Friday, October 30, 2015

New Fingerprint Technology

Many people avoid applying for federal jobs or becoming cab drivers or committing crimes because of how horrible they think the fingerprinting process is, with the slurry ink. Times have changed, and now fingerprinting is a totally clean, simple, fast process without any ink. You just put your left four fingers on a glass sheet, then your right four fingers (or whatever number you have) on the glass sheet, and then your opposing thumbs on the glass sheet, and it's all over in about 36 seconds--no pain, no mess. This is what the scanner looks like in action:

Image result for fingerprint scanner

Stopping Gmail Conversation Mode on Desktops and Android Devices

Most people hate Gmail's "conversation mode" which lumps into one email all related emails. It's easy to turn off on your desktop. Just go to Gmail/Settings/Forwarding and POP/IMPA, and then check enable IMAP, and go back to Settings/General and check conversation view off. Unfortunately, you still may be getting conversation mode on your phone or tablet, and that's really annoying. Although there is a conversation on/off in your device's settings, it will not turn off the default to conversation view if you set the gmail account up as a POP account, which you likely did. All you have to do is enable IMAP in your Gmail settings (desktop version), then delete your email account from your Gmail app and add it back again as an IMAP account. Then go to Settings in your Gmail and choose conversation view off. To remove your Gmail account on your device, go to Settings/Accounts, tap on the Google Account and hit Remove.


Once you get your Global Entry/TSA Pre✔ Trusted Traveler Program No. approval, it is good practice to update your profile on any airline (e.g., Southwest Rapid Rewards, American Advantage) to include your membership number. In that way, when you book through those sites (which is what you should do instead of booking through a third-party site), the ticket automatically will show your TSA Pre✔ status (although again, it is good practice to check the Trusted Traveler box when making your reservation).

Hotel Suites

Sometimes, you might want a 2BR hotel suite, and if you can reserve one, great. Often though the 2BR suites will be sold out. The solution likely is obvious to you, but it took our supposedly crack Travel Department 3 months to figure it out. As for a 1BR suite with an adjoining single room or even two adjoining 1BR suites. The cost differential of these alternatives to a 2BR suite is likely minor and, on occasion, you might even save money and get more space.

[Note: Rest assured that we are doing a thorough review of our Travel Department personnel. At a minimum, there will be some "re-education." In addition, some heads might roll]

More (Orders) Can Be Less (Cost) on Amazon Prime

Let's say you're buying two identical items on Amazon Prime and you are willing to wait a week for delivery so you choose the No Rush option and get a $1 credit toward your next streaming or ebook purchase. If you place each as a separate order, your cost is the same, but you will get $2 of credit instead of $1. And what's really cool, there's a great chance both items will be shipped together at the same time.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Global Entry TSA Pre✔

In a posting on October 4, 2015, we explained about TSA Pre✔ randomly free designation being terminated soon, and that to qualify for TSA Pre✔, one needs to apply online, pay $85, and then appear at a TSA office. One of our crack staff members just completed the process, and we are pleased to report how fast, easy, and efficient the process is. You do the application and pay the fee online in a matter of minutes; you schedule your interview online in even fewer minutes; and your interview takes under 5 minutes (if you live in Phoenix, depending on your distance from Sky Harbor, it can take under a half-hour from the time you leave home until the time your get back home, and that includes a few extra minutes because the location of the office is a little off from where you are told it is). When applying, be sure to opt for the Global Entry program which not only gets you TSA Pre✔ on domestic flights, it gets you special kiosks and no lines upon returning from international flights, and an easier time coming back from Canada or Mexico. If you have an existing airline reservation, just call them to tell them you have Global Entry and then your ticket will have the TSA Pre✔ on it when you print or otherwise store your ticket. For all future reservations, you just check the "Trusted Traveler" box when making your reservation and the TSA Pre✔ designation will appear on your ticket when you print or store it.

Link to Global Entry

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Data Recovery Tool Give Away

Data Recovery Wizard Pro is a file and disk recovery tool that's really easy to use, with a simple graphical interface. If you've accidentally deleted a file (even if it's long since been wiped from your recycle bin), chances are that the software can recover it for you. When you run it, it will automatically scan your hard disk for deleted items. Just tick the ones you want to restore, and the job is done. It normally costs $70 or more. But because we helped by giving them useful feedback and advice, we've made a special deal, and if you really fast, specifically, by the end of the day of October 29, you can have it for free. Go to the Download Link and then to the License Key Link. Make sure you download and install the software now. You never know when you might need it in the future. And remember, your licence key won't work forever so ensure that you download and activate ASAP.

