Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Latest Gadgets

The Central Florida Computer Society, (http://www.cfcs.org), has an "adult show and tell" otherwise known as the TechSIG (Technical Special Interest Group). At tonight's meeting, I'll discuss my latest gadgets, given an appropriate amount of time, but if not sufficient, I'm also posting on my blog for reference.

OBi200 1-Port VoIP Phone Adapter with Google Voice and Fax Support. This adapter allows me to use my existing Google Voice phone number and have a direct ring through the Obi to my home's wireless phones. I have a base station nearby and 4 extension phones. Coupled with BlueTooth on the base station, I have a full featured telecommunications system, and could even attach a FAX machine should I want to do so. The Obi is available from Amazon at http://amzn.to/2nJs91P

Universal Car Phone Mount, Gear Beast Extended Cup Holder Mount and Cradle. There are many solutions for mounting your smart phone/gps/mp3 player, etc. in a car. Some very expensive. Some semi-permanently mounted and difficult to transfer from one car to another. I came across the Gear Beast holder when searching for a mount for my Corvette and also portable to my Hyundai, and easy to take with me when I fly somewhere and use a rental.  At less than $15 it's a bargain from Amazon at http://amzn.to/2mNrqNH. The base has three extendable tabs that fit just about any cup holder simply by turning the knurled portion of the rounded section above them. The stalk is a goose-neck that is easily adjusted and remains in place over rough roads. The clamp is a press closed against the sides of the phone, and pneumatic when you press the release lever.

Looking to cut the cord on your TV? The IVIEW-3200STB Multimedia Converter Box. Digital to Analog, QAM tuner, with Recording function interfaces between a simple off the air HD antenna and your TV or home theater system. With it's QAM tuner, you'll get all the broadcast channels in the area plus a guide. Plug in any USB flash drive or external hard drive, and it supports digital video recording. Outputs are RF (channel 3 or 4), HDMI to get you up to 1080p video and HD audio, the usual red/white/yellow composit video and audio too. Comes with a nice remote that I'd probably synchronize with a Harmony all-in-one remote to minimize all the controllers that now surround my TV set. Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2o3Aaza

Finally, quite awhile ago I purchased an Acer Ultrabook 13" notebook, back when it was new and unique. A lot of technology has come this way since then with a lot of options for small and fast notebooks. It serves me well to try out the latest operating systems, but I'll have to admit to avoiding Windows 10.  At a previous CFCS Tech-SIG meeting Linux Mint was mentioned as an alternative to Windows, yet keeping the look and feel of the Windows desktop, and being very easy to install and maintain. I chose to install Mint "Cinnamon" , the latest version about 4 months ago. I'm very satisfied with it. I can do just about everything that I can on a Windows computer except for Intuit's Quicken, but TurboTax has shifted to a web-based client as has QuickBooks for the self-employed. I do some genealogy and my Family Tree as a Windows program has transitioned to web-based Ancestry.Com, so that's good for me as well. There is a Linux version of Chrome which I prefer to the version of Firefox that comes with Mint. Along with Chrome, I have the usual Google office-like apps, and Mint also comes with Libre Office the office-like suite. Get your version of Mint (now up to 18.1 Serina) at https://www.linuxmint.com/download.php. You can burn a DVD or make a USB flash drive and run it as a trial off those media. Once you like it, you can install and overwrite Windows, or make a dual boot installation.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Google Photos Tip to Gain More Storage

Did you know that Google Photos gives you unlimited storage for your photos online if you save them in "high quality" compressed format? It's actually a reduced size from the original storage location on your phone, tablet or computer, but ideal for viewing and sharing via email or social media.

Picasa users may have synchronized their computer's photos in full size or reduced size (actually larger than the Google Photos high quality size.) Review the albums in Picasa that you have synchronized to PicasaWeb or Google Photos, and set the size of the photos to "Original Size Images." Then follow the following instructions to change Google Photos storage to high quality.

Open your computer's browser and go to http://photos.googl.com/settings. In the resulting menu, choose "Recover Storage."  Google will convert all your full size images to high quality. The process may take awhile (mine said several hours,) but will free up space that you can use for videos or other files you may wish to store in the cloud on Google Drive.

