Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fixing New Contact Flaw in Latest iOS Version

[From CNet]

If new contacts you have created since upgrading to the latest version of iOS aren't showing up in your contacts list, there is a simple tweak in settings that can fix the problem. To fix this problem, head to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and scroll down to the Contacts section. Tap on the bottom line of this section, Default Account. Tap to select iCloud instead of On My iPhone or, if you have multiple accounts, your default account.
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET
Now, when you create a new contact, it will show up in your Contact list. Any contacts you created since updating to iOS 7.1.2, however, will not magically appear. Sadly, you will have to copy and paste numbers and re-create those contacts.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tracking Time Spent on Your Smartphone

Menthal for Androids and Moment for iPhones provide feedback on your mobile phone usage, and thus allows you to maintain a sustainable digital lifestyle. To this end, they track the full range of interaction between you and your phone. Running in the background, they record, for example, every time you unlock your phone, every time you start an app, and every time you receive a call. 

Menthal Link

Moment Link

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Really Cool Siri Feature (Also Possible on Androids)

Siri can read your latest text messages. Like when someone texts you while you're driving, and you know you're not supposed to look at your iPhone. Just tell Siri:  "Read my text messages." Presto: she reads (aloud) the contents of the most recent missive. And then asks if you'd like to reply. Say "yes" if you would, or "no, read the next one" if there's another one. And Siri can read your email, too.
If you have an Android device, you can do the same with any number of free apps, such as: Drive Safely

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gazpacho Erratum: I Forgot to Mention the Avocado--an Absolute Necessity

Gazpacho is a perfect summer main dish or side dish or snack dish. It is easy to make. Just finely chop and mix together any or all of the following and add some red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar and tomato or vegetable juice, and a little ice water, let stand chilling for 4 hours or more, and serve with a dollop of sour cream: celery, cucumber, tomato, scallions, white onion, Bermuda onion, cilantro, romaine lettuce hearts, Italian parsley, garlic, sea salt, blanched almonds, pine nuts, green bell pepper, organic extra virgin olive oil, and MOST IMPORTANT, small avocado chunks. Feel free to add anything else that's green or white, and do not add carrots. Bon appetite!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Before Sunrise (1995)

If you liked My Dinner With Andre, you might be able to survive Before Sunrise. But if you didn't, and if you hate endless blather--punctuated with ums and uhs and countless other such verbal tics, in a movie that has no cinematographic qualities, and have no relish being totally bored, then run as fast as you can to stay away from Before Sunrise. Whether or not the next two (and if there is a God the final) episodes of this trilogy--Before Noon and Before Supper or Before Midnight of Before the Land That Time Forgot or whatever they might be called--get any better I have no clue. And I have no intention of trying to get any clue. Putting aside the lack of any camera work or scenery after the opening scenes, the dialogue and the screenplay might be the worst ever put together in one movie.

IMDb Link

What to Do When a Streaming Movie Stops

It can be VERY annoying when a streamed movie continuing stops loading. There can be many reasons a streaming movie stops. Putting aside possible issues with your modem, router, connection, TV, DVD player, or cable provider, here is the easiest and fastest fix to try, which will usually work: Pause the movie, a bar should come up showing various settings at the bottom (such as options to close caption etc.), one of which will be the definition level of the movie (HDX, HD and SD). The higher the definition, the more prone the stream is to experience problems and stop from time to time. Your likely default is HD. So, when the problem happens again, hit Pause and change the stream from HD (or HDX) to SD and the issue should be gone. Rebooting modem and router are also good things to try.

Further Note: Amazon Instant Streaming does its own electronic "monitoring" of movies you stream. If "they" pick up that you experienced streaming problems, Amazon on its own and without any request from you, just might send you an email that says: "We noticed that you recently experienced poor video playback on Amazon Instant Video. We're sorry for the inconvenience, and have issued you a refund for the following rental(s) and amount(s): $3.99."

