Tech – for Everyone

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

Netflix For Android Phones – At Last

(And How To Add Netflix To Windows Media Center)

Good news for Android owners. Just this morning I discovered that the Netflix app was now available for my phone – yay! In fact, the description on the app’s Market blurb says it is now available for all Android 2.2 and 2.3 devices. (Available free from the Android Market.)

Bones - The Santa in the Slush

I have been waiting for that. (the iPhone has had the app for some time now, so it’s nice to ‘catch up’…)

In my very brief testing on my HTC MyTouch 4G, I had full access to my account (such as my que and history) and resumed watching an episode of Bones right where I had left off watching it on a TV.

I only had time to test it through my Wi Fi, but sound and video and ‘playback’ quality were excellent.

I have not had time to discover just how much more unproductive this will make me, or how much sleep I will lose (as I have been known to take the phone to bed with me and watch an episode of NCIS [on]) but I will report on that soon enough.

While Netflix can be viewed on your PC with your favorite web browser, I have found that I like using Windows Media Center for my viewing better. To get Netflix working with WMC, all you need is to install the plug-in.

1) Open Media Center, and use the down arrow to get to TV + Movies, then the left arrow to get to Netflix.

2) Clicking on that will start the plug-in’s installer (or, you can get it here). Silverlight is required.

3) Login to your Netflix account and..

you’re watching your Netflix streaming programs and movies with the easily remote-controlled WMC.

Today’s free download: Everything
Everything is a search engine for your computer that locates files and folders by name practically instantly. I hate to say, but it blows Windows Search away.. and there is a portable version, so you do not need to “install” Everything to benefit from it. Give it a try. Clean. Simple. Fast. Thorough.

Today’s reading reco: Life After Anonymous – Interview with a Former Hacker

“An interview with @SparkyBlaze, a self-identified former member of the rogue hacktivist group Anonymous, has been published by Jason Lackey. They asked what the hacker’s advice would be for companies that want to stay as secure as possible. The funny thing is that this is what any security expert worth their salt would say. Check out these 14 points and see how your own organization stacks up” Read more..

Today’s quotable quote:Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” ~ Francesca Reigler

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

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September 12, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, computers, digital Video, free software, how to, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Most Asked Question About My Smartphone – Typing

The question I am most frequently asked – when folks learn I have an Android smart phone – is “how is the typing?” (They ask that when tablets/iPads get mentioned, too.)

click to see how this image was made in photoshop (tutorial)

Sometimes, this question comes from Blackberry owners, or others whose phones have some kind of mini-keyboard (buttons). These folks are used to “texting” by “thumb-typing”, and some of them are .. um, leery of the “on screen” keyboard. With a “touchscreen” it is true, you do not get the tactile feedback that you do with buttons.

Other times, the person asking has managed to avoid the whole “smart phone” scene, but now that they have seen all the ads on TV for the new 4G world of Internet on your phone, and Androids and iPhones, now have a keener interest.

When I am asked, I tell them that I don’t “type” on my Android — I either talk to it (voice recognition) or “Swype” on it. People want to know if voice recognition, and touch screen typing work properly, or if it is buggy. In my experience with my HTC, running Android 2.2, I would have to say, yes, neither voice recognition nor Swype get it right all the time – 100% – no errors. But I am amazed at how infrequently I have to correct it. And I suspect each feature will only get better as they mature.

Instead of trying to explain what “swype-ing” is, I suggest watching this brief video. (It explains it better than I can.)

unrelated (fun): Been to Google yet today? Very cool mod to the homepage today.. to see it, click here.

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

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August 6, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, gadgets, Internet, iPhone, mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mix and Match Saturday

aka Weekend Grab Bag

* For Facebook users: June 2011: The Definitive Facebook Lockdown Guide

June 2011 edition of The Definitive Facebook Lockdown Guide. Helping you to protect your privacy, your social network security and to manage your network safely.

