Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tablet Grandpa's Most Popular Articles of 2013

To close out the year I thought I would share my most popular articles. I based this strictly on the number of views for the article and not comments or my personal opinion. These are the top 5 for 2013.

  1. Do It Yourself VideoMagnifier
  2. My Top 10 Most Useful iPad Apps  Dec  June  Feb
  3. Misplace your phone -Find It Easily
Note that there are 3 links to My Top 10 Most Useful iPad Apps as I publish this a variety of times as new apps make there way to me. Check out what was added and what dropped out.

If you find these interesting, please share this web site with friends, relatives and neighbors. I do my very best to write without using technical jargon and deliver easy to understand explanations. Oh, and I work to keep these blogs short so they are quick and easy to read. Most are only four to six paragraphs.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Target Hacked - What Can You Do Now?

Yep, big Target got hacked and lot's of folks are concerned but you can take back some control with only some amounts of effort.

Many have heard to check your credit card statements to see if unauthorized purchases have taken place. To same time and energy, get email alerts notifying you that a purchase was made WITHOUT your physical card being present. Contact your Bank and/or Credit Card company or go online to see if alerts are available. Most hackers get your number and make online purchases with it. I like this feature very much and do it with my credit and debit cards.

Sometimes, hackers produce a new card with your number on it. This is a tough one. In this case you might have to get a replacement card. As time consuming as this sounds it is not all that bad and the alternative s might be even more troublesome.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

3 Critical Windows 8.1 Tips for Beginners

There are always those things one remembers that puts them over the top of whatever challenges them. Windows 8, and now Windows 8.1 is a challenge for many. These 3 Critical Tips will help tremendously.


Sure, there is much more and many of you may have other tips but I strongly believe these 3 will serve you well.

  1. Right click on the Start Button
  2. Just Start Typing to Search
  3. Hit the Windows Key to get back to the Start Screen

The Start Button (now a square) has returned! Hover the mouse pointer in the lower left corner and the Start Button will appear as if by magic. However, the magic happens when you right click it. It will reveal many options you have become familiar with. The most comforting is shutting down. A welcome feature that was hidden a few clicks into Windows 8 but now much easier to get to. The other options are for those more adventurous and that goes for many PC beginners. Control Panel is here, so is File Explorer (formerly File Manager) and even the Command Prompt. Oh, clicking on the first item, Programs and Features takes you directly to Add/Remove Programs. Enjoy!

I know everyone wants the old Start Menu, where one goes to find programs and files but the need to click away has been reduced to typing a few letters. That's right. Just start typing the name of the program you want and the Search box opens and there are your letters just like the keyboard typed them. And there too, is the program you wanted so click on it! If you want to open that letter typed a few months ago so you can revise it, just start typing words from the name of the document and it will appear below the search box. It's as easy as that. By the way, no need to invest in clicks to find the search box either but you can if you want. Just begin typing and that search box knows what you want to do.

The "new search" is quite good now. Take a peak and what else you can do with the "new search".

At lastly, I have heard many times that it's impossible to close a program or get back to where we began. Just hit that Windows Key in the lower left on your keyboard. This takes you back to the Start Screen where it all begins.

Like I said, there are certainly more tips to share but get these down now and you'll be off and running. Take a peek and these links so see more. Windows 8 has been tough--both for us and for Microsoft. Windows 8.1 is a welcome improvement to get us back to being productive and more comfortable with Windows.

Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera have a Windows 8.1 Book in progress and you can get it for only $2.00! Buy now and continue to get updates for FREE too. These two authors have written Windows 7 Secrets, Windows 8 Secrets and Windows Phone Secrets and those books have sold in the $30.00 range. Now they are "self publishing" and we consumers are the winners.

Microsoft, finally, has some very good documentation. I've enjoyed the clear and "non-technical" speech. Nice job Microsoft.

Windows8.1 in Detail

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Top 10 Most Useful iPad Apps - Dec 2013

To me, a most useful app is one that I use virtually every day. It helps me get something done or provides useful information to me in a manner I can use. Since I have a vision disability, I need larger print so the apps I choose have a bias to this required feature. As a result, many very useful apps are not on my list if I cannot see the text well enough.