Gate Guru

The GateGuru app (part of TripAdvisory Co.) helps avert airport disaster with a number of features designed to keep you organized—and sane—while traveling. The JourneyCard stores your itinerary and displays security wait times, flight delays, gate changes, and layover adjustments on one easy-to-find screen. The AirportCard gives you easy-access airport-amenity information, maps, weather forecasts, and traveler tips. Never again will you be surprised by a terminal change, a nasty thunderstorm, or another vacation-ruining revelation.

Gate Guru Download

Devil's Knot (2013)

Although unfortunately it is not a unique or new story, Devil's Knot is based on a too-often occurring  true story of a miscarriage of justice. It is a bit tedious in the telling, but it still is compelling even if depressing. You might expect a romantic comedy given the starring roles of Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, but there there's no romance and no comedy, and it is difficult to understand why Colin Firth was cast in the role he was and what his character actually did in the story. Amy Ryan's and Collette Wolfe's appearances are delightful as is that of Elias Koteas who is often confused with Christopher Meloni even though Koteas is less beefy and of Greek descent where Meloni is of Italian-French descent. But most fun of all is how different Kristoffer Polaha is as a defense lawyer here compared to how he is and looks in Mad Men and how even more different Mireille Enos is here compared to how she was in The Killing.

IMDb Link

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fabulous Homemade Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a perfect summer main dish or side dish or snack dish. It is easy to make. Just finely chop and mix together any or all of the following and add some red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar and tomato or vegetable juice, and a little ice water, let stand chilling for 4 hours or more, and serve with a dollop of sour cream: celery, cucumber, tomato, scallions, white onion, Bermuda onion, cilantro, romaine lettuce hearts, Italian parsley, garlic, sea salt, blanched almonds, pine nuts, green bell pepper, and organic extra virgin olive oil. Feel free to add anything else that's green or white, and do not add carrots. Bon appetite!

Factoid PS: Gazpacho, like "revenge[,] is a dish best served cold," which, by the way, is a phrase not to be found anywhere in any work of Shakespeare, but rather, is a timeless Pashtun proverb and an old saying from the Sicilian Mafiosi.

Easy Way to Search Text of Visited Webpages

The built-in history feature built into all web browsers can be very useful. If you need to revisit a page that you looked at yesterday, or a month ago, just search through the history listing and you'll probably find the correct URL listed there. However, the browser history would be much more useful if it stored not just the URL of the pages you visit, but also the text that was on the page too. And if it let you search that text, to find precisely the item you remembered reading without having to know the site that it was on. If such a feature sounds like something you'd appreciate, and if you use the Chrome browser, then your luck is in. A free extension called All Seeing Eye gives you precisely that functionality.

Link: All Seeing Eye Extension

Friday, July 25, 2014

Growing Your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Account

If you have a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Account, you likely have a Chase Southwest Visa card. If not, get one. If so, here is what you can do--and lest you think there is anything sneaky about this, it was a Chase Southwest Visa rep, actually two of them, who explained this to me:

There are four cards: Consumer Plus, Consumer Premier, Business Plus, and Business Premier. When you open a new card, and spend a stipulated amount in the first three months (usually $1,000 to $3,000), you will get 25,000 to 50,000 bonus miles. You can then cancel that card within the 3-month period and pay no annual fee on the card. And these bonus miles count toward the companion-pass benefit. So, the only "cost" to you for doing this is the credit inquiry and you can do it for any card you have not applied for, so you can do it viz all three cards you do not have. When your card comes, if the noted bonus is only 25,000 miles, then be sure to call the number on the back of the card to see if Chase will up it to 50,000 or some other higher amount.

Note on the companion-pass perk: This is good for the year you qualify and the next full calendar year. So, you might look to racking up the bonuses in January to try to get to the perk as soon as possible in that year and be used in the following year as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

No, not the book. The movie. You can stream it from anywhere. If you've seen it in the past year or two, you know just how fabulous it is and, if you haven't, and you watch it again now, you have a marvelous treat coming. I shall not ruin it for you by telling you whether or not the trial comes out the same way as in the book, nor whether the endings are the same, nor whether Harper Lee had Gregory Peck in mind when she wrote the book because he really looked like Atticus Finch, nor whether you can picture Gregory Peck in any way other than as Atticus Finch (unless you think his best role was in the Guns of Navarone). Suffice it to say that Horton Foote's screenplay is a good as it gets and his incisive slicing of the human character is even better.

