Zus Smart Car Charger and Car Locator

Joy broke her foot this summer, but that didn’t stop her from walking for two hours with her friend Betty. Joy was wearing an orthopedic boot but naturally did not complain as the pain increased. It took two hours because Betty couldn’t remember where she left her car.

There are free cell phone apps for this problem, but we have tested several and they don’t work all that well.  We’ve found they can’t compare with a path-finding gizmo called “ZUS,” which is $30. It not only finds your car, it checks the time left on the parking meter and charges your phone.

To get started, we plugged the ZUS into the car’s cigarette lighter and downloaded a free app. The ZUS has two slots for USB cables and claims to charge your devices twice as fast as other car chargers. Could be, but we didn’t care about that; where it shines is in navigation.

We tapped the ZUS app after parking the car and took a long walk along the lake. When ready to head back to the car, we got a green arrow pointing us in the right direction. When we veered to right or left or reversed course, the green arrow pointed us back to the car. It gave us a progress report along the way, showing when we were 750 feet away from the car, right down to the last 20 feet. This last might matter in a crowded parking lot, like at a sports event.

We compared it to a free app called “Find My Car.” (We’re always eager to avoid paying $30.) First we tapped it to set our parked position, then took a walk again. When returning, we tapped “navigate” to get Google Map’s turn-by-turn directions for walkers. But we were practically standing in the lake when a Google voice announced that we had arrived back at the car.

A few other nice ZUS features: You could be lost in the woods — without cell phone coverage, and still use it to track back to your car. It can share its location with family members, so you could all meet up at the car in the Disneyworld parking lot, without trying to remember where it is. On iPhones and iPads, the app also checks your car battery.

Beware Bogus Email

scamWe’ve recently had calls and emails that claim to be from Citibank. The free cell phone app “Truecaller” blocked the call but we still got it on our landline. Much worse were the emails.

The fake Citibank emails look exactly like a Citicard invoice. It even had the last four digits of a credit card we used to have and a precise sum we owed. The return address appeared to be legit too: “citibank.com.” But appearances were deceiving.

Never click to go to a link in a suspicious email. Call the company and ask if they sent it. Or, here’s a trick Joy uses: Instead of using your left mouse button to click on a link like “Visit Citi Online,” click with your right mouse button. This gives you a menu. From the menu, click “copy link address.” Then paste it into any word processor. Sure enough, when we did this, it showed that the email wasn’t from Citibank but some outfit called “AccountOnline.” Totally bogus, man.

Sharing Your Opinions

many-opinionsA reader turned us on to “Opinion,” a free app for the iPhone or iPad. It puts your opinions out there, as a podcast for the whole world to listen to. A podcast is like a personal radio show. You can add episodes as often as you wish, and create as many stations as you wish. By golly, this could be a series.

We first did a podcast ten years ago, using BlogTalkRadio.com, which is still around. It’s a simple way to go on the air just by calling in. Books have been written on how to do a professional-sounding show, but the Opinion app is as simple as it gets, no manual required.

Go to MadeWithOpinion.com and download the free app or find it in your phone’s app store. Then choose a name for your show. We chose “Bob and Joy.” This gave us our own web address, Bob-and-Joy.MadeWithOpinion.com. (Bob was his usual curmudgeonly self.) Tap to take a picture of yourself or use one you’ve stored. We didn’t have many photos on our iPad, so we Googled “how to transfer photos from your computer to your iPad. ” Answer: You connect your iPad or iPhone to the computer, then use iTunes.  When you’re ready, tap the red “record” button and start talking. If you don’t want to share it with the world, you can save it as a private file.

After you talk, you’ll have a chance to edit the results. We left our mistakes untouched, but you can tap on a pair of scissors to cut the parts you don’t want. You can talk for up to ten minutes. We talked for three, following the journalist’s rule of “keep it light, tight and trite.” The premium version of the app is $5 and lets you talk as long as you want. (Remember the rule.)

How will others discover you? You can add yourself to the iTunes Podcast directory.  Do a search on “Apple Podcasts Connect” for instructions.

Reader Warning

google-nowRecently, we said you could add “Google Now” to your old smart phone if it didn’t already have it. “Now” now lets you speak your search terms instead of typing them. It seemed like a good thing but it can cause problems.

A reader said he ran into trouble immediately after installing Google Now. Instead of many screens full of apps, he now had just one page. He tried turning off Google Now, but the only thing that worked was uninstalling it. Fortunately, when he did this, all of the missing apps reappeared.



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