COMING CLEAN

A cell phone has 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats, according to scientists at the University of Arizona.

We got on this because Joy got an antibacterial box for her cell phone, the second one we’ve been sent in a few years. The first one was a royal pain to use, which made her turn to soap and water, which of course killed the phone. Yes, we know phones are  waterproof now, but they weren’t then. Reminds Bob of his first video tape player, a Japanese model which came with a manual advising the user to avoid turning it on underwater. Good thinking.

Despite the soap and water hazard, the name of this gadget is “PhoneSoap Go.” It involves no soap or water but instead uses ultraviolet light to kill little bugs and other stuff that just does not like a day at the beach. The phone goes into the box, and the box has a  battery. Press the button on top and in 10 minutes, the light kills the bugs. Well, most of them anyway. Hospitals and labs also use ultraviolet light as part of their sterilization arsenal, so this is not exactly a new thing.

PhoneSoap Go costs $100 and weighs one and one-quarter pounds. (Yes, we weighed it.) So that makes it portable, and it also charges your phone from its own battery, while you wait, or travel or whatever. It can disinfect the phone 45 times on a single charge. You could also put in your keys, credit cards and earbuds to sanitize those.

Pump and Dump

Wonder why Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were on a roller coaster last year, and now are in the doldrums? Okay, so you didn’t wonder, and maybe didn’t even care. But here’s what seven economists writing for the Social Science Research Network found :

There were 4,818 “pump” signals, which were sent to hundreds of millions of users of two apps, one called “Discord” and the other called “Telegram.” Those signals led people to buy cryptocurrencies over a six-month period. The economists also found thousands of “dump” recommendations, encouraging people to sell.  It’s a fraudulent practice well known from the early days of the stock market. We think it was early days.

Internuts

  • NetbookNews.com has some tips on speeding up your computer. Click on “tips” in the upper right part of the website screen. Tips on buying a new laptop look good too. Speeding up a computer is a particularly popular thing with video game players. A Google search reveals all. Take a look at HowtoGeek.com’s article, “Do You Really Need to Reinstall Windows?”
  • Plastic shopping bag.” Go to wikipedia.org and type in those three words to learn the history of the plastic bag. Between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide. We re-use paper bags.

App Happy

Malwarebytes for Mobile” is a free app for Android and iPhones that has really cut down on the number of spam calls we get. It also scans for malware, bad apps and “ransomware.” Ransomware locks down a phone and demands, well, ransom money  to unlock it.

The app comes with a 30-day free trial of the Premium version, which is $12 a year. The only difference between the two is that the Premium protects you in advance. The free version cleans up the security breach after it’s happened. The same is true for the free and paid versions of Malwarebytes on your computer.

We really liked the call-blocking feature. Of course it means that we miss out on wonderful deals for cruises, time-share vacations and lowering many other special deals. Every time a call looks suspicious, Malwarebytes prompts us to add it to the blocked list. Most spam calls are blocked automatically. Try to explain that to your mother-in-law.

Oki Okay!

Our Okidata laser printer, the C331dn, had a paper jam. We couldn’t find it, so we called 800-Okidata. You have never seen tech support like their tech support. You have a problem at three in the morning on a Sunday, they’re there for you.

Like NASA’s mission control, when you call for help, they look at the problem by going over to a machine that is just like the one you’re calling about. This way they can duplicate what they’re asking you to do. That was pretty impressive, since our Okidata printer is at least ten years old. Our C331dn was discontinued years ago.

In our case, we had to lift out the toner and the drum, retrieve the trapped paper and put them back. The tech told us exactly how to line them up to get them back in, because he was looking at the same thing we were. Tech support has always been free, even for old printers.

Reader Fitness Question

A reader wondered if Siri or Alexa or Google Home would organize her health data into a usable graph or chart. She’d like to say, “Siri, my blood sugar is 140, I did 20 minutes on the treadmill, I had three shots of tequila and half a bag of chips.”

If you have a FitBit, the little step counter that goes on your wrist like a watch, and an Echo or Echo Dot, it can work with Alexa, the voice inside your Echo speaker. (Go to Amazon’s Alexa section to browse the various applications, called “skills,” and turn on as many as you like.) Once enabled, Alexa can give you a Fitbit report, saving you the trouble of cycling through the options on your wrist. Ask “Alexa, how am I doing today?” Or “Alexa, how many stairs did I climb on Wednesday?” and a host of other questions. You can get a list of possible questions by searching on the phrase “Alexa and Fitbit.”

 

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