IMDb Link

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some New Neat Features From The Google

1. If you type "remind me to [fill in what you want to be reminded about] into The Google Search bar, you can create a reminder that will show up on Google Now on your phone.

Explanatory Link: Google Reminder Link

2. If you type "create event at [day] at [time] to [event]" into The Google Search bar, it will show up in your calendar.

Explanatory Link: Google Event Link

3. The availability of sending money using your Wallet account isn't a new offering from Google, since it's been possible by using your Gmail account for quite some time now. But streamlining the process within a mobile app does make the process easier for users. Instead of having to remember the finite details of filling out address fields, you can now tap on a couple of buttons within the Wallet app and the money, or your request for cash, is on its way.

Explanatory Link: Send Money Link

To Kill a Mockingbird

No, not the movie. The book. It just became available in the Kindle store and, if you've read it, you know just how fabulous it is and, if you haven't read it, you have a marvelous treat coming. I shall not ruin it for you by telling you whether or not the trial comes out the same way as in the movie, nor whether the endings are the same, nor whether Gregory Peck was cast in the role because he really looked like Atticus Finch, nor whether you can picture Atticus Finch in any way other than as Gregory Peck. Suffice it to say that Harper Lee's writing is a good as it gets and her incisive slicing of the human character is even better.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Sugarland Express (1974)

Whatever you think was the first feature length movie that Steven Spielberg wrote and directed, you're probably wrong. It was not ET or Jaws. It was The Sugarland Express. Not a perfect movie by any means, and a bit too long, but even if it weren't a true story, you would be drawn in to the characters and the script/dialogue, which are pitch perfect. Not surprisingly, there is only one big name star, and it's not Kate Hudson although she might have been better in the role, confirming that the casting and acting can be terrific without recognizable thespians. If you liked Bonnie & Clyde or O Brother ,Where Art Though, you will find this worthy of the genre.

IMDb Link:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Barefoot (2014)

It's not David & Lisa (a must-see classic from 1962), and it's not reality, and it is predictable, but it's very entertaining, poignant, heart-warming, and even a bit instructive. Scott Speedman is very good and Evan Rachel Wood is totally fabulous. The main supporting cast are all recognizable from TV and TV commercials, none of whom is likely to get an Oscar nomination.

IMDb Link to Barefoot:

IMDb Link to David & Lisa:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Speeding Up Any Device's Charging Time

We have all been there, it's 9 p.m. and you're suppose to meet a friend in a half hour. To make matters even worse, the battery on your smartphone is in the red. Surely you don't have enough time to charge your device without being late? Wrong.
Before you connect your phone to the charger, close any open apps and enable Airplane mode. This will turn off all of the wireless radios in your device, preventing you from making calls, accessing the Web, or using the GPS. The trade-off? Your device will be able to charge slightly faster because background processes will no longer be eating away at your phone's battery.
The same charging benefits can also be achieved by powering the phone completely down, although this isn't an ideal solution for those of us who rely on the clock or alarm features. While charging times won't be earth-shattering (improving by only a few minutes), every second counts when you are in a rush. It should be noted that charging times will vary depending on the size of your battery and how powerful the charger you are using.
Remember, the backlight and display require a significant amount of power. There's no need to keep checking the charging progress of your device. Let your phone charge and grab it when you are ready to leave.
[Credit to Sharon Profis at cnet]

Syncing Outlook and Google Calendars (and more)

For some reason, Google will disable Google Calendar Sync beginning 8/1/2014. It has been a tortuous trek to find a free substitute or even a pay substitute that actually does the syncing in an easy and straight-forward manner. But, as highlighted by Svetlana Cheusheva of AbleBits, here is by far the best substitute (but, if you like the free version, you'll likely want to pay for the registered version because of the extra features and to avoid some annoyances). Not only does gSyncit do everything it is supposed to do and does it even better and does more than Google Calendar Sync did, the customer support given by gSyncit (Fieldston Software) is fabulous. Your email questions get answered extremely quickly and they really know what they are talking about and very patient, courteous, and professional. 

