The Digital World

How to 'hide' photos on your device

In the previous issue, we talked about putting a PIN (Personal Identification Number) on your smartphone/tablet. A PIN that only you know is akin to a deadbolt on your front door. If your smartphone/tablet is lost or stolen, the person who finds it, or the nefarious person who stole it, will not be able to get into the device without knowing your PIN. 

I also wrote that both Apple and Google, creators of "iOS" and "Android" operating systems for their smartphones/tablets respectively, have a way to "hide" photos from appearing in their Photos (aka photo album) app. For example, if you take a digital photo of your vaccination card, moving it to the hidden album or locked folder will prevent that photo from appearing in the Photos app alongside pictures of your grandkids!

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Volume 13, Issue 19, Posted 9:56 AM, 10.05.2021

Digital deadbolt for your vaccination card

Just last week I helped an alumni of our Discover Digital Literacy! program store her vaccination card on her smartphone. Before we started, she already knew that taking a picture was the easiest option. She can keep the picture on the smartphone's digital photo album app.

Basically, she didn't want to carry around her original vaccine card and lamination wasn't a viable option either since it may make it difficult to update the card with newer information (like when she gets the booster shot). Some restaurants, for example, are requiring proof of vaccination, she said.

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Volume 13, Issue 18, Posted 10:10 AM, 09.21.2021

Location, location, location!

I always reckon smartphones as having powers akin to the color-shifting chameleons that blend into their environment. Crystals in the photonic skin of the chameleon are responsible for its color-shifting superpowers, much like smartphone "apps" change the smartphone's utility into different gadgets on the fly.

Out of the box, a smartphone is a mobile phone (Dialer app), address book (Contacts), calendar (Calendar), digital camera (Camera), video camera ("flip a switch" in the Camera), tool to use the services on the internet (type of an app known as "browsers" such as Safari on Apple iPhones or Chrome on Android smartphones), and a turn-by-turn navigation gadget (Google Maps or Apple Maps apps).

Apps such as Maps utilize the GPS (Global Positioning System) chip in your smartphone to know exactly where it is relative to earth by receiving information (i.e. coordinates) from the satellites in the sky. I rely on the Maps app while I drive to give me turn-by-turn directions.

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 10:40 AM, 09.08.2021

Matching your 'use case' to the appropriateness of technology

I often talk about the "appropriateness" of the technology you purchase within your budget. You don't want to overspend with bells and whistles you'll never use, or underspend on a device that turns out to be underwhelming and raise your blood pressure instead.

It is important to determine your "use case," or the activities you anticipate using a device for, when determining what is appropriate for you. An analogy of said appropriateness is buying everything and the kitchen sink when you only heat up frozen dinners for your meals.

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Volume 13, Issue 16, Posted 10:12 AM, 08.17.2021

Have a plan for Windows 11

Have you heard the news that Windows 11 is coming this October? I don't blame you if you think "why so soon?" because Windows 10 is only six years old. Some of you may have just upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 in January 2020.

The good news is that the impending arrival of Windows 11 will not immediately invalidate your Windows 10 personal computer (PC) by turning it into a pumpkin like Cinderella's carriage after the stroke of midnight. Rather, Windows 10 is slated to lose Microsoft's extended support on Oct. 14, 2025, which is a good four years away.

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Volume 13, Issue 15, Posted 9:55 AM, 08.03.2021

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Back when I had more free-time to watch the "tube," (that'd be more than two decades ago – LOL), a show I enjoyed watching was "Cops." These days, though, thanks to the ubiquity of the internet, content similar to "Cops" is bountiful for instant enjoyment. My internet-connected smartphone that goes everywhere I go is akin to my "personal tube," providing bottomless content to stream from the digital world that can be enjoyed anywhere/anytime!

But I still enjoy reading the "Police Blotter" sent out by our local departments. Other than the entertainment value provided by the criminal minds [sarcasm intended], they often reveal tactics employed by the nefarious for online fraud.

One particular tactic disclosed in a highlighted incident from a recent Police Blotter report correlates with what I have been observing personally. Through analyzing the messages left on our answering machine and voicemails, plus reading the unsolicited text messages and emails, there sure seems to be an uptick in scammers trying to get their potential victims to send cash or gift cards.

