Google Lens

Google Lens seems to be a item to have. It is available through other Google apps, such as Google Assistant, Google Photos, some camera apps, Android devices, in Google Photos on iOS and in the Google app on iOS. The apps it is on will show it as four rounded corners with a dot in the middle. So let’s see exactly what it does.

Say you are out taking a walk and see a plant you and you dont know what it is. If you take a picture of it, it will find it and bring up web results so you can see it. Same with animals. On iOS, if I open the Google app, click on the lens icon in the search bar, I can see it has accessed my camera (I had given previous permissions) and some dots appear. If I click on one of the dots, it will find the item I have clicked on.

If you hover over text that is in another language, you can touch the Google Translate button and it will translate to English for you.

https://lens.google.com/https://lens.google.com/

Stuck at Home With Some Bored Kids?

Here is something they can try for free. Microsoft is offering free tutorials and also streaming live tutorials daily on their MakeCode site. There are several to choose from for learning computing.

Current offerings:
micro:bit
Circuit Playground Express
Minecraft
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3
Cue
Arcate
Chibi Chip

For Windows 10 computer owners, they also have apps for micro:bit, Adafruit, and Cue by Wonder Workshop.

For some of the courses you may need some peripheral products. The micro:bit computer can run about $20. The circuit for Adafruit Circuit Playground Express runs about $25.

Find out more: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/makecode
Adafruit Circuit: https://www.adafruit.com/product/3333
micro:bit computer: https://store.birdbraintechnologies.com/collections/featured-items/products/micro-bit

Zoom vs Skype vs Webex

We need to follow our government orders and stay at home. Many of us are fortunate enough be able to work from home, some already having been working remotely. Some of us already have some favorite tools to use. I only need a chat program but a lot of them have gone by the wayside: AIM, Googletalk, Yahoo messenger, Windows Live messenger, to name a few. ICQ is still around but who can stand “UH OH” every time a message comes in? Some messengers come with many more tools such as Slack.

Some groups or workforces need to have meetings where everyone can be in on the call. With the Covid-19 pandemic people are looking for ways to meet. Most people these days are using Zoom. ZDNet saw the trend of people using Zoom and did an informal survey to find out why people were Zooming and not Skyping.

Here is what they found out:

It seems that Zoom is easier to use, especially for non-technical people.

Next, they found people found Skype buggy, especially the apps.

Third issue was spam. Unless you have your settings locked down, you will be contacted by a lot of people you don’t know, or people trying to sell or get you to do something.

Webex, by Cisco, is a little trickier for some to use. They recently enhanced their free tier to allow up to 100 participants in each meeting instead of 50; they have allowed the meetings to be as long as you want up from 40 minute limit.

Some organizations that have regular meetings, like Bible studies or other meetings have had to find alternate ways to meet. Personally, we have tried Skype but as mentioned above, there were too many issues. We have moved to Webex ourselves.

I have not personally used Zoom but have signed up on their site and it does look very easy to use for small meetings. Zoom has up to 100 participants in a meeting, 40 minute limits but unlimited number of meetings. There are plans that cost money for each of the video conferencing software programs with added features like cloud storage, recording transcriptions, numbers of users, ways to connect, for example.

Charges are usually per host. So if you have one lead person hosting each meeting, that will be the only charge. Webex charges go from $13.50/month to $26.95/month. Zoom paid plans start at $14.99/month to $19.99/month/host minimum 10 hosts or 50 hosts for the business plan. Skype is free up to 50 people for video calls.

ZDNET article

Searching a Web Page on iPhone or iPad

Ever been on a page that was just too long to read? Maybe you wanted to see if the page you are on actually has the information you are looking for. There is a way to search a web page. The way to find something on a web page varies by browser. For most searches on a desktop or laptop, you simply need to use CTRL+F or Command+F for MAC. But how do you search a page for a term on an iPhone or iPad?

For all the examples below, I am using this link: https://www.britannica.com/topic/list-of-state-capitals-in-the-United-States-2119210

For Safari, the default browser:
Once you are on a webpage that you might want to search, you can put a word in the search bar and you will get the option that says “On This Page” and will tell you how many matches. So I went to the above link and typed “florida” in the address bar. This is what I got:

Safari Search Safarai Search

 

For Chrome:
Once you are at the page, you will see 3 dots on bottom right. If you click on that you will get an option to “Find in page…” – If you click that, you will get a search box and can put what you want to search there.

