Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Smartphone protection, Free software, Fun videos, More!

Let me start today by wishing you all a safe, and joyous long holiday weekend! I know many are happy to see the arrival of Fall.

First up: The other day I mentioned Rick Robinette has been quite actively posting on his What’s On My PC..  site. Here’s two more I think you may want to look at.

* NEW FEATURE – Android CM Security Now Includes An App Lock, Phone Finder and Family Locater

I am often asked what security app do I use on my Android devices (tablet and smartphone)? Answer: I highly recommend CM Security (by Cheetah Mobile). Two of my biggest fears with that computer in my pocket (called a smartphone) is data security and losing my phone. With CM Security and their recently added components, I […]” Read more..

* DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS – Some Really Good, FREE, and Tasty Software

One of my passions is software and when I come across something that is professional in stature and FREE, I really get excited. Software developers are a completely different breed of people that are dedicated to a building process that can literally require years of devotion to get it just right or to keep up […]” Read more..

[ There’s a media convertia/YouTube downloader some may want to look at.]

Bonus reading:
* The executive order that led to mass spying, as told by NSA alumni

Feds call it “twelve triple three”; whistleblower says it’s the heart of the problem.” Read more..

* Does Technology Cause ADHD?

Some experts believe that technology has a role in the rising rates of ADHD — but whether it causes the disorder is still being debated.Read more..

 [ There’s kinda a Rule.. if you have to ask the question, the answer’s “yes”. Example: “Do I look fat in these jeans?” ]

* CNET presents the 100 hottest devices of the month

CNET 100 is a tech-filled list of the latest and greatest products that give you a look into how they are trending, in real-time using our exclusive algorithm. From the most talked about products to the obscure fascination, you can keep up with the newest tech obsession.” Read more..

Friday Fun Videos (Yes. Plural.)

This first was sent to me by a reader.

And this Fail compilation was posted just two days ago.

Today’s quote:Man is the most intelligent of the animals – and the most silly.” ~ Diogenes

Copyright 2007-2014 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.
And please, never forget – one person can make a difference.
Find a way to make someone’s day today.
(Best advice I ever heard? Don’t sweat the small stuff.)

August 29, 2014 Posted by | Android, anti-spyware, antivirus, cellular, computers, consumer electronics, digital Video, free software, mobile, privacy, security, software, tablet PC, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to block ads on Android

Folks, on Monday I told you the alarming (and revolting) news that Google has removed ad-blocking apps from the Google Play app store. Fortunately, Neil Rubenking at PC Magazine has just published a How To for installing AdBlock Plus on Android devices (aka “the workaround”).

abpI just did it on my Kindle Fire, and I did not have to do the “manually set a proxy” steps. It’s so nice to view ad-free webpages! (And it’s safer, too.)

Here’s the 4-1-1. How To Block Ads on Android

Yesterday, the venerable adblocking company Adblock Plus (ABP) announced that Google had blocked their enormously popular app on the Google Play store. While Google can slam the door through their app store, Android’s open nature means that users can still “sideload” the app.“” Read more..

It really isn’t hard, and I think you’ll be glad you did it.

[Update: a reader has suggested an easier method in the Comments section, here (below).]

*     *     *

Tip of the day: Advertising really works!! And is a GREAT!! investment!! See?

spam3_20_13

And unicorns are real.

Today’s quote:In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” ~ George Orwell

First Day of Spring (Yay!) I just heard. Today is the calendar’s equinox, or solstice, or sumsuch, and they say Spring is now playing in a theater near you. Yay!

Today’s Spring quote:When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | advice, Android, free software, gadgets, how to, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

iTunes and Android — Play Well Together?

Folks, today I am seeking a little reader input, if you’d be so kind.

As I mentioned in Wednesday’s article, I am now (trying to) using an iMac for as many of my “daily computing” purposes as possible, as a learning experiment, and to be a better tech. Naturally, I quickly came to the point where I wanted to load up some songs and digital music, and explore the “wonderful world of iTunes”. And compare it to other music players.

Now I know that if I had an iPhone or iPad, all I’d have to do is connect the device (via USB) and my playlists/songs/devices would ‘sync’ automatically.

But I have Android devices.