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Volume 13, Issue 13, Posted 10:27 AM, 07.06.2021

Precious moments with my father

As this issue hits the newsstands, Father's Day is only five days away! Unlike last year, many will have the opportunity to hug them in-person again and celebrate together. To honor the fathers who went to heaven during the past year and a half when the physical distancing mandate made it ever more difficult to put closure, I've asked my wife, Mely, to share her story. This is her telling her story ...

My father passed away in October of last year in the Philippines. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, I was unable to travel and be by his side. It was not easy, but something I had accepted, not being there to see him before he died. Like the rest of this country and the world, I could not attend his funeral to say goodbye. I still seek closure.

One of the fondest memories I cherish came when I gifted my parents a tablet for their 50th anniversary. When my dad saw my husband, who remained stateside, and I communicating via FaceTime, his eyes lit up. He asked me, "You mean I will be able to see you from thousands of miles away if I learn how to use this gift?" I said "yes" and knew I had his interest! He was determined to learn how to use it. Everyday during my visit, I would practice with him – how to turn it on, start FaceTime, and to accept video calls or make video calls.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 9:59 AM, 06.15.2021

Live Caption for Chrome web browser helps HoH community

Part two of a two-part series on how technology can help the hard-of-hearing community.

Whether you are: checking email, shopping online, googling (yes, it's a word in the Oxford Dictionary) for a widget, watching YouTube videos, paying bills, registering for a COVID-19 vaccine, or streaming a movie from Westlake Porter Public Library or Cuyahoga County Public Library in Bay Village, one ubiquitous tool that you will need is a "web browser." Firefox from Mozilla Foundation, Chrome from Google, Edge from Microsoft, or Safari from Apple all do the same thing: pull up a website so you can benefit from all of the above and other things in the cloud, aka the internet.

Previously, we discussed an app and a feature that fall under the "accessibility" category. Accessibility settings make handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets more comfortable to use while compensating for physical disabilities. Through personal experience, I've been relying on the above every day for over a year.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 9:59 AM, 05.04.2021

Technology for the HoH community

Part one of a two-part series on how technology can help the hard-of-hearing community.

My better half believes that I suffer from "selective hearing syndrome." Luckily, I possess a "get out of jail" card as I'm temporarily hard-of-hearing (HoH) for real. Honey, I "really" didn't hear you well enough that you wanted me to take out the garbage – LOL!

As an old geek teaching digital literacy to seniors for free through our nonprofit, my life after succumbing to acute HoH has been helped by none other than … technology. My smartphone, one of the Pixel models from Google, is basically a reference model for smartphones from other brands running the Android hand-held operating system from other brands. Manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Motorola license Android, and customize and sell smartphones under their own model names like Galaxy, Velvet, and Moto G respectively.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:39 AM, 04.20.2021

Practice Internet Street Smarts to protect yourself online

During our daily Google Meet session on April 1, I was telling my mom that I woke up to snow that morning. It reminded me of a late snowfall on March 30, 1987. It was sunny when I walked into the Richfield Coliseum for a Bon Jovi concert (yes, my son would say "Bon who?") and I came out to a snowy parking lot. God won April Fools' Day this year … he gets to have all the fun!

I do reminisce about the early-1990s digital world where computer viruses were more about pulling pranks than ill-gotten gains and racketeering. I often talk about Internet Street Smarts and how good "habits'' are important in minimizing the risk of being victimized on the internet, aka the cloud, while reaping the many benefits of the digital world. This is analogous to how we were practicing good habits in 2020 to thwart COVID-19 by staying home for non-essentials, physically distancing, and wearing a mask.

However, unlike the COVID-19 vaccine that will hopefully lead to herd immunity, there is no silver bullet against the nefarious actors of the digital world. Hence the importance of building good habits.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:31 AM, 04.06.2021

Another choice to watch local TV channels

Although still early in the game, year 2021 has been off to a good start and should be a year of healing. I've always been a geek with a "glass half full" mentality. My optimism for 2021 is based on "data" and "trends" found both in the real and digital worlds so my sixth sense can't be that off either!

