Category: Tablets

Tablet VS Chromebook

tablet and chromebook.jpeg

I received this question recently and thought you might be interested too…

Question:  Hi Mardi,  Thank you for always sending these healthy tips for the computer.  My question is what is the difference between a Tablet and a Chrome Book?

Answer:  Tablets are lightweight so they are easy to carry around but they are mainly for “consuming” information.  Any amount of typing with touch screens can be very, very frustrating.  You can get keyboards for them and then they are more like small laptops, but the screens are very small for doing much in the way of work and you have to buy a fairly expensive model in order to get the processor speed of a laptop.

A Chromebook is a laptop computer that does almost everything online so it doesn’t need a hard drive.  That makes it nice and lightweight like a tablet but it comes with a regular full size keyboard attached.  It’s better than a traditional laptop because it doesn’t need maintenance, backups or  antivirus programs.  It’s really trouble free. It’s also much less expensive than traditional laptops.  Good ones are less than $300.  The battery charge lasts a long time too, because it doesn’t have a hard drive with cooling fans.

If you are going to do any amount of work, like spreadsheets, or documents or blogging, you will be happier with a Chromebook than a tablet because of the full size keyboard and larger screen.  You will need to learn how to use Google docs but it’s pretty easy, and they are free.  All your docs will back up to the cloud automatically.  The other Google apps for the Chromebook like the photos app, are great too.  You need a wifi connection for Chromebooks because they work off the internet, but you can download some things and work offline when necessary.

If you only need a small lightweight device for travel to watch movies, youtube videos, check your email and calendar, a tablet will work, but, again, the screens are pretty small.  I think of a tablet as a larger version of a smartphone without the phone.  lol

My clients who have switched to Chromebooks love them because they are so trouble free and easy to use.

Let me know if you have any other questions or if you want me to help you buy one online. (I don’t recommend the HP Chromebook at Best Buy because mine stopped working on wifi after 18 mo.  My daughter’s HP Chromebook is still working fine, though and  been a couple of years.)  I have a Toshiba and I like the ACER that one of my students has.  Let me know what you decide to get.

If you, or people you know, are considering a new computer or mobile device purchase, please contact me for a complimentary consultation which I’m happy to do.  Buying the right equipment is the key to making your techie Life simple, easy and fun.  Let’s schedule a time to discuss the best purchase for your needs and budget….

 

How To Clean Gadget Screens

People often ask about the best way to clean the screens on their computers and mobile gadgets. I’ve tried a lot of things and I’ve found a simple solution to be the best… plain water or eyeglass spray and a regular size microfiber towel.

Be sure to reserve a special towel that is used only for gadgets so it won’t have a bit of sand or grit in it from cleaning something around the house.


Microfiber towel for gadgets only
Get a nice big one and just keep refolding it into little squares until you have used all the clean surfaces. You will be able to do a lot of cleaning before you have to wash it. (Don’t bother with those itty bitty cloths for eyeglasses…they get dirty too fast and get lost in the wash.)
Spray water on cloth only
Be sure you moisten the towel and don’t spray anything directly on the glass because it might seep into the gadget.

A less “green” solution is to use eyeglass spray and a tissue.  Then you don’t have anything to launder.
If you enjoyed this tip, please share it so your friends and relatives can enjoy their gadgets more.  Thanks!

​Do You Use Skype or Face Time?

Why Use Skype?

Skype is an app that lets you connect with people using the video camera on your computer or mobile device.

Face Time does the same thing, but only works with Apple products. Even if you use Face Time, it’s a good idea to know how to use Skype as well. They are both very simple and easy to use and they are truly one of the best benefits of modern technology.

A friend of mine uses Skype to play checkers with her 9 yr. old grandson who lives out of state.

Parents use it to stay in touch with their children when they have to be away on business trips or vacations. They can read the children a bedtime story, watch them get tucked into bed, and throw them a kiss goodnight.

Several clients have had me show them how to use Skype for important job interviews. We practiced calling each other, chose the most flattering camera angle, picked the most attractive background, and discussed what to wear. It is so rewarding to see people gain confidence and be optimistic about getting the job!

Video chat is great for online dating and long-distance relationships too.

Businesses use Skype for video conferencing because they can have multiple people on a video call. They save a lot of money on air travel, hotels and meals.