And iTunes kinda pretends I’ve plugged nothing in, and seems to have no easy way to ‘sync’, and transfer song files from one to the other. In short, it’s refusing to play nicely.

So I have looked at some “apps” for syncing Android and iTunes – Easy Phone Tunes, TuneSync, iSyncr, and DoubleTwist, i.e. – but have yet done more than read about them. (I have been using Finder and ‘drag and drop’, to get the ball rolling..)

I am hoping folks out there will share with me the solutions they have found to like the best, in the Comment section below. (Bad experiences welcome, too.)

I’d sure like the tool to be free, and it does not need to sync over WiFi, and should be able to transfer more than 20 songs.

Thank you for your consideration.

Today’s quote:It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.” ~ William G. McAdoo

Today’s You Gotta Be Kidding!

spam2_7_13

Again I say, beware the Easy E-Card…

Update: I have just learned that (sorry, I’m kinda slow) there is a major storm in the N.E. which could drop as much as 2′ of that vile white stuff commonly referred to as ‘snow’ (today??!!). I hope that everyone will exercise good cautions and stay safe out there.

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

February 8, 2013 Posted by | Android, Apple, computers, digital music | , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Ever Happened To Windows SideShow?

Raise your hand if you never heard of “Windows SideShow”. Okay. Thank you. You can put them down now. I had heard of SideShow, long ago, and I have been waiting patiently all this time to take advantage of this wonderful technology — eagerly, excitedly, looking forward. Thanks to the iPad, and Android.. I expect my wait will be even longer….

What is “SideShow”??? SideShow is a cool technology Microsoft first started hyping building into Vista (circa 2007). It was.. to keep things simple here, a kind of “super widget” program. Look at this prototype laptop..

See the small LCD screen in the lid? That is an “SideShow Enabled Device”.. (what I had been waiting for..) and what was going to be so kewel was, was even with the laptop off, and lid closed – that little LCD would draw so little current it could be available all the time; so, “the user can still read e-mail, examine his calendar, look at some digital photos, get mapping directions, see the current date/time, and so on.

Yes.. watch a stock ticker, check flight arrival, see the weather, listen to your tunes..

SideShow was, as I understood it, envisioned and enabled to be “beamed” (so to speak) to any LCD screen — digital picture frames, smart refrigerators, television remote controls, etc.

In fact, if you have a Vista machine, and open your Control Panel, you will see the SideShow control (in “Classic View”).

And in there you configure what info you want to have shown..

Now, I have to say, this works.. um, “functions”, and you can play around with it using various LCD screen devices you might have.. your old Palm Pilot or smartphone, maybe,, but here it is, 2012, and I have yet to have seen a laptop for sale that had a little screen in the lid (maybe I have not looked in the right stores…)

I have to conclude that SideShow was an idea that “died on the vine”. That got “pre-empted”. It simply wasn’t adopted by the manufacturers (that I ever saw..).
But I could be wrong about that.
Maybe it is technology that is just biding its time.. and will be featured in the “smart” refrigerators when they start becoming “consumer mainstream”..

But, 2007 – in computer years – is a long time ago. And.. if I want to do those things, I glance at my Android smartphone……………………..

Honey? What time is it?
I don’t know.. check the fridge.

(For those super Geeky types in the audience, curious about SideShow, this old MSDN article may be of interest: click here.)

Today’s quote:How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 3, 2012 Posted by | computers, tech | , | 18 Comments

It’s Time We Talked About Netbooks

The word netbook is a portmanteau of the words Internet and notebook.

feature_GetitAll Netbook users typically rely on online applications and services which do not require powerful hardware on the local computer (aka “cloud computing“), such as Google Docs and Calendar.

These are not speed demon gaming rigs, media servers, or even very small laptops — what they are is lightweight and very portable. And they’re cheap (I don’t mean “flimsy” or “poorly made”). Using one, I was reminded of state-of-the-art… in the year Windows XP came out (2001).

Some (most?) netbooks do not have conventional hard, or optical disc drives. Such netbooks use solid-state storage devices instead, as these require less power and are smaller, faster, and lighter. (On machines with no optical disk drive, application software is typically downloaded from the web or read from a USB device.)

