SOFT IN THE HEAD

We’ve never written about headphones before because we were never impressed before. And that’s because every time a new set came out, bingo, every writer in America was immediately notified.

But “SleepPhones,” $40 from Acoustic Sheep, (see them leaping the fence?), answers something we’ve all wondered about. How do we learn Zulu in our sleep? Acoustic Sheep makes a cloth headband with tiny equipment inside. Wear them to bed; they’re as comfy as any soft headband. Though designed for listening to music, Nature sounds or audio books as you fall off to sleep, Joy likes it for yoga.

To avoid waking Bob, Joy sometimes puts it on her head in the middle of the night, whenever she has excess energy.  Currently, Joy’s using a yoga program from Audible.com, but she’s also tried recording yoga from TV or YouTube.

Recently, Joy tapped the Spotify app on her phone, chose some show tunes, and exercised away. She wore it above her ears and could hear perfectly. It’s nice not to have something jabbing you in the ear like earbuds do. And it’s so light, you hardly feel you’re wearing anything.

Now the question will arise: Is this safe? The answer would be in line with: “Are you safe using a cell phone next to your ear?” So far, there’s no evidence that you’re not. You’re not directly connected to any electrical output. The connection is short-range radio of low frequency.

You can set your cell phone to have the music go off after a set period. On an iPhone, use the sleep timer function in the “Clock” app. On an Android phone, get the free “Sleep Timer (Turn Music Off)” app from the app store.

Setup was challenging at first. The instructions said to place the headband on its tiny charging station to start, lining up the control gizmo inside. We kept placing it in various positions without effect. Finally, we just took the unit out of the headband and put it directly on the charging station. It was easy to slip back into the headband opening.

Keeping Windows 7

A reader writes: “I received an email from Microsoft stating that Windows 7 will no longer be supported after next year. I do not like Windows 10. Plus, I do not think it will run on this laptop.”

Windows 7 is fine. Anyone getting this warning should ignore it, as long as they have a good antivirus program, such as Norton, McAfee or the free Avast, which recently won PC Magazine’s “Editor’s Choice” award.

Another alternative, recommended by TomsGuide.com, is “Microsoft Security Essentials,” also free.  It comes in two versions, one for 32 bit machines, another for 64 bit. In Windows 7, if you’re not sure which you have, click the “start” button, right-click “Computer,” and click “Properties.”  

Was Your Phone Hacked?

We were looking at “Six Signs Your Phone Was Hacked,” an article from Techlicious. They’re all pretty obvious. Your phone slows way down. Your data charges go sky high. Friends get calls or texts from you that you didn’t send. Mystery pop-ups appear out of nowhere. Your password was changed and you didn’t do it.The battery loses power rapidly, and it’s not because you left the Wi-Fi on and your phone is constantly searching for a connection while you’re out.

Techlicious suggests getting the free “Avast Mobile Security” app, which we’ve mentioned many times before. It not only looks for hacking activity on your phone, but blocks scam calls. If you want to add protection against identity theft, that’s $10 a month. By the way, iPhones are safer than Android phones but can still be hacked.

Amazon’s Choice: Is it Yours?

We just ordered a $6 mouse for our laptop from Amazon. How did we choose it among hundreds? We clicked “Amazon’s Choice.”

Bob is totally skeptical that Amazon’s Choice is the right choice. Who’s behind it?

In truth, no one knows. Amazon isn’t saying. Even the millions of third-party sellers on Amazon don’t know. When one of their products becomes “Amazon’s Choice,” they aren’t told why. Furthermore, companies cannot pay to have their products listed as top choice. An algorithm decides, which is the same thing as saying it’s in the hands of robots. But humans created the algorithm and it’s slightly biased toward Amazon products. Search for a tablet and you won’t see an iPad as “Amazon’s choice.” Amazon’s Choice is the Amazon Fire. The latest iPad is labeled “Best Seller,” but you have to scroll past several Android tablets to see it.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s Choice began in 2015, when the Amazon Echo smart speaker came out. If someone said to Alexa, “order toothpaste’ when they had never ordered it before, there had to be some way of figuring out which brand to buy. Hence: “Amazon’s Choice.”

Using Google Docs

A friend just bought a new lightweight laptop from LG and was wondering if she should buy Office 365: $70 a year for one user, $100 for several. We recommended Google Docs, which triggered several questions from her. First off, how do you save a document?

There’s no “save” button. It saves automatically in your private online account, which makes it available from any computer, tablet or phone you use. To delete a document, start at Docs.Google.com. Scroll down so you can see the icon for each document in your list. On the right bottom edge, there are three vertical dots. Click them and choose “Remove.” In case you think you made a mistake, the item will spend 30 days in the trash and 25 days in “post trash” before becoming unrecoverable.

 

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