HEY BOO BOO

We’re going to talk some more about the digital assistants put out by Amazon and Google. Those would be the Amazon “Echo” and Google “Home.” They are small, relatively cheap (from $50 to $129), and they answer questions and do requests. This is the future. Essentially what we have are two devices that listen to what you have to say — with sometimes less accuracy than you would expect — and then respond. They can play music, occasionally with nonsensical results, and respond to more direct questions, such as “how many calories are there in an apple?” This is all new stuff, the edge of wedge if you will. It’s potentially an encyclopedia on your end table, along with lectures, […]

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EASILY DONE

Topics: A better way to do email, alternatives to cable TV, Internuts, trends, and kid’s coding book.

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JUST THE FACTS

Get info about your local hospitals and nursing homes, see what they’re good and bad at. A “411” info app for your iPhone. A new photo editing program and more.

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THE FUTURE ALREADY GOT HERE

Movies versus video games, public radio app, setting your home page and finding a professional.

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CHAT WITH A WORLD WAR I SOLDIER

Topics: Texting a soldier, retro game, video trends, avoiding loud commercials, family safety settings, sketching tips, ten enigmas that defy explanation.

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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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MEDICAL APPS

A reader asked us to find her a blood pressure app for the iPhone. There are several of these for both iPhone and Android. Unlike the kind you see at the doctor’s office, the apps do not use a compression band that temporarily cuts off your circulation. They measure the slight pulsing from placing your finger on the phone. We tried “Finger Blood Pressure! Free” on our Android phone, and compared it with the reading we got on the $35 Omron 3 Series Blood Pressure monitor with a pressure cuff. The Omron is battery operated, so you’re not tethered to the wall plug. Omron said Joy’s systolic pressure was 118, her diastolic reading was 74 and her pulse was 46. […]

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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 […]

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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.

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