Saturday, May 28, 2016

It's not selfie sticks that are evil, but how you use them.

It's not selfie sticks that are evil, but how you use them.  This guy knows the right way.


Just goes to show.  Tools don't make you a good or bad photographer.  It depends on how you use them.

Google conference reveals new features such as Google Assistant - May 27, 2016

Google Now is so yesterday, since there is now Google Assistant.

Last week Google held its Developer Conference, Google IO, in Mountain View, California. While no new products were released to coincide with the conference, Google showed a number of products that will be coming out this summer and others later on.

There were a few items that hopefully will make family life a bit easier.

Google Now, Google’s interface for talking to your Android or iPhone, is now called Google Assistant. You can now carry on a conversation with Assistant more than in the past.

In the keynote speech, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai asked, “What’s showing nearby” and was shown a list of movies. He said: “We want to take the kids” and the list was amended to show only family-friendly films. 

The Assistant asked, “Would you like tickets to any of these?” and he answered, “Jungle Book.” The app bought tickets online and had them waiting at the theater.

You can ask Assistant, “Who is Brad Pitt?” and it answers verbally and shows pertinent web pages, like his entry in Wikipedia and If asked, “How old is he?” it knows I meant Brad Pitt. I didn’t have to repeat the name. Google understood I meant the person I’d last asked about and answered correctly.

Google Assistant learns about you as you use it. Plus, if you use other Google services like Gmail, Calendar and the like, it knows what is in them. And, if you have location tracking turned on, it knows the routes you take to work. While that might bother some people, you get benefits from Google knowing so much about you.

Google also announced a new hardware product, Google Home, its version of Amazon’s Echo. Both products are small devices that sit in your home and listen for you to call to them. 

Read the rest at

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Here some advice for being your family’s tech - May 13, 2016

Family Tech now comes out every other week.

Your home likely has its own facilities manager – the person whose job it is to make sure the heater filters get changed, the outside water is turned off for the winter – that sort of thing.

Your home also likely has someone who has central oversight of the technology – or should.

Back when technology in the home meant one personal computer, that computer was in the family room for all to share. More or less, one person was in charge and made sure there was enough disk space for all, and would do updates to the operating system periodically.

But as computers became cheap and many families got one for every member, or some may have abandoned using a PC in favor of tablets or phones, central control was often lost.

Yet a level of oversight is still needed. All the devices in the home likely use wi-fi, so someone needs to make sure it is working-- as well as knowing how to reboot it if needed and when that is needed. That person needs to be the one to contact the internet service provider if there is a problem.

If you decide to appoint someone as the family IT director, the first thing that person should do is create an inventory of all devices, their model numbers, purchase dates and who uses them.

That person also needs to know what version of the operating system the devices use, if they are actively used and even if they still work.

Capture the serial numbers and any other necessary information, such as if there is a service agreement, and keep all this on a spreadsheet.

If you have devices no one uses, consider selling them on sites like Gazelle, eBay or Craig’s List.

For PCs, the family IT director should check to see that antivirus software had been installed and that scans are being done regularly – at least once a week. That person should check to see if there are any viruses or malware on them that need to be dealt with.

Read the rest at

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Evernote and Google Drive Link Up

When I wrote four days ago I expected to see new features in Evernote soon, I did not expect them so fast.

Today Google and Evernote announced a new interface between Google Drive and Evernote's Web and Android clients.

You can now add Drive content to your notes in Evernote.

As the Google blog explains :
Instead of pasting links to files, Drive content added to Evernote will now include thumbnail previews and a rich viewing experience. You can also search Drive from Evernote and any changes to files in Drive will sync automatically with your notes. There’s even a handy icon in the Evernote toolbar to jump right into your Drive.

My version of Evernote Web did not yet have the capability, but in the upper right hand of my web client I had the option to switch to their Beta version.  There I found the Drive icon (see the yellow highlight I put in).

I am sure the Beta version will become everyone's standard version soon.

I'll likely review this more after I've used it a bit.

Update:  I created a How-To Video on this topic:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Former Director of NSA & CIA's comments about encryption may surprise you.

General Michael Hayden (former NSA and CIA director) said in an interview at Disrupt NY 2016, that he disagrees with Federal Law Enforcement's desire to break encryption. “The arc of technology is in the direction of unbreakable encryption and no laws are going to get in the way of that reality,”

He goes on to tell those people “My advice is, get over it. There’s still a lot of things you can legitimately do to make America safe through electronic surveillance,”

He also had some interesting things to say about the candidates.  

He said Trump’s national security understanding is at “a level of sophistication that’s a half-a-level below bumper stickers,” and that Trump’s discussion of keeping Muslims out of the country provided fodder to jihadist narratives.

He also doesn't like Clinton much either, "referring to her decision to operate her own email server out of her home as the “original sin.”

This is an important read about privacy, encryption, and security.

General Michael Hayden on the state of surveillance in America, presidential candidates and more

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Innovation in Evernote ramping up

Evernote continues its awesome story under new CEO Chris O'Neill.

I've been a user of Evernote since near the beginning, and blogged about it here 108 times, more than any other topic.  I first blogged about Evernote seven years ago, in May 2009.  I even wrote an e-book about Evernote (now withdrawn as it is much out-of-date).

I was shocked to see today that I hadn't written in over five months about Evernote.  That may be a testament to to how much of my life it has become--I tend to take it for granted. 

Interviews like this one from The Verge with the new CEO refreshes my enthusiasm.

Since O'Neill took the job, he has gotten Evernote out of the lifestyle business.  They no longer sell Evernote branded socks, messenger bags or other goods.

And he closed down Evernote Food and other Evernote based apps that never seemed to get a large user base.  

He is cognizant of the fact that the base product has gotten bloated and needs revamped.

And he recognizes that Google, Apple and Microsoft are all working hard to move Evernote users to their own products.

We are seeing some new innovation already.  Their Android client now recognizes the kind of document you are taking a photo of when you scan a document into Evernote. It recognizes if it is a business card, post-it note or other. It can even do some correction to the angle of the image.  

For example, when I took the photo of this image, the menu was at an angle. 

Evernote automatically found the document, and when I had it fully in view, Evernote  took the photo automatically. And it corrected the angle so that the image appears in Evernote straight on.

This latest release on Android also has some annotation abilities, like circling items and drawing circles around items.  This is some of the functionality we lost when Evernote dropped their Stitch application.

I think we are about to see some more interesting innovation from Evernote.