Do you need that app

If you have a newer Android phone, you may find that an app you used before is now baked right into Androids OS so you don’t need it anymore.  Here is a list of some common apps that you should delete right now!

  1. Flashlight app – These apps are very common and many of them have very invasive permissions to your phone.  In addition to this, almost every phone purchased in the last two years already has a flashlight available as a standard feature.
  2. File Browser –  In the past this was a needed feature, but has now become integrated into most new phones.
  3. Anti-Virus – Unless you are downloading apps and side loading (If you do not know what side loading is then odds are you are not doing it) then you do not need an antivirus.  Google makes it a top priority to keep malicious apps out of the play store.
  4. Cleaner Apps – These apps are very common but provide very little benefit.  They often come with annoying ads in the lock screen and constant reminders to scan your device.  If you feel that you need such an app the only one I have found that is not invasive and annoying is ccleaner.
  5. Any other app you have not used in the last few months.  If you are not using it and you have no intention to use it, remove it! Your phone will thank you.

Apps can make your phone great! They can add functionality and fun. However, when an app becomes redundant or invasive, it needs to be removed.  Every app uses system resources. You may just find that the 5 minuets you will spend removing bad or unused apps will make your phone run longer and faster.  As always please feel free to respectfully disagree or add anything that I may have missed in the comments or via the contact page.

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Don’t pay for home phone service…

I’ve been using Google Voice for my home and business phone service since 2011. With this app, you can use a cell phone that is designated exclusively for this purpose, or add a google voice number as a second line to an existing, in service cell phone, like me wife does on her Nexus 6p for her business. I have found that outside of the tech world not many people know about this option, but everyone I tell about it wants to give it a try. If you’re needing a phone line to be used exclusively in a place where you have WiFi, give it a try.

Let google be your free home phone service! I will be using a Nexus 5 for my home phone.

screenshot-2017-02-21-at-10-24-37-am

  1. go to voice.google.com, sign in to your gmail account and select a phone number.  I created a new email account for the family, so that my personal email account was not available for anyone to use.screenshot-2017-02-21-at-10-24-53-am
  2. Use an Android phone you have lying around or if you don’t have a new enough one available, an inexpensive one will do.
  3. Start fresh – wipe and reinstall the operating system.wp-1487701140346.png
  4. Log in to your gmail account.wp-1487701145053.png
  5. Download the google voice app from the app store.  Make sure it is the official Google app and not one of the many third party ones.wp-1487701135257.png
  6. Make sure all apps are up to date via the play storewp-1487701116955.png
  7. Open the app and sign in.
  8. Enter the cell phone number linked to the account.wp-1487701113197.png
  9. Set google voice to use for all calls.wp-1487701108219.png
  10. Get the hangouts dialer – This is necessary to make calls via google voice.wp-1487701130115.png
  11. Open hangouts and make your first call or text.wp-1487701210597.jpg
  12. For now, hangouts is the best way to interface with google voice but google has been updating the google voice app and may at some point replace hangouts for calls.
  13. Get a durable case – because kids drop stuff.

Basics – Setting up a printer on a chromebook

Over the past few years, it has been getting easier and easier to set up a printer on your Chromebook.

Quick Set-up instructions

  1. Click on the user icon at the bottom right of your screenscreenshot-2017-02-16-at-9-19-58-pm
  2. Click “Settings”, scroll down and click “Show advanced settings”
  3. Scroll until you see the setting for “Google Cloud Print”screenshot-2017-02-17-at-4-52-43-pm
  4. Choose your printer from the listscreenshot-2017-02-17-at-4-53-18-pm

Here are some google videos that walk you through setting up a traditional printer and a cloud printer.

Cloud printing can be very handy if you are printing things on the go.  It gives you the ability to send files from anywhere right to your home printer.

 

If for some reason your printer is not supported by Google Cloud Print, I found an alternate wifi chrome app that sets up a local IP based printing service.

  1. Open the Chrome Store
  2. Search for HP Print (or click the link)
  3. Download and openscreenshot-2017-02-17-at-4-53-48-pm
  4. Go to your printer and print off its’ set up page.  On this page you will see the printer’s IP address.
  5. Once you have this, click “add printer,” enter the IP address and give it a name.screenshot-2017-02-17-at-4-54-08-pm

 

Basics – Chomebook – Making the most of your touchpad

Move the pointer Move your finger across the touchpad.
Click Press or tap the lower half of the touchpad.
Right-click Press or tap the touchpad with two fingers. You can also press Alt, then click with one finger.
Scroll Place two fingers on the touchpad and move them up and down to scroll vertically, or left and right to scroll horizontally.
Move between pages To go back to a page you were just on, swipe left with two fingers. To go forward to a page you were just on, swipe right with two fingers.
See all open windows Swipe up or down with three fingers. (If you have Australian scrolling turned on, swipe up; if you have traditional scrolling turned on, swipe down.)
Switch between tabs If you have multiple browser tabs open, you can swipe left and right with three fingers to quickly move between tabs.
Drag and drop Click and hold the item you want to move. While holding, move the item. Release your finger to drop the item at its new location.

