Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the month of NOVEMBER 2014


MEETINGS WILL

 CONTINUE

IN THE FALL


SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS:

If you would like to meet in a small group to discuss special computer related subjects or form a Special Interest Group lets discuss it.

Our bulletin is also available on line by visiting tecc.apcug.org and clicking on bulletin.


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Upcoming Events

Wednesday DECEMBER 3, 2014 Meeting
  Thanks for making the 2013/2014 season a success. The Computer Club will continue with meetings in December. In the meantime there will be a monthly e-mail and bulletin. Near the end of each month the email announcement will be sent out with a link to the bulletin that is published on the Computer Club web site www.tecc.apcug.org.


Google Voice

by Dick Orenstein, Member, Sarasota PCUG, FL

www.spcug.org        dicko (at) spcug.org

Google Voice is a free telephone number that you can direct to forward calls to any other telephone number. In addition, you can block calls, receive transcribed messages, and do numerous other activities. Google Voice will also dial and connect calls for you; however, the call will be connected to another telephone number, i.e. your cell phone or your land line, as you direct.

For a visual introduction you can go to this YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOZU7BOeQ58

If this link does not work here are two things you can do: first, copy the link to the URL window of your browser, not the search window, the window with the web page address in it. And second, you can search Google (or any other search engine) for “Google Voice” and find a long list of assistance.

You may be able to get a Google Voice number that is within your area code, but in today’s world the area code of the number is not necessarily an indication of the location – witness mobile phones. Most of us have a mobile number from our home base, but if we move, most don’t change the number. And in my case, I have a mobile number from there, but have a Google Voice number from this 941 area code, and calls get routed to my cell phone!

To get a Google Voice number, sign into Google Voice (you do have a Google Account don’t you?) by going to the URL, www.google.com/voice. If you don’t have a Google Account (some-name-you-choose.gmail.com), you can do it right there.

Once there, you can answer the questions and select your phone number from a list that will be presented.

Once you have your number, you’ll now have to set up certain parameters so that the number works for you as you desire.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to establish your settings. Click on the gear on the right side of the screen, and then click “Settings.” The first tab is “Phones.”

Since you already chose a number, you will see that number and “Chang/Port” and Delete and Transfer as available options. I do not recommend porting your mobile number as that will limit choices down the road. You will want a NEW GOOGLE VOICE NUMBER.

Then you will see a list of options for forwarding calls. I forward calls to my mobile number, but you can select other options which include forwarding calls to up to six (6) other numbers. You can “Add another phone” by clicking on that link.

The next tab, “Voicemail & Text” allows you to record a greeting, play your greeting, set up an email alert, forward texts, add a PIN and to turn on transcribing messages.

The “Calls” tab allows you to turn on Call Screening, and a number of other pretty self-explanatory options.

Groups and Circles” tab allows you to establish actions by grouping. In order to use this feature, your address book has to be part of Google Contacts. That feature is beyond the scope of this article at this time, but I’ll make a follow up. For now, all incoming calls will be treated the same.

Call Widgets” can be put on any web page, and allow people to call from that web page. When somebody clicks on the widget, we call them and connect them to you. Your number is always kept private. You can create multiple call widgets and have different settings for each of them. This, too, is beyond the scope of this article.

Billing” will allow you to set up Calling Credits. These can be used to make calls (outgoing) to other number, mostly in our case international numbers, at low rates. You can look up the rates for international calls.

And, “Account” is some simple setups, language, time zone passwords, etc.

On the left of the Google Voice page are two red boxes, “CALL” and “TEXT” that allow you to call another number using Google Voice. US numbers can be called for free and are connected to the phone you specify. For example, I can call someone from my Google Voice number and speak to them from my cell phone. I might do that because I do not want that person to see my real cell phone number. So, I click “CALL,” enter the number I wish to call and specify to connect the call to my cell phone. You may do the same for text messages by clicking the “TEXT” box and entering the mobile number and the message.

So, let’s summarize the advantages that Google Voice provides:

  1. A new phone number with lots of control. The ability to allow or block callers, screen calls, forward calls to numbers by who made the call, and to transcribe and received messages by email.

  2. An ability to make calls from you Google Voice number and speak from any device that’s handy to you at the time.

  3. It’s free.

  4. Depending upon your use, you will find many more advantages as you use these features.

I am also referring you to a great article by Kim Komando at

http://www.komando.com/tips/248497/3-great-things-you-never-knew-you-could-do-with-a-free-internet-phone-number/all

Again, if the link does not work, copy it into your browser’s URL window.


IRANokia Releases Beta of Its HERE Road Routing App for Android

by Ira Wilsker

 

WEBSITES:

http://HERE.com

http://HERE.com/download

http://HERE.com/beta/android

http://HERE.com/help/android

http://thenextweb.com/insider/2014/09/25/nokia-HERE-maps-android-ios-world-by-storm/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2836792/nokia-HERE-maps-beta-now-available-for-anyone-with-android-41-or-above.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HERE_%28Nokia%29

http://www.engadget.com/2014/09/30/nokia-HERE-maps-android

 

            About a year ago in this column, I wrote about my then new favorite real-time smart phone road routing program Waze.  At that time, Google had recently purchased Waze from its Israeli developer for over a billion dollars, a princely sum that the developer generously shared with his handful of employees.  I liked Waze better than my previous favorite, the ubiquitous Google Maps, as it utilized community input to display and warn about road hazards, traffic jams, gas station prices, and other real-time driving information.  All of the road routing programs display current traffic conditions, color coded green (moving smoothly), yellow (moving, but slowed due to congestion, construction, or accident), and red (barely moving or stopped).  Waze went a step farther by clearly indicating the location and types of delays, as well as displaying the actual real-time speeds of other drivers on that particular stretch of road.

            In recent days Nokia, traditionally known as the Finland based manufacturer of cell phones with strong ties to Microsoft, released a free, beta (pre-release) of its HERE routing and driving program for any devices running Android 4.1 or later.  Previous to this release, HERE would only run on a few specific Samsung Galaxy smart phones and devices.  Always willing to try something new, I downloaded the beta of HERE and installed it on my 6.1" screen Huawei Ascend Mate 2, running Android 4.3.  For those interested in downloading the beta of "HERE", it is (as of this writing) not currently available in the Google Play Store, but must be downloaded directly from the HERE website at HERE.com/beta/android.  Once the beta testing is completed, HERE will be available in the Play Store.

            With Google Maps having a huge installed user base measured in the billions, and Waze (owned by Google), Yahoo Maps, and Bing Maps (Microsoft) each having millions of users of each app, one might wonder what HERE can bring to the foray and earn market share from its other well established competitors.  Unlike its larger competitors, HERE is fully functional without an internet connection.  According to one of the HERE webpages (here.com/beta/android), "HERE offers fast, accurate maps that are always ready to use, with or without an internet connection. Search for places, find routes and get turn-by-turn voice guidance wherever you are. Underground, on holiday, or even in the middle of nowhere: HERE just works, always."  While a live internet connection is useful while using this, or any major competitive app, in order to get the latest traffic conditions and other real-time information, most of us have used road routing apps in dead spots, where no decent internet data connection is available.  For example, when driving to visit family in the Dallas area, we take the back roads through the Piney Woods in order to avoid much of the traffic on I-45; the problem is that there is no usable data signal in much of the area which prevents Google Maps from displaying any useable information (including its network based maps), and Waze from displaying its detailed real-time information, but the maps mostly display ok from  Waze's cached information if been at that location recently.  When in these data dead spots, we rely on the GPS system on the dashboard.  HERE does not have the problem of not being functional in data dead spots because the user has the dynamic option of using the network based maps available on the data feed (when there is an adequate data signal), or downloading complete and detailed maps which can be stored on the phone or other connected smart device.  HERE is multinational, and has free, fully detailed road maps for over 100 countries available for download. 

 map           While fully functional without pre-downloading any maps as long as there is a data connection, HERE offers a single huge download (about 6.8 gigs) of all roads in North America (including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean islands and Cuba), or the user can choose to download national map sets (Canada is about 2 gigs, and the U.S. is about 4.7 gigs), or individual states and provinces.  My choice was to download only those states that I travel in the most, including Texas (484mb), Louisiana (222mb), Mississippi (220mb) and Oklahoma (253mb).  If I travel elsewhere, I will download those maps in advance.  Other states and countries can be freely downloaded as needed, keeping in mind that downloading maps in advance and storing them on the device (mine were automatically saved to my micro-SDHC card) provides two benefits when HERE is being used:  First, it saves on online data usage and improves performance, as saved maps do not have to be continuously downloaded while being accessed on the road; Second, HERE retains full functionality (like an autonomous GPS) without any data connection, which both can save on data or roaming feeds, but also continues to work in data dead spots, or if cell towers are out due to storms or other reasons.  As a quick test, I tried HERE in "Airplane Mode" which shuts off the phone's external communication, and it continued to show my current location utilizing the phone's GPS and the previously downloaded maps.  This may be useful when flying as a passenger, and satisfy the curiosity of the rhetorical "Where are we now and how far do we still have to go?"

