Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the week of JANUARY 11, 2015

WEEKLY MEETINGS
EACH Wednesday 

Program or Lesson 9:30 - 10:30 AM
One on One Help 10:30-?
In the Library


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.


Our weekly program or lesson is intended
to be of interest to all computer users.
Following the program an allotment of time will
be available for one on one help to those
who want a better understanding of something done
 during the presentation.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday JANUARY 14, 2015 Meeting
 9:15 AM Set up your computer
 9:30 AM Lesson
10:30 AM One on One help

Windows 8.1, Downloading, Purchasing and Installing Apps

By Rosita Herrick, Director, Sarasota Technology User Group, FL

www.thestug.org              Rosita (at) spcug.org

In addition to being a computer operating system, Windows 8.1 is blurring the line between the old ways of working on a computer and the access to information used by tablets and smart phones. The distribution of apps that perform individual tasks is one of the ways.

In additions to apps that come with the operating system, Microsoft has created a store for apps distribution.

The Store App

The Store app can be found either on the Start screen or on the Task bar.

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Access to the Internet is required for accessing the Store.

You access the store app by clicking on the tile/icon.

When the app opens you have quite a few options to search for items of interest.

Once you find an app of interest, just click on it and on the page that opens you will find information about the app such as number of downloads, reviews with rating and a description of the app. The app might be free, might have a price or it can be downloaded for trial.

Usually a Microsoft account is required. To install the app, just click on the Install button.

Maintaining Apps

Periodically, there are updates for apps to either enhance them or fix some problem.

To check for updates go to the Store app.

On the upper right side of the screen, if there are updates available for any of the apps, you will see a link in green


In this case there are updates available for 3 of my installed apps (not distributed with the system.

Clicking on this link displays the 3 apps that are scheduled for an update.

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The check mark on the right corner shows that the update is selected to install. It can be unchecked with a right click

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Now I can update the two remaining apps by clicking on the install icon at the bottom of the page.

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Once I click on install, the following page displays

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The amount of time and download and install takes, depends on the speed of your internet connection, the size of the update and the speed of your computer.

Once the download and install are completed the next message on the screen will be:

Your apps were installed

You can now close the Store app.

Uninstalling an App

This process is very simple.

1 Find the app with the search charm.

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2.    Right click on the icon and this box will appear.

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Click on Uninstall and Windows will remove the app from your system.


IraMy Favorite Free Android Apps

by Ira Wilsker

 

WEBSITES:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ijinshan.kbatterydoctor_en

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cleanmaster.mguard

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/9-superb-free-apps-you-simply-must-install-your-android-device.htm

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.acmeaom.android.myradar

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quoord.tapatalkpro.activity

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.waze

 

            Anyone who reads the various online technical articles about Google's Android operating system and its millions of apps, has probably seen countless stories about the "Best Android Apps", or "Apps That Every Android User Must Have", or some variation on those themes.  As in politics, everyone has his own opinions and favorites.  Since announcing in a column here several weeks ago that my wife and I each have a new, high-end Android smart phone, several people have asked me what apps I have on my new Android phone (Huawei Ascend Mate 2), and what did my wife put on her new phone (OnePlus One)?

            One issue that many smart phone and tablet users face is what they would consider inadequate battery life.  At school, I frequently see students scamper in the classroom to get seats near power outlets so they can charge their mobile devices, as we often utilize them in class.  During a recent stopover at DFW, waiting with about 300 others for a particular flight, space near the limited number of power outlets was at a premium, with several people simultaneously rushing to a single open power outlet as the current user unplugged his charger.  For the record, I carry a small multiple outlet power strip with surge suppression that I "volunteer" to share in exchange for power access.  While there are readily available external battery packs, and phone covers that integrate a secondary battery, possibly an even better solution would be to better utilize the limited power that we already have in our phone and tablet batteries.  I have experimented with several battery monitors and utilities, and now have a current favorite; Battery Doctor (Battery Saver), by Cheetah Mobile Inc., which is a free download from the Google Play Store, and from Amazon Apps.  Over 4.25 million users have reviewed this app on the Play Store, giving it an average rating of 4.5/5 stars  (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ijinshan.kbatterydoctor_en).  It is an extremely popular app to download, with the Play Store reporting that Battery Doctor has had between 50 million and 100 million copies downloaded.

            Battery Doctor, which calls itself  "The professional battery saver",  has earned its reputation and popularity by effectively managing all aspects of battery usage and charging.  Many Android users are blissfully ignorant of the fact that there are many apps that load themselves, consuming memory, processing power, and battery life.  By stopping those apps that are unnecessary from running, significant battery power can be conserved, often allowing hours of additional battery life before the necessity to recharge.  As I type this, I opened my Battery Doctor app, and it displays that I have 18 hours and 26 minutes of projected battery power remaining on my 6.1" phone, with all of the currently loaded apps running.  Tapping on the circle in the center of the screen that in my case says, "Good - Save More", shows nine apps that are currently running, nonessential, and in most cases I have not used in days.  According to Battery Doctor, at this instant, I have Yelp, Amazon Cloud Drive, Chrome, Tapatalk, Amazon Kindle, Amazon, Google+, Google Search, and Amazon Appstore loaded and running, even though I am not currently using any of these apps.  Touching the "Save Now" bar at the bottom of the screen stops those unnecessary apps, saving battery life, in this exact case, just lengthened my projected battery life by an hour and 39 minutes.

