Saturday, July 30, 2016

Family Tech: Facebook Live and other video options now available - July 29, 2016

Facebook has made it easy to watch a church service, wedding, graduation, baptism or other family event with their Facebook Live feature.

If you can use Facebook, you can both create the video feed and watch it. Since many seniors rely on Facebook to stay in contact with family and friends they should be able to find the video feed.

Note: This column began in early July after a friend asked about live streaming her wedding later in the month. Just a week later, Facebook Live proved itself not only as a way to share family moments, but as a force of society when Diamond Reynolds streamed from the car moments after her boyfriend Philando Castile was shot.

Starting a Facebook Live broadcast is easy. Just aim the camera of your phone at the scene and touch the new post area, the one that says “What’s on your mind?”

Right below your name is the options to send the video to your friends or to the public. For a church service or a wedding, send it to public.

Below a series of options appears. One will be “Go Live.” Touch that and it starts sending video out.

Your friends should see a notification of the video and may begin watching it if they want.

Do a test at the actual venue before the date to make sure there is sufficient coverage.

Read the rest at

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The time my son sat in Indiana Jones' Flying Boat (and got a black eye from a Harrier Jet)

I've written here many times about visiting aviation museums. Today, chatting online with a friend about China's new Flying Boat that is as big as a Boeing 737, I realized I'd never written about touring a Short Solent Mk. III Flying Boat at the Oakland Aviation Museum at the Oakland, California airport.

It must have been sometime in 1999. My wife was working a few hours at her job with a network equipment manufacturer on a Saturday in San Leandro. Our nine year old son and I dropped her off, then went to look for something to do while she worked.

I'd ridden my bike past the museum many times, but never stopped in. I explained to my son who Amelia Earhart was as we looked at an Electra aircraft similar to the one Earhart flew when she departed on her fateful flight from Oakland in 1937. Oddly, I do not see that aircraft on their current list of aircraft on display.

Update 7-27-2016: The museum director responded to my email and told me the Electra is now at the nearby Hayward Airport.

The highlight of the day though was the largest Flying Boat I've seen, a Short Solent Mk. III.

It is of course not even close to being the largest flying boat ever built.

It's wingspan of 112 feet is not even close to Howard Hughe's Spruce Goose 312 feet. 

Or even the Boeing 312 Clipper wingspan of 152 feet. The Boeing was the famous China Clipper, the huge flying boats that Pan Am had flying the world for a few years prior to World War II. None of these iconic aircraft survive even as non-flying displays.

There are even larger flying boats still flying, like the two Martin JRM Mars flying in Canada. They have a 200 foot wingspan.

We walked around the museum for a while; it wasn't crowded. A docent told us they would let us in to the flying boat at a particular time so we were loitering nearby when they opened it up.

The story they told us was interesting. This aircraft and two sister ships had been owned by an investor circa 1958. The intent was to refurbish them and use them flights from San Francisco to Hawaii, as I recall. The web page for this aircraft says it was planned to fly an even more romantic route: Hawaii to Christmas Island to Tahiti and back.

Monday, July 25, 2016

What Tech did a Civil War Vet live to see?

Five years ago when the nation was noting the 150th Anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, or First Battle of Manassas, I wrote a speculative piece thinking about what tech a survivor of the battle might have seen in his lifetime.

I posted it over at the site.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Family Tech: Send your student off to college with the right technology - July 22, 2016

Soon, some of last month’s high school graduates will have those excited yet fearful knots in their bellies as they head off to colleges and universities.

The days of sending them off with a manual typewriter are long gone. A tradition of this column is to consider what we should equip these new freshmen with before they go.

It seems this year the picture is clearer than in past years. I think a student needs primarily three devices.

Foremost is a laptop. A laptop to today’s young person, and I don’t really need to tell any parent this, is their window to learning and also to entertainment.

They will use it to research and write papers, interact with their professors and coursework through sites like Blackboard, and use a variety of online services and software needed for classes.

And they will use it to watch videos on Netflix, Hulu and network television websites. Many students will not want to haul a TV to a dorm, content with a laptop.

The risk of losing or breaking a laptop that is carried from dorm to classes and back again is great. I do not believe most students need a high-end laptop. There are students who need a high-performance laptop if they need to edit video, run high-end architectural computer-assisted design software or some kinds of application development.

Read the rest at

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Many Evernote Users are doing it wrong

It took a firestorm to learn something about how many people use Evernote.

Three weeks ago Evernote announced changes to their service tiers. The Premium price went up, and the Free Basic level was restricted to two logged in devices at one time.

Those changes set off a firestorm on Evernote's Forum filling 139 pages in three weeks with complaints, recriminations and threats to move elsewhere.  

A common pronouncement among the dissatisfied was 
"I am an active user of Evernote. I've created 3000 notes in five years!"
They expect Evernote corporate to be impressed by their spirited use of Evernote.  Instead, they underwhelmed me with their Notes per Month rate.

I am probably not the typical user.  I have 24,000 notes accumulated over eight years.  That is 3,000 notes a year, or 250 a month.

So anyone accumulating 3000 in 5 years is only doing 50 notes a month.

I'm going to assume most of these people pay their bills online.  Where are they putting their receipts?

I assume they have insurance.  Where are they putting their insurance papers?

Where are they capturing their investment transactions?

When they research something for work, or a home improvement, or buying a home for that matter, where do they store their research?

I am believing those capturing only 50 notes a month, are not even coming close to using Evernote to its full potential.

I believe those under-users are thinking before they capture "Will I need to see this again?"

