FOR NEW STYLE FUN, CHECK OUT INTO THE MIST

A friend invited me to a live concert, complete with mystery mansion, at IntoTheMist.net. At first it seemed like a video game, but there was more.

The setting was the Roaring ‘20s, with jazz bands, bootleggers and flappers. I headed upstairs to the “high roller” area. Suddenly I was in the midst of a Zoom meeting. The chips were flying and the bettors looked attractive. But I ducked out. I prefer family poker.

I followed arrows on a dark hallway, stumbling around till I accidentally found myself outside on the virtual street. It was a bit spooky, so I quickly re-entered and found a room with a live actor playing the poet Langston Hughes. He introduced himself and asked my name. The poetry was great, the biographical detail charming. Others soon joined us.

The joint was jumping by the time the live concert began, with 143 people watching the Chicago Cellar Boys play jazz-age tunes. The female singer wore her hair short with “shiny bangs,” as one participant described them. The texts never stopped flying, mostly from the U.S., but also from Hong Kong. We could see each other, unless the other person had clicked off their webcam. I turned mine off so I could dance. 

My friend found a lot more to explore than I did. She went beyond the blackjack table and Langston Hughes rooms to find a magic area, an actor portraying Dorothy Parker and another impersonating Ernest Hemingway, as well as a 1920s’ quiz, which she won. Then she watched a contortionist in a hidden room, visited a speakeasy, and saw some “face acting.” Tickets cost $16. 

Alternatively, ZoomTheater.com offers free, live events for over 2,000 people per audience.  Right now they’re showing Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Turn your microphone on so they can hear you applaud. 

Reaching out With Avatars

I bought a condo from a broker I found online two years ago. How did I remember his name after all this time? He used a free app called “Bitmoji” to send me a text a few times a year.

Bitmoji, for Android and iPhone, creates a free caricature for use in email or texts. Just snap a selfie and they do the rest. It’s quite flattering. Even if you’re having a bad day, it will make you look younger and more appealing. I chose a girl in glasses with a ponytail and a heart on her T-shirt. I can pop it into a regular text message, or into Gmail, WhatsApp, Instagram and others. I can add words such as “Great!” or “Congratulations!” If I just want to acknowledge receipt of a text, a green check mark can appear with my cartoon. Bitmoji has a stunning variety of options.

If you want to do more, consider these tips from the CEO of Ripl.com, which offers customizable templates for $15 a month. He says:

  • Send your customers a “love note” by direct message through your social media business profiles. Call them by name, and mention a specific purchase or chat. 
  • Share your customers’ stories and testimonials. 
  • Celebrate your customers’ milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries and big purchases. 

Free WiFi

After reading about a bill in Congress to stop cities from offering free WiFi, I wondered which municipalities offer it. There’s a free app for that. It’s called “WeFi.”

WeFi finds only the safe kinds of free WiFi. What’s more, it keeps WiFi turned on in places like home or work. It’s off when WiFi is not available.That keeps your phone from heating up as it searches for a signal.Years ago, I couldn’t figure out why my phone felt like a piece of hot coal in my pocket. It was searching for a connection. When I launched WeFi, it showed me a map with dozens of free WiFi hotspots. And it automatically connected. For example, I entered Target today and was instantly connected to their WiFi.

But perhaps you won’t have the WeFi app installed when you need it most. In that case, go to a major chain, such as McDonald’s, Walmart or Home Depot. Then tap “settings” on your phone, tap internet settings, and look for the company’s name. Most big stores and restaurants have free WiFi.

Reader Warning

After installing the latest Windows updates, a reader writes: “My icons were larger and half hidden. The start button and taskbar were also hidden. I blindly got into settings and changed the display resolution from 1980 by 1080 (which is recommended) to 1600 by 1200, and the screen came back to a workable size. However, I lost two folders of folders and videos. I immediately did a (Windows) recovery and am back to normal again.” His lesson: “Think twice before downloading this update.”

Wise words indeed. If you’re unsure, you can pause automatic updates until Windows gets its act together. Type “Windows Update Settings” in the search bar in the lower left of your computer screen. Click “advanced options.” Choose “pause updates” and select a date when you want the updates back. As the New Yorker cartoon goes, “How about ‘Never.’ Is ‘Never’ good for you?”

Turn Off the Router

A reader noticed that his Gmail wasn’t always alerting him with a ding when an important message came in, or it arrived late. Rebooting the router was all he needed to do. 

CNET quotes a WiFi expert as saying that turning the router off and on again solves 90 percent of problems. That’s because the router drivers get “discombobulated,” (a scientific term apparently). 

 

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