            In addition to conserving battery power, and displaying several charts and graphs displaying battery usage, temperature,  and condition, Battery Doctor also claims to lengthen the life expectancy of the physical battery itself by managing the charging cycle, and enabling safe charging to the 100% level.  It performs this task by intelligently varying the rate of charge, depending on the current status of the battery.  If the battery is very low, the first stage in the charge cycle  is "Speed" which rapidly puts a lot of energy into the battery.  Once a predetermined charge level is reached, the app lowers the charging power to a moderate "Continuous" level that both protects the physical battery from overheating and other internal problems.  Once the battery is charged to the mid 90% level, the charging rate drops to "Trickle", slowly and safely topping off the battery, and maintaining the 100% charge until unplugged from the charger.  Battery Doctor can also play a user selected tone(not played when during user selected "quiet time") or display a notification once the battery is fully charged.

            Unrelated to Battery Doctor or any other app, is a charging tip that I discovered the hard way; many people were posting in the phone support blogs and forums that even when using a factory charger, their phones either charged very slowly, or did not charge at all.  The solutions were two fold; many users were using low powered chargers at home or in the car, often only producing 500 ma (500 milliamps) to 1 amp (1000 milliamps), which is at or below the energy consumption rate of the newer more powerful phones and tablets.  Many of the newer tablets and smart phone, especially many of the iPhone series, need a charger with an output of 1.5 amps (1500 milliamps) to 2.1 amps (2100 milliamps) in order to properly charge the device in a timely fashion.  The other factor that greatly influenced charging rates was the USB cable that was being used, as many of the older and cheaper, usually thin USB cables often used to connect the smart device to the charger could only effectively carry about 500 ma, as their internal wiring was not capable of moving a greater current.  Many of the newer USB cables, with either the generic micro-male connector commonly used on most phones and tablets, or the proprietary Apple connector, are explicitly labeled as being able to carry 2 or more amps of power from the charger to the phone, or are labeled as "28/24AWG Cable", which use larger diameter (usually copper) 24 gauge wires to carry the power, and smaller 28 gauge wires to carry data.  On my wife's new phone, even when using the factory charger, her phone either charged very slowly or almost not at all using an older standard USB cable, but replacing the cable with a cable labeled as a 28/24AWG USB cable, her phone now charges quickly using the same charger.  I also replaced her older car charger, which only put out 500 ma that was incapable of charging her new phone, with one producing 2.1 amps, along with a newer, more capable USB cable.

            A companion app, from the same publisher as Battery Doctor, Cheetah Mobile,  is Clean Master (Speed Booster) available for free from Amazon Apps and the Google Play Store (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cleanmaster.mguard).  Clean Master is the self proclaimed, "World's Most Trusted Optimizer, Clean Master, Helps Clean Up Over 400 Million Phones!"  The statistics from Google back up this claim, as the Play Store shows between 100 million and 500 million copies downloaded, with over 19 million reviews posted on the Play Store, giving Clean Master an impressive rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.  Clean Master has several integral utilities that can increase available operating memory (Memory Boost); restore a great deal of storage (Junk File Cleaning); stop running apps that are unnecessary, but consuming processor cycles, battery power, and causing the phone to overheat (Device Cooler and CPU Boost); one of the highest rated Android antivirus utilities (Antivirus); and an "App Manager" that can be used to move eligible apps from the phone to an installed memory card (which frees up phone memory), or uninstall unwanted apps.

            Another app that I use is my favorite free weather app, MyRadar Weather Radar, (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.acmeaom.android.myradar)

by ACME AtronOmatic.  Between 1 million and 5 million copies have been downloaded from the Play Store, with over 41 thousand users giving it an average rating of 4.4 stars.  MyRadar has a very smoothly moving image of live and recent weather radar, showing the conditions and temperatures anywhere in the lower 48 states.  By default MyRadar uses the current geographic location of the device to show current radar and weather conditions, as well as a forecast for the next few days.  The image scrolls easily with a swipe to smoothly display other regions and cities, and can be zoomed in or out using the conventional pinch action.  Centering a crosshair over any point on the national map will display the current conditions, temperature, and forecast for that location.  The visual quality of the interactive and customizable maps is what makes MyRadar my favorite free weather app (a nominally priced paid version is available without any ads displayed).

            Other free apps that are my favorites and frequently utilized are Waze for road routing and conditions, and Tapatalk for accessing my favorite blogs and forums.  Waze (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.waze), the subject of a column here about a year ago, recently added a new feature common on many of the better automotive GPS devices; it now suggests crowd sourced alternative routes around traffic congestion and delays.  Tapatalk is a reader/writer utility that now supports over 30,000 blogs and forums, sorted by dozens of topic categories, and used by millions of participants; Google reports that between 5 million and 10 million copies of the Tapatalk app have been downloaded.  Personally, I actively  participate in several regional, and hobby related forums, and occasionally read and respond to some of the posted topics in political, scientific, business, and financial related forums.  New users of Tapatalk can obtain the free app from the Play Store at play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quoord.tapatalkpro.activity, and use the integral search feature (the magnifying glass) to find forums of personal interest, or search for topics in selected forums.

            All of the above listed apps are free to download and use, although some of them also offer a "premium" or "pro" paid version that removes advertisements, or adds enhanced capabilities or features.  Being free, I suggest that  Android users download these apps, and try them; you have nothing to lose by trying them, a lot to gain if you find them useful, and can easily uninstall them if not satisfied.  Enjoy them.


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