That's the wrong question to ask.  Instead, they should ask "Is there even a remote chance I might need this again?  Maybe for a lawsuit, or a payment dispute, or because I might have to do something like this again?"

In a previous blog post a little over a year ago,  I summarized my attitude towards what to capture :


The Shorter version was :



If you are capturing 250 notes a month, you are getting excellent value out of Evernote,  and will not mind paying for it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Share your 360 Degree photos on Google Photo

My wife has returned from four months working and studying overseas with almost 200 photos taken on our Ricoh Theta S camera.

I was busy uploading them individually to Ricoh's site, when I had to divert my attention to another project I have on Google Photos.

I had not thought of uploading a Theta S image to Google Photos.  I tried it and it worked wonderfully.

Instead of having to upload each of my wife's photos to Ricoh's site, I was able to upload the entire set to a folder on Google Drive.

Being in Google Photos, it easy to share images with others, add descriptions, and let those you share the images with make comments.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Zoho Notes: A new note player comes on stage

Zoho made a play today for all the free Evernote users upset by the newly announced two logged in device limit, and for paid users upset by Evernote's price increases.

Zoho's Notebook is a mobile-first entry. Apps for iPhone and Android are available today.

They make no bones about going for Evernote's users :

They don't have a web clipper, or a desktop version.  They know it and make this promise :

And, they have pledged :  "Notebook is free (and ad-free), just like our other productivity apps."

Now they just need an importer.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Family Tech: Protect your computer against ransomware - July 8, 2016

You wake up one morning to find an ominous message on your PC. All your files are now encrypted, it says, and you are forbidden access to them unless you pay thousands of dollars. 

This nightmare has crippled hospitals, businesses and individuals. It is called ransomware, and the FBI reports it is on the rise.

It used to be that trying to fool you into giving up information, so someone could steal your identity was the No. 1 goal of online crooks. Now it is ransomware.

This column is to help your director of family IT keep all your PCs and devices safe.

While the likelihood of someone encrypting your PC is relatively low, it is painless for the perpetrator and could cost you thousands of dollars if you choose to pay the ransom.

A user is tricked into installing a piece of malware on their PC. The malware runs in the background and encrypts your files using a strong encryption algorithm. It then posts a message instructing you to send money via Bitcoin within a short period to get a decryption code. If you do not send money by the deadline, even the crooks claim they cannot decrypt your files.

A hospital in California resorted to paper systems for a week before giving up and paying $17,000 in ransom. A Kansas hospital paid the ransom — only to have some files remain encrypted until it paid more. Some report paying the ransom and never receiving the code to decrypt their files.

Anti-virus and malware detection software often fails to detect ransomware. Most often there is no software available to decrypt the files without paying the ransom. Payments are mostly sent to foreign countries. Finding, yet alone prosecuting, the criminals is not going to happen, experts say.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Evernote Perspective on costs

Perspective :
(created this for myself earlier)

$70 a year is $5.83 a month
$70 a year is $1.34 a week
$70 a year is 20 cents a day.

$35 a year is $2.92 a month
$35 a year is 68 cents a week
$35 a year is 10 cents a day

How hard will it be to move your notes to a new system, and learn that system?
What is my time worth?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Evernote Kerfuffle Continues

Evernote's recent price increase, and the more controversial restriction of Free Basic users to just two devices, has caused an uproar online.

Evernote's Forum thread on this topic has already reached 93 pages.

Most free dissatisfied Free users are taking great umbrage, feeling betrayed by a company they have yet to pay a dime to.

And some paying customers have legitimate concerns over a pretty big increase for Premium Level from $50 to $70 annually.

Many have been casting about for alternatives, and many of pledged to take their ball, er notes, and  leave for greener pastures. They usually mean Microsoft's OneNote.

The free users objection to a two device limit apparently is many use Evernote on their home PC, their phone and their office PC.

They have not been assuaged by the fact the rather robust Evernote Web Client does not count against the two client limit.

And the limit is not truly two devices, but two simultaneously logged in clients.  A free Basic user could log out Evernote from their Home PC, and login at their work PC when they get in.

If they forget to do that, they could log off their phone client while using the Evernote client at work.  Sure, it is a bit of a pain, but a free Basic plan of any service has to offer both value to get you to use the service, and Evernote does that in spades, and yet have some desirable features available only to paying customers. A little friction is a motivator. When I was on Basic service I often bumped up against the 60 megabyte monthly upload limit.  That motivated me to move up to a paid tier.  The client limit is meant to do the same.

Most of the people threatening to flee Evernote plan on going to Microsoft's Onenote.  You would think Lisa Schmeiser, Editor in Chief of Supersite for Windows, a site covering almost exclusively Microsoft, would be all for that.  Yet today, she published a great read entitled "Why I'm Not Ditching Evernote Just Yet".

His view parallels some thinking I have had recently.  Migrating to OneNote, learning to use OneNote, adjusting to the features you will leave behind, understanding perhaps any new features you gain, will all take time.

Do you pay to have your lawn mowed or the oil changed in  your car?  You could do all those things yourself, but it is worth paying someone to save you a bit of time.

Paying a little to keep what you like about Evernote is worthwhile in my opinion.

Maybe it is not to you.  So be it.  Move on.

Schmeiser summarized:
Evernote saves me time. And right now, I'm okay with paying $70 a year for a product with a proven record as a useful tool. If Evernote ceases to be useful to me, I'll reassess. But for now, the $20 price hike is a lower cost than the time I'd sink into learning how to re-do everything. There's a reason for the saying "time is money." I want one. I'm willing to spend the other.