Change touchpad settings

To set how fast or slow your mouse pointer moves and how your touchpad works:

  1. Click the status area , which is the bottom right corner.
  2. Click Settings Settings.screenshot-2017-02-16-at-9-19-58-pm
  3. In the “Device” section, adjust the sliders to set your touchpad or mouse speed (how quickly your pointer moves).screenshot-2017-02-16-at-9-18-01-pm
  4. Click Touchpad settings (or Touchpad and mouse settings) to:
    • Turn tap-to-click on or off
    • Swap your primary mouse button
    • Choose traditional scrolling or Australian scrolling
      Note: With traditional scrolling, you can swipe up on the touchpad to move up the page, and swipe down to move down. Australian scrolling works in the opposite way.screenshot-2017-02-16-at-9-18-17-pm
  5. Click OK to confirm the desired setting

source – google

Better Gaming in Windows 10 coming soon – Merging Xbox and PC

windows-gaming-update

Microsoft is currently preparing for a massive update.  This will be included in what Microsoft is calling the Creators Update.  This was announced last year and has been getting updates via the insider channel for developers and tech enthusiasts.

The gaming part of the update will allow game developers to take better advantage of the system resources of the computer by minimizing the other parts of the system when a game is running.  This is similar to how the Xbox uses it resources.  If you haven’t noticed, the Xbox has about the same performance as a PC using a 3 year old AMD APU.  The reason games run smoother on less powerful hardware is the ability for the system to allocate a greater percentage of processing power to the game.  Microsoft is looking to harness more fully the power of the processor and graphics cards.

Another feature that Microsoft is touting is called Beam. Microsoft would like to be the default way for users to stream their gameplay to their friends.  Beam connects to an Xbox Live account and uses that back end to connect users to their entire xbox friends list, with the ability to instantly share gameplay with them.

They are also looking to integrate other Xbox features in to windows.  The additions to windows will help to blur the lines between Xbox gaming and windows gaming, which up until this point have been completely separate from each other.

source – xbox blog

Quick Look – Do not disturb

Have you ever turned your phone on silent and forgotten to turn it back on? Did your girlfriend call you ten times then rush over to make sure you weren’t dead?   This can be solved by using “do not disturb” mode.

Just swipe down from the top to reveal your quick settings and click on the button that looks like a circle with a line through it (it also says do not disturb under it).

screenshot_20170212-152152

Then, set the timer for how long  you would like your phone to be silent.

screenshot_20170212-152203

Once the time is up your phone will automatically go back to regular volume.

You can also set automatic rules, for times when you all ways want the phone not to disturb you. Just click on the “more settings” link at the bottom of the screen. It’s very simple to set up and comes in handy daily.

 

2017

5 Things I Want – Chromebooks

Chrome OS has evolved over the last few years.  (See this article about the evolution of Chrome OS).  It has gone from being essentially just a web browser to a full featured OS, ready to take on Mac and Windows – Almost.  Here are 5 things I would like to see on my next Chrome OS device.

  1. Let me access the Desktop.  There is a desktop on Chrome OS. It is there and shows me a nice background image, but it is essentially useless.  For most users that is where we put our most used files and programs.
  2. Give me space.  I’m not taking about cloud storage, although that’s nice to have. As more functionality is introduced into these machines, 32 GB is not even close to being enough for internal storage.  I’m hoping the next Chromebook Pixel starts at least at 128 GB.
  3. More apps beyond just the basics. I know that Android apps on chrome is not even here yet but that is only the first step.  Encourage application developers to make robust apps.  I’m looking at you Adobe!
  4.  Installable OS.  This could go along way to expanding the base.  Allowing users and amateur system builders to build customized machines and convert old machines over to Chrome OS would expand what is possible with the platform more quickly that just OEMs rehashing the same machines.
  5. Give me Steam.  This point goes well with my previous few.  Google, please give Gabe a call. He has already started to lay the ground work for games in Linux. Chrome OS is Linux based. It would be easy.