On an internet enabled big screen TV, it can feel like you’re actually in the room with distant family members. You can even watch each other open Christmas presents!

On mobile phones, you can only use audio for group calls, but on your computer or internet enabled TV you can do video conference calls.

Skype also supports audio calls to traditional phones. Using Skype on your tablet or smartphone, you can call somebody on a regular telephone. This is really handy if you are traveling and don’t have access to phone service but do have access to wifi.

One of my clients who is retired from the Foreign Service, learned how to use Skype so he could stay in touch with his friends all over the world for free.

All of the features of Skype are free, except calling people on regular telephones. However, Skype phone calls are a lot less expensive than traditional long distance calls.

How to Use Skype

Skype is a free download from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store and is already installed with Windows 10 and Window phones. (It’s owned by Microsoft.)

You need to have an account to use Skype. You can set up a free account or, if you already have a Microsoft account, you can just log in with that.

On iPads, iPhones, Android phones, and Android tablets, each version of Skype will look a little different but the functionality is the same. There are just a few minor differences on each device

When you login you will see three screens

  1. RECENT- shows the most list of people most recently talked to
  2. FAVORITES – shows the contacts you have marked as favorites
  3. PEOPLE – is your list of people you can call on Skype. They have to have an account also and they have to agree to be connected with you.

To Add a Contact

Search for the person in the Skype database. There are millions of people in the Skype database and lots of people with the same name…even unusual names. It’s amazing!

Therefore, the quickest and easiest way to find people is to search for their unique Skype name. Email address work sometimes too because there aren’t duplicates of those but it’s really easier to ask your person for their skype name.

When you find them, tap the button that says “add people.” Then tap “send a contact request.”

The person’s name will show up on your contact list but, they will not show up as online and accessible until they have accepted your request.

After they accept your request, you will be able to see their status next to their name, which lets you know when they are online for you to call them.

Note: some people leave the Skype app open all the time to receive calls. Other people text or email each other to set a time and then open the app. It depends on how often they use it.

To make a call

Select a contact and you will see buttons at the bottom of the screen. You can choose to do a video call or an audio call. They both work pretty much the same. Tap on the button for audio or video. The camera starts running right away so you can frame up your shot while you wait for the other person to pick up.

After you start talking, the buttons at the bottom of the screen will fade out of the way, but when you tap on the screen, they’ll pop up again.

You can mute and unmute your audio by hitting the mute button.

You can disable the camera by hitting the camera button if you want to talk and see them without them seeing you.

When you’re done, just hit the red hang up button.

To receive an incoming call

The app will make a sound and you will see a choice of buttons.

If you don’t want to answer a call, you can just hit the red button.

If you want to answer but only want to use audio, then hit the green button in the middle.

To see video and hear audio, hit the camera button.

To hang up, tap on the screen to bring up the controls and hit the red button

You can also use Skype to have a text chat.

On the screen, with a contact’s information, tap on the field that says “type a message”. Type and then hit the Send button. When he responds, you’ll see his response pop up.

Calling regular telephones

This feature is particularly useful when you’re traveling to a place where you won’t have a cellular phone connection, but you will have wifi.

This is called Voice Over IP, or VOIP. Using this feature, you can call a regular phone as long as you can connect to Skype on your mobile device.

This is the one feature that is not free but Skype is much less expensive than traditional long distance rates. To get an idea of the pricing options, check out their website. http://www.skype.com/en/

You can login to your Skype account on the website and add Skype credit to your account.

Or in the app on your mobile device, you can hit the “my account” button (top right), and there’s an option for “Skype credit”. This way, it’s an “in-app” purchase and it will be charged to your iTunes account or Play Store account. It will ask for your password for confirmation. Then hit “Buy”.

To make a call to a regular phone

At the bottom of the screen, there’s a dialer button and you can just dial a regular phone number. Also, there’s a button at the top that links directly to the address book on your device so you can find the person and tap on the number. When you hit the phone button at the bottom, it will dial. When he answers, you will be having a conversation just as if you were using a regular telephone. To hang up, just hit the red button at the bottom

Skype is a great app for video and audio calls because it runs on all mobile devices and computers no matter what platform. Group video calls are not available on mobile devices but video calls to individuals work.

I hope you will try this and enjoy it. If you need help, just let me know.

