DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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. 

March 7, 2017

Surface Pro

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:54 am

I am testing a new type of computer, at least for me.  They first came into the public view in early to mid-2013 depending on where on the globe you are located.  You know the one as the marketing for this “new” computer was worldwide and abundant.  You know all the happy people dancing around to a “snappy” tune, and flipping/closing their small computers in rhythm like they were in a euphoric trance.  Yeah, you have it now, the Microsoft Windows based, “Surface Pro.”

First was the Surface, next the Surface Pro, then a 2, and 3 which has progressed into the current Surface Pro 4.  Of course, that is not all Microsoft now has. The Surface Book, Hub and in December, 2016 the Surface Studio rolled out.

First what is different about it?  It is smaller than a usual notebook, more the size of a tablet with a very thin keyboard.  Approximately 11″ x 7″ x 0.6″.  When the keyboard is attached, it is closer to an inch thick.  There is a foldout section on the back to provide a stand to keep it upright with a couple of positions.  You need that “wedge” to support the actual screen/computer as the keyboard is only a hinge with no support like you may be used to with a regular notebook.

Surface Pro 2

Surface Pro 2

The keyboard is slightly smaller than some other brands of notebooks but not significantly.  It also includes a touchpad – similar to all the others.  I choose to use a wireless USB mouse with this one which functions well.  I have been typing on it regularly for a couple of days.  I am having no problem hitting the correct keys – other than caused by my regularly average typing.  (Hallelujah, for auto-spell checking in word processors!)

You have three keyboard options.  First, you can use the keyboard like any other notebook and type on it.  Next, you can fold the keyboard over to become the back surface of the notebook. It then becomes a tablet.  When in tablet mode your screen rotates when tilted like any other tablet and you can use the touchscreen.  Finally, you may choose to detach the keyboard all-the-way and have a Windows tablet.

It has good response and speed although nowhere near as quick as some larger notebooks I have used.  I have been using spreadsheets, word processing, web browsing, email, a very few online games (no pc games or Steam) and everything works as it should.

I cannot really find a lot to nitpick about with this nice little notebook/tablet combo.

Well, OK, there is one major issue for me, the price.  For the top of the line Surface Pro 4 today you may figure about $1,400.  Oh wait, that does not include a keyboard which may be had for an additional $55 – $130.  I am currently testing an older (2014) Surface Pro 2 which again I find to be a very decent system.  The price on one of these is around $550 and again that is without a keyboard.  I pulled these prices off of Amazon so you may be able to find others elsewhere.

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

My problem is at that price I can find two equally decent regular notebooks or tablets (with Bluetooth keyboards included.  If money were no object, sure, I would not mind owning one.  However, not currently for me.

 

 

February 7, 2017

My Visit to the Dark Side

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:35 am

I recently had the opportunity to test an iPhone, 5S.  Keep in mind as I continue I began this as an Android fan-boy.  But in my new position I have been asked to test specific phones to decide on which one best works for me.

So, several weeks ago, I began my journey to the Apple iPhone.  Before I go on I will say that before I wore it out I had an Apple iPod, Classic 80 and it could not be beat by any other mp3 player on the market.  If they had not been discontinued I would own a newer now but oh well, life goes on.  So, it is not like I absolutely cannot stomach their products, I really liked my iPod.

Since I previously worked in the cell phone industry, I could use most any phone made.  However, I have started out with and remained loyal to Android phones since they came out.  No reason other than the iPhones were more expensive and I didn’t really think the features were worth the extra money.

A few weeks with an iPhone may not be a fair comparison regarding years with Android but here is what I think.

iPhone 5s              Galaxy S6

The iPhone seems to be snappier in execution of applications.  The applications seem to run better and to be more stable than on Android.  I did not time anything. It was just a feeling I got as I used it regarding the “snap.”   I like the size and width of the iPhone, but more on that later.  I liked some of the default apps/abilities loaded on the new iPhone.  Since I now have meetings in many different time zones around the world, I like the system because it let me set phones for any time zone and have them side-by-side which was quite convenient.  I believe this to have been caused by the carriers but I found that I dropped far fewer calls on the iPhone than I had in the past with Google’s OS.