While the digital world is engulfed in flames, figuratively, from the disclosure of security breaches at an alarming clip, I also continue to discover new digital-world gems. Like the "PressReader" service that our neighborhood libraries added to their digital service offerings recently, which I covered in the last issue, I'm going to introduce you to another beneficial service today.

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Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:26 AM, 03.16.2021

Libraries have done it again!

If it was anyone else, phrases like "the smartest card on the planet" or "the smartest card you'll ever own," would sound like an overused marketing pitch by a credit card issuer. However, it wasn't just "anyone" as this was a library proclaiming this on their website and in their mobile app and I couldn't agree more. A library card is the most beneficial card to have while the price of becoming a patron is free!

I fondly recall my wife taking our just celebrated 1-year-old son to storytimes at the different area libraries. Our son is a quintessential "library kid" where the area of the library he visited could easily show his approximate age, just like the etched markings on the inner door frame that parents record their children's growth throughout the years.

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 9:45 AM, 03.02.2021

Tak dreams of ubiquitous communication

On many occasions I've been asked about which app I use for a certain task. I happily share the app I actually use on my Android smartphone. If my favorite app is not available on the iPhone, I consult my wife's iPhone as I manage what is on her smartphone too. My answers, though, do raise an eyebrow when I rattle off more than one app for the task in question. Let me explain ...

Apps for making video calls are a good example. I have no less than five video calling apps installed. Currently, they are Duo and Meet (from Google), Skype and Teams (from Microsoft), and Zoom.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:05 AM, 02.16.2021

Physical distancing but not social distancing

In the real world I continue to physically distance, wear a mask, and use a hand sanitizer every time I get back in the car while running essential errands like grocery shopping or going to the post office. Until COVID-19 is under control, which hopefully will be sometime later this year with the various phases of the vaccination trudging along slowly but surely, we have digital-world tools and services to be thankful for. As I always preach, we have to embrace the 21st century life skill of digital literacy!

Many digital-world tools and services help us accomplish essential tasks and that was even before this pandemic forced us to temporarily coop up at home. (The phrase "coop up" may only apply to me, who has a very small house, LOL.) Other digital-world tools and services are not about accomplishing tasks efficiently but more about new ways of receiving entertainment and life's other pleasures.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:08 AM, 02.02.2021

You are the product

As I pen this column in mid-January, experts are still uncovering the extent of the damage caused by the Solarwinds breach, aka SUNBURST, discovered last December. Solarwinds's tool is used by many businesses and government agencies, thus the implications of this breach can be profound. 

When a breach affects business and/or government systems, ultimately consumers are affected since these organizations hold our PII (Personally Identifiable Information) that, in nefarious actors' possession, can lead to all sorts of trouble. Even on our own devices such as computers, smartphones or tablets, protecting PII is of utmost importance.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 9:56 AM, 01.19.2021

My tech resolution for 2021

I know Hanukkah just started and Christmas is still over a week away but I've been thinking about 2021 often. Perhaps it's the unprecedented year that 2020 turned out to be and the hope of 2021 being better. So today I want to talk about my numero uno tech resolution for 2021.

For most technology related tasks like backing up the data on my computer or keeping the various files on my computer organized, I have a proclivity for well-defined processes. However, such predisposition has evaded my conscience when it comes to the curation of digital photos/videos taken with my digital cameras and smartphones. Simply, I have been importing all the photos/videos I take onto my computer indiscriminately – i.e. the good, the bad and the ugly – and they take residence in my portfolio.

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Volume 12, Issue 24, Posted 9:51 AM, 12.15.2020

Appropriateness while technology shopping

I've talked before about "appropriateness" when shopping for technology devices. Although price will always be a limiting factor, appropriateness of the device's features should be aligned to how you will use them ... regardless of how big your piggy bank may be.

Here are two examples you may ponder this holiday season:

  • iPhone 12 Pro at $999+ or iPhone SE at $399+?

  • Entry level Windows 10 laptop at $350+ or Chromebook at $150+?

With the iPhone, a smartphone from Apple, for many with typical usage like voice calls, texts, emails, video chats, useful apps, and web surfing, the cost-conscious iPhone SE introduced this spring fits the bill (and saves some bills too). Just because it's cheaper doesn't mean you forgo the Apple premium quality.