Please share this with your friends and relatives. Your referrals are the heart of my business and my mission is to help people more fully enjoy the many benefits of modern technology.

Thanks,

Mardi

Crapware

Crapware:

Why manufacturers install it, what you can do about it, and why it’s not going to go away   Based on an article by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes  http://www.zdnet.com/

Crapware, also know as “bloatware” or “junkware,” are apps that hardware companies install onto their devices on top of the operating system (OS).  It’s a bunch of free trials and demos that nag you to buy the full version. Most annoying to me, is when you start using the app, not realizing that it’s a free trial, and then find out that you have to pay in order to continue accessing the work you’ve done.
snailThe worst consequence is that crapware can dramatically slow down system performance or even compromise your system’s security. I frequently see relatively new computers running slow because of the weight of the crapware that has been installed on them. They run great once all the junk is removed. One has to wonder about the number of people who spend hard-earned money on a PC only to end up getting a third-rate experience because of crapware.
Furthermore, many of these dissatisfied PC owners may end up blaming “Microsoft” or “Windows” for the performance issues, when the real problem is that the manufacturing company took money from third-parties to fill their computers with junk.
Microsoft is well-aware of this.  It’s now offering Signature which is free from the clutter that “can slow down your computer and junk up your Start screen or desktop.”  See it here
Screenshot 2015-03-07 at 1.35.12 PMScreenshot 2015-03-07 at 1.36.27 PM

If you ask the hardware makers why they install this stuff, they’ll tell you they are offering you extra value. That’s a lie.  They do it because they make money for doing it. Except for Apple products, computer profits are very thin. Hardware makers are happy to install junk onto new systems in exchange for a few extra dollars.

Photo courtesy of www.kitguru.net
photo.apple_.windows.crapware (1)

 

Eradicating crapware from Windows PCs isn’t easy, and when it comes Android smartphones and tablets it can be almost impossible.  There are tools out there for the PC such as PC Decrapifier and CCleaner that do a reasonable job of cleaning a system, but they’re far from perfect.

 

The purveyors of crapware have become wise to these tools and take deliberate steps to make it difficult. It’s best to call my friends at Desert Cow Computers. www.mydesertcow.com

desert cow computers

Hardware manufacturers operate in a cutthroat business environment and crapware can make the difference between almost no profit and a little profit, especially on budget systems.  Perhaps you will decide to stay away from budget systems now.
Microsoft offers the Signature range of PCs and Google sells Nexus-branded devices, These products are free from crapware. If you’re looking for a pure Windows or Android experience, then this might be worth investigating.  Another option is to switch to Apple or Chromebook.

nexus

If more people complain or vote with their feet by purchasing crapware-free products, perhaps equipment manufacturers will be persuaded to make crapware easier to remove.

 
Thoughts or comments about this topic?  Please comment below.  Thanks!

Good News – Phones Unlocked!

Good News – Phones Unlocked!

The government has agreed to the unlocking of devices in the United States  This means you can now unlock your mobile phone or tablet (iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and tablets) and use it with a different wireless network carrier. All major service providers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S cellular are now allowing the unlocking of devices so you can switch to the carrier service that is best for you.  Previously, if you wanted to change your network provider you had to buy a new phone.

Wireless carriers you can see if you allow images in your email app

The unlocking policy and methods vary according to the network provider. The unlocking process is free if you fit into the rules set by the provider.  Before making your request to unlock the device, check the company policy and make sure you are eligible.

Please forward this to everyone you know so they can be safe and feel relaxed, happy and confident with their computers and techie gadgets.

Thoughts or comments about this topic?
Please comment below.

Thanks!

Great Apps for Computers and

Apps are not just for smartphones and tablets. Many apps are web based and accessed through your web browser. You don’t have to have a smart phone or tablet to use some of the most popular apps.

However, when people buy smartphones or tablets, they often ask me what apps they should know about.  I’m always happy to make suggestions based on antheir lifestyle and interests.

Since you may have received a gadget as a holiday gift, I thought it would be a good time to tell you about a few of my favorites apps and programs. You may already be using some of these but you may discover some new ones to try. Enjoy!

Entertainment and Media:   

NetflixNetflix let’s you watch an unlimited number movies and television shows online for only $8.95 mo. You can train it to make suggestions for you based on the movies you watch and how you rate them.  You can even set up separate profiles for individual family members!  And, there are no commercials!!!

