FINDING YOUR ANCESTORS ONLINE

Topics in this column include: Finding Your Ancestry Online, Brain Teasers and other interesting websites, Getting a hacked Gmail account back, Fun Projects from Maker Lab’s new book, Sending birthday greetings online, Tips and Tricks for your cell phone.

Read more

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 […]

Read more

FINDING A PEN PAL ONLINE

A reader described himself as “an over-the-hill guy” who remembers having a pen pal in his youth and he liked it. It was great fun, he said, but how would he find pen pals these days? Well … PenPalParty.com has international pen friends. You can specify adults who speak English, are over a certain age, or use any criteria you like, by going to penpalparty.com/lookforpals.html. You could also go to favorite websites, such as your favorite newspaper or magazine. If there’s a topic you’re interested in, comment on it and include your email address so people can write you back. When Joy was in her 20s, she loved the pen pals she met through “Single Booklovers,” which still exists at […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

TEXTING FROM YOUR COMPUTER

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 […]

Read more

DROPPING CABLE

We’re going into this again because it seems that all the world wants to get rid of their cable service. Another reader writes to say that he wants to drop Comcast, and short of taking to the streets with flaming torches, he can’t seem to shake them. All he cares about is local channels and HBO.

Read more

THE FUTURE IS PLUGGED IN

Here are some facts on children’s use of their phones. Most kids get their first phone at age 10. The most common activity is texting. Almost a third have sent text messages to their parents even though everyone involved was in the house. Seventy-six percent of kids access the Internet from the family room, down from 85 percent four years ago. A quarter of kids now have private access from their bedrooms. Fifty percent of kids begin using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat at age 12 or younger. The study was done by Influence Central, a marketing firm. Making Windows 10 Look Like Windows 7 For $5 we can finally stop moaning about the clunky look of Windows10. “Start10” is […]

Read more

IT’S A MARSHMALLOW WORLD

Less than five percent of Android phone owners have the new “Marshmallow” operating system. A third have the previous version, Lollipop. the rest are so far back the operating systems were written on stone tablets.

Read more

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.

Read more

20 MOVIE SCENES BEFORE-AND-AFTER SPECIAL EFFECTS

“20 Movie Scenes Before-And-After Special Effects.” shows you what it’s like to be an actor in Hollywood. You sit stroking a lumpy stuffed toy but the movie viewer watching ‘Game of Thrones” sees a dragon. When we watched a port with ships coming in for “Boardwalk Empire” it’s really just a bunch of people milling around in front of a blank wall of green paper. Saves a lot on building stage sets.

Read more