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 9:58 AM, 12.01.2020

Keeping tabs on auto-renewals

Several columns ago I talked about the "subscription" option, i.e. leasing, for Microsoft's productivity software suite "Microsoft 365" as opposed to buying "Office" outright. Another example, commercial anti-virus software, operates under a similar principle where they require their users to annually renew (pay) to continue getting the virus signatures to prevent known viruses from infecting your computer or identifying virus infections and eradicating them by using the updated digital antidotes.

I'm confident that many of you are seasoned geeks who can fix different ailments our technology devices succumb to. I also know some friends who opted for computer repair services from office supply stores or big box electronic stores locally. For the latter, many technology services have also adopted the subscription model to sell their preventative services after repair.

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Volume 12, Issue 22, Posted 9:20 AM, 11.17.2020

Digital-world butler to your rescue

I wish I could have a butler who will do all my assigned household chores so I can be a 21st century couch potato. In the real world, I am "Tak who does windows [grudgingly]" but I'm more comfortable cleaning "Windows" in the digital world, i.e. the operating system from Microsoft for the computers.

In the digital world, though, I already have butlers and that probably goes for you too. We don't have to be millionaires and the only requirement is that we own a computer, smartphone, tablet, or any wired or wireless (Wi-Fi) gadget that connects us to the digital world.

The latter is basically an electronic object prefixed with the word "smart," like "Smart TV" or "Smart Speaker." All smart gadgets connect to the internet, aka the cloud, and can be controlled by the owner (Smart Plug for example) or stream content, i.e. TV shows, movies, music, etc. like what Smart TV does for our enjoyment.

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 9:26 AM, 11.03.2020

Building good habits

As a writer, I enjoy discovering the etymology of the words I use in my columns. I enjoy looking up a word's meaning, even simple words such as "habit." After all, I'm a creature of habits.

Managing money wisely is always a good habit to have. Compared to when I was learning to save my allowance or learning to maximize my 401(k) contributions when I started my first job, building good habits have become rather complex nowadays.

In geek-speak and business-speak alike, we oft use the words "attack vector" to describe the different methodology a nefarious actor may use to victimize us out of our money. Although new attack vectors may have sprouted with the consumerization of the internet, aka the cloud, even the nefarious are creatures of habit. The ways in which they try to victimize us is still the same from the pre-internet era.

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Volume 12, Issue 19, Posted 9:48 AM, 10.06.2020

Oh, the phones you can phone

As long as you have a tablet, computer, or even a retired smartphone connected to the internet, aka the cloud, you can make calls to any 10-digit domestic phone number (free), or even an international number (fee), from your device.

We'll concentrate on the service "Google Voice" (GV) and their app. There are other free and paid services too. For example, you've been able to get a 10-digit number and buy minutes for domestic/international calls through "Skype" from Microsoft for over a decade.

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Volume 12, Issue 18, Posted 10:19 AM, 09.15.2020

Oh, the ways we communicate!

From cellular phones the size of a brick to our current crop of smartphones slightly longer than a deck of cards except thinner, our communication medium – since the invention of telephones – has always been supported by technology. Even the older-than-dirt letter writing has evolved into email thanks to technology.

Rotary and push-button telephones relied on Plain Old Telephone Services (aka "POTS"), including the earliest era of needing switchboard operators, on the telephone lines operated and connected worldwide. Cellular towers added mobility so you can be reached anytime/anywhere, freeing you from a sedentary lifestyle but cursing at robocallers. With the internet, aka the cloud, your ubiquity is now supercharged.

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Volume 12, Issue 17, Posted 9:31 AM, 09.01.2020

Supporting your favorite apps

Hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets – whether iPhone/iPad exclusively built by Apple based on their "iOS" operating system, or other makes/models where manufacturers like Samsung, Motorola, LG, and others license Google's "Android" operating system – all come with a set of basic apps pre-installed. I'll also use the term "ecosystem" to describe the services and functionalities built around the respective operating systems that add further value to these handheld devices beyond the pre-installed apps.