Download Link

License Key Link

Samsung Lollipop Tips

If you are lucky enough to own a Samsung phone or tablet with Android Lollipop, you really know what you're doing and you picked a great device. The link below will give you 15 fabulous tips of what your device now can do (which no iOs device can do).

Link to Tips

Right Tool for the Job

The internets are full of amazingly useful sites that allow you to do just about anything for free, with no need to download or install software on your PC. Whether you're searching for an online dictionary or thesaurus, an image or video editor, financial data, language translation, tools to help you play Scrabble or solve a crossword clue, or just about anything else, it's out there. Trouble is, it can be hard to find the best site for the job. Which is why I'm rather taken by a site called iTools, which is a single-page portal to hundreds of sites. The headline of iTools is "Use the best tools for the job," and that sums it up pretty accurately. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Finding Your Forgotten Router (WiFi) Password with Windows

Sometimes you need to know the password for your router--e.g., when you're connecting a new device or letting a friend do so. Unless you wrote it down somewhere, or use LastPass or another password manager (as I have advised in the strongest terms), you likely do not have it committed to memory, in which event, it means retrieving the password from a device that is already connected. (Some routers have a WiFi Protected Setup button for automatic connection but this article is for those who do not have that feature on their router.)
There are several ways to obtain the details of a wireless network in a Windows system. You can always open settings in the Windows Control Panel but the method for finding the wireless settings is somewhat different in different versions of Windows and can involve a number of steps. There are two other approaches that apply to Windows 7 through 10 that I find easier. In general, you will need administrative privileges to find a password.

Use the free utility WirelessKeyView

One of the many free utilities from Nirsoft is WirelessKeyView, currently in version 1.71. It will reveal your password with just a click. An example of the interface is shown in the graphic shown below. Administrative privileges are required. It is a portable program, requiring no installation. There are both 32- and 64-bit versions and the download link is at the bottom of this page. The download is a zipped file of only 80 KB. It is said to work in Windows XP on up. 
A useful feature of the program is that provides for the export and import of the password by means of a text file. This makes setting up a new connection for a Windows device very easy.
Because it reveals a password, some anti-malware programs may flag WirelessKeyView. There was one flag out of 55 scans by VirusTotal. However, Nirsoft is a proven source of useful and safe utilities.

Use the Command Line

Users of the command line have a quick method available. Open a command prompt with administrative rights and enter:
    netsh wlan show profile name="ConnectionName" key=clear
In the command, you will have to replace “ConnectionName” with the actual name of your particular wireless connection. Retain the quote marks. A variety of information about your connection will be shown. Your password will be displayed in a section called “Security settings” next to an entry “Key content”.
If you have forgotten the name of your connection, you can find it by first running the following command:
    netsh wlan show profiles
The command line also provides a quick way to save the password to a file for future reference. Run the command:
    netsh wlan show profile name="ConnectionName" key=clear >C:\wireless-data.txt
The file path and name “C:\wireless-data.txt” used above is just an example. The name and location of the file can be anything you like.

Smart TV Internet Navigation

If you don't have a smart TV, you really should get one. If you do have a smart TV, you not only can click on any of the icons (e.g., Netflix, Amazon, You Tube, etc.) for direct access, you can click on the web browser icon and surf the internets to reach any website. When doing so, you might find the search for website cumbersome if you are using your remote to get to various websites (e.g., the website to stream Eagles games). Here's the head-slapping solution to that problem: Put down the remote and get yourself a wireless mouse and keyboard, each of which will have a USB doggle, and then insert the doggles into the USB ports on the back of the TV, and you will have a mouse and keyboard for surfing the internets just like you do for your computer. Note, however, not all mice and keyboards are compatible with all smart TVs. Also note, as explained in the link below, Samsung has Bluetooth compatible mice and keyboards for certain of its smart TVs.

Link to Samsung Guide re Its Mice and Keyboards

Earworms and What to Do About Them

As the Seinfeld show taught us, everyone should have a song, whether its Desperado or Witchy Woman. But, what happens when a song gets stuck in your head, which is known as an earworm. There are suggested remedies, such as listening to the actual song all the way through, distracting yourself with a task requiring attention, imaging a different song, or chewing gum. The WSJ has an excellent article on the problem and its possible solutions.

Link to WSJ Article

Link to Pertinent Seinfeld Clip

Monday, October 26, 2015

Think Amazon Prime Before Dashing Off to the Store

It's a Sunday morning, and you realize you need a desk shelf so that you can move your modem, router, switch, and smart hub up from under the desk where they are very difficult to access and deal with when there is a troubleshooting issue onto the desk itself without losing desktop space. You want it that day so you look on Staples website and they have just what you want, but since you have an hour or two before Staples opens, you check on Amazon. There, you see the identical item that not only at a substantially lower cost, but it will be delivered for free that same day. So you don't have to leave the house, put wear and tear on your car and pollute the air, and burn gasoline if your hybrid mode kicks off, you also save money and the aggravation of having to park and deal with store personnel.

