A few years ago, our friend Ida got a smart phone so she could use Uber and Lyft. We wish there’d been a connection to “Go Go Grandparent” back then.

Any cell phone will do.  And imagine this: you can even call from what’s called a landline, whatever that is. Go Go Grandparent connects you to Uber and Lyft with nothing extra to do on your part. Register at GoGoGrandparent.com. Then call Go Go Grandparent from any phone. Press “1” to be picked up at home. Press “2” to be picked from wherever you were last dropped off. Press 3, 4 or 5 to be picked off at one of your usual locations. Press “O” for an operator you can talk to if you’re confused.

The pickup is from Uber or Lyft. The call is transferred to them automatically. A friend of ours says the first time she did this, the driver thought her name was “Go Go Grandparent Betty.” Other than that, it works fine. The operator tells you the driver’s name and license plate, which is information you’d normally see in your smartphone app. During registration you can sign up to have text messages automatically sent to a friend or spouse, so they know when you were picked up, when you arrived and when you got back home. There is no escape.

Go Go Grandparent charges a 13 percent commission on each ride, which averages about $2.50. Otherwise, it’s the same cost as Uber and Lyft, which are generally  cheaper than ordinary taxis. Register online or by calling 855-464-6872.

Speeding Up A Slow Computer

A reader writes, “I want to change over my desktop’s hard drive to an SSD. Prices have really tumbled!” He wondered if he needed to clone the drive. For those who came in after the movie started, “SSD” stands for “solid state drive,” and it means there are no moving parts, everything is on memory chips. Result: faster than you can blink.

We answered him the next day but he’d already found his way. This is one savvy guy: he wrote a program for the old Commodore 64 computer back in 1984 and was written up in a magazine. Some of our readers are techier than we are.

For the rest of us, there are great tutorials on the web about swapping a laptop’s hard drive for an SSD. It’s remarkably simple. We watched a YouTube video called “How to Upgrade Laptop Hard Drive to SSD without Reinstalling Windows.” There’s also an article at HowToGeek.com called “How To Upgrade and Install a New Hard Drive or SSD in Your PC.” Or you can get a cloning kit from Amazon for around $24. Search on the phrase “SSD hard drive cloning kit.”

But the big question is, does it really speed up your computer?  Our knowledgeable reader says: “As far as performance goes, this is the best $100 I ever spent on a computer.  Startup now takes only a few seconds.  Heck, the Windows logo screen at the beginning doesn’t even get a chance to get going.  Sign in and the desktop is right there, no waiting.” These drives cost anywhere from $29 to $600, the cost depending on the capacity of the drive. But it doesn’t speed up web browsing. For that you need a fast processor, like the Intel i7, and eight to 16 gigabytes of RAM.

App Happy

Paris Hilton, 2009

Paris Hilton had 80,000 views of her photos but gained 1.4 million more after using a free app called “Plotaverse.” (That many people remember Paris Hilton?) Plotaverse creates photos that move and sway. Paris was always good with that. Facebook named it one of the top five photo apps for creating ads. And it currently has over four million users.

Plotaverse comes in three apps: “Plotagraph,” “Plotamorph” and “PlotaFX.” On their website, we saw a woman with Mickey Mouse ears morph into a man, and a field of flowers come alive with birds. Reminds us of Pixar or Disney. In an “Elle” ad, the model’s hair begins to flow as you look at the photo.

The pro versions of the app are $99 a year. But in the Google Play and Apple app stores you can find free versions.

The Numbers Report

Decluttr.com surveyed 1007 parents in the U.S. to determine how they deal with their children’s smartphones.

  • In the U.S., 20 percent of children between the ages of one and six own a smartphone. (What does a one-year-old say?)
  • Half of parents agree the most appropriate age for a child to own a phone is between 10 to 13 years old
  • Eighty-three percent say their children spend up to 21 hours per week on their phones. (Good grief!)
  • Sixty-eight percent of parents have not placed limitations on their children’s smartphones

One survey respondent said: “My 2-year-old has her own cell phone because she likes to play games and watch YouTube at daycare.” Parents should consider getting a refurbished phone, which can always be upgraded after the peanut butter and jelly attack.

Bitcoin Magazine

Joy’s been on a roller-coaster investing in Bitcoin, a form of e-cash currently crashing. Inevitably, there is now an online magazine about these new crypto currencies.

We found out about it from a friend, the former movie editor at the New York Times. Some of her media pals have started a publication called “BreakerMag,” at breakermag.com.

The stories are breezy and light, covering cryptocurrencies and “blockchain.” Besides the latest developments, we learned about a new novel called “Bitcoin Bimbo.” The excitement was hard to deal with.

Blockchain is an encrypted online ledger, normally shared by millions of computers, though some companies have developed private versions. Its goal is to increase efficiency, in everything from everyday legal contracts to international supply chains. For example, Walmart is using it as a tracking system to halt outbreaks of food borne illnesses, like E. coli and salmonella. Tracking a slice of mango used to take Walmart over six days. They’re slippery and tricky. Using the blockchain, it takes 2.2 seconds.

It reminds some people of the early days of the Internet, when everything was booming. “It’s like 1998 all over again,” said an attendee at “Blockchain Week,” which drew 8,500 people to New York City. Then again, maybe it’s not. Naysayers, like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, call the whole crypto currency world “evil.” But his track record isn’t great. In the 1990s he predicted that the Internet would be no more important than the fax machine.


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