Joy’s sister recently sent her an email saying: “Look at your text messages.” (She implied, but did not add, “Dummy!”) We’re much more likely to see email on our computer than texts on our phone and Sis knows it. We’re that rare couple who doesn’t live on their phones.
So what we needed was a free Windows app called “MySMS,” which is for Android phones only. The acronym stands for “Short Message Service.” You can get it from MySMS.com. Once installed on your computer, it can copy all the text messages that were sent to your smartphone — as long as you have another app installed on your phone. That’s also called MySMS and you get it from the Google Play Store, which is on every Android phone. Both these apps are free.
So … should you lose your phone or leave it somewhere, your text messages will still be there online and can be read on your computer. Pop-ups alert you as new messages come in. After installing MySMS, Joy got a pop-up immediately right there in the corner of her computer screen. How exciting. Clicking on it took her to the latest text from Sis — even more excitement.
You can send text messages from your computer with or without the SMS program or a smartphone, but it’s not as convenient. Just convert your friend’s phone number into an email address. As you know, an email address has two parts, what goes before the “@” sign and what comes after. Replace the name with your friend’s phone number in front of the “@” sign. What come after the @ sign depends on the carrier.
For example: Say the phone number is 123-456-7890. For AT&T customers, the email address would be firstname.lastname@example.org. For Verizon the second part would be @vtext.com. For Sprint, it’s @messaging.sprintpcs.com. For T-Mobile, use @tmomail.net. If you don’t know what to put for your friend’s carrier, find out what phone company they use at CarrierLookup.com. If it’s not AT&T, Sprint, Verizon or T-Mobile, you can find it by a Google search on “send text messages from your computer.”
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A reader wrote to say that one day everything was fine on her computer but the next day she could barely read her screen, the font was so tiny. She didn’t know what she did wrong. We told her to hold down the “Ctrl” key and tap the “plus” sign to enlarge the type you see on the web.
Often, changes to your computer can be much more serious. Maybe everything was working yesterday and today it’s all wrong. Here’s our favorite fix: Go back to a day when all was well.
For that you need what are called “restore points” so you can do a “system restore.” To our surprise, in Windows 10, we only had two restore points. The others went into the great Microsoft never-never land during the upgrade from Windows 8.
To create a restore point in Windows 10, type “Control Panel” in the “ask me anything box” and click it when it comes up. Type “restore point” in the Control Panel’s search box and then “create a restore point.” When the next menu comes up, click “create” and name your restore point, which will include a date. (Because we’re creative types, we named ours “Restore point.”) Now if something goes wrong, and you need to take your computer back to a day when all was working, repeat these steps again but this time choose “System Restore” instead of “create.” (Isn’t technology wonderful?”)
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- BestofYoutube.com has select videos. We listened to Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, talk about whether we’re really alive or just characters in some advanced civilization’s video game. He thinks we’re in somebody else’s video game. But are we winning, or losing?
- Echoism.io lets you try out some of the voice commands available to owners of Amazon’s popular speaker, the “Echo.” On the test site, you can ask about the weather, find a restaurant, and get answers to other questions.
- RomanceScam.com: Is he or she the right one for you? On this site you can share your story or read about others who have been scammed by online dating sites. The site recaps a number of stories on the subject. Both sexes have been victims. Losses can be heavy.
- Search on the term “Think you drink a lot?” According to an article in the Washington Post, 30 percent of Americans don’t drink at all. (We don’t drink, but we seldom meet anyone else who doesn’t. So we’re skeptical abut the 30 percent figure.) Another 30 percent drink less than one drink a week. But the top ten percent have an astonishing 74 drinks a week. Which would kind of indicate that ten percent of the population are alcoholics.
We’ll never forget the first time we saw a picture created with a graphic design program called Xara. When we zoomed in on an illustration of a microscope, and kept zooming in, we came to a dot on the microscope’s slide. That dot was only one pixel but when we zoomed it, it turned out to be an elaborate drawing of a woman taking a bath. The full magnification was more than 2500 percent.
Xara’s new $70 program, “Xara Photo and Graphic Designer 365,” is for people who want to go beyond free photo editing and design tools, such as Instagram. There’s a free-trial period, and you can learn a lot in that time, by using their tutorial website, XaraXone.com. It starts from the beginning: how to draw a line on a page and instantly color in an object you just drew. This could be better than paying for art lessons.
Go to Xara.com, click on “Photo and Graphic Designer,” and then click on “gallery,” to see some amazing works created with the program. We especially liked the comic book cover for a magazine called “Heart-Searing Confessions,” and other cartoonish and photo realistic creations. If these were at a local art show, they would beat almost anything we’ve seen.
A new kind of Xara tool lets you plop a “smart photo grid” onto your design space. These instantly re-size themselves as you drop photos into them, making it easier to swap the positions of photos. The “smart shapes” tool has new tricks for creating charts, making them easier to edit. The program comes with a ton of free templates for charts, logos, and other designs, as well as photos you can use. Unlike some of the other graphic programs we’ve tried, this one won’t strain your computer resources. It works with Windows Vista on up.