MAKING MUSIC

musically-appMusical.ly” is a free app for Android and iPhones and it’s been downloaded over 70 million times. It lets you make 15-second music videos. Almost all of the users are teenagers. Some of them are pretty good.

This fast forwards pop artist’s Andy Warhol’s prediction that someday everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. Now it’s 15 seconds. These videos can be posted on the site itself, as well as Facebook, Instagram and your private account.

If you’re feeling young again yourself, you might want to post a few dance numbers. Start by choosing the music. For instance, we started with “Obama’s Playlist.” The only tunes we recognized were Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” and The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” In the whole “World” section, we found “La Bamba,” “La Vie en Rose,” and the South Korean hit, “Gangnam Style.” In fact, we were having so much fun playing 15-second music clips, it was hard to move on to make a video. (Now we know where to get a tune called “Psychedelic Bollywood.”)

After choosing “Stand by Me” in the rock section, (Bob vetoed Joy’s suggestion of Disney’s “It’s a Small World,”) we put our phone on a bookshelf, tapped the start button and it automatically took a video of us in normal mode. Another time, we tried “fast” mode, and watched our arms flail at super speed. We tapped the edit button to change the lighting. We chose “save privately,” and emailed a copy to ourselves. If you make several videos, you can compile them into a story, or perhaps a musical.

Watching the featured videos, we saw a cute one of a baby being tossed by its parents and two guys in a supermarket doing some amazing floor slides. A couple of cute twins do a rap song. This is all fun, easy and free.

Refurbished Blues

1 slow computerA reader bought a refurbished Windows 7 computer. It works fine and was dirt cheap. But the keyboard didn’t make sense. Whenever he tried to type the “@” sign, he got a quotation mark instead. None of the number keys worked as expected.  If that ever happens to you, it means someone switched the language. But you can switch it back.

There’s a British keyboard and an American keyboard, not to mention all the others. The key to fixing this is to open Windows’ “Control Panel” and click on “Clock, Language and Region,” and then “Change Input Method.” From there you can switch to the American keyboard.

Now back to refurbished computers. Our reader paid $200 for a Lenovo “ThinkCentre IBM” from TigerDirect.com, because he wants to stay with Windows 7. He says he’s never been disappointed by anything bought there. When we visited the site, we saw a Dell Latitude with a 14-inch display for $125, but it has only two gigabytes of RAM, which means slow Internet surfing. For today’s Internet, with all the complex video and photos, at least four gigabytes are recommended. We noticed that if you search on “refurbished laptops” on TigerDirect, only one comes up. But if you just click “laptops” and choose the price listing “from low to high,” there are dozens.

We’ve purchased so-called “refurbished” products in the past and only once had a problem.  It was actually a new computer we bought at an office supply store. When we fired it up, it turned out that there were lots of files on it. It was not a new computer. All of the paperwork was in the box. This leads directly to the question of what is refurbished and what is not.

More often than not, refurbished products are new. It works like this. Some company buys 500 desktop computers. But it turns out they only need 430 of them. They send the other 70 back. Now, when these get back to the manufacturer or the vendor, it is not worth the time spent in labor to examine each one of these for possible use; if it looks new, it is new. Therefore, these returns are usually re-sold as refurbished.

Now several years ago, buying refurbished was worth it because of the big savings. This has become less so today. Printers, for example, are now so cheap that it isn’t worth looking for refurbished units. We saw advertised in the newspaper a new HP Windows 10 laptop with all the trimmings for less than $300. At prices like this, what is to be saved buying refurbished?

 Internuts

  • woody-allen-cafe-societySmartyPins.WithGoogle.com is a fun trivia game using a Google map. Every answer is the name of a city. They ask you an entertainment, sports, science, culture or history question and you drop the pin down where you think it goes. Joy missed the question about Kansas City, though we’ve had great barbeque there. She earned a bronze pin in the science and geography category.
  • NetflixReleases.com tells you when movies in the theater or elsewhere become available on Netflix.

What’s Your Pattern?

pattern Keeping your smart phone locked could prevent bad guys from getting in if you ever leave it at somewhere. To set a lock, tap “settings” and then “security.” In most phones, you can lock your phone with a four-digit number or use a distinctive pattern. We chose the pattern. It’s quick to draw something on the screen to unlock the phone.

The screen tends to go dark within seconds, requiring you to unlock it again. So we changed the security setting to require a password only after 30 minutes of inactivity.

What we didn’t know was that some patterns are easy to guess. If your name starts with “S,” you might draw an S. Other common patterns are “U,” “N,” and “Z.” Pardon us while we change our pattern.

Dropbox Fiasco

Just about any time someone sends us large files, they use the free service from Dropbox.com. We remember when it was located at Dropbox.io. The “io” stood for Indian Ocean and that’s just where our first files went. They were just getting started then and now are one of the primary methods people store files online. Too bad they were recently hacked. Around 68 million user accounts were broken into.

Which prompts this comment: If you use Dropbox, change your password, just to be on the safe side. We did. (But we’re not telling you what.)

 

 

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