EAST NARRAGANSETT BAY, Courtesy of National Geographic

Sometimes you need to access your computer from a galaxy far, far away. Or at least from the beach. We used to like TeamViewer, but it got too complicated. So now we like the free “AnyDesk.”

You can use this from any laptop, tablet or smartphone. In our tests, all went well. On a Chromebook, we used AnyDesk to control our Windows computer. It was only in the next room, but in theory it could have been far, far away. After clicking on the AnyDesk icon and typing the secret code, we clicked on familiar icons to browse the web, edit anything we had written, and play Peggle, our favorite game. In PowerPoint, we added a slide to our “History of Entertainment” presentation at the University Club. All was as if we had been sitting at our Windows desktop.

The code you need before you access another computer is found in the AnyDesk app on that computer. Those with short memories will want to write the code down. (We frequently can’t remember what we went into some other room for.) Fortunately, the code never changes. We emailed it to ourselves so we could always find it again.

Another way to reach a far away computer is with “Chrome Remote Desktop” from Google. Download the app from the Chrome Web Store. It’s free and gets good reviews. However, we ran into a surprising problem when we tried it. From our laptop or phone, the only desktop listed for access was a machine we gave away a year ago. A screen message said it was “offline.” Boy, when you no longer have the machine, that’s really offline.

What struck us most and best about the new AnyDesk program is its speed. Back in  the days before time, controlling another computer could be clunky and slow.



    Huge List of Texting and Online Chat Abbreviations.” Search on that to find 1500 abbreviations for texting. “SMH” means “Shaking My Head.” “IKR” is “I know, right?” “511” means “too much information.” That’s one hundred more than 411, the phone number for directory assistance. “SWL” means “Screaming with Laughter.” FOMCL is “Fell off my chair laughing.” (Regular English is on its way out.)

  • 68 Year-Old Sings Highway to Hell.” Google that for an amazing performance. A woman in a dowdy sweater, long skirt and glasses takes those off to give a hip rendition of a rock song and wins the TV show “Britian’s Got Talent.”
  • 25 Essential Drives for a U.S. Road Trip.” It’s almost summer and time to hit the road. Google that phrase to find a photo slideshow from National Geographic Traveler’s Magazine. A run along the “Top of the Rockies Byway” looks pretty scary.

App Happy

A blind woman wrote us about the free “Seeing AI App” for iPhone and iPad users.  It helps blind people identify labels, signs, and currency. Using the camera in their device, it speaks what it sees. Besides recognizing U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars and Euros, it can tell you the color of objects.  It has a bar code reader, scene describer and text reader.

Laptops and Posture

We’re amazed at the popularity of laptops. They give us both a crick in the neck, and Bob totally refuses them. Experts say we’re right. Thank heavens. (Mark Twain said the definition of an expert was anyone who lived more than 50 miles away.)

If you’re a full-time laptop user, it can cause neck and back pain, headaches, and more. One solution is to attach a larger monitor to your laptop; they’re cheap these days and plug right in. (We found used Dell monitors as low as $45, when you add shipping, on Amazon.) Then plug in an extra keyboard and put the laptop off to one side.

When positioning a monitor, the goal is to be able to look straight ahead. To give it the right distance, you should be able to touch the screen without straining.

Reader Frustration

A reader wrote: “When using Firefox, if I do a search in either Bing or Google, the results come back in Yahoo!!!”

It turns out there are two versions of Firefox, and the reader had accidentally installed the version called “Mozilla Firefox optimized for Yahoo!” We suggested he uninstall Firefox and get the other version. It’s available at and its free.

Also be sure your favorite search engine is set as the default.  In Firefox, click the three stacked lines in the upper right, the “hamburger icon,” and choose “options,” then click “search.” Next, choose Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo or whatever you like. In Chrome, click the three stacked dots, then “settings” and then choose something under “Search Engine.”

Disasterville for Grandma

Watch out for people who set up a Wi-Fi account for an older friend or relative in a retirement home. They may not think to connect the person’s phone to Wi-Fi.

Our friend in a retirement home didn’t notice when her phone was no longer connected to a Wi-Fi signal. So without realizing it she started using her data plan, which can cost a lot of money. Even worse, this guy changed her user name and password without telling her; apparently, he figured she would never need it anyway. He even set up a security question she’s never used or thought of before: “What is your favorite beverage?” (For us, it’s water.)

For his final foul-up, he spelled her name wrong for the sign-in. Don’t let this happen to you when you’re in a retirement home! Fight back! In a broader sense, don’t let technicians set things up and leave without telling you just what they did and why. Maybe you should even take notes; Joy does.


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