Chrome Search Chrome Search

 

For Firefox:
Firefox is similar to Chrome except you will find the 3 dots on the top right.

Firefox Search Firefox Search

Keeping Track of Deliveries

These days, there’s an app for almost anything related to deliveries. You can get apps for Fedex, UPS, the Post Office (USPS). If you order online a lot, you can also track through the store app you ordered the item from.

Amazon.com will even send a notification when the item is x stops away. You can track it and be ready for it when it arrives. You can also follow on the other delivery company apps as well.

The USPS app is great and different. You can sign up for Informed Delivery® by USPS® and you will get notifications/emails with images of the mail you should receive that day. They actually take pictures of each of your items! You can use your USPS.com account to sign up for Informed Delivery. You can also use your computer to sign up. Sign up here

Car doesn’t have Bluetooth?

If you car is older, you might try to add Bluetooth through an adapter. There are several out there you can look at to see what will work for you. Some require an AUX input and/or USB port. Some even come with USB ports if you don’t have them.

But why add Bluetooth to an older car? You might want to stream music. You may even want to use it for hands-free phone calls. There are a few available that will allow you to stream through your car stereo speakers or you can get a Bluetooth speaker that will cost a bit more.

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/ways-to-add-bluetooth-to-an-old-car/

Noise-Canceling Headphones

How do noise-canceling headphones work? How did they come about. In the 1970s, Dr. Amar Bose was on a flight and was frustrated with the noise he was hearing and worked on making a way to cancel out the noise. Several years and millions of dollars later, he was able to create noise-canceling headphones.

Sometimes noise will leak through because they works better where there is consistent noise, like on an airplane, subway, or train.

Find out more in this video from TechInsider:

Trying out DuckDuckGo.com

Did you know there are other search engines besides Google? It seems with Google being all over the place, we forget that there are others. There are others we may have forgotten or didn’t even know such as bing.com, yahoo.com, dogpile.com, yippy.com, webopedia.com (focusing on technical terms), ask.com (may have previously been known as askjeeves.com), wolframalpha.com (computational intelligence), to name a few.

We are currently trying out DuckDuckGo.com. I’ve switched over to using it for a couple weeks now. The one lure is they are “… setting the new standard of trust online, empowering people to take control of their information.” They say your searches are always private. So what does that matter? DuckDuckGo

Have you ever searched for something just out of curiosity and then received all sorts of spammy email all about that subject? Just look at your spam mailbox and you may see many spam emails about your search phrase. This would happen especially when you aren’t using private browsing mode in your browser. And it’s not just emails. You will start to see what you searched for on websites and in apps as well.

DuckDuckGo has been around since 2008. You can even download their browser with privacy from your app store.

Google tricks and “Easter Eggs”

Once upon a time back in the beginning of HTML and website coding, there was blinking code and marquee code and a lot of other things that have gone by the wayside and become obsolete.

At one time you would just put around the code you wanted to show blinking and blink away it would.

There is a little “easter egg” in google search that can bring a little bit of it back in the search results. Just type in “blink html” in the search box and you will see all result words “html” and “blink” actually blinking.

We were curious of what other “easter eggs” we could find. One said to type “askew” in the search box. We found a link to https://elgoog.im/tilt/ which showed a tilted google page. When we entered a search term, it showed a mirror image of google results with it going from right to left.

Another said to type in “recursion” and the only thing we found is “Did you mean: recursion” which I guess in itself is a recursion. If you type “anagram” it will say “Did you mean nag a ram”.

This link shows the Google page backwards: https://elgoog.im/
This one does a barrel roll: https://elgoog.im/doabarrelroll/
This is a zerg rush that shows little circles erasing the page and then shaping two G’s. You are supposed to click on the little circles before it destroys the whole page. https://elgoog.im/zergrush/
Zip apart the Google page: https://elgoog.im/zipper/

Where do you learn how to?

Be it tying a tie, making a turkey, or learning a knitting technique, there are are many places to learn things. Many people go to YouTube to learn things while they do them like a new recipe or that tie or knitting technique. Even if you do a general web search, you are bound to find some videos showing you how to “do” it. According to Pew Research Center, about half of the people that go to YouTube do so to learn how to do something.