gSyncit – free add-in to sync Outlook calendars, contacts, notes and tasks with Google

gSyncit is an add-in for Microsoft Outlook purposed for syncing calendars (as well as contacts, notes and tasks) between Outlook and Google. It also supports synchronization with Evernote, Dropbox and some other accounts.
An advantage of this tool compared with the sync method that we’ve just discussed is that you are free to edit Google calendar events imported in the Outlook calendar.
The gSyncit tool has a free and paid version. Both versions allow 1-way and 2-way syncing of calendars, tasks, contacts and notes. The main limitation of the free version is that it allows syncing with only one calendar. Apart from that, this is a nice tool, intuitive and easy to configure.

How to configure Outlook and Google calendar syncing with gSyncit

1. You start by clicking the Settings button on the gSyncit tab on the Outlook ribbon.
2. In the Settings window, choose what items to sync on the left pane and then click the New button.
Configuring Outlook and Google calendar syncing with gSyncit
3. After that you create a new mapping by specifying 3 essential things:
  • Click the Verify button to enter your credentials and verify your Google account.
  • Click Select Calendar… under Google Calendar section to get the calendar URL.
  • And finally, click Select Calendar… under Outlook Calendar section to choose the Outlook calendar you want to sync with.
Creating a new mapping with gSyncit
4. For additional options, switch to the Sync Options tab and check the options you want. For the 2-way syncing, select both "Sync Outlook to Google" and "Sync Google to Outlook":
Set up 2-way syncing between Outlook and Google.
Of course, there are a handful of additional options on other tabs, but in most cases the settings on theSync Options tab absolutely suffice.
5. Now you only need to click OK to save a new mapping that will link your Outlook and Google calendars together.
Once a new mapping is created, you simply click the appropriate button on the ribbon and your Google calendar will get synced with Outlook straight away.
Click the appropriate button on the ribbon to have your Google calendar synced with Outlook.
If you want advanced options, the following ones may come in handy:
  • Synchronize all appointments or within a specified time range only (Sync Range tab).
  • Sync Outlook appointments from certain categories only (Categories tab).
  • Remove duplicate appointments (Sync Options tab)
Summing up, if you are an active user of both calendars, gSyncit is definitely worth your attention as a tool to automate Outlook and Google calendar syncing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Online Accounts Killer

Deleting any of your online accounts seems like it should be easy. For the most part, it isn't. I've found deleting online accounts to be time consuming and frustrating. Account Killer collects direct links and deleting instructions to make account termination easier. Some online accounts are difficult or impossible to delete - Account Killer has a color ranking system that tells at a glance how easy or difficult any given account is to delete, along with links that go directly to the account deletion page. There are categories for popular sites, blacklisted sites, white-listed sites, and all sites. There's a useful search box that brings up results - typing in a few letters brings up a drop down menu listing site matches. This site is definitely worth a visit whether you want to delete an account or bookmark it for future use.

Site Link:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rules of Golf in Plain English

The Rules of Golf in Plain English was first published in 2004 and is a much better way to understand the rules than to try to read the rules themselves or their 700-page companion, Decisions on the Rules of Golf. Although it cost about $10, the Plain English version is available as an app for both Apple (in iTunes) and Android (in Play) devices, which has the added benefit of lightening one's golf bag.

Cover art

Two Original Movies: Gambit (1966) and Bedtime Story (1964)

Breaking a time-honored tradition that re-makes and sequels are never (except in the Godfather series) as good as the original, the original Gambit movie should be skipped. It is long and boring and slow and as much as anyone might like Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, they do not come close to saving a terrible screenplay.

