THE WALKMAN LIVES

The first portable electronics gadget we ever had was a tape recorder, though we both remember the portable record player in a suitcase. Later, we both had Sony Walkmans. Did you know they’re still popular? Over 400 million Walkmans as of 2014– mainly used for listening to music on the fly — have been sold, according to TheVerge.com. In the 41 years since the first one, they’ve gone from cassette players to CD to Mini-Disc to MP3 to streaming music. Recently, we wondered why people still buy Walkmans, instead of listening to music on their phones. A reader told us the Walkman is superior. For one thing, you can store music in the “wav” file format, which takes up more […]

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BIG BACKUP

We’ve been trying out Google’s free “Backup and Sync” app. That’s how we discovered its sister app, Google One.  Google One backs up the stuff on your phone that isn’t automatically saved to your account online. That’s handy when you switch phones, since you can get everything back.  Thanks to Google One, we found an audio clip we thought was long lost. It was Bob’s best recounting of the time he faced a firing squad off the coast of Morocco, when soldiers on a remote island mistook him for the enemy. Before being shot over a cliff, the color of his passport proved he was an American. True story. You can get Google One at the Google Play store or […]

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CONVERSATION VIEW

We finally turned off a feature in Gmail that’s been there since the beginning and has been driving us crazy. It’s called “Conversation View.” We didn’t know you could turn it off. In conversation view, new messages show up at the bottom of the thread. If you have a ton of them, you scroll forever. For example, Joy’s friend Mary Lynn Funk went back and forth in one conversation for six months, all with the same heading. Half the time, Joy would lose the thread, unable to find the latest email, as she scrolled past long emails from three months before. Now those emails have been automatically separated into 49 separate chunks. It’s much more manageable. To turn it off […]

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FIRE UP THE TABLET

Joy left her Kindle Fire tablet in the gym. At first we thought it was somewhere around the apartment but it never turned up. So she decided to bite the bullet and buy Amazon’s “Fire HD 10.” It’s $150 and looks as good as an iPad for less than half the price. She got it in blue. She knew the old one had been stolen as soon as she turned on the new one; now there was one Portuguese and two Chinese dictionaries. Some circumstantial evidence is pretty suspicious. So she went to the “Manage your Kindle” section of Amazon and de-registered the old device. The Kindle Fire HD 10 and HD 8 come with Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. It […]

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SOMETHING NEW IN GMAIL

Joy’s favorite part of Gmail is the “Undo” button, which allows you to call back an email that on second thought, you shouldn’t have sent. You can set it to hesitate for as long as 30 seconds, which allows for short naps. Now this second-thought-er is available in the free Gmail app for Android and iPhone. To try out the “undo” feature of the Gmail app on your phone, compose a message as you normally would. After you send it, look at the bottom of your screen. Tap “undo.” There’s also a new Gmail look available for your computer. If you’re a Gmail user this new version should pop up as a choice, meaning it will show you what’s new […]

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FINDING YOUR ANCESTORS ONLINE

Topics in this column include: Finding Your Ancestry Online, Brain Teasers and other interesting websites, Getting a hacked Gmail account back, Fun Projects from Maker Lab’s new book, Sending birthday greetings online, Tips and Tricks for your cell phone.

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USING GMAIL OFFLINE

Say you’re on a train without a connection to the Internet. If you’ve previously downloaded “Gmail Offline,” you can answer mail. It will be sent out the next time you’re able to connect. This is free for computers and phones. You’ll need to use the Chrome web browser. If you don’t have it, you can get it at Chrome.com; it’s free.

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BETTER GMAIL

“Mixmax” is a free service for Gmail users. Click to add it to your Chrome or Firefox web browser and get some great features that Gmail doesn’t have — like “boilerplate.” These are standard replies you send over and over to respond to standard questions and comments.

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GMAIL ADDS NEW BLOCK SENDER COMMAND

Gmail has a new “block sender” command that’s much better than their “report spam” button. We’ve labeled hundreds of items as spam, only to see them come back the next day. We’ve tried using filters as well, but sometimes they filter out too much and you miss things you would have liked to see.

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GMAIL TIPS

— “Auto-Advance” is helping Joy to get through her Gmail a wee bit faster. What it does is automatically advance you to the next email in your list, so you don’t have to waste time leaving an email and going back to check another. To enable it, click the picture of a tiny gear, then “settings,” then choose “Labs.” Click “enable” next to “Auto-Advance.” — “Boomerang for Gmail” is a plug-in for scheduling emails to go out when you want them to go out. You may be writing at 3 am, but you’d rather they went out the next morning at 9. It’s free unless you’re a heavy user, and works with Chrome, Firefox and Safari web browsers. — To […]

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