Portrait Pro before and afterIs it hard to believe a celebrity is really in her 60s when she looks 25 in a photo? Is there some trick to it? You bet.

There are programs out there which do the touch-up automatically, no skill involved. We’re thinking of “Portrait Pro,” a $40 program now out in a new version, with a free trial available at

When last we tried “PortraitPro” Joy was so pleased with her enhanced photo, she was reluctant to accept her old look. As we noted then, she would only walk outside with the “Portrait Pro” photo pasted on her face. (This has caused some comment.)

The new version is easier to use than ever. Each effect you may want to apply has a slider control. Slide a little or a lot when adding mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, hair color, “baby skin,” and other effects. The program also fixes “selfie distortion,” caused by wide-angle lenses. The skin controls give you options from “healthy glow” to “nightclub” look. There’s even a child mode. Your baby won’t be mistaken for some teenager, even after you apply the effects.

Credit Card-Sized Battery

Our collegiate niece went nuts for this. It’s an iPhone charger as slim as a credit card and can fit in your wallet. It’s the $25 “Plus Us LifeCard, from

Billed as the world’s thinnest and highest power density portable power bank, the LifeCard charges the latest phones up to 40 percent, and older phones up to 80 percent. It has a built-in cable. Comes in brushed stainless steel, copper, mirror polish stainless steel and gold sheen.

Extending a Signal

We relegated our slowest computer, a Windows 10 machine, to the bedroom, but we still use it. Unfortunately, our Internet connection isn’t reaching there, so we figured we needed what’s known as a “repeater” or “range extender.”

A rave review on, a respected site, encouraged us to buy the Linksys RE6500 ($91 on Amazon). The RE6500 is supposed to extend your range 145 feet, far more than we should need in a two-bedroom apartment. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. We’re sharing this because we were surprised by the following actions of such a respected company.

The Linksys tech support guy told us we had a one-year warranty on the device. Despite that, he immediately wanted to charge us $10 to $20 for tech support. We asked why would we need to pay if we had a one-year warranty? He didn’t have an answer for that but kept pushing the paid plan until we finally convinced him we wanted only the free tech support.

But even after redoing setup, our Internet connection in the bedroom wasn’t any better than it was before. The tech hung up before we could tell him that. It’s a sorry state when eight of our neighbors have a stronger Internet signal in our bedroom than we do. We’re sending the repeater back to Amazon. An AT&T repair guy is on his way.

App Happy

“TrackR Tablet” is a free app for finding your misplaced iPad, without needing an Internet connection. We’d get it if we hadn’t already lost our iPad.

It only works if you’ve lost it in the home, office, or up to 100 feet away. If you’ve misplaced your tablet, you can ring it from the phone, using the free TrackR iPhone app. If you’ve missed placed your iPhone, you can ring it from your iPad. TrackR is the same company that makes drone trackers.

If you lose it in the outside world, you have to depend on other TrackR users. If they walk by it, their iPhone will detect the missing object and they can send the owner an update with the GPS coordinates. How accurate are those coordinates? Generally within three feet. Plans are in the works for an Android version.

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Finding Our Waze

Waze” gives you turn-by turn directions and maps, free for iPhone and Android.

Recently, it started offering warnings when you go over the speed limit, though that feature hasn’t been rolled out everywhere yet. (If you’re in Latvia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and a few other places, it will buzz you for speeding.)

Meanwhile, it’s a great alternative to Google Maps. We haven’t forgotten the time Google Maps gave Joy a street that didn’t exist, making it impossible to get to her destination without a phone call. And we’ve often noticed that it will make us turn multiple times when a simpler path was easiest but may have taken two minutes longer.

The Numbers Report

More than 20 percent of consumers who had to interact with their cable TV company said it was a bad experience, according to the Temkin Group, which surveyed 315 companies across 20 industries. That was higher than any other industry. The highest dissatisfaction rate was with AirTran Airways, Time Warner Cable and Comcast. The highest satisfaction came from interacting with retail or grocery stores. Eight companies delivered a good experience to 98 percent or more of their customers. These include Michael’s, Advanced Auto Parts, Whole Foods, Publix, Subway, Vanguard, Trader Joe’s and Game Stop.

Killing Picasa

Google Picasa has long been our favorite free photo editor, and we just learned that Google is killing all support for it. That doesn’t mean it will evaporate or you can’t use it. But you won’t get updates, and you’ll find your photos have been transferred to Google Photos.

You can find Google Photos at If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll be prompted to create one. They’re free. On the latest version of the Google Photos app, all the important editing tools are right there as soon as you tap a photo. This makes corrections lightning fast.

In Case You Missed It

Skype now offers free video calls for groups of up to 25 people. Share a web address with a friend and they won’t need a Skype account to take part in the video call. This puts Skype, owned by Microsoft, ahead of Google Chat, which can only handle 10 people, and Apple’s Facetime, which is just one on one.


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