DATA NAKED

A reader got upset when I said Chrome was my favorite web browser. He wrote: “You do realize that Chrome keeps track of everything you do on the internet–  browsing, searches, and anything you write? I switched to Microsoft Edge after being a Chrome user for many years. I finally realized how data naked I really am.”

It could be worse. According to Google’s privacy policy, your personal info is not for sale to anyone. Google uses it to show you ads for products from Google partners or Google itself. If you’re worried about privacy, go to myaccount.google.com and click on “data and personalization” to automatically turn off tracking and delete every trace of everything you’ve done on the web or in an app. It’s under “Activity Controls.” You can wipe everything older than three months. Of course, a lot of tailored ads could be sent to you in that period of time.

Microsoft Edge, although based on the same Chromium system as Google Chrome, minds your privacy better, according to CNET. However, search engines like Microsoft Bing, used by Edge, do sell info to advertisers. Even the frequently-recommended search engine DuckDuckGo, allows you to be seen by advertisers on the sites you visit.

An alternative is Startpage.com. Search for anything and when the results come up, click “Anonymous View” to the right of the link you wish to visit. Your computer’s address will be masked. So will your location, your browser, operating system and personal information.  They claim you still get Google’s great search results, but I noticed they were different and not as good.

Let Me Count the Waze

Waze is a free app for calling out directions to you as you drive, walk or take public transportation. Now Waze has a new feature: It will tell you the best lane to be in. It will also tell you when to leave home, based on how long such trips usually take you.

I get lost easily, so Waze’s ability to call out directions is a lifesaver for me. My brother likes it because it tells him when he’s near a traffic jam, an accident or a police car. He also reports this kind of info in the Waze app for other users. You can report it too.

Under the Hood

A “Kano PC” is a $299 tablet aimed at kids who want to understand how a computer works.

Unfortunately, the kiddies won’t learn much by assembling it. Out of the box, they can only connect the battery and speaker. The processor, built-in storage, RAM and power management components are highlighted, but they’re covered by an aluminum heat sink, rendering them invisible. Still, the kids will learn a lot from the PC’s tutorials on how computers work.

The Kano PC looks a lot like Microsoft’s Surface Go when the keyboard is attached. It comes with Windows 10 and a free mouse but the Kano webcam is $30. The PC has only 64 gigabytes of storage space, but a microSD slot lets you add a card with up to 512 gigabytes — not enough for Fortnite.

If your young ones just want to learn to code, they don’t need this thing. They can go to  World.Kano.Me, Kano’s free site. It has the best kids’ coding tutorials I’ve tried, using the building block approach. By moving colorful blocks into place instead of writing code, you’re much less likely to make errors. (I managed to make one anyway.) Which reminds me: I once stayed up till midnight at a college computer lab trying to find a bug. Fortunately, a smart boy helped me before I tore my hair out. For more info on the Kano PC, check out the review on Engadget.com.

Rogue Apps

Look out for rogue apps. They put malware on your computer.

I tried to track a package sent by the Post Office and wound up installing a dubious “package tracer.” I should have known. The Post Office would never ask me to install anything. I became suspicious when the app told me it found my package but had no arrival estimate. Good thing I had Malwarebytes “Browser Guard” installed, or the app would have taken me to malicious sites. To find my package, I searched on the phrase “USPS tracking.” It came up instantly.

App Happy

I was at a friend’s house when I wanted a print-out of a recipe from my phone. Fortunately, I’d just installed the free “Mopria” app for Android phones and tablets.  It works beautifully and is universal. That means that instead of having to download a specific app every time you want to print something away from home, you can use Mopria. It’s compatible with over two dozen major printer brands. The company has certified 120 million individual printers.

Once I’d found my recipe, I tapped “Print.” My friend’s Canon printer came up and I chose it. Note: The printer must be wirelessly connected to the internet. It won’t work if it’s connected  by USB cable.

If you have an iPhone, try the free PrintJinni, found in the iPhone or iPad app store. For extra features, there’s “Printer Pro by Readdle,” for $6. It can send a document to a USB-connected printer or a wireless one.

Getting a Charge

If you have an Amazon Fire HD tablet, you may wonder why it takes so long to charge the darn thing — seems like all day long. That’s because the output on the charger is only 1.8 amps. What you need is a charger with 3 amps. The Fonken “3 Amp USB Wall charger” comes in a three-pack for $14.

 

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