Right now Chrome OS can do about 80% of the things I want to do on my computer, and it does that 80% flawlessly, but with just a few steps further it could be at or near 100%

Basics – Chrome OS – Useful Shortcuts

chromebook-pixel

Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts

Top Row Keys – (From left to right)

Escape key

Back key – Goes back to previous page

Forward Key – Goes forward one page

Refresh Key – Refreshes the page

Immersive Mode – Makes the active window full screen

Window Switcher – Quickly switch between windows

Decrease Brightness – Decreases the screens brightness

Increase Brightness – Increases the screens brightness

Decrease Volume – Decreases the speaker volume

Increase Volume – Increases the speaker volume

Power – Just your average power button

 

Alt + E – Quick access to the Chrome browser menu

Ctrl + Shift + L – Lock your Chromebook

Ctrl + Shift + Q – Log out of your Chromebook

 

Split Screen

Alt + [ – Active program will dock to the left side of your screen

Alt + ]  – Active program will dock to the right side of your screen

screenshot-2017-02-15-at-8-26-19-pm

Search + Esc – Launch the Task Manager

Ctrl + Switcher – Takes a screenshot and automatically saves it to your Downloads folder

Ctrl + Shift + Switcher – Takes a screenshot of part of the screen – use the mouse to select that part of the screen that you want to capture

Alt + Search (Looks like a magnifying glass)– Toggle Caps Lock

 

 

Display Settings

Ctrl + Shift and + – Makes everything appear larger on your screen

Ctrl + Shift and – – Makes everything appear smaller on your screen

Ctrl + Shift and ) – Return screen to default size setting

Ctrl + Shift + Refresh – Rotate your screen 90 degrees

 

If I have missed any useful shortcuts please feel free to leave a comment or message me.

 

Delete that app!

If you have a newer Android phone, you may find that an app you used before is now baked right into Androids OS so you don’t need it anymore.  Here is a list of some common apps that you should delete right now!

  1. Flashlight app – These apps are very common and many of them have very invasive permissions to your phone.  In addition to this, almost every phone purchased in the last two years already has a flashlight available as a standard feature.
  2. File Browser –  In the past this was a needed feature, but has now become integrated into most new phones.
  3. Anti-Virus – Unless you are downloading apps and side loading (If you do not know what side loading is then odds are you are not doing it) then you do not need an antivirus.  Google makes it a top priority to keep malicious apps out of the play store.
  4. Cleaner Apps – These apps are very common but provide very little benefit.  They often come with annoying ads in the lock screen and constant reminders to scan your device.  If you feel that you need such an app the only one I have found that is not invasive and annoying is ccleaner.
  5. Any other app you have not used in the last few months.  If you are not using it and you have no intention to use it, remove it! Your phone will thank you.

Apps can make your phone great! They can add functionality and fun. However, when an app becomes redundant or invasive, it needs to be removed.  Every app uses system resources. You may just find that the 5 minuets you will spend removing bad or unused apps will make your phone run longer and faster.  As always please feel free to respectfully disagree or add anything that I may have missed in the comments or via the contact page.

Staying Virus free

I am often asked which virus scanner I use on my PCs. Typically, people are shocked when I tell them that I do not use one. How can I keep my computer safe with no premium virus scanner?  The answer has more to do with the way I use the computer than anything else. It’s important to know what to avoid and how to tell when things don’t seem right.

Knowing the basics about viruses and where they come from will help keep you safe in the mine field that is computing. For example, no company is going to call you out of the blue and offer to fix your computer remotely.  If you receive an unrequested call from anyone claiming they are from Microsoft (or any other technology company) wherein they inform you that they need access to your computer in order to fix it, this is a scam. Hang up! Do not give them access to your personal information.

Another common scam is when your browser gets hijacked.  In this situation, your browser redirects you to a scam page which will ask you to click on a link that may contain viruses or call a number. Like the direct calling mentioned before, once you call this number, they will claim to be offering a necessary service and ask to gain access to your computer, talking you through the process of how to give this to them. If you are browsing the internet and any page pops up asking you to call for service, it is most likely not legitimate.

You can easily tell if a page is legitimate or not by looking at the URL. Make sure that the page being displayed matches the address you entered. Even legitimate websites can get hacked and redirect you to a virus. More often than not, the fake redirected site will inform you that you need to click to update your browser or flash player. Don’t click anywhere on this page as doing so may give you a virus. Don’t worry though, the solution is usually simple. Close the browser window by clicking the X at the upper right (or the red button at the upper left on a mac). Other times it can be more complicated. The hacked site can lock your computer so that you can not close the window. In this case, force close the window by opening the task manager (ctrl + alt +del). Find your browser and click “end task”(Click here to see how).  If all else fails, as a last resort, hold your power button down until the machine turns off.

Here is an example of a hijacked page. chrome-update-scam-1

Lastly, every once in a while, it’s a good idea to make sure that there are no programs installed on your computer that you did not install.  An easy way to check this is to open the control panel (or application list on a mac) and do a visual check.  Reorganize the list to show you the most recently installed first.  Common virus programs will claim that they are optimizers, virus scanners, and cleaners, (ironic, right?)  Another classic sign that your computer is infected is when these programs load automatically when you first turn your computer on.  They often will claim they are a Microsoft partner. If you have programs like these you should probably take your computer in to a professional to get them removed.