WHICH AMAZON REVIEWS ARE FAKE?

You can buy a thousand positive reviews on Amazon for $10,900. That’s less than $11 each. So how do you know which reviews to trust? I looked at an ArsTechnica article, “Posing as an Amazon Seller” to find out. One commenter said he rented a dreadful movie that had 4.5 out of five stars and over 10,000 positive reviews. Now he avoids anything with reviews in the thousands. A reader told me he only looks at the most recent ones. A third commenter observed that some reviewers get $20 per review. He says he’s in the wrong business. A United Kingdom consumer group found 702,000 product reviewers from just five companies. All were in the review-manipulation biz. Besides offering positive […]

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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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SANITIZING THE PHONE

For Christmas, my brother-in-law got me a phone sanitizer that looks like a flower vase. If I drop my phone into the $80 “Oblio,” I get a germ-free phone after 20 minutes. Or so the company claims. But the directions asked me to flip my phone to clean the other side when the 20 minutes were up. When I flipped it, the purple ultraviolet light, the one that cleans, did not come on. Tech support was no help. They asked me to send a video of the problem. That’s when I discovered that the UV light doesn’t come on at all now, even at the start. A good alternative is the $80 “PhoneSoap” sanitizing box. It sanitizes both sides of […]

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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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GETTING ZOOM HIGHLIGHTS

I’ve often wished I could capture the highlights of a Zoom meeting in a short video clip. Now, with a free app from Grain.co, I can. I started with a two-hour meeting recorded six months ago, which appeared in the Grain app automatically. I just had to click “import.” Then, by scrolling through the transcript underneath the video, I quickly got to the part where my nephew says “happy birthday” to my sister. When I highlighted the text and clicked the “share” button, Grain created a 17-second video clip, complete with transcript, ready to share in an email, on Facebook or wherever. On Thanksgiving, I had a Zoom meeting with my brother, nephews and niece-in-law. I figured they wouldn’t want […]

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LOOK MA, NO GLASSES PRESCRIPTION

I asked a friend to be a guinea pig for the “EyeQue,” a $60 gadget that tests your eyesight and gives you a prescription.  Results were great for him, not so for me — but that wasn’t the machine’s fault. Besides giving you a prescription, EyeQue will send you a pair of John Lennon-style glasses for an additional $19. They call them “try-ons.” They work well and look fine, but you’ll probably want another pair. For instance, the bridge width and earpiece length may be slightly off, since EyeQue doesn’t ask for these measurements, which are typically found on your old pair of glasses. My friend ordered new frames from GlassesUSA, which is not affiliated with EyeQue. He now sees […]

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SKIN CANCER APP HELPS DETECT SKIN CANCER

Growing up in Southern California, I never drove if I could walk, ride a bike or row a boat. Now my skin is paying for it. But a new app may save me. “Mii Skin” can check for skin cancer, when you feel like postponing a visit to the dermatologist. Due to the pandemic, skin care screenings are down 90 percent, according to USA Today. Mii Skin Premium, for $25 a year, lets you take a picture of an area, then wait to see if the suspicious spots it flagged have morphed over a 30-day period. If so, it could be a sign of skin cancer. Fortunately, there’s a 30-day free trial. Unfortunately, the free version only lets you keep […]

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A SECOND LOOK AT AMAZON HALO WEARABLE

Amazon Halo, the new Fitbit-type wearable I wrote about it last time, is even weirder than I thought. But I like it.  Halo’s voice analysis can pinpoint my moods to the very second, telling me when I sound delighted, amused, shy, and so on. (I’ve yet to sound angry even once in over three weeks.) For example, it said I was  “miserable” at 11:10 a.m., but “happy” exactly two seconds later. If you want to improve your tone, the app has video challenges for that. For instance, a four-time martial arts champion and yoga expert guides you in warm-ups for powerful public speaking. You can turn off the mike if you don’t want your tone analyzed. Speech samples are processed […]

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PRINTER PROBLEMS

Over the years, companies have sent Bob Schwabach and me a lot of printers for review. We once lined up six of them and they were all clogged. After hearing from readers on this topic, I’m tempted to start a Cloggers Anonymous. “My sister has an Epson XP-446 that seems to have been clogging up since just after she bought it,” one guy wrote. “She doesn’t print much and suspects the printheads are clogging between uses. Is it worth buying the $25 kit to clean the heads or should I just get her a new printer? I am concerned it will just clog up again.” “You probably don’t need a new printer or a cleaning kit,” I told him. “You […]

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KABLOOEY

Bob’s three-year-old Windows 10 computer went kablooey. Joy attempted to bring it back and made it worse. So we turned to our master fixer, Kenny. Kenny has never failed us. If the problem is easy for him, there’s often no charge. You can find him on the web at HelpHelpNow.com. Here’s what happened before we thought to call. Joy tried a “system restore,” and it failed twice, with the two available restore points. Next she tried “Windows Recovery,” choosing the option to back up files first. It failed too. So she tried it a second time. This time, it erased all the files and still didn’t work. Kenny told us to hold down the power button while Windows 10 was […]

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