* Better Late Than Never: I didn’t have time to post a Friday Fun video yesterday, so, here you go – Never Lose The Remote Again.

* Android smart phone: starter kit

If you’re staring down at your shiny new Android phone wondering which apps to try first, hit up our list before you download anything else. Great applications proliferate on Google’s Android platform, and our Android Starter Kit is merely a sampling of the best software plucked from the Android Market.

* Completely off-topic: I met a man who impressed me so much I would like to recommend him to anyone considering a fishing outing in California. John Walton has a bait and tackle store in San Leandro, and I came across him via the The Fish Sniffer Online website. He was so knowledgeable and helpful on the phone, I made a point of bringing my 30+ years out-of-date tackle box and my rods and reels to his shop, so he could advise me what I might need (or, need to replace). I drove out of my way to do that, but boy, am I glad I did.

John restrung one of my reels (said my others were fine), put on proper weights and hooks for the others, explained the proper way to set my drag (etc.) so I would stop getting ‘backlash’ snarls (which worked -YAY!), marked good spots on a map of the lake I was headed to, set me up with some bait, and got me thoroughly “good to go”. He spent a good 45 minutes with me. While I was there, he managed to keep up a running dialogue with several real fishermen, advising them on everything from current water conditions to fly fishing rods to tides in delta. His knowledge (and memory) was awesome to me… I picked up a new-fangled trout lure which was $5, and when it was time to go – what I mean is, John pronounced me ‘all set’ – John told me the total bill was $12. (And here I thought I was the last fella who ran his business with such generous integrity — that our breed had died out.) From what I could see my brief time there, John is known and sought ought by anglers, and I could sure understand why. If you are thinking about fishing in CA, I would give John a call: (510) 352-3932.

* In this economy, is a Google antitrust probe “un-American?”

“Is a probe of a leading tech company, at a time when the tech industry seems poised to buck the current economic trend, really the smartest move out of Washington?” READ FULL STORY

[I might phrase it, “should a Superpower get a ‘pass’ because the economy is shaky?”]

Today’s Quotable quote:When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there.”  ~ Cecil Selig

Today’s recommended reading: Trojans, viruses, worms: How does malware get on PCs and Macs?

What’s the best way to deal with malicious software on PCs and Macs? You can’t answer that question until you know how malware gets installed in the first place. Here’s a reality check.READ FULL STORY..

Rumor? Somebody told me that online poker has been removed from the Internet… Gambling Laws, or sumsuch. Guess it’s time for a new hobby/addiction for some folks…

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

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June 25, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, computers, Internet, security | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Android Adventures – Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of my Android series. (Previously, My First Look At Android, part 1 and Playing with an Android – Part 2.) Yesterday, in part2, I ran long listing the features of my new Android smart phone I am finding most neat-o and useful. So let me continue…

7) “Hands free”/voice search/”Genius button”: Along with my phone, I got one of those Lt. Uhura ear doodads (Bluetooth headset), as Kallyfornyah has a much-ignored “Hands-free” Law. With it (or the ‘genius button’) I can tap a button, and say, “call, Joe Smith, mobile” and – like magic – a woman’s voice confirms that I am calling Joe’s cell. Or, I can say “find pizza” and – like magic – my phone will display results, and a map. I mentioned before that I am a dinosaur: so, I am a bit “weirded out” by voice recognition, but the more I use it the more I like it. I have to confess, too, it’s cool.
(The “genius button” is a dedicated “voice recognition” activator. Those w/o such a shortcut might prefer Vlingo.. from what I understand, it has fewer errors than Google’s app.)

8) “Swype”: Being the old dinosaur that I am, I completely missed the the whole ‘texting’ thing, and never learned to “thumb type” on those little-bitty buttons. While I find “touchscreen” keyboards doable, I also find myself using the backspace button almost every other letter. That is why I LOVE “Swype”, and consider it a must have. Here’s a video demonstration..

