DAMN THE PRINTERS, FULL SPEED AHEAD

You like humor on the web? We like humor on the web. And among the funniest things to read are printer reviews. If you read those you might never buy a printer. Joy said to Bob: “I wish I could find one printer without lots of negative reviews, but it’s impossible!” (She gets emotional about these things.) Some printers have online reviews from nearly 10,000 users. Most are favorable, but the ones that aren’t can be very funny. Example: “I wish I could give this atrocity of a printer 0 stars. I have literally spent hours, HOURS, of my life trying to fix (it). I have read all the detailed instructions on the Canon support website, followed them, with a […]

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SLOW WEB

Recently, we wrote about websites that hog your computer’s resources and slow down your world. We dug in and found that our own chief culprit was one of our favorite sites, Techlicious.com. Later we found out it was a temporary problem caused by one of their advertisers. The advertiser has since been shut down. That’s good news. Even better, our Techlicious contact told us about a free plugin for users of Google’s “Chrome” browser, called “OneTab.” It takes all your open tabs (which show the websites you have open) and merges them into one tab. Collapsing all those tabs into one can cut the computer’s load by up to 95 percent. To find OneTab, search on the phrase “OneTab plugin.” […]

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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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IT’S ON YOUTUBE

Young children love to hear the same story over and over. Our dental hygienist told us what she does to keep from going nuts. She calls that old story up on YouTube. So we searched on “Goodnight Goon,” a Halloween classic. Our dental hygienist had been reading it to her two little boys every day for a year, until finally she called it up on YouTube. This was definitely the right thing to do. Because whatever the story, there’s someone reading it aloud. Be specific in your searches: We searched on “Cat in the Hat read aloud” and there he was. There were several readers and they all showed the pictures in the book; one had half a million views. […]

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HOT PHONE RESEARCH

Joy had noticed her cell phone was hot in her pocket and wondered why. We were in an elevator when this came up and Bob said “why not do a quick survey.”  So we spoke up and asked the three people in the elevator if their phones were hot. We didn’t mean “hot” as in stolen or “hot” as in “cool, man,” but they got it. A young woman answered immediately and said her phone was hot all the time, Someone else nodded in agreement. But the tall guy had the answer: “It gets hot when it’s always searching for a signal.” So that’s the problem. Well at least it was the biggest part of the problem. Joy had inadvertently […]

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CELL PHONE BATTERY WOES

The battery in the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone is supposed to last for 18 hours on standby, 10 hours if you’re talking, 8 hours if you’re playing a video. We’ve been lucky if ours lasted half that. A free app called “Greenify,” along with some basic adjustments, has made a big difference. Greenify for Android phones hibernates any apps you don’t need to have running. Our phone stays on for at least 18 hours now, with light use. Some apps, such as the Amazon Kindle app, take a little longer to load with Greenify running in the background, but that’s better than a phone that dies when you don’t expect it. Before Greenify, we tried several other battery life extenders: […]

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TROUBLE WITH SO-CALLED SUPPORT

Joy was helping a disabled friend once because McAfee was going to charge a couple hundred dollars to fix something that took Joy about two seconds. Now we’ve heard from a reader who claims he was scammed by McAfee.

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READER QUESTION

No matter how often we write about it, the most common question we get is: “How can I speed up my computer?”

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THAT EXCLAMATION POINT

A few weeks ago we mentioned the yellow exclamation point in Gmail that prompted us to switch from Chrome to Firefox to Opera. A reader said he gets it too and wonders why. We finally have the answer. Every web address these days begins with “https” rather than the simple “http.” (The “s” is for “security.”) If you have a browser add-on that still uses the simple http, Gmail flags it. It can be quite annoying, even causing your email to freeze, but it appears to be harmless. In our tests, simply uninstalling Google Chrome and reinstalling it without any add-ons fixed the problem.

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BE MY EYES

“Be My Eyes” is an iPhone app that helps blind people identify a piece of mail, something on a shelf, or anything that needs to be identified visually. The app has already signed up over 78,000 sighted helpers and 5,800 blind users; these would use their camera phone to show a helper what they’d like identified. The helper who gets the call is under no obligation. If they can’t help, it passes automatically to the next helper. This really frees a blind person from dependence on neighbors or friends.

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