Image result for desk shelf

Possible Remedy If the Second Car You Bought Also Is the Wrong Car

In a blog post of October 21, we told the wonderful story with a supposed happy ending about what to do if you bought a Prius 2 that did not have a 3-door smart key system. The supposed happy ending was to trade it back in and buy a Prius 3. Unfortunately, after driving the Prius 3 home, you might be apoplectic to learn that the Bluetooth in the Prius 3 does not allow for any contact management as the Bluetooth does in the Prius 2, and nothing can be done about it. Here's what you can do: Open a dialogue with the dealership, where you explain and they agree: that Bluetooth and smart key systems were the two features you cared about; that you were promised that with the Prius 3 you'd get everything you had on the Prius 2 and more (including a navigation system which you didn't care about anyhow and it's a lousy system and which is what causes the Bluetooth to lack a contact management system); that you did not get what you were promised based on a mutual mistake; that a mutual mistake entitled you to get your Prius 2 back but that's not what you wanted to do but you would do that if some recompense were not made; and you would like some adjustment to be made which you will not negotiate--you'll either take or leave it and be happy or not happy. What you just might get is an extra free 15,000 miles of all the services that are done for free in the first 30,000 miles, which include oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and all the mileage checkup things, which are worth not less in total than $500. You take it. You are happy.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tip re Timed-Cooking

Most of our readers have ovens that can be programmed to start at a given time, at a particular temperature, and cook for a specified time. And anyone who has such an oven, would never give it up. They're fabulous. Here, though, is one thing to keep in mind: When you set the cooking time, it will not start to run until the cooking temperature is reached. So, if you set the oven to bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, the 45 minutes will not start to run until the oven temperature reaches 400 degrees. Hence, if you put food into an oven pre-set ahead of time, and it says to cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, and you set the oven to cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, unless you want the food to be exposed to pre-heating, do not put it in until the oven has pre-heated and reached 350 degrees. Fortunately, for many dishes, like crusted chicken, you can put it in an hour ahead of the time you set for the oven to start, and no problem.

Tiny, Fast, Free, Portable PDF Reader

If you use a PC you almost certainly need to be able to read PDF files sometimes. Maybe you download a book or a technical manual. Or perhaps you received an electronic statement, receipt or invoice from your bank or another company.
Although Adobe's reader is the official way of reading PDF files, it's also a huge application that takes a while to load and uses up large amounts of system resources. It's also a huge 78 MB download, which is a lot of software to install and keep up to date in order to fulfill what is really a relatively simple function.
A couple of years ago I brought you news of an alternative PDF reader for Windows called Sumatra. Since then, the program has undergone a series of updates but is still just a 3 MB download. And if you choose the portable version, it all unzips to a single 6 MB file which is all you need. There's nothing to install, and it makes no changes to your system registry. So if you don't like Sumatra, removing it completely from your PC involves nothing more than deleting a single file from your desktop.
And while it may not have the glamour of the Adobe version, its tiny size and fast speed may more than make up for its other shortcomings. Especially as it'll happily run from a USB pen drive if you're working on someone else's PC.

Link to Sumatra PDF Download

Car Registration Refund (Arizona)

If you sold your car before your registration expires, you are entitled to a refund. This can be done easily online with ADOT. Link to Service Arizona Website

Best Choice for Android Phone

If you're looking for a new Android phone, it likely is wise to skip the offerings from your carrier. This review from the WSJ explains why your best choices both in terms of performance and price (at 1/2 or less the cost of iPhones and Samsung Galaxies) are the Google 5X and Google 6P/

Link to WSJ Review of Android Phones

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fixing Problem of Some Webpages Not Opening in Chrome

The Google has many suggestions to fix the issue, including changing the Privacy settings to opt not to use hardware acceleration or predictive services, which don't fix the issue. Here is one suggestion not found in The Google that does: If you're using Ghostery, which is a terrific service that helps stop tracking services and allows for faster webpage loading, allow Google Analytics to load on the reluctant webpage and it should load just fine. Alternatively, use the IE-based Tab extension or just open the page in IE itself.