An example of a pre-installed app on the smartphone is the "Phone" or "Dialer," often represented by an icon of a telephone handset and enables you to make/receive telephone calls. Most tablets can only connect to the internet, aka the cloud, through Wi-Fi so they do not come pre-installed with the Phone app. Tip: Wi-Fi only tablets can still be made to make/receive phone calls using an app like Google Voice. For the curious, we'll cover Google Voice and other VoIP (Voice of Internet Protocol) apps in a future column.

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Volume 12, Issue 15, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.04.2020

Free Office suite in the cloud

In the previous issue, I discussed Microsoft Office licensing options and a free alternative, LibreOffice. This week, I'll go over free offerings from Google and Microsoft that live entirely on the internet, aka the cloud, that are also compatible with Microsoft's Office.

To use Google's and Microsoft's free online offerings, aka "services," from your Windows/Mac computer or Chromebook, you will use your favorite browser (Chrome, FireFox, Safari or EDGE).

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Volume 12, Issue 14, Posted 10:05 AM, 07.21.2020

Deciding on subscription, perpetual license or free software

Similar to the decision-making process required to buy or lease your next car, leasing computer hardware was popularized for businesses before the "subscription" model, i.e. leasing [the right to use] software, started to also become an industry trend in the early 2010s.

Whether leasing computer hardware or subscribing for software usage, the concept is the same: you don't own anything when the lease/subscription ends.

Let's review the options:

• Buying software upfront gives you a perpetual license to use the software on one computer, akin to buying a car. You own it when paid upfront or financing is paid off.

• Buying a subscription to software is like leasing a car. You enter an annually renewable contract for a discounted monthly rate or opt for a month-to-month contract at a slightly higher rate. You use the software, just like you drive a leased car, but at the end of the subscription term, if you don't renew, you lose the usage rights. You never own it.

People often ask me questions about Microsoft's productivity suite "Office" and the options available. Formerly known as "Office 365 Home," recently rebranded as "Microsoft 365 for home" (really, can we stop confusing consumers?), it is a subscription offering: you lease the Office software for use on your personal computer, tablet, smartphone or the cloud.

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Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 10:04 AM, 07.07.2020

A new dimension to embrace

"Other than throwing it at me or against the wall out of frustration, I can fix anything so don't be afraid to experiment." This is one of the many "Tak-isms" my students will hear throughout the Discover Digital Literacy! (DDL!) program, taken from the "Satosan Method" I devised for teaching seniors. In the last three years, I haven't seen a single tablet fly out of our students' hands and that's a good thing. Although tablets are near commodities, we are only able to assign them as a hands-on learning tool to each student because of our generous donors.

The Satosan Method, a handbook of sorts, is the culmination of my experience over the span of three decades in helping people with technology and specifically tuned for helping seniors discover digital literacy.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:35 AM, 06.02.2020

Digital literacy is the new life skill

In the ancient Chinese philosophy of "yin and yang," similar to the idiom "double edged-sword" in our culture, the concept of dualism exists everywhere. In my column I keep referring to the internet, aka the cloud, having those traits. I also continue to believe that the good (benefits) outweighs the bad (nefarious actors).

One benefit we like to share often in this column is our personal experiences dating back to the late 1990s where AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) assuaged our feelings of being homesick. We could see and talk to each other by using AIM thus keeping our connectedness factor in check. Two decades later, our society has been forced to reckon what I've been preaching for the longest time, no thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the required social distancing.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:40 AM, 05.05.2020

Disposing of your old computer

Westlake and Bay Village service departments postponed their spring eWaste roundup events due to social distancing mandates. A little more time to prepare your eWaste before disposal!

Preparing your eWaste for safe disposal is about minimizing the chance of your information stored on the old computer, aka data, from falling into the possession of nefarious entities.

Whether computers, tablets, smartphones, or other computer-like electronic devices including Smart TVs, most save mountains of information during the years of usage. We'll cover computers today and cover tablets and smartphones in future issues.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 8:59 AM, 04.21.2020

WFH? Be vigilant to protect your computer from another type of virus malware

In the infancy of personal computing, and predating the consumerization of the internet, nefarious entities like computer virus authors were likely not financially motivated. They were probably driven by mischief and the resulting notoriety by claiming "I did that."

For example, I remember being infected by a computer virus in early 1992 that simply made the noise of water going down the drain with the author's name prominently displayed as ending credits while his laughter as background music.