Personal Productivity

Mail Apple's included Mail App. This is a FREE Choice

I am in and out of e-mail on my iPad, smart phone and laptop all through the day. I prefer the iPad's included e-mail app as I like the way it allows me to have all of my e-mail accounts appear in a single mailbox view. This is easy and convenient. The app also allows me to make the text larger so I can see it better. Included on the iPad.

Week Calendar HD $2.99 New to my Top 10.

This is new to my list as I've used Pocket Informant Pro for my calendar and to do list for many years. However, I've dealt with small text all this time since the calendar was so good. Well no more. Week Cal HD is a terrific calendar AND I can enlarge the text to my liking. What a joy. I don't mind paying the $2.99 price since I can see it well and use it every day. My favorite view is the weekly as the current day of the week is slightly wider than the rest.

Nightstand FREE

Since I have to charge the iPad and I need a nightstand alarm clock with very large letters; Nightstand for iPad fits the bill perfectly. I just set the iPad up as my night stand alarm clock and plug it in to charge. The numbers are 1 3/4 inches tall, shows the weather for my location and I can even dim the screen so it doesn't light up the room all night.

There is a pay version ($2.99) that allows for your own background photos as wall paper and eliminates the ads and this is the one I use.

OneNote FREE New to my Top 10.

OneNote is part of Microsoft Office and has been around since 2003 and I've used it since then. I was one of the testers of the app for my company in 2005 and used it daily. OneNote is a note taking and note organization app. The greatest value of the app is that all notes are searchable. This means I never loose anything since I can simply search for a single word in the note and I will get a list of all notes that contain that word.You can even hand write notes if your device can handle it like the iPad and Android tablet. I haven't worked for 3 1/2 years but I still use OneNote. One of the best features of OneNote is that I have OneNote on my PC, iPad, Android Smart phone and Android Tablet and all completely synchronized. I write in one and the note appears in all.

Social Media

Tweetbot Alternative Twitter app FREE

I am in and out of Twitter every day and post a link to this Tablet Grandpa blog on Twitter. It took me a while to understand and then love what Twitter provides. It shows short and easy to read quips, information and links to what people are saying and I get to choose the people. See my article on how Twitter is useful.

I gladly paid the $2.99 since I can easily read it throughout the day.

Facebook FREE

I have a love / hate relationship with Facebook and Facebook replacement apps. Replacement Facebook apps have some extra features beyond Facebook's own app and I like that but none of them have everything. What irks me most is that I cannot enlarge the text enough to make it comfortable to read. I put up with it because I really enjoy staying in touch with my friends and family and communicating with some of them. Eventually, someone will make that perfect blend of features and ability to enlarge the text for me. Until then, love / hate continues.

News and Information

Feedly FREE

For reading news, blogs and other articles on the web; I've used an RSS (really simple syndication) reader to pull articles into a single place where I can skim and go to the detail if I choose. I've used Google Reader for many years but Google has decided to discontinue it in July 2013. Feedly also works on my Android smart phone too.

Pocket FREE

I love to read but it so difficult with my vision disability. I require large text and a nice contrast between the task and paper in order to see properly. As a result, books and newspapers are out. However, Pocket saves me because I can "clip" web sites, web articles and other news on the web to Pocket where I have the text set to very large on a very white background. Via my smart phone, I can "share" tweets from bloggers that will put the bloggers article right into Pocket where I can read it comfortably. Pocket also strips out web and blog advertising and just shows you the text and included pictures.

AP Mobile (Associated Press FREE

There are many news apps for the iPad, some of which I like very much but none allow me to enlarge text enough to make them comfortable to read.  AP mobile allows me to enlarge the text enough for easy reading. Also available for iPhone and Android smart phones.

Flixster FREE New to my Top 10

I've used Flixster on my Android phone but now I also use it on my iPad. It is my "go to" app to see what's playing at my local movie theatre. No more Internet search or newspaper--I can simply see what's playing close by or even see which theatre has the movie I want to see right now.

I am a bit of a weather junkie and have used many free and paid weather apps for the iPad. Beyond being easy to read, I love looking at radar images of weather. I can see a 2 week forecast as wells as an hourly forecast over the next 24 hours. Many free weather apps limit you to one or just a few weather locations but Intellicast allows many cities. Intellicast is my current weather app of choice but I continue to look at the latest and greatest weather apps.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Try Flixster When Going to a Movie

Flixster isa FREE app for iOS and Android that is my "go to" movie and theaterapp.