Possible Remedy If You Bought the Wrong Car

[Note: Submitted by courtesy by one of our wonderful loyal readers, and we thank him for this]

The reader bought a Prius 2. There was nothing wrong with it, and the dealership did nothing wrong, and the reader was happy with the price paid and in every other respect, but one. Indeed, the reader loved the car both because of the economy one gets from it and it's drive-by-wire transmission and it's storage space and many other things. But soon after buying it, and after having driven it a few hundred miles, the reader realized that there is one particular feature not on Prius 2 that's on the Prius 3, namely a 3-door smart key system instead of a 1-door smart key system. As time went on, even though the reader rarely drove the car--it was principally the spouse's car, he became increasingly and constantly distraught by the thought of not having the 3-door system.

No longer content to live with the angst, to see if there was anything that might be done, the reader talked to the dealership's customer support group and explained the great disappointment he was feeling, and how that feeling was growing. They looked into the possibility of retrofiting the other 2 doors, but it could not be done. He then further explained how frustrated he was both in conversation and by email, but was always complimentary of the dealership and always acknowledged how the fault was his. With the retrofit not possible, customer support then suggested the possibility of trading up to a Prius 3, which the reader assumed was impractical economically given depreciation having driven off the lot 2 months earlier and having driven it for 600 miles. That said, here's the really good news: If the car's mileage is under 1,000 miles, and hasn't been banged up, the depreciation for having driven off the lot is MUCH LESS than you would guess. There is some pain in duplicative transactional fees, but you get some credit on the registration side and in other ways, and anything that was "tossed in" on the Prius 2 will also be "tossed in" on the Prius 3, and the discounts you got on the Prius 2 will be applied to the Prius 3. So, while doing so is not pain-free, you actually will end up paying far less more than you would think you would had you bought the Prius 3 in the first place which, if the reader had not been a confessed idiot, he would have done. As the reader put it well, looked at from the point of view of ridding himself of continuing kicking himself for not buying the Prius 3 in the first place, it's a bargain!

PS: The feature differences on the various Prius models and even within models are beyond anyone's comprehension. The reader came up with a suggestion for the dealership that would be a win for the dealership and a win for its customers. Here is what he suggested:

 A checklist of all the possible features be created on a page (as per the below), and the customer is invited to put check marks by the feature he or she might want. Once the customer does the checkmarks , the conversation between customer and dealer becomes much easier. More important, the checklist would go a long way to insure that customers get what they want without post-sale regret based on a misunderstanding, so the dealership would reduce the risk of having an unhappy buyer and increase the chance of having happy buyers. And it likely would result in selling more Prius 3s vs. Prius 2s, which is a net revenue plus for the dealership as well. The suggestion was met quite favorably but the reader does not hold out any unrealistic hope about its being implemented or anything else being done even should it enhance the dealership's revenues. The suggestion also was forwarded to Toyota USA which has been known to make some significant compensatory gestures, even monetary ones, in appropriate circumstances, even without being asked to do so.
Pre-Sale Prius Checklist

Toyota and this dealership want to be sure your new Prius has the features you would like to have on the car. So, because different Prius models have different features, and features can vary even within models, please take a minute to check the features you might like to have on your Prius. Thank you.

__ 3-door Smart Key System (both front doors and hatch back)

__ Auto-set headlights

__ etc.

__ etc.

__ etc.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps

If you want to read an exhaustive point-by-point comparison of Apple Maps and Google Maps, just clink on the link below. If you just want the executive summary, here it is: They both do fine.

Link to Exhaustive Comparison

Voice Mail Message Transcriptions

Telephone service providers now enable customers to get an email message that will contain both the recording of any voice mail message left and a transcription of it. Before you get too excited that the message transcription is the one you've been praying for all your life, you might listen to the actual voice mail message. Illustratively, take note in the following verbatim transcription that what actually was said in the third sentence was: "Nothing much new." Here, though, is that verbatim transcription:

"What the [...] i'm-doing-some-believe(?). Just calling to say hi. Love you bunch. I'll talk to you later."

[Highlighting added]

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Arizona Republic Rate Change

Without notice, the Arizona Republic has raised its paper delivery rate by 15% (from about $35/month for 7-day delivery to over $40/month) (i.e., if you have your subscription billed to your credit card, unless you have an eagle eye, and remember what you had been paying monthly, you won't notice the price change). They do not apologize for the lack of notice, nor do they explain how in what's been a deflationary economy for 7 years, they can justify that kind of rate rise. Nor will they tell you why the phone-tree answering service is faulty and out-dated, with an infomercial that says it's from the food editor, even though he retired last year. It just might be the case that the real problem for the Republic is not in the stars, i.e., in the online delivery of news from all kinds of sources from The Cloud, but in themselves. They just might be idiots. The other word for it is death-spiral.

PS: If you do have an eagle eye and notice the change on your credit card, if you call 602-444-1000 and complain, they will give you one more month at the old rate. Don't bother emailing customer support. They will send you a response but it won't answer anything or even address your issues.