Those were most of the pros, now some cons.  Above, I mentioned the smaller size as a pro.  I did like that a lot at first; however, after a day or so I found that I did not like the screen size.  It is much smaller than the Galaxy S6 I dumped for this phone.  Next, something that has always bothered me about Apple products is the cost.  Not only is the hardware pricier but the applications cost you, too.  Most every Android app I used for free was 99 cents and up for Apple.  Next, the battery life of the 5S was much less than my Android S6.

The largest difference that I grew to dislike on the iPhone was being locked into their “desktop.”  How many ways can you say, “boring?”  You get the round icons to launch the apps, you can rearrange them and move them to different screens but that is all.  No widgets for weather, phone calls, music, video, etc.  The desktop contains the installed apps, the date and time and a search and message bar if you swipe down from the top.  Android allows you to install widgets for most every application running so you get a live preview any time you look.

In my opinion the android system is much more user-friendly and much more useful than the iPhone.  I will stick with my Google based systems.  I will also say that I did not hate the Apple OS as much as I thought I would.  It is a good system and very functional, but just like my computers I will stick with Windows PCs (with some Linux) and Android for my phone.  You may not like what I said but now I have actually tried one out.

Apple vs. Android

November 15, 2016

Take a Chill Pill Folks

I have decided to not mention you know…that which has been going on in our country lately that shall not be named.  To relieve some of the stress out there I have decided to give you a few fun sites to visit on the web that may put a smile on your face.

Visit the AkinatorFirst off is one of my favorites, “Akinator” found at en.akinator.com.  To use the site, think of a character, alive, dead, fictional historical, etc.  The only requirement is that they are known to the general public.  Fill in your age, why I have no idea, think about your character and start answering questions.  Today I tried Abraham Lincoln and Peter Pan.  Akinator got them both in (a guess here) less than 15 answers. Give it a try and do not worry.  Although it may seem like it, it is not magic or mindreading but a really well done algorithm   and database combination.  Just the miracle of computing quickly.

Next is one that may be useful for some of you but I think funny, MyFridgeFood.com.  Go to the site and check off the items you have in your refrigerator.  Now click the, “Find Recipes” button and you have a list of dinners to make.  To be honest I tried it and occasionally it will add a general item I did not list, but still interesting.

How about Rock-Paper-Scissors-Game.com.  The name says it all, click the one you want and keep a running total.

How about a handy app that will clean the inside of your computer’s monitor?  Try sanger.dk.

Do you like to shop on Amazon.com and sometimes run out of ideas for gifts?  Go to WeirdOrConfusing.com.  Every click of the. “Please” button will take you to Amazon to show you something – you guessed it, weird or confusing.  How about trying to bounce a few cats at cat-bounce.com.

SNAGHTML1c00a3ef

Try PointerPointer.com and no matter where you hold your mouse pointer someone will find it and point at it.  Now that everyone is pointing your way show them some art. Go to ThisIsSand.com and make some sand art.  It will give you a few easy instructions when you enter the site, make sure to read them on your first visit.  Now create!

image

Would you like to watch a movie by a cozy fire but you do not have a fireplace, try TheInternetFireplace.com.  How about seeing if you can tell where a picture was taken?  Go to GeoGuessr.com and with Google Maps try the single player mode.  The closest I got was about 700 miles.

There are always funny cat videos on YouTube.com, but I am sure many of you have already seen them all.

Finally, and only try hmpg.net last.  Warning only use this site if you are absolutely finished.  Now I bet for a little while you have forgotten all of that stress.

November 8, 2016

Do You Use Multiple Clouds?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:42 am

Floyd wrote this week and asked an excellent question. He has several Cloud storage sites that he often uses.  Floyd has all the most popular ones; Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and Amazon Drive.  Keep in mind there are many more out there.

He wanted to know if there was any way he could log into all of them in one location instead of jumping back and forth logging into each.  One at a time is a hassle if you use the websites.  It is much easier if you just use each one’s local folder on your computer.  But what if you are on someone else’s computer and need to access one of your cloud pictures or files and you are not sure which location you put them in?

