Bulk Uninstall

There are so many apps preinstalled in Windows it feels overwhelming to delete them. But it’s easy to bulk delete many silently in the background with BCP (bcuninstaller.com). I love apps that say what they do in the title. When you run it, you can check all of the apps you want to uninstall and then choose to easily uninstall all of them without any more prompts.

Some things from Microsoft are free, and Outlook for Mac is now one of them (w2.outlook.com/getmac). You no longer need a Microsoft 365 subscription if you want use Outlook instead of Apple’s Mail application.

Hints from Microsoft imply iPhone users with Windows computers may soon be able to use iMessage directly on their computers by cabling their phone to their computer. They are beginning an early preview of Phone Link for iOS on Windows 11 with Windows Insiders. For more information, go to blogs.windows.com/windows-insider and find the post from February 28.

Fake voice scams are likely to increase as AI-generated voices become more realistic. Currently, the use of AI to generate these “deepfakes” is not regulated, so being highly suspicious is about your only way to guard against being scammed. It might be good to arrange ahead of time a code word or phrase—for example, “I lost all my tacos”— so that you know it really is your family or friend. Read more at tinyurl.com/4t3sfpps.

AI is the buzz, with all major search engines jumping into AI-assisted search to “find” you the best answer through a chat-like dialog. DuckDuckGo has DuckAssist, available through their browser apps and extensions. Initially, it is designed to answer searches that would benefit from Wikipedia. It will anonymously summarize and combine information it sources from that site. You will know it is working if you see an answer in a search result titled DuckAs- sist. These results still follow DuckDuckGo’s commitment to search anonymity.

Jealous of people with flip phones? Mimic those limitations without tossing your smart phone. Reset your phone to default settings, uninstall all apps but phone, address book, calendar, texting and one web browser (and hide it), switch colors to grey scale, disable all notifications, and remove apps you can’t uninstall from your home screen. You won’t get the longer battery life of a flip phone but at least you gain time back.

I finally found a YouTube video that explains what blockchain is all about. Go to youtube.com/watch?v=tspGVbmMmVA.
It not only explains what blockchain is but teaches you how to understand many of the claims being made on its behalf.

Tab Recovery

Unexpected browser shutdowns from crashes or hitting the wrong keys are frustrating when you’ve just finished opening a bunch of new tabs. Luckily, when you restart Chrome, Firefox, Edge or Safari, use ctrl+shift+t (Windows) or cmd+shift+t (Mac) to reopen the tabs. You can also set your browser to reopen all previous windows and tabs, a setting usually found somewhere in settings or preferences in the general or startup sections.

At times, you might need to force restart your phone when nothing seems to be working. iPhones running iOS 16 can be force restarted with four steps: press and quickly release the volume up button; press and quickly release the volume down button; press and hold the side button; and when the Apple logo appears, release the side button. On Androids, the process varies by manufacturer but most can by forced to restart by holding the power button for 20-30 seconds. Do a web search for your Android before you need it.

If you need to save your iMessage history, use a non-Apple solution. Among other options, iMazing and Keepster can export all or particular texts in a variety of formats. If you want to save a short part of those messages, forward them to your email, but you may lose the time stamp.

Short money saving tips: if you don’t print or fax much, use your local library—it is only 25 cents a page. For art supplies and tools, explore Asheville Makers (ashevillemakers.org) and Asheville Tool Library (ashevilletoollibrary.org).

This is the season for artificial intelligence (AI), with many stories emerging about ChatGPT and other services. Google is experimenting with music generation using text prompts. Dubbed MusicLM is not for public use, but there are hints of what it can do (google-research.github.io/seanet/musiclm/examples).

Laptop keyboards do need cleaning. First, turn off and unplug your computer, and then turn it over to shake and tap out dust, crumbs and other stuff. Use canned compressed air to blow out stuck bits and wipe off grime with a premoistened cloth (with a small amount of alcohol) or cotton swabs slightly moistened with alcohol (you shouldn’t be able to squeeze out any droplets) to scrub off any remaining crud. Wait a few minutes and turn it back on.

