selfie on a ledgeThe news that Selfies have killed more people so far this year than sharks has received wide coverage recently. There have been 12 selfie deaths and eight deaths from sharks. We mention it again because the solution seems clear: teach sharks to take selfies.

The most common selfie deaths are from falls. A Japanese tourist fell on the steps of the Taj Mahal; others have stepped back a pace too far to make it clear they were standing on a cliff. People have also died trying to take a picture of themselves next to a speeding train, an angry bear, a charging bull and the Tour de France (probably lying next to an angry Frenchman).



sunshineA reader wrote to say his wife has a Kindle and loves reading outdoors. His iPad costs hundreds of dollars more but he can’t read it in sunlight. “Not fair!” he said. “My wife grins at me as I struggle.”

If you Google the question, “how to read the iPad in sunlight,” the first answer that comes up is to use polarized sunglasses. So we bought a pair, and though Joy tried several times during two days of good sunshine, she couldn’t read a thing. She followed the instructions from the web to rotate the iPad 90 degrees, but the screen was still darker than when viewed with the naked eye. It didn’t work for our reader either. Which goes to show, you can’t always trust solutions you find on the web.

For reading in sunlight, there’s nothing better than “e-ink” screens, such as those found on the basic Kindle models. Both the Kindle ($70), the Kindle Paperwhite ($120), as well as at least one version of the Barnes and Noble Nook, work wonderfully in bright light. Too bad they can’t play movies or show color pictures.

Here’s a plus for Kindle fans: If you run out of stuff to read, any articles you find on the web using your computer or phone can be sent to your Kindle where they can be read offline. “” has full instructions for doing this. Basically, you add a button to Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer or whatever you use to browse the web. Once installed, all you have to do is click it to send the article to your Kindle. Other options let you send articles by email or send documents directly from your computer files. Pretty handy, eh?



drew universitySome of these are for students, some for teachers. It will be obvious what goes with whom.

— “Notability,” $4 for iPhone/iPad, lets you create notes, bring in pictures, music and video, and highlight your text.

“Nearpod” allows teachers to send surveys, ask questions and present slides. This has over 100,000 users.

—  “Schoology” allows teachers to share assignments, and lets students receive test scores. Already has 500,000 users. Are there that many digitally hip teachers? (iOS) (Android)

— “Google Drive” is great for storing documents. Save stuff online at No matter what machine or phone you’re using, you can still access your stuff.

— “Reminders” is Apple’s to-do list. It has a lot of tools for tracking homework, projects and tests.

And for those who don’t want to do anything in particular, there are: “Trivia Crack,” (maybe too trivial), “Messages,” (so addicting, you’ll constantly be messaging others), “Homework,” (can’t compete with pen and paper), “Candy Crush,” (too mind-numbing), and “8 Ball Pool.”


COMPARE OLD NEW YORK TO TODAY ON THIS MAP has an interactive map that lets you compare the New York City of 1836 to New York today. As you move an on-screen magnifying glass over the map, you can see the difference 179 years make. For instance, there’s no Central Park, everything past 14th Street is wild countryside, Manhattan has lots of hills, and there used to be docks where there are now buildings.old new york



super is for people who like to watch other people play video games. It’s a competitor to a service called “Twitch.” Google is trying to make it easier to “livestream” your games, so people in galaxies far, far away can watch you zap aliens in real time. As we wrote, 621 people were watching someone play “Super Mario Maker.” Spectators can and do make comments on screen.



SINGULARITYRay Kurzweil, futures forecaster and inventor of the music synthesizer, says human beings have an expiration date. We’re getting closer and closer to our machines, and some day we will be machines. In other words, it won’t be enough to have computers on our wrists, we’ll want them in our heads, or to be our heads. Once we let them do all our thinking, we won’t be human any more and we will no longer have any trouble selecting the right tie to go with our suit. We’d like to register our protest right now and invite others to join us just as soon as we’re through with our role-playing video game.



Apple WatchA friend of ours got an Apple Watch as a retirement present and it came in really handy on a trip abroad when he couldn’t find his iPhone. His watch told him a phone call was coming in and he answered it on his wrist. He then realized that his iPhone must be nearby because the Watch won’t work unless it is. And so he carried that thought through and found the phone in another jacket. Or, you could just search through your pockets.

Here are some fun apps for the Watch, all of which also work on phones:

BBC News gives you the latest headlines right there on your wrist. (Also on Android.)

Yahoo Weather tells you the temperature, the wind, and what the weather really feels like, despite the temperature. Tap the watch face to get graphs with more info. (Android version here.)

— CityMapper (iOS/Android) gives you train, bus and subway schedules, as well as bicycling info. The watch knows where you are. (And so do we — ha,ha,ha,ha,ha.)

— “XE Currency” (iOS/Android) is a currency converter. In a flash you can see the answer to the traveler’s eternal question: “How much is that in dollars?”



collect moments“Facebook Moments” is a free app for Android and iPhone, and a good way to get photos from friends without having to ask. It’s an official Facebook app, but you can get it from

Here’s how it works: Choose which Facebook friends you want in your circle; your photos and theirs are automatically synced in a private storage area. If they aren’t already Moments users, they’ll get an email prompting them to download the app.  You choose which photos to sync, you don’t have to share all of them.

A new “Storyline” feature automatically creates movies based on your Moments. It chooses the best photos in your Moment and synchronizes them to your choice of 11 music selections. Moments with at least six photos will have a movie waiting for you that you can edit and then share.



erasing privacyA reader asked us whether it’s true that the new Windows 10 collects information on your computer usage. Yes it does, but no, we’re not worried about it (anyone watching us needs serious help).  If you’re concerned, there’s  a free program to shield you.

Anti-Spy for Windows 10” is free from and prevents Windows 10 from sending information about your computer use. You decide how much or how little you want to share by checking or un-checking menu choices.

Windows 10 collects huge amounts of data to make it possible for the virtual assistant (that’s tech talk for imitation person) to answer your questions. The imitation person in Windows 10  is called “Cortana,” in Apple machines it’s called “Siri.” You can speak your commands or type them using the search bar at the bottom of your screen. If you don’t see Cortana, right-click the taskbar at the bottom of your screen and uncheck the word “hidden” next to the word “Cortana.” Sometimes a virtual assistant  goes out for a virtual drink.

“Anti-Spy” begins with many items turned on, others turned off. “Driver updates” were turned off. We turned them on because we feel it’s safer to keep your computer software updated.



FILEMAKER“Filemaker 14″ is a popular database created by Apple as an alternative to Microsoft’s Access. The company is offering free training to help people create Filemaker databases that run on iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac and the web. Get it at

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