Scheduling a Blood Test

Everyone knows what a nightmare it can be, especially if one is fasting, to get a blood-test at Sonora Quest in Phoenix. At one facility, the line has been known to begin in the waiting room and extend out into the courtyard, making for an interminable wait. Our normally crack Medical Research Team has really fallen down, and be assured will be reprimanded appropriatedly. Because, as a certain brother-in-law of one Board of Directors has brought to our attention, and maybe we're the last to know this: One can now schedule a blood-test for a particular time at a particular location on the SQ website, show up, be drawn, and be on your way in 10 minutes. We are very embarrassed not to have known this but very thankful for the tip. And as he has further pointed out, one of the really cool things about scheduling on line, is the glares one gets as one is called in ahead of the many people who got to the facility earlier and watch you get ushered in like your a big shot. Finally, while this post is confined to SQ in Phoenix, it likely applies to many other municipalities.

Link to SQ Scheduling Website

Why Not to Hang a TV Over a Fireplace

Mounting a TV up and out of the way above a fireplace seems logical, convenient, and undeniably cool. However, there are serious issues with such placement. If you're planning on watching the TV only occasionally, that's one thing. But if this is your main TV and you're going to be watching it more than a few minutes at a time, beware.
Ever sit in the front row of a movie theater? Some people like it, but most don't. That sore neck you get from staring up at the screen? Imagine that every time you watch TV. Most people find staring up at something for long periods to be uncomfortable.
Sure, some people in some rooms won't have an issue, but most people really do not like to be looking up for hours at a time. Indeed, most people would much rather look slightly down at a TV. It's a much more natural position.
[Courtesy of cnet]

Thank-You Notes to Doctors

Thank-you notes are very nice things to do. They do not take any extraordinary effort and they have no downside. What has come to our attention is that the people most often overlooked as recipients of thank you notes are the same people who cherish them the most: One's doctors. Indeed, many of them have a special drawer where they keep any such letter they receive from a patient. To paraphrase what Woody Allen said in Annie Hall, "We all need the eggs." And thank-you notes are truly appreciated eggs.

PS: One need not be a doctor to be the recipient of a thank-you note.

Flat Rate Shipping With USPS

With little fanfare, USPS has changed its flat-rate shipping delivery time from 2 days to 3 days. Still, it is way easier and less expensive to do flat-rate shipping with your computer and printer from the comfort of your home than to go to the post office, and it is far easier to buy stamps through the USPS online store than to wait in an interminable line at the post office.

Link to USPS Flat-Rate Shipping and Postage Website

Monday, October 19, 2015

If You Own Stock in Whole Foods, Sell It

Whole Foods stock has been in trouble for a while. The store has had lackluster results because of its ridiculous pricing, it's out-of-date and fraudulent check-out process, it's stocking clerks getting in the way of purchasing, it's meat departments pretending customers don't exist, and it's really lousy customer service. Now add this: You buy a pack of chiabatta bread on Saturday, and on Sunday, large green mold spots appear; you take it in on Monday, and no one being in the Customer Support booth, you ask one of the baggers to speak to a manager, and the bagger says she's a manager; you show her the disgusting bread; she says, we don't put in preservatives, so that can happen; she also says one should check the sell-by date, which was two days in the future from when she and I are having this conversation; she then explains how she always looks for the furthest out sell-by date when she buys chiabatta bread because it's known to turn, and that I should do the same; and she has nothing to say when it is suggested that, instead of a sell-by date, what should be printed is a when-baked date. She said she would raise that suggestion with her "team leader," but was unfazed that others were listening to this conversation and that you told her this was your last visit to Whole Foods. The only thing more astounding about this conversation is the patience shown by the customer in not telling the bagger-manager in unforgettable language what he felt like saying.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Anonymous Call Blocking Limitation

Unfortunately, I am truly sorry and sad to report that the Anonymous Call Blocking procedure described in yesterday's blog post is not as effective as it might be. Specifically, this feature does not block Unknown Name, Unknown, Unknown Number, or Out of Area calls. These calls are either from an area that does not support Caller ID services, or the number has never been in Cox's database to be blocked. Again, it's better than nothing and please do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I have instructed our technical team to turn to other projects more worthy of foot-stomping.

