NEW!!! GET HELP FROM A DISTANCE! Call (512)560-2609 or email and set up a time for a session.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chip Credit Cards

While we were on our recent trip to Greece, Spain and Belgium there were several times that we could not use our Credit Cards because the store we were at did not have a Magnetic strip reader anymore. Most of the world has switched to credit cards that have a chip embedded in them. 

The Chips are called EMV which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa. They are more secure than the cards with the magnetic strips because they actually have an embedded computer chip in them. Every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again.

The transition to this type of card is expensive for banks and for all merchants who take credit cards. The cards are different and the equipment to take them is also different. What makes it worthwhile is that the technology used by the cards is much more secure. Each transaction creates a different number and that is used instead of your credit card number to keep track of the transaction. No one has access to your credit card number except you. Even the online records are connected to this one time number rather than your card. 

There are two ways to use the card. Instead of swiping a magnetic strip you will dip your card into a slot that will allow it to be read and approved. Some cards and some merchants have tapping technology and all you will need to do is to tap the card on a certain spot. This type of technology is more expensive, so it is possible that many places will only have the dipping technology.

By October 1, 2015 all credit card transactions are supposed to be upgraded to use chips, but it is likely that they will not all be ready. At first the card from your bank will have both a magnetic strip and a chip. If a merchant has not changed their equipment yet you can use the magnetic strip, but the big change is that the merchant is responsible if there is any hacking of the information. Merchants are hurrying to make the changes.

Read more: 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Technology Reviews

This morning as I was browsing through the paper and eating breakfast I came across a very interesting article. It was a review of the Real Pad by AARP. It turns out that it isn't as easy to use as it advertises, although the price is right.

I am often asked by people how to decide on what to purchase (what type of laptop, what type of tablet or phone, etc..) Through the article I learned about a site that reviews tech things from the point of view of a non-techie. It is called Tech50Plus. There are reviews organized on different topics with large buttons for navigation through the site and large font. The reviews are based on four questions. I highly recommend this site as a place to go to research technology before purchasing.

Take a look at a positive review of the AARP RealPad from

Friday, May 8, 2015

Is OneDrive Part of "the cloud"?

"The Cloud" can be really confusing. That is because it is invisible. I wrote aboutit in an earlier post called "What is Cloud Computing?" 

When I think of a cloud, I think of a fluffy white thing floating peacefully through the sky.  

That is NOT what the Cloud is that you hear about these days.When someone talks about "The Cloud" in the context of technology they are talking about HUGE warehouses of computers called servers that are storing HUGE amounts of your data and serving it or sending it out when requested. They look more like this picture.

Companies have "Clouds". If you use Kindle, you are storing your books on the Amazon Cloud. If you have Gmail your email goes through the Google Cloud. Apple has a cloud that they call iCloud. Microsoft calls their cloud OneDrive. Dropbox is a Cloud. Social Media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter have Clouds. 

The Cloud or Clouds have made it possible for us to access information from anywhere that there is wifi. We can sync all of our devices so that they have the same information. We can share files and photos with people in other locations easily without having to attach them to email. Clouds are maintained and backed up regularly - hopefully in different locations, to ensure the integrity of information. 

A word of caution though.  The Cloud is not just one thing or an innocent peaceful thing. Clouds are many different collections of data managed by companies. It is possible that a company may go out of business. What will happen to your data? What if the company that is storing your data uses it in ways you do not approve of? What if there is a security breach somehow and your files are accessed? The recent story of celebrity pictures is an example of that. (Click on the link if you don't remember it! I chose CNN because it does not actually have the photos. It just talks about them.)

That is why strong passwords and not posting anything that you don't want to share with the world are really important.

The image below shows what the Cloud is and may make it clearer than what I have said. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Email Woes

Email can seem like a tyrant. If you don't read it the messages pile up until it will take you hours to catch up and you might miss an important message. Even when you read it regularly it can take over. 

I decided to go one whole week without reading my email.... and without sending a message or newsletter. Anyway today I am starting to read again and I have 602 messages in my personal account and 32 in my business email account. It is not like I shop online or subscribe to lots of lists. So what is in my email?

  • Facebook
  • Meet Up
  • Pinterest
  • Professional Organization
  • Austin Business Journal
  • Children's Defense Fund
  • Environment Texas
  • Long Center for the Performing Arts
  • Advertisements - New Egg
  • A few personal messages from friends
  • Messages from my doctor
email lists in Facebook
Here is what I did with my 602 messages.
  1. First I scanned the content to see what I was receiving.
  2. Then I did an email search for the FROM line of messages that I no longer wanted to receive. Sometimes it came up with exactly what I wanted.  After found the messages that I didn't want used the checkbox at the top to choose all of the messages to trash and then clicked the trash can and they were thrown away. You can do this without marking them unread. Just delete them. It is so satisfying!
  3. Finally, I emptied the trash in my email. 
I know that everyone has different email programs that look a bit different and use different words, but all of them can do something similar. It may just take some searching to find out how it is done in your program. I use Gmail.

