Save your money and get this app

I don’t know when the last time I paid for an app was, (and no I am not getting them illegally somehow).  By signing up for google opinion rewards you can make between $0.10 and $1.00 for answering surveys that usually take less than a minute of your time.

screenshot_20170214-204649-01google-opinion-rewardsgoogle-opinion-rewards-630x354

Over time the rewards can add up!

screenshot_20170214-204708

If you like free apps, books, and movies, you should get the app and start letting google pay for your stuff.

google-play-button-new-e1460739245700

 

 

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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.

Don’t get fooled by your carrier

Having control over your data seems like it should be simple process, but because of the amount of options available it can be tricky to know which service to use. Android is a great operating system, but sometimes knowing how to properly configure its services in order to maximize the benefit to you can be overwhelming. My hope is to address some of these problems in an effort to make your smart devices serve you better.

The first problem lies with the carriers. Any carrier’s main goal is for you to stay with them so they make if difficult for you to leave. By default, your data will be set to back up to their servers. You may think, “That’s great! Verizon is backing up my data for me. Thanks Verizon!”  There are two problems with having the carrier do this for you.  First of all, your storage is limited and they will often charge you for backups over a certain amount. In contrast, Google will back up almost everything on your phone through their services for free, with very few exceptions. Another issue with running your backups through the carriers is that it’s more difficult to access your data, especially if you want to switch phone companies. Just try it. Tell AT&T you are switching to Tmobile and see how happy they are to transfer your data to the other carrier. With google, it’s simple since everything is attached to your gmail account. Just sign in to your account on your new phone and all of your pictures, contacts, settings, and much more will automatically transfer to your new device.

The second problem is with the manufacturers.  They, like the carriers, want you to stay with them and continue purchasing their devices. Because of this, most of them will provide themselves as a primary or secondary option to store your data. As I stated before, don’t fall into this trap. You may like LG now, but your next phone could be a Samsung. If that’s the case, good luck contacting them to transfer your data!

The final problem also has to do with the manufacturers. Continuity between devices can be difficult when dealing with each manufacturer’s unique user interface.  It is likely that you and your family have multiple devices. If each device has a different manufacturer then you will find that even though they all run Android, they can look very different.  In this case, you can solve the problem by using one of Androids many custom launchers.  Doing this will allow you to have more control over the way that your phone looks. You can set everyone in the house to have a similar look and feel to each other or change and customize your user experience to something more uniquely suited to you.

Android is the most widely used operating system in part because it allows huge freedom of choice in all aspects of its design. However, this great strength can also present a problem.  Keeping control of your data is one of the best ways to keep yourself free and not let a company lock you into staying with them.  If you are not able to access and move your data easily, you will feel stuck and be unlikely to change (even if you want to).  Don’t get tricked. Take control of your device! Know how to easily access your data, and make it look and feel the way you want.

Services referred to in the article

Photo backup – Google Photos

Contacts – Gmail

Files – Google Drive 

These apps are already on most Android devices they just need to be updated and activated/opened

Android Launchers – phandroid.com has a good article about diffrent launchers

Quick Tip – quickly toggle between two apps

I have recently discovered that a feature I have used for a long time is a relatively unknown to many Android users. It’s a small thing but helps users to navigate between windows more quickly.

wp-1487611938708.png

By tapping the square on the bottom right of your phone, you can quickly switch between two apps. So, next time you are texting someone and also doing a google search you can quickly switch between the two.

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

Use google services – Even on your Samsung phone.

Having control over your data seems like it should be simple process, but because of the amount of options available it can be tricky to know which service to use. Android is a great operating system, but sometimes knowing how to properly configure its services in order to maximize the benefit to you can be overwhelming. My hope is to address some of these problems in an effort to make your smart devices serve you better.