If you sign up for an instant ink program with your new printer, read the fine print to avoid having your printer remotely disabled for non-payment or finding out paid-for cartridges no longer work if you quit the subscription.

Ads & Cameras

Ad blockers in your web browser accomplish three goals: reducing ad clutter; cutting down on malicious ads trying to inject malware; and speeding up the overall loading of many ad-heavy websites. And now, the FBI is recommending the use of ad blockers to reduce the chance of ads impersonating brands. None are perfect, but one I like is uBlock Origin (ublockorigin.com).

If the camera on a smartphone is important to you, you might want to try a blind camera test at vote.mkbhd.com, which may help you avoid brand bias. It may take a bit of time to go through the proffered photos; you will feel like you’re at the eye doctor choosing between two images over and over. Make sure your computer is bright and not in night mode. The test reviews 16 of what are commonly viewed as the best smartphone cameras.

On iPhones and iPads with the latest iOS, you can select multiple items by swiping down with two fingers. Then you can delete, move or do other actions. You won’t have to do it item by item.

Command-Q or Control-Q are two very quick ways to quit any application on Macs or PCs, respectively. There are other keyboard shortcuts you might want to learn to keep your fingers on the keyboard and not moving between the mouse/ trackpad and your keys.

Windows loves to offer suggestions that seem like ads, and there are settings you might want to turn off. Open Settings (click the start menu icon, then the gear icon or Settings.) Find and click on System, then Notifications and actions, then uncheck the first three options, or turn off “Get notifications from apps.” While you are in Settings, go back to the Home for Settings, go to Privacy, and take a look at which options are turned on and think about what you might want to turn off. One more thing to turn off is News and interests that you mouse over in the lower right of the taskbar. Right-click the taskbar and select News and interests > Turn off.

YouTube has many great videos, some even with decent transcriptions. But their automatic transcription may not display in a way you like. You can generate or show those transcripts more easily at youtubetranscript.com.

You can prevent weird or unasked-for pictures from showing up on your iPhone by making sure that Airdrop is either turned off or at least not set to receive from everyone. Go into Settings, find and tap on General, then Airdrop. Set it to off or “Contacts only” to be safer.

Wi-Fi Sharing

Do friends and guests ask for your Wi-Fi network and password first thing when they visit? You can make it easy for them to sign on by printing a QR code for them to scan. Two options for this are qr-code-generator.com/solutions/wifi-qr-code or qrstuff.com.

I always love exploring, and now I can go to the edge of the observable universe (mapoftheuniverse.net). I do miss being able to zoom in, but it is the universe—at least a slice of it—and a look back to the beginning of observable light.

Where do programmers get their ideas? I didn’t even know I would like to tell time using literary quotes but literature-clock. jenevoldsen.com proved otherwise. The site even changes time and quotations. Just leave it loaded in a separate browser tab for a totally different digital clock. I suspect certain minutes have more quote possibilities than others.

AI is getting better at generating and combining images, so it may be time to get all your images off the web if it is not too late. After an AI “learns” a person, by using a handful of images of a real person, it can then compose new images with that person, leading to what are called “deepfakes.” So far, these images are not perfect, but it takes more time than most of us are willing to spend to spot those imperfections. So, it may not be so crazy to keep your face off the Internet.

When you wish you had an alternate Gmail address, you can tack on a plus symbol (“+”) and then something more to make it yours. For example, I can add “+towncrier” to scobie.net@gmail. com (making it scobie.net+towncrier@ gmail.com) and still receive emails to the original address. I can also find out if that email was used by someone else and track how it might spread. If some places won’t accept the added plus sign, then change the ending to googlemail.com (for example, scobie.net@googlemail.com).

Want to use your smartphone as an alarm clock but not be tempted to be on it too much in bed? Charge it with a short cable plugged in across the room. Problem solved!

Leaving Twitter? Download all your tweets first — log into your account on the web, click More, Settings and Support, Settings and Privacy. On the Settings page, select Your Account, Download
an Archive Of Your Data. Verify your identity, then click “Request Archive.” This process can take up to 24 hours.