What I learned is that some organizations have MANY LISTS. Facebook is a good example. I learned that if I just searched for FACEBOOK I got all kinds of email in my list, but when I searched for Facebook birthday I only got back results when FACEBOOK was notifying me of someone's birthday. When I went to the message I unsubscribed from the FACEBOOK Birthday list, but I still have email from Facebook.  I guess as I go I will find the different lists and unsubscribe from them. I finally found all of their lists and unsubscribed from them. See the list above. I found it in the Settings on Facebook under Notifications.

Another interesting thing is that I get email regularly from TED talks. The FROM line says "This Week on TED". I tried searching using TED, but that returned email about a friend named Ted and other things. So, I put the whole phrase in - this week on TED - and I still got all sorts of results. Then I added quotation marks - "this week on TED" and up came a whole list of ONLY "This Week on TED" email. I was able to mark all of them and delete them easily.

I now plan to do this every 6 months to a year. I am not sure how I get added to all of these lists. Most of them are things I am interested in.  Maybe I signed a petition or put my email on a list for something else. Maybe they got bought my email from someone. For a few of them I know I have purchased something from their company. The point is that they keep increasing, but they are NOT what I define as SPAM. They are good organizations trying to communicate. It is just that I cannot take in that much communication and don't want to.

I like the option of marking messages as read. That allows me to easily see what is new. On a daily basis I go quickly through my email using the right arrow at the top right of my inbox to scan each message. Most of them can be scanned and then discarded, but there are some that I want to read more carefully or respond to. I click on the star next to the messages that I want to keep. Each time I open a message it is marked as read. In Gmail and (I am pretty sure) in most email programs that means that the message goes fromBOLD to regular font. I can then easily go back to my inbox and put checks in the box next to the ones I have scanned avoiding the ones with stars and click delete or archive. Then, theoretically, once a day or once a week I spend more time taking care of the starred messages.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why Should I Tweet? Or Even Read What Others Tweet?

I am regularly asked why anyone would use Twitter. This is because I work mostly with people aged 40-80 who have not used technology much. I always try to respond with my own experience. Sometimes I have used it and sometimes I ignore it for months. I don't feel like I have to read what everyone I follow says. If I don't like what someone I follow writes about I can stop following them without any hurt feelings. I can choose to only follow people who write and share what I think are interesting things. Once a friend I knew shared about the Egyptian Spring AS IT HAPPENED! 

When I share it is because I have found an interesting resource. Or maybe I have had a universal and interesting experience. Maybe I retweet something I think is really important that someone else tweeted. Also, many teachers I know have found that it is a great way to connect to like-minded people across the globe and support one-another's teaching. It makes meeting at a conference somewhere really exciting. 

This morning though, I read a terrific article in the New York Times Week in Review Section about why Scott Simon of NPR tweeted his Mother's last hours. It was the best description of why someone tweets that I have come across. I cannot do it justice here, but here is a quote.

"Tweets are not compulsory reading. I did not pass on medical details, or rattle family skeletons. And I never suggested - my mother would have insisted on this - that her death was a tragedy. She lived a long, full, fascinating life, and died with her son by her side. I posted messages in which I admitted some of my anxieties and shared some of my mother's wit and spirit as we went though an intense experience that, one way or another we will all have."

If you want to know more read the article. "Tweeting Mom's Goodbye" New York Times Sunday March, 29, 2015.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Confused by Events and Projects in iMovie

I like iMovie and I have created movies using it, but I never really understood the Event window and the Project window. The whole idea of Events was confusing. I also closed the Project window once and could not get it back. So, finally I have done a bit of sitting and learning and this is what I found.


One of the most confusing things about iMovie is the difference between Events and Projects and how they work with each other.


Events are just collections of clips and pictures. When you start a project you may start out with a NEW event and then import all of the clips and pictures that you want to use for that event. 


Projects are actually movies that you are making. They are not finished and published yet. iMovie calls them both projects and movies.

    screen shot import media
  1. When you create an Event by choosing FILE>NEW EVENT from the menus above the event is named the date that it is created. Then a window opens up with a big arrow that says IMPORT. You can import clips and photos from your camera, folders on the computer, or even from iPhoto
  2. Next you start a project to use those clips and photos. Choose FILE>NEW MOVIE.  Once you choose New Movie, choose a template and give your movie a name the working panel opens up with the name of your movie on it. This is where you can drag clips, transitions, sounds, etc…. to create your movie.

Think of Movies (Projects) and Events separately. The square on the top left shows the clips and pictures in the event. It also shows which movie project you started using the event. 

The Event and the Project do not have to Match.
Changing the event does not make the project change.