Today, it's usually run like a business, albeit illicit and surrounding illegal activities like extortion through ransomware attacks. Just like any other business, they go for maximum ill-gained returns. Their weapon is not just viruses but an arsenal known as "malware" (concatenation of the words "malicious" and "software").

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:41 AM, 04.07.2020

Help our seniors avoid loneliness and social isolation

The prior issue of WBVO, always available at our website,, had a great article on spring cleaning in Jennifer Hartzell's The Green Report column that even a self-proclaimed “geek” learned something from: Best Buy recycles TV for a nominal fee.

Adding to that informative article, I want to remind our readers that before taking a computer, tablet or smartphone to the Bay Village or Westlake service departments for disposal, please make sure to physically extract the “storage devices” from computers (geeky terminology: “hard drives” or “solid state drives”) for safekeeping. For smartphones and tablets, it is important to factory reset the devices before drop-off. In a future column, we’ll demystify these necessary processes so you can minimize the risk of the nefarious getting hold of your personal data.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:41 AM, 03.17.2020

Coping with social distancing measures

I had forgotten how taxing the flu can be and getting the strength back after being horizontal for five days is proving to require patience. At least I’m not contagious anymore! High fever was controlled by ibuprofen/acetaminophen but body aches and incessant coughs made it hard to get sleep. To pass time during this artificial insomnia, the Flipster app enabled me access to the magazine collection at Bay Village Library and Westlake Porter Public Library 24 hours a day. Not to mention the community benefit of not sharing my flu virus with other in-library patrons.

In the first five days of my flu, I also read a lot of online articles about the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. A New York Times article piqued my interest when the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases mentioned that communities should plan for “social distancing measures” to minimize outbreak.

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Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 9:59 AM, 03.03.2020

Unpatched cracks in the foundation

I know some of you are still using Windows 7 and my recommendation is to upgrade as soon as possible. The expiration date for Microsoft’s Windows 7 is now in our rearview mirror.

It’s easy to become complacent, even wonder what the big deal was to move off of Windows 7, as your computer continued to tick when the sun rose on Jan. 15. Probably that’s how many of us felt with the “Y2K scare” when the sky didn’t fall, the missiles didn’t auto-launch, and the financial markets – for the most part – didn’t crash when the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2000.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 10:08 AM, 02.18.2020

Scanning the airwaves

As Clevelanders, we are used to “whiteouts” during winter snowstorms. Whiteout imagery outside the windshield reminds me of what showed up on our TV screen when fiddling with rabbit-ears to get a good reception in the good old days.

When the “analog” broadcast ended in mid-2009 with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate requiring all TV stations broadcast exclusively in a “digital” format, blocky (geeky term: pixelated) imagery on the TV screen equated to poor reception. Many were already on cable or satellite TV service so never saw change.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:47 AM, 01.21.2020

Kicking the tires of your digital-world ride

Are you ready to kick the tires of the Power of One device or shiny new computer you found under your tree? The former, i.e. tablets and smartphones, are also referred to as consumption devices since you consume, or more appropriately “stream,” various content such as entertainment and knowledge from the internet, aka the cloud. Computers can also consume but additionally can be used to create documents and many others for self or to share with others.

If you are ready to find out what your gift is capable of, just whip out your … library card! Being a card-carrying digital-world citizen has its privileges as libraries have adjusted nicely to the world after the internet. They continue to embrace digital-world-based services as society changes the way they do things and all the while continuing to service the people who walk into the libraries in the real world.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 10:33 AM, 01.07.2020

Be smart this holiday season

As we welcome a new decade … wait, does the new decade start on Jan. 1 of 2020 or 2021? I felt dumb “googling” this but it turns out two smart groups of people couldn’t agree; in other words it was clear as mud. At least I have an excuse to party! Speaking of dumb and smart ... 

As technology continues to permeate into every nook and cranny of our lives, the possibilities are high that you’ll gift yourself, or others, a device with the prefix “smart.” Smart TV, Smartwatch, Smart Lightbulb, and Smart Thermostat are all too common as we bid farewell to 2019. On the same token, people may call you a grinch if you gift ‘em “dumb” electronics such as a Dumb TV – I doubt you can find one outside eBay or Craigslist!

