NON-FUNGIBLE IS ALL THE RAGE

Did you hear about the New York Times article, still online, that sold for $560,000? How about the digital cat in a pop tart? It sold for $590,000. Or the 5,000 online images that sold for $69 million? They’re part of the brave new world of “Non-Fungible Tokens.”  “Non-fungible” means “can’t be copied, unique,” much like the items on Antiques Roadshow. In the digital world, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are sold in online auctions. If you buy a token, you own a link to a unique piece of digital art, music, video clip or what-have-you. Recently, a video clip of  LeBron James’s basketball dunk was tokenized. The buyer paid over $200,000. Before NFTs, digital files weren’t considered unique because they’re so […]

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BUYING A RENEWED PC

After 11 years, my friend’s computer conked out, due to a hard drive failure. I tried to talk her into replacing it with a refurbished PC. No dice. Her first thought was taking it to a repair shop. Angie’s List said it would cost $300 for the drive and installation.  Not only did that sound like too much, but an 11 year-old all-in-one PC with a bad hard drive is likely to have other problems. So she got an HP Elitedesk 800 G1 desktop, which came with a monitor and mouse for $324 from Walmart. I was glad to see it had eight gigabytes of RAM and an Intel i5 processor. (You can compare processors at CPUboss.com.) Unfortunately, the Elitedesk […]

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NEW PORTABLE POWER BANK SAVES THE DAY

On a recent plane trip, I watched in dismay as the power drained from my phone. By the time I got from Chicago to New Hampshire with a stop in Philly, it was circling the drain.  A portable power bank is the answer. Here are two questions: How fast can it restore a phone to full charge? Does it lose power when not in use? In the past, on the rare occasions when I’ve thought to bring a power bank with me, it turned out it wasn’t charged and I didn’t have time to mess with it. Power banks with lithium ion batteries should retain their power months after they’ve been charged. But some products that claim to have lithium […]

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GETTING TAX PREP HELP

I’ve never done my own taxes. I was always afraid I’d mess up. Yet I’ve known about tax software for years. I met my late husband, Bob Schwabach, when I was in public relations, trying to get him to write about it.  He never did review my rinky-dink client. Having been among the first to write about Intuit, he knew it was best. I’m a convert now. Intuit’s TurboTax website makes it so easy. I went there and clicked  “connect with an expert.” I got a phone call from a folksy guy who drives a school bus. He explained how I could do the taxes myself, paying anywhere from nothing to $170, the filing fee for complex returns. TurboTax reviews […]

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GOOGLE RELIC PICASA IS GREAT AT PHOTO ORGANIZING

Many readers have told me they miss “Picasa,” which Google discontinued years ago. It was great at organizing photos. One reader writes: “I have tried 22 other apps. The main source of frustration is their concentration on manipulating photos, with no attention at all — or very little — to importing, storing and organizing.” In Picasa, for example, he could save an entire set of photos to a single file. A descriptive name told him all he needed to know. Fortunately, I found the old Picasa. Go to https://archive.org/details/picasa_27 to find the most stable version. To download it, click on the “Windows Executable” file in the upper right. It posed no security threats when I ran it. With it, the […]

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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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FOR NEW STYLE FUN, CHECK OUT INTO THE MIST

A friend invited me to a live concert, complete with mystery mansion, at IntoTheMist.net. At first it seemed like a video game, but there was more. The setting was the Roaring ‘20s, with jazz bands, bootleggers and flappers. I headed upstairs to the “high roller” area. Suddenly I was in the midst of a Zoom meeting. The chips were flying and the bettors looked attractive. But I ducked out. I prefer family poker. I followed arrows on a dark hallway, stumbling around till I accidentally found myself outside on the virtual street. It was a bit spooky, so I quickly re-entered and found a room with a live actor playing the poet Langston Hughes. He introduced himself and asked my […]

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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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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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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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