Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Misplace your Phone - Find it Easily (Updated Sept 3)

[Updated Sept 3, 2013]

How can one loose a smart phone you say? It happens more often than you think. If it hasn't happened to you then count yourself lucky. Heck, even forgetting where you put the phone happens doesn't it. You can call the phone but what if you had it set on vibrate or connected to an ear piece. Here are two apps, one for Android and the other for iPhone, to help you thwart the potential lose.

Android recently introduced the Android Device Manager (ADM) service and it's FREE. It's not an app you get from the Google Play Store but a feature you can now turn on. Go to Settings / Security / Device Administrators. Tap to put a check at the Android Device Manager box. Then go to the Android Device Manager Dashboard.

The feature I most like is that you can ping the phone and it will ring at maximum volume even if the phone was set to vibrate. If the phone is lost or stolen, you can see where the phone is on a map to assist in retrieving it. Worst case, you can send a signal to wipe the phone so you data is not available to anyone else. The feature I wish it had was to lock the phone so it is unusable to anyone. For now, you can find or wipe it clean.

Apple has their Find My iPhone found in Settings / iCloud. Turn on Find My iPhone (or iPad). Then get the Find My iPhone app from the App Store and run on another iOS device if you phone is lost.

UPDATE: If you loose your iPad or iPhone go to  and log in with your Apple ID and password to discover where your devices  and decide what option to take. Even make your device show a message and phone number to call so the person can return it post haste. Nice.

Above All, set up a pin code or password for your smart phone so no one can get to your apps or data if they find your phone.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 Most Common "How do I do ..." Questions for Windows 8

Microsoft is having some trouble getting folks to embrace Windows 8 and I have experienced the frustrations from friends about Windows 8. Some things are just plain different and Microsoft did not show people how to do common tasks with Windows 8 especially with a mouse and keyboard -- not touch. I've created a 6 minute video showing the answers to my 5 most common "how do I do ..." in Windows 8.

The most common is "how do I close a program?" That's right, there isn't an 'X' in the upper right corner as Windows 7 and all previous versions of Windows.

Here are the questions I answer:
  1. How do I close a program?
  2. How can I see and get to already opened programs?
  3. How do I see all of the "tiles" on the Start Screen?
  4. How do I see all programs installed on my computer?
  5. How do I shut down the computer? Unfortunately this takes 4 clicks but Windows 8.1 does it in 2 clicks.

Full Disclosure. I am using a Microsoft Surface RT Tablet with a Touch keyboard running Windows 8.1 Preview. Don't worry, learning the above 5 items will NOT hamper you in Windows 8.1--it will help you!

Please share any and all Windows 8 frustrations you may have encountered.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Unique Alarm Clock for iPad and iPhone

I utilize my iPad as a night stand alarm clock and weather information tool while it charges overnight and have been extremely happy with Nightstand Central for iPad. I've included it in my Top 10 Most Useful Apps too. However, I came across another night stand alarm clock with some very interesting features. It's called Smart Alarm HD by


Smart Alarm HD


Smart Alarm HD for both iPad and iPhone tracks your sleep patterns by listening to you sleep. It can tell when you are in Deep Sleep, Lite Sleep or REM (rapid eye movement) Sleep. It will even record disturbances in your sleep and allow you to play them back. That's right everyone -- it records snoring.


There is a FREE version of Smart Alarm but is a bit crippled. It only records sleep for 30 to 40 minutes only. I purchased the HD version after just 2 days because I knew I would use this app regularly. The full version has been $2.99 but dropped to $.99 this week. [Update Aug 17-Price returned to $2.99]

Smart Alarm HD's goal is to help you sleep well and wake up refreshed and rejuvenated. I cannot vouch for that so much but I can now state with confidence that I snore. Not because my wife says I do but because now I can hear it for myself.


The most interesting part is that the alarm can be set for a specific time but Smart Alarm will alter the time so you awake without a jolt from a deep sleep. I'm still testing this to be sure but the concept sounds interesting. That is, of course, if the alarm time isn't the most important event in the morning.


As always, I am very aware that I need to be able to see the screen well due to my vision disability and Smart Alarm HD for iPad doesn't disappoint. I can choose green digital numbers or an analog clock with white or black background. My preference is the black background. I can even touch a vertical slider on the left side to make the screen dimmer or brighter.


The alarm has multiple settings. It can be a simple alarm with no sleep analysis or recordings or combinations of an adjusted alarm with or without the analysis and recording.

Two notes. To start the recording and alarm, you slide the orange Start button from left to right when you go to bed. What looks like a red second hand that doesn't move is, in reality, the alarm setting indicator. Odd, I know.


Additional cool features include:

  • Local weather in the upper right corner.
  • Go to sleep with background sounds of either music, white noise, ocean waves, rain and thunder, etc. I go to sleep to the sound of Storm and Thunder.
  • You can even wake up to these too.

Be aware that Plus Sports has other apps that it wants you to try, even in the pay version. It's not obnoxious but there none the less.


For you Android phone or tablet users, give Smart Alarm Clock or Sleepbot - Sleep Cycle Alarm. They are both FREE but I have not tried them yet. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Human Anatomy in 3D for iPad and iPhone

Have you ever been curious about the human anatomy? Check out these 2 apps for iPad and iPhone in beautiful 3d and high resolution graphics.