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Volume 11, Issue 24, Posted 10:08 AM, 12.17.2019

The importance of an annual invoice review

Growing up in Japan, I helped out in my parents' sewing machine sales and repair shop when not in school. My wife also grew up helping her parents' farming supply store in the Philippines. One common denominator of our childhood, we both saw our parents work hard to keep customer “loyalty.” Those customers must’ve also expected something back for their loyalty as everyone knows it’s a two-way street.

Last week I helped a soon-to-be-alumni from our seventh Discover Digital Literacy! class, a 16-week program offered for free by our nonprofit to seniors 60 years and older, get internet service at her home. After all was said and done in under 30 minutes, we walked out with an installation date and a contract-free internet service of $45 per month which was $25 cheaper than what I was paying per month.

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Volume 11, Issue 23, Posted 10:08 AM, 12.03.2019

Don't get skimmed

With holiday gauntlet quickly approaching, travel – whether to see family or for a quick jaunt to a warmer climate – may be in your cards. Just like we rely on our smartphones to accomplish everyday tasks, these days your smartphone can carry your airplane boarding pass or contactless payment credentials while traveling.

If your travel is on the longer end of the spectrum, let's say more than 8 hours, you may be anxious about your smartphone battery lasting the entire duration of your trip. Gone are the days when smartphones had replaceable batteries where you could carry a fully charged extra battery to swap in if your battery dies mid-journey!

If you are traveling by car, you can buy one of those $10 cigarette socket battery chargers for your smartphone to quell the anxiety of premature smartphone death. But if you are traveling by other modes of transportation, for example an airplane, what options do you have?

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Volume 11, Issue 22, Posted 9:24 AM, 11.19.2019

Being a 21st century couch potato

Many of you may recall when, years ago, having Wi-Fi in your home was either a DIY project or an add-on service you paid for each month.

These days, however, the Internet Service Providers (or ISPs) like Spectrum, WOW or AT&T servicing Westlake and Bay Village may already have Wi-Fi capability built into their equipment and even turned on whether you use it or not. As long as it is protected to make it a “private” Wi-Fi, as opposed to an “open” or “public” Wi-Fi, you are ready to become a 21st century couch potato.

As it becomes increasingly common for each family member to own multiple digital world devices such as a computer, smartphone and tablet, and the only televisions you can buy these days are labeled as being “smart” anyways, having Wi-Fi capability provided through ISP equipment has become an expectation rather than an exception.

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Volume 11, Issue 21, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.05.2019

Only 13 weeks left from today

That’s 91 days, 2184 hours, 131,040 minutes, or 7,862,400 seconds. The writing on the wall is unmistakable: for most of us, we have to move off of Windows 7 before Jan. 14, 2020!

Sure, there is an annual paid option to extend, up to three years, the ability to continue to receive monthly security updates. Narrow criteria exists to use this option, officially christened as the Extended Security Update program (“ESU” for short), which requires your Windows 7 computer to be part of a volume licensing contract with Microsoft; it also has to be a certain “trim level” of Windows 7 operating system to even qualify. Hence, most residential users and many small businesses too are out of luck.

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Volume 11, Issue 20, Posted 9:19 AM, 10.15.2019

'Tis the season for unveiling new top shelf smartphones

Just like we expect the “white things” to start making their appearance by late November/early December each year in Cleveland, we have come to expect the smartphone giants, Apple and Google, to unveil their new smartphones this time of the year. As I type this article, Apple has announced their 2019 iPhone model (iPhone 11) while Google is slated to unveil their 2019 Pixel model (Pixel 4) in mid-October.

As always, the popular media outlets have penned a smorgasbord of information on the titans’ 2019 smartphone refreshes; if you're interested in learning more, they are only a “googling” away! You can also visit Westlake Porter Public Library or Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Bay Village branch for periodicals. The same magazines you find there, like research favorite Consumer Reports, are available in the digital world as “eMagazines” to read on your tablet, smartphone, or computer from the comfort of your home. Not limited to eMagazines, their digital services include available eBooks, movies, TV shows, music, and many other benefits that you can access over the internet.

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Volume 11, Issue 18, Posted 9:08 AM, 09.17.2019