When I left my computer at a repair shop earlier this year, I never thought for a second that they would be snooping through my stuff.
Then I saw a report from the University of Guelph in Ontario, cited by Malwarebytes.org. It showed that technicians from six of the 12 stores they investigated had delved into personal data. Two of them copied the user’s stuff to their own drives, including photos and financial information. Most stores also asked customers for their login password, even when they didn’t need it. But my local Gadgetworks never asked for mine.
However, to be on the safe side, I use VeraCrypt, a free download from Sourceforge.net, to encrypt any sensitive files. After installation, a beginner’s tutorial will appear. It guides you through the creation of a locked storage area and shows you how to unlock it with a click.
BEST PHOTO SERVICE
Shutterfly always advertises offers on photo printing, photo books, mugs and gifts. But is it the best deal?
When I visited, the site was advertising big savings. But somehow, my 30-page, 9-by-11-inch hardback cost $88.84. The basic book was $14, but with all the extra features they convinced me I needed, like “flat pages,” the price zoomed. I didn’t even select all the options I could have, like superior image quality.
I’ve had a much better experience with Google Photos. After going to the website on my computer, I clicked on “Print Store”. A seven by seven inch paperback book cost me $20 for 28 pages. I know from experience that the pages will lie flat and look beautiful. It was much quicker to make too. The hardcover, nine-inch version costs $38, still less than half the price of my Shutterfly order.
SMART BOXING GLOVES
I’m thinking of getting my nephews the “Dribble Up” smart boxing glove for $50. They’re getting a lot of buzz on lists of the best tech gifts for 2022, and they look fun. You don’t even need a punching bag. The gloves work with an app on your phone, giving you a few basic movements and analyzing your performance. If you want hundreds of boxing classes, both live and on-demand, there’s a $17 a month membership. Dribble Up also sells a “Smart Strength Ball” for bodyweight exercises and a “Smart Basketball” for kids’ dribbling practice.
If you’ve ever wished you could fold up your computer mouse and put it in your pocket, here’s your chance. The “Air.O” origami mouse will ship in March for $69.
Air.O can go for three months on a full USB charge. If it gets low and you’re in a hurry, you can get three hours of battery life in just one minute of charging. In a single quick movement, it goes from flat to mouse-shaped. Made from ‘vegan leather’, it has the usual left and right buttons, plus a scroll wheel.
GET HELP FROM APPLE
A reader said his Facebook Messenger texts wouldn’t load on one of his iPads. I suggested he call Apple tech support, but he said he couldn’t hear them even with the hearing aid. So I suggested captions.
To get them for yourself, go to “Settings,” then “Accessibility,” then “Subtitles and Subtitles.” While in the Accessibility section, you can also turn on “RTT/TTY”. It allows you to view a phone call as text while it is in progress. On Android phones, you can find “Live Caption” by tapping “Settings” and then “Accessibility.”
Alternatively, Apple users can go to getsupport.apple.com/solutions. Click a category, then select an issue. If you don’t see one that fits, click on one of them. From there, you’ll be given the option to ‘chat’, allowing you to text back and forth with one of the representatives.
SIMPLE PHOTO EDITING
I often get frustrated when trying to edit a photo in Windows 10. For me, the best solution is online.
All I have to do is Google what I want to do and add the words “Adobe Express”. For example, I typed “crop Adobe Express.” Their free cropping tool popped up, no downloads required. Adobe is of course the parent company of Photoshop, so they know what they’re doing and won’t spam you. They also offer free templates to create unique Facebook and Instagram posts, as well as posters, menus, invitations, collages, logos and more. You don’t need to sign in with an Adobe account, but if you do, they’ll save your creations, making them easy to reuse. But I find it easier to do a Google search every time, to get exactly what I want. Otherwise I get lost in all their menus.
The “Ticktime Cube” is a $59 timer that sticks to your fridge. When you rotate it, you get a selection of different time periods, which start running as soon as you set it down. Press a button to add more time. It uses a mini USB cable for charging, no batteries required.
Of course, $59 is a lot for a timer. I like the “6 Pack Small Digital Kitchen Timer,” $12.49 on Amazon. Like the Ticktime Cube, it’s magnetic, just stick it on the fridge. It works great in my stretching routine. I hold one set for 25 seconds, another for 40 seconds and the others for 60 seconds and beyond.
Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at [email protected]