Off Topic

Will My Cellphone Work During and After a Hurricane?

This is a bit of a follow-up to yesterday’s off-topic article, Reminder: Zello for Cell Phones is not an Actual Walkie-Talkie, and Still Needs Internet Connectivity to Work. I have some experience in emergency communications. I have been a ham radio operator since I was 14 years old and have been involved in a couple of real emergency communications operations as well as in dozens of preparedness drills. This article details the preparedness plans I follow.

As I explained in yesterday’s article, the very popular and sometimes life-saving Zello walkie-talkie app has one big shortcoming: it needs to be connected to the internet in order to work. That connection might be via wi-fi or via a cell phone company’s data connection to a nearby cell tower. Indeed, internet access can be a problem during a hurricane or other disaster when cell towers and wired internet connections alike are knocked offline. However, internet connectivity still remains more reliable than most any other form of communications.

Comment: There is one notable exception: the most reliable communications method during a hurricane or most other disasters is via satellite phones. These phones are not perfect, but they will provide communications in most disasters when wired telephone and cable connections are knocked offline, cell towers are destroyed, and widespread power outages leave most of the area’s communications infrastructure out of operation.

However, satellite phones are expensive to purchase, and the monthly charges (whether you use the phone or not) are so high that few consumers ever purchase them.

In the recent hurricane disasters in Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys, and nearby areas, a hurricane knocked power offline for weeks. Telephone poles were knocked over and cell towers were flattened. Not only were cell towers knocked over, so were towers and roof-mounted antennas of police departments, fire departments, ambulance services, road crews, and most everything else that depends on two-way radios.

Off Topic: Zello for Cell Phones is not an Actual Walkie-Talkie, and Still Needs Internet Connectivity to Work

Note: This article is off-topic. That is, it is not about family history, DNA, or any related topics. However, if you are somewhere near the eastern seaboard of the United States this week, this is information you probably need to know.

From the Apple Insider web site:

With Hurricane Dorian approaching the coast of Florida, word is again spreading about “push to talk” iPhone app Zello. However, downloaders should be aware that the app requires not only a solid internet connection, it also needs connectivity to Zello’s servers to function.

According to Zello’s CEO in 2017, the “walkie-talkie” app saw a 20-fold increase in usage during the Houston rescue situation following a hurricane, and was in use by the “Cajun Navy” as well as some first responders.

35 Google Drive Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss

This article has nothing to do with family history, DNA, or related topics. However, I do know that many newsletter readers use Google Drive or other cloud-based file storage services. If that includes you, I would suggest you read a new article by Eric Griffith in the PCmag web site at https://is.gd/oaKqHt.

In the article, you will find that Google Drive is much more than a simple file storage service. It is also a file copying (replication) service, word processor, file sharing service, secure file encryption service, a method of accessing Drive files when offline, OCR application, and much more.

Off-Topic: What is Wi-Fi Calling and Why Would I Want It?

NOTE: The following article is off-topic. That is, it has nothing to do with family history, DNA, or any other genealogy-related topic. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one.

Instead, this article is about two of my favorite topics: saving money and state-of-the-art communications, especially communicating with cell phones. If you are interested in either saving money or in cell phones, you may find this article to be of some interest.

This is an update to the information given in my earlier article, What is Wi-Fi Calling and Why Would I Want It? A lot has changed since I published the original article three years ago. In fact, today I am a bigger fan of wi-fi calling than ever before. It works well and I save more than $100 in monthly wired and cellular telephone charges as well.

Many people think that a cell phone can only be used on a cellular network. Not true!

In the earlier article, I described Google Fi’s cellular service and how it could make cell phone calls over several different cell phone networks as well as over wi-fi networks, even switching connections in the middle of a call, if necessary. I stated “Phones for Google Project Fi are all expensive (check the latest prices as they vary often), but they are all high-end phones with the latest technology. I am using a Nexus 6P phone with Google Project Fi and love it.”