[UPDATE] My wife asked my why I even wanted to look at these apps anyway. It began over 2 years ago when we both had surgeries. Me with a knee replacement and my wife with an ankle replacement (which was rare then). I had an interest in seeing what the details were surrounding my knee replacement. What did the nerves look like as I have a small place where there isn't any feeling. My wife's ankle swells most of the time and I was interested to know what the muscles and nerves were doing there. This curiosity brought me to search the Apple App Store and here is what I found.

One thing for certain, the iPads beautiful retina display screen makes for viewing pictures and movies pure joy. Try looking at beautiful graphics of the human anatomy.

I've been looking at two apps recently and thought I would share. Both have just beautiful graphics and the ability to rotate views in 3 dimensions. It takes a little getting used to using one finger for some motions, two fingers for others and even three fingers. Both apps are the same in this regard so once I got used to one the other was a breeze. Both apps have additional modules for purchase if you have a keen interest in a particular area of the body like the brain, eyes, ankle, etc.

The first is Human Anatomy Atlas. I've taken the FREE version for a spin to get a good feel. Not all modules of the app are available in the FREE version but I got a good look at it. The full version costs $34.99 but I notice it is on sale for $29.99 for a limited time. Human Anatomy Atlas has very high rankings.

The next app is called Essential Anatomy 2 but I tried the FREE Essential Skeleton 2 to test drive it. Essential Skeleton is equal in beauty based on the graphics. It costs $29.99 with additional modules going for between $6.99 to $12.99. Essential Anatomy looks to be used much by medical schools as there is a quiz module. I suspected Doctors use this tool to explain procedures or issues to patients. They can even draw on the iPad screen, save the picture and e-mail it.


  • Both have terrific graphics and use of 3 dimensional viewing


  • The high price. $29.99 for one and $32.99 for the other.
  • Both are very large programs and take up hundreds of megabytes of space. If your iPad or iPhone has limited space then these are not for you.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Make Windows 8 Look Like Windows XP or Windows 7 - Yes it Can!

Unfortunately, but a stark reality, many people don't want to give up their Windows XP or Windows 7 (sorry Vista) for Windows 8. I read a nicely done blog post, The Metro Haters Guide to Windows 8.1 Preview by ZDNet writer, Ed Bott that makes that change smoother.

Personally, I just helped my mother-in-law get a new laptop and followed Ed's instructions so she would feel more comfortable and not have to work hard to get through the new look of Windows 8.

First of all, the Windows 8 Desktop looks just like Windows 7 but without a Start Button. So if this is your only complaint about Windows 8, then stop right here and just click on the Desktop tile and work from there. That's what I do but I digress.
However, go backwards just a little, the first thing I did was to get the Start Button back and I used Classic Shell which is FREE by the way. Classic Shell will indeed put the Start Button back, but unlike Windows 8.1 Preview, it will put the Start Menu with it! Classic Shell does a couple more things but we'll stop here. See a previous blog post of mine about bringing back the Windows Start Button

Next was to force Windows 8 to skip the new ("metro") Start Screen and go right to the Windows Desktop, like XP or Windows 7. Here I used Skip Metro Suite which is also FREE. Again, Windows 8.1, when it comes out, will do this but in the meantime Skip Metro Suite will do the trick.
Lastly, my mother-in-law didn't like the idea of having to logon to her laptop. I know many of you agree but there are very good reasons to do this, least of which is laptop and data security. Windows 8 has 2 things than take place when it starts. One is to log into Windows Live, an account you will create or log into when you first install or start up that new machine. And secondly there is a Lock Screen (like the old screen saver) that requires a password to get past. Again, all for good and just security.

Turning off the Lock Screen is a bit "geeky" so here goes. Hit Win Key + R and type gpedit.msc into the space and hit Enter. If Windows 8 says that gpedit.msc cannot be found is is really because you don't have the Pro version of Windows 8-you have Windows 8 Home Premium which is fine. . Don't worry though. If it opens, follow the instructions from Disabling the Windows 8 Lock Screen by Paul Thurott, a tech writer who closely follows Microsoft. If you cannot open gpedit.msc, then the Windows Registry is the place and this is "geeky" to the max.   To avoid having to go into the Registry and navigating the very long folder names, here is a link to a program that does the work for you.  See How to Disable the Windows 8 Lock Screen Without Using the Group Editor. Click the program to Disable the Lock Screen. There is also  program is to Enable the Lock Screen if and when you desire.
The second required logon, the Windows Live or Local Sign On if you don't want to do the Windows Live portion can be bypassed in Control Panel. I do NOT recommend this personally but here is what I did. Caution!--this too is a bit "techy". I went to Change her Password and instead of typing in a new password I left the password blank. See the precise steps below.

  • Go to the Control Panel
  • Choose User Accounts and Family Safety
  • Choose User Accounts
  • Choose Manage Accounts
  • Choose Change an Account
  • Choose the Account (typically just yours as Administrator)
  • Change the Password
  • Enter the Current Password
  • Leave the two password spaces blank.
  • Leave the Hint blank
  • Hit Enter or Click OK.
I really apologize that these last few steps are lengthy and techy in nature and many of you won't attempt them for fear of messing something up. Frankly all, this is a good thing. However, if the result is more important, then go for it. I am not responsible for mistakes made or how your PC responds. Just a friendly disclaimer folks.