Wouldn’t you know, there is something for that and I have been using it often for several years.

It is called MultCloud (multcloud.com be careful there is no “i” in there) and it will allow you to access all of your cloud storage on one website.  To add one of your Cloud storage areas, click “Add Clouds” at the top.  Next, you can choose the service you want to add.  For instance, select Dropbox.  You will next be directed to log in to your Dropbox account.  This will allow MultCloud to access your account and display your folders and files.  Once you complete that your Dropbox folders and files will appear on the website where they may be easily accessed.

You may now add additional cloud storage on other services.  If you are like me you can also add other accounts from the same provider.  In my case I have two Dropbox, three OneDrive and only one Google Drive folders.  That way I have enough room to store all of my documents.  The reason I have extras from the same provider is that they only allow you a limited amount of storage per email address.  Therefore, if you have multiple email accounts you can also have multiple cloud storage accounts with the same company.

MultCloud

Once you have them set up what can you do?  You can download any file in any of the accounts to the PC you are using and edit away.  You can also delete them, upload additional files and folders, etc.

Once you install and set up MultCloud you can access your files remotely from any computer you are using.  What you would have been able to do on your local computer with any of your files you can now do anywhere including but not limited to photos.  If you travel without a computer and need your files this could be a lifesaver.

Go to the site and look around, not only will you find MutlCloud but you may get other ideas regarding other online cloud services you could use.

Just remember my thought regarding “The Cloud.”  It is as secure as its most displeased employee.  If an employee had the skills they could get into your information.  Yes, doubtful but it is possible.  Also, hackers may work on storage sites like these.  So, my advice is never store items with your SSN or any other personal information in it that you have a problem “getting out.”

September 19, 2016

2016-09-19 Show Notes with WSVA

Welcome back to the Show Notes from today’s show with Jim Britt and me. Take a look here and also you can listen to the podcast if you missed the broadcast. Find out about the Note 7 issues and how could it affect Samsung in general.

Tech News

iPhone 7iPhone 7 What’s New?

  • Looks almost identical to iPhone 6 and 6S (came out September, 2014).
  • Better battery life.
  • Better camera lens system for better pictures.
  • No 3.5 mm headphone jack which almost all cameras, etc. have had for a long time. Now you can get a special iPhone only earbud that plugs into the power jack. (or Bluetooth Ron’s favorite by far.)
  • Now Waterproof and Dustproof to an extent.
  • Not many other new user features.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
PR Info at rollout:

  1. This now-launching Android phablet is eagerly anticipated around the world – the S Pen upgrade is long overdue.
  2. …the Galaxy S7… will steal the thunder of Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
  3. It’s certainly among the best phones available right now, big or small.

But then there was reality:

  • Release date August 19, 2016.
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 7A couple of reports of the batteries catching fire while plugged into 3rd party chargers. Outside of U.S.
  • More fires/exploding batteries all over the world.
  • Going off on someone’s kitchen table.
  • Going off in parked cars.
  • September 2, Samsung stops selling the Note 7.
  • September 8, most airlines have requested passengers not to board with them.
  • A Florida man has sued Samsung after his Galaxy Note 7 allegedly exploded in his pocket, causing second-degree burns. Reuters reports that Jonathan Strobel was in a Costco store in Palm Beach Gardens on September 9 when the handset caught fire.
    He said the phone burned directly through his pants, resulting in severe burns on his right leg. Strobel said he was also severely burned on his left thumb, after he reached over to try to remove the phone from his pants.
  • September 15, 2016, Samsung has announced a voluntary recall and exchange program on certain Galaxy Note7 devices in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The affected devices were sold in the U.S. before September 15, 2016. Since the affected devices can overheat and pose a safety risk, if you own a Galaxy Note7, it is extremely important to stop using your device, power it down and immediately exchange it using our U.S. Note7 Exchange Program.
  • In U.S you should return to the store where purchased started September 21, 2016 or 34 days on the market.Unsubstantiated Rumors:
  • The problem may lie in that Samsung discovered the iPhone 7 had a better battery life than Note 7. So they made the battery slightly larger than called for and there was a design flaw.
  • Shipments are delayed going back to Samsung as UPS and FedEx have both said they will not carry devices that “may” explode. They may now be in negotiations with a private carrier.

