Sunday, December 22, 2013

Family Tech: Chromebook is good for some users

Have family members needing a lot more hand holding on their PCs than you want to give?  A Chromebook might be a good gift this Christmas.

The latest Family Tech is up.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Family Tech : Travelling with Tech, or Being a Road Warrior

Once upon a time I was a Road Warrior.

Lessons learned about using tech while travelling.

The latest Family Tech is online.

Links post is here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Is Google Keep finally a viable Google Task Manager?

When Google Keep first appeared, myself and others thought it was Google’s attempt to make an Evernote type product.


I had long thought Google should acquire Evernote, or barring that, create their own personal note storage system.   Google’s mission seems to be indexing all the world’s information.  That should include our own personal information, but before they can index it and let us search on it, they need to give us a place to store information.


Perhaps that is still their intent, but if it is, they are getting there at a snail’s pace.  There have been few upgrades to Keep.


The only really major upgrade was the addition of reminders; adding a date and time to a note and having the app alert you when appropriate.


At our Google+ Keep community a poster wondered if perhaps Keep was not actually intended to replace Google Tasks.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Family Tech: Cord Cutting, Again

I revisit cord cutting with a discussion of some new trends, the Google Chromecast, and some comments on Comcast.

A new Family Tech column

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Family Tech: Readying High School Seniors for College

What should today's high school seniors do to ready themselves for college, tech wise?

This is the topic of this Family Tech column.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Family Tech: So we bought Google Glass

So I was one of the chosen in Google's #IfIHadGlass contests and I went to New York to purchase and pick them up.

This Family Tech talks about Glass.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Family Tech : Device Recycling

Do you have old tech laying around?

This Family Tech will tell you how to make some money from it, reuses it, or at least dispose of it separately.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What's New on Netflix

OK, others probably already know about this.  If you want to keep up on what is new on Netflix, this RSS Feed from Netflix is worth adding to your RSS app.

Since the demise of Google Reader, Feedly has met my needs.

Family Tech: Geek Museums

Last week I went on a Geek Quest to New York City.  On the way, I thought about other Geeky places I've visited, and places to visit in this part of the country.

That is the topic of this Family Tech column.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Follow Mark on his Geek Quest Thursday, June 27, 2013

I'm going on a all day Geek Quest.

Follow along on Google+ using this link.  You do not have to be a Google+ member.

It will get most interesting about 6 PM, but there will be updates all day.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Family Tech: New Toys from Apple, Microsoft & Sony

Family Tech for June 20, made it to the web as well today.  There are new toys coming from Apple, Microsoft and Sony.  If you like Mac's, iPhones or game consoles, this is worth a read.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Keep: Reading the tea leaves

I hate prediction posts.  This week there is both E3, the gaming industry trade show, and Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).

The tech press has articles for the last couple weeks, talking about what we "might" see at these shows. They do nothing but lead to disappointment; they are always too optimistic.

That being said, imagine my own sense of irony as I delve into thinking about Keep, and where it might be going.

This isn't a prediction, I tell myself, but more like a thought experiment.

Since Keep was first announced and released back on March 20, the Keep community (Google+ Keep Community), has been eager to see what Google does with this humble beginning.

Many of us love Evernote, and while we don't necessarily want to give up Evernote, we want to see where Keep is going.

Is Keep going to expand to challenge Evernote?  What does Google have in mind for Keep?

Some in the G+ community have wondered if Keep wasn't released early.  It had been accidentally exposed to the web a few days before the announcement, and there are those, and I'm one of them, that think Google released Keep when it did only to stem the rumors.  There has been only one upgrade for the Android version since then, a minor bug fix release.  There are yet no new features.

Or has there?

We know from the first announcement of Keep that it is part of Google Drive.  To access Drive via the web, you go to  http://drive.google.com/keep.  

More telling is the promise in that first post
You can access, edit and create new notes on the web at http://drive.google.com/keep and in the coming weeks you'll be able to do the same directly from Google Drive. [emphasis mine]
Yet, there has not been any integration of Keep and Drive despite that promise.

While the Keep Android app hasn't been upgraded, the Drive app has been upgraded a couple weeks ago on May 22.

