PLAN TO LOSE YOUR PHONE

I was strolling in Chicago when my phone fell out of my bag somewhere along the river walk. I was notified by email right away. Wow. “I hope you get this,” the email said. “My wife found your phone downtown. We left it with the front desk person at Boeing.” I was mystified. How did he get my email address? It was simple. I’d allowed notifications for important messages to be displayed on my Android phone’s lock screen. My email address was listed at the top. I was lucky the phone hadn’t run out of juice and was still showing notifications. The couple who found it had tried calling me first, only to discover I hadn’t entered any contact info […]

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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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TOE TO TOE WITH ALEXA AND GOOGLE

A child asked me which was better: Alexa, the voice inside the Amazon Echo Dot, or Google Assistant, the voice inside the Google Home speaker, renamed “Google Nest.” Until recently, I would have said Google Assistant. That was before I read CNET’s “9 Things Alexa Can Do that Google Can’t.” Of course, right after that, I read “9 Things Google Can Do that Alexa Can’t.” Let’s start with some Alexa differences. Alexa can play Apple Music as one of many choices;  Google makes Apple music off limits. Alexa listens for burglars, alerting you if  she hears glass breaking, an alarm going off and other sounds. (But you must turn on “Guard” in “Settings.”) Also, Alexa can hear your whispers and whisper […]

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BACK TO THE PAST

Have you heard of Linux? It’s a version of Unix developed by a Finn, Linus Torvalds. But what is Unix? It’s a computer operating system developed by Bell Labs in the 1960s. What was Bell Labs? It was the research arm of Bell Telephone. Bob’s been to the original one in New Jersey. All this is gone now. But we still have Unix. Unix lives on and we all use it just about every day. Every time we put a dot (a period) inside something we type on the computer, like a .com, .org, or .gov, it is a Unix command to go to that location in its memory banks and find what came before the dot. Unix ran the […]

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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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A READER TAKES A STAND

 A reader writes in to share his regret over buying a Windows 10 computer. “Here’s my issue,” he says. “I have never been a big fan of Microsoft and was a Mac-aholic until Mac OS 10.4.1 when the Mac OS was no longer backwards compatible.” It would have cost him more to make his documents and applications compatible than to become a Windows user.  It was hard-slogging at first. Then, he writes, “when Microsoft finally arrived at Win 7, it produced an OS that was reasonably stable and NOT buggier than a wino’s beard… hooray!” Then came Windows 10. “I despise Win 10 and all the hoops (and $$$) I’m gonna have ta go through to get this machine integrated […]

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TACKLING PHOTOS

A reader writes: “Do you have any idea why Google stopped supporting the free photo organizing/editing system called Picasa?  How would we contact them to plead for it to be brought back? Do you know of any system that could replace it?” We hear you. Once you know your way around a program, it’s tough to switch. Google  thinks their online editing tool, Google Photos, is better. It lets you crop, enhance light, and save photos to your computer. But not everyone wants to work online. If you’re a Windows 10 user, try the built-in photos app. Click “start,” then “photos,” to get started or search the web for the phrase “How to Use Microsoft Photos,” to get more detailed […]

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THE DROP SHIP HAS COME IN

People are making some pretty good money buying things on Amazon and selling them for more on eBay without ever touching the product. It’s called “drop shipping.” PlanetMoney did a wonderful podcast called “Cat Scam,” to explore this topic. Their lead example is the Ripple Rug, a cat toy made by SnugglyCat. People bought the rug for $40 from Amazon and re-sold it for $60, using Amazon Prime’s free shipping service. They never had to touch the product or do much work. But when customers saw the Amazon box, they looked it up and found out they’d overpaid for the rug. So they’d return it to Amazon. In two months, there were 200 returns. Bad news for SnugglyCat, the toy […]

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DRIVING AN OLD COMPUTER

We heard from several readers who were wondering if they should buy a Chromebook to replace their old Windows machine. A reader writes: “I saw an article that said, ‘Using a five-year-old computer is like driving a 1966 car on the interstate.” Her computer is four years old, and ran Windows 8 until she upgraded it to Windows 10. It came with four gigabytes of RAM, and her daughter added another four gigabytes.  But that “didn’t seem to make it any faster,” she said. Even after she switched to a fiber-optic internet provider, it was slow. We hear you. Even our super-fast Windows machine with an i7 processor and 12 gigabytes of RAM gets slow when the antivirus program is […]

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YOUR STUFF ON FACEBOOK

Did you ever want to see everything you ever posted on Facebook? You can download all that stuff and it comes in as folders. Double-click and they open up. A surprising bonus is the photos you posted and have long forgotten, are all still there. Go to www.facebook.com/Settings. They’re you’ll see a message which reads: “To download your information, go to “Your Facebook Information.” Click on those words to go there, then click “view” next to the word “download your information.” From there you can either download everything or uncheck the boxes next to stuff you don’t care about. We chose “download all,” and were pleasantly surprised at how organized it was. We first clicked the “Comment” folder and saw […]

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