Flixster for iOS

Flixster for Android

We go tothe movies about once per week, sometimes more and often at a moment's notice.While out and about my wife might say, "let's go to a movie, what'splaying?" All I have to do is lookat my smart phone and look at Flixster.

Flixster for Android


Flixstershows theaters close to you by using the phone's GPS. No searching needed. Youcan even choose a particular movie and see where it's playing and at what time.

  • Play Movie Trailers
  • Get Show times
  • View Photos
  • View and Add Ratings
  • Purchase Tickets
  • See Upcoming Movie Info

If you area movie fan, Flixster is a "must have" app regardless of mobiledevice.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Santa's Bag - A Simple To Use Christmas List Yet Packed With Features

Santa's Bag is a Christmas list app for the iPhone that is simple to use but feature rich for those that do serious Christmas shopping and are serious about their lists and commitment to staying on track and organized.

Credit: Clay Pot Software

Santa's Bag, created by Clay Pot Software, LLC, does a terrific job of being simple to use, easy to see (perfect for my vision disability) and full of views and organization capabilities for those with very large Christmas shopping lists.

Credit: Clay Pot Software

There is no need to type names into the app as it can import those from your address book. You can do things such as set budgets, create wish lists, shopping lists and even track gifts that have been purchased but not wrapped or shipped.

Credit: Clay Pot Software

Santa's Bag is FREE and designed for the iPhone but I love using it on my iPad so I can see things easily.  I'm beginning my second year using Santa's Bag and I've already checked to see what we purchased last year to make sure we don't repeat any gifts. Now if Santa's Bag could estimate grand children's growth in clothing sizes.

Credit: Clay Pot Software

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

iOS has 845 Emoji Smiley Faces and Symbols to Enhance Your Emails and Texts

Have you ever seen those smiley faces on emails or text messages and I don't mean thesebasic ones like (-;. I mean cute and colorful smileyor frowning faces. These are called Emoji (pronounced ē - mō - gē) and you can add an Emoji keyboard, with as many as 845 emoji symbols, to your iPad or iPhone.

Go to Settings , General, Keyboards and choose AddNew Keyboard. From here you can see the myriads of international keyboards iOSmakes available but look for Emoji and touch it. Touch the blue <Keyboard togo back and you are done.

Access theEmoji by touching the World symbol at the lower left of the keyboard.

The CLOCKkeyboard shows the most recently used emoji symbols. The next is the SMILEYFACE keyboard.

Fantasticuh! It doesn't stop here though. By swiping to the left you will see many moresmileys and other symbols.

Now choosethe FLOWER symbol at the bottom to see the next group of emoji--Animals! Andthere are 4 screens of animals and other symbols.

Select theBELL to various holiday and other emoji. Wondrously there are 7 screens ofemoji here.

Click theCAR to see the 4 screens of travel related emoji.

Lastly, try the SYMBOL to see the wide variety of numbers and directionalsymbols--all 7 screens of them.

That's a whopping 28 screens worth or 845 Emoji toenjoy.

What awonderful way to spice up you texts and e-mails from your iPad or iPhone. Thenshare this with your kids and grand kids to show them how smart you are.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Google Maps for iOS is HERE for Your iPhone or iPad

The great news is that Google Maps is a universal app, which means it works perfectly well for iPhone and iPad utilizing the features of the iPad, not just the larger screen. It's FREE and works very, very well, including "verbal turn by turn directions" which does not work for Apple Maps.

Apple replaced the Google Maps app for their own app when iOS 6 debuted September 19, 2012 (yes, over a year ago!) to much criticism as there were many errors when displaying some areas. See links below showing many really bad situations. In fact, Apple President, Tim Cook wrote a letter of apology for the many problems and promised fixes as quickly as possible.

Google Maps was a very mature app that had gone through many upgrades throughout it's lifetime. Google acquired a company owned by two Danish brothers and introduced Google Maps in 2005. That is many years of evolving and improving. Unfortunately Apple introduced their maps but NOT based on Google mapping data and it didn't go well.

