About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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:  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!

March 19, 2012

2012-03-19 WSVA Show Notes

Here you go the show notes from Monday, March 19, along with the podcast.  Enjoy to fun and games and let me know what you think.

Have fun with your new iPods if you an owner of the “new” iPod.

Tech News
The newest iPad is out
I don’t need to say much just Google for ipadand seen the bazillions of articles. There is one I read where a lady got in line several days before they went on sale (she was #3 in line) and sold her place to a guy for $5,000. Proof that some people are truly insane.Windows 8 Consumer Preview
The next Windows Operating System, cleverly named, “Windows 8” has a consumer preview available to anyone who wants to give it a whirl. This is ONLY for you if you are geeky enough to install it virtually on an existing computer or you have a computer you don’t mind installing it on and then running W8 as your main system.

I have been using it for a week or so and so far I’m not that impressed…unless it is on a tablet PC. For a notebook or desktop I would stick with W7 at least as it stands now.

It bothers me that their online video shows media galore, email and not much else. Why don’t they push some office compatibility.

Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(this app can be found on the android market from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
Moon ReaderIn my opinion this is the best book reader out there for non-DRM (Digital Rights Management [copyright protection]) e-books. Read thousands of ebooks for free, supports online ebook libraries.

  • Read local books with smooth scroll and tons of innovation.
  • Support txt, html, epub, umd, fb2, chm, zip or OPDS, key features:
  • Full visual options: line space, font scale, bold, italic, shadow, justified alignment, alpha colors, fading edge etc.
  • 10+ themes embedded, includes Day & Night mode switcher.

Save your Smartphone from becoming a Dumbphone (or any other electronic device) when they get dropped in water.

Water damage has threatened our devices for far too long. Liquipel protects every feature of your device with a revolutionary waterproof shield.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

At this point in time to use it you must request an invite to the program. Without a “membership” you can only browse a little of the content.

True Crypt
If you carry around free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Thanks for looking, listening and I hope to see you back next month, Monday, April 16 @ 10:00o am on WSVA Radio with Jim Britt.

November 29, 2011

Get Connected

OK, the holidays have started and you may be traveling to visit the relatives in a faraway or unfamiliar location.

You take your computer so that you can keep up with email, Facebook, your Tweets and your news and sports information.  Gee, first of all what happened to the "good ole days" when you visited your relatives?  Oh well, I guess we are more civilized now but don’t get me going on that.

Or let us say that you really are a "family-visiting" sort of person and you do want to visit and not spend your entire time with them texting and online.  On your way to visit you go to a hotel and you need a Wi-Fi connection.  You have your notebook and your Wi-Fi enabled and Wi-Fi tablet PC with you.  When you get to the hotel you find they only have a wired connection.  Well unless you are geekier than I am, you will not have a network cable with Network Cableyou.  But since you need to connect you hope that they have a cable to lend you.  An aside here; I experienced this very thing a year or two ago and they would "lend" me a cable…for $7.50 a night.  What a rip-off, but don’t get me going on that one either.  In that case you could connect your notebook but most likely not your tablet, phone or other non-cable ready devices.

The program we will look at today is Connectify ( It will help to resolve this and some other situations for you.  You can install Connectify on your Windows 7 PC or XP but it doesn’t work nearly as well with XP and has fewer features available.  Once installed, you can set up your own Wi-Fi Hotspot.

Visit ConnectifyThis means after you plug into the network and download and install Connectify you can set up your own private wireless network.  Yes, this makes it just like home with your Wireless setup.  You will have a SSID (a network name) then you can use all of your other wireless devices to connect to your computer’s network and get online.  This shares the connection all around with multiple devices.

There are other features available with Connectify but the one that interests me the most is only in the paid version.  Check online for the price.  (I once quoted a price in a column and when it was published the prices had gone up so go check it on the site.)

This other feature can be used to extend the local wireless router you are using, even your home’s router.  OK, now I just lost some of you but here is the situation.  Your wireless router is located in the, oh let’s say, Northeast corner of the basement.  You can keep it hidden there and out of the way.  

Wi-Fi symbolYou notice every time you sit on your back porch (on the second floor, southwest corner of the house) to read a book, check email, surf the net, etc. your Wi-Fi connection is either gone or so weak you cannot do much.  This is because the farther away from the wireless router you are, the weaker the signal.  If you use Connectify Pro you can use your notebook computer as a signal extender.  With that set up you can get much farther from your router since the notebook computer is now "extending" the distance of the broadcast signal.  You could go way across the street or out to the backyard and still receive a strong signal.

As always, make sure you secure your wireless network to keep your connection yours.