A Quote from Mark Twain

NOTE: There is some dispute whether or not Mark Twain ever said this. However, it is a great line, regardless of its origin.

Buy a Chromebook Laptop for $129

The following article has little to do with genealogy, family history, DNA, or the other topics normally covered in this newsletter. However, it does reflect my interests in low-cost computing and I think it may be of interest to many readers of this newsletter.

I have written often about the advantages of low-cost Chromebook computers. (See http://bit.ly/2K5izCv for my past articles about Chromebooks.) These low-cost and highly secure laptop computers have all of the essentials most computer users need. They are famous for how they “get things done efficiently and easily.” Best of all, Chromebooks are very secure and never get viruses. They also never lose data because all systems are automatically backed up online all the time. If a Chromebook gets lost, stolen, or crushed by a truck, the owner can obtain a new Chromebook and then restore all data within a matter of minutes.

Now you can purchase a new (not refurbished) Samsung 11.6-inch Chromebook 3 (originally $219) Chromebook for $129 US from Wal-Mart and that price even includes free shipping or else you can pick it up at your local Wal-Mart store. However, you will have to pay state and local sales taxes, if any.

Using a Chromebox as My Primary Day-to-day Computer

The following article has little to do with genealogy, family history, DNA, or the other topics normally covered in this newsletter. However, it does discuss my recent experiences with low-cost computing and I think it may be of interest to many readers of this newsletter.

Here is a conversation I had recently with a friend:

“A couple of weeks ago I installed a Chromebox computer and it soon became my primary computer.”

“A what?

“A Chromebox.”

“What is a Chromebox?”

“It is essentially the same as a Chromebook computer except that it is not a laptop computer. Instead, it is a small desktop computer that requires an external, plug-in keyboard, a mouse, and an external monitor. It is powered by plugging it into a wall outlet, not by batteries. It runs the Chrome operating system, the same as the operating system used in Chromebooks.”

In fact, the Chromebox has become a better addition to my collection of computers than I expected. Of course, I haven’t disposed of my other computers. I still have the Macintosh, Windows, Linux, and Android systems.

I also have a Chromebook laptop which has become my primary computer when traveling. I have always been able to use the Chromebook for almost all computer tasks that I need to do. However, when returning home, I used to switch to the iMac desktop system for my day-to-day tasks. The iMac is the most powerful and flexible of all the computers that I own so I simply assumed it should be the one that I used most of the time. However, I have changed my mind in the past few weeks.

Update: A Success in Fighting Diabetes

OK, I give up!

Three days ago I posted an off-topic article at https://blog.eogn.com/2019/05/13/a-success-in-fighting-diabetes/ telling about my recent results at fighting diabetes. In short, after 11 or 12 years as a diabetic, I conquered the problem, perhaps for a short term or maybe forever. I mentioned that anyone who is interested in my fight against diabetes should join in in a message board that I had created at https://groups.google.com/d/forum/diabetes-solution where I would tell anyone and everyone interested about how I drove diabetes into remission.

There was but one problem: the new message board on Google Groups never worked very well. Therefore, I am moving it to a new hosting platform, WordPress. WordPress is the same hosting platform where both EOGN.COM and PRIVACYBLOG.COM are hosted. I have many years’ experience with WordPress and it has always worked well for me.

If you have an interest in how one person drove diabetes into submission, please join me at: https://diabetessolution.blog.

A Success in Fighting Diabetes

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy, family history, DNA, or any of the other topics normally discussed here. It certainly is “off topic” and I am asking anyone who wishes to comment on it or to ask questions to do so on another web site: https://diabetessolution.blog.

About two months ago, I posted an article that started with:

I earlier published an article entitled  23andMe is Looking to Expand to Millions More Users with a New Genetic DNA Report on Diabetes at http://bit.ly/2JiD8ef.

In that article, I mentioned that I was diagnosed as a diabetic about 11 or 12 years ago and that I had recently found a promising method of driving diabetes into remission. That article generated a lot of comments here in this web site and in email asking for the details.