 

Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
Sound Meter – Decibel

Check out this app to know how loud things are around you. Is it damaging your hearing, is the music in your car too loud. Check it out with, “Sound Meter – Decibel”.


Upvoted
A site that takes all the confusion out of Reddit and puts it in an easy to use format. Some fun, some serious.

  • The Resurgence of Coleslaw? Fans of the Oft-Ignored Side Dish Emerge From the Shadows Thanks to ‘Coleslaw Review’
  • What It’s Like to Be 24 and Living With Cystic Fibrosis
  • Hostage Negotiator Shares Tips on Getting What You Want
  • Man discovers Diary His Grandfather Kept During WWII—And He’s Sharing An Entry Every Day

Project Alexandria
The name sort of describes it but basically, do you know a book you enjoyed? If so enter it in the search, press enter and find several others that are recommended as similar for you to read.


Come back and visit next month on Monday, October 17th for more Technology news, information and fun!

Ron

March 15, 2016

Updates

Picture of new Waze mapHere is one update to the last two columns I wrote about Google Maps and Waze for Android devices.  Guess what?  Waze released a new version of its excellent product.  It has a couple of nice new features but mostly it was cosmetic with a few navigational changes.  I believe it looks better, is quicker and well worth the time for the upgrade.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Another update that took place toward the end of 2015 was the Google Chromecast.  This device allows you to view most anything you can watch on your computer on your TV.  Of course, you have to plug it in and do a quick setup.  I had the first version of Chromecast and all was well.  They rolled out the second one and all continued to be well.  Then early this year they did another update which was to work with either the older or newer devices.  It may have been well for some but not me. 

I used an older broken Android phone to "act" as my remote control for our Chromecast.  The phone had not been able to make calls for years.  However, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features functioned perfectly so for those it remained useful. 

After the update the Chromecast app failed.  I could no longer control, start or even make the application run with the old phone.  When I started the application it looked good then a message came up saying it had to restart, over and over again.

I uninstalled it, reinstalled it, rebooted the phone, etc.  You know, all the techie things you should do.  Nothing worked.  I then Googled and found other people with the same or a similar issue.  They suggested downloading the previous version from a now-defunct site.  I did and it all worked well again but within a week or so the new version was pushed back on my phone automatically and it started all over again.

To make all things good once more I installed the new version of Chromecast on my current Android phone and now all is well.  I just do not care for using my phone as my TV remote.

CCleaner main screenNow the Windows 10’s update:  I was basically and still am a W10 supporter with a few caveats you have read from me before now. Here is one more.  

After a recent update Microsoft decided that CCleaner (one of my favorite third party apps) could be a danger to my computer.  So instead of warning me about it and letting me make a decision as to what should be done, guess what?  The programming brains behind W10 decided it should automatically be uninstalled from my system!  All I had to do was reinstall it but what if I had not seen the small warning message when it rebooted?  I would have spent a long time trying to figure out what happened.  W10 can do this to you for a multitude of programs, so be cautious and read all the pop ups.  

March 8, 2016

Map Follow Up

Last week’s column generated a lot of email questions and comments.  I did not realize there were a lot of Google Maps and Waze users out there.  Some people had never heard of Waze and now are trying it out.  Let me know how you like or dislike it as you experiment. 

One person brought to my attention that there do not appear to be many Waze users.  My experience has been that it depends on where you are traveling.  There are many more Wazers in big cities and fewer in the smaller areas. 

Wazers at nightFor the uninitiated, Waze shows small icons for other Waze users on the map.  You can see when other Wazers are nearby.  However, if you search for it online you find that Wazers on the map do not update in real time.  Their icons and Waze username may be delayed by five minutes or more.  They appear to sit still until you drive past them and they vanish off of the bottom of the map.  They may also vanish and reappear later in a different location.  I have read this is done for several of reasons.  One is that it would take considerably more bandwidth to provide live updates.  Another is they do not want you to be distracted from your driving as you look around trying to figure out which is the other Waze driver.  Also, since it is not live, people cannot be stalked using Waze.