You can connect your gadget to your TV and watch movies on it too.

chromeCast

 

Chromecast from Google $35


roku

Roku Streaming Stick $50

 

appleTvApple TV $99


spotify

 

Spotify let’s you listen to music for free.  It even has playlists by subject or genre. The variety is astounding and there are no commercials!!!

 

YouTube

 

YouTube is a must for doing research on any topic that can be best explained with a video.  Think recipes, repairing things, movie previews, songs, lyrics, instructional videos, and answers to absolutely any question under the sun.

shazam

Shazam listens to songs on the radio, TV or movies. It identifies the song title, shows you the performer, album, lyrics and links you to sites where you can purchase.

 

 

Productivity:

dropboxDropbox is a great app for cloud storage and sharing.  When you put files in there, you can access them from anygadget or computer.  I use the phone app to play audio files of lectures and seminars. It’s super easy to learn and you get 2GB of storage for free.  By referring your friends to Dropbox, you can earn up to 16GB of additional space.  Sign up here

 

office 365

One of the most popular productivity tools for home and business is Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, Office documents don’t always play nice with third-party apps. Now Microsoft has released the Microsoft Office Mobile app.   It lets you open, create and perform basic editing on Word, Excel and PowerPoint files no matter where you are.

 

mintMint.com and its app  (Free, and available for Android and iOS) links to your all your bank accounts, credit card accounts and loans so you always know just how much money you have and how you are spending it. You can set up spending categories and create a budget for each category. I love it for keeping track of my income and expenses for paying my taxes.

 

The weather channelThe Weather Channel app and weather.com show you the current temperature, the hourly forecast and the next 10 days of weather.  Also you get a customizable radar map, video clips, severe weather alerts and beach conditions. It’s better than your gadget’s built-in weather app.

 

 

free wifi finder

You don’t want to burn through your cellular data plan when you are out and about or on a trip, so you need to useWi-Fi whenever possible. You can find free Wi-Fi locations with the Free Wi-Fi Finder app.

 

Dating:

match

 

Match.com app has earned the top spot in dating apps and is my favorite.

 

 

pof-logo

 

POF.com (Plenty of Fish) is very popular here in the desert and is free.

 

google mapsNavigation:

Google Maps is my favorite navigation app.  I especially appreciate that it invites you to submit corrections.  Youget an email thanking you for your help and then a follow up email when the corrections have been made.

uberUber is an app-based transportation network that uses a smartphone application to receive ride requests, and then sends these trip requests to their drivers. Customers love using the app to request rides and to track their reserved vehicle’s location.  Uber’s drivers use their own cars and there is a variety of types of vehicles available, from Town Cars to SUVs and more.  One of my friends is a driver for Uber and just loves it.  It’s a win-win for everybody.

Other Popular Apps

Here are some other popular apps that I don’t find the time to use very often, but you might enjoy.

Save Money  

RetailmenotThe RetailMeNot app helps you find promo codes and coupons for more than 50,000 physical and online stores, including grocery stores. You can save and store coupons for later, and share the savings with your friends through social media.

 

 

Photo EditingSnapseed-icon-medium

Snapseed is the top app for photo-editing and VSCO Cam is gaining ground in popularity.

Social and Sharing

Pinterest

 

Pinterest, WhatsApp and Snapchat are the top apps in messaging and texting.

 

instagram

 

Instagram and Facebook are considered the must-haves for social sharing. The Facebook app got me interestedin using Facebook more often because it is so easy to use.

Sports

watchESPN

 

WatchESPN.com is the most popular app for sports fans.

 

 

 

Fitness

MyFitnessPal is the top fitness app.my fitness pal

 

 

 

 

Do you have any favorite apps to share?

There are thousands of apps and recommendations from friends is the best way to sort through the maze.  Do you have some favorite apps not mentioned here?  Post your comments below so everyone can benefit from your ideas.

FYI for Current Users of Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod

FYI:  For Current Owners of Apple Gadgets:

Ipad And Iphone

The iOS 8 update is available now for users of iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and later, and iPod touch (fifth generation).

