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Showing posts from April, 2016

Family Tech: You may need to rethink your definition of a camera

You may need to rethink your definition of a camera An iPhone 6s and a Kodak Brownie from 1900 work essentially the same way. You hold it up, compose your shot and push a button to take a photo.

One could argue the 21st century has been a revolution for photography. Most of us have a phone in our pockets. There is no longer a cost-per-shot, where every time we click a picture there is an associated cost of film, developing and printing. We now can take thousands of shots on a vacation, where before we may have limited ourselves to 36 -- both a blessing and a curse.

And how we share our photos has changed. We no longer have photo albums or slideshows we have to convince people to peruse. We share our photos online. But the camera in our phone is still a point and shoot camera, as was that early Brownie.

Until now.

There is now a type of camera where you do not compose your shot, because it takes a photograph of everything, a complete 360 degrees around you. It gets everything, including y…

I think I got Sprint to confirm Marshmallow for my LG G3

Update 8/26/16New post on this topic.

Update 7/26/2016 :  Three months later, I tweeted them again.

Update 7/30/2016 : I just discovered this post or at least the tweets were noticed and used as a source for a post at

While other cell phone companies have put Android Marshmallow on their LG G3, my carrier Sprint was difficult to pin down as to when there would be a Marshmallow upgrade. I, and apparently others in this Reddit thread, were beginning to wonder if there was even going to be a Marshmallow upgrade for Sprint's LG G3 customers.

So today, I thought I'd see if I couldn't pin them down via their @SprintCare Twitter address.
I think I got confirmation there would be a Marshmallow upgrade.  What do you think?

STEVEN F. UDVAR-HAZY CENTER - National Air & Space - August 2015

I do not think I ever shared these photos here.  I went out to the National Air & Space Museum near Dulles Airport to shoot some panorama and spherical photos with my phone, an LG G3, for a Family Tech column.

I have the photos in a Google Photo Shared Album.

Family Tech: Here’s how to get the photographer in the family vacation photos

Several years ago I scanned my father’s slides of my siblings and me growing up. Dad had put together a nice presentation of photos of our lives, and maybe once a year we’d sit down and enjoy a slide show.

I noticed how few photos there were of Dad. He had been the self-appointed family photographer.

That is a role that no longer exists. Now, on a family vacation or outing, all family members over the age of 10 seem to have their own camera.

How do we keep those photos from being in their own universe, and make them truly family photos? I wrote about one possible solution three years ago, and a How-To blog post I wrote to go with that column remains the No. 1-read post at

That solution used Dropbox, that give you so much free space and hope you will buy extra space as needed. Photos take up a lot of room, so my solution most likely had most users needing to purchase Dropbox space.

When my son and I planned our Israel trip, I rethought this problem. Google Photos lets …

Keep - Inbox - Drive - Evernote --- can you make up your mind Google???

Google, I love you to death. Most of the services I use are from you, and thanks BTW, but you are making me crazy with your unfocused emulation of Evernote.

I've been a fan of Evernote since 2008.  I even wrote a book about it that was on the market for a while,  and might be again if I can find time to update it.

The whole time I've thought Google should buy Evernote.  Google is all about finding information on the web.  Evernote is all about capturing the information you find on the web.  Plus information you scan, PDFs you receive, photographs you have, files you want to store and sound files.  It even deciphers the text in the photos and PDFs and make it searchable.*

More about Evernote later on.

I waited, and waited, and never did Google buy Evernote.  I thought that was a no brainer.

And then, one fateful day in March of 2013, as I sat waiting for my order in my favorite Chinese Restaurant, I read Google's announcement of Keep.  I downloaded it immediately.

Family Tech: Here’s some advice for using cell phones overseas - April 15, 2016

Before my wife left for Israel, and my son and I visited her, I had to figure out how we could use our cell phones outside the United States.

There are two kinds of cell phone technologies in the world. Here in the U.S., AT&T and T-Mobile use the GSM system while Verizon and Sprint use CDMA. Most of the world outside the U.S. uses the GSM system – think Beta and VHS or AM and FM. They are similar systems, but different.

I checked the specs to our phones by googling the models online. Because my wife bought her iPhone at an Apple store, it was set up to work with both the CDMA and GSM systems. The Android phones my son and I have worked with both systems. Ask your cell company if your phone can work on GSM systems if you cannot find the information online.

Next, check with your provider for advice. Sprint told me it had an international roaming plan I could put on our phones for free. In Sprint’s case, it allowed for unlimited data roaming but at speeds from 10 years ago, 2G technolog…

Family Tech: Apps make travelling easier - April 8, 2016

My wife was selected more than a year ago as a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher. She is in Israel for four months to study how they educate young children with autism and share her knowledge of the subject. The week of spring break, my adult son and I flew over to visit her.

Of course I used technology to make the trip easier and also learned a lot about technology in Israel. What I learned is useful for domestic trips as well. Lessons learned from our whirlwind trip will be inspiration for the next few columns.

I created a folder on the front page of my phone for apps I needed on the trip. The first one was TripIt.

Tripit is a “freemium” service, meaning it is free but with a paid level giving you more features that track your itinerary for you. Once you setup a TripIt account, you simply forward any emails you get from airlines, hotels, rental car companies, etc. and Tripit maintains your itinerary for you. You can track it in its smartphone app. It makes it easy to remember your fli…

Our Trip to Israel - Day Five - Acre and Caesarea

Family Tech: Self-driving cars sound scary but could actually be safer - April 1, 2016

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It has been five years since Google stunned the world by showing how far along it was with its self-driving cars. Suddenly another invention, first seen in science fiction, seemed poised to become real.

During the intervening years we may have settled into the idea that true self-driving cars were still a someday thing.

Fully self-driving cars are not so much going to appear suddenly in dealerships, as gradually enter our lives. In reality, there are cars on the road now with self-driving capabilities.

Readers with some newer, high-priced vehicles already have some self-driving features.

Some cars have auto parallel parking, often called park assist. Ford, Lincoln, BMW, Range Rover, Nissan and Mercedes Benz have this feature. I’d have killed for this when I lived in San Francisco. I wonder if they can parallel park on the other side of the street on a 24-degree downhill. I can.

Autonomous …

Our Trip to Israel - Day Four - Israel Museum

On Saturday, we had the challenge of making our way back to Jerusalem to visit the Israel Museum.

I say challenge because in Tel Aviv, the buses shut down for Sabbath at sun down on Friday to sun down on Saturday.

In Haifa, where my wife is studying, the buses do not shut down for Sabbath, so when we planned the trip Friday night we were surprised and initially concerned we would not make the trip.

We discovered Sheruts, shared taxi vans that run from Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station to many locations in Israel, even on Sabbath.

We grabbed a cab, and once there found the first bus in line going to Jerusalem.  Once the van was filled with ten passengers, it set off.

From Central Jerusalem we cabbed to the museum.

The photo at the start of this post is a 1:50 model of the Old City of Jerusalem as it was when the Second Temple existed.  The structure nearest is the Second Temple. At that site now is the Dome of the Rock.