All netbooks on the market today support Wi-Fi wireless networking and many can be used on mobile telephone networks with data capability. Mobile data plans are supplied under contract in the same way as cell phones. Most also include Ethernet and/or modem ports for broadband or dial-up Internet access.

I look at netbooks as filling the gap between smart phones/PDA’s and travelbooks/”mini”-laptops, and the pundits are saying netbooks are our future. Google seems to be betting that line, and it’s new Chrome OS is aimed squarely at this segment (see Netbooks: Google’s ace in PC war with Microsoft).

Recently I have been playing with a borrowed 9″ Acer “Aspire One” ZG5 (its main competitors in the low-cost netbook market are the Asus Eee PC and the Dell Inspiron Mini 9) which has the Intel chip and Windows XP. That combo is what I would buy.

I like the screen size and brightness, and I like the light weight, and I like the keyboard (which I would guesstimate to be 3/4’s of a “regular” keyboard) as I am not skilled at typing with my thumbs on tiny QWERTY arrays with miniscule buttons — I need KEYS. The unit feels solid and sturdy. It is too big to fit in any of my pockets, though.

I think these machines do what most people – even business people – use their mobile devices for.. e-mail, browsing the Internet, and working with documents; and by “ripping” a DVD to the drive, they can also be media players too (see, Quick Tip: Movies on the plane). I think they are worth a look-see, if you haven’t “checked it out” yet.
(They might make a perfect ‘first computer’ for a child, too…)

Purchasing: As I always advise, and due to the smaller key arrangements and touchpads, this is something you definitely want to “test drive” before you buy. Make sure it “feels right” before you buy.

The future of computing? I’m not so sure. What do you think?

Today’s free link: Hacker steals Twitter’s confidential documents

Today’s free download: Free YouTube to MP3 Converter Extract sound from videos on YouTube and convert sound tracks into MP3.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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July 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, Internet, PC, Portable Computing, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Parental Monitoring And Cellular Phones

If you are a parent concerned about what your child is doing with their mobile phone– whether or not they’re talking to strangers, for example– you may want to keep reading. This topic was spawned by a question from such a parent.

And if you’re the kind of person who’s easily agitated about technology and the erosion of privacy, a Luddite, a Big Brother Conspiracy Theorist, or anyone else who hasn’t quite come to terms with the modern age we’re living in– you might want to stop reading here.
You’ve been warned. I will not respond to your e-mail.

Regular readers (and tech-savvy people in general) know that your computer use at work is monitored. And you’ve probably heard of “spyware” and “keyloggers” that record what you type (my readers have, and that’s fer sher). And you know that GPS devices can pinpoint your location.shhh

And you know that cameras (usually hidden) are being installed everywhere– as a crime and terrorism preventative, and to stop red-light runners. Cities compete to have the highest percentage of camera coverage.

And you know that modern phones allow text messaging, the sending of photos and movies, and surfing the Internet. (They are becoming more like little laptops everyday.)

And you know that the Internet can be a dangerous place. Especially for kids.
(read Monitoring Your Teenager’s Internet Usage – Should You?)

And thus the parent’s dilemma. If you have a child, the day will come when they want a phone. I think that happens around the ages of 7-9, these days.
And being kids, they won’t want just any old phone, but they will want a “kewl” phone; one with all the bell’s and whistles. (Your hands are kind of tied on this.. nobody makes a “plain old cellphone” anymore. Haven’t for years.)

“But Mom, everybody’s got one!”

The answer, for you, may be to give your child a phone that allows you to see what they text and IM, control who their “contacts” are, and, maybe, even record their calls. It’s called “parental monitoring”, and the extent to which you use it is up to you.
[note: if reading that made your blood pressure go up a notch, refer now to the second paragraph.]

You don’t need to buy a special phone.. or even a new phone, to monitor your child’s activity.
* There is commercial software that can be installed on every type of phone– such as RADAR and MobileSpy. These can notify you in “real time” if a parameter you set is being broken. iPhone users can look at safe eyes.
[note: did your employer give you your cellphone? Think, people. Think. Let’s add two and two here.]

* There are USB dongles that read a phone’s SIM chip –even if your child’s erased their messages– for $50.

