DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

September 12, 2017

Chrome Extensions, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:48 am

Last week I started a look at some of my favorite Chrome browser extensions.  We started with "Behind the Overlay."  To learn how to install them check out last week’s column.

Today we will start with one for your security.  We all keep reading about protecting your privacy while online and I agree that is important.  When you are in a coffee shop, fast food joint, airport, basically anywhere that offers free Wi-Fi you could be giving away information.  If you are at one of those places and visit your bank’s site to check your balance, etc. you could be giving away your username and password.  A VPN protects your data while on that Wi-Fi connection.  For more info search Google for, "What is VPN?"  However, many of the VPN applications cost money and some of the free ones are questionable.  One of the many solutions is to install "Hotspot Shield."  It is free with an upgradable premium version and it easily adds the extension to your browser. 

Hotspot Shield

Like all the other VPN apps it basically provides a "pipeline" to reroute everything from your computer to a secure server where no one else can see what goes on.  It can also show you in a different location.  That way you could watch a TV show in England that you may not get in the U.S.  They also provide an application for your computer if you wish.  I am using it now in a coffee shop and it shows my computer as being in the Netherlands.  I am actually in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  You can use it without signing up for anything; however, you will get ads and requests to rate it, etc. 

Next one of the few that is still in my favorite extension list is, "IE Tab."  I wrote a separate article about this in February of this year, so go check that out for lots of details.  But here is a quick review.  "IE Tab" allows you to view those pesky websites that will only allow you to use the Microsoft Internet Explorer or EDGE browsers to view their sites.  This is fairly old-school developing but it is still around.  Use "IE Tab" and you can enter the sites you want to view correctly in Chrome.  It works well.

IE Tab

The final ones for today are "Invisible Hand" and "Honey."  (Yes, I said I would list these extensions alphabetically last week but these are similar and I like IH most so it is first.)  They are both shopping extensions that work well to save you money online.  Invisible Hand works by popping up when you are looking at buying something on a site.  It will be searching the web in the background for the same item at a better price.  When/if it finds it, you can click the suggested link and go to the other site.  Be careful as I have noticed that it does not always include shipping or free shipping in its calculations. 

Invisible Hand

"Honey" works a differently.  When you are on the checkout screen on the site you are purchasing your product from Honey goes to work.   It quickly scans the web looking for discount coupons that may help you out.  It has worked sometimes for me and occasionally it does not; however, it is worth installing it to save some money. 

August 22, 2017

Be Fed Your Favorites

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:34 am

Do you get up every morning and go to your phone or tablet to read the latest news and information?  If so, do you have those favorite one, two or 20+ sites you visit to get the latest news?  There is an easier way to do this without visiting each site individually which you should try.  I have mentioned RSS feeds in Double Clicks once or twice before in 2013; however, things are always changing.  RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.”  There is a site that has been around for a while and it has improved RSS feeds with age.  As a matter of fact you do not have to know much about RSS any longer to benefit from them.

Check out Feedly

That site is Feedly (feedly.com).  I have been using it for years and it is very convenient for keeping up with the news in which I am interested.  First when you visit the site you need to create a Feedly account with an email address or associate either your:  Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Evernote or an Enterprise (your company must sign up) information to login.  I have been using my Google account association for years with no adverse effects.

Once you are logged in we know you read the Daily News Record so in the, “What source do you want to follow?” box, type in, “http://dnronline.com,” then wait for a few seconds and look below where you typed.  You will see (currently) two links.  Notice under the dark titles you will see, “13 followers / 1503 articles per week.”  Since this link is more active you should probably choose that one.  I would not worry about the number of followers stated as it is not very accurate.  Once it is added to your collection you will have each article posted on the DNR site sent to your Feedly page and can read a portion of the articles there or click the link to go to the DNR site.

Sample Feedly Page

Try a large news site (http://foxnews.com or http://cnn.com) and you will see many different feeds arranged by titles/topics.  Click the “Follow” button to the right site of the ones you are interested in and read the new posts anytime you wish.

If you click on the RSS feed links on a site you will see gibberish, below.

Click to see the detail of an RSS page-unreadable to most

Once you click to read an article it will gray out that post to mark it read.  You may also click the small checkmark to the right of the article to mark it read.  The next time you load Feedly previously viewed posts will be gone to make room for all the new articles.  You can click a link to save them to read later and they will remain.

