DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

September 27, 2016

Bluetooth

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:30 am

OK, OK, I know I am late to the party on this one.  I have used Bluetooth devices off and on for about the past 15 years. That is hard to believe in itself since it seems like it has not been around that long.  However, the telephone company, Ericsson, originally came out with it in 1994.  It was invented to replace RS-232 data cables with a wireless alternative.  It did not quite succeed there but it did in a big way in other areas.  Today it is the standard for wirelessly sending and receiving data over short distances. 

Bluetooth logo

One of the first Bluetooth devices I came into contact with was when I owned a Blackberry phone (yes, I had one of those too.)  The phone had Bluetooth built into it so you could use a headset with it.  You know the disturbing little blue blinking light in many people’s ears, then and today.  I really think it is supposed to be a status symbol of some sort.  The light was designed to help users know things; in standby mode waiting to receive a call (blue flash), fully charged (steady blue), needs charging (steady red), receiving a call (fast blue flash), etc.  But come on folks, once it is in your ear you cannot see the stupid blinking, so it is obviously for others to see.  But enough of that.  

The Blackberry/Bluetooth combo was not that good.  I am not really sure if it was the phone’s fault or the Bluetooth headset.  Regardless it was not a pleasant experience for me.  So ended my dance with Bluetooth for a few years. 

A few years later a friend spoke of one he had bought and how great it was.  So, I figured ok, let me try again.  I got a Motorola H700 Bluetooth headset and it was great.  At one time I even used it in a convertible and I could hear you and visa-versa during a call.  I used it so much that I wore it out and am still using another generation of that one.

Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 In-Ear Bluetooth Wireless EarbudsNext, I got a Bluetooth headset for listening to music from my computer or phone, etc.  Fantastic!  I use earbuds, which I like, and listen to music from my phone, table, wherever BT is available and it sounds great.  

As fate would have it a month ago the radio on my car went to radio heaven after 14 years of service.  I thought oh, gee, this is going to be expensive since I want to have a USB port in the radio.  For less than $100 I got a replacement at one of the big box stores in town – with not only USB but Bluetooth built in. 

I have been amazed to learn what it can do. I can clearly call and be called on my phone through the speaker system, although my wife says it sounds "different."  My audible directions from Waze come through the speakers now, much better than before.  Another surprise for me: (well not really, I saw it in the manual) if I play music or listen to an audiobook on my phone it sends the signal to my radio and I hear it there loud and clear.  When I cut the car off the phone stops playing and then restarts later at the same point. 

WOW, I am a Bluetooth fanboy now!

July 18, 2016

2016-07-18 Show Notes with WSVA

Filed under: WSVA Show Notes — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 12:17 pm

Lots of talk today so check out the podcast if you missed it. Not many links but lots of information…and of course Jim kicks me around about my reading list (which I have to admit he was correct).

Tech News

Facebook cloning scam can steal your identity

If you’ve noticed people you thought were already your friends suddenly requesting to add you on Facebook, watch out: it could be a scam.

According to multiple reports, a roughly month-long fraud has plagued the social network and stolen vital personal information from users. It goes like this: a scammer re-creates someone’s Facebook profile using their default photo, other pictures and “about” section. Then that individual sends friend requests to the targeted person’s friends list.

By adding your new “friend,” you could instead be letting a stranger get access to your personal information.

Not only that, but the person can also pose as you by recreating your profile, and send messages to your friends and plan get-togethers or ask for money.

Some experts recommend thoroughly scanning a user’s profile before adding them as a friend. Also, making your friends list accessible to only other friends can limit a scammer’s access.

If you notice a request by the name of someone you’re already friends with, you can notify that friend that they’ve potentially been hacked.


Windows 10, It’s Now or Never

Microsoft says after July 30, 2016 Windows 10 will no longer be free. $119!


 

That is all for today, come back in August on the 15th and join in.

Ron

February 23, 2016

Can I Delay the Inevitable?

I have had several people email recently who had issues after a Windows 10 update.  I have had a couple of small issues too; however, they went away after an extra reboot.  So the old tech query remains when you have problems, "Did you restart your system?" 

In previous versions of Windows OS you could tell Windows to let you decide when to download and install updates; however, not so with 10.  If you are a home user you are at the mercy of Microsoft when you get system updates. 

It could be when you are in the middle of writing a column (like I am now) and everything slows down…to a crawl which just happened to me.  I type and letters appear a few beats after I press the keys.  I open my browser to check something on the internet and the browser takes forever to open, well at least 30 seconds or more.  You know what I mean, you have experienced it also.