            HERE is very full featured containing the functionality of its major competitors, as well as some additional features.  One distinct advantage of HERE over its major competitors is the functionality mentioned above when there is no internet connection.  Even without an internet connection, HERE's maps are interactive, and turn-by-turn voice guidance is fully functional.  In terms of the voices used by HERE, the user can optionally download for free, male or female voices, in dozens of languages, either in regular fidelity, or a much more distinct "Hi-fi" quality voice.  The user may select a traditional color road map, or a full color, high resolution, satellite view, useful when looking for a particular building or landmark.  Another feature available online or offline using HERE is public transportation maps and detailed directions for over 800 cities in 40 countries around the world.  Live, real-time traffic information is available for over 40 countries via data connection, a benefit for both domestic and international travelers.  Similar to some of its major competitors, routes can be planned in advance on a desktop or laptop computer, or the smart device itself on the HERE website on beta.HERE.com, and then seamlessly loaded into the phone.

            Many of us have found interesting places while traveling, such as restaurants, parks, historical locations, or other spots which we would like to catalogue;  HERE allows the user to personalize maps using the integral "Collections" feature.  Similar to a popular feature in the competitor Waze, HERE offers users the choice to share real-time location and routing information (when online) with selected family or friends through a private, safe, and secure feature "Glympse."

            HERE does require a free registration in order to access all of the app's functionality; this allows HERE to automatically contact users when there are available updates to the downloaded maps, or the app itself.  When updates are available, a tap on the screen will automatically download and install the selected updates.

            Unless the user truly has an unlimited data plan on their phone, it may be better to download the large map files through an external Wi-Fi or USB connection, rather than directly from the carrier's network, as large downloads can easily consume monthly carrier data limits, and possibly result in huge "over limit" fees and charges from the carrier.  Likewise, as mentioned above, using previously downloaded maps rather than a data connection while on the road, can also save on data usage fees as the maps are already on the device and do not need to be continuously downloaded from the carrier. 

            Likewise, since the downloaded maps maybe large, check the available capacity of the optional memory card (commonly a micro- or mini- SDHC card) installed on the phone.  Check to see what type and size (capacity) memory card can be used on a particular phone, and consider getting the fastest and highest capacity memory card supported by your phone.  If considering purchasing a new memory card for your phone, be sure that it is the correct type (physical size and form factor), and then look at the speed and capacity of the memory card itself.  The memory card will have a number, usually circled, on the front with a number up to "10" displayed; the higher the number, the faster the card, and the more expensive, although the difference in cost between a slower (such as a "4" speed card) and a fast "10" speed card is minimal, often just a few dollars.  For most functions, the speed difference is negligible, but if videos are being recorded, the speed difference can have an impact on performance.  Consider the capacity of the card; in the phone manual or online, there will be a listing that shows the capacity limit that can be addressed by the phone.  Many older smart phones can access 8 gb, while almost all newer phones can access 16, 32, or 64 gb of data stored on the tiny memory cards.   Good prices and "deals" from multiple vendors can be found online at dealnews.com/c108/Computers/Storage/Flash-Memory-Cards/.

            The HERE website does have an important statement about the beta status of the app, "Please note that this is a beta version of the application that is still undergoing final testing. It is a known issue that cache cleaners have been found to cause navigation voices to be unavailable. We're investigating and will release an update soon."  If the app is installed and registered, update and upgrade notifications will be displayed for the user.

            In the limited time that I have played with HERE, I was very impressed with its capability.  Understanding that the current app is a beta, or pre-release version, and improvements and additional features will inevitably be added to it, HERE currently has almost all of the functionality of its major competitors, with the added benefit of functionality while offline.  HERE would be a worthwhile download and is worthy of further experimentation and likely adoption.


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