You may see a RSS link on any website and if it interests you click that link, copy the URL after it loads and add that to Feedly.  As that page updates you will get the new info.  Some people like to read Google News.  If you are one of them you can add their news posts to Feedly also.  For example, go to the news section in Google for “Technology,” scroll to the bottom of the page and click the RSS link.  Now copy that URL in your browser’s address bar and add it as a new feed to Feedly.  You will now start getting immediate updates to that news feed.

There are many other options for Feedly so test them out when you can.  None of them will permanently destroy anything so click at will without fear.

July 11, 2017

Google Makes Some Changes

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:10 am

If you have followed my articles through the past 15 or so years, you’d realize that I have a love/hate relationship with Google. OK, it’s mostly love, but sometimes they really antagonize me.

Today, I have two Google changes for you: one insignificant and the other very significant.

First up is the one that will most likely have no effect on you. "Google Talk" was a social/ chat application that Google started back in 2005.

Now, I do not know how you feel, but I have more than enough communications ability with Facebook alone and do not feel the need for another. But many people differ, so I guess another app like this could have worked.

In reality, most people never used Talk. So, as of June 6, it was shut down.

Never fear, because Google is moving everyone that may have used Talk over to another Google platform, "Google Hangouts." Hangouts is another messaging app similar to Talk, but offers more, including video chat capabilities. I may talk more about it in the future – maybe before they shut it down, too.

Ron's Hangout...never used

Next is the great new change for Gmail. If you are or have been using the very good Gmail product for email, I hope you know the following; if not, you may be surprised.

In the information regarding Gmail when you sign up, it tells you that Google will be " scanning" your email for advertisement purposes.

Have you ever noticed the ads on the side of the screen in Gmail, sometimes showing you things you have been talking or thinking about?

That is because Google is taking a look at your emails and seeing what you are interested in.

It’s called targeted advertising. It works well for them to sell advertising to companies, knowing that they will be seen by people that are likely buyers. Now they say they do not scan any personal information in your emails, but personally, that is hard for me to believe.

Now for the big news: Google announced that they will no longer be scanning your emails at some point "later this year."

That’s good news, and I believe them. No, really, I do. With their paid email app, "G Suite," they have never scanned emails. This is because it was company information and, if scanned, it could be said they would have access to private company dealings. Google could have, whether guilty or not, found itself in big trouble if that was thought to be the case. They are going to match them up with the free accounts you and I have. No more "targeted advertising."

That last line was a falsehood. You will still be targeted if you use Google. If you are logged into your Google account and use Google.com to search, you are watched. Google knows every site you visit, what you buy, what your interests are, etc. That’s especially true in the Google Chrome browser. They record cookies on your computer, so they always keep track of you, just not your user information.

So, you will continue to see ads that interest you. There are ways around it, and one is to use a different search engine that does not track you. DuckDuckGo.com comes to mind first in that category. Even though it uses Google, you will not be traced. The user interface is not as likable as Google, but no one will be watching you.

Go visit DuckDuckGo search engine

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.

June 20, 2017

Email Negatives, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:25 am

Last week I wrote regarding some of the good of email, see “Email Positives, Part 1” if you missed it. This week I will voice some of my concerns regarding this great feature of the computer age. Email has been around forever. Well not quite, as Ray Tomlinson is attributed with devising email in 1972 or 1971 depending on where you find that fact. Forms of it existed as far back as 1965 but not by the masses.

Email, Angel or Devil

First up, email forces employees to often multitask. Now, at this point in time multitasking is considered by the “authorities” to be costing employers a lot of time and money. One researcher said that he found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task. My thought has always been that task switching was nuts from the beginning. Yay me, I got one right! I can even prove it if you take one of my classes on technology. So, jumping in and out of email costs corporations money today. There is also a personal stress factor with multitasking that we will not go into today.

Read this one of many articles on Multitasking - Lifehack

Check this article on Lifehack about the good/bad of Multitasking

Another issue for business is that email can be easily abused by many as workers jump in and out of worthless emails whether personal (yes, at work) or company produced. Some companies have found that without specific boundaries their employees may send many emails to family and friends instead of doing their jobs. Think about all of those emails you are “Courtesy Copied” (you know, the CC on your email app) on daily which are no concern of yours. You still need to review them to make sure you are not responsible for something mentioned.

