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Announcing the return of Family Tech - now a newsletter

Some readers might recall I once wrote a column for a local paper called Family Tech. It was tech information meant for the casual tech user. I discontinued providing it to the paper a few years back.  A few weeks ago I resurrected it as a Substack newsletter. You can receive free weekly content in an email or by visiting on the web at FamilyTech.Substack.com I hope you will visit, and perhaps share it with those who might enjoy and benefit from it.  Members of your extended family perhaps.

Lessons from 18 months of Work from home

I passed 18 months of Covid related work-from-home last week.  I wouldn't be surprised if I hit two years come March. I thought when it began I'd do a lot more blogging. What happened is after eight hours in my home office, I am happy to leave it and not return for the day. There are lessons I have learned in the past 18 months that do make my life more pleasant. My enjoyment of the Twitter account RateMySkypeRoom did make me finally hang up posters and such I'd bought at aviation museums over the years.  While the number of actual camera-on meetings I have is small, it is nice to present the illusion of order and neatness in my chaotic world.  Next up is to hang my my ancient Radio Shack Model 100 in a shadow box. And the old TV guy in me (I majored in Broadcast Journalism but was seduced into the then-new personal PC space soon after graduation), lead me to use a gifted Amazon card to buy a Ring light.  Even before it arrived, I thought that was foolish, I had few video c

Instanote - another note taking app joins my workflow

Long time readers know I'm fascinated by note taking apps.  Primarily Evernote, where I'm now closing in on 35,000 notes since 2008.  Google Keep also has a place in my work flow. My latest phone has 128 gig of storage. That leaves room for apps I might never use after an initial experience. Such was Instanote. It was a fun little app that stored notes on a sequential roll. It was actually reminiscent of an early version of Evernote before it was redesigned and went big time. Evernote briefly used the same metaphor. I liked my first look at Instanote, but had not use case then for it.  Yet I kept it on my phone.  Turned out to be a good thing. Life happens, and for me that meant unexpected surgery in early April.  I'm okay, but I now need to pay attention to taking pills and taking measurements like blood pressure. During my hospital stay, I found Instanote on my phone. It was almost perfect for recording notes from doctor visits, and such. On my release, I used it to recor

If my cables are not actively trying to kill me, they are managed

If you go one of the subreddits on Reddit.com celebrating pristine computer builds, the site of a single inch of cable raises hackles. As someone who has been setting up computers since 1979--yes really--I have never worried much about cables.  I'm forever having to add/subtract, move peripherals, so cable management would have been inhibiting and inconvenient. I've been working from home like many for the last year (it was a year Friday). Over this time  I've tweaked my home system immensely. Since I do spend a lot of time in it, I have thought some of cable management.  Not so much in making them disappear--that's an ideal I'll never hit--but rather somewhat less chaotic. The most offensive part was my docking station. I'd bought a small docking station that accepted two monitors, two USB inputs and an ethernet cable. That way I could switch from work laptop to personal laptop by switching one cable; not several. I connected a powered USB hub to one of the USB

We are learning to telework, and even having fun doing it.

During the all-too-necessary move to more online interactions necessitated by the Covid pandemic, certain truths have come out. We've all become voyeurs.  Well maybe not become, we've always been curious on how others their lives. Now we just have a digital way to do it. I do not spend much time in online meetings, but when I do, or watch contributors to television programs coming to us from their homes, I find myself checking out their homes. Don't you? Which is why I've greatly enjoyed following the Rate My Skype Room Twitter Account . It started, I suspect, as a lark by someone with too much time on their hands in April;  the early days of the quarantine.  I understand the author is a Democratic political operative,| b ut don't let that lead you astray.  Even if you ignore his commentary about the rooms,  his scoring and his occasional snark about the individual, the account gives you glimpses  into others homes. He mostly comments on those appearing on TV news

Talking to your phone, and your computer, is starting to make sense

One of the great boons of smartphones is it brings computing and connectivity to entire populations that couldn't afford it before.  We've heard about farmers in places like Kenya and such that can track market prices of their products where they couldn't easily before. Banking and micro loans have come to populations that didn't have easy access to banking. Now through smartphones and the internet they do. After 40 years with either a laptop or a desktop computer, I don't see myself ever completely weaning myself off of a regular computer. Like those people whose first computer experiences were a smartphone, I am doing more and more with just my smartphone. In fact I'm writing this on my smartphone. No typing on a smartphone is not really conducive to large creation of documents. But I'm getting more and more adept at dictation. My Google Pixel 4A is  good at understanding what I'm saying especially if I'm in a quiet room as, I am now. I can even pu