All posts filed under: Tech

Your Blog – What Do Your Visitors See?

I give my blog a make-over now and then. (WordPress.com has so many themes to try). When I test drive a new one, I ask a few friends to let me know what their browser thinks of the change. Does my blog load fairly fast on their computer, phone or other device? Can they read the blog easily? Does anything seem to be ‘broken’? Why does speed matter? We might live in a fast paced world, but our internet connections vary from rabbit to turtle. I sometimes have a frog connection – fast leaps alternating with “really, you’ve stopped completely!?” pauses. A fast website loads completely in my browser while my frog is leaping. I can read the site while my frog has stopped to admire the scenery. A slow website doesn’t load completely during the leaps. I often get tired of waiting and abandon the site. Apparently search engines also use load speed as one of the factors in search ranking. You can test the speed of your site with a free tool called …

Anticipating a Better Picture – Over the Air Television

One of the things on our Christmas wish list this year was a gift for our TV set. Television – in my lifetime, I’ve ‘seen’ it all! Our first TV had rabbit ears which were enhanced with wire and tinfoil. In later years we had roof top antennas, then big satellite dishes, little satellite dishes, and cables. Our first TV gave us one station. In later years we had dozens of stations, then hundreds of stations. Our TV screens were sometimes as small as a laptop computer, sometimes big boxes that took two men to lift, and finally flat screen lightweights that hung on the wall. We wanted to see if we could ‘cut the cord’ on our Satellite TV service. To do that, we needed a digital antenna that would pick up free Over the Air (OTA) television. The Car Guy chose a TERK omni-digital antenna for 1080 HDTV broadcasts. Like children who peek at their presents before Christmas morning,  we opened this  gift a few weeks ago. The installation was very easy once …

The Quippery

Apples and Blackberries – My Blackberry is Not Working

Life was so much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits! – Author Unknown – Now-a-days 12 year olds have a blackberry, an iPad, a laptop, and a Facebook profile. When I was 12, I felt Cool with my New Gel Pen. – Author Unknown – I didn’t really mean to publish this post at this time. I had it ‘Scheduled’ and forgot to unschedule it. Bad news came in triplicate this week – not really the time to post something like this. Then again, maybe it is the best time. I watched it again this morning – for maybe the tenth time ever, and it  made me smile… Post 434

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Manual

There comes a time when all people break down and do the unthinkable: They read the manual. – Author Unknown – In our family – I read the manual before I push any buttons, turn any knobs, plug anything in. The Car Guy doesn’t. (This post, How to Boil Water, is a good example of the way we approach these things.) What about your family? Is Manual Reading a ‘Pink Job – Blue Job‘ thing, or do you think it is non-gender specific? I have a New Camera (Canon PowerShot SX50 HS).  New buttons, new dials, new printed manual. No, not a big manual. A mini-manual – the one that says ‘Getting Started’. This showed me how to insert the battery and memory card and warned me, in 3 pages of tiny type, of all the safety precautions I should follow. ‘Getting Started” assured me that I could take my first few pictures without knowing what all the buttons and dials will do – so I bravely went where I would not normally go, and …

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Camera – Zoom

I got a new camera a few days ago.  It is the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. I’ll skip right to the photos I took this morning so that you can see why I am very happy with this camera. This was the view from my back door this morning. The neighbour’s farm buildings are near the centre of the photo (you can barely see the red barn), and the moon was in the sky above them. The sun was just coming up. The PowerShot has a 50X optical zoom lens with Image Stabilizer. In layman terms, a zoom lens makes far away things look closer. This is the red barn when I zoomed in on it. This is the moon when I zoomed in on it. The camera was set to AUTO mode, and I did not use a tripod. I think that bears repeating – I hand held the camera, and used the full AUTO mode. Point – shoot! This camera does not come with a memory card, so we bought a SanDisk Extreme …

Computers 101 – How to Turn on Your Laptop

Parents know how to push your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on. – Camryn Manheim – The instructions for powering up my Sony VAIO laptop are pretty simple. They are found on a sheet of paper that is filed in a folder in the cabinet in our home office. They read: Lift the LCD screen lid – Press the power button until the power indicator light turns on. (Apparently I either never read those instructions, or if I did, I forgot them. And really, how much use is a piece of paper in the file cabinet anyhow?) Unlike many computers, the power button for my laptop is a large button on the right side of the machine. Most laptops have a power button that is under the lid. If a button is under a lid, it can’t be pushed until the lid is opened. If it is on the outside, it says (to me anyhow) you can push me first if you like and then open the lid – which I have been doing …

Communications History – The Telephone

The Car Guy took a consulting job this past January. It was supposed to take only a few months of full time work, but that was not to be. Seven months in, and there is no end in sight. He is more than ready to retire again. It isn’t that he doesn’t like the project, or the challenge. What is really getting him down is how hard it is to get away from the job after work hours now that he has a company issued Blackberry phone. Communications have changed considerably since he embarked on his career in the 1970’s. When he first started working, he spent much of his time in remote locations. At that time, reports were hand printed on a form, then voice relayed to the head office by mobile radio. Land lines came later, and with them came the addition of a fax machine which enabled information to be sent back and forth much faster. The phones in use at that time had rotary dials, but by the 1980’s most businesses …

