DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 3, 2015

Google Tricks, Part 3

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For the last couple of weeks I have told you about some interesting Google tricks you can do, some helpful, others fun.  Your interest in emails has shown me that you would like a couple more of their tricks, so here we go.  Remember always start on the main Google.com page for these to work.  Most will anyway but they will definitely work from the main page.

Pretend that you are researching some item on Google, say bananas.  You search using Google.com as usual with, "banana farms" and find many links with information.  Many of the sites reference, "Chiquita" but you do not want any more information on that company.  To weed out that company type, "banana farms -Chiquita".  The results will have removed, "Chiquita" from most all of the searches.  The use of a minus sign filters your searches by removing the following word.

You may want to get information is a particular format, say a Microsoft PowerPoint slide show which contains the phrase you are looking for.  Search Google this way.  Type, " ‘space the final frontier’ filetype:ppt" in the search box.  Two things to remember.  First thing is that you need to put regular quotes around the phrase you are searching and no space between the colon and the file type after it.  You could also search for graphics using, "jpg" extension; however, it is better to use the Google image search for that.  Other extensions you may search for are Word files (doc and docx), Excel (xls and xlsx), Portable Document Format (pdf), PowerPoint as stated previously (ppt), Text (txt), Open Document Format (odf) and many more from various programs.  

What can you do if you remember reading an article on a site in the past and need to "refind" that article?  Google allows you to search a site for keywords.  For instance you remember an app I wrote about called "Ninite" and want to find it.  You could go directly to my site and search for it or you could go to Google.  In Google type, "ninite site: www.doubleclicks.info" search and you will find several times I have mentioned it online.  Capitalization does not matter; however, spacing is very important.  You must have a space between the term you are searching for and after the colon or you search may fail. 

Two last items are more of a set up and not a trick.  First, if you like the "I’m Feeling Lucky" link in Google and now it is gone most likely you have somehow turned on "Instant predictions."  To go back to the "old" way go to Google.com page, look in the lower right corner and click, "Settings," "Search settings." Finally under "Google Instant predictions" click the "Never show instant results" button.  While there you can also try, "Advanced search."

Try searching with your voice if you have not before.  From Google.com click the gray microphone to the right of the search box.  You will see when it is ready, then just talk away.  This will only work if you have a mic on your computer and it is on/working.

September 16, 2014

Good News and a Warning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 1, 2014

Better Battery Life for Android

image I hear complaints from people all the time about how their phones’ battery life is poor.  Some say they won’t last an entire day.  Sometimes this is very true especially with older Android devices; however, the newer ones have pretty good strength between charges.  Of course, this depends on how you use your phone.

If you are like some folks I and constantly stare at your phone waiting to respond to the latest text message and/or Facebook item, then yes, you will have battery longevity difficulties.  There is absolutely nothing you can do about it other than talk to people in person.  As a matter-of-fact that is a strong suggestion to all of us.  Be personal with people and stay off of the "social" networks which actually do the opposite of making us more social.  But that is another story.

Other than the above one thing that can help is to go to your settings and change the time out on your screen.  This is the time that it takes for your screen to dim to dark after you use it.  The settings for this can vary by phone, but basically go to Settings/Display/Sleep and lower the time.  If it is set to two minutes change it to 30 seconds.  If that bothers you and you feel it is not good for you, go back and change it again.  No problem.  While is the Display area go to Brightness and set it to Automatic or dim it manually lower.  This is how bright your screen is and you can most likely dim it.  These are two of the larger battery hogs on your phone that you can control.

Anything that operates your phone while you are not using it can usually be changed for better battery consumption.  For instance, if you are not using your map feature to find your way through town cut off GPS which takes a lot of power.  To change it on my phone I go to Settings/Location Services and uncheck the "allow" GPS item.  I will not mention it again but the way I tell you to change all items here may vary by phone.  Another thing while in Settings is to got to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and stop both of them.  The only reason for Bluetooth is if you are using a headset earpiece and then you need it, but if not cut it off.  Wi-fi is a good feature but if you are outside nowhere near Wi-Fi you do not need for your phone to keep searching for it and wear down your power. 

While in the Locations area above look for "Location and Google search" and shut it down. Do you really need Google to know where you are when searching for "Blue Birds?"  Now you may if you are searching for a gas station but you could also just enter the Zip Code of the area you are in with Gas Station and get it that way.  Of course, maybe you do need it, login to your Gmail account and then go to, maps.google.com/locationhistory and let me know.  Muhahaha!  I bet you didn’t know that you were being followed did you?

Go back to Settings, click on Battery to see which apps are using your battery the most.  You may be able to click on the big power users and change their settings from there.  Change them so that you can get the most out of your battery.  Of course, the way I fight short battery life is to have a charger at my desk, bed and car.

February 11, 2014

October 1, 2013

Android Device Manager

At some point in time after "smart phones" hit the market people starting leaving them on buses, in taxis and had them stolen.  The Chief Information Officers website states that in August, 2013 that approximately 200 cell phones are left in New York City cabs every day.  That adds up to about 73,000 per year.  With the current smartphone average cost of $372 each (September 2013) people are losing over $27 million a year in money.  Keep in mind that is also only in NYC! 

This created a market for security apps for those devices that would allow the phone to be found when those events struck.  There have been and still are some very good ones out there; however, leave it to Google to come out with their own free application made just for this purpose.

Besides finding your "lost" Android devices (phones and tablets both) you have a couple of other options too – more on those later.  Keep in mind that the only stated versioning requirement for your Android device to work with this is that it must be running Google Play services version 3.2.25 or higher.

Google created an automatic rollout of this capability several months ago and was announced, as with most Google rollouts, with very little fanfare.  To see if your device it working with it go to Android.com/devicemanager and log in with your Google account username and password used with that device.  If it is on you will see your device(s) listed. 

If it is not listed you need to start the service on your device.  On your phone or tablet go to your Apps Menu, select Google Settings and then just touch "Android Device Manager", if available.  This is mostly found on >>>>>>>>.  There are two check boxes whose jobs should be obvious.  The one you need to check is labeled, "Remotely locate this device" which permits you to do exactly what it states.  The other one, which I highly recommend is, "Allow remote lock and factory reset."  The last one allows you to wipe your device slick if you know you will not get it back or if you do not want anyone seeing your secret information.  Also, to keep strangers from getting phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, etc. about everyone in your address book.

Location of my phoneThe info for your device once logged onto the site is the name of your device, where and when it was last located and three buttons at the bottom of the small navigation window.  As far as accuracy, when I wrote this column I was at the location shown in the graphic at 2:19 pm.  The map showed me that at that exact time it is on the map about 10 feet from where I am sitting…spooky.

Your choices are to RING your phone, which will ring it, even if the volume is off at full volume for five minutes or until you shut it off on your phone.  Next, you can LOCK your device.  Locking changes the password to get into the device to a different one that only you know.  You can set it back when you retrieve it later.

The final choice is to Erase the device.  This is the last resort and will basically clear off all of your information, apps, data, etc. from the phone and put it back into the "brand new out of the box" mode.

On one of their pages Google also warns you by stating the obvious, "Important: If you believe your device has been stolen, contact law enforcement. Don’t attempt to retrieve the device yourself."  In other words, "Don’t be a superhero!"

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