Next, many people change email addresses – often. This means that if you sent email to them yesterday it may never be read. If they do not respond it does not necessarily mean they are avoiding you.

As of March, 2017, statistics indicate that 57 percent of all worldwide email is spam. Another time waster. And BIG money waster. In January, 2017, it was estimated that worldwide a little over $2 billion dollars was spent in time wasted in corporations from spam.

Catching up on Email after Vacation?!Another email time killer…email catch-up. For instance, in my first days of business with email I would go on vacation for a week. When I returned to work I would spend most of a day going through them to see what I needed to act on, save for the future, ignore, or delete. That took a lot of my time. Even though I was paid at work I felt horrible having to waste time going through this process.

Now, I, like most other employees nowadays, check it once daily or at least every other day while vacationing to keep the load down when I return. So now email is messing up your, and my off time.

Next, one of the major issues with email. Viruses, scams, phishing, frauds, deceit, etc. See the amount of money mentioned above? That does not include the individuals who continue to fall for scams from email all the time or the money they throw away.

OK, I am now done ranting about email, even though I do not consider it all bad. Do you consider it a good thing or bad for you and/or your business?

May 16, 2017

Stalking Your Friends in a Good Way

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:06 am

Google has been letting their developers develop and I am glad.  They have come out with some great apps since 1998 when Google was founded.  Stop and think about that for a minute.  A company less than 20 years old and most everyone knows of it.  Did you realize that in 2002, the American Dialect Society chose it as the most useful word of the year?  In 2006 the Oxford English Dictionary as well as the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary added it as a verb.  "Have you googled that?" is an actual, correctly structured question.  I think that is pretty significant.  But enough of my fan-boy infatuation – back to the story. 

They recently took an excellent app that most of us have used and added a feature that made it even better.  That app is Google Maps which is available in every platform.  It has apps for all of the smart phones made; Android, iPhone, Windows Phone even Blackberries have the app.  Along with the apps any platform that can access the internet can use maps.google.com and get the features too. 

The feature that has been added is called "Share Location" and has the "New" icon next to it, since it has just recently became available to the public.  Clicking on this feature will give you information; however, to set it up you must have a mobile device.  Go to this link (rd.dblclx.com/2q6A0pi) to see how to set it up on your device.  Before you start you need to check several things.  You both need a Gmail account, also they must be in your Google Contacts and of course, you must both have Google Maps installed on your device. 

Menu ItemsHow long to shareClick the Menu button in the map application then "Share Location" and click "Add People."  Now, select how long you want to share your location with them.  You get to choose from one hour, other increments and finally, "Until you turn this off."  That last one is for my family.  Once you have selected everyone you wish click, Share.

They will get a message that you want to share your location with them.  If they accept they can then choose to share their location with you if they wish.

After everyone has accepted once they log into Google Maps on their device or computer, click the menu button, Location Sharing and see a map with those that are sharing their location with you.   You can click on their name to get an update and a more localized map location on them.

Shared People with Ron

You may think that is a little creepy.  I told my friends about how my wife and I share our locations with each other and that is what they said.  But we like it.  That way she can check and see how close I am to home when coming in from work.  No calls need to be made to find out when I will be there.

Think too if you have a teenager, or the other end of the spectrum, an older grandparent.  If you want to keep up with their whereabouts this is an easy unobtrusive way to do so.  

If you are going to visit someone who may live far away you can share your location with them during your trip by using the "Share trip progress" feature. 

Creepy or not I think it is a great new feature from Google.

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. 

May 2, 2017

April 25, 2017

Schemes, Part 5

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:44 am

As I told you last week this group of schemes are used on one specific part of our population.  Seniors, baby boomers and post baby boomers.  They even have titles.  I have found examples of these all over the net and my dad even experienced one of these years ago.

Counterfeit Prescriptions
Because prescription prices are high like all other medical costs seniors and others shop around online for less expensive prescriptions.  They are easy to find online.  This is where you may get ripped off twice.  Many times, the scam artists are selling bogus or inferior drugs.  Then you have wasted your money and your health declines.

Which one is the fake?