One key new feature in that version was a scan button.  Now when you choose to add a new document, your choices are Folder, Document, Spreadsheet, Scan, and Upload.
Simply click “Scan” from the Add New menu, snap a photo of your document, and Drive will turn the document into a PDF that’s stored for safekeeping.
Now when you take a photo of a document, you can adjust the image so that it makes a good looking document.  And, the post goes on to say :
And because Drive can recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, a simple search will retrieve the scanned document later. No more frantic scrambling through drawers looking for a receipt or digging through your pockets to find that business card -- just scan, upload and search in Drive.
That's a capability Evernote has.  Now Drive has it.  And Keep is part of Drive.

So I'm beginning to get a glimmer of where Keep is going.

Soon, a new folder will appear in Drive named "Google Keep" or some such.  Inside of it will be our notes, in some new format, like the unique format Google created for Documents, .gdoc.

And there will be a sub folder "Archive".

Those will be the default folders for the Keep mobile apps.

Keep will be a simple entry and viewing app for the Drive text notes and scans/photos within those folders.  And we'll be able to open those notes and documents within Drive.

And we'll likely be able to Share them, and Star them as we do Drive documents.  And move them to other folders.

One thing I am fairly confident about, is that Google will keep Keep going.  I think the ultimate use of Keep is meant to be with Google Glass.  It would be so easy to look at something while wearing Glass, and say, "Glass, Keep this." and Glass would take a photo of the sign, or menu, or whatever you were looking at, and add it to Keep.

Did you know you can go to Google's main search page, and type in "My photos of cats", and if you have any cat photos stored in Google+ the search results will show you the photos you have of cats?

Only you can search your photos this way.  You have to be logged into to Google when you make the search.

Imagine if they integrated Keep into their search results.  To invoke search on Glass, you go to "OK Glass, Google, <search term>"

Imagine saying to Glass, "OK Glass, Google, Show me my last gas receipt" and it finds it in Keep.

At the last Google I/O, they said soon PCs would automatically listen for you to say "OK Google, <search term>".  With Keep integrated into search results, we could simply ask our PC to show us something in Keep.

Anyway, that's my little Thought Experiment.  It will be interesting to see if any of it comes to be.

Family Tech: Cutting the cord

Ever thought about cutting your cable's cable?  This Family Tech discusses letting go of everything but your internet.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Family Tech: Programming for beginners

Want to encourage your kids to program?  Why should you?  How can you?  How can you program too?

This is covered in the Family Tech column posted today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Very Cool: Evernote adds reminders

In what they have said is their #1 request (it certainly was mine!), Evernote has added reminders.

You can specify a reminder date for a note, and Evernote will email you with a reminder for the note.  The reminder also pops up in the app.

Right now, it works on IOS and Web, but the other clients should be getting it very soon.  I hope it is sooner than Reminders itself.  Phil Libin said in one of their podcasts that Due Dates were coming "soon".  That was at least two years ago, maybe three.  Supposing Reminders are what he meant as Due Dates, he has a rather loose definition of soon.

Joking aside, this is an awesome feature addition.

Also the notes with Reminders end up at the top of each Notebook, and you can arrange them by your order of importance.

Read Evernote's blog post, and watch their video for more information.

Cross posted on GetProductiveFast.com and Ideas from Mark Stout.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Family Tech: Planning for your digital afterlife

What happens to your Facebook, email, and other online content when you die?  

The most recent Family Tech column is about planning for your digital afterlife.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Web is 20 years old today

On April 30, 1993, CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), publicly revealed their new creation, the World Wide Web.

Tim Berners-Lee's team had created the web to share information among computer users all over the world.

This was the first web page.

The Web has taken us way past academics sharing information.

Look around.  Do you see many record stores?  Video tape or DVD rental stores?  Do you have to go to high school reunions to keep up with old friends?  \

The impact of the web is great.  I think there is more government transparency, although we have a ways to go.

So many businesses have been disrupted :  travel agents, newspapers, retail, music, television, film, 

You have to wonder, what will the next 20 years bring?

[News story about CBS.com]

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Family Tech: What is this Google Glass thing?

Google Glass is trickling out to non-Googlers who are part of the Glass Explorers group.  Just before that began, I wrote this column explaining Glass.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Family Tech: Get Fit with Tech

Technology can help us get fit, lose weight, manage what we eat, or just distract us while we exercise.

Family Tech from April 11, 2013 is online.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Family Tech: Scan those documents now for next tax season

The Family Tech for April 4, 2013 hopes to take some of the drama out of your tax efforts next year by discussing ways to digitize this year's documents so you have them at hand next year.

Be sure to visit FamilyTechOnline.com for links pertinent to this column.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Family Tech: Recovering a Hijacked Email Account

One of the scariest things that can happen in our online lives, is to lose control of our email account.  