How to Go Hunting for Computer Viruses

You have just received the “Novice Hacker Virus”. As we ain’t got no programming experience, this virus works on the honour system. Please delete all the files from your hard drive and manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list. Thanks for your cooperation. – Source – Internet – Wednesday wasn’t a real good day. I woke too early, couldn’t get back to sleep, and finally got up to begin a task that isn’t all that much fun – troubleshooting a problem with the computer. In this case, several computers, because I didn’t know which one had possibly been compromised by a Virus. Yes, I was going on a Malware hunt.  Let there be no confusion about my intent here. I was going to be armed, and I was prepared to kill. But first I had to get dressed. I pondered what to wear for this distasteful job, and finally decided on the baggy look. Comfort first is my motto. And since I had exactly four delicious muffins to potentially eat, but I …

What my iPad2 has Taught Me

Meet my new iPad2. It has a handy four segment folding front cover (I chose red, of course) that flips right over to the back side to form a little stand. When the cover is closed across the front, it puts the iPad to sleep. A very light sleep. It pops awake almost instantly if I lift the cover even a tiny bit. I know all this because I’ve tried to catch it off guard. I’ve had my iPad for just over a month now, and I’ve learned a lot about the world of iPads and Apple Apps. No, let me rephrase that. In relative terms, I know hardly anything, but compared to what I knew before I got my iPad, I know a lot more. Briefly then, here is what I have learned: – Not to put a bunch of hand lotion on my hands just before using the iPad – makes the screen very greasy, very quickly. – There are over 90,000 Apps. There is no way to wade through that many choices …

computer desk paper

Clean Your Computer Day

Did you know that there is a National Clean Out Your Computer Day? It is the second Monday in February and it was originally sponsored by The Institute for Business Technology. The task for the day is to do all the maintenance things that keep a computer running well, including giving the physical equipment a good dusting. Personally, I think this needs to happen more than once a year, which is why I’m reminding you to do one small task today. Wipe the grunge off your keyboard, and dust the monitor. I’m not saying you should attack it with disinfectant cloths. Just wipe the coffee and jam stains off the keys with whatever you can find. And then go give your hands a good scrub too. They will probably need it. Now, sit down at your computer and admire your handiwork. A clean keyboard and monitor is like a fresh page of paper and a favourite pen. A new start, where the potential is limited only by… the cluttered distraction of all the stuff around …

How to Improve Your Cell Phone Manual

A 91 year old Moncton New Brunswick man by the name of George Williams owns two computers, an iPhone, and a new BlackBerry Playbook. “It’s always been a challenge to me,” he says “to sit down with the owner’s manuals to figure them out.” The Owners Manuals – some people read them, and some people don’t. Even the best manuals can be a challenge to decipher. Several years ago I bought a simple Unsmart Phone. It came with a 37 page manual of tiny print that was best read with a magnifying glass. The first 11 pages were filled with preliminaries, including the advice “do not use the phone when blasting is in progress”. It also suggested that the phone should be used in “normal position” and “not to touch the antenna unnecessarily.” There were health cautions too. The handy little Scroll Key could be hazardous because it “may contain nickel.” And if it does, it “should not come into prolonged contact with the skin.” I wasn’t aware of how dangerous these little devices could …

iPad 2 – A Six Day Journey

It is not that I don’t embrace new technology. It is just that I don’t adopt it very quickly. My cell phone is a good example. Sometimes I turn it on, phone The Car Guy to tell him that I survived a shopping trip in The Big City and I’m on my way home to eat the hot supper he is making. That gives him time to go get some take-away. Then I turn the phone off for a few months. So when The Car Guy asked me if I wanted to have an iPad, I looked at him skeptically. The thing had only been out for a year. And it was an Apple. Why would I spend that much money on something that might be only a fad, and would require me to Cross Over to the Dark Side? He replied, “We aren’t getting any younger. I’ve got some extra money this month. Let’s live on the edge.” And so it was that we made the pilgrimage to the Apple Store and looked at …

old school slate

The Slate Comes Full Circle – The iPad

In early schools, children used book sized writing slates to practice penmanship and to do lessons on. The use of a slate required children to be good at memorizing, because once the slate was wiped off, the writing was gone. An entire classroom might only have one textbook for the teacher to instruct from! By the time I started school, lead pencils and paper had replaced slates. Textbooks were readily available, but the back pack to carry them in hadn’t been invented yet! Today, I watch my grandchildren lugging a pack full of stuff back and forth to school each day, and it makes me think there has to be a better way of doing things. There should be a way that children can return to yesteryear by carrying a simple tool such as a slate, but a slate with modern technology. Enter the tablet computers. I think these are going to be the next big thing in education.  To see one in action, you have to look  no further than the Apple iPad. The …

