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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HOW BOUT FREE PHONE SERVICE?

A reader latched onto his wife’s old Samsung Galaxy phone, now that she has a new one. At first he thought he needed a cheap phone service to go with it. We suggested a Tracfone plan for $7 a month — $21 every 90 days for 60 minutes of talk time. But he decided to go even cheaper: use free Wi-Fi to make calls. If you use Google Voice, Google Hangouts, Skype or some similar service to make calls, you don’t need a dedicated phone service. Search on “How to Make Phone Calls and Texts from your Smart Phone without Cell Service,” which leads to full instructions at HowToGeek.com. (Gotta love that name.) But what about the landline? You know, […]

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LOSING SKYPE

Our 96-year-old friend Ida uses the free Skype service to have video-chats with her friends in Australia. One day, her account was wiped out. Could this happen to you? (Think of that question as having been asked in scary monster movie title type.) You might think this had something to do with her age, and she must have hit the wrong button or spilled something on the keyboard. But no, we found dozens of similar complaints on the web. One guy wrote: “Where has my account gone? I do business all over Europe and today you just trashed my account with the credit I had as well?  You idiots.  If somebody within Microsoft made the decision to do this – […]

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HERE’S LOOKING AT EVERYBODY

  If you use Facebook, but worry about it sharing your personal information with strangers, we have a fix. It’s Facebook’s “Privacy Checkup.” From your computer, go to Facebook.com and click the tiny picture of a padlock next to the tiny picture of a globe in the upper right. Follow the steps to increase your privacy. — You might not want anyone to see how often you play “Candy Crush,” or any other application, for example. In that case, change the “public” setting to “only me.” — Remove any apps you’re not using. — Change the information on your profile page and remove the year of your birth if it’s listed. (It’s easier to do identity theft if the bad […]

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CELL PHONE SERVICE GETS CHEAP

We love our cell phone service from Google’s new “Project Fi.” It only works with Google Nexus phones, but if you get one, your bill might be as low as $25 a month with tax.  Now they’re expanding it. Google Fi currently works with three phone carriers. If the signal is strongest from T-Mobile, for example, that’s who they’ll connect to. If Sprint is better, you’ll be using Sprint. They’ve recently added U.S. Cellular. A Google Fi account gives you unlimited text and phone calls for $20 a month. Each gigabyte of data (which is what you use up when you’re on the Web and all those words and pictures come in), is $10. But you get money back if […]

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CHEAP PHONES STILL WORK

A reader wrote to tell us his young daughter got separated from him and his wife during Mardi Gras. Instead of it being a desperate situation, she called and told him where she was. “I found her in short order,” He says. His daughter uses an old LG flip phone with $10 a month service from Kajeet.com. This made us think of other ways out of tough situations. Since she had an old-fashioned flip phone, it lacked apps, including the Uber app for calling a cab. With services like Uber and Lyft, no cash is required because a credit card is linked to your account and charged automatically. So if you have no money — say you’ve been robbed or […]

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OUR NEW PHONE

Sometimes we pay attention to our own column. Right after we wrote about Google’s “Project Fi” phone service, we ditched our T-Mobile service and signed up. It was, as they say, a moment of epiphany.

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PHONE PLANS

PC Magazine surveyed thousands of readers to find out which phone plan is best. The big winner was Google’s “Project Fi,” which hardly anybody has ever heard of. It combines T-Mobile, Sprint and Wi-Fi into a virtual network. (A virtual network is one that doesn’t really exist but seems to. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to make sense.) Project Fi gives you unlimited U.S. calls and texts and unlimited international texts for $20 a month; add $10 for each gigabyte of data you use. The nice thing is, you get money back for anything you don’t use. We used only 100 megabytes last month, so we would have gotten $9 back, for a monthly bill of $21. The catch is, […]

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REBEL CALLING

Bob’s son keeps a landline for one purpose only: overseas calls on a quality line. But a new service may make even that unnecessary.

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WE CHAT

Our niece uses We Chat, used by eight million people, to share text, pictures, video and phone calls. She likes the fact that it uses less of her phone’s data plan and saves her money.

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