 

Several wrote about what I have recently heard called the "lazy" search.  Say you are out of the area and want seafood for dinner.  In both Google Maps and Waze you can search "seafood restaurant" and find a list of seafood serving places to eat.  The reason I say, "serving" and not "seafood restaurants" is that it may be a burger joint that also has a fish sandwich, so buyer beware.  You can also search for a type of place near another place.  For instance, "steak restaurant" near XYZ Hotel" and you would get a good local listing around your hotel.  Pretend you went to a place to eat years ago and all you can remember is it was near 17th Street.  Try search for a "restaurant near 17th Street" and chances are very good that you will find it quickly, if it is still open.  Another neat feature a reader gave me; when searching for places like the above if you scroll down you can find Filters.  You can filter by "currently open," "ratings" and several others when available.

Pizza

Vineyards, Waynesboro, VA

Burger Joints, near me

Search for, “Pizza, Charlottesville, VA”

Search for, “Vineyards, Waynesboro, VA”

Search for, “Burger Joints” near me.

Waze

Google

Waze

Sabrina wrote about a feature I had not known about before.  If you watched people in the olden days use a map, some would hold it with North always point up.  Others would twist and turn the map along the way so they were always looking the way they were moving.  Well Google Maps allows this too.  See what happens if you tap the compass icon on your map while you are driving.  There you go, either North always up or you are diving the way you are looking (the default setting).

Have fun but please pay more attention to the road than your maps!

March 1, 2016

Google Maps Mobile

A couple of notes.  One, this is for Android Google Maps only unless I mention another format.  Two, I still prefer the Waze application for long trips because it shows accidents and police locations…if you are interested in those particular items.  Three, in June 2013, Google bought Waze for $1.1 billion.  To me #3 is a significant point since currently they have significantly different features.  The two combined would be GREAT!   Hopefully soon Google Maps and Waze will become one.

I discovered some good features on GM (Google Maps).  I recently spent a week in a large city I know absolutely nothing about so I used GM extensively.

First off you can load two specific addresses titled, “Home” and “Work.”  You put in the address and title it appropriately.  That way you can always get to those two locations quickly.  You could also type in addresses each time you use a location and after a few uses they will be memorized in a dropdown list.

At first I was a little frustrated as I traveled to many specific destinations. I searched online to find out how to add more than two locations which would stay in the dropdown list.  As I said above I could travel to them several times, but I did not care to enter the address several times to get it “registered.”  I did find a way.

You type in an address and swipe it up once you find it on the phone.  There you will find a star.  The star turns gold and becomes a favorite.  The next time you need to go there click the address box and these new favorites will be listed under your home and work locations.

Google Maps Restaurant Example

Google Maps Restaurant Example

Another feature, on the desktop version also, is the restaurant listings.  In the address bar type in the name of a restaurant you are looking for, say, “Bubba’s Burgers.”  The restaurant and its address will be found very quickly.  Again, you can swipe up and find ratings by other users, opening/closing times, and my favorite: the busiest times of each day so I could schedule eating around their rush hours.  You may also click call, save (the star) and a link to the website.  Many restaurants also have an online menu link for planning ahead at a new place.

Google Maps, Times of service

Google Maps, Times of service

You can type any business and most of them have the call, save and website along with other information.

I also appreciate the satellite view so that as you ride through a new city you can identify buildings along the way…like new eateries.  OK, so I like to eat.

Regarding the website, maps.google.com:  A very nice feature is that you can click your arrival time under options.  So if next Wednesday you need to meet someone at 2:00 pm you can enter that in.  It will take you the best way for arrival at that time.

On the site you can plan multiple destinations, email the link to your email and open it on your phone so you can go place to place on one map.  I have not found a way to do that in the phone app but will continue to look.

Trip through DC                    A few details for DC trip

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