Find out what effects an asteroid impact would have on any location at neal.fun/asteroid-launcher, another toy to explore how various asteroid types, locations, speeds, angles, etc., can change the results.

Tech Updates

The new mac OS system, Ventura, introduced in October, has a back-ground noise generator to play rain, stream, or ocean sounds. Go to System Settings, under the Apple logo in the upper left corner, and search for “background sounds” to choose and activate different ambient sounds. This might be enough of a reason to upgrade. You can, of course, search in your favorite streaming music service for white noise or ambient sound playlists that will work on any device.

Consider turning off all notifications on your phone. These are separate alerts from ring tones and texts. Letting every app provide updates is distracting and will slow productivity or keep you hooked on “just gotta check one more thing” thinking before putting down your device. Take the time to learn how to refine your notifications or learn how to disable them entirely.

OneZoom tree of life explorer (onezoom.org) lets you visualize how different life forms are related to each other, including extinct ones. Start at onezoom.org/life and move and zoom around. Learn more at onezoom.org/introduction.

Gmail users, especially those using the older view on the web, are finding that they can no longer switch back to that classic interface. The integrated view with Gmail, Chat, Spaces, and Meet on the left side of the window will also become standard for users who have turned on Chat. Through quick settings, customize this new interface to include your most important apps.

Still using Windows 7 and relying on Chrome as your browser? Google will stop supporting Windows 7 in February, at least if you want to run up-to-date versions.

Airbnb is working on a total price display update to roll out in December so you can see the true price, pre-tax. When you search, the price will be first in the search results. This may be an example of one country’s (Australia) requirements for pricing clarity, but it is being rolled out for the rest of the world.

Starlink internet service is starting to institute daytime data caps. If you use more than 1 TB of data in a month, from 7 am to 11 pm your speeds will be slowed for the benefit of others. This is on top of recent reports that their average speeds have slowed since the beginning of 2022.

Because I no longer have a short-wave radio, it was great to find InternetRadio (internet-radio.com). You may have to stumble around a bit, as its search function is not great. But it is a good alternative to Radio Garden (radio.garden—“garden” is the domain name, like .com or . net).

Router, Email & Facebook Tips

When changing to a new router, make sure to set it up with the same network name, password and encryption type. More and more routers let you do this, which means you won’t have to go around to all your other devices—printers, TVs, Alexa or Siri devices, doorbells, etc.—to teach them the new passwords.

When email is distracting you so much that you want to just swear it off, try to “distance” yourself by first turning off all those notification alerts and icon numbers telling you about new messages and how many you haven’t read. Unless you really need it running all the time, consider quitting your email app (or close the browser tab) while you are engaged in other tasks on the computer. Some people determine which emails are important and answer them immediately, leaving others for later in the day after important tasks have been handled.

If you want to truly get rid of Facebook (or Meta—old wine, new bottle), it’s going to take a lot of work, as the company has long tentacles stretching through your online life. Find the best guide from Lifehacker.com at fairviewtowncrier.com/links.

To delete your Instagram account, go to instagram.com/accounts/remove/request/ permanent. Remember to download a copy of your photos, if you want them. And just as with deleting a Facebook account, if you log back in up to 90 days after starting the process, you stop the account deletion.

If you are still using Windows 7 or 8.1, Microsoft will be ending support for OneDrive early next year. After March 1, 2022, files will no longer sync with OneDrive cloud. So, plan accordingly.

Why do people like stacking rocks in creeks? I don’t know, but if you like to do it, there is a website to let you do it online. Check out neal.fun/rocks/.

Looking to purchase a refurbished Apple product? Refurb.me helps buyers figure out pricing and availability across a variety of resellers, with search-refining features such as color, capacity, condition and warranty.

Two-factor authentication is coming for all Google users. You can get the official notice from Google at support.google. com/accounts/answer/10956730. In short, it means that new sign-ins to Google services will be required to use a second single-use code for security. It won’t affect email programs such as Windows Mail, Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.