With Thanksgiving Day arriving this week, the top search showing as you type would be “how to cook a turkey”. There are many variations of like “how to brine a turkey” for example.

Google Search

There are other places to learn things like wikiHow. You just put in your search and it will show you some choices. Instead of videos you may find nice large pictorial steps telling you what to do for each step. On this site you can even ask questions.

If you have questions related to technology, there’s always How-To Geek website. From choosing a device to setting it up, they have suggestions for you.

Wi-Fi

We recently upgraded our Wi-Fi through our provider. What was new was we noticed two different bands to choose from. One was just a regular band (at 2.4 GHz) and a new one showing as 5 GHz. So what is the difference? Let’s find out.

Coming right to my mailbox, I received a newsletter and there was an article referenced to it. So let’s go over it.

First we learn that 2.4 GHz will support up to 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps dependent on router class. That comes with the standards you may see on router boxes as 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.11ac. Not sure what mine was since it’s not printed on the box itself, I found the manual for it online and found it has all the above! So let’s chase this rabbit and find out what the difference between these classes are.

802.11b was better than the original 802.11 standard in July 1999. It brought the speed up to 11 Mbps. 802.11g, brought about in 2002, is supported by all devices and network equipment and supports up to 54 Mbps bandwidth. It is the least expensive to buy and run. 802.11n came about in 2009 and gives up to 800 Mbps bandwidth, an improvement over 802.11g but a little more expensive than 802.11g. 802.11ac has the fastest maximum speed and best range but more expensive. It uses dual-band wireless – thus the 2.4 and 5 GHz we can now see. Its bandwidth is 1300 Mbps on 5 GHz and up to 450 Mbps on 2.4. This is also called Wi-Fi 5. There are a few other 802.11 standards. 802.11ad is fast but the device must be within 11 feet. 802.11ah is a lower energy but goes beyond the reaches of 802.11ac.

So now I’ve learned that I am seeing two bands because of the 802.11ac standard. The 2.4 GHz band happens to be used by other things as well. Old cordless telephones as well as garage door openers and baby monitors for instance. The 5 GHz band has fewer connections and higher speeds, however the shorter waves makes it harder to penetrate walls. You may need to use extenders for this band. If your device can use ethernet, then that will be the best connection you can have. The 5 GHz band is best used for streaming where you would experience less interference.

802.11 Standards Explained
Difference Between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

Get Ready for Windows 10 October 2018 Update

In October, Microsoft will be rolling out a major Fall update. With the update rolling out in the next few weeks, you may need to do some preparing for the update. According to some rumors from some different places, it will require anywhere from 10 to 20GB free space. If you do not have enough space, the update will fail.

In case you didn’t know, it will be easy to rid your machine of unnecessary files if you previously received the April 2018 update. Here is what you do: Go to Settings >> System >> Storage. Under Storage Sense, you can click the link that says “Free up space now”. Once you click it you will see a list of files you can clean up such as Windows upgrade log files, Windows update cleanup, thumbnails, temporary files, temporary internet files, your recycle bin, and a few others.

Tech Mystery Box

$250 for $1,932 worth of tech! So the Victor crew came across this YouTube video of someone opening up 2 boxes filled with tech returns to Amazon. It shows him unboxing 2 big boxes of tech products from Bluetooth speakers, earbuds, headphones, car speakers, and a lot of other miscellaneous products. Some of the items were clearly used and ready for the trash but some could be resold on eBay or Craig’s list. Some items were worth more than the $250 he spent on it.

So we were wondering how to purchase something like this. It turns out there are liquidators that get these types of items and sell them to people that go back and resell them again (even on Amazon). (See links below for more info.)

https://www.directliquidation.com/liquidation-102/buy-amazon-customer-returns-pallets-online/
https://www.directliquidation.com/liquidation-102/buy-resell-amazon-customer-return-pallets-electronics/

Keyboard fixes for MacBook and MacBook Pro

A few weeks ago, Apple announced it is finally offering to repair MacBook keyboards … for free. The problems they say they will cover are:
when letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
when letters or characters don’t appear
or when keys feel sticky and do not respond consistently

After examining the keyboard, the service type will be determined and they may replace a key, keys, or the entire keyboard.

Eligible models are MacBook 12-inch 2015, 2016, and 2017; MacBook Pro 13-inch 2016, 2017 with two Thunderbolt 3 ports; MacBook Pro 13-inch 2016, 2017 with four Thunderbolt 3 ports; MacBook Pro 15-inch 2016, 2017. No other MacBooks are part of this service program.

If you have this problem, you can find an Apple Authorized Service Provider, make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store, or mail your device to the Apple Repair Center. Be sure to back up all your data before you take any of these steps.

If you have previously paid to have this problem fixed and want a refund, you can contact Apple for a refund.

Here is a funny video about the problem:

The New Gmail

Gmail rolled out the new Gmail recently. We thought we’d give it a try. It didn’t really look any different once we set it up. Until we wanted to check in our contacts. We no longer could just click on the name Gmail on the top left to get to our contacts. This meant a Google search to try to find it.

Here is where it is – on the top right is the app grid. Find contacts in there. You may need to move it up to the top so you can access them quickly. If Contacts icon doesn’t show, click More at the bottom of the first page and you should see it on the second. You can simply grab it and move it to the top.

The first image shows the grid without the Contacts app. The second image shows it on the second page under More. The third shows the Contacts app on the top right.

Gmail App Grid Gmail App Grid Gmail App Grid

Another difference we found is that Labs was missing. Labs were experimental addons you could enable to try different things.

Does Windows 10 really shut down?

Windows 10 uses something called fast startup mode. By default, this is enabled and it does just that – allows you start up faster. What you are really doing instead of shutting down is hibernating. It caches everything so it will all load faster when you “turn it back on.”

To control what happens you can go to Control Panel > Power Options > and click “Choose what the power button do” and you can change what you want to do. If you are on a laptop, you can choose what happens when you close the lid as well.

If you really want to shut down, you will have to do a restart. This makes the old “if you have problems, reboot” really mean it.

If you are feeling adventuresome, you can create your own power plan as well.

Windows Defender Browser Protection

There is an extension for the Chrome browser called Windows Defender Browser Protection. It extends your Defender protection to include your browser. It will keep you from accidentally clicking to phishing site. You can also turn the protection on or off. If you click to a link from an email it will help by reporting to you that the website is unsafe.

After you install it on your browser, you will see a small defender icon on the top of your browser. You can click it and then you will see the dropdown (shown below). You can turn on or off temporarily.

Windows Defender Chrome Addon

Get the extension for Chrome here.

Learn more about how it works from Microsoft.

Duolingo

Duolingo is a way to learn another language online…for free. You can do it through your browser or their app. They have Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese (Beta), Dutch, Swedish, Irish, Turkish, Norwegian, Danish (we like cheese, please), Polish, Korean (Beta), Hebrew, Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese, Esperanto, Welsh, Ukrainian, Hungarian (Beta), Romanian, Swahili, High Valyrian (really?), Czech (Beta), Klingon (Beta). Indonesian, Hindi, and Arabic are also in the works and coming soon. These are listed in order of how many people are currently learning these languages. Spanish has the most with 120 million people learning.

Wait! Klingon? Yes they have Klingon in Beta with 40.6K learners already. All these languages are currently on the website but not all are available through their apps yet.

The languages offer different rates of learning. They start at Casual for 5 mins per day, then Regular is 10 mins per day, Serious level is 15 mins per day and Insane is 20 mins per day. They will gear the lessons to your time level. You will need to make a sign-in to keep your place. You can create a separate login or use Facebook or Google account login.

Tired of Ads?

Some sites make their money with ads. But lets face it, sometimes they get to be too much and intrusive. With Chrome tightening rules on ads, there are still sites with ads if you use Safari on your iOS device. The Victor crew has a few solutions for you.

Try using a different browser. Especially if there’s a site that has ads that tend to redirect you. Browsers we have tried and had good results with are:

Adblock Browser:
Made by the people who make AdBlocker extensions.
AdBlock Browser in App Store
AdBlock Browser for Android

Brave Browser:
Made with built-in AdBlocker, tracking and security protection
Brave Browser in App Store
Brave Browser in Google Play Store

Try using Adblock extension for Safari:
Simply install and then go to settings >> Safari >> Content blockers >> turn on AdBlocker extension.
AdBlock extension for Safari on iOS

Other things you can do – turn off javascript from Safari:
Settings >> Safari >> Advanced. Turn off JavaScript.
We’ve used this to keep ads from redirecting to other sites.

App Updates Stuck?

So the Victor crew had an interesting problem. The update in the App Store on one of the apps got stuck. It kept spinning and spinning. For days. Tried closing the app in the app manager. Tried closing the App Store app in the app manager. Opened up the app store again. Still spinning.

Of course we “Googled” the problem to see if anyone else had this problem. Some suggestions were to stop the automatic updates in the settings but that didn’t help. Some were to delete the app and redownload or remove the app data. We chose a different way. We rebooted the iPad. That did the trick. So the age-old fix for just about anything is reboot it.

Encrypted Text Messaging

Recently a family member told me about an encrypted messaging app called Signal. It not only encrypts your text messages but also conversations. There are a few nice things about it: it is free, it is open source, and it works on both iPhone and Android phones. You can also send documents and images.

There is also a desktop app for your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge has come a long way. The Victor crew tried something out this past week and it works like a charm. You can connect your phone to your PC through Edge. The practical side is if you are looking at something on your phone (small device) and want to view something larger, you can send the page you are viewing on your phone to your PC. And yes, iPhone users, that means you too!

Install Edge on your mobile device (works with iPad as well). Sign in with your Microsoft password.

Scroll to a site and at the bottom you will see some icons.

Browse on Edge Browser

The middle icon (mobile device with arrow) is what you touch to send to your PC.

Next when you see the screen below, you would choose which PC to send it to. I only had one connected PC as shown below (name partially obscured.) Press the PC you want to send the page to.

Send to PC

You are done.

Sent from iPhone to PC

New on iPhone iOS 11

Here are a few new things the Victor crew found in iOS 11 for use in emergencies.

You can add Medical ID for emergency contact. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab. Edit then scroll to Emergency Contacts. Press the + and it will take you to your contacts. On this page, you can also add medical conditions, notes, allergies, and medications as well.

There is Emergency SOS where you can call for help quickly. The Emergency SOS slider and Medial ID slider you can bring up to quickly contact emergency services. For iPhone 7, you will need to press the side button five times to get the sliders to show. For iPhone 8 or X, you would press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons. After the call ends, the iPhone sends your emergency contacts a text message with your current location unless you cancel. If you have your location services turned off, they will turn back on temporarily.

Find out more here.

Password security

We’ve talked about passwords before and yet it is such an important thing because of all the breaches we see. Some people say they don’t have anything that important so it doesn’t matter or they say they need to use the same password for everything.
This is a totally bad practice and attitude to have about this. Think about all your accounts where you have purchased items, or your banking or credit card accounts. Do you really want to use the same password for everything? Once they breach one account, say your email, they can look through that to find what other accounts you are subscribed to and have a field day. This is even how identities are stolen.

Here are some things you can do:
Go to HaveIBeenPwned.com and check your email for pwnage.
Also click on their password tab and check to see if your passwords are on any common lists.
Use a password manager like LastPass.
Use 2 step verification. Use an authenticator, too.

Once you download LastPass, set it up with a hard to hack easy to remember password (the first video below gives some suggestions on how to find one.) You can then import all the passwords saved to your browsers. Once you have LastPass you can also run a kind of audit check for recommendations on which passwords to change – it will show you duplicates or not so secure passwords you already have.

Whaling Attacks

We recently came across the term “whaling” so of course, we needed to know more about it. Here is what the Victor crew found out. It is a form of phishing aimed at high-profile business executives, managers, CEOs, etc. They are going after the “big fish.” The emails sent to them are more official looking and target a particular person. A regular phishing attack usually goes out to a lot of people trying to lure anyone. Whaling is also considered “spear phishing” where it is an attempt to target an individual person or company.

As with phishing, whaling is used to get a person to reveal sensitive information, such as login credentials, to an account. They do this by trying to scare the individual into giving this information up.

Whaling goes so far as to make a web page or email that looks like the legitimate one. You may even be enticed into downloading a program in order to view a page or to get your information. It may come in the form of a false subpoena, message from the FBI, or some kind of legal complaint against you.

Be aware of what you are clicking. If you can, hover over the link and see where it is taking you. Try putting the URL in an analyzer, such as VirusTotal or TrendMicro to see if it is safe. If in doubt, don’t click or download anything you are unsure of.