The first problem lies with the carriers. Any carrier’s main goal is for you to stay with them so they make if difficult for you to leave. By default, your data will be set to back up to their servers. You may think, “That’s great! Verizon is backing up my data for me. Thanks Verizon!”  There are two problems with having the carrier do this for you.  First of all, your storage is limited and they will often charge you for backups over a certain amount. In contrast, Google will back up almost everything on your phone through their services for free, with very few exceptions. Another issue with running your backups through the carriers is that it’s more difficult to access your data, especially if you want to switch phone companies. Just try it. Tell AT&T you are switching to Tmobile and see how happy they are to transfer your data to the other carrier. With google, it’s simple since everything is attached to your gmail account. Just sign in to your account on your new phone and all of your pictures, contacts, settings, and much more will automatically transfer to your new device.

The second problem is with the manufacturers.  They, like the carriers, want you to stay with them and continue purchasing their devices. Because of this, most of them will provide themselves as a primary or secondary option to store your data. As I stated before, don’t fall into this trap. You may like LG now, but your next phone could be a Samsung. If that’s the case, good luck contacting them to transfer your data!

The final problem also has to do with the manufacturers. Continuity between devices can be difficult when dealing with each manufacturer’s unique user interface.  It is likely that you and your family have multiple devices. If each device has a different manufacturer then you will find that even though they all run Android, they can look very different.  In this case, you can solve the problem by using one of Androids many custom launchers.  Doing this will allow you to have more control over the way that your phone looks. You can set everyone in the house to have a similar look and feel to each other or change and customize your user experience to something more uniquely suited to you.

Android is the most widely used operating system in part because it allows huge freedom of choice in all aspects of its design. However, this great strength can also present a problem.  Keeping control of your data is one of the best ways to keep yourself free and not let a company lock you into staying with them.  If you are not able to access and move your data easily, you will feel stuck and be unlikely to change (even if you want to).  Don’t get tricked. Take control of your device! Know how to easily access your data, and make it look and feel the way you want.

UPDATE –  I have had some messages asking me to link to the services in the article

Photo backup – Google Photos

Contacts – Gmail

Files – Google Drive 

These apps are already on most Android devices they just need to be updated and activated/opened

Android Launchers – phandroid.com has a good article about diffrent launchers

Don’t curve my phone screen!

Samsung seems to have gone all in with the curved screen.  Starting with the S6 edge, they have been pushing harder to make this the defining feature of a Samsung phone. I hope that this trend does not move to other cell phone manufacturers. It is not a good feature!

To me, it feels like more of a liability than a feature. There is a small novelty of seeing the LCD actually bend around the side without any practical use.  One the other hand there are many downsides.  First off, they are almost impossible to protect. Cases can’t do much to protect the sides, so if you drop your phone, you are almost guaranteed to hit the screen unless it falls flat on its’ back. Time and time again I have people asking me to fix their broken screen on their S7 edge, and the impact point is almost always on the curve.The second problem I have noticed is the distortion when images are show around the curved area.

Just give me a flat screen on my phone!  All the features that are touted on the edge phones can be accomplished similarly on a flat screened phone.  Plus, on a regular flat screened phone i am able to put a tempered glass on the front that in no way impedes the use of the phone followed by any case of varying protection.  Once those two accessories are combined on one phone it is much less likely to be broken.

In conclusion, I love having a feature rich phone that I can easily protect instead of a gimmicky curved screen that most likely won’t last two years.  Please, phone manufacturers, don’t follow Samsung and don’t curve my phone screen!

As an added bonus, I have put together a gallery of broken Samsung s7 edge phones.

Google wants to pay you

I don’t know when the last time I paid for an app was, (and no I am not getting them illegally somehow).  By signing up for google opinion rewards you can make between $0.10 and $1.00 for answering surveys that usually take less than a minute of your time.

screenshot_20170214-204649-01google-opinion-rewardsgoogle-opinion-rewards-630x354

Over time the rewards can add up!

screenshot_20170214-204708

If you like free apps, books, and movies, you should get the app and start letting google pay for your stuff.

google-play-button-new-e1460739245700