Friday, May 29, 2015

Fluid & Particles

Chrome Experiments show off what a modern web browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox can do.  This Experiment allows you to drag-and-hold the mouse pointer to create a depiction of particles moving through a fluid.  There are hundreds more experiments available and should keep you amused for several hours.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Google Doc Image to Text

If you've ever received a scanned document that you needed to re-type, Google Docs may save you some time.  With your image uploaded to Google Drive, right click on the file and select "Open with" then "Google Docs".  Google Docs will do its best to convert the image to the written word. Depending on the quality of the image, the results can be quite good, although rarely 100% accurate, as shown below, where an apostrophe was missed. But it's usually better than starting from scratch.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mac Text to Speech

Highlight a bunch of text, right-click on it and select the last option, "Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track".  Your Mac will transform the text to speech using one of dozens of voice options.  I'm thinking this might be a good way to proofread blog posts.  Or maybe that should be "prooflistened"?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Magic Mouse Swipe

I've had my Macbook Air for about three years and one of my few complaints was that it didn't have a quick way to get to the desktop (Windows key+D).  Then, by accident, I found that I can swipe left with two fingers on the Magic Mouse and bam!, desktop.  Even easier.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Magic Mouse on Windows

I love my Apple Magic Mouse, so when I started looking for a wireless mouse for my new Windows (work) laptop, I started looking for something that might be just as good.  Then I found the Magic Mouse Utilities and poof, my Magic Mouse works on Windows.  And it's free (I love free).  Joygasm!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Amazon Echo and IFTTT

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a web service that listens for an event then triggers a task.  In the case of the Amazon Echo (this year's coolest tech) I've added two "recipes", one to send an email when I ask the Echo (aka Alexa) what's on my to-do list and another for my shopping list.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Sparklines, essentially little one-cell charts, is a cute new feature in Microsoft Excel 2010 and above. They are useful for visualizing a few cells of data and quickly spotting trends.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

URL Shortener

URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) are sometimes so long they look scary.  Google, and others, have services that take to that unwieldy mess and generate a tiny URL in its place, much nicer to share in text messages or Twitter tweets.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Gmail Password Alert

My Gmail password is so critical to me that I use two-factor authentication and a unique password to prevent my account from being compromised.  In addition, I just installed this Google Chrome extension that will alert me if I'm being tricked, or have been tricked, into entering my password on any non-Google web site.  Sort of like a password guardian angel.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Find That Exact Color

One of the handy Google Chrome web browser extensions I use is ColorPick Eyedropper.  Find the exact RGB (Red-Green-Blue) numbers for a color by simply hovering the mouse pointer over the right spot.  It's useful if you're looking to make a presentation a little more compelling by using a customer's exact color scheme.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Parrot Flower Power

An ingenious, albeit pricey, product to monitor the sunlight, moisture, temperature and fertilizer needs of your favorite plant.  Read more about it at the first link, or search their free (I love free) Plant DataBase (8,000+) at the second link to learn more about your plants.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pittsburgh Meets Dayton

Pittsburgh's famous Primanti Brothers sandwich, piled high with meat, coleslaw and french fries will make its Ohio debut in in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek near the Fairfield Mall.  Still pending approval from local authorities.   I hope they're not stauch Bengal fans.  Could derail the deal.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Set An Alarm

Android Only:

You can set an alarm on your smartphone while at the comfort of your Google search bar, like this one reminding me to go home after a long day's work.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Turning a Cell Phone into a Microscope

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has developed a low-cost, 3D-printed lens for a smart-phone that can magnify objects 100x, 350x or even 1000x, allowing students, first-responders and others insight into our little world.  They even provide downloaded files for free (I love free) so you can have your very own printed.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Prime In The Blue Sky

Later this year Amazon Prime members can watch movies on JetBlue flights for free and anyone can rent one.  It's delivered via JetBlue's satellite-powered Fly-Fi WiFi technology, capable of 12Mbps of service to each passenger.  Seems like crazy talk.  Read more at this Amazon press release link.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Some newer TVs, PCs and smart-phones support Miracast, a technology that allows you to wirelessly display your little screen on a big screen.  I recently successfully used my HTC One (M8) smart-phone (picture below) and a Windows 7 PC, using a Sharp Aquos TV as the target display.  The HTC was easy, just swiping three fingers up from the bottom of the display.  Windows 7 required loading the manufacturer's WiDi driver, but easy thereafter.  

Working Without Wires, the techie's dream.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Shazam This Song

Android Only:

A nifty new Google search feature, combined with the Shazam app, allows you to say "OK, Google, Shazam this song" and poof, there it is.  Sure, you can poke a few fingers and get Shazam to recognize a song by itself, but with mobile tech, less is more.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Starbucks App

An appropriate app for a Monday morning.  Besides earning the occasional free latte, I like paying with my smart-phone and avoiding the rattling for change in my pocket or yet one more printed receipt.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Compass App

A compass has amazed me since I was a kid when a magnetized needle floating in water would magically turn itself north.  It's still handy at times and there are any number of compass apps available in the Google and Apple stores.  Here's the one I use.