Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week

Until now, news on Twitter was only as good as the services you subscribed to. You could search for a topic, click “follow” and from then on see posts on that topic whenever you went to Now they’ve added “Moments.”

Moments are more like traditional news headings. Click “Moments” at the top left of your screen any time of the day or night to see what’s going on. When we clicked,  we saw travel stories, music, sports and political news. Usually there’s not much going on.



chromebookIf you have a computer laying around that’s no good any more, consider turning it into a lightning-fast Chromebook.

Click here on the phrase “How to turn an Old Laptop into a Chromebook” and you’ll get instructions from Digital Trends. You should only attempt this on a computer you don’t need, because it  will wipe out the old contents. Be sure you transfer any pictures or files to an external drive or online storage first. You’ll install a version of the Chrome operating system called “Cloud Ready.”

A Chromebook isn’t like a Mac or a PC or even a Linux computer. It uses the Google Chrome operating system (not to be confused with the Google Chrome web browser). It’s great for browsing the web, doing email and playing online games. But you can’t install programs on it, such as Microsoft Word. Many people use it as a second computer, and it’s become the popular choice for schools  –72 percent of the market. That’s because every time it boots up, it fixes any problems encountered the last time you use it.

There was a rumor reported by The Wall Street Journal recently that Google was dropping Chrome to make it simply a new version of the Android operating system they use for smart phones. This turned out to be false.



The 20th anniversary of the first news broadcast on the Internet is coming up on November 23. In 1995, our friend Victor Dorff made history by talking ABC TV News into letting him put “World News Now” on the web. They thought he was crazy, but gave it a try.

“Why would anyone want to watch TV news on a computer,” they asked. Dorff had to convince them that it was even possible. Back in 1995, you rarely heard the word “email” in a conversation, let alone “Internet broadcast.” (When Joy created a website for her woman’s club in 2000, no one thought to mention it in the club’s annual report.)

Twelve people tuned in to that first Internet news broadcast. As engineers and reporters  in the ABC newsroom monitored the response, the number quickly dropped to seven. Maybe the execs were right about there being no interest. Maybe not.

This reminds us of other great insights — what executives like to call “the vision thing.” When the first telephone line was strung between Washington and Baltimore, President Rutherford B. Hayes was given the privilege of making the first call. “A remarkable device,” he is reported to have said; “but what good is it?” Read more »



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.

WeChat is something like Facebook, but users tend to keep their circle to a closer group of friends and family. In China, people use it to hail a taxi, order food, buy movie tickets, play games, check in for a flight, send money to friends, book a doctor’s appointment, do online banking and just about anything that takes place online. It’s as if they leapfrogged the computer and went straight to phone apps.

We installed it on our Android phone but no one else we know is on it. One caveat: The company can see your text messages and contact lists. So if you have anything to hide, don’t use it.



Roku channelsWhy pay $130 for the “Roku 4 Player” when the Roku stick only costs $47?

Well, unlike the stick, the Roku 4 Player lets you change channels by voice. (So what, we say.) The Roku 4 has channels for 4K TVs, the ultimate in high definition. (We’re not about to buy one of those.) It also lets you plug in a stereo or sound bar. (Nope, not interested.) And it lets you use your phone as a remote control. (Our phone is in Joy’s purse.) It has 300,000 movies and TV episodes and over three thousand channels. (Okay, maybe if we’re bed ridden.)

We have the cheaper Roku stick and use it for Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and various recipe, yoga and documentary channels. That’s plenty for us.



apple payAccording to a 2015 Mobile Payment Security Study of 900 security professionals, half say mobile payments such as Apple Pay are not safe. Nevertheless, nearly all expect paying by phone to become a lot more common in the next 12 months.

The riskiest thing you can do is use public Wi-Fi. Losing your phone is the second riskiest. After that comes responding to a fake inquiry by email or on the web. The fourth riskiest activity is having a weak password. Payment card fraud amounted to $32 billion in losses in 2014, up  from 23 billion in 2013, according to LexisNexis. As the late Senator Everett Dirksen once cautioned to his colleagues: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”



Swiss tech key cable between phone and computerThere are hundreds of gadgets out there and we rarely write about them. A lot of them are junk and some are even revivals of gadgets that we’ve seen years before: One time we were pitched on a supposedly new gadget that Bob had seen at a trade show 30 years ago.

So to get to the point, we liked something new called “Key Cables,” from Swiss Tech. These are key chain fobs, and they allow you to connect your phone to one of those reserve portable chargers or a computer for recharging. They can also be used to transfer photos to a computer.

We have a couple of those chargers. They’re pretty cheap so they’re a good thing for when you’re out and about and your phone is about to sigh its last. The trouble is, you have to have a cable to connect them to a power source, and the cables are a nuisance to carry; they get tangled up with whatever else is in your jacket or pocket or purse. So we never bring our chargers, and when the phone dies, it dies.

The fob for Android has a micro USB plug for the phone on one end and a regular USB plug on the other. The protective cover is also a flashlight. There’s a “Lightning Key Cable” for iPhone/iPad. Bottom line: no more cables to carry. The ones for Apple are $36, those for Android $26. (Apple stuff is always more expensive.) There’s more info at, including a long list of stores that carry their products.  Common places are Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowes, Menard’s, etc. Amazon has lots of their stuff too, but we couldn’t find the Key Cables there.



czur scannerIf your college textbook is available online, it’s probably a lot cheaper than the printed version. In fact, scanning books to put them online for sale sounds like a good business. Unfortunately, an advanced scanner costs $20,000, and of course there are copyright problems.

A new, cheaper scanner is sure to tempt some people to skirt the edge of the law. The Chinese “Czur,” for example, is slated to sell for $189 but isn’t available yet;  the crowd-funding campaign is still going on at It blew past $150,000 in funding in 11 days. NOTE: We’ve issued warnings about projects at crowd-funding sites because in our experience, the product you pre-order in this way may be delayed for a year, or sometimes never appear. This one is good to go though, since a version of this scanner has been available in China for a year. It photographs a page in 8/10ths of a second. Theoretically it could scan more than 4,000 pages an hour, if we don’t count the time it takes to lay out a new book. A 500-page book could be scanned in seven minutes. It will be difficult to keep students from doing favors for their friends.

It’s legal to scan books you own so you can read them on your own iPad or Kindle. Google went to court over this issue two years ago and won. They’ve catalogued nearly as many books as the Library of Congress, but they can’t make every one available for free. You can use their vast library to search for a key phrase in almost any book and read a snippet of it at If it’s an older book, such as “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” the whole thing is free. The Authors Guild is appealing the Google Books issue to the Supreme Court.



big has a free report from the Business Software Alliance all about big data. We learned that in the United Arab Emirates, new data tools are designing a building that produces more energy than it consumes. In Stockholm, data has been collected from taxis and analyzed to reduce travel time by 50 percent.


WHAT DAY WERE YOU BORN ON? tells you what day of the week you were born on and gives your age as a number of days, hours, or seconds; should you care, it also tells you who was president when you were born. Remember: Wednesday’s child is full of woe. (Probably because of their poor Internet connection.)