If you click on a different Event on the right the project window DOES NOT CHANGE. 

The project window at the bottom does NOT need to match the Events window.

So, an event can be associated with more than one movie project AND a project can take clips or photos from any event. Clips can be selected from one event and dragged to the side and moved to another event. Projects can also be moved from one event to another. If you just want to see what projects you have started without looking at events you can click “all project” on the left side.  
The Event is taking the Project space because there is no Project open.

If you close a project window the Event window just moves down into the empty space. In order to get a project window back just click twice on the project that you want to work on.


You can replace the dates that name each of your Events with words. Click once on the date. Count to 5 and then click again. Wait 5 seconds or so. The date will be highlighted and you can type something else into it. 

Now it is possible to drag and drop both projects and clips into the folders that make the most sense to you.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Comparisons of Samsung Galaxy 5S with my iPhone 4S

With the New Year came a change of phones. I wanted a chance to try out a Samsung Galaxy since so many of my customers had them and I wanted to change service providers. I have had ATT since I have had my first iPhone. It was required in order to get an iPhone at the time. 

Here are my first impressions

  1. I hate all of the different - proprietary - plugs that each phone has!! My iPhone has a plug which is the same as the one on my iPad.  Now the Samsung Phone has a different one. My husband updated to an iPhone 6 and so he also has a different one.
  2. The cord is not as smooth for the Samsung Phone. I am guessing that Apple has some patent on the cords it uses. They are so wonderfully smooth.
  3. The plug into the phone for the power cord is not as smooth on the Samsung as on the Apple.
  4. I learned the hard way that Samsung has a removeable battery that needs to be put in before you can start it up. I thought that maybe my Samsung was bad and I would have to send it back. Clear proof that I am not a Geek.  After a call to the help desk, all I had to do was to put the battery in and the Samsung started.
  5. Now that it has started up I like it. The screen is bigger and the picture is so clear. It feels like it floats, it is so light. My husband got the iPhone 6. I think they are similar.

Just a cool side discovery was that I could take one picture that did BOTH a "selfie" and a picture of what is in front of the camera.

What I have learned is that whereas the iPhone, the Mac and iPad all use iTunes to sync their information using iCloud, Samsung uses various things. The first thing I had to do was to download an app onto my Samsung phone called Smart Switch Mobile. With that app and an updated iCloud back up of my iPhone I could transfer most of the content from my iPhone to my Samsung phone.

Calendar, Contacts and eMail use Google
The Smart Switch took care of my calendar, my contacts and my email. Now I keep all of these synced using Google. My email was a gmail account, so that made it easier. If you don't have a gmail account you can easily create one for free and have your current address forwarded to it so that you get all of your email through gmail. You don't have to switch email addresses or tell your contacts that you have changed, because your mail is all forwarded.

Now my contacts are synced to the phone through Google rather than through the Contacts app. When I add an address to my computer under contacts it does not show up on my phone, although it does show up on my iPad. If I add it using Google it shows up on my phone. Another way to say it is that the Samsung does not talk with my Contacts on my Mac or Apple devices and they do not talk with the Samsung. I guess, for me, that means that my up to date contacts will now be on gmail and I will have to export them from gmail and import them to my Mac contacts every once in a while if I want that updated.

The pictures are another issue. Before, using the iPhone and iPhoto, I plugged the phone into my computer it opened iPhoto. I could name and download the photos on my phone to my computer. The Samsung can be set up to use different methods. Mine is set up to use Dropbox. The photos I take are automatically loaded to Dropbox. I do not have to plug my phone in for that. 

To set it up this way I had to enter my Dropbox username and password into my phone. Now any picures I take on the phone automatically go to Dropbox. I can then move them to whatever photo organizing program I want to use. Some common ones are iPhoto, Flickr and Picasa.

A warning about using Dropbox. In dropbox you can share your folders or files with someone else, but you need to remember that if you take anything out of the Dropbox it is no longer available to the other person. I think that what I will do is to always copy the photos I have in Dropbox to somewhere on my computer so that even if they are deleted from Dropbox I still have them.


For me ATT always worked. I don't have complaints about their service. At first (5-6 years ago), getting good help on the phone was impossible, but that has changed. Recently I have noticed that they have bent backwards to make sure your needs are met. The main thing is that I don't think that they, in general, support the same issues that I do and SO much of their money is going to make a few people rich. In years past ATT has compensated its five top executives (with equity, cash, and benefits) at about $47 million dollars a year. Credo Mobile, who I switched to has given $78 million to charities.

I chose Credo for those reasons. I am happy about that, however, the connection has not been as good. We have had bad connections and dropped calls. It has been easy for me to talk to a person and get help at Credo and the last phone call they said they were going to send out an AirRave Access Point for us to use for free. We will see how that goes and hopefully not have to switch to another company.