So, if you’re a concerned parent, you have several options that will allow you to find some middle ground. And if you’re a Big Brother Conspiracy Theorist.. well, friend, it’s twice as bad as you dare to realize and it’s only going to get worse.

Today’s free link(s): Concerned parents who have a child reaching the driving age (and Big Brother Conspiracy Theorists) might read my article “What Your Car Is Saying About You.
Or you can give them a Guardian Angel cell phone which reports their location and speed..

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 21, 2008 Posted by | advice, cellular, gadgets, hardware, how to, IM, Internet, iPhone, kids and the Internet, privacy, security, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Thumb drives: did you get less than you paid for?

I received in my e-mail a question from a very upset reader yesterday. The reader wanted to let me know about a company that makes thumb drives (and other products, too) and told me I should warn you folks about how that company had ripped them off.

Now, I want you to rest assured, Dear Reader, and take joy and comfort in, that if and when I run across “bad things” in the world of tech– I let you know about them. (I think we can all agree that a rip-off qualifies as a “bad thing”.)

The writer named names and pointed fingers unabashedly.. and I suspect, had to go back and clean up their language before hitting Send. They were.. um.. passionate in their outrage.
What had caught my eye, however, was the perpertrating  company’s name — it was a (brand) name I think highly of; and frankly, so does rest of the industry.

What had our e-mail writer so irked? The company had ripped them off over a Gigabyte. They had paid for 16 GB’s, and actually gotten just under 15. (14.9, to be exact.)
They felt short-changed, flim-flammed, and lied to… and as I may have mentioned, they did not like the feeling.
My letter writer’s angst was natural, but misplaced.

When is a Gigabyte not a Gigabyte?
* Ever since the neolithic era of personal computers, way, way, way, back in the Early Days (circa 1984), when dinosaurs still roamed, and “kilo” was king (I’m talking before “mega”, and well before “giga”) the men who produced hard drives (aka “storage devices”) described the size of their products using numbers other humans could understand. That is: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. of the good-old “Base 10” system [ten fingers and ten toes=20].
So to those guys, a “Giga” is 1,000,000,000… just like it is to you and me.
* Computers, in their relentless and perverse desire to frustrate, confuse, and generally annoy humans, decided not to speak in Base 10. Computers invented their own numbering system and named it “binary”.
In this sick, twisted, and baffling numbering system, a one is still “1” (to sucker us, no doubt), but two is “10”. And “3” (to us) is “11” (to them). Want a real kick in the head? Four is “100”. And if you expect 5 to be “1,000”, you’re wrong– it’s 101.
A “Gigabyte” to a computer is 1,073,741,824 bytes.

Let’s see if I have done a good job and you’ve followed along: to the guy who is making the storage device, if he makes it big enough to hold 1,000,000,000 bytes of information, he calls it a “Gigabyte storage device” (always has and always will).
When you plug it into your computer, your machine will see 73,741,824 bytes less than what it thinks of as a Gigabyte, and it tells you that you you have “.93 GB’s of available space”.
In the case of my writer, we multiply the difference by 16… which equals 14.9 GB’s of available space.

Let me be clear, the manufacturer did indeed provide a storage device that can hold 16,000,000,000 bytes of data– 16 GB’s. And machines “see” that as 14.9 GB’s. So they’re both right.. and my writer wasn’t a victim of a scam, flim-flam, nor fraud.
It’s just Base 10 vs. Base 2.

Yes. I understand.
And despite that, I actually like computers!

[For those of you who would like more of a description of “Gigabyte” than my attempt, click here; and for more on binary, here.]

Today’s free link: FreeRip 3, a C/Net Editor’s 5-star CD application. Description: FreeRip is an easy to use application that can record digital audio tracks directly from compact discs to PC files. You can save CD audio tracks to CD-quality WAV files or encode them to OGG Vorbis, WMA, MP3 or Flac compressed audio formats. It can also convert/encode audio files from WMA/WAV/MP3/Vorbis/FLAC. FreeRip also lets you adjust track volume and it supports ID3 tagging and CD-Text. Includes MP3 ID3 Tagger.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 16, 2008 Posted by | computers, file system, hardware, PC, storage, tech, thumb drives, USB storage devices | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment