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. 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 account to sign up for Informed Delivery. You can also use your computer to sign up. Sign up here

More about Apple iOS 13

iOS 13 is coming out in the fall. But it is made for your iPhone. The iPad will be getting its own OS. So what will be different?

There will be “light mode” and “dark mode”. You can time when you want to use dark or light mode as well.

They are updating their “Apple Maps” app in hopes people will start using it. They hope the map is actually fixed. Also they are adding a street view. You can set favorites and collections so easily get to them in a list.

iOS will have more privacy by allowing you to grant access to apps just one time. You can even have the app ask each time so they can’t track you.

Reminders will have more sort features. You can tag people to your reminders so you can easily remember if someone else needs to be contacted.

More integration with health app to your Apple Watch.

You can Find My … device or… friend.

More photo editing options.

Apps should launch faster, and other speed improvements.

Better volume control.

Swipe on the keyboard – type one-handed without taking your finger off keyboard.

More emojis that are customizeable.

You can download the beta now but it is recommended to wait until the final version comes out.

News from Apple

As you may have heard last week, Apple will be discontinuing iTunes. When they release macOS Catalina, they will have three new apps to take the place of iTunes: music, TV, podcasts. No longer will you be able to use all three in one app. You will still be able to access everything you have in iTunes via these apps. iCloud will still sync everything across devices as well.

Apple music will also be able stream music on your Mac through the music app. The TV app will have movies, shows, and premium channels. They also say Apple TV+ is coming soon. You will be able to listen to your podcasts with the podcast app. Since it can sync across your devices, you can start on one device and finish on another.

Other things new that will be coming with the new OS is a rebuilt Reminders app. You will be able to add attachments to reminders. The start page will have an update and will add Siri Suggestions. There will something called Sidecar that allows you to use your iPad as an extended screen. You can work on one and display on the other or mirror the screens. Also with Sidecar, you will able to use the Apple Pencil to work on supported apps. Screen Time is also going to be available on Mac. There will also be enhanced security on the Mac. There are accessibility enhancements such as Voice Control, omm the second display, Hover Text to make some text larger and more readable.

Find out more:

Watch the WWDC 2019 Keynote from Apple:

Car Hacking

The Victor crew has written about car hacking before. It seems to have escalated to apps being used to hack some cars now. Breaking into certain GPS Tracking apps, the hacker claims to have the ability to even stop engines, as reported by MotherBoard.

The apps he has hacked, called iTrack and ProTrack, are two apps where companies can monitor and manage their fleet vehicles. The hacker found that the apps have default password of 123456 when they sign up. The hacker said he was trying to target the companies, not the users.

Both apps are made in China.

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.

iOS 11

The Victor crew just updated their new iPad to iOS 11. Here are some first findings and reactions.

After the initial update, if you had fingerprint access enabled, you will still have to use your signin to get in. You will then need to enter your iCloud password.

You can have the dock hidden but pop it up from the bottom at any time.

You swipe the dock up from the bottom and continue the swipe to show the App Switcher. The App Switcher has a new design as well and shows all open apps in a grid pattern rather than having to scroll through to find open apps. You can still swipe an app in this grid pattern to hard close or reset an app.

The dock has a folder that shows recently opened documents. It also allows you to browse documents. You can add your iCloud, and if you have the apps – Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and any other file managers you may have downloaded within this folder area. Once you enable these drives, you may need to log into them again to access them there. You can also tag files with colors.

The dock has a separator bar. To the right of the bar it shows the recently opened apps and to the left of it, your permanently set apps. If you move an app from the right to the left, it seems to permanently disappear from the home screen.

The App Store has a new design.

Another change is the keyboard. Usually you click on the 123 to access numbers and some symbols. Now you can just pull down on the key that shows the numbers or symbols to access without changing the keyboard.

If you go to settings, you will see you can choose some apps to show up in the control center all the time.

Can you put down your smartphone?

A few weeks ago 60 Minutes aired a segment called Brain Hacking. The Victor crew was surprised by some of the information.

Tristan Harris, a former Google product manager, compares smartphones to slot machines. Every time you pick it up and check on it, you are looking to see “what you get.” The person being interviewed, said that techniques are used to cause people to keep checking their phones and apps.

In another part of the segment, we find Ramsay Brown, a programmer who understands how the brain works and writes code accordingly. Co-founder of Dopamine Labs, tries to write apps based on the pleasure and desire in our brains. They try to find ways to keep people using apps longer or more often. For instance, he says Instagram may hold back some of your “likes” and release them in a sudden burst. They even try to figure out when the best moment to release them is. You don’t pay for social media like Facebook – advertisers do. He says it’s “your eyeballs are what’s being sold there.”

Read more about the segment.

Gmail and Google Calendar App Updates for iOS

Google just revamped the Gmail app for iOS devices today. Why use Gmail app for your Gmail on iOS instead of the native email app? In our opinion, it just works better with Gmail.

Now with its new look, it’s even better. There are quick links to Reply and Forward on the bottom that make it easier to respond. They are calling this the biggest overhaul in four years. This new look makes it more like the Gmail app on Android.

Here are some of the new features:
Undo Send: just like you can on desktop, you can stop the mail mistakes before that mail get sent.
Search Faster: they have sped up instant results and can correct spelling mistakes.
Swipe to archive or delete: In settings, you can choose to have swiped emails either delete or archive into ‘all mail’.

Google has also updated Google Calendar for iOS.
Month view and week in landscape view so you can see your schedule in a glance.
Spotlight search support for Apple’s Spotlight Search.
Alternate calendars – you can add Lunar, Islamic, Hindu calendars alongside your current calendar.


Victor crew

Google phase-out

It seems every time you get used to something, it’s taken away! It has been announced recently that Google is going to phase out support for Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux over the next two years. They say existing apps will remain available and can still be updated. They are looking to simplify the Chrome browser. This includes both packaged and hosted apps.

Late 2016, newly-published Chrome apps will be available on Chrome OS. Existing Chrome apps will still be accessible.

In the second half of 2017, the Chrome Web Store will now longer show Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. They will continue to have extensions and themes.

In early 2018, users will no longer be able to load Chrome apps.

Here are some examples of Chrome apps:

The Victor crew

Sticky Notes

Ever wish you could put sticky notes all over your monitor to remember things? Windows 10 has sticky notes you may or may not know about. You can find them by going to All Apps > Windows Accessories > Sticky Notes or just search for it.

Here are some screen shots to help.

This is how you find it:
Find Sticky Notes

This is how to make a new note from existing one by clicking the + button:
New Sticky Note

By right clicking you can change the color of the sticky note:
Change Sticky Note Color

Just delete the note by clicking the small x on the note.

Sticky notes have actually been around since Windows Vista but few people know or use them it seems. Unfortunately they are just as useful as a real sticky note as they don’t “do” anything but sit there to remind you of something. No little alarm goes off when the time on the note comes.

What’s coming from Google

The Victor crew wants to share some new things coming up from Google.

Google Assistant

Google is unveiling the Google assistant. They say the assistant is two-way conversational. It helps buy movie tickets on the go, will find a restaurant for you to dine before the movie, help navigate to the theater. It is supposed to work seamlessly across devices.

Google Home

Google Home is a voice-activated gadget for your home. You can enjoy entertainment, manage your tasks, answer questions from Google using conversational speech. Just like the assistant, it can play a song, check your flight but also can turn on lights, set an oven timer.

Allo and Duo

Allo is a new messaging app with the Google assistant, so it allows you to interact in your chats. It includes Smart Reply that will suggest responses based on the messages.

Duo is a companion that allows one-to-one video calling.

Learn more here.

iPhone makes it easy to switch from Android

iPhone has some information that makes it easier to switch from Android to iOS. Jody Victor‘s crew found that the Apple site has this guide you can follow.

Although if you are used to Google and Gmail and have used an Android phone, then you know that all you really need to do is log in and all your stuff is there: mail, calendar, contacts. Nothing can be easier. But if you decide to switch to iPhone, they want to make it easier for you.

Apple has apps you put on your Android phone and your new iPhone and it will move your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, and free apps*. Your content transfers over Wi-Fi through a private network created when it finds your Android device. You will need a security code to begin tranferring.

Of course you can do it the sissy way and have the Apple Store do it for you, but don’t you want to get your “geek” on?

*With valid iTunes account.