IMDb Link:

As for another movie in the lovable con-artist genre, if you found Dirty Rotten Scoundrels even mildly amusing or otherwise entertaining, you will love Bedtime Story from which the premise was unabashedly stolen. It stars young Marlon Brando, David Niven, and Shirley Jones, who turn in 5-star performances in a tightly-written and highly imaginative script.

IMDb Link:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

That Thing You Do (1996)

If you like movies about bands trying to make it (e.g., The Commitments, The Blues Brothers), or movies about the 60s, or early Tom Hanks stuff (in which he acted or directed and he did both here), or movies that are fresh and quick and capture people as they really are, or just like to smile, you will like this movie. As a bonus, you will be stunned by all the actors you will recognize in the cast. In short, That Thing You Do is a hoot.

IMDb Link:

Gambit (2012)

If you like the genre of lovable con artists, you will enjoy Gambit. It is perhaps the least known movie where the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay. Colin Firth and Carmen Diaz (the con artists)  and Alan Rickman are worthy adversaries and you're never sure which is going to prevail. Reasonable people can differ about the quality of Ms. Diaz's performance, but everyone will agree that Stanley Tucci's cameo appearance is a peach. The credits (done in the style of the Pink Panther series) are quite clever, but would have worked much better, i.e., they would have been more understandable, at the end of the movie. This 2012 version appears to be in the nature of a sequel to the 1966 version of Gambit with Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine in that the named characters and genre are the same, but the plot line is different.

IMDb Link 2012 Version:

IMDb Link 1966 Version:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Trust Me (2013)

Although no one could forget the performances put in by Clark Gregg in Sports Night, who not only stars in this movie but wrote and directed it, and who doesn't love Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy--although the years have not been kind to either, and Alison Janney and Amanda Peet are always a joy, and Molly Shannon plays a roll unlike any other she ever has, and Saxon Sarbino can steal any scene as she proved in Friday Night Lights, trust me, do not watch this movie. The only provocative thing about the movie is that it might to lead to a debate as to whether its more boring than pointless, but it is not debatable that it surely is both.

IMDb Link:

Friday, July 4, 2014

Shortcomings of the Contour Box

The Contour 6 cable TV box has some very nice and improved useful features in terms of recording and the guide. That said, in making the decision to “upgrade” to the Contour 6, I understood and was told that it had all the features of my previous 2-tuner Scientific American box and many more. Putting aside that there are additional features, the Contour 6 does not have at least two very useful features of the older box, namely, picture-in-picture (PIP) and a screen saver when a program is paused. It is inexplicable why these features would be dropped given that there are now 6 tuners instead of 2 so there is no reason to eliminate PIP and given that a screen saver is a safety feature. Cox is aware of consumer disgruntlement over these issues but it remains unclear whether or not the software changes will be made to enable these features and, if so, when they might be made.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Printing Photos, Documents and More From Any Smart Device to Just About Any Printer

If sending an email to your desktop is still your method of printing from your Android, now's the time that changes. Using Google Cloud Print, you can print just about anything from your Android phone or tablet to any printer, even if it's an older model.
Cloud Print -- which is technically in beta, like many Google things -- works by processing the print jobs over the Web. So, if you like, you can send items to your printer at home, even when you're at a friend's house.
It gets better. Google Cloud Print doesn't only work with Android -- it also works with any device running Chrome, including iOS and any desktop or laptop. Let's set it up.

Step 1: Is your printer Cloud Ready?

If your printer is Wi-Fi-capable, it's probably "Cloud Ready." What that means is that you can print to your printer, even if your computer is turned off. Because the printer has Wi-Fi, it can connect directly to your Android device without the help of the computer.
Find out if your printer is Cloud Ready by visiting the Cloud Print site and looking for your printer model. Once you find it, click the link in the description to get the setup istructions. The step-by-step will vary for each printer, which is why we won't walk through them here. Once that's set up, come back and continue to the next step.

Not Cloud Ready? No problem.

