Category: Computer

Hangout with friends and family… online!

Wouldn't it be kinda' cool to hang out with your friends and family, even though they are 4000+ miles away? For that matter,  how about getting all of the family together for a video chat? You know, you can surf the web together, watch some videos -- just whatever you want.

Or... what if you run a business and want to get your website visitors to watch a webinar, but can't  get all of the presenters in one place to do it?

Mashable, is the largest independent news source dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology. Mashable’s 20 million monthly unique visitors and 4 million social media followers have become one of the most engaged online news communities.  And just recently they decided to hangout  with Daria Musk.  You don't know who she is? From one of her posts, she says:

I’m a girl, a singer/songwriter who has been living in the woods in Connecticut, USA. I’ve been singing for trees, driving an hour to New York City to pour my heart out in noisy bars and rock clubs, grateful for every chance to pick up my guitar and play for someone… And dreaming that maybe if I worked very hard and got very very lucky, maybe one day I could sing for people all over the world.

In three days Google+ changed my life, my heart and my career overnight and turned my dreams into virtual reality.

All-right! Let's not get overly excited here. If you're  50+ and alone, you probably aren't going to rocketed to international stardom overnight. If course, I don't know you, so I could be wrong about this.

But what happened to Daria, is that Google Hangouts made it possible for interviewers from Mashable to interview and listen to Daria, although everyone lives  countless miles apart. And then after the video, it was automatically posted to Mashable's YouTube account, so all of their followers could view it. The interview lasts for about 45 minutes, during which time, Daria sings a couple of her songs. If you're interested in watching it, you don't have to go too far. Click here to watch it now, if you want to.

So what exactly is a Google Hangout and why would you care?

If you watched the video above, you would see that besides Daria, there were numerous other people in the video. With this program you can:

  • Invite friends to a free video chat, anytime, anywhere.
  • Catch up with the whole family -- whether you’re on your computer, phone or tablet device.
  • Host virtual meetings.
  • Up to 10 people can join a hangout, and it’s easy to invite specific friends or circles.

Watch the video below with instructions on how to get started:

And... team collaboration gets better when you’re face to face. Hangouts offers a suite of productivity apps that let you share what’s on your screen, collaborate in Google Docs, view presentations and diagram together. To access these, simply click the “Add app” button inside your hangout to browse and add new apps. If a team member can’t join the hangout, you can also dial the person in by clicking on the “Invite” button and then the “+telephone” link. Calls to the US and Canada are free, and international calling rates are very low.

When you start a hangout, check “Enable Hangouts On Air” to stream your live hangout publicly on your Google+ profile, your YouTube channel and your website. During the broadcast, you can look inside the Hangout to see how many viewers are watching live. Once you’re off the air, we’ll upload a public recording to your YouTube channel and to your original Google+ post, so it’s easy to share and discuss your broadcast after it’s over.

Want to get started with Google hangouts? Click here to install the plugin.

Once you get it mastered, considering sharing what you have learned with any seniors you might know. It will help them feel connected. I was reading an article published by Carefect, which is a private home care services company dedicated to supporting the needs of the elderly, seniors and people with a disability or illness and families requiring a helping hand. From their experience they say:

Many seniors complain of feeling alone and left out of the world. The internet is a great way for seniors to communicate with their friends and family, without ever having to leave their homes. That means that, even seniors who cannot travel and have limited mobility can keep up with the happenings in the world around them. The internet can allow them access to tons of information and can also help them to stay connected with friends and family. It also gives them a creative outlet as they can find others who share similar interests without having to leave the home. It is also a great way for seniors to stay abreast of what is happening in the community and the world.

One thing I forgot to mention.... this new Google service really works best if everyone connected has a high speed Internet connection. Those that don't will find it hard to keep up as the video transmissions will lag a bit.


Remember Everything!

The desktop can only hold so many files at a time and it doesn't take too long before it can gets cluttered up. Depending on how you arrange items, snippets of code, images and text clipping for articles can get lost. Plus it isn't uncommon to be working on more than 2-3 articles at the same time. Evernote adds some organization to your madness and helps you from going completely insane.

Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for note taking and archiving. A "note" can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched and exported as part of a notebook. Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Chrome OS, Android, iOS and WebOS), and also offers online synchronization and backup services.