Installing Windows 10

So one of Jody’s crew decided to make the leap and install Windows 10. So how does it work? It went pretty well upgrading from Windows 7 to 10. It installs just like a regular update … it just takes a bit longer. When it was ready on my computer, it just popped up that it updates were ready from the small app icon on the task bar.

So the big difference is the start menu. It is basically a hybrid between the Windows 7 and Windows 8 look. What you used to call programs are now called apps. As we continue to use Windows 10, we will go over some solutions to make it easier to navigate.

Windows 10

Smartphone Myths

The Victor crew found an article called “7 of the Biggest Smartphone Myths That Just won’t Die.” We were curious to see what they were. They started out by saying smartphones have only been in the mainstream less than a decade (hard to believe!) Over this time, some myths have developed and keep getting repeated over and over. Let’s see what they are:

1. Closing apps will speed up your iPhone. Hmm – we know you can remove them from the task list to “refresh” them but does closing them all the time help? The truth is, they aren’t running in the background, however, they are still in RAM. Apple limits what apps can do in the background, and what’s more, they automatically will close apps not in use if it needs more RAM. By continually closing them, you will actually make them run slower since the RAM has to load all over again.

2. Using a task killer will speed up your Android phone. You shouldn’t have to close an app on Android unless it starts giving you trouble and has issues. The same as above for iPhone, the apps are using RAM with limited background usage.

3. You should drain your battery fully before recharging it. Most people don’t let their phones drain completely but what about “topping it off?” Modern Lithium-ion batteries can be plugged in and charged whenever you want, as much as you want.

4. You should only use the charger that comes with your device. Most devices and smartphones use a USB charger. As long as it can be plugged into a USB port, you should be able to use it. If you use a more powerful charger, your phone will still only pull what it needs. It may even charge faster. Likewise, a less powerful charger will charge slower or maybe not at all.

5. You should buy a screen protector to protect against scratches. This is that thin piece of film they sell you or charge to install for you to “prevent” scratches. Most modern phones are using Gorilla Glass, scratch resistant glass, or similar technology. If you aren’t too rough you should be fine. There are also some things that would scratch a screen protector that won’t harm the glass.

6. More megapixels mean a better camera. This is a myth for any digital device, cameras included. A high number that may look good on a spec sheet doesn’t really translate to better. It’s just squishing more megapixels in the same space. A megapixel is one million pixels. So if you have an 8-megapixel camera, it will have 8 million pixels. The 8 compared to the 16-megapixels will allow more light since they are bigger pixels. Take into consideration the sensor and image-processor as well.

7. Android phones often get viruses and malware. Technically a virus is self-replicating software. Phones do not get them and even if you get infected by malware, it won’t infect other people’s phones. Malware does exist but it tends to come from downloads outside of Google Play. If you download pirated apps, you could very easily be picking up malware. Just don’t add apps from unknown sources.

iOS 9 Preview

With iOS 9 due out later this year, Apple has already been creating a buzz about it. They promise enhancements to some of the built-in apps that come with it.

A new News app will be added to your homescreen to collect all the stories you want to read, based on topics of your interests.

The Notes app will have more features where you can a photo, map, or URL to a note. You can even sketch with your finger. Lists can become checklists.

Maps enhancements will make it easier to plan your trip with restaurant stops along the way. It will have a Transit view to make it easier to plan your route with public transportation. You’ll be able to see what stores are nearby.

Wallet will allow you to use Apple Pay or your store cards. You can add your reward cards as well to your Wallet app.

CarPlay app will allow you to play audio messages as long as your car supports wireless connection to iPhone.

For iPad users there are other enhancements.

You can do a slide over (slide one app over another to do a quick browse), split view (have 2 apps open and active side by side), and picture in picture (Watch a video or use FaceTime while working on another app) for multitasking.

The shortcut bar will allow you to cut, copy, paste easier. It adds keyboard shortcuts and easy text selection as well.

Siri has had some additions as well making it easier to search for items on your device. You can even do math conversion in search.

Based on previous use, you may get recommendations of what apps to use based on the time of day.

Other enhancements: longer battery life, smaller more convenient updates, faster and more responsive, enhanced security with six-digit passcodes or two-factor authentication.

One last item: They have made it easier than ever to migrate from Android to iOS 9. With the introduction of a new app called “Move to iOS”, you can move your contacts, message history, camera phots and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs and books. It can also help you rebuild your app library by suggesting free apps. Your paid apps are added to your wishlist in the App Store.

