GO GRANDMA GO

A few years ago, our friend Ida got a smart phone so she could use Uber and Lyft. We wish there’d been a connection to “Go Go Grandparent” back then. Any cell phone will do.  And imagine this: you can even call from what’s called a landline, whatever that is. Go Go Grandparent connects you to Uber and Lyft with nothing extra to do on your part. Register at GoGoGrandparent.com. Then call Go Go Grandparent from any phone. Press “1” to be picked up at home. Press “2” to be picked from wherever you were last dropped off. Press 3, 4 or 5 to be picked off at one of your usual locations. Press “O” for an operator you can […]

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STAY CALM AND SNUGGLE DOWN

Cozy up and get under the covers. “Calm,” is an app for your computer or phone and helps you fall asleep by telling you bedtime stories or providing music, nature sounds, and meditation lessons. We feel sleepy just talking about it. Their latest story is a Grimm’s Fairy Tale that claims to be the first one ever produced by artificial intelligence. It puts robots to sleep. Besides that, there are 80 stories written by actual humans. New ones come out almost every week. A couple of those are narrated by Stephen Fry, who played the helpful butler “Jeeves” in the “Jeeves and Wooster” TV series. We listened to “Blue Gold,” about the lavender trade. The only way it could have […]

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AT THE OPERA

A reader told us she’s tired of being tracked. We suggest using the new Opera web browser. It’s free and you can get it from Opera.com. Once on board you will have a built-in “Virtual Private Network,” or VPN, as the techies call it. It automatically encrypts all your data so hackers can’t get to it, which makes it safe (at least until the counter-attack) when you’re using free Wi-Fi at the airport or a coffee shop. For your phone, there’s “Opera Free VPN,” from the iPhone or Android app stores. Besides safeguarding your data, it lets you into places you might otherwise not be able to go.  For instance, some videos are restricted to certain countries. We’re looking at […]

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DEVELOPING A TWITCH

An old friend in the computer gaming business called to pitch a new product. The product was interesting though not yet ready for prime time. But his call opened a window we hadn’t looked through in many years. We hardly ever mention computer games anymore, because it has become a specialty in its own right and is too narrow for this column. And yet, they’re still out there. More than half a million people tune in daily to Twitch.TV, where they can watch other people play video games. Ten million have downloaded the app to watch Twitch on their phones. Sound pretty stupid? We tuned in (because we have to) and it was actually interesting. In fact it was more […]

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WI-FI BLUES

A reader wrote us to say he’s barely able to connect to the Internet wirelessly, even though his phone is just 20 feet away from his AT&T router. Two bars is the best he gets. We told him to call AT&T, since they’ll replace his router or add a booster for free; it’s part of the monthly contract. However, that may not work. What he’s opened up is a much larger problem that many people experience, and it’s definitely worth going into. It is a trickier subject than it first appears. The subject of radio broadcasts (which is what your wireless modem is doing) and receiving them is a special field of its own in electrical engineering. Antenna design can […]

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THE RIGHT BROWSER

Which is the safest way to browse the web: Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox? According to the blog “How to Geek,” Edge has a slight edge. Many say Firefox has the last word on privacy and we find that’s it pretty private. In 2015, Firefox instituted “tracking protection.” It removes all tracking elements from pages you visited using the “private browsing” feature. To use private browsing in Firefox, hold down the “Cntrl” (or “Cmd” on the Mac) and the “Shift” key. Then tap the “P” (for private) key. It was news to us that advertisers and websites can track you in Google or Microsoft’s browsers even if you use the “incognito” or “InPrivate” modes. All those modes do […]

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COUNTING THE WAZE

Five topics: Getting Better Directions, Better Searching with Google Chrome, Fun Doggy website, Political website tells you which candidate you’re most like, What Cortana can do

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WAIT, I DIDN’T PRESS PLAY

Chrome users no longer have to worry about so-called “Flash ads” playing automatically, ever since Chrome killed Flash. But what about other videos that start up out of the blue?

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CHROME KILLS FLASH

“Chrome Kills Flash.” This reads like a headline from a new comic book, but it refers to ads and pictures that use Adobe Flash to make them pop up from the Internet. (The late Steve Jobs often said how much he hated Adobe Flash.)

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BUGGY CHROME

We recently switched from Google’s “Chrome” web browser to “Opera” because Chrome started giving us problems. Now there’s a solution from Google called “Software Removal Tool.” Get it at google.com/chrome/srt. What it does is scan your browser for anything that slows it down. This includes extensions; these are small programs like “AdBlock” or “Gmail Offline.” Extensions slow your browsing. If there’s one you have to have, you can always put it back on. Chrome seemed to work slightly faster after we tried this. (We get so impatient sometimes.)

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