App store refunds, junk calls, password managers

Bob's Tech Talk

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 the cost of the app itself and the other type is an in-app purchase or subscription.

The rules are different depending on the purchase type. Requesting a refund for the purchase price of an app is straightforward. In-app subscriptions are much more varied, policies are affected by terms and conditions of each individual app. Refunds are rare, usually your only recourse is to cancel the subscription. The Apple App Store allows you to request a refund at reportaproblem.apple.com.

The Google Play Store works best when the request is made within 48 hours of the original purchase. Start by looking up your purchase history, and tap the “More” button next to the appropriate purchase. That will reveal a menu with additional instructions to request a refund for that item.

Q. How can I switch password managers?

A. The basic procedure is to export all the items in a password manager into a plain text file. This file will not be encrypted, so it should be treated as temporary: an unlocked home until the data it contains is transferred to a safer place such as your new password manager.

I recently switched from 1Password to Apple’s built-in iCloud Passwords. I have written about 1Password before, and it has served me well for over 15 years. However, the price increase for 1Password, along with improvements to Apple’s free built-in tools in macOS 14 Sonoma, makes it the right time to switch.

Changing password managers is not for the faint of heart. It should only be done when you have no other choice. It requires careful handling of sensitive data.

Apple makes this easier because its built-in Notes app supports encrypted notes. In my case, I was able to cut and paste the contents of the temporary text file into an encrypted Apple Note. Once safely backed up there, I could slowly move the important passwords into iCloud Passwords.

Each platform has specific capabilities but all of them support some kind of export and some kind of encrypted notes. Just be sure to use the one that works on your system.

Q. My cellphone rings 10 or more times a day, and maybe one ring is a call I want to answer. What can I do to reduce the number of junk phone calls?

A. If you rarely receive vital calls from people unknown to you, I suggest changing the default settings on your smartphone to block unknown callers. With that setting turned on, callers from numbers the phone does not recognize because they are not in your contacts or recent call list will be sent to voicemail directly.

To do this on an Apple phone, go to Settings -> Phone -> Silence Unknown Callers.

To do this on an Android phone (later models only), open the Phone app, tap the three-dot menu and select “Settings.” Tap “Block Numbers” and toggle the “Block Unknown Callers” button.

This will eliminate most if not all the unwanted calls. In some cases, you may need to turn this setting off temporarily, but when you think about it, how many people really should have unfiltered instant access to your attention nowadays?

There are other options, but I think they are a losing battle. The only way to communicate clearly that you do not wish to be bothered is to ignore the calls entirely. Ignoring calls may reduce their frequency over time.

But absent federal regulations that carry serious penalties, I fear phone abuse will continue to be a serious problem.

Wander the Web

Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:

Wayback Machine

I first wrote about the Wayback Machine five years ago. This important site archives portions of the ever-changing internet. The contents do not appear in most search engines. However, it can be searched directly to find useful information.

http://www.archive.org/web/

Shark Attack Tracker

Ocearch is a global research organization that focuses on the ocean, with special attention to the large denizens of the deep.

http://www.ocearch.org

Lego Videos

The Lego website has a rich collection of videos aimed toward parents and children alike. Follow this link and click on the Videos button.

http://www.lego.com

Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at techtalk@bobdel.com.

 
 
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