So you are never too far away from your notes. You can access them from your iPad, laptop, Android phone, just wherever you might happen to be and the synchronization service automatically syncs all of your devices when you make any changes.

I think I saw one of their slogans as "Evernote Remember everything" -- which is especially handy for those of us who are  50+ and alone. Chances are, if we forget something, there isn't anyone to remind us.

Have a look at the introductory video below to get a better idea of what all it can do.

I know you're thinking it's a desktop application but it's sooooo much more than that. When I spoke about synchronization, this is where the program really shines:

While Evernote is immensely useful as a desktop note-taking application, its true power lies in its ability to synchronize your notes to the Evernote on the Web. This allows you to create and find your memories on virtually any computer, web browser or mobile phone.

This means that you can clip a cornbread recipe from the web on your Mac, read it on your iPhone when you're at the grocery store buying the ingredients and look it up from your friend's Windows PC when you're at his house preparing to bake the cornbread. Evernote on the Web is constantly updating all of your computers and devices with the latest versions of your notes, so you'll always have the right information, wherever you are.

All of the Evernote applications are in regular contact with Evernote on the Web. Whenever a new note is created or edited on any of your Evernote-capable devices, the note is uploaded to the Evernote on the Web where all of your other devices will download it the next time they sync.

There is a paid for version but the free version allows you to use up to 60 MB/per month. That's large enough for my meager needs.  Of course once an article has been published, I can delete all of the notes out of Evernote that I no longer need, and this makes room for your next project.

Evernote isn't hard to get started with either. They have a get started section on the website and a video library full of tutorials if you need it. I must admit, I haven't seen the tutorials. Once I downloaded the program and installed it, I just went straight ahead and started using it. I did discover  a tool called the web clipper which is an add-on for your web browser to make it easier to grab stuff online and save it to your Evernote page. Another handy resource is a the free download of the application from the iTunes store so you can install it on your iPad. They also maintain a blog which is full of tips and tricks.

If you feel you are a bit technically challenged and feel you need a lot more help, there is a book you can buy called Evernote for Dummies. Written in the fun and informative For Dummies style, Evernote For Dummies introduces you to the key features of Evernote, from getting started and opening your own Evernote account to the essentials of capturing information and creating a simple text note. The book shows you how to capture everything—clip a web page, create a voice note, scan a note, even capture a note from a picture.

I must admit though, I won't be buying Evernote for Dummies. I'm fairly technically minded and I'm a man. We all know  men don't read the instructions, just like we don't ask for directions.


Unlimited Cloud Storage

Bitcasa, Inc., is a start-up company, founded in 2011 and led by CEO Tony Gauda and co-founders Kevin Blackham and Joel Andren, headquartered in Palo Alto, California, offering unlimited data storage as a cloud service. They are saying the unlimited version will cost $10 per month, but there doesn't seem to be any limit set (yet) if you sign up for a free account.

The service also encrypts and decrypts your data on your computer before uploading to the Bitcasa system. Nobody at Bitcasa can see your data, even the file names, which makes it very secure. You can also use the service to to sync as much data as you want across all your devices so you have the latest version of your most important data right there on every device. Additionally, you can use this feature to backup your data. When you install the program you have have it added right to Windows File Explorer.

I've been playing with it some. I like it. I uploaded a 53MB file just to see how long it would take. I got distracted during this time, but it was under 10 minutes. Of course a lot of this will depend on how fast of Internet connection you have. Below is one of their promotional videos:

Everything worked fine with my experiments with the service but I believe it's still in BETA so I wouldn't trust it yet with anything overly important. Might be all-right to share some large files with some friends. If you're interested in this service click here to visit the website and check it out


Firefox video problem

There have been several reports of YouTube videos that don't play in Firefox, but play fine in other browsers. Firefox support is blaming this on Adobe, but since the videos play fine in other browsers it's clearly a Firefox problem. All of the videos on this site are YouTube videos and are coded properly. If you can't view them using a Firefox browser, it really is a Firefox problem, as this site as been tested on various browsers and devices that besides Firefox include Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer8, Chrome, K-Meleon, iPhone and iPad. On all of these other browsers and devices everything displays fine.