iMac iPod iPhone iPad iBroke

i Encounter i Things – iPad How-to Lesson #1

Nate Beeler is a cartoonist with The Washington Examiner. The caption of one of his Toons is “iMac   iPod  iPhone  iPad  iBroke”. What does ibroke cost? In Canada, an iMac starts at $1299. iPods cost between $59 and $429. An iPhone  and an iPad both start at $549. So, entry level iBroke is about $2500. We have a few older iPods and an iTouch, but we haven’t made the giant leap to iMac or iPad. In our household, that would be going to The Dark Side, a place we aren’t prepared to go to yet. An iPad was a house guest this past few days (along with one daughter -The Cooker- and one granddaughter – Wild Child), so it was inevitable that I would learn a bit about it. I had no option. I couldn’t let an 8 year old grandchild think I was a computer illiterate. I was okay not knowing how to play Angry Birds but I was not okay with being unable to turn the iPad on to find Angry Birds. …

The Quippery

The Computer that Thought it was a Groundhog

Somewhat like the groundhog this past Wednesday (Groundhog Day), the Business Computer came on, blinked a few times, then retreated back into a black hole. I spent most of the rest of the day trying to convince the computer that it was time to wake up and get back to work. I would not have been quite so concerned if I had backed up the computer really, really, recently, but I hadn’t. All our email correspondence was at risk. That was when I wished I kept our emails in the Clouds, and hadn’t downloaded them all. I can’t say for sure what happened, but Windows was clearly upset about something. This otherwise faithful operating system went into an endless loop of starting up then closing down. I tried all sorts of measures, (good thing I had another computer to look for solutions) and eventually resorted to a complete Windows reinstall. Remarkably, that went without a hitch. Of course, then I had to download a kabillion Windows Updates, but when the dust had cleared, all our …

How to Go Internet Router Shopping

Have you ever read the headline “Grandma Drives Pick-up Truck INTO Electronics Store”? I came close to making that headline. I went to Toon Town on Wednesday to run a few errands. The Car Guy was using our Daily Driver, so I took the back-up vehicle, a “plow through snow drifts” Dodge Dakota 4X4 pick-up truck with a Magnaflow high performance exhaust system. I love driving it – makes me feel very tall and I like the rumbly sound it makes. One of my stops was the local Electonics store. You know, the people who sell everything from crayons to computers. I wanted a new wireless router. The router aisle had a bewildering variety of products to choose from. I wondered what to buy, and I wondered how long it would take for a sales associate (SA) to come and help me. After many minutes, I began to wonder if I had become Invisible again. It always happens when I least want it to. If I want to be left alone in a book store, …

Cloud Computing – Choosing What and Who

There are many words to describe Heaven. I think immediately of dark chocolate. You might think a little further ahead than snack time. You might conjure up a vision of Heaven as a fluffy home in the Clouds. Which is pretty much what someone must have been thinking  when they came up with the term Cloud Computing. Doesn’t that make you think of all your precious computer data and applications stored safely in a white cloud somewhere above your house in Podunk, ready to beam down to you at a moments notice? The reality is, of course, that the Cloud is made up of many, many computers called servers (or some such name), some of which could be sitting in someones damp basement two blocks away. So, Lesson Number One in Cloud Computing is: Choose a reputable Cloud Company to look after your data. You have probably already done that when you selected the people who shuttle your Emails back and forth to you. They keep all your emails in an Electronic Post Office (that computer …

The Quippery

Does Reality TV Reflect a Downward Intelligence Spiral?

Dumbing Down – to lower the level of difficulty and the intellectual content of (as a textbook); to lower the general level of intelligence ; statement of truth about real cultural trends in education and culture. (Dictionary definitions) We’re kind of smug here in Canada – we like to think we’re “different” than Americans. And, in many ways, happily, we are. But, unhappily, we’re working hard to change that. I’m thinking specifically about what I refer to as the “Dumbing Down” of America. One example of “Dumbing Down” would have to be the popularity of Reality TV programs. I’m thinking specifically of “Wipeout”. I’ve never watched it, but our little local paper describes it thus: “…draws humour from the different ways huge objects knock contestants into a moat.” I don’t quite understand why anyone would want to be a contestant, nor why that would be funny to viewers. Even more disconcerting is the fact that Canadians can now compete in “Wipeout Canada.” Our little newspaper goes on to profile a local lady who was selected to be on this …

How to make Cell Phones Safer

My Spousal Unit took the Harley into the city yesterday. He returned unscathed, but a bit shaken. A young women nearly drove him off the road. She was so busy on her cell phone, that she didn’t even see him as she changed lanes. Fortunately my husband saw her heading for him, so he sped up and moved over as far as he could go. But with another car in front of him, and a high curb on his right, he could only go so far. Fortunately his evasive actions were enough. He was philosophical about the dangers of riding a motorcycle – “It wouldn’t have mattered whether I was in a car or on the bike – she just didn’t look where she was going. The problem wasn’t what I was driving. The problem was that she was driving AND talking. Clearly she can’t do both at the same time.” So, as I see it, the biggest danger of using a cell phone is that it causes accidents. Of course, there are suggestions that cell phone overuse can …