Funeral Scam
Some criminals read the obituaries every day and some may even attend funerals of seniors.  They will find as much information as they can about the survivor, especially contact information.  Then a week or so later the widowed person will get a call saying that their spouse owed them some money and they were supposed to collect it and now they are gone.  They get the bereaved to pay unwarranted charges. This is usually perpetrated in person.

Loving Grandparent Trick
A grandparent will get a call from a young person pretending to be their grandchild.  They may speak unclearly so that the senior thinks it is their grandchild with a cold.  They get the senior say the kid’s name and then work it further.  The final outcome is that they need the grandparent to mail them money at college, someone’s home, or have it wired to their account directly.

Grandma is so good to me.

Internet fraud
These scams include a call from someone claiming to be from a large computer company asking for permission to access the senior’s computer remotely to resolve a service issue or virus.   The bad guy then accesses saved data on the computer, such as names, addresses, account numbers, and other personal information. They use the information to apply for loans, credit cards, or to steal the senior’s identity.

Medicare/Medicaid fraud
Medicare’s universal coverage makes it easy for perpetrators to pose (either on the phone, in person, or via email) as Medicare representatives and ask seniors to provide personal information which they can then use to set up accounts or apply for credit cards.

Nigerian fraud
You know you have heard of this one, maybe even seen it in your inbox.  In one of the most common financial frauds of all time, a senior citizen receives a letter, an email, or a fax from a foreign “dignitary.” The correspondence promises huge monetary rewards in exchange for helping an official from a foreign country out of an embarrassing legal problem. All the senior needs to do, the correspondence states, is to send a small amount of money (in comparison to what he/she will receive in turn) to help out the foreign dignitary. Of course, the victim never receives any rich reward and loses the money that is sent.

Service scams
You receive a telephone call from what seems to be a legitimate company. There are problems with your account and the company simply needs to verify some information. The caller seems to already have information about you so you feel comfortable sharing additional information, such as your account number, to help the company correct the problems with your service.

So, be careful out there, no matter what your age!

April 17, 2017

2017-07-17 Show Notes @ WSVA

Tech News
 

BIG news (April 3, 2017) as Android is NOW the world’s most popular operating system as it overtakes Windows

Android has now overtaken Windows to become the world’s most popular operating system, according to data from Statcounter. Looking at combined usage across desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone, Android usage hit 37.93%, narrowly edging out Windows’ 37.91%.

“This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era,” commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. “It marks the end of Microsoft’s leadership worldwide of the OS market which it has held since the 1980s. It also represents a major breakthrough for Android which held just 2.4% of global internet usage share only five years ago.”

First, and more trivially, Statcounter only measures Internet-connected devices, which will exclude a small number of desktop PCs used for specialist tasks. Second, and more significantly, Windows still dominates PCs, both desktop and laptop, with an 84% share.


Congress just obliterated Obama-era rules preventing ISPs from selling your browsing history

Rules preventing internet providers from selling personal information, such as customer browsing histories, will be repealed, following a vote in the US House of Representatives this afternoon.

The Republican-led House voted 215-203 in favor of repealing the rules, implemented just a few months ago under the previous Obama administration.

The bill has been met with considerable controversy and anger from privacy and rights groups, for fear that internet providers, like Comcast and Verizon, would be able to gather and sell data about your browsing history to marketers and other companies, including information on where customers are, as well as information about customers, such as financial or health status, and what people shop and search for.


For internet privacy, a VPN won’t save you

…Congress voted to gut proposed internet privacy rules set out by the outgoing Obama administration that would have prevented your internet provider from selling your browser history to advertisers. President Donald Trump signed the bill a day after, making it law.


General Amazon Scams

Ron's personal Amazon scam
  • Know What Amazon Won’t Ask
  • Review for Grammatical or Typographical Errors
  • Check the Return Address
  • Check the Website Address
  • When in Doubt, Go Directly to the Amazon Website
  • Do not “Unsubscribe”
  • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Report Spoofed E-mails to Amazon

The Tile App
Where did you leave your phone, wallet, keys, purse, etc.? The tile can help. You can add the small “tile” to most any item, then use your phone to track it with Bluetooth technology. Did you misplace your phone, no problem use one of the tiles to find your phone.

Prices start at around $25 and go up for the more you buy.

Click here to watch how it works.


Have a great month everyone! The podcast was not available this month, so hang in there for next month.

Thanks for reading.

Ron

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