What do you do if it happens to you?

That is the topic of the Family Tech just published to the web.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Programming for Google Glass

Actually, they call it creating new experiences.  There was a presentation at the recent South by Southwest on the topic.  Quite illuminating.

Fifty minutes long, but worth it if you want a feel for how Glass will work, and how content is created for it.


Friday, March 29, 2013

I am Invited!

I was invited to be a Google Glass Explorer.

Meaning, Google will let me buy a Google Glass before the general public.

Apparently I just have to come up with $1500 and go to New York to pick them up.

Hmm, how can I swing this?

Family Tech: The Tech Support Scam

I don't think anyone reading this blog would fall for this, but alert your less tech saavy family and friends that Microsoft will never call them to tell them there is a virus on their PC.

There's a scam apparently that's been going around for a few years that could cost users money, control of their PC and time.

The Family Tech for March 21, 2013 covers it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Google Now to Evernote Too!



I wrote here on March 23 about my delight the first time I made a Google Now voice note "Note to self:" and how Google Now prompted me to send it to Gmail or to Google Keep.

Previously the only option was to send it to Gmail.  I have a Gmail filter to send any "Note to self" emails on to my Evernote account.

Now a Lifehacker.com post by Whitson Gordon alerted me that now Evernote is included in that option.

Evernote did not appear on my list options before when I made a note with Google Now.  I wonder if it is not a new capability added by Evernote when they released Version 5 for Android about that time.

On my Android phone I went to Settings, Applications and brought up the record for Google Search (which is really Google Now).

Then I scrolled down and touched the button Clear Defaults.

Then I went into Google Now and made a voice "Note to Self".  This time the option box had three choices: Email, Keep and Evernote.

I went ahead and chose Evernote.


The note to self appears in my Evernote transcribed!  Unfortunately the audio file does not appear to go to Evernote.

When I used the forward to Gmail, then a filter triggered forward to Evernote, the audio file went into Evernote.

Having Google Now send to Keep did send the audio file.  Hopefully, that is something that can change in the future.






Saturday, March 23, 2013

Google Keep and Google Now


I find Google Now's voice capabilities useful on my Android phone.  I recently struggled to get it working on my Samsung Galaxy S3.  If you have an S3 do check out my post on the topic.

One thing I often do while driving is touch the Call button on my Bluetooth earpiece to invoke Google Now and then say "Note to self" and then say an idea I've just had, or a task I want to remember to do.

Until this week, Google Now would send that as an email to myself.  From there I would make use of that note when I got home, perhaps creating an event in my Google Calendar, or a task in Google Task or whatever.

If it was just a note I wanted in Evernote, a filter I had created in Gmail automatically moves all emails with the subject containing "Note to self" to Evernote.

Wednesday evening I installed the Android Keep app on my phone.  I guess I didn't make any Notes to Self on Thursday, but I did on Friday while driving home from work.

At the next light, I looked on my phone safely nestled in its dock, and was astonished to find a dialog box asking if I wanted to complete the action with either Gmail or Keep.  Before it had automatically used Gmail without asking.

I chose Keep as the light changed.

When I got home, I checked.  The note and an audio file recording of my command were in Keep.

Further, I've tested this and it appears in Keep instantly.  Before, Google Now had to email to me, then the filter forwarded the email to Evernote, and Evernote had to sync with my Evernote app on my phone before I could call it up in Evernote.

Evernote still overwhelms Keep in capability, but the scrappy new kid just scored a point.

Google Keep - An Introduction

Two things I am most passionate about in computing is Evernote, and Google services.

I've been a passionate user of Evernote since 2008.  I even wrote a book about it.

And I've been a user of Gmail, Google Drive , Calendar, Tasks, and Voice.  Those all are in my default set of tabs that load in every time I start up, yes, Google Chrome.


So it is with mixed feelings that I introduce Google Keep.  Keep is Google's new tools to store random bits of information.

It was released just this past Wednesday as both a web app, and an Android app.

I first wrote about it in three posts on my GetProductiveFast.com blog that supports my book.  There I wrote three posts of interest to Evernote users.

The first post was a simple announcement of Keep.

Then remembering the recent closure of Google Reader, I wondered, and I found others were too, if we could trust Keep to stick around.  No point in putting all our information in it, only to see Keep disappear in a few years.  I wrote about that.

Then it hit me.  When I first started to understand what Google Glass was going to be able to do, I thought what a great input tool it would be for Evernote.

