A PHONE FOR BOB

Joy bought Bob a new cell phone for his birthday. Actually, it was his first. It was a Motorola Moto G7 that cost $249. It was beautiful. It was wider than other cell phones, took a while to get charged up, and was slow to process information. In short, Bob thought it was just like his own personality.

However, Joy didn’t like it. Why didn’t she like it? Because she has a Google Pixel 2 and she saw on the web that you can get a Pixel 3a for $399. It could take a seven hour charge in 15 minutes, it was lightning fast, it could take pictures in the dark, and it cost only $150 more than the Motorola. So just what are we penny pinching for? We’re going to have this phone for years. For an $15 extra a month, we added it to our present carrier, Google Fi phone service.

One thing Bob likes and asked for, is it’s white instead of black. With a clear case, it’s still white. You can tell them apart. We rest our case.

Customer Service

A reader writes to weigh in on the topic of the best way to get help on an issue: a phone call or an online chat: “I agree that online chat is far, far superior to phone calls in almost all cases. If nothing else, you can print the chat and have a record of exactly what was said, if needed.” He continues: “I have also found that if I am not getting anywhere, an actual, snail mail letter, with a CC to the owner or president, will get attention, probably because it’s so rare. I was having no success dealing with a problem after two months.” But after writing customer service and the head of the company, his problem was solved in three days.

The Sound of Music

We get press releases almost every day for new headphones the way we get phone calls for holiday trips or pitches to give to various associations we never heard of. They all get equal treatment. We see if they can hit the wastebasket when they’re crumpled.

But this one stopped us. What stopped us was the price: $20. Twenty dollars! They look like the kind of cushioned headphones you see at airports on people who are waving in a big plane. They’re heavy duty, but light on your head. They have their own rechargeable battery and adjustable volume. We don’t understand how someone can sell these for $20 and still make a profit. Bob’s guess is that somebody bought somebody else’s warehouse full or they went out of business and they picked these all up for a few bucks because otherwise it doesn’t make sense.

The sound quality is excellent. They’re wireless and connect to your phone, computer or tablet by Bluetooth. We’re thinking of buying half a dozen and distributing them as gifts. They come from Mixcder.com, and they’re called the “HD 901.” This is one of the best deals we’ve ever seen.

Beware of turning the volume up too much, however. These are really powerful. Experts say if you hold the headphones at arms length and can hear the music, it’s too loud. Most people listen on headphones at 94 decibels, which is too much. At 105 decibels, or maximum volume, it’s equivalent to a chainsaw. Ordinary conversation is 60 decibels, so it’s best not to go much higher than that. Note: After this went to press, the price rose to $25.

Hey Photographers

Around 85 percent of the images you see online are stolen, according to the CEO of Copytrack.com. Copytrack is a free service that searches up to 5000 pages per second and uses artificial intelligence to find out if your photo has been copied. They then notify the thief. If there’s an immediate settlement, you get 70 percent, they take 30 percent. If they have to take legal action, you get 45 percent, they take 55 percent. The service is worldwide. You decide if the photo has been stolen. If you think so, submit the case to Copytrack by clicking a button. The top three countries for photo theft are the U.S., Panama, China and Germany. Why Panama? They’re a major website host.

Add a Widget

If your phone displays the weather in tiny type on the home screen, or you can’t see the temperature until you tap an app, you might prefer a widget. Unlike an app, a widget shows you continually-updated information before you tap it. Here’s how to get one.

On Android phones, press and hold your finger on a blank area of your phone’s screen. To find a blank area, you may have to scroll past several screens. (Joy has 213 on six screens.) When you get a pop-up, tap on the word “widgets.” Your choice of widget corresponds with the apps you have already installed. So if you want a moving display of the stock market, you might have to get a stock market app first, by searching for one in the Google Play store. We use the Weather Service widget, a widget for free audio books from Hoopla, and one that shows our monthly calendar at a glance.

On an iPhone, swipe to the right on the home screen. Scroll to the bottom and tap “edit.” Scroll down to find a widget you want to add. Tap the plus sign to add a widget, then tap done. You can view them when you swipe right on the home or lock screen or when you swipe down to view notifications.

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