Here's a link to Google Photos Help on this subject with some additional Q & A: https://support.google.com/photos/answer/6314648?hl=en

Friday, December 30, 2016

All Sorts of New Gadgets Expected at CES 2017

Kicking things off with a little of the absurd expected at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017) next week http://www.pcworld.com/article/3153397/home-tech/the-lg-levitating-portable-speaker-plans-to-go-airborne-at-ces.html

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Alexa is Listening!

Big Brother, or is that Big Sister, is listening and recording if you have an Amazon Echo or one of its siblings. For that matter, so is Apple and Google if you speak to your smart phone's Siri or 'Ok Google.'  Here's a link to a recent blog post where police in Bentonville, Ak have filed search warrants to obtain audio in a murder investigation. http://www.anonews.co/amazon-echo-snooping/

CES 2017 Exhibitors' Guide

Want to see who's going to be exhibiting at CES 2017 this year? This online guide is a great resource to those on the show floor as well as their web site and contact information. Link: http://ces17.mapyourshow.com/7_0/search.cfm

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2017 Consumer Electronics Show Jan 5-8

The world's largest electronics and technology show kicks off in Las Vegas January 5, 2017 running through January 8. It it's tech, it will be there. Go if you're in the industry; it's a must visit event. If you're not in the industry, follow along on the Internet with social media and posts from many tech sites and authors.  Watch this blog post for added links.

Starting with:

Consumer Technology Association: http://www.ces.tech
Twice, electronic and paper publications covering CES: http://www.twice.com/news/ces/ces-2017-sprawls-tech-touches-all/63507
Last Gadget Standing: http://www.lastgadgetstanding.com
c/net: https://www.cnet.com/ces/
PC Worldhttp://www.pcworld.com/search?query=ces+2017&submit=search
PC Perspectiveshttps://www.pcper.com/search/node/ces%202017
Gizmodo: http://www.gizmodo.com
Tech Radarhttp://www.techradar.com/news/ces-dates-news-reviews-and-videos

Fixing Problems with Microsoft Windows Firewall

Many people are still using third party anti-virus and Internet suites that may contain their own firewall. When installed, the programs usually turn Windows Firewall off and use their own firewall to provide protection.  Some people may decide to remove their third party security programs, and/or change to another publisher's program, and desire to restore the Windows Firewall. Sometimes this process will not complete automatically, resulting in security messages from Windows that the Windows Firewall is not on. Should this happen to you, I recommend the Windows help file/diagnostic that may fix your problems: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17613/automatically-diagnose-and-fix-problems-with-windows-firewall

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Amazon Scam Attempts to Get Your Personal Information

A major scam is attempting to get your amazon shopping information
including personal and financial. An email shows up stating that a
recent order cannot be shipped, and asking you to confirm your info.
As with all scams like this, never "click here" when you get one.
Always verify by going to your account directly in your browser and
check on your order status.

Link to current story:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Amazon Voice Devices On Sale Cyber Monday

On sale today, all of the Amazon voice recognition players: Echo, Tap, Dot. I have the Echo in my office and like it as it has a very good speaker. I have just connected a Dot to my home theater system with an adapter cable (mini-phono/headphone plug to RCA plugs...also from Amazon) and now can listen to just about any genre of music whether it's in my library of music or on Amazon's. http://amzn.to/2gBWaew

This is the cable I purchased: http://amzn.to/2gBSFof

Upload Your Music: To play your personal music from iTunes, Google Play, and more on your Alexa device, you can use Amazon Music for PC and Mac to upload your collection to My Music on Amazon from your computer. After you upload your music, you can ask Alexa to play your music and control playback with simple voice commands. You can upload up to 250 songs to My Music for free.

And many subscription services can be linked to "Alexia": http://amzn.to/2gaHVP

Monday, November 21, 2016

Facebook Spreading Malware via Messages

The malware threat using Facebook messenger and messages in the computer Facebook screens is much greater. Be very careful what you click on when friends do send you a message. Typically, Facebook will give you a preview of a link or a graphic, but be aware of where you land as Kim Komando warns in her latest blog posting: http://www.komando.com/happening-now/380916/top-story-watch-out-facebook-spreading-ransomware?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=notd&utm_content=2016-11-21-article-title

Scamming the Scammers

Isagenix: Can You Afford Not To?