AVOIDING DISTRACTED DRIVING WITH AN APP

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 6.20.58 PMDriveMode” is a free app for Android users who want to use their apps in the car without getting distracted. It gives you a blank screen for all apps — messaging, navigation, music, etc. Use voice control to change the Pandora radio station, listen to a text message and search for directions. The app creators were developers and advisors for Tesla and ZipCar.

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ORGANIZING DOCUMENTS ONLINE

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 6.12.36 PMDocady” makes it easier to organize all your important documents. It pulls them from various online locations, such as email or online storage services such as iCloud and Dropbox, and sends you reminders when anything is about to expire, such as your passport.

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VIRTUAL MAKEUP

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 6.05.29 PMBob has long maintained that women look fine without makeup. The world isn’t listening to Bob. “YouCam Makeup,” a free app for Android or iPhone, has now been downloaded over 100 million times. It lets you try on makeup virtually, using your own photos.

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GOOD READER TIP

printer troubleWe aren’t the only ones who have become frustrated with HP printers. A reader sent us a link to a YouTube video with the title “HP Photosmart Won’t Print Black Ink.”

It turned out our own problem just involved cleaning the printhead. This is easy to do.  Click the “all apps” or “all programs” link on  your Windows PC, then find the printer software. Then click “maintenance,” and “clean printhead,” or words to that effect.

Our reader had his first HP problem after installing so-called third-party ink. Nowadays, HP won’t even let you print if you don’t use HP cartridges. This is also true for many other manufacturers because ink is where they make their money. In our reader’s case, after three or four days repeatedly cleaning the printhead, it wasn’t dead any more, but it was still crippled. He bought a new printhead for $67 and then had to buy all new ink cartridges.

(It’s not that we are against HP printers, we have one on our desk right now. It’s that we don’t like these kinds of business practices.)

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TRAVEL BACK IN TIME WITH THESE OLD DIETARY GUIDELINES

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 10.42.32 AM “Grab Your Fork and Travel Back in Time With These Old USDA Dietary Guidelines.” The U.S. government recently changed their dietary guidelines for the umpteenth time. For instance, for a time, butter and margarine were their very own healthy food group.

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22 LIFE HACKS YOU’LL WONDER HOW YOU DID WITHOUT

Put a glass of water in the microwave with pizza so it doesn't get chewy.

Put a glass of water in the microwave with pizza so it doesn’t get chewy.

“22 Life Hacks You’ll Wonder How You Did Without.” Search on those words to find some surprising tips. For example, to remove wrinkles from your shirt, throw it in the dryer with some ice cubes and let it rip, so to speak, for five minutes.

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FREE CREDIT SCORES

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 11.46.08 AMJoy was pleased with our credit score after we let WalletHub.com evaluate us. Last December WalletHub became the first website to offer free credit scores, full reports and a financial fitness analysis.

We learned on the site that it’s better to keep your credit card for a long time if you want to improve your score. Our average card is four years old. That’s considered new. (We can’t help but be tempted by new cash-back offers, and we tend to cancel old cards to avoid fees or prevent confusion.)

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A KILLING IN ADVERTISING

hqdefaultOver 40 million people have downloaded “AdBlock,” a free program for blocking ads on  the web. We were skeptical initially but are now converts.

Often, when a web site comes in slowly it’s because it’s loading ads. Lately, Joy’s computer has been so slow, she could put on water for tea and come back before the site had loaded. Then she loaded Adblock, and it helped. It counts the ads it kills and gives you totals; it knocked off 2,500 in the first week.

What made Bob turn to AdBlock was pants. He bought some pants online and by the next day the entire clothing business had ads for pants on whatever web site he called up. It was clear to the nitwits in marketing that this guy obviously had an endless desire for pants. After installing Adblock, they were blocked. (“Honest: I bought two pairs of pants, guys. That’s it. I don’t need more pants.”) Read more »

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SAFE LUGGAGE

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.46.33 PMRecently, we warned against writing your name and address on luggage tags, since burglars might figure you’re not home. Instead, we said, you might use smart labels from HomingPIN. These can be tracked worldwide by the airports’ own system.

After writing that, we heard from a reader with a low tech solution:  Write only your name and email address or name and phone number. He points out that he wants the finder to reach him where he is now, not at his home. (We have some smart readers.)

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SELL YOUR OLD GAMES, CDS AND DVDS

icon_call_of_duty_black_ops_3_by_hazzbrogaming-d8s68jpDecluttr.com is an online service that buys your unwanted DVDs, CDs and video games. They noted that “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3” was the most traded video game over Christmas Day.

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