Getting Best Airfares for Holiday Travel

Generally, the earlier one books for air travel, the better. But there are exceptions, especially for Thanksgiving. Here is an excellent article from the NYT on how to get the best and how to avoid the worst times for booking holiday travel: Link to Excellent Article From the NYT on Holiday Travel

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ordering Tip for Los Dos Molinos (and Perhaps Other Restaurants)

Let's say you order a chimichanga and your dining companion orders a cheese enchillada with a side order of beans. That side order of beans will cost $2.50. But if the chimichanga order were changed to be a chimichanga plate instead of a chimichanga a la carte, it would come with rice and beans for just $2 more to have added the rice and beans. So, here's what to do: Instead of ordering the enchilla with a side of beans and an a la carte chimichanga, order the cheese enchillada a la carte and the chimi plate, and then slide or spoon the beans from the chimi plate to the enchillada plate and feel free to eat the rice or leave it. If you lunch at LDM every Saturday, that's a $26 savings over the course of a year, and you also get rice if you want it at no additional charge.

Anonymous Call Rejection

In an earlier post, this blog explained how to call block designated numbers. After the ungrateful moaning and additional foot-stamping from readers upon learning that it did not work for anonymous calls, our engineers went to work again with Cox. We are pleased to announce Anonymous Call Rejection, which will block calls from "unavailable, unknown numbers." Again, this feature is free if you have Premier service and will cost $.99/month/line if you don't. Verizon and others have this feature as well. Here is all you need to know to set it up (on the Cox system) after you phone Cox (at 602-277-1000) to have activated.

What is Anonymous Call Rejection?
With Anonymous Call Rejection, any caller who has blocked his or her number from your Caller ID display will hear an announcement that you do not accept anonymous calls, and that they should remove the blocking and then call back. The recording also tells the caller how to remove its blocking for that one call by first dialing *82. All other calls will ring through as usual.

How to Turn on Anonymous Call Rejection
  1. Lift the handset and listen for the dial tone.
  2. Press *77 (on a rotary phone, dial 1177).

    Result: You will hear a confirmation tone or announcement.
  3. Hang up the handset.

    Result: You will receive a notification when a call is rejected.

    All steps complete.
How to Turn off Anonymous Call Rejection
  1. Press *87 (on a rotary phone, dial 1187).
  2. Listen for a confirmation tone or announcement.
  3. Hang up the handset.

    All steps complete.
BTW: You can block your outgoing calls by dialing *67 before dialing the number you want to call.

Sharing Photos With Tech-Free Family Members

You're constantly taking pictures of your adorable grand-children and your travels, and want to share them with family members who are tech-challenged. Here is a simple and inexpensive way to automatically do so with the Mpix app for iOS and Android devices. With Mpix, you tap the photo you want to upload, and then it will be printed in high quality, and shipped to the person you want it shipped to. It's not free, but it's not very expensive. Even better, if the person you're sending the photos to has wi-fi and an email address, get them a Nixplay Seed frame (spring for the 8" or 10" version for $120 or less because of the far better resolution than the 7" version), and then you can have your photos appear immediately on that screen. What's way cool is that all the frame's settings can be tweaked remotely via a website, so you can do it from the comfort of your home and the person you're sending the photos to need not do anything. It's available from any online or brick-and-mortar retailer.

Link to Mpix App Download

Link to Nixplay Seed Frame Description

Better Way to Automatically Store Smart Device Photos Off Your Device

If you use your smartphone or tablet to take photos, especially when you travel, unless you upload them and remove them from your phone, you are likely to fill up your phone's memory and seriously degrade it's performance. One solution is a memory card but iPhones don't allow them. An excellent solution is the SandDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive. It connects wirelessly to your smart device, and then any photographs you take are stored on the flash drive rather than on your device and can be shared from their with anyone or any other device. You can even store movies on it for viewing on your smart device.

Link ro Description of SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive

SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

Friday, October 16, 2015

Call Blocking Designated Numbers

Many readers have asked, often in a foot-stomping kind of way: How can I stop all the telemarketing and other annoying phone calls I get? Our research team has been working on the problem with our telephone provider and, while we do not have the perfect answer yet, we have a pretty good one and it's free if you have an "essential" package and $2.70/month/line if you don't, and of course never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. What's described here relates to Cox Communications digital telephone service, and is called Selective Call Rejection. You need to call Cox to activate the feature but, if you do and explain how their advertising on TV about the feature is misleading and that their webpage description is incomplete and misleading, they will give you at least the first month free. Likely, other digital telephone providers have the same service.