This slowdown is sometimes caused by the download of the files for the update.  They will be downloaded to your computer when MS says they are ready.  MS and the geeks that are "Windows Insiders" test the new updates and say all is well and you get them, ready or not.  So the sometimes massive updates start and your computer slows downs. Once they are downloaded they are installed. 

Some people like to wait for a while to make sure the updates are not causing complications for others before they install them. Some advanced users only want to install specific updates.  But users other than Enterprise users (corporately licensed with Microsoft) have no option…or do you?

There are actually several geeky ways to get around this.  But MS has provided a way which is not advertised too much.  Keep in mind before we start, I do not suggest you stop Windows Updates.  If you do you will have major problems.  WARNING:  This is manual meaning that you have to do things for yourself – it is not automated too much. 

wushowhide iconIt is a standalone "trouble shooting" package from MS appropriately named, "Show or hide updates."  The shortened link is rd.dblclx.com/1XpVqHN.  The download will be named, "wushowhide.diagcab" or "wushowhide" depending on your system.  Double click it and it will start with nothing being installed.  That is the standalone part.  It just runs and nothing is added to your system. 

Follow along with the instructions and it will search for current updates, then list the ones it finds.  Click the ones you do not want to install even if it is all of them.  You then click next and they are hidden and not installed.

Start Search       Searching       Choose to hide or unhide specific updates

When you are ready to install them, run the app again and unhide the ones you hid before.  Finish it, run Windows update and all is well.

Several words of warning here.  You should be aware that if you go too long between updates you could be opening your system up to problems.  So unhide them and run them at least a month or so after you hide them. 

February 15, 2016

2016-02-15 Show Notes

Welcome back to the Show Notes to the Talk Show from this morning. Kick back and relax if you are in the snow, rain, sun or wherever.

Listen to the podcast while you read.

Tech News

AT&T jumps into the fast lane with ultraspeedy 5G field trial
5G is coming. Eventually.

The fifth generation of wireless technology heralds a significant speed boost for Internet connections. On a 5G network, you could download the latest "Star Wars" film in seconds, not the minutes needed on today’s networks. Its expected ubiquity will also help connect millions of devices, from lightbulbs to farm gear, allowing them to talk to one another and to you.

Now AT&T has publicly come out with its road map for 5G, which will deliver 10 to 100 times the speed of today’s 4G wireless connections. This follows Verizon’s vow to start field tests this year.

<read more…>


Say Farewell to Google’s Picasa
Google is ending support for Picasa and would love it if you transition over to Google Photos.

Google plans to end support for Picasa and transition users to Google Photos, the company announced today. Picasa, an image-organizing application Google acquired 12 years ago, has seen few updates in recent months as Google focused development efforts on its shiny, new Photos app.

Support for the Picasa desktop album will end on March 15, though it will continue to work for users who already have it installed. Uploaded Picasa photos will be transitioned to Google Photos on May 1.

Originally introduced by Lifescape in 2002, Picasa brought iPhoto-like editing ease to casual photographers on Windows. Google improved the service with its trademark "I’m Feeling Lucky" button, which automatically retouched photos with one click.

<read more…>


Why Google’s self-driving vehicles mean the end of car insurance

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Xerox’s innovation officer Valerie Raburn points to the reams of data Google will gobble, to ask:

Yet consider how all this sifting of auto-insurance rates will position the company: Could Google turn this revenue-generating learning experience into a more lucrative opportunity to underwrite its own insurance policies and displace traditional carriers—especially once driverless cars become a reality?

This broad understanding of how auto-related risks are priced in the competitive market could allow the company to insure tomorrow’s vehicles, or simply roll the cost of insurance into the retail price of Google’s own driverless car once it hits the market.

Raburn’s observation is intriguing, on one hand, because she is probably right:

Google’s massive automobile ambitions, combined with its constant hunger for data, means the company is probably playing a long game that could threaten insurance companies. While this would obviously be unpopular with the insurance industry, it would be a boon for consumers and transport companies like Uber because the costs and headaches associated with insurance would decline dramatically.

The other reason to take note of Raburn’s prediction is because it shows, yet again, how new technologies bring unintended consequences. Specifically, Google’s driverless cars are not only poised to reduce accidents, but could also wipe out a multi-billion dollar industry in just a few years. <read more…>


Arnold’s new game, "Mobile Strike" with an ad from Super Bowl 50.

See you next month!

Do not forget, if you need training, consulting or advice on how to lead a better business see us at Virginia Training and Consulting Group.