I have now reached a point where a blood test taken a few days ago reports that I am no longer a diabetic.

Death of the Keyboard? Let’s Ask Alexa.

Radio Shack TRS-80

I have written often about my vision of the future of computer hardware and software. One thing I am certain of is that today’s computer state-of-the-art will not be the same the state-of-the-art in a few years. Just ask anyone who owns a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer with data storage on audio cassette tapes or anyone who has a collection of floppy disks or even CD-ROM disks. In that vein, I was interested in a recent survey which predicts that computer keyboards are already being replaced in many cases by voice input.

A survey conducted by Pindrop Solutions queried 4057 consumers in the UK, USA, France, and Germany. According to the survey, nearly half (48 percent) of the general public think keyboards will barely be used by 2023 as voice technology takes over. That’s just four years away.

Firefox Announces Send, Providing Free Encrypted File Transfers while Keeping your Personal Information Private

NOTE: This article is off-topic. That is, the article has nothing to do with genealogy, DNA, history, or any of the other topics normally discussed in this newsletter. However, the article contains information that I believe every computer owner should know so I am publishing it here. It describes how to SECURELY send files to another person in such a manner that nobody else can read them if you enable the password option and if the recipient knows the password unlocking key. (Don’t send the password in email!)

I just tested this and found that it also works with Chrome and I suspect it will work with other web browsers as well. The sender and the recipient can be using either Windows or Macintosh. Additionally, Send will also be available as an Android app in beta later this week. Best of all, it is very easy to use. Not bad for FREE software! The following is an extract from the Mozilla Blog. (Mozilla is the organization that produces the free Firefox web browser):

“Imagine the last time you moved into a new apartment or purchased a home and had to share financial information like your credit report over the web. In situations like this, you may want to offer the recipient one-time or limited access to those files. With Send, you can feel safe that your personal information does not live somewhere in the cloud indefinitely.

My Helicopter Trip to the Grand Canyon

NOTE: This article is definitely off-topic. That is, it isn’t related to genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one. However, I suspect a few people will be interested in my photos of today’s trip.

After the recent RootsTech conference, I decide to fly to Las Vegas for a few days’ rest and relaxation. While I never gamble in the casinos, I do enjoy many other activities in Las Vegas: shows, restaurants, people watching, and other entertainment. While in the city, I decided to take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.

The helicopter company picked me up at my hotel in a black stretch limo and whisked me to McCarran International Airport. Instead of going to the airline terminal, we were dropped off on the other side of the airport where the helicopter services are found. After a briefing, four other visitors and I climbed into a helicopter with our pilot, Alex.

Google Duo Video Chat App is Available on the Web

This article is “off topic.” That is, it has nothing to do with genealogy. However, it concerns one of my favorite video chat apps: Google Duo. I thought I would share this info with anyone else who is interested.

Google has begun the rollout of the web version of the video calling service, Google Duo. It has always been available on Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), as well as on Android and Chromebooks. Now, it has been extended to the web. Anyone can use the web version of Google Duo on any operating system, making it easy for them to stay in touch with their family and friends irrespective of the device they use.

Google Duo is available free of charge.

You can read more at: http://bit.ly/2T8uR1K.

You can call me on Duo.

Zoho Office Suite now uses Artificial Intelligence to Provide a FREE, Powerful Alternative to Office 365

I wrote about the Zoho Office Suite more than two years ago in an article entitled Zoho Workplace: My Favorite FREE Replacement for Microsoft Office. Zoho Workplace is a competitor to Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Google Docs, and similar office automation products. It also can read and write documents that were created with Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Google Docs, and similar office automation products. (Some minor changes to fonts and formatting may occur when using files created by other programs.) Zoho Workplace works well with a Chromebook, a Windows system, a Macintosh, Linux, or even with an iPad or Android tablet.

Zoho Workplace is still my favorite free word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation suite of programs. I no longer use Microsoft Office. Instead, I prefer Zoho. Now Zoho has made major upgrades to the programs. My earlier article is still available at: https://wp.me/p5Z3-53w.

Quoting an article by Mark Hachman in the PC World web site:

Will a Chromebook Computer Run Genealogy Programs?

I recently published an article (at https://wp.me/p5Z3-76Q) about an inexpensive Chromebook computer that is on sale right now. I have also published numerous articles in the past about Chromebooks. Every time I publish an article about Chromebooks, several people write and ask, “Will a Chromebook computer run genealogy programs?” I decided to answer in the newsletter so that everyone can read my reply.

So, the question is: Will a Chromebook Computer Run Genealogy Programs?

The short answer is: a Chromebook will run some genealogy programs but not all of them.

Here is a longer answer:

Buy a Dell Chromebook for $129.99

UPDATE: This sale has now ended as the available inventory was exhausted.

I have written about the advantages of Chromebooks many times.These low-cost laptops can meet the computing needs of most computer users, although these laptops are not suitable for anyone running high-end (and expensive) engineering, graphics, video editing, and similar software. However, Chromebooks are excellent systems for surfing the web, reading and writing email messages, using genealogy web sites, playing online games, and even for publishing an online genealogy newsletter. Yes, I love my latest Chromebook. It has become my primary computer when traveling.

See https://blog.eogn.com/?s=Chromebook for my past articles about Chromebooks. If you have questions about Chromebooks, I would suggest you read my article, The Myths About Chromebooks, at https://blog.eogn.com/?s=The+Myths+About+Chromebooks.

Now Dell is selling the Inspiron Chromebook 11 for $129.99.

Why You Might Want to Run Your Own Email, Address Book, and Calendar Server at Home

I just published an article entitled Why You Might Want to Run Your Own Email, Address Book, and Calendar Server at Home. It isn’t a genealogy article so I won’t publish it here. However, it describes how you can have a private email server that is immune from hackers and government spies. Therefore, I published the article in my other web site: the Privacy Blog at http://bit.ly/2GJLfyi.

While the article is not genealogy-related, I do suspect that some readers of this genealogy newsletter may be interested in improving their online privacy. Therefore, I will provide a brief mention here of the article and provide a link to it.

If you would like to read Why You Might Want to Run Your Own Email, Address Book, and Calendar Server at Home, go to http://bit.ly/2GJLfyi.

Mark Your Calendar: the Apocalypse Will Occur on December 28, 2019

You can party from now until December 28th. Run up credit card bills, spend your money in Las Vegas, get drunk, and have fun with other things. Why not? The world is going to end anyway late this year so you don’t have to worry about paying those bills.

This time it is for real, at least according to David Montaigne, a guy who has written multiple books about the end times, and bills himself as a “historian and “prophecy scholar.”

You might want to be aware that Montaigne’s record of predictions hasn’t been very good. Montaigne has previously claimed that the anti-Christ was going to return to Earth in June of 2016. But Montaigne is still here and is still making predictions about the end of the world. He insists this time it is for real.

Montaigne makes the following claims on his website:

Get a Refurbished Google Pixelbook for $600

UPDATE: This sale is now shown as “Sold Out.” No surprise. I expected these to sell out quickly.

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. Instead, it is about one of my other interests: computer hardware. If you are looking for true genealogy articles, you might want to skip this article.

Chromebooks are supposed to be cheap, right? Not always. There is one notable exception: the Google Pixelbook that normally sells for $999 to $1,649, depending upon the options selected. However, even this Pixelbook is now available at a lower price than ever before.

I purchased an identical Google Pixelbook while it was on sale a few weeks ago and I love it. However, I now wish I had waited a bit longer. A refurbished Pixelbook is now available for an even lower price than what I paid: only $599.99.

I have written often about Chromebooks. To see my past articles, start at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+chromebook&t=h_&ia=web.

Happy New Year!