Selective Call Rejection allows you to program your phone to reject calls from any number you place in the rejection list, and is actually very easy. When your service is turned on (you can turn it on or off at any time), any caller in this list will hear an announcement that you're not accepting calls at this time. All other calls will ring through as usual.You can add up to 30 numbers. Numbers can be added manually by dialing *60, then # and then punching in the phone number you want to add and then # or you can add the last number dialed by dialing *60#01#. Here are the other instructions

To use this service, after calling Cox (602-277-1000) to activate the feature, follow these steps:
  1. Lift the handset and listen for the dial tone.
  2. Press *60. On a rotary phone, dial 1160.
  3. Listen for an announcement telling you whether the feature is currently on or off. The recorded voice will then tell you how many if any numbers are currently stored in your rejection list.
  4. Follow the voice instructions and press 3 to turn the feature on or off.
To add the last caller to your rejection list:
Press #01#. On a rotary phone, dial 1201.
To hear the phone numbers on your list:
  1. Press 1.
  2. After the list is read, voice instructions will follow.
To add a number to your list:
  1. Press #. On a rotary phone, dial 12.
  2. Follow the voice instructions you'll hear. You can store up to 30 phone numbers in your rejection list.
To remove a number from your list:
  1. Press *. On a rotary phone, dial 11.
  2. Follow the voice instructions to remove any or all of those numbers from your rejection list.
  • To hear the instructions again press 0.
  • You will not be notified when or how many calls have been rejected.
  • Selective Call Rejection does not work if someone is calling from a blocked number.
  • You may press 10#, or * at any time rather than waiting for the voice instructions.
  • The list you create here is separate from any other lists you may be using for Priority Ringing, Call Waiting, Selective Call Acceptance, Selective Call Forwarding, and similar services.
  • This feature is currently not working with Motorola SBV5222 modems. Please contact your local Cox center for assistance.

Android Screenshots

Since after the version 4.0, the Android system has had a built-in feature that allows you to take a screenshot on your mobile device by pressing the Power button and Volume-Down button simultaneously. However, using these two buttons at the same time to capture a screenshot can be a pain--pressing the Power button too soon shuts down the screen, or pressing the Volume-Down button too soon reduces the volume.
To ease the pain, some device manufacturers have modified the Android system to let you take a screenshot by simply pressing an icon or a shortcut. Without that, it's worthwhile to install a third party app that helps.
Screenshot Easy, which is free, is one of the popular third party apps that you can download from the Google Play store and install to your device for taking screenshots in more ways.
After the install, run this app and tap "Start Capture." You can then use any of the following methods that you've enabled in the app to snap a screenshot:
  1. Tap an icon overlaid on the screen;
  2. Tap the app icon from the notification accessible by swiping down from top of the screen;
  3. Shake your device;
  4. Use the camera button if supported on your device;
  5. Use the button combo, either Power+VolumeDown buttons or Power+Home buttons depending on your device;
  6. Connect or disconnect your device to/from power.
As a bonus, Screenshot Easy gives you more choices in handling your screenshots such as switching colors, rotate, date and time stamps, timeout, image format, notification, save location and more.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Clearing Your Print Queue

Print Flush falls into the "best utility you didn't know you needed" category. It solves the problem of print jobs getting stuck in the print queue without additional steps. You can always clear the print queue manually, which can involve several steps up to and including rebooting your computer, but having a little program (little being just 1 KB) that can do it with one click makes it so much easier. 

Download Link to Print Flush

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Suggestion for ISPs

We made the below suggestion to Cox, and urge you to do the same. Feel free to copy and paste the text. Cox's email address is:  If you have some other ISP, you might make the suggestion to it.

Especially for Cox customers who have Cox HSI and Cox Digital Telephone, when those services go down it can be very difficult to get through to Cox to find out if it is an outage or a problem with the customer’s system. There is an easy remedy for this that would be of great benefit to customers, great benefit to Cox, and likely would save Cox money. That remedy is to alert customers by text when there is an outage. In addition, the text could give an estimated time for repair if known. And a second text could be sent when the outage is repaired. The benefit to customers is obvious. The benefit to Cox is that Cox would avoid the deluge of telephone calls it likely receives when there is an outage, which means Cox would need fewer phone reps, hence, the savings of money. In short, with a text alert system, customers would be happier at the times they are most frustrated and Cox would be happier at the times it is most harried. Thank you for considering this suggestion.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Avoiding a Crucial TV Setup Mistake

If you have stacks of set-top boxes in a closed TV cabinet, that is not good. Putting all your devices away in a closed cabinet seems like a nice way to make your entertainment room look less messy. But when you have things like a router, gaming consoles, cable box, and dvd player all hanging out in one cabinet, things can get steamy. Without proper air circulation those devices can overheat and eventually fry. Anyone who remembers the red ring of death knows this intimately. For starters, never ever stack your devices. No matter what kinda cabinet or tv stand you have, each device should stand alone. If you have a closed cabinet, you have two options. The first is to remove the doors and go with an open style cabinet. Or for the do it yourself types, you can install a cooling fan. Some versions include a thermal controlled fan that turns on when the cabinet reaches a certain temperature. This way you can keep all of your devices hidden away without worrying about them overheating.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Good Wife Redux

As mentioned earlier, the first episode of this season made it look promising. Alas, the second episode is as stupid as were the episodes of the last couple of seasons. Oy!