Ron

February 2, 2016

I Took One for the Team

It finally happened to me, the tech "professional."  After years of reading, writing, researching, testing and reporting on technology and applications I got in trouble.

When I suggest software to you I have always tested the applications or sites that I recommended before telling you about them.  In testing software applications I test them in a "sandbox."  No, not that kind of sandbox.  

A sandbox for a geek is a place created on a computer which has no or very limited access to other parts of your computer.  The sandbox is like a computer running within your regular computer system but it cannot touch anything on the main system unless you allow it to do so.  Once you are finished with the sandbox you can easily delete the entire thing and be done.  That way you can run untested applications and if they work without any issues you can feel safe about installing it on your main system.  If they negatively affect your sandbox after testing you can delete the entire sandbox and it is all gone.  Safe and sound.  After testing I tell you about the app.

You may then ask, "Why don’t you tell us the bad ones, Ron?"  The reason I do not tell you about the bad apps goes something like this:  I mentioned a popular app one time that tracked when you go on the internet for advertising purposes.  I mentioned the name of the product.  A week later I was contacted by the company’s lawyers "requesting" me to retract my statement. 

I am one little techie who writes part time and I have no legal reps.  So I presented my facts to the attorney with lines of code and proof.  I asked if he wanted me to post the entire findings online and in the next column.  I received an email back stating that was only in the free version; the paid version was clean.  They sent me the paid version to test.  I never heard back from them.  I do not want to play that game again.  

Back to the present.  I installed a new application on my PC…no sandbox, oops.  

After the installation finished I ran the program testing whether it did what it was supposed to do.  It worked pretty well but not well enough for me to recommend.  So I uninstalled it from my PC, not the sandbox. 

I immediately noticed that all of my browsers now opened my homepage tab and a fake Yahoo page.  The page was not related to the real Yahoo but it sure looked good.  I tried all of the known fixes for a browser highjack and it would not go away.  I then searched online and yes, it was a known malware from installation of the program I had tested.  It gave some suggestions on how to possibly resolve it.  I tried them, rebooted and now that computer will no longer start.  Shoot me an email if you wish to know the application that I believe caused the issue. 

I will be working on it this week and give you any results I have next time.  Stay tuned as the adventure continues.  

January 19, 2016

Temporary Email Address

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

Have there been times when you want to sign up for something on the internet but knew once you did you would get "IT?"  You know what "IT" is.  It is tons of spam from some stupid site that looks like it has something you want or need.

Sometimes even very reputable sites will start spamming you with lots of email.  They may get some small amount of money for sending your email address to their business partners.  There are many reasons you may be spammed when signing up for things online.

In order to avoid this there are several temporary email address sites out there you may use.  However, one that I currently use is called "Instance Mail."  You can use it to sign up for sites to whom you do not want to reveal your real email address.  You can find it online at instancemail.com.

InstanceMail main screenIt is quite simple to use.  Once at their site, you enter your real email address and press the "Get new address" button.   You will then see the new temporary address.  When I used it recently it gave me esprl1la2@instancemail.net as my address (no longer functioning).  I know, now you are thinking, "If I give them my real address won’t I get spam from them?"  The answer is no, you will not.  They are clean.  At least they were the last many times I have used Instance Mail.  I believe you are quite safe using their site.  They do need your email address to verify it as real and give you a little information on how to proceed.  

You may also want to take a look at the Options link.  There you will see that the expiration for this new email is 120 days.  You can make that a shorter time in various increments down to 30 minutes.

Another nice feature is that you can also get the site to send you an email reminder when your address expires.  Also, you may add a comment to your address which is actually just a short note letting you know what you used that address for in case you forget.

I find it very interesting as a "web guy" that all of the information you need is found on the one page of their site.  You go to that one link to get to everything you need to use at InstanceMail.com. Very convenient and easy to use. There are links there to reuse the email which allows you to extend it another 120 days as many times as you wish.

To sign up at another site use it just as you would your regular email address.  For instance, I signed up at a site with the instance email address and the site sent a verification email to the "fake" address.  However, it was received in my regular mail’s inbox.  That way I could verify it and then use the site.  After I was finished with that address I went back to the Instance Mail site and shut my recently used email address down. 

If you use this or any of the other temporary email sites let me know what they are and how you like them.  This can help you stay safe and more private online.

January 5, 2016

2015 Sites in Review, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 10:54 am

Welcome to the 15th year of "Double Click."  It has been a pleasure giving you computer and tech information each week since January, 2002.

Each January I review the sites I wrote about during the previous year.  If the site addresses are too long for print I have shortened them using a branded short domain from Bitly.  Read more about it from the following link if you are interested. The links will be preceded by "rd.dblclx.com" followed by various letters and numbers.  Copy them, then paste them in your browser’s address bar to visit the sites.  They are case sensitive so be careful.

Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Secunia, secunia.com – an application updater similar to Windows Update but this is for your individual applications.
  • FileHippo App Manager, rd.dblclx.com/1R6077Y – similar to Secunia but much easier to use.
  • Chrome 54% (rd.dblclx.com/1Uf9jX0), Firefox 15% (firefox.com), Microsoft Internet Explorer 15% (included with all versions of Windows) – these are the three most popular web browsers.
  • Google.com, no explanation needed.
  • Ninite.com, an easy way to build a new computer and get many programs set up with one download and one installation.
  • Internet Crime Complaint Center, ic3.gov/complaint – here is where to go when you need to notify the government about "bad" sites and scams.
  • YouTube for Kids at the Google Play Store, rd.dblclx.com/kidsoutube – where you get all of your Android applications.
  • Avast.com – my favorite antivirus for the current time.
  • Malwarebytes.org – a vital add-on app to go with your antivirus.
  • Facebook.com – you probably are already using this site, if not, do not so you can keep your life.
  • Coffitivity.com, RainyMood.com – two programs that add background noise on your computer which may (or may not) help you concentrate on what you are doing.  I like a real coffee shop myself. 
  • DoubleClicks.info – probably one of the most overlooked but most informative sites on the web for computer questions and answers.  
  • Amazon.com – you know this one but for Christmas alone the Seattle-based company added 3 million new Amazon Prime subscribers only in the third week of December. (A gross income of almost $300 million.)
  • Class-Central.com and Coursera.org (MOOC – Massive Open Online Course
  • Game Oldies, game-oldies.com – you may be able to find your old favorites here whether, GameBoy, Nintendo NES, Atari, etc. Arkanoid was my favorite.
  • Flux, justgetflux.com – this uses your computer’s location and system time to adapt the colors to warmer colors at night and sunlight-like colors during the day (the normal setting). Supposedly better for your brain and eyes.  
  • Kaspersky Software Updater (kaspersky.com/free-tools) SUMo (kcsoftwares.com) Update Notifier (rd.dblclx.com/1O6gKMq) – all good software "updaters" like FileHippo mentioned at the beginning however, I believe FileHippo is the easiest to use and finds many apps.
  • Google Chrome Browser Extensions, rd.dblclx.com/ChromeExtens – this is where you can find many good extensions for the Chrome Browser so it can do more for you.  I listed many in the article from June, 2015.
  • PCDecrapifier, pcdecrapifier.com– this standalone app removes junk programs and PUPs from your system.

This gets us through June of 2015, next week the last six months of 2015 links. Thanks for reading the column and emailing me with your great questions.  I love writing it and hearing from you! 

December 22, 2015

Last Minute Tech Gifts

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:28 am

Do you need a present for a geek right now!  Well, you do not have much time left.  Christmas is in days.  What can you run out and get right now since Amazon does not have enough time to get it to you before the big day?

Here we go on a quick trip of tech gift ideas which do not cost too much.  All of them can be found around town in different stores…if you hurry.

Wrapped Presents

How about a thumb drive for your tech friend to store portable files on?  Or in the case of people whose cars have a USB port in the radio, they can load their music to it and listen as they drive about town.  I have seen and purchased 64 GB ones locally for $9.99.  Depending on how they have compressed the song files that thumb drive could hold an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 songs. They can also be used to store duplicate files from the My Documents or any other folders on their computer. 

ChromecastsNow a suggestion from Google.  If you have a Chromecast you know how well they operate.  They basically give you the ability to broadcast anything to your TV from your phone or computer.  If your friends have a Smart TV you already have many of the features. But if not, all you need is a HDMI port on your TV and you are set.  The retail price is $35.

Next how about a surge suppressor?  You have seen your friend’s desktop computer with everything plugged directly into the wall.  You know that sooner or later there will be a power spike of some sort that ruins his system.  Get a surge suppressor with several outlets and also ports for USB cables.  For anywhere from $12 to $50 you can save them a bundle. 

Everyone can use an additional USB charging cable.  People have phones, MP3 players, watches and many other devices that use them.  They get lost and even wear out over time.  There are many different types of connectors on the other end of the USB cable, so make sure you find the correct one.  Depending on the type I have seen them this week from six dollars to $15. 

How about a Tablet?  If your friend does not have one and wants to try one out now is the time.  How about for you kids and grandkids?  Just do not let them be on it all the time.  I found one for mine at $40.  In this price range the resolution is not that great for reading.  But the kids are playing games and they are fine for gaming.  I did see some quite serviceable ones for $80 that I would easily consider.  Of course, tablets get better and better for up to the $300 range.  These good prices are for Android devices only.  Windows and Apple products will cost significantly more.

Now I have recommended all of these gifts for your friends.  But let us be honest…these can be gifts for you too!  Either way, have a very Merry Christmas! 

December 21, 2015

2015-12-21 Christmas Show Notes

Welcome to the Christmas 2015 show mainly giving you ideas for what to pick up around town before Christmas. These are geek-friendly so they may work for you or others. Have fun and listen to the podcast while you are here for even more information


We did get into the first web page ever displayed yesterday, December 20, 1990. It was only seen by local viewers.

The real public site was on August the next year. The original code was never captured for the future; however, here is a very close to exact recreation.

http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html


  • Smart Watches ~$250 (Wearable Tech) LG Watch R – lg.com
    Motorola Moto 360 – Motorola.com
    Pebble – pebble.com


  • Fitness Trackers (Wearable Tech) Fitbit – fitbit.com
    Jawbone, Garmin and many more.


  • Cameras (Point n shoot) or Digital SLRs From $100 to $17,995 (used Mamiya DM56 last year it was $19,995)

  • Tablets Lower Prices may reflect older versions
    • Surface Pads (Microsoft) $900
    • iPads (Apple) $600
    • Androids (anyone except MS and Apple) – $300
      Samsung Galaxy Tablets seem to be the most talked about, depending on whose review you see, but it is also has one of the higher price points.

  • SSD Hard Drive These drives are replacing the regular disk hard drives we have been using since circa 1980.

    They are digital so they boot almost immediately and are much faster and retrieving and storing data.

    Many makes and sizes; however, now you can get good ones on sale starting at around $65 for 248GB.


  • Stop and Grabs

    >>> Thumb Drives

    >>> Surge Suppressors

    >>> Cables

    >>> Bluetooth Keyboards


Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ron

December 8, 2015

Another Christmas Gift

When work, vacation time and life all work together my wife and I like to go camping.  Many times we are camping in areas without electricity.  Now do not misunderstand, since I am writing about camping in December.  We DO NOT camp, other than in a warm hotel, during the winter.  However, it did get me thinking about something that could be a good gift for you to give this year.

We are not totally wilderness campers meaning that if we have cell service we like to have our phones available.  You know – kids, grandkids, aging relatives…use your imagination. So cell phones are good to have with us.  When out camping without electricity sometimes the phones’ batteries give it up.

In comes the gift, a portable “gadget” charger.  There are maybe a million of them out there.  No, I have not counted but there are a plethora at least.  I have tested a couple and then last year about this time I saw one that was highly rated in an ad and on a great sale.

It is called a “Kmashi 15000mAh External Battery Power Bank” and it works quite well.  I bought it last Christmas for us to use, you guessed it, when camping.

Front view of Kmashi 15000mAh Charger

The Kmashi regularly sells for $59.95 but last year Amazon had a special for the holidays making it $19.99.  At that price and with the excellent reviews I bought one.  There are a couple of less expensive and more expensive versions of the Kmashi that respectively supply less or more power.  A rating higher than 15000mAh power means that instead of charging a device three or four times like mine, it will charge them more times.  A smaller number means the opposite.  This is true for all of these charger types.

I tested mine when I bought it and it took several hours to charge the unit itself but once charged we got about four phones or tablets charged before it needed a recharge.  It has four lights that show you the power remaining on the charger as it works.  That lets you know when it is running out of power.  It also has three ports and an on/off button.  Two of the ports are for inserting your charging cable and then connecting to your phone.  They are regular USB ports and yes, you can charge two devices at one time.  The final port is where you charge the Kmashi itself.


Graphic below is (from left to right) charging port, on/off button
(barely visible), 4 power lights, over under ports to phones/tables, etc.

Controls view of Kmashi 15000mAh Charger

If you think this is something you or a friend may like, Amazon is offering another deal right now.  Here is a link to the device: rd.dblclx.com/1PG9nRf.  Before you check out of your shopping cart use DNWS3612 as your coupon code.  This code will reduce the price even further to $12.50.  If you are a prime member you will not even need to pay shipping.

Of course, buyer beware, this code worked for us, yes we bought another one for a gift, as of this writing.  But if the code does not work for you, Google for another one.

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