9) Clock/timer: I am somewhat like the “absent-minded professor” and get caught up in what I’m doing; which makes me a wee bit forgetful, and the ability to quickly set a timer to chime and remind me that it’s time to move the hose, or check the oven, has proven quite valuable to me.
(I still (usually) wear a wristwatch, but I have set each screen on my phone to have a clock ‘widget’; so a glance there is just as good as a glance at my wrist.. well.. my phone’s clock will tell me the temperature too.)

10) Productivity ‘apps’: I have found that get-myself-organized tools, like To Do Lists and calendared appointments (and reminders) are most useful to me when they are actually in the same place I am: it has proven near useless for me to write myself a note, and then leave that note at my friend’s house, or in my car, or some other location I am not.

It occurred to me that, as a full-blooded Geek, I am never too far away from a computer.. so I decided to start using Google Calendar, Tasks, and Evernote (whose slogan is “Remember everything”). I wanted that same ability on a phone. Android is a Google product, so seamless editing/updating of Calender, Gmail, and Tasks was/is a big “selling point” for me. I really enjoy being able to schedule a follow-up appointment, while I am with my client, by just tapping my phone — and having that appointment appear on my computers at home/office automatically (no ‘multiple entry’).
With Evernote, I can use the phone’s camera to ‘snap’ an image as a note/reminder.. which has come in handy a few times already. And I use it kind of like an ‘everywhere sticky note’.

I am curious what mobile “business productivity” apps folks out there are using, and finding “best”. I hope readers will leave their reco’s as a comment.

11) This last one is just plain .. odd. I downloaded a compass/leveling tool to fiddle with, and dang, if the bubble-leveler didn’t come in handy for some household chores I had to do (picture frame leveling).

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

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March 12, 2011 Posted by | Android, cellular, gadgets, hardware, Internet, iPhone, mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Playing with an Android – Part 2

Not too long ago, I finally joined the 21st Century, and got one of those “smart phones”. It’s one of those fancy new ones; the kind that fetches my slippers  and lights my pipe. (See,  My First Look At Android, part 1.)

Actually, I don’t smoke a pipe. And as far as I have been able to determine, my HTC phone does not have a butane lighter built into it. (None of the current crop of phones does. I asked.)

But it does have some nifty features: too many to list here. So what I thought I would do is tell you about the ones I have found quite useful in the first few weeks of use, as well as how often I’ve used them. I am hoping maybe it will help some of you decide if it’s time for a new phone too. (I hope readers will tell me what features and apps they are finding most useful too.)

More than a phone:

1) MP3 music player/FM radio. I am finding that my smart phone really is proving to be an entertainment device. It came with the ability to act as a FM radio, and I frequently use it to listen to my fave station (107.7 the Bone). It also came with (basic) Slacker, and I downloaded Pandora, “online radio” players.. though, in practice, I haven’t used them. Also, I have loaded a “playlist” of music onto the phone’s 8 GB MicroSD chip, so my favorite songs are just a couple of screen ‘taps’ away.
Short version: my phone is also an ‘iPod’ (type device) — and I use that feature a lot: almost every day, in fact.

2) Turn by turn navigation. Two years or so ago, I gave my father a Garmin GPS device. I never saw use for one myself: I am a pretty good navigator. (And before I leave, I check Google Maps or MapQuest, and maybe write down some notes.) But my phone has GPS and a Navigation app which works just like my father’s Garmin – even “speaking” my directions to me as I drive. [note: I disable GPS on the phone except when I need it, setting it to “911 mode”.]
Short version: my phone is also a Garmin — and though I don’t use that feature but rarely, I find it quite useful when I need it.

