Category Archives: (Hopefully) Helpful Hint

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Do-It-Yourself Data Delivery

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to leave a social network because you have privacy concerns – or Facebook Timeline has really peeved you — what do you do? You do, after all, have a lot of personal stuff up there, photos, videos and so on. You’d hate to leave those memories behind…

In the case of two big social networks Google+ and Facebook, it turns out, you can take it with you — your data that is, all the stuff you posted, uploaded and shared with others. Both sites allow you to download an archive of your data, including photos, to your computer before you start deleting accounts. Here’s what to do for each site.

Downloading your data from Google or Facebook has its advantages, even if you’re not bouncing from the site altogether. The data archive can be useful as a backup, or to retrieve photos form a lost phone or dead computer. Downloading your archive does not delete your info from either service so if you do plan to bail, grab your stuff and then go back and properly delete your Google+ or Facebook account.

Now then, who’s craving a little meeting with General Tso after the liberation?

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: International Keyboards to Go

Many people communicate in more than one language and today’s technology keeps up with this global worldview. While your phone or tablet’s operating system may have a default language for the menus and interface, you can go multilingual when it comes to dashing off texts, e-mail messages and other bits of writing.

Apple makes this quite easy to do on its iOS devices and offers a wide range of languages to choose from, including Arabic, most European and Asian languages and Cherokee. You can even choose regional variations like French Canadian or Brazilian Portuguese. Emoji, those popular little pictographs favored by teenage girls, are also an option.

If you are linguistically gifted, you can set up multiple keyboards for all the languages you need and just toggle between them by tapping the globe key that now appears on your iOS keyboard. Apple has instructions for setting up international keyboards on iOS devices right here.

Most Android devices also let you add international keyboards to your typing arsenal, but the steps for doing so vary by phone model, carrier, Android version, moon phase, sun sign and other assorted fragmentary factors. (Just kidding about a couple of those, but you knew that already.) Here’s one walkthrough for adding a keyboard, but check with your phone or tablet’s manual for precise instructions of you need them. If you want more flexibility, consider an alternative keyboard app. Yes, Google Play has Emoji options for Android as well.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Creating Hard-to-Crack Passwords

Thievery and hacking never go away, and tech nerds like us always advise coming up with “strong,” hard-to-guess password for your computer or other accounts. But many people don’t exactly know what exactly constitutes a strong password. Fortunately, you can get some password-creation advice on your computer — right there in the control panel where you go to change your password in the first place. Isn’t that convenient?

In Windows, just go to the Start menu to Control Panel to User Accounts and Family Safety to User Accounts. Click on Change Your Password. This opens up the box where you type in your old and new passwords. If you need some help with the strong stuff, look closer. Right in the box is a link called “How to create a strong password” (circled below). Click there for advice. Microsoft also has a site that checks the strength of your chosen password.

On a Mac, just pop open the System Preferences box from the Dock or Apple menu and click on the Users & Groups icon. Make sure your user account is selected on the left side of the box and then click the Change Password button. Here, you also get the familiar Old Password/New Password box, but look on the New Password line. As circled below, there’s a key icon there. Click that icon to call up the Mac OS X Password Assistant, which offers a strength indicator and can even generate strong passwords for you so you don’t have to burn the brain cells thinking them up yourself.

There. You now have no excuse for still using password as your password. It’s time to show your strength!

 

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Search Me

Unless you’ve got a photographic memory and meticulous organizational habits, you’ve probably had to dig around on your computer at some point for an elusive file that you can’t immediately locate. Although the beloved Sherlock utility has been retired, Mac OS X users have the Finder’s Command-F keyboard shortcut to dig around for matching files with keywords, but there’s also the handy Spotlight feature waiting right up in the top right corner of the screen under the magnifying-glass icon. (Spotlight search also lives within Apple’s iOS software as well.)

On the PC side of the street, Windows users can use the trusty Search box on the Start menu or in library windows to uncover files and folders. The sleuthing fun doesn’t stop there: check out Microsoft’s advanced search tips, including the natural language search setting for finding files in regular English. (Hopefully, this natural language thing will catch on.)

Now, if only there were similar tools for finding missing socks and car keys.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: PDF Files on Hand

Want to stash those important documents, receipts, confirmation numbers or other files on your phone before you go someplace? Here’s how.

Step One: Convert File to PDF 

On the Mac, you can quickly make a PDF out of a Web page, email message or other document just by pressing Command-P. Yes, this is the Print box, but in the bottom corner is a button marked PDF. Click on that to se a menu of options, including Save as PDF.

On Windows, there several options that let you make PDFs out of Web pages and other documents. Cute PDF Writer, the browser add-on Web2PDF or even with the Google Chrome browser.

Step Two: Move the PDF File to Your Phone

There are a number of ways to transfer the PDF files from the computer to the phone. You can email the PDFs as attachments and open them on the handset. (Just make sure you don’t have personal information in the documents that you may not want to email openly.)

Just open the message, select the attachment icon and save it in a PDF-ready app like iBooks  or the mobile version of Adobe Reader X for iOS or Android. There are a ton of third-party PDF apps out there, like EverNote, GoodReader or PDF Expert.

If you want to avoid emailing, you can also sync PDF files to an iPhone through iTunes. You can also copy files from the computer to an Android phone with a file manager app (Kaiser Pedro likes Astro File Manager).

So the next time you need to refer to these documents you’ve saved, you don’t need to dig through your email app or struggle with one bar of signal strength. The files are right there — ready and waiting on your phone.