About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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.


Vineyards, Waynesboro, VA

Burger Joints, near me

Search for, “Pizza, Charlottesville, VA”

Search for, “Vineyards, Waynesboro, VA”

Search for, “Burger Joints” near me.




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,  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

June 18, 2013

December 11, 2012


This Christmas season I hope you have seen some websites’ URLs that start with "https://" instead of "http://."  That is if you shop online, do banking online, etc. 

Here is a short lesson on what they mean.

The basic one, "http" stands for "Hyper Text Transfer Protocol" which is the main prefix for most websites.  Http allows browsing the internet, linking to sites and other "mapping" online.  It begins most websites’ addresses.  Most sites do not require "http://" to be entered.  So you could go to the address bar in your browser and type either, "" or "," press your enter key and end up at our site. 

The other one, "https" means "Hyper Text Transfer Protocol" with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), or "Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure" for short.  This does basically the same thing as "http." However; it also is used to allow safe and secure internet transactions to be sent online.  

To use the secure version you usually need to type, "https://" in the address bar or click a link which directs, or maps, you to it. 

The reason I started with, "I hope you have seen https," recently is if you are purchasing anything online it should be in the site’s URL when you are entering financial information.  For instance, if you bank online, go to your bank’s website and check the address bar when you log onto your account.  When using "https" any info you send via that page is encrypted.  That makes it so no one can read that information except the appropriate party on the receiving end.  It does take a little longer to send securely since it has to encrypt it before passing it along the web.   

ffAnother way to tell if you are using a secured site is to look for a lock in your browser. Usually the lock icon is to the right of the site address or on the left where the icons for sites are usually located.  If you have never noticed it; open your bank’s site and look for the lock.  If you do not bank online try "" and click on the "Sign In" or "My Account" links.  Even if you do not have an account, when you go to the sign in page you will see the lock…look closely in your address bar. msie

Many sites automatically use the secure protocol for instance Gmail, Hotmail (and all of its derivatives like, etc.), Amazon and many others.  Some you have to tell you want to use https, so check the sites you visit and see.  You only need to use it when you are entering username, password or account information on a site.  However, you may be able to use it at other sites.
I once heard, "You never send a postcard in the mail with your username and password written on it for everyone to see, why do it online?"  That thought has some merit, be careful online. 

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