What was most frustrating was that Apple replaced Google Maps and people couldn't just put the old Google Maps app back in. Everyone was stuck with a poor product. Google got to work and produced Google Maps for iPhone that worked quite well.

Google Maps for iOS integrates fully with Google Earth which delivers very good 3D views although Apple Map's 3D view is a bit better in my opinion.

To be fair, Apple Maps has been fixing bugs since it's release last year but I strongly believe Google Maps was better a year ago, and still much better now. Don't settle folks.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

6 Little Known Siri Capabilities

Siri is one of the more fun yet useful features of Apple's iPhone and even the iPad. Wikipedia says

"Siri is a personal assistant and knowledge navigator which works as an application for Apple Inc.'s iOS." 

Siri can create reminders when you get to Work or when you get Home. Siri can remind you to do something when you get home or when you get to work. Of course, Siri needs to know who you are and where home and work are. Open Settings, General, Siri. Tap My Info and select your contract entry. Make sure you contact has your home and work address. Include your birthday in the contact and Siri will wish you a genuine happy birthday each and every year. Now Siri knows you.

Now you can say to Siri, "when I get home, remind me to  take out the trash". Likewise, when you can tell Siri "when I get to work, remind me to submit today's report".

NOTE: this works on the iPhone or an iPad that has GPS.

It's fun to show off Siri but it's not always easy to remember what to show. Here are a couple of easy examples of Sir's usefulness.

Siri is really, really good at showing off it's knowledge of sports scores. Ask Siri, "who won the latest [insert team name] game?" Siri shares some colorful commentary at times too.

Ask Siri "what is a good steak restaurant close by?"  Siri searches the web and lists a few places and might share  an unknown.

Sometimes Siri doesn't pronounce names correctly. If this is the case, say "that's not how you pronounce that." Siri will ask which work it pronounced wrong and you can teach it to say it right.

Now, if you want to have a little fun with Siri, ask her. Try a little "smack down" and ask Siri about Google Glass. To Siri, say "OK Glass" (this is how you begin talking to GoogleGlass, their upcoming head wear from Google) and listen to the response. Then epeat "OK Glass" a second, and third time. Siri gives you the same answer. But, when you ask a fourth time, Siri gets a little testy with her responses. Say "Google Glass" again and again.

Oh, and did you know you can now change the gender and country of origin for Siri? Go to the Settings app, General, then Siri. Feel free to change the Language or Voice Gender.

Oh, and if you are an Android person, try a Free siri type app there called "Andy".

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Hate Those Small Smartphone Keyboards Don't You!

Not just because I have a vision disability but those phone keyboards are just too darn small wouldn't you agree? Either we have fat finger tips are we can't seem to focus on the letter we need but it sure is frustrating. What to do?

I use a different keyboard from the one that came with my phone. Yes, it's an Android phone and we can just go to the Google Play Store and get one--free or not. Don't worry you iOS people, there's help for you too.
I use A.I.Type Keyboard. It's FREE but there is a pay version ($3.99)  with a few extra features that I went ahead and purchased because I just love what this keyboard helps me with--I can SEE IT! There are lots of very good features with this app but I don't use most of them. What I like best of all is the ability to have larger keys and a very good contrast between background, letter and key face and A.I. Type Keyboard does this. The only setting I used is to make the keys a little taller so they are bigger targets. How cool is that!
Take a look below to see the original Android keyboard and then the A.I. Type Keyboard I use.

Standard Android Keyboard

A.I. Type Keyboard
Other features of the A.I. Type Keyboard include:
  • It will finish words as you type and it gets smarter as it learns what you say
  • Even if you mistype a word A.I. Type Keyboard will know what you mean and show the correct word. Be careful though as it might misunderstand you
  • You can change key colors or backgrounds to fit your style
For you iOS people (iPhone and iPad), you don't get a choice of keyboards. This is bad for many but good for most as it something you just don't have to worry about. The keyboard works and you just don't have to think about it. However, for any of you that might, there is a method to make your iPhone or iPad easier to see if those eyes just don't work the way they used to.
In iOS 7, go to Settings, General, then Accessibility. See the section to the right and make any appropriate changes to help you. Below is a screen shot of the selections I've made to let me see the screen better on my iPad.
You may want to look through the iOS 7 User Guide to see other Accessibility features for you iPhone or iPad.
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