PLAN TO LOSE YOUR PHONE

I was strolling in Chicago when my phone fell out of my bag somewhere along the river walk. I was notified by email right away. Wow.

“I hope you get this,” the email said. “My wife found your phone downtown. We left it with the front desk person at Boeing.” I was mystified. How did he get my email address?

It was simple. I’d allowed notifications for important messages to be displayed on my Android phone’s lock screen. My email address was listed at the top. I was lucky the phone hadn’t run out of juice and was still showing notifications. The couple who found it had tried calling me first, only to discover I hadn’t entered any contact info accessible from the lock screen.

I remedied that as soon as I got the phone back. First, I tapped the screen twice to wake it up. Then I swiped up to get the password page. Below the area where you can enter a personal identification number (PIN), trace a pattern, or use your fingerprint, there’s the word “Emergency.” Tap it and you’ll see a keypad allowing you to dial 911 or another number. You’ll also see “medical information” or some kind of prompt to get you to list your emergency contact info, address, blood type, allergies, medications, etc. If you’ve already added this info, you’ll see it when you tap “Emergency,” then your name. Don’t worry about privacy. The info is stored only on your phone. Of course, you could leave some fields blank.

If I hadn’t seen the email about my phone, I could have gone to Android.com/find, to see it displayed on a map. That’s because I had turned on a feature called “Find My Device.” Similarly, if iPhone owners enable “Find my Phone,” they can go to icloud.com for their phone’s location.

The husband-half of the couple who found my phone had a great suggestion. On the lock screen, he says, there could be a button reading “I found this phone.” Tapping it would automatically email the owner as well as a couple of friends or family members. After sharing this bit of brilliance with me, he said: “If you take that idea to Shark Tank,‘I want a cut of the earnings!”

What about people who break into a phone’s inner contents without a password? I read that without encryption and two-factor authentication, it’s easy to bypass the password requirement. Hackers can find out how in a Google search. That’s why you should remotely wipe your phone if you’re sure it’s lost for good. Of course, that requires that you set up “find my phone” first. If you do a search on “setup ‘find my phone,’” you’ll get instructions.

Making Music

The “Orba” by Artiphon is a $99 fidget toy for making music.

It looks like a small, lightweight hockey puck you tap to add sounds. I watched a musician play with it, by searching on the words “Orba YouTube.” It sounded as good as most other synthesizer music I’ve heard.

The Orba is both a music-making gadget and a MIDI controller. You can connect it by Bluetooth or USB cable to another synthesizer or app. It will record your creation, giving you a metronome to keep you on the beat. The Artiphon.com website shows you how to play it. It handles hip hop, ambient and pop music.

The Orba is much more portable than other synthesizers. Plug in a headset, stick it in your pocket, and no one will know you’re goofing off.

Group Calls

File:Cartoon Woman Watching A Sad Video In Her Phone.svgI use a free app called “Signal” when phoning friends who don’t have unlimited calling. That way our chats don’t count against their minutes. Here’s the latest news: group calling that’s free and encrypted. There’s a five-person limit, but you can see your friends in a grid, just like in Zoom.

The Signal app comes from Signal.org, a nonprofit. There’s only one problem. Your friend’s phone may not ring when you call them. Many people have reported this annoyance on the web, to no avail. To get around it, send your friend a text in the Signal app just before you call. Text alerts announce themselves with a few trumpet notes on my phone, but my friend gets more of a “whoo whoo.” I didn’t see a way to change it, but that’s OK.

Who Are You Going to Call?

A reader wrote: “Was wondering if you could give me any hints on what to do about my two-year-old Amazon Fire Tablet. Today it would not come back on. Would it be worth taking it to Best Buy’s Geek Squad?”

I told her to save her money. Amazon offers free tech support. To get it, go directly to tinyurl.com/AMZNtech and choose “start chatting” or “we can call you.” That’s what she did. Amazon fixed the problem for free.

Internuts

Havana

Driveandlisten.herokuapp.com makes you feel like you’re on a bike or behind the wheel of a car as you cruise around the world. My favorite was biking along the coast in Tel Aviv. In Yekaterinburg, a city of 1.5 million in Eastern Russia, it was super snowy. That’s a place I’d never heard of, before using this website. I also discovered big cities in Turkey, previously unknown to me. Good geography lesson.

Having iPhone Issues? Here’s How to Fix it Yourself.” Search on that phrase to find a comprehensive article from CNET.com.

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