PURE WATER

Getting pure water is a bear. I’ve tried everything. Recently, a company sent me a new reverse osmosis system that sits in a small space on my counter. It’s called “Aquibear.” Before Aquibear, I tried water pitchers with replaceable filters, such as Brita and ZeroWater. My new condo has an LG refrigerator with a filter built in. But none of these things were as good as Aquibear is so far. I know because I tested them. I bought a $15 “HoneForest” water-quality testing stick on Amazon. All I had to do was put the stick in each glass of water I tested and check the digital read-out. A high score means lots of pesticides, parasites, arsenic, lead, microplastics, virus nitrates, […]

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WHAT’S APP WITH THAT?

A couple of months ago I started using the free app “WhatsApp” for sharing pictures and making free phone calls. Now millions are angry with the app, turning instead  to “Signal” or “Telegram.” Switching from WhatsApp to Telegram is like switching from sugar to corn syrup. Telegram has had problems with foreign terrorists, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. It was recently used for hacking into Facebook accounts. And it’s not that private. Telegram allows businesses to collect data on you so they can send you ads. But what’s so bad about WhatsApp, anyway?  I don’t care that it’s owned by Facebook. Starting in May, businesses will be able to collect data on you so they can send you messages. But that’s […]

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JOY’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

I’ve never been into the sort of video game where you jump through hoops and fire shots against  bad guys. Not since the days when I played “Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise” with my  nephew. But the Nintendo Switch brings exercise into the equation. That’s a game changer. The Switch is similar to the Nintendo Wii. Both devices sense your movements. Either one can tell if you swing an imaginary tennis racket or land a one-two punch. But the Switch is getting rave reviews for portability and performance. It’s about the length of a ping pong paddle but is rectangular and narrower. It’s best if connected to a TV via a docking station, so you don’t have to squint.  To get […]

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SMARTPHONE PLANS FOR THE FRUGAL

My frugal sister will get her first smartphone when her flip phone runs out of minutes, 45 minutes from now.  That may take a while. She doesn’t make many calls on it. In the meantime, her friends keep saying: “What?” The sound quality is dreadful. I suggested the Pixel 4a for $349 with “Google Fi” cell service for $20 a month for unlimited talk and text, not counting whatever data you use. But a friend’s deal may be better. She went with Consumer Cellular’s iPhone SE for $250. Consumer Cellular is known for their friendly tech support, especially for seniors. The monthly cost is lower than Google’s “Fi” service if you use more than 500 megabytes worth of data per […]

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LET’S COLLABORATE

I just started using Google Docs to collaborate. It’s fun. I enjoy collecting web links, poems and photos in a place where loved ones can view or add to them. That way, there’s no hunting for email attachments or cycling through photo galleries looking for stuff to see or share again. After someone shares an item, you can go to Drive.Google.com and click “Shared With Me” to see it. It will always be there to view or edit unless one of you deletes it. Another way to view your stuff is with the free app “Google Backup and Sync.” It adds a Google Drive shortcut to your computer. But if you use that program, be sure to select which folders […]

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PASSWORD FOLLIES

Over 23 million people had their account information stolen because they used “123456” as their password, according to PreciseSecurity.com. Another eight million used “12345678.” Nearly four million used the word “password” as their password. Many people use a favorite password for all or most of their accounts. Weak passwords caused 30 percent of all “ransomware” attacks in 2019. Ransomware refers to hackers who lock the information on your computer and demand a ransom to unlock it. But only 12 percent of users in the U.S. take advantage of password managers, which create and store passwords for you. If you search on the phrase “best password managers,” you’ll find a TechRadar article on the best: “Dashlane,” “LastPass” and “Keeper.” We haven’t […]

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ROBOT VACUUM

Our oddest Christmas present this year is a robot vacuum, given to us by a young relative. Bob was hugely skeptical at first but he has to admit: “It works, but it doesn’t hold much.” Go to YouTube.com to find reviews for dozens of these, from Roomba on down. Ours, the “LeFant 300m,” costs $140 on Amazon. Roomba ranges from about $200 to over a thousand. We have hardwood floors, four small mats in the kitchen, and a large Home Depot rug in the living room. It seems complicated, yet the robot vacuum handled them all, traveling from room to room in our small apartment. We charged it by plugging it into the wall. We dumped the debris by using […]

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SEEING ALL

Every time Joy tests a product on Bob’s computer, something goes out of whack. Recently, she used Windows “recovery options” to restore it. Uh oh. Suddenly, the bookmarks bar in Chrome was too tiny to read. Initially, Bob tried to enlarge it, simply by holding down the “Ctrl” key and pressing the plus sign. This did not work. Everything got bigger except the bookmarks bar. Then he figured out the fix. First, right-click the main screen. Choose “display settings.” In the search bar, type “font.” When it comes up, select “make text bigger.” From there, you can drag a slider to increase the size of most text. You can also select “make everything bigger.” We chose 150 percent bigger. When […]

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IF IT MOVES, SHOOT IT

Time to stop worrying and line up your gun sights. Video games are not making us more violent. In Victorian times, people feared the effect of novels on the young. John Locke worried about their eating too much fruit. Then in the 1950’s, rock ‘n roll was the boogie man. Now people fear video games. There’s still time to panic. Most video gamers are not children. The average age is around 30. As the Economist Magazine points out, “violent crime in America has fallen as games have become popular.” A study in Britain recently found that crimes committed by teenagers there are down a whopping 86 percent. This is even better news than you’d think. Bob predicted a decade ago […]

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CHOOSING A NEW PRINTER

 A friend asked Joy to go with her to Office Depot to choose a new printer. That was an eye-opener.  You can get a laser printer from Hewlett Packard for less than a hundred dollars. The LaserJet Pro M15W takes up less than eight by 14 inches on your desk and weighs just eight pounds. Bob’s first laser printer cost $5,500, was gigantic and weighed about 50 pounds. That was black and white only.  Our current color laser printer, a behemoth from Okidata, cost around $550 and also weighs nearly 50 pounds. The quality is superb. The kicker for us is tech support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When we had an HP printer and called tech support, […]

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