Joy left her Kindle Fire tablet in the gym. At first we thought it was somewhere around the apartment but it never turned up. So she decided to bite the bullet and buy Amazon’s “Fire HD 10.” It’s $150 and looks as good as an iPad for less than half the price. She got it in blue.

She knew the old one had been stolen as soon as she turned on the new one; now there was one Portuguese and two Chinese dictionaries. Some circumstantial evidence is pretty suspicious. So she went to the “Manage your Kindle” section of Amazon and de-registered the old device.

The Kindle Fire HD 10 and HD 8 come with Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. It can do tons of things; play music, show a movie, tell you the weather, read a book aloud, etc. If you say, “Alexa, switch to Show mode,” you get even more options. See the lyrics as a song is sung. We told Alexa to “show rock ‘n’ roll playlists.” When playing “Jailhouse Rock,” the screen showed Elvis Presley’s face with the lyrics floating by. When we paused, we got the time in the upper corner, the weather, “trending topics,” and news that two packages had just arrived. You can also call someone, using video or not.

The Fire Tablet seems like a better choice than an iPad for newbies and not just because it’s cheaper. It plays an introductory video the first time you turn it on, followed by a tutorial that’s easy to follow.

Bluetooth Blues

Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it. You’ll save battery life and avoid an attack called “Blueborne.”

Bluetooth is most commonly used with wireless headsets. When you see someone apparently talking to themselves, they’re not necessarily schizophrenic, they’re on the phone. Blueborne is a vicious bit of code that lets hackers steal your personal information. It has put a billion phones at risk. Most phones have been updated, which corrected the problem, but some may not have gotten the memo. An attacker would have to be less than 33 feet away to steal your information, but maybe you’re being followed.

Phone Scams

A reader wrote to complain about spoofing calls. A spoof is when you see your friend’s phone number in the caller I.D. area but it’s really some hacker.

Our reader was worried that blocking the number would block his friend, but that doesn’t happen. The number you block when you block the call is the hacker’s number. If you doubt that, call up your friend and ask if they just called.

We’re using the built-in “Screen Call” feature on a Google Pixel 2 phone, which asks the caller to state their business. Spam callers almost always hang up at this point. We also use a $12 app called Malwarebytes Security, which seems to permanently block the few who might otherwise get by. Find out how to use your phone’s built-in call-blocking feature by searching on that phrase.

Bye Bye Spam

A reader is annoyed by the “smart loan” messages he gets in his email, no matter how he tries to filter them out. Just when he’s got them cornered, the spammers change their subject lines, so he can never obliterate them for good. We suggested he bring his SBC Global mail into Gmail, which does a terrific job of ousting spam.

You can bring any email account into Gmail by using their import function, which only has to be done once. Your correspondents will never know the difference. Any mail you send will continue to be sent from your old address if you choose that option. Anyone writing you at your old address can still reach you, but you can read their messages in Gmail. Here’s how to do it.

First open a free account at Then click the picture of a gear and choose “Settings.” From there, choose the “Accounts and Import” tab. One of the options under that tab is “Import from another address.” Now comes the tricky part: You have to fill in the “SMTP server” address and “Port” number. It’s usually filled in for you but sometimes it’s wrong. For our reader, “Prodigy” was filled in, but we happen to know that SBC Global uses Yahoo mail.  So we searched the web on the phrase “Yahoo server,” and found out the correct server address is “SMTP” stands for “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.”

To send a message from your old Yahoo or any other account from within Gmail, go to settings, “Accounts and Import,” and select “make default” in the “send mail as” area. Choose your old Yahoo email or whatever other email you use as the “reply to” address.


  • helps you find movies and TV shows. It searches 40 streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, YouTube and iTunes and shows you rental prices for each item. You can search by category: mystery, adventure, romance, etc. It’s available in 32 countries.
  • is a site we often land on. For instance we were recently looking up the difference between paid and free versions of Pandora radio. Go to the site to see the difference between an egg roll and a spring roll, a creek and a brook, Alzheimer’s and dementia, and many others.

Numbers Report

This year, according to eMarketer, 58.8 million Americans will engage with “Augmented Reality” or “AR” at least once a month. That’s a jump of nearly 15% over 2018. AR makes you see video in the air in front of you, usually a cartoony figure. A good example is the “Pokemon Go” game.

“Virtual Reality,” or VR, on the other hand, puts a 3D movie or game in the space in front of  you and makes you feel as if you are there. About 50 million Americans will try it out at least once a month this year, an increase of nearly 35% over last year.



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