The other day Joy was showing her friend Frieda how to add a picture to a Word document. Frieda has a really old version of Microsoft Word, and Joy was astonished to discover that a search on the word “flowers” turned up nothing, a big contrast with the rich choices available in later versions of Word, which automatically search Office Online.
Now Microsoft is replacing the Office Online image collection with Bing’s image trove. Searching at “Images.Bing.com” (or going to Bing.com and clicking “images”) results in royalty-free art. To find Google’s version of this, go to Google.com/advanced_image_search. Click on the first result and scroll down till you see the various options, such as “free to use and share,” or “free to use and share, even commercially.” When you find something you like, click the right mouse button to get the “save” menu.
Bob pointed Joy to desk lamps with flexible necks; they put the light where you need it. Now Joy is pleased as punch with the new “LED Gooseneck Lamp,” $50 from NewerTech.com.
There are cheaper gooseneck lamps out there, but this is so green. When you tap the base, it turns on. Tap it again and it changes to a low-level light that is always on. This makes it a night light. But, what about the power consumption if it’s always on? Well, LEDs use very little energy and can be on for five years. We keep it on the dining room table, so if we get up for a midnight snack, we won’t stumble in the dark.
We were at a launch party for “Suffer No Fools,” a new PBS documentary, when a guy asked us if he should get the latest Kindle or the new iPad Mini. This is a tough question – and he was a tough-looking guy.
We praised the virtues of the Kindle “Paperwhite.” It has a soft light for reading at night, but you can also take it out into bright sunlight. It’s a dedicated e-reader, so you’re not tempted to check your mail instead of reading your books. It has a touch screen like an iPad and is 30 percent lighter than the iPad Mini. It’s a lot cheaper too: $119 instead of $249 for the iPad Mini, or $199 for the new Kindle Voyage.
But despite the numbers, reality often works out differently. We love our iPad Mini. We have the older Kindle and the Kindle Fire, but we rarely use either now. The iPad Mini is so versatile: we like to switch from reading a book to reading our mail, and even though we could do this on the Kindle Fire, we don’t; it doesn’t feel natural. Our newspaper and magazine subscriptions are in living color, which is also true on the Kindle Fire, but not the Kindle Paperwhite. At night the iPad Mini can be switched to white text on a black background, which is easy on the eyes.
Ironically, a few years back, Joy bought a Kindle for her brother-in-law, convinced he would stop using his iPad 2 for reading books once he discovered the joy of the Kindle. We don’t think he ever took it out of its box. This Kindle thing may not turn out to be a winner.
If you wondered what 3D printing is really good for, get “Fabricated,” a new book by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman.
The book opens with a day in the not-too distant future when “Deluxe food cartridges” print a celebratory dinner with fresh tuna steaks, couscous and a wildly-swirling chocolate cake that has a different picture on every slice. In the day’s news: a mining disaster is averted when 3D printers make replacement parts. Your next-door neighbor lives in an eco-friendly “Foam Home,” with weather-sensing walls. Your other neighbor died after purchasing “vanity body parts” from a guy who wasn’t careful about cleanliness.
The book’s first chapter is titled: “Everything is becoming Science Fiction.” We may disagree with some of the predictions, but this is fun stuff; $28 from Wiley.com. For Star Trek fans this is all old hat. That’s a digitally printed old hat.
“Hanx Writer” is a free app created by well-known actor Tom Hanks. It makes your iPad or iPhone keyboard sound like a manual typewriter. When you reach the end of a line and tap “return,” you hear that old familiar carriage-return sound, but no bell. (How come no bell, Tom?) Hanks says it helps with his own writer’s block, since he wrote some of his best stuff on a manual typewriter. The $3 to $5 pro versions offer different fonts and typewriter models. Standard typeface is “Courier,” like the old typewriters.
The new Phone 6 makes text messaging a lot easier. Send a text message to a group, add your map location and your voice, pictures and video. It’s all in the “details.”
Tap “Details” as soon as you’ve opened the text messaging app, called “Messages.” Give your text a name and tap “add contacts” to add people to it. Tap “share your location” to add a map. If you want to forward a text message you received, hold your finger down on the message, tap “more” and then tap the circular arrow in the bottom right of the screen. Hold down the microphone icon to add an audio message. Most of these instructions worked on our iPad as well, though we couldn’t get the group text messaging thing going. For that, we’d use an app like “Group Text.”
A common reader question is how do they find something we have mentioned in a column, and sometimes they ask how to find things we’ve never mentioned. Either way, the answer is the same: Google it, or Yahoo it, or Bing it.
Joy has developed this search technique to a fine art. What she has discovered is the narrower you define the search, the more likely you are to have it come up right away. This works with quotes, snatches of movie dialogue, headlines you vaguely remember, almost anything that can help the search engine find a match.
Everything our friend wants to do on her iPad or computer can be Googled. Send a text message to a group? Google it. Revise your Facebook profile? Google it.
Search on the sentence “The future is an unknown country,” and you will come up with lots of “Hits,” as they say, that define it as the title of a Star Trek movie. In fact, it is amazing how the search often finds nothing else. Which is too bad, because the line is actually from Shakespeare. If you add his name to the search, you get it.
So … can’t remember where you heard or read it but want to find it again? Put in details.