SKIP THE IPHONE

We tried an experiment. We went out to the drugstore and bought a $40 cell phone. It wasn’t the cheapest one; we could have bought one for $13, but Bob noticed it was a so-called clam-shell or flip phone and you can’t load apps onto those. The impetus for this experiment was our 97 year-old friend Ida. She said she may have to give up driving one day and switch to using one of the ride services, like Uber or Lyft. So then, she would have to get an iPhone so she could call a cab. Uh-uh, we said. You do need a smartphone or a computer to call one of those ride services but you don’t have to spend […]

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BUYING GLASSES ONLINE, AN EYE-OPENING EXPERIENCE

Joy just ordered her first pair of glasses online. She couldn’t resist after reading “Seven Reasons to Order Glasses Online,” an article we found — where else? — online. We’re not going to go into all the reasons, but here are the ones that impressed us. Number one is price. Number two is free return. The third is parking. These also turn out to be the reasons for almost any online purchase. It is no secret and no longer a surprise that buying online is the winner in the retail Olympics. Amazon.com is the leader but not the only name in online shopping. Its sales are increasing 20 percent a year, while traditional large retailers’ sales have been moribund for […]

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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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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 […]

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CAPTURING VIDEO AND PICTURES

Both Windows and Mac come with free tools for capturing whatever you see on your screen and attaching it to an email or using it elsewhere. But if you need high resolution screenshots, or want to capture video, add voice over or turn it into a brief animation, the new Ashampoo Snap 9 is a handy Windows program for doing that. Basically anything you see on your computer screen can be captured in up to 4K resolution, which is quite sharp. Add special effects, or time the video capture for a precise start and stop, or even pause it. The program can also do “OCR” (optical character recognition). So if you want to capture a news article off the screen, […]

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TURN SMARTPHONE PHOTOS INTO POSTCARDS

“Postly,” free for Android and iPhone, turns smartphone photos into postcards. Take a picture, click to upload and send it. Each postcard has a special stamp made to look like it came from your location. Worldwide delivery is $2. The only odd thing: The app wouldn’t take either of our credit cards. We had to use PayPal.

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ARM CHAIR TRAVEL

Why go anywhere when a drone can soar over the landscape providing views you could never get on the ground? (Especially useful for buying castles in Spain.) Go to YouTube.com/user/Egawauemon for some amazing drone panoramas. They mainly cover Japan, but also India, San Francisco and Hong Kong. And there is no danger of food poisoning. Another great site for armchair traveling is FullScreen360.com. We looked at the Louvre, the Trevi Fountain, Machu Picchu and Yosemite. (No extra charge for side trips.) As you click a left or right arrow, the view opens in that direction and can ultimately give you a full 360 degrees. It feels like you’re there, and of course you’re walking on air. There are dozens of […]

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FUN WITH PHOTOS

“Fotojet” is a free online program for turning photos into magazine covers, greeting cards, and exotic prints or digital art without the bother of a learning curve (like the long one in figuring out Photoshop).

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TURN YOUR PHOTOS INTO PAINTINGS

“Pikazo,” a $3 iPhone app, turns ordinary photos into works of art automatically, in seconds.  One might look like an Old Master, another a modern abstract.

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“#WhereIdrone” is a page on Instagram with remarkable photos taken by drones. We especially liked the aerial shot of Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, Germany. The fantasy castle was one of three built by Mad King Ludwig, who bankrupted his country in the process.

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