Windows 10 date announced

We already talked about Windows 10 being free. Well we can get it soon! It will be available July 29.

They’ve brought back the familiar Start menu and claim Windows 10 is faster than ever before. It comes with Windows Defender for free anti-malware protection.

These are some new features the Victor Crew found will come with Windows 10:

You will find it comes with Cortana to learn your preferences and provide recommendations accordingly. If you purchase a new PC you can get Microsoft Edge – a new browser that allows you to share comments on the web easier than before. Office 2016 will be available. Xbox Live integrated with the Xbox App for gamers. New photos, videos, music, maps, people, calendar, and mail apps. Start something on one device and finish on another synced through OneDrive. With Windows Hello, you will be greeted by name with a smile.

For full list of features and descriptions:

Romo the robot

Have you heard of Romo the robot yet? It’s a robot toy that uses your iPhone or iPod (4-5). So what does it do? It will respond to faces, play chase, roam around the house, connect with family and friends. There are guided missions, upgrades to unlock, and unlimited free play where there is a lab to try out activities. Its telepresence let’s you connect with an online Romo anywhere in the world.

It comes in 2 versions – the older pin cable for iPhone/iPod Touch 4 and lightning connector for iPhone/iPod Touch 5. The device costs $129 with free shipping. You will also need the apps available for your iPhone or iPod Touch. Learn more here.

Jody Victor

Let’s have fun with Google Cardboard

Ever hear of Google Cardboard? It’s a simple, inexpensive way to experience virtual reality. You can purchase the “cardboard goggles” as a kit or download the plans and make your own.

You simply fold it up and put your Android smartphone in. There are different apps on the Play Store you can download. Most are free. They range from a musical experience with Paul McCartney to a guided tour of the planets.

Sounds like a cure for cabin fever!

Jody Victor

Apple has a new kind of game

There’s a new section under “Featured” in the Apple Store for you iOS device. It is called PLAY ONCE & PLAY. For the fee the game is offered at, you download the game and never see an in-app purchase. In-app purchases serve to unlock levels, add enhancements, remove advertising, or expand the app’s features. Some games may add lives for example. Some of the games cost a little more than they normally would but you’ll never have to pay to get any further in a game. Imagine if Candy Crush Saga were to offer their game in this model.

This doesn’t mean everyone will follow. An interesting point is if you go to “Top Charts” and then look at “Top Grossing” you will see the top grossing apps – the top 15 top grossing apps are actually free to download. So they are earning quite a bit from in-app purchases.

They break down the PAY ONCE & PLAY area into three sections: Recent Releases, Blockbuster Games, App Store Originals. It will be interesting to see where this model goes and if it catches on.

Ways to stop your teens from texting and driving

There are a couple new gadgets that can be put in the car to prevent people from texting and driving. The Victor crew set out to find out more about it.

Groove. This one was developed by Scott Tibbitts, a former rocket scientist who lost a colleague killed by a distracted 16-year-old driver. Along with Katie Couric, you can watch this video that has Katie installing the device and finding out about it. It installs in the car’s diagnostic port. It connects to the cloud. It detects when there is a single driver to block texts and other notifications while allowing navigation and music streams. When it detects more than one person in the car, it will shut down assuming the family will take care of itself and not allow distractions. It should cost about $30 for the device and $8/month.
Watch the video to find out more.

CellControl. DriverID is a device that blocks all driver cell phone functions. It is a device similar to Groove plus an app that costs $129. You can configure driver only policies. It senses when there is motion to begin protecting. You can configure to allow specific applications to work. It is always on and it claims to be tamper resistant.
Find out more here.

Are you ready for Black Friday or CyberMonday?

Black Friday is this week and CyberMonday is just a week away. Are you ready? What you might find helpful is there are many apps out there. You can get an app for most of your regular stores, such as Kohl’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, Home Depot, and many others. You can find coupons, deals, latest flyers, and a host of other helpful information. Most of them ask for your location so they can show you the deals at the store nearest you, so make sure to have the location services turned on.

