AUGMENTED REALITY

What’s hot? Fake reality, that’s what’s hot. What’s really great about the technology business is the number of things you can do and make even if nobody wants them. Who knows? Somebody might buy it. We thought the Netflix series show, “Stranger Things,” was pretty strange. Strange enough, for us to drop out and not return. But stranger still, some of the show’s characters, like “Eleven,” can drop into whatever you’re shooting with your smartphone. Characters from Star Wars can also drop in — your shopping trip can be guarded by Imperial storm troopers — and no one but you will know that you’re nuts. They drop into the scene in 3D, like from the moon, from thin air, and […]

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CELL PHONE SERVICE GETS CHEAP

We love our cell phone service from Google’s new “Project Fi.” It only works with Google Nexus phones, but if you get one, your bill might be as low as $25 a month with tax.  Now they’re expanding it. Google Fi currently works with three phone carriers. If the signal is strongest from T-Mobile, for example, that’s who they’ll connect to. If Sprint is better, you’ll be using Sprint. They’ve recently added U.S. Cellular. A Google Fi account gives you unlimited text and phone calls for $20 a month. Each gigabyte of data (which is what you use up when you’re on the Web and all those words and pictures come in), is $10. But you get money back if […]

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MEDICAL APPS

A reader asked us to find her a blood pressure app for the iPhone. There are several of these for both iPhone and Android. Unlike the kind you see at the doctor’s office, the apps do not use a compression band that temporarily cuts off your circulation. They measure the slight pulsing from placing your finger on the phone. We tried “Finger Blood Pressure! Free” on our Android phone, and compared it with the reading we got on the $35 Omron 3 Series Blood Pressure monitor with a pressure cuff. The Omron is battery operated, so you’re not tethered to the wall plug. Omron said Joy’s systolic pressure was 118, her diastolic reading was 74 and her pulse was 46. […]

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WET MACS

Joy converted to using a Mac a couple months ago, after her Windows 10 machine became so slow she almost tossed it out the window. Then Bob spilled tea on the Mac (It was an accident! Really!) and the rest is history.

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LET YOUR PHONE READ TO YOU

If you’re too busy to read the Web, or find the fine print too fine, let your iPhone read the Web to you. To make the iPhone’s “Siri” voice start talking, tap “Settings,” then “General,” then “Accessibility.” Now tap “Speak Screen.” When you’re on the web, tap the uppermost left icon for “Reader View,” to skip the ads.  Then swipe down with two fingers to get playback and pause controls. Tap the turtle picture to speed up or slow down the reading. We couldn’t find anything comparable for the Android phone. The apps we tried all used a dull, robotic voice and Google Voice just wasn’t in the mood to read to us.

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APPLE WATCH

When we tried out some smart watches, we mainly used them for checking email, noting the weather and keeping track of stocks. Our friend Louise got an Apple Watch, and she uses it differently.

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JUMPING OUT OF WINDOWS

Several years ago, one of our friends announced he’d had it with Windows. He went out and bought two Macbooks, one for himself, one for his wife. We’re slow but we’re starting to see his point. Feeling the same exasperation, we recently turned to a Macbook Air we’d had in the closet since 2012.The relief was instant. Websites loaded immediately. Joy didn’t have to do four yoga poses before pictures came in. Normally, when our main Windows computer gets screwy, we set it back to its factory defaults. You can do that with the Recovery option in “Settings” or “Control Panel.” Once you do that, it  feels brand new again. Unfortunately, it is brand new again — all the programs […]

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THE RISKS OF APPLE PAY

According to a 2015 Mobile Payment Security Study of 900 security professionals, half say mobile payments such as Apple Pay are not safe. Nevertheless, nearly all expect paying by phone to become a lot more common in the next 12 months.

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UPGRADING YOUR IPHONE

You don’t need a new iPhone 6 to get the latest Apple operating system for free. The new “iOS 9” works on the Apple 4 and 5 as well. To upgrade, tap “Settings,” then “General,” then “Software Update.” Here are a few new features that impressed us.

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FUN WITH THE APPLE WATCH

A friend of ours got an Apple Watch as a retirement present and it came in really handy on a trip abroad when he couldn’t find his iPhone. His watch told him a phone call was coming in and he answered it on his wrist. He then realized that his iPhone must be nearby because the Watch won’t work unless it is. And so he carried that thought through and found the phone in another jacket. Or, you could just search through your pockets.

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