3) Watching shows. When I said my smart phone is proving to be an entertainment device, I wasn’t kidding. I didn’t think I would be trying to watch TV on such a small screen, but .. well, darned if I’m not. Occasionally. And I watch YouTube music videos. (This made my recent trip to the dentist’s much more .. tolerable.) I downloaded the app and have used it to watch full episodes of CBS shows (NCIS, mainly) in bed before sleep. I should be able to watch my DVR recordings (AT&T Uverse) at some point too. (I just haven’t had time to fiddle with that yet.)
Short version: my phone is also a TV (sorta) — and though I don’t use that feature but several times a week, I find it quite useful when I want some amusement.
In fact, I am kind of kicking myself for getting an Android and not a iPhone, as Netflix doesn’t have an app yet… (When that arrives, I think maybe my productivity may drop… ahem)

4) I have not found a use for the video camera or camera yet. But I think it’s pretty neat that my phone can send (aka “share”) via email, my media with a couple of screen ‘taps’. I can see many uses for that ability.

5) I would very much like it if the “video chat” feature (in my case Qik) worked like it should.. but I understand Skype has acquired Qik, and hopefully, mobile Skype will go video soon (Verizon only???). And work out the bugs.
My phone has both front and rear-facing cameras.. and a flash.. which can act as a flashlight with the flashlight app. Surprisingly, to me anyway, I have used that feature several times already.

6) Wireless hotspot. The ability to use my phone as an Internet “access point” (for other devices) was a feature I knew I would use, and was actually a big reason I decided to get a smartphone. I thought I would have to use “USB tethering”, and PDAnet software, but, no, I don’t. The phone uses Wi Fi to broadcast, enabling it to act as a wireless router.
Short version: though I consider this really only an “emergency” feature, I also consider a “must have”.

Well, I am running long, and so I see a Part 3 is in order. I will close by saying this: the Top Number 1 Smartphone Feature I use all day everyday is: fully synced integration with Google Calendar and Tasks.

Today’s reading reco: A letter on behalf of the world’s PC fixers

Today’s free link: Eagle cam.
This is a webcam feed that is rather unique.. someone climbed up and pointed a webcam at a bald eagle nest.. there’s 3 eggs in there… (The nest is in Virginia, so you might want to keep Eastern Time in mind.)

update: Part 3 is now available. Android Adventures – Part 3

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

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March 10, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, cellular, computers, gadgets, Google, IM, iPhone, mobile | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Monday’s List

Monday is not my favorite day. And that fact has been true for as long as I can remember. But what can you do? Grin and bear it. It will pass.

I have some reading reco’s for you today.

Welcome to the mobile malware mess, we hope you enjoy your stay

Over the last few weeks, there’s been a dramatic surge in activity in the mobile malware arena.

The anti-malware industry has been talking and warning about mobile malware for more than five years now. It seems the time has finally come.

Apple’s iPad 2: An incremental upgrade enough to kill the competition

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad 2 on Wednesday and the festivities went about as expected. The iPad got two cameras, dropped some girth and introduced some snazzy new covers.

Missing from the equation was a USB port and a new display.

Motorola: to compete against iPad 2, you need a cheaper XOOM

This week’s launch of Apple’s iPad 2 was a real eye-opener for a lot of us. Nobody expected the company to be able to deliver a thinner, significantly faster tablet at a base price of $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. Right now, Apple’s competitors are eating the iPad 2’s dust, and the device hasn’t even gone onsale yet.

Some manufacturers, like Samsung, are just plain dumbfounded and are finding themselves having to re-evaluate their tablet strategies altogether and reconsidering their product launches.

(A brief aside: yesterday I was in the Verizon store, looking at “mobile devices”, and young man [I would guesstimate was about 8 yrs] ran up to the tablets and said, “Cool! A Xoom!” and the first thing he did was start playing Angry Birds.)

HTC Inspire 4G review: High-powered Android at a low-ball price

The HTC Inspire 4G is a high-end Android smartphone that is priced like a discount phone. Learn why it’s such a bargain and the pros and cons of this highly-anticipated device.

I have been seriously looking at tablets. One big reason I don’t own a Galaxy Tab is that the carriers (cellular providers) insist on two stupid things, which though they might claim are due to technical reasons, I suspect are due simply to greed — one, voice not allowed; two, tiered data plans.