Other apps that may be helpful whether you shop brick and mortar stores or online:

RedLaser. This is by eBay. This app shows trending deals. When you click on a product you will get more information but also a list of locations to buy it with their prices. You can look online, locally or find related products. When I clicked on “Deals” it came up with a list of stores and if I clicked on one, it showed deals for that store. Funny thing is, it showed the coupons/deals from RetailMeNot!

RetailMeNot. This app is put out by the website. It has coupons for many categories. It will show in-store and online coupons. You can make an account and save favorites to find them easier. It has many current deals. Would you buy a watch at for $2.99 with $1.99 shipping (retail price $81)?

ShopKick. As I entered this app, it tells me I can “get points just for walking into stores,” I can “redeem points for rewards,” and I can “pick a reward.” A point is a “kick.” You can get points from stores that offer “kicks” – your bluetooth must be turned on and then open the app at the store entrance. You can filter the feed within the app to show particular stores. There are items for each store that you can find and scan to earn kicks. Kind of reminds me of a scavenger hunt.

Jody Victor

So what is a Chromebook?

A member of Jody’s crew recently purchased a Chromebook. Here are some of the things we found out about it.

It runs on ChromeOS and has limited programs preinstalled. It is fairly light-weight. Most Chromebooks come with only 16GB solid state hard drive. That sounds really small but a Chromebook is not made to do heavy-duty computing. It is made for the cloud. You get 100GB cloud space with it for free for 2 years. Most Chromebooks are only 11.6″ wide but we found that HP Chromebook 14 has a 32GB solid-state hard drive with a 14″ screen.

Set up is so easy! When you first turn it on, you choose your language, you connect to your Wi-Fi, and you put in your Google ID. Done!

Since it is made by Google, it has all your Google apps that you have linked up with your Chrome Browser. If you added games, they show up in the apps grid. Not to be confused with Android, you won’t see the apps from your phone showing up on your Chromebook. Some of your browser add-ons will show up as apps.

Since Chromebook runs ChromeOS – a linux based OS, you can also run linux on it. There are two types – one using Crouton – which allows you to go from Chrome to Ubuntu and back using the same file system with the push of a few keys. The other called Chrubuntu which allows for dual-boot OS – meaning you will need to partition the space.

We will be experimenting with this in the coming weeks and keep you updated.

Some tech ideas for Christmas 2013

I thought you might like to consider some of these tablets for Christmas this year:

From Amazon: The Kindle Fire HDX 7″
This is the 3rd generation Kindle Fire. This is the one you see on the TV commercial where the guy pushes the Mayday button and a customer service rep pops up in the corner. The rep can walk you through problems or even take over your tablet. You can download the Amazon Kindle Freetime app that allows parents to control the time limits and apps if you let your children use it. The drawbacks are, you don’t get full access to the Google Play store, you have to download apps from Amazon’s appstore. You won’t find some of the popular apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive. There is only a front-facing camera. $230.

From Google: Google Nexus 7
This runs the newest version of Android, 4.4 Kit Kat. It has a rear and front camera and is preloaded with standard Google apps. $229.

From Samsung: Galaxy Tab 3 7″ Kids
This tablet was designed specifically for kids. It comes in fun colors with a rubber case to protect it. I thas big buttons, limited access to settings, and kid-type apps preloaded. It has front and back cameras. $190.

From Apple: iPad Air
This is the latest iPad (5th generation). It is thinner and lighter, faster with better video. There are a few versions – based on size (16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB) and connectivity (Wi-fi or Wi-fi and LTE). Prices start at $499.

From Apple: iPad Mini with Retina Display
Very similar to the iPad Air in a smaller package. Starts at $399.

~ Jody Victor

What does “Cloud” mean in computing?

Jody Victor®: Cloud computing to put it simply is having a repository for your data that you can access through all your devices, anytime, anywhere. Instead of saving to your computer, you save to a “cloud server”. There are many companies out there offering specialized clouds. They usually consist of a group of computers so there is load balancing of all the data.

There are clouds where you can store your music but they are tied to certain players and apps. Amazon and Apple iTunes are examples of these. There are also cloud players such as Pandora or Songza where you can play whatever genre music you want without actually owning it. You can play these through their website on your computer and/or download their app for your mobile device.

File cloud servers are places you can store all your documents and access through any of your devices anytime. You can search the internet for these – there are so many to choose from at different price points depending on the size you need.