You may have to delete some things in order to have enough memory to install the update.  It can take quite a bit of time to look at your apps’ usage and decide what to delete.  (Go to Settings > General > Usage)

I had to dump 2 GB on my iPhone 4s.  I chose to keep my music for my workouts and dump a lot of photos. I also dumped a bunch of apps I wasn’t using very often.  I didn’t care about them anyway so it was a good incentive for me to do some clean up. I will run the update and report back in next week’s Techie Tip.

iPhone VS Android — “The Boys Slug It Out For Another Round”

iPhone Vs Android
“The Boys” Slug It Out For Another Round

Apple and Google went for another round in the competition for market dominance this week as Apple launched it’s larger iPhone 6 models and its iOS 8 operating system for all its gadgets.

iOS 8 has has some very cool new features and I noticed that many of them are features that Android phones have had for a long time.  (I have used both and currently use an iPhone.)  My son, Jason, who is convinced Android is far better than iPhone and hated to see me switch, sent me this hilarious joke about the news.

Reaction to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been lukewarm. Many have accused Apple of playing catch up with rivals such as Samsung, rather than leading the way. An image titled 'Dear iPhone 6 users: Welcome to 2012' has gone viral, (pictured) which lists new Apple features that have existed on Android phones for years

I asked Jason if he thought I should wait to install the update until the bugs are worked out and the app developers have more time to fix their apps to work with it, and he said,

Jason Griswold's profile photo

“Nah, that’s for normal people, we are in tech…we live to have our world turned upside down.”

He’s so funny!  But it’s true.  I love the challenge, the adventure and being able to make your transitions easier by sharing my experience.

Who do you know that…

  • Is trying to decide whether to buy an Android gadget or an Apple gadget
  • Needs help with updating to iOS 8
  • Wants a tutorial on the changes and new features or
  • Wants to learn more about their Android phone

Please let me know so I can help them “make peace with the ups and downs of computer technology.” 

Back Up Your Smart Phone and Tablets

 

Please Check This Now!

Is your smart phone or tablet doing backups?
Did you even know that it’s supposed to?
Do you realize that if your phone or tablet breaks or is stolen, you might lose your photos, music, address book and notes?
Apparently none of the people who sell phones are setting it up or explaining it to their customers because most of the phones I examine are not doing back ups.  This issue has come up so many times in the past two weeks that I decided I’d better give you a heads up.

Please check your gadget’s settings and make sure backups are set up and operating. (It will show you the last date a backup occurred.)
This is especially important if you are going to be traveling on vacation this month!

com.alienmanfc6.wheresmyandroid_banner-450x220

 
Also, it’s important for you to know that there are really neat apps that enable you to locate your gadget if it is lost or stolen.  They even enable you to delete your data and lock the gadget so it will be useless to a thief.  (Even if you don’t get it back, you will have the satisfaction of knowing the thief didn’t get your stuff and couldn’t use it.)

If you have an iPhone or iPad you may have noticed the “Find My Phone” or “Find My iPad” icon and assumed that it would help you in an emergency. It won’t unless it is enabled in settings. I’m amazed how many iPhones and iPads I see that don’t have this feature activated!

screen568x568

A related issue that comes up frequently is people want to know if they can see their phone or tablet photos on their computers.  Yes you can!  It’s just a matter of getting things set up properly.

I hope these Techie Tips will ensure that you are protected and enable you to take advantages of these neat things that technology can do for you.

As always, if you, and your friends and relatives, need help with any of these things, just call me to set up an appointment.

In Joy,

Mardi Boettcher

“Helping you make peace with the ups and downs of technology.”

Pre-purchase Consultation Questions

One of my services is consulting with people to help them choose the best computer or gadget for their individual needs.  So much frustration can be avoided by buying the right product in the first place, and I have already test-driven quite a few of them in order to pave the way for others to have a more pleasant experience.  See my previous posts for the gruesome details.  LOL

Here are the questions I use for my consultations.  Please forward this to your friends and relatives so they will have it when they are considering a computer or gadget purchase.   They will thank you for it.

1. What is your budget?

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

3. What screen resolution do you want?

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low, Medium or High)?

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, etc.)

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer, Blue Ray ROM/Writer, etc ?

12. Please tell me about the brands that you prefer and the brands that you don’t like and explain the reasons.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell me any additional information if needed.

Additionally… you should consider available support options in your area. If you buy something abroad, will you be able to have it fixed near where you live? Does the warranty apply? How quickly do local accredited technicians fix laptops?

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