Scam Texts

Everyone likely is familiar with the various kinds of scamming emails and knows not to answer them. If you have not gotten a scamming text, you likely will soon. If you get a text where the sender is just a telephone number, do not answer it. If you are tempted to answer it because you like whatever it is you are being invited to do, at least do two things before answering: (i) put the phone number into the search box of your contacts and see if it comes up; and (ii) check this reverse look-up link:


There never will be an end to the debate as to whether the best television comedy series ever and ever to be is Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm. The debate hinges on whether you prefer softer (Seinfeld) or rawer (CYE). That said, here's the good news: For anyone who has not seen CYE or for anyone who would like to see it again, all the seasons are available on Amazon Instant Video and, for Prime members, they all are free.

Note: While there is no reasonable debate that CYE and Seinfeld are the two best comedy series of all time, there remains genuine debate as to which episode of any comedy series is the best comedy episode of all time. Two contenders from the Phil Silvers show are the Private Harry Speak Up episode (where a chimpanzee is inducted into the army) and A Mess Sergeant Can't Win episode (where Ritzik cannot win a bet against Sgt. Bilko and finally won't even take Bilko's bet that Ritzik's mother was a Chinese bar girl from Singapore).

Link to the Private Harry Speak Up Episode (the Court Martial)

Link to the A Mess Sergeant Can't Win Episode

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Two Secrets to Making the Best Hamburger

Everyone thinks they put magical ingredients into and know just how to buy the best meat and prepare the best hamburger. But they never seem to come out as good as the good hamburger places. Here's why, and here are the two secrets: First, you need a great grill and you need to cook them on the lowest heat possible while still searing them on the outside. But second, and FAR MORE IMPORTANT, it's the bun. Every great hamburger place serves their hamburgers on a brioche, and finding a fresh brioche is very difficult, and they aren't cheap. I know many of our readers hate Whole Foods, and for good reason, but they have wonderful brioches, even if priced outrageously. They are worth it though. AJ's also has them and they are decently priced. They make the hamburger sing. And don't be a shmohawk even if you like your hamburger bun toasted ... try not toasting your hamburger's brioche.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Benefits of Amazon Prime Membership

Here are the benefits of Amazon Prime Membership:

1. Free 2-day shipping and sometimes even free 1-day shipping, and credit for future purchases when opting for standard shipping.

2. Unlimited free photo storage.

3. Extensive free instant streaming library of movies and television series.

4. Extensive free downloadable music library.

5. Kindle owners lending library.

Link to Explanatory Details

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Samsung Pay

One of the biggest complaints you hear from people these days is: "I'm really tired of schlepping around my credit cards." Those days are over. Along with the days of leaving your credit card in the restaurant charge slip envelope. Along with the days of accidentally dropping them down a storm drain. Why are those days over? Samsung Pay: Link to Very Short Samsung Pay Video

Using Samsung Pay also is far more secure than using credit cards because the merchant does not even get your credit card number.

At first blush, Apple Pay looks and looks to work just like Samsung Pay, i.e., you tap, bring up the credit card you want to use, and swipe. But the respective data transfer systems are different with the result that Samsung Pay is useable at countless more places than Apple Pay.

Tips for the New iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

If you're stuck with an iPhone 6, you're missing out on a lot things the new S models can do that no other iPhones can do. This cnet article addresses those things: Link to cnet Article

If Your Router Is 3 Years Old or Older, It's Time for a New One

This article from the NYT explains why any router that's 3 years old or older should be replaced: Link to NYT Article

This article from the NYT helps you choose the best router for you, none of which is unduly expensive: Link to NYT Article

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Brisket and Mashed Potatoes

The only cost-effective place to buy brisket is Costco. It is several dollars per pound less than even the less expensive markets. But here's the cool thing: Costco has two versions of the same brisket, one more trimmed than the other. The two briskets are otherwise the same. The cost difference, $2/pound (which is 33% less), is the cost of trimming. Go with the the less trimmed. Not only will you save money, but you can easily trim the extra fat yourself, and you'll get a tastier brisket and much more of it for the same amount of money.

You likely will want to serve mashed potatoes along with your brisket. Freshly mashed potatoes are best and instant mashed potatoes are to be eschewed at all costs. But take a look at Ore Ida frozen microwaveable mashed potatoes. They are real potatoes with no additives and will get the approval of your most fickle potato lover. They've got a garlic variety as well, but chopping your own fresh garlic is a better way to go. Here's what to look for in your grocer's frozen section:

Image result for ore ida mashed potatoes