. It reads all non-DRM e-books.  There is also a free version to try out.

Office Suite Pro – OK, here’s another I like so well I actually pay for the full version. This replaces Microsoft Office on your Android devices. It does a better than average job of it, too.

See you next week with a few more.  Remember let me know if you have some favorites!

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