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Posts from the ‘Internet’ Category

Online Menus

Many restaurants post their menus online; you can click the “menu” link on the restaurant’s website to see if your dietary restrictions are accommodated, whether smaller plates are an option, what indulgent desserts you might save room for, and the price you’ll pay for an entree. There is certainly value in that.

And yet, I still like to be surprised.

As often as I gravitate toward tech options — I text instead of call, take a picture of information rather than write it down — I prefer not to study online menus before dining out. Part of the fun of the restaurant experience is being handed a menu and anticipating what treats lie in store for me.

Long before internet menus were available, Jerry Seinfeld did a comedy bit about “winning the ordering game.” To Jerry, the person at the table who sees and orders the “best” option on the menu first, wins. I wonder now whether he peeks at the online menu?

Whatever your preference, enjoy your meal!

Family Tree

This weekend I hosted a luncheon for 12 of my cousins. One highlight was the poster-size family tree I created using a computer-based genealogy program. It made for what one of my cousins called “a valuable roadmap” to understand how everyone in the room was related. Just seeing some of the names prompted wonderful stories about past generations.

A handful of genealogy programs exist for under $50. By adding the names of your close relatives into the program — and then enlisting others to help with names of more distant relatives — you easily build a database. (Additionally, you can pay to join an online ancestry search but you don’t have to do this just to keep your own local database).

In time, you can add significant dates, milestones, photos, anecdotes, and documents. As you come across new facts, add them where they belong.

You don’t even have to have a plan for this data from the outset. As long as you enjoy the process of collecting the information, keep doing it.

Perhaps you will create a family tree for a reunion as I did, or maybe make an album as a gift, or even write a book. Perhaps you will share the file with your children and grandchildren. Future generations can keep updating the data.

Even if you already have a “historian” in your family, don’t hesitate to create your own database. Your perspective is unique.

For one review of the most popular genealogy software programs, click here.*

*Within this comprehensive review of genealogy programs is the somewhat intimidting term GEDCOM. This stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunications. It’s the standard computer file format family historians use to exchange information. (Read more here.) While the programs differ in their ability to translate GEDCOM data, you don’t have to know technical GEDCOM issues to enjoy any of the genealogy programs.

iCloud Backup

True or False?

If your information is backed up to the iCloud, you can recover something you deleted before yesterday.


Ugh. Then what’s the point of the iCloud backup?

I get this question all the time. I think the word “backup” itself is confusing; it describes very different approaches.

Traditional backup systems copy data from your computer to an external hard drive and keep each complete backup intact; nothing is overwritten by subsequent backups. In these systems — Apple’s Time Machine and Windows’ File History, for example — you can locate and restore a file or files you deleted a day, week, or month ago.

Apple’s iCloud backs up your mobile data too, but primarily for sharing contacts, music, pictures and calendar events, etc. with your other devices in real time. In the process, it backs up your data, but only as one ever-changing daily backup that keeps overwriting yesterday’s backup. It is not your long term storage. (The limited, although important, function of iCloud’s backup is to load your data onto a new device. That it does seamlessly.)

To work efficiently, you want both systems:

  • Back up to the iCloud to keep a current copy of your mobile data to share among your devices, and to share with a new device if necessary. Be sure it is turned on: iPhone Settings > tap your name > iCloud > iCloud Backup > On.
  • Back up your computer to an external hard drive to keep your information longer term and unchanged by more recent activity.

Is that clearer or should I, um, back up???

Note: some of you backup your computer data to Carbonite. This offsite system’s data retention is somewhere between the iCloud and an external hard drive. From the Carbonite website: When Carbonite is backing up, it will keep a copy of your files in the backup as long as the files exist on your computer. If files are deleted or missing from your computer while Carbonite is backing up, the files will be removed from Carbonite after 30 days (15 days for trials).

Save for Later

I love the “Save for Later” option in my Amazon Shopping Cart. You might also.
Sometimes I take a while to decide to buy something. I read descriptions, check out the reviews, look at the questions and answers, and double-check the dimensions. And even then I may not be ready to buy. But I don’t want to lose the item either; I’d like to come back to it later.
The simplest way I have found to keep the item current is to
  1. Click “Add to Cart”
  2. Click “Cart”
  3. Click “Save for later” under that specific item
This creates a new “Saved for later” category in my shopping cart. I can return to it later, open the description, delete the item, move it to my cart, or just leave it there indefinitely.

I could skip the “Save for later” option and just leave the item in my Cart — as long as I don’t forget it’s there when I go to buy something else. Or I could use Amazon’s “List” feature to save the item in a personalized list, but I find “Save for later” more efficient than “Add to List.”

Any shortcut — like “Save for later” — that keeps me from having to search for the item again is a real time saver. Might be for you too.

