CUSTOMIZABLE PHONE REMINDS ME OF BLACKBERRY

If I were buying a cell phone today, I might get the new Titan Pocket because of its Blackberry-style keyboard. Remember the old Blackberry phone? Its physical keyboard was much-loved. Then the iPhone swooped in with a gazillion apps, temporarily crashing the networks, which weren’t prepared for the onslaught. Google, which had been working on a clone of the Blackberry system, switched to an iPhone clone so it could also offer apps. Now you can have the best of both worlds: a physical keyboard and as many apps as your phone can hold. In the case of the Titan Pocket, what you sacrifice is screen size. Its square screen is only 3.1 inches, which may be too small for people […]

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HEY DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR?

I’m horrible at finding a car after I’ve parked it. But one of my friends is even worse. Once, when we couldn’t find hers, we walked all the way back to my place, got in my car, and drove around in circles till we found it. Thankfully, phone apps can help. My favorite is Google Maps. After you park, open the app and tap the blue dot in the middle. You’ll see the option, “save your parking location.” After saving it, you’ll see a red marker and the words: “You parked here.”  When you’re ready to find it, tap the red marker to get directions. Apple fans might prefer the built-in Apple Maps. Just as with Google Maps, tap the […]

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HAVE YOU BEEN ‘FLoCed?’

There have been lots of complaints about Google’s new “FLoC” tracking system. You may be wondering what the fuss is all about. Here it is, in a nutshell.  “FLoC,” which stands for “Federal Learning of Cohorts” replaces third party cookies that track you on the web.  Instead of being followed individually, your anonymous browsing activity gets lumped with thousands of similar users. Then the whole group is given an identifier. For example, if 3,000 users visit a bunch of furniture websites, a group identifier will allow advertisers to send furniture ads their way Despite the complaints, FLoC seems less intrusive than the current system. Significantly, Google says there won’t be any identifiers on sensitive activities. These include searches for personal […]

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PASSWORD PROBLEMS

A reader asked me to name the best password manager. That’s tough. I’ve had bad luck with nearly all of them. I’ll never forget the time I lost the master password to a Dashlane account, waving goodbye to dozens of passwords I’d updated because Dashlane told me to. I bombed out with LastPass too. It suffered a bad breach in 2015, compromising tons of email addresses.  The company had a couple more incidents in 2017 and 2019. Recently, I took “1Password” for a spin. Nearly every blogger recommends 1Password. Even the New York Times does. I found it confusing, as did the users who griped about it on Reddit.com. I’d rather use a freebie. Google, Firefox, Edge and Safari all […]

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SMARTER EYES

My mom used to swear by eye exercises. She said they would correct nearsightedness. Science may be proving her right. Kubota smart glasses can fix your eyesight, if you wear them 60 to 90 minutes a day, according to a report in ZME Science. They work by shortening the distance from the cornea to the retina using augmented reality and virtual reality. Fortunately, you don’t have to wear them for hours at a stretch. They’re a bit odd-looking. At a distance, the lenses look like windshields after rocks have shot through them. The smart glasses were developed by Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings of Japan. In Japan, 95 percent of those under age 20 are myopic. In South Korea, it’s 96 percent, […]

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FAUX FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK

I ignore Facebook friend requests from strangers unless I’m sure they’re faithful readers of this column. But some are tricky. An apparent captain of an enormous shipping line requested a connection. I thought for a minute it was a legitimate request. One of my friends, a savvy public speaker, was Facebook friends with him. I decided to investigate, in hopes of warning her if he turned out to be a fake. His Facebook photo, profile and name matched that of the captain he claimed to be, which I found on LinkedIn and on the shipping company’s website. So I accepted his request. Minutes later, I decided it was a risky experiment, so I unfriended and blocked him. That didn’t prevent […]

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GOLD VERSUS BITCOIN

Bitcoin, the digital currency, has been going up like crazy. But is it a better store of value than gold? Last year, Bitcoin went from a little over $7,000 to over $26,000 per digital coin. On January 8, a single coin hit $40,675.80! I’ve had some experience with cryptocurrency. In 2017, I bought part of a Bitcoin at Coinbase.com, when it was valued at around $4,000. I bought a bit more when it rose to $15,000. What can I say, I’m a gambler. Unfortunately, I sold it after it crashed below $4000. Disaster! I admire those who “HODL” a Bitcoin acronym standing for “Hold On For Dear Life.” According to a deVere Group survey of their own clients, 67 percent […]

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MASSAGE GUN GETS A THUMBS UP

I asked a friend who has arthritis in his hands and feet to test a cordless massage gun. He gave it a pleasantly-massaged thumbs-up. A good massage increases circulation, decreases pain and removes stiffness. My friend reported back: “The Merach Pocket Nano Massage Gun is better than my Wahl Heat Therapy Therapeutic Massager, with one caveat. The hard plastic tips work well enough on muscles and fleshy parts, but pose a problem for bony parts. For instance, I usually run my massager over the tops of my hands. With this, I can only comfortably do my palms.” But it turned out that massaging the palms worked its magic all the way through to the bony parts as well. It also […]

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KID PHONE

My neighbor’s ten year-old won’t get her first smartphone until high school. Unless her parents change their mind when they see my “Gabb Z2.” The Gabb, sent to me for review from GabbWireless.com, is designed to be non-addicting. Its basic functions are text messaging and phone calls. Or you can enjoy pictures, videos and music transferred from a computer. There’s no Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, web searching or games. The Gabb Z2 is an $80 ZTE Android phone with a $20-a-month unlimited talk and text plan. It has a few basic apps, like FM radio, but there’s no app store. A new “Find your phone” app for the parents’ phone allows the Gabb to be traced.  The Gabb’s battery is great. […]

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PORTABLE POWER STATION KEEPS DEVICES GOING

If you find yourself camping in the woods with all of your gadgets, consider a portable generator to keep everything charged. I’ve been testing the “PS500N,” $490 from iForway.com. It could power a 60-inch TV for three hours if you want to lug it along to the woods. The PS500N is about the size of a breadbox, weighs 13 pounds, and uses no gasoline. The user manual calls it a “Portable Solar Generator,” but there’s nothing solar about it, unless you add a portable solar panel, which iForway sells for $190. (A solar panel could be useful for topping up.) With just the generator, you could charge a phone 45 times, a camera 75 times, a tablet 12 times, and […]

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