The beauty of Google Cloud Print is that it's compatible with even the eldest printers. As long as your computer is turned on, connected to the Internet, and your printer is plugged in, you can print to it.
  1. Head to your computer and launch Chrome. There's no getting around this -- you need Chrome to make Cloud Print work.
  2. In Chrome, open the menu and check to see that you're signed in with your Google account. It should be the same one you use with your Android device.
  3. In the same Chrome menu, go to Settings. Scroll down and click Show Advanced Settings, then click Manage under Google Clount Print. Here's where you'll associate a printer with your Google account.
  4. Click Add Printers, and check the boxes for the printer(s) you'd like to print to from your Android device. Click add printers again, and you're set.

Step 2: Set up your Android device

The setup on your Android device is dead simple. Head to the Google Play store and download Google Cloud Print. It's essentially a plug-in that enables printing for a number of Google apps (like the Gallery), and lets you manage your print jobs.
On Android versions older than KitKat, it'll appear as a standalone app. On KitKat, it works in the background, and will appear in the notification shade when you've initiated a print job.

Step 3: Start printing

At this point, you're ready to start printing from the Gallery or Chrome. Just tap the menu button in either app and choose Print. A window will appear, letting you choose your printer from a drop-down, along with various settings, like paper size and color. Hit Print, and the item will be sent to your printer.
But Android printing doesn't stop at photos and Web pages. Using third-party apps like Cloud Print Plus, you can expand that selection to text messages, contacts, email attachments, and files stored on your device. You can even use Cloud Printer to print from Firefox, if that's your default Android browser.

Don't forget!

Cloud Print isn't just for Android. Now that you're set up, you can head to any computer running Chrome, sign in with your Google account, and print directly to your home printer, even when you're away. Just choose your printer from the Print dialog when using Chrome.
It also works with iOS devices. Just install PrintCentral Pro to start printing emails and attachments, contacts, Web pages, and text messages from your iPhone or iPad.

Reduced Pricing on Cox Contour Box (and Perhaps on Other Cable Systems)

The Cox Contour box/service has 6 tuners (which allows for recording 6 shows at one time or recording 5 shows at 1 time and watching a sixth show) as well other advanced features and access to some additional HD channels. While Cox has advertised the Contour extensively on TV and in print mailings and in emailings, for some reason Cox has not explained that the pricing on Contour has been lowered significantly. If you have any interest in it, call Cox Sales and asked to be transferred to the Customer Loyalty Department. It is possible that, if you ask nicely for them to work with you to lower your bill, you will end up with the Contour box with free installation and a total monthly bill that is $10 less than your current total monthly bill. If you already have a Contour box, you might call Cox to see if you are being charged for it and its service in accordance with the current pricing schedule.

Disk Activity Indicator

Activity Indicator is a very good program.  It's free, it's portable, it's free from malware according to VirusTotal and Web of Trust, and it provides a perfectly acceptable disk activity indicator on your system tray.  But look a little more closely and it also has another incredibly useful facility.  It logs every access to every file on your hard disk.  It can tell you each time a file was created, deleted, or replaced.  Not only is this a really useful troubleshooting tool, but it's also a great way to learn about what Windows gets up to when you're not at your keyboard.  And if you suspect that someone else is misusing your PC, this is the tool that will help you track them down. If you support computers for friends, family or colleagues, this is something that really deserves a place in your toolbox.

Download Link:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Reading Tweets Without Signing Up for Twitter

Whether or not you are signed up with Twitter (I’m not) you can’t ignore the fact that this is a major way that information is exchanged these days. So it is worthwhile to be aware that Twitter provides a search facility for all those tweets (around 500 million per day). The search facility is available whether you are signed up or not, so anyone can scour those short little bursts of information to see what is being said about the events of the day and any other topics that interest you. You may never intend to make a tweet yourself but you can take a selective look at what all those other people are going on about.
You don’t have to bother with the main Twitter page and can go straight to the search facility at the basic search link below. The search tool is quite powerful and can be used in a variety of ways to home in on your specific interests. As with any search tool, it is best to use some of the advanced search operators and syntax to filter search results. You can specify tweets from categories like particular users, hashtags, date ranges, location, and so on. There is also an advanced search page as noted below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

USA vs. Belgium