Typically you can buy either 1 GB, or pricier 5 GB, per month data plans (for a data-only device) which kind of forces you to depend on Wi Fi.

If Wi Fi is available, I’ll use my laptop, thank you. Bigger screen. Keyboard. Optical disc drive…

PhoXo – FREE and POWERFUL Image Editing Software

I truly love software and get excited when I see a software developer put their heart and soul in an application, then turn around and offer it for FREE. I recently came across a FREE image editor that was a new one for me and it is good; really good! There are tons of image…

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

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March 7, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, Apple, cellular, computers, gadgets, hardware, Internet, mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

If You Have An Android Phone, Read This

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has posted an article that all smart phone owners should be aware of, and Android owners should read very carefully. It contains a list of apps that have been poisoned to “root” your phone and steal all your info.. and maybe do more than that. Worse (scarier), these apps are on the app Marketplace. And, I may have downloaded one.

Stolen apps that root Android, steal data and open backdoors available for download from Google Market

“To many of its fans, the openness and freedoms offered by the Android mobile operating systems is one of its main selling points. But that openness come with a price – it makes it easy for nefarious types to sneak malware into apps. And that’s exactly what they are doing.”

I am going to provide his list of infected apps, but just because you don’t see one you recognize as having installed doesn’t mean you should skip reading his article (click here to read it). It contains info we all should know.

  • Falling Down
  • Super Guitar Solo
  • Super History Eraser
  • Photo Editor
  • Super Ringtone Maker
  • Super Sex Positions
  • Hot Sexy Videos
  • Chess
  • 下坠滚球_Falldown
  • Hilton Sex Sound
  • Screaming Sexy Japanese Girls
  • Falling Ball Dodge
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Dice Roller
  • 躲避弹球
  • Advanced Currency Converter
  • App Uninstaller
  • 几何战机_PewPew
  • Funny Paint
  • Spider Man
  • 蜘蛛侠
  • Bowling Time
  • Advanced Barcode Scanner
  • Supre Bluetooth Transfer
  • Task Killer Pro
  • Music Box
  • Sexy Girls: Japanese
  • Sexy Legs
  • Advanced File Manager
  • Magic Strobe Light
  • 致命绝色美腿
  • 墨水坦克Panzer Panic
  • 裸奔先生Mr. Runner
  • 软件强力卸载
  • Advanced App to SD
  • Super Stopwatch & Timer
  • Advanced Compass Leveler
  • Best password safe
  • 掷骰子
  • 多彩绘画
  • Finger Race
  • Piano
  • Bubble Shoot
  • Advanced Sound Manager
  • Magic Hypnotic Spiral
  • Funny Face
  • Color Blindness Test
  • Tie a Tie
  • Quick Notes
  • Basketball Shot Now
  • Quick Delete Contacts
  • Omok Five in a Row
  • Super Sexy Ringtones
  • 大家来找茬
  • 桌上曲棍球
  • 投篮高手

Toward the bottom of his article is a link to another of his articles, which describes what you need to know to keep your phone safer.

Again, this is important enough that I am asking you to read the article (click here to read it) and forward it to all your friends and family who own smart phones. Android, and Google’s app Marketplace are not the only targets of the cybercriminals. Apple’s store is no better off, and they do not vet their apps for malware.

Makes me glad I haven’t used my phone to check my balance…

Related: Study: Cybercrime cost firms $1 trillion globally (that would be in 2010..)

Data theft and breaches from cybercrime may have cost businesses as much as $1 trillion globally in lost intellectual property and expenditures for repairing the damage last year, according to a new study from McAfee.

Make no mistake: the Evil Doers are going after all Internet-connected devices.

It’s a brave new world.

How nice. Someone is trying to send me a free computer. I like free computers.

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

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March 2, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, Apple, computers, cyber crime, gadgets, hackers, Internet, mobile, News, rootkits, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments