DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

October 28, 2014

Livescribe

I went through almost my entire college career without taking notes.  I found that when I took notes I was busy writing and missed what I really needed to get from the lecture.  I was/am not good at shorthand; neither the genuine one nor my own made up version.

Lo-and-behold, technology triumphs again!  This creative technology started out in mid-2000s and after an iteration or two became known as, "Livescribe."  

Basically, you have a Livescribe pen and special paper.  The pen basically contains an ink cartridge and a laser camera in the tip.  It also has a cap, on/off switch, small screen, USB port for charging and syncing data, microphone, speaker and an audio jack.  Costs vary depending on where you get them.  Check out Livescribe.com for information on the current three versions.  Each one does a little something different. 

You tap a button on the paper labeled Record with the pen, hear a beep and start writing notes.  When you are done, tap the Stop label.

Livescribe Pen and NotebookLook at the notes you just took and they look, well like notes.  However, the paper has almost imperceptible dots on it.  Now tap at the beginning of the notes and the pen will play the audio portion of what it recorded in your written text.  If you were to number five items and tap on number four, the speech you were listening to when you wrote "4." will play.  A friend of mine uses his for illustrating sophisticated Network Diagrams.  When he goes back in his notebook and taps on one line in the diagram, it plays back what was being said at that time so he is reminded of every component.  Amazing! 

I heard of these before and thought it was a silly gimmick and a waste.  When my friend Nick pulled his out at a meeting we recently attended and started using it I was e-awestruck.  He tapped a note he had taken a year ago at the previous year’s seminar and I could hear what it was all about.

All of the audio and written information is stored in the pen.  Once you are done with your note taking you can attach (depending on the version of pen you have) the pen to your computer and transfer the information there.  It creates a PDF file of the information.  Later you can open the file with the free Adobe Reader and read the notes.

But that is not all.  The recording is also in the PDF file.  Simply click on a line with your mouse like you did with the pen on paper. The audio recording will play back on your computer speakers.  It is much clearer on the computer than the pen.  Also good in the event of a lost paper notebook.

Simply explained, the laser camera in the pen tip records what is written on the paper using the small dots to coordinate its position.  The camera records everything that goes on the paper.  The audio is obtained in the tiny microphone which synchronizes with the text.  All of this data is stored in the pen’s memory.

It does a lot more, search for Livescribe online and see the demos.  I think I will make a note about that!

October 21, 2014

What To Do With That Screenshot

Last week I told you about several applications which would enable you to take screenshots from your computer.  They were SnagIt, Snipping Tool and Screenshot Captor.  Those reviews led to several emails I received from readers so we will take a look at a couple of their questions.

Someone asked why they would need a screenshot.  Well, many people may not; however, many others would desire this ability.  It basically allows you to take a picture of anything you see on your computer.

I will pretend that you are looking at a new piece of furniture online that you would like to show your spouse.  You could email them the link to the site but you could also just send a picture (that way the price is hidden…you sneak).  Once you take the "picture" of the chair or whatever you can save it or edit it in your screenshot program.  When you are ready you can insert it into an email and send it on its way.

Say you are going to do a presentation using a paper handout.  You can include screenshots of anything which appears on your computer and is related to what you are promoting.  You can add text, pointers and other graphics to make it more professional.  Also, the same can be done with any slideshow software like Microsoft PowerPoint.  You can make some very good looking and professional "shows." 

Next, I received an email asking about which file type should be used for saving pictures. In many cases it is not vital to the average presentation.  That being said there are a basic few to pick from.  Basically today the standard is JPG which is a lossy format.  This means that it cuts some of the pixels out when edited or losses resolution to some extent.  A lossy format is not as clear and sharp the more you enlarge them.  For finer resolution you can use a lossless format type. 

The most common lossless formats are PNG or TIF which have better resolution but larger file sizes.  You may see GIF occasionally but this is a very lossy format and not good except when you need a small graphic.  Since GIFs have such a small file size they are often used on websites so the sites will load faster…less information to download to your computer.

My opinion is that if I plan to print it or enlarge it I prefer JPG or PNG.  Yes, JPG is lossy but unless you make them very large or edit them a lot they will look very good.  For emailing to friends and presentations go with any format; however, JPG is usually the winner for me.  With a JPG containing up to 16.7 million individual colors it looks pretty good most of the time.

It is different for photography as RAW and TIF (or TIFF) are the highest color quality and resolution.  But we are not looking at that.

According to research, January, 2014 marked the first time that mobile internet usage exceeded PC usage by approximately five percent.  So friends you send screenshots and photos to, could very likely be looking at them on their phones or tablets, and resolution may not matter at all.

October 7, 2014

January 14, 2014

2013 Sites in Review, Part 2

This week I will continue with the second half of the links we talked about last year at DoubleClicks.info.

Remember, if the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them with bit.ly.  Here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Dropboxbit.ly/aszzao.   A very good cloud storage app.  Use the supplied link to sign up and get more space.
  • Kill Diskkilldisk.com.  This application will totally wipe your drive clean so that it is almost impossible to retrieve deleted data.
  • Nexus 7 2013bit.ly/1esugJz.  My current favorite Android tablet. 
  • Hulu.com and Hulu.com/plus.  The very popular free and paid TV movie streaming apps. 
  • Google Musicplay.google.com/music.  Google’s free/paid (depending on what you want) music streaming plus you can upload your own music to it and listen anywhere you have internet connectivity.
  • BGCallwww.vieas.com/en.  A wallpaper changer which was less than adequate at the time I wrote about it.
  • Google Keepgoogle.com/keep.  A very good note taking app where you can add pictures, lists, texts and be alerted by them using the time or location of your mobile device.  I just hope Google does keep this one.
  • Recuvapiriform.com/recuva.  Did you accidentally empty the Recycle Bin and need a file back?  If so try this app which is one of the better ones for recovering deleted files.
  • Facebook.com and Twitter.com.  Two popular social web sites.
  • PayPal.com. A safe place to pay for online purchases.
  • Device ManagerAndroid.com/devicemanager.  How to locate, send an alert or wipe your data from your Android device(s).
  • Ubuntuubuntu.com.  Operating system which operates as well as Windows; however, this one is free. 
  • Join Mejoin.me.  A free application for individuals, which will allow you to log onto someone else’s computer, while they are there.  Great to use for helping and training.
  • Should I Remove Itshouldiremoveit.com.  A free app that will locate and remove unwanted programs including adware, toolbars, bloat-ware, crap-ware and other junk.
  • AniPet Aquariumbit.ly/anifree. A nice live wallpaper for Android devices. Also similar for Windows and OSX is Serene Screen at serenescreen.com. 
  • Glympseglympse.com and Waze.com.  A good and much better GPS navigation app for your mobile devices. 
  • Chromegoogle.com/chrome, Firefoxfirefox.com, Internet Explorer – search at Microsoft.com, Operaopera.com and Safariapple.com/safari.  The five most popular web browsers.
  • OpenOffice (openoffice.org) and LibreOffice (libreoffice.org) are two similar but excellent free replacements for Microsoft Office. 

I look forward to continuing the discussions about software, computers, the internet and all sorts of technology this year.  I hope that you, your families and friends have a great 2013 and continue to join me in the newspaper, on the radio and on the web! 

December 24, 2013

Office – Which Office?

I received a great question today from one of my regular readers and writers, so thanks Ivan for turning me around.  I was going to have an entirely different theme today but it will have to wait.

Ivan asked, "What choices do I have beside Microsoft Office to install on my computer?" 

I thought that I would send him to one of my previous articles and then I realized I had mentioned this before but never specifically addressed it.  So, the answer is, "Yes, there are two freebies which are excellent replacements for MS Office. I have tested both and I do have a preference.

image First, off let me state that Microsoft Office is the "King of the World" when it comes to office suites being used by people all over the world.  However, I will also state that OpenOffice and LibreOffice are excellent and mimic most of the functionality of the "King."  Please, note that they both merge the two names. That is not my typo. 

There are people who swear by both of them and both are excellent.  However, my personal opinion is that LibreOffice is slightly better.  The main reason is the same people were originally working on this application and it was only known as "OpenOffice."  Apparently there was a developer/designer conflict.  Some of the folks wanted to move in a slightly new direction and others wanted to remain on course.  A "spilt" resulted with the new group forming LibreOffice.

I believe LibreOffice is slightly better mainly because they provide updates to the entire office suite as well as individual features a little more often than OpenOffice. 

image imageLet me share more good news.  Either OO or LO have suite members which do most of the same things found in MSO.  You can create and edit text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and more.  Another very nice feature is the ability to open and save in the Microsoft formats.  That way if you use one of these two to create a file (or edit one you received from a MS Office user) it can be saved in the MSO format.  You can even set the default document types the same as MS types.      

If you want to take them for a spin, do as I did and install both.  Try them out and decide for yourself if one is better than the other.

Be warned that when you download either they are very large files.  This means that it could take quite a while to download them depending on your internet speed.  There are also many online tutorials for them so you will not be at a loss as to how to do tasks with either.  

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