November 15, 2011

More to Thrive On

The column about my Toshiba Thrive from last week generated several intriguing emails. 

First, "I am looking for a Tablet PC and want to know if you can tell me more about yours?"  Well, I can but I only have so much space in the columns.  You can really find all you need online starting at and Googling for the "Toshiba Thrive."   I will, however go on to talk about a couple of things I did not mention last week.

imageIt has an amazing recharging capability. The specifications said it will recharge a totally discharged battery in an hour.  Well come on folks!  Do I look like I was born yesterday?  I am not new to this stuff and I found that pretty hard to believe.  So I tested it out.  I ran my battery down to less than a 10% charge.  I plugged it in for exactly one hour and checked it.  The charge was up to 89%.  No, that is not 100% but close enough for me.  It only took a few more minutes to make it to 100%.  Just think about it, your battery is low and you have 20 minutes to spare. Charge it for those 20 minutes and you may have 25% or more of your battery capacity back.  That is amazing compared to other charging experiences I have had.

imageI mentioned the full size USB port last week and someone wanted to know if it would also hold a SD Card.  The answer is of course. Yes, there is a slot for one of those also.  There is also an HDMI slot (to connect to a video device like TV to deliver digital quality.) You could not ask for much more on a tablet.  Oh but wait, there is one more thing you do not find on many other tablet PCs, if any at all.  The Thrive has a replaceable battery.  That means you can order a new battery if needed and put it in yourself.  With others you have to pay a geek to do it and maybe send it away for a few weeks.

The other emails said that I had mentioned, "Swype" and they wanted to know if I had misspelled "Wipes".  Swype is a great Android program which allows you to significantly increase your "typing" speed on your phone or any Android device.  You simply slide your finger from one letter in a word to another and it predicts the word you are typing.  It is amazingly accurate and if you have an Android device and you want to try it out this free app, go to

The last item for today is Skype ( and no, I have not just misspelled Swype. They are two totally different programs. The really basic description of Skype is that it allows you to call phones and other computers via the internet.  It also has the built-in capability to have video along with your audio.  That allows you to talk to and see the boyfriend, girlfriend, kids, grand kids, etc. no matter where they may be located on the globe.  It is a free computer-to-computer service but for phone calls check out the rules on their site.

Have fun computing this week and keep those emails coming!  I love to hear from all of my readers and answer your great questions.

November 8, 2011

Take a Tablet

During the summer months I wrote several articles regarding e-book readers in general and more specifically Barnes and Noble’s Nooks (  They are both great to have if you are a reader; however, something different has come to my attention.

I was very happy to receive a gift of a tablet PC and I have to say, "I think it is great!"  I did not get an iPad, which is the most popular right now.  I received a tablet I had never heard of, the Toshiba Thrive.  Now that I am using it I think I may never use another.  It has just about everything I would look for in a tablet PC and some things I would never have thought available.

I will start with a definition just in case you are not aware of what a tablet PC is.  A "tablet" is a crossbreed type of computer.  It is a cross somewhere between a notebook computer and a smartphone…lacking the phone part. Of course, with the Thrive ( and Skype ( that isn’t exactly correct, but more on that later.  Also, it does not have a keyboard on the outside but it does have a digital one built-in.

Toshiba ThriveThe Thrive has a 10.1" high resolution touch screen.  This means that it is smaller than my 17" work notebook but larger than my 8.9" personal netbook.  This screen is great for reading a Barnes and Noble e-book (or any other brand) and watching movies or TV shows on Netflix.  Yes, you can watch other TV networks’ sites too. 

You may ask what I use my Thrive for.  I surf the net.  OK, I realize that was an obvious use.  I also check email for work and home, read the Daily News-Record, read other news sources from around the world, post my columns to, send my columns to the DNR and others for publishing, watch a TV show I missed last week, log onto my desktop computer if I need a file I don’t have on the tablet, write this column…What? Write on a tablet?

OK, in my opinion there are two disadvantages to a tablet.  First is the keyboard, which is adequate for typing an occasional short email or web address.  However, if you are typing a 500-2500 word article it is way too slow, even if you use Swype like I do.  You cannot type as fast as you can on a regular keyboard.  It is more hunt and peck; of course, if you type that way on a regular computer it will be fine for you.

Included with the Thrive is a full size USB port, so that means you can plug in most USB devices.  This includes most full sized keyboards.  You can also plug in a thumb drive for copying pictures to and from the Thrive.  Did I just say pictures?  I did and the Thrive has two cameras.  There is one camera on the back for taking photos and movies.  The other is on the front which can be used to take the user’s picture.  Why you may ask?  I will talk more about that next week.

May 24, 2011

Motorola Xoom – Tablet PC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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