The Correct Password

If you choose to save a password so it auto-fills when you sign in to a website, I have one suggestion: be sure to save the correct password.

“Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But this is how easy it is to store an incorrect password:

You start to log into a website and your computer asks if you wish to save the password. You click “Save Password” while you wait to access the site. If the password is not correct — maybe you mis-typed or remembered an old password — you have saved an incorrect password. Even if you click “Forgot Password” and go through the steps to create a new password, your machine may still use the incorrect password you saved to deny you access in the future. Ugh.

My advice: don’t click “Save Password” until after the site lets you in. Some devices ask you right away about saving the password, even before the site has assessed your credentials. Just wait a few seconds to be sure.

If you wish to delete old, incorrect, or duplicate passwords stored in your device, open and edit your list of saved passwords.*

I hope this helps.

*Each type of device stores your list of saved passwords in a different place and each device will ask you for a master password or passcode to reveal it.

Some examples of password storage locations:

  • Safari on Apple computers: Safari > Preferences > Passwords.
  • iPhones: Settings > Passwords and Accounts > Website and App Passwords.
  • Windows 10: type “Credential Manager” in the Search field and click on the “Credential Manager in Control Panel” option.

For more details about these and other machines, search the internet for your specific device and “where are passwords stored.”

Applauding Quicken

If you use checkbook software Quicken — and even if you don’t — please take a minute to appreciate Quicken’s customer-friendly move. From within the program, Quicken warns you against Quicken imposters and then helps you, the customer, by giving you the correct number for their actual customer service.

Bravo Quicken!

Scammers try to get our attention by passing themselves off as “real” companies, and we often fall for it. But, knowing these scammers are out there, I think the “real companies” could do more — as Quicken has — to protect us.

If the actual companies announced “We don’t call you,” or “We don’t pop into your computer and scare you into believing you will lose all your data,” or “Your email account with us won’t expire with 24-hour notice,” I know I would appreciate such assurance and feel much safer.

So I’ve included Quicken’s support number below, pulled from within my Quicken account (I added the checkmark), in case you need it. But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you use Quicken, you’ve probably already seen it.

Screen Shot 2019-01-25 at 6.31.34 PM.png
Maybe other companies will follow suit.

No Such Thing

Clearly, there are people who fall for all kinds of computer scams — the scam business is as active as ever. I hope you are not among them.

Just a reminder, there is no such thing as:

  • Your email account being suspended in 24 hours
  • Your bank account being closed suddenly
  • Your Windows license key expiring
  • An unknown caller knowing if your computer is infected
  • A surprise Amazon gift certificate
  • A “Thank you” from Apple for your expensive iTunes purchase (with a note saying,
  • “If you didn’t make this purchase, click here…”)
  • A million dollars from a foreign country waiting for you in customs

If it seems unusual, it is probably a scam. Please delete/hang up/ignore and return to whatever you were doing.

Electronic Signature

DocuSign is a San Francisco–based company that provides electronic signature technology and digital transaction management services for facilitating electronic exchanges of contracts and signed documents.” (Source:

You may have heard of it. You may have used it. It is a legitimate service. But, I suggest that if you are ever asked for your electronic signature, consider the following:

  • Is the request for a transaction in which you are already engaged — a real estate sale/purchase, legal documents, financial services, etc.? Never click on a link to a DocuSign request that just shows up unexpectedly in your inbox, even if it appears to be from someone you know. If you are not sure, contact the sender — but not by return email — to confirm the request. Scams that appear to come from DocuSign are out there.
  • You don’t have to use DocuSign if you are concerned about the security of authorizing your signature electronically. There is always the option to print the documents, sign them as required, scan them, and email them back to your realtor, lawyer, financial adviser, etc.

Guard your electronic signature carefully. Scammers want your autograph, but not because they like you.

YouTube Shortcuts

I’ve written many times that YouTube videos are an excellent source for online education: cooking, crafting, fixing, decorating, exercising — even how to play the violin.

When watching YouTube videos on my computer, I use the following keyboard shortcuts:

Press the letter K to play (or pause) a video
Press the letter J to replay the last 10 seconds of a video
Press the letter L to forward a video 10 seconds

By design, these letters are grouped together.

There are other useful YouTube keyboard shortcuts. You can find them — where else? — on a YouTube video!

Check it out at

Ad-Free Reading

Enjoy ad-free reading from Apple and Microsoft.

In Apple’s Safari web browser (on an iPad, iPhone, or Apple computer), tap/click the Reader View button in the Safari search box to see just the text and photos — without the ads.

In Microsoft’s Edge web browser, click on the Reader View icon (looks like an open book) in the main toolbar to see just the text you want to read in a single ad-free column.

Screen Shot 2019-01-25 at 4.54.06 PM.png

Not all websites support these features, but if the the Reader view is available, the icons will be visible and clickable.

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