If I had followed that thought through the first time I had it, I would have predicted either the creation of Keep, or Google's acquisition of Evernote.  I wrote about that too.

My loyalty remains with Evernote.  Not only does it have the power I want now (Keep is a toy compared now to Evernote) but of course, Evernote has my Notes; over 15,000 of them.

 But...I know Keep is going to iterate fast and become pretty powerful.  I am going to keep a close eye on it, and write about it.  I'll do that writing here, not on GetProductiveFast.com.

GetProductiveFast.com is for products I've written about in an e-book, and that is Evernote.  Ideas from Mark Stout, this blog, is more for my inquiries into new technology, and Keep is definitely that.






Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Family Tech: Consolidating the Family Photos

Many cameras in the family, all taking photos of the same event.  How do you consolidate the photos?

One method is discussed in this Family Tech column.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Google Now on the Galaxy S III

I save this blog for my geekiest posts and haven't been doing much geeky things lately; instead concentrating on more technology for the family issues in my column.

Although I have started doing a bit more geeky things in the column, with How-To support on its blog, like the recent column on consolidating a families photos from their many camera phones, to one place.

However, I just worked out something geeky, and wanted to document it here for others that might search for a solution in the future.

When I first bought my Galaxy S III (I'll call it the Galaxy S3 here too for searching purposes), it did not have Google Now on it.  So I started using Samsung's own S Voice.

When Jelly Bean made it to the S3, Google Voice became available.

However, when I click the button on my Bluetooth earpiece, it was S Voice that came up.

One night I decided to sit down and solve that problem, thinking it would be relatively easy.

I did find some good resources, but some bad ones too, and even with the good sources, had to find a tip in yet another place to make it all work.  So I thought I'd write my own post.

To make Google Now appear when you click the button on your Bluetooth earpiece :

  1. Go to Settings, Application Manager.
  2. Choose the All tab.
  3. Choose the S Voice application.
  4. Touch the Disable button.
  5. Download from the Google Play Store, the free Bluetooth Launch app.
  6. Run that App.
  7. In the Google Search section, choose com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox.VoiceSearchActivity

This part I found on a few websites, but the part I still  had to do was :

  1. Go to Settings, Sound
  2. Check to the box in Touch sounds.

After doing this, when I touch the call button on my Bluetooth earpiece, Google Now appeared on the screen.

Update 03-18-2013 15:15 EST : Then say "Google" to have Google Now accept voice commands.  Thanks Haley Bunselmeyer for drawing that to my attention.

To make Google Now appear when I press the Home button on my phone, I needed to download the free app Home2Shortcut from the Google Play store.

Under Settings in that app, set the Home>Home key to the Google Search app.


Let me know in comments if this does, or does not work for you.

And once you have it working, check out all the voice commands you can give Google Now.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Family Tech: Your ISP is watching

Your ISP may have started watching your downloads, and if they feel you are downloading copyrighted material, they might cut your internet speed down, yet charge you full price.

This is the topic of Family Tech for March 7, 2013.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Family Tech: Time to check your anti-virus and backup

Are you so enamored of your phone or tablet, that you've ignored your PC?

This week's Family Tech column discusses the need for anti-virus and backups.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Family Tech: Commute Tech

Let technology entertain you, maybe even make you productive during your commute.

This week's Family Tech column.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Family Tech: Android: it is about customization


Why I prefer Android over iPhone:  Customization.  I love to tweak any phone or PC to my own preferences.  You cannot do that so much with iPhone.  Although I understand why iPhone users may want a phone that just works well out of the box.

This week's Family Tech column.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Family Tech: Almost free wireless phone

If you have an old Android or iPhone sitting around, you can set it up with free wireless service.  Sort of.

This week's Family Tech column.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Family Tech: Tech Changes our Lives

The first Family Tech column to appear in the brand new Prince William Today newspaper, is now available online at InsideNova.com.

In it, we look at how technology continues to change our lives, and what the column hopes to bring readers of the new paper.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Family Tech Online

At the end of the Family Tech column in today's Prince William Today, readers were directed to this blog as the support blog for Family Tech.

This is Mark's personal blog.  The Family Tech blog is at FamilyTechOnline.com.

It will be changed in next week's paper.


Prince William Today available today

The initial edition of Prince William Today is being delivered to subscribers, and hitting some local 711s today.

Family Tech is not yet online at InsideNova.com, but I'll post when it is.

You can subscribe to home delivery at http://www.princewilliamtoday.com/