Articles written by Bob Delaurentis

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 By Bob Delaurentis    Columns    May 1, 2024 

Two-factor authentication explained

Q. What is two-factor authentication? A. The most common authentication method uses an account name and a password. That has been true since the earliest days of computing. The account name/password combination is considered a single factor...

 

Videotape converter, air purifiers, and laptop advice

Q. I have a box of videotapes from the 80s and 90s that I would like to preserve on my computer. What do I need to make this happen? A. This is easy to do once you have all the pieces you need. The...

 

Sports scores, lost AppleID passwords, and Google preservation

Q. I am looking for a way to follow sports scores from different games on my phone. Does that exist? A. There are a few options. If all the games are in one league, such as MLB or the NBA, leagues usually have apps that can keep you up to date....

 

Cookies, private browsing, Apple Notes

Q. When I am online, I frequently see a message that asks me to accept cookies. What are cookies? A. A cookie is a small bit of data that a website stores on your computer. The name itself dates back to the earliest days of the web, when names were...

 

Bundled software, Silence Callers part 2, and used iPhones

Q. I got a new computer this year as a gift, are there any essential apps I should install? A. If you have been purchasing computers or phones for many years, it’s likely you’ve become habituated to installing special software soon after pur...

 

App store refunds, junk calls, password managers

Q. Is there a way to get a refund for apps purchased in an online store? A. There are numerous app stores but the two largest are from Apple and Google, and both offer a refund process. Keep in mind that there are two types of purchases. One type is...

 

Music subscriptions vs. purchases; iPhone camera tricks

Q. What is the best way to enjoy music on my smartphone or tablet? A. Digitizing audio CDs and copying them to a smart phone is still supported on desktop computers, but as more people move to a smartphone-only lifestyle this may no longer be an...

 

Swipe gestures; iPhone software update; holiday gifts

Q. When someone tells me to "swipe right" on my phone, do they mean swipe to the right or swipe from the right? A. Technology changes so fast that the language is always trying to catch up. Early...

 

Scrapbooks, flight trackers and travel chargers

Q. Is there a computer-friendly way to organize the notes I take when planning a trip? A. There are apps designed to collect separate bits of information from different sources and organize them into meaningful groups. Chances are pretty good you...

 

Online photo frames, social media meltdown, iPhone Magnifier

Q. I want to gift someone an online photo frame and update it myself remotely. Is that possible? A. Yes, it is possible, but you will need luck and perhaps some patience. The frames that I have...

 

PC and mobile games; motion sensor nightlights

Q. I would like to get back into playing PC games. Where should I start? A. The universe of high-quality “traditional” computer games is bigger than ever. Online storefronts for computer-based games fall into two major groups: mobile games for han...

 

Event photo sharing, internet plumbing, USB cables

Q. We are hosting a family picnic this summer and wish everyone could share their photos with everyone else. Any ideas? A. Dropevent lets you set up an invitation-only online photo gallery. The gallery allows everyone at the party to submit photos,...

 
 By Bob Delaurentis    Columns    May 1, 2023

Artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, in its own words

This month’s Tech Talk is a little different. Nearly all of it was written by a computer. This technology has been under development for decades. It has been a staple of science fiction movies since I was a kid. Recently, one of the most advanced c...

 

iPhone storage alerts, Gigabit Ethernet, Android notifications

Q. Every few weeks my iPhone nags me with an alert that my storage is almost full. What should I do? A. There are two common storage errors on iPhone. One is “Storage Almost Full” and the other is “iCloud Storage Almost Full.” There may be minor vari...

 

Apple Watch; iPhone screen sharing; Low light

Q. I received an Apple Watch as a gift. I love the Minnie Mouse watch face, but do not know what else to do with it. Please help. A. The small screen on an Apple Watch can be difficult without practice, but I hope to show you that working through cha...

 

iPad Pencil, audiobooks, laptop chargers

Q. Is the Apple Pencil useful? A. For me, it fits into the “nice-to-have” category. I have avoided writing about Apple Pencil before now because it was something of a curiosity. It only worked with pricey iPad models, and it seemed like a pro...

 

Password managers, shared photos, backup data

Q. I have promised myself that 2023 is the year I finally organize my passwords. What do I need to know? A. The list of things we have to remember grows longer each year. As phones have become the center of our digital lives, almost everyone has more...

 

Carrot Weather, Twitter and last minute gifts

Q. The built-in weather app on my smartphone is pretty basic. When I search for a more advanced app, I’m presented with an overwhelming number of choices. Is there one you would recommend? A. To paraphrase an old adage: Someone with one weather app k...

 

Home automation, Nest Thermostat, Stable Diffusion

Q. I want to add home automation devices to my house. What is the best way to get started? A. When the topic of home automation has come up in previous columns, my advice has been to hold off investing in expensive hardware. Most of the devices you...

 

Photo scans, medication tracking, Apple Watch

Q. Years ago I converted a box of family photos with a desktop scanner. Are scanners still around, or have they gone the way of the fax machine and pay telephones? A. Tabletop flatbed scanners are still available. And far less expensive than they...

 

Zoom audio, online photo galleries, and QR codes

Q. What is the least expensive way to improve Zoom calls? A. Adding more light and positioning the camera so you look straight ahead are the easiest things to upgrade. But the improvement that delivers the biggest impact is better sound. Most people...

 

Web blockers, Cellular 911, new laptops

Q. Is it possible to block a website from view? A. Yes, but like so many questions, the how-to part of the answer begins with “it depends.” There are many different apps that filter website content. They use various methods behind the scenes and som...

 

Podcasts, Internet Explorer, two great websites

Q. How do I listen to podcasts? A. As the old saying goes, “there is an app for that.” Many different apps, in fact. And beyond apps, most podcasts are just a click away on the Web. Podcasts are audio-only programs that have exploded in pop...

 

Photoshop alternatives, faster home networks, and laundry apps

Q. Is there a good image editor for making my photos look better? I want something like Photoshop but less expensive. A. Free tools to retouch photos are installed on many devices and bundled with cloud services like Google Photos. The power of...

 
 By Bob Delaurentis    Columns    May 1, 2022

Safeguard family stories; Exiting group chats

Q. I love making printed photo books on my computer. Is there a way to make something like a photo book, only with text instead? A. There are dozens of different tools for creating printed books on computers, but most of them are complex and hard to...

 

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