“Lightt” is a video-making iPhone app with some impressive features. Make your own stop-motion movie, like Wallace and Gromit or for you baby boomers, Gumby. Have a video play in reverse so that water pouring out of a pitcher appears to pour back in. Shake the phone to undo the effect you just created. All this is impressive, and it’s free. But we found it a little difficult to figure out.
–Got an email you want to share or save? You can send text from an email to an online storage account, by highlighting it and tapping “share.”
– Don’t feel stuck with whatever browser came with your Android phone. Android lets you download Firefox, Chrome or other web browsers.
–Hate the keyboard? Use “Swype,” a popular virtual keyboard available only on Android phones. (For iPhone users, a new $5 app called “Nintype,” is a cross between Swype and a regular keyboard, and may offer the best of both worlds.)
We used to have one of those “nature sounds” machines that played rain or waves to lull you to sleep. It worked well for a few years but finally started making very odd sounds (we must have gotten the alien version). So we went to the library and got three CDs full of nature sounds.
They had lots of tracks of nature sounds, not all sleep inducing. So we copied our favorite. To do that in Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, stick a blank CD into your drive and open up Windows Media Player. (XP users can download it from Microsoft.) You’ll see a message “Disk is empty, open burn list.” Click that and then drag the songs you want into the burn list until you’ve filled 80 minutes worth. Then click “burn.” Now in this case we just wanted to burn one track over and over, so to do that just keep dragging that same track onto the play list. This makes for a very boring CD, but in this situation that’s just what we wanted.
If you want that CD to play all night, your CD player has to have a “repeat” feature. Your player or boom box may already have that but you don’t know how to trigger it. But who still has the manual for these things? Nobody, right? You can get one, however, by typing the brand and the serial number for your machine in Google. Mother Google will find it for you.
Or, better yet, use Bluetooth speakers to wirelessly play nature sounds from a free smartphone app, such as “Nature Sounds.”
Readers were glad we wrote about CCleaner, a free program from Piriform.com; it has a tool for shutting off programs in the background that slow your machine.
But that’s not all you get! (Where have we heard that phrase before?) This little wonder also speeds up your web browsing. Start up the program and click “Tools.” Then look at the browser tab. You can speed up Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox.
Finally, it comes with a “Drive Wiper.” This is for that moment when you’re about to give away you machine and want to get rid of the personal stuff on board.
It has a link to “System Restore,” as well, though you don’t need CCleaner to get to that; it can be found under “system tools” on any PC. This little program has saved us many times when our computer loses its way in the woods. It is a teensy, weensy time machine that returns everything to a golden age when all was well.
“Ken Burns American History” app for iPhones/iPads with iOS 7, the latest operating system. The app brings you highlights from 136 hours worth of Ken Burns videos. A timeline lets you tap a given year. For example, 1930 has clips on jazz, Prohibition, Huey Long, the Great Depression and baseball. Starts out free, then ten bucks.
“Dog Land” for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch links dog owners from around the world in a like-minded community of pet owners. “Mark your territory” to share your location with others. Find dog parks, pet stores, vets and animal rescues. Vote on dog-friendly places. Use privacy settings to control who sees what. Their slogan: “This land is your land. This land is Dog Land.”
That scream in the distance is Bob crying out “But I like my Windows XP machine!”
According to a recent study by Trustworthy Computing, Windows XP systems have a malware infection rate six times higher than Windows 8. AV-Test, which runs tests on security solutions, says XP will have more holes than Swiss cheese after the general updates stop. However, Microsoft will continue updates to its free security product, Microsoft Security Essentials until July, 2015.
That’s Bob in the distance shouting “But I like Swiss cheese!”
There are going to be a lot of upset people around, because Windows XP is still the choice of 29 percent of all the users and that number is actually rising. Windows 8, introduced by Microsoft almost two years ago, has just seven percent of the market. What’s even worse, the number of XP users actually increased last December.
So why drop support? Well, you don’t make any money supporting old systems. So take that, old-fashioned users.
So what about the security issues? Well we use BullGuard anti-virus (not free) and Malwarebytes, which has a free version. Avast anti-virus is very good and free, and we used it for several years before switching to BullGuard,
So what’s a person to do? Well, as they used to say back on the farm – sucking on a piece of wheat straw for the full effect – it seems to us that with a market as large as nearly one-third of all PC users, it might be a good business for someone to offer continued technical support for a small monthly fee.
According to KS Mobile, an app maker, the number one battery drainer is the “Camera 360 Ultimate” app. Public battery enemies two through ten are: Outlook.com, EZ Weather Forecast, Viki, Zello Walkie-Talkie, Temple Run 2, IMO Free Video Calls and Text, Racing Moto, Fruit Ninja and Candy Crush Saga.
KS makes a free battery-saving Android app called Clean Master, which we use to get rid of junk files, but our favorite battery-saving app is still Battery Doctor, also free, for iPhone and Android. For iPhone users who want something similar to Clean Master for getting rid of unwanted applications, there’s Snap Pea.
This happens a lot: Somebody will tell us about a great site, article or video they saw on the web, but don’t remember exactly where it was. Google it, they’ll say. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.
If you use the Firefox web browser, there’s an easy way to share what you saw. Click “File” from the top of the screen and then “Email link.” In Safari, click “File,” “share” and “email this page.” In Internet Explorer (for Windows 7 and XP), click “Page” and then “send page by email.” In IE for Windows 8, use the “share” charm, if you can get it to work, which we can’t.
But what about the totally popular Chrome browser? You have to install the free add-on, Shareaholic, from Shareaholic.com. It requires you to sign up for an account, but that’s easy. There’s a version for all the browsers. If you’re on Youtube, click the “share” button under the video, then choose “email.” Finally, the way we usually share things found on the web is copy the web address and paste it into an email. It’s easy; it’s just an extra step. God, we get so lazy sometimes.