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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1267. Electronic payment

Bob asked: I need to be able to receive payments electronically, and I don't have a merchant or credit card account set up. Is there some way I can get paid?

Yes, getting paid is good, and there a lot of online options for getting paid these days. One of the most popular is to use PayPal. You go to Paypal's site (, sign up for an account and you can get paid, online or using a credit card. Taking full advantage of all the features that PayPal offers takes some effort, but you can certainly take credit cards and get paid, with some small fees.

If you want to accept actual credit card swipes there are a number of different companies that provide little readers that you can attach to a cell phone or a tablet device. Paypal and Intuit both provide simple credit card readers that attach to your device.

My favorite is Square. Their software is easy to use and elegant, they pay quickly, and their fees seem to be the smallest in the business. Go to their site ( and sign up for an account and you can accept credit cards swiped on site using a cell phone or tablet. You'll also need to download their app to your device. The Apple Store sells their reader for $10 with a similar credit in fees, so the reader is essentially free, or you can order one from their site for free. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

1285. Sync iPhone with Gmail contacts, calendars, and mail.

Samantha asked: I just got an iPhone, and I want to use it to sync with my Gmail account. I use mail, contacts, and calendars on Gmail. Can I get them all on my new phone?

It's really easy to sync Google settings with your iPhone. But it's kind of misleading.

if you set up a new mail account and choose the Gmail option that will sync your mail but not anything else.

Instead when you get ready  create a new account on your iPhone, select the Microsoft Exchange option.  I know it sounds weird but Google uses Microsoft Exchange syncing mechanism to sync email, contacts, and calendar. You'll some help to get the settings just right, but the one thing you need to remember is the server name is M.Google.Com.

In any case Google provides good documentation on doing this online you can search for iPhone +Google +sync on the web and you’ll certainly find the page that describes exactly how to do this. 

1284. Sync Google mail contacts on my Mac

Jessica asked: I use Google mail and have a lot of contacts there, and would like to keep them in sync with my Mac address book. Can I do this?

Not only can you do this but with the last few verses of the Mac OS X operating system it is free and built into the operating system.

In address book on the Mac go to the preferences, choose accounts, and then in "On My Mac" account it has an option to synchronize with Google. You specify your Google credentials and then your Google contacts will be synchronized with your Mac address book. It’s that simple. On the other and you might also want to synchronize your Mac address book with your iCloud contacts.

It doesn’t work well if you synchronize both.  I can say this from experience that things go a little weird if you synchronize both with Google and with iCloud from your Mac. You will have to be very careful if you use that route to keep iCloud and Gmail contacts in sync.  I don’t really recommend that option.

1283. Upgrading to IOS 6 on my iPhone.

Sue asked: I tried to upgrade to iOS 6 on my iPhone using the steps I read online. I went to the Settings menu, chose General and then Software Update, but it won't let me perform the update. What's up? Is my phone broken?

First of all be aware that not every iPhone will run iOS six. Unless you have a moderately current iPhone you will be able to install it.  But given that Sue has a brand-new iPhone 4S. I happen to no this for a fact. It should work.

The problem is you can only perform the iOS six upgrade if you’re connected to a high-speed network like Wi-Fi.

If you’re using the cell network, if you’re away from home for example, you can’t perform the iOS six update. So the answer for Sue and for everyone else is go home. Go home and use your Wi-Fi network and then you should be able to easily perform the upgrade over the air.

On the other as you can always just connect your iPhone to your computer and use iTunes to install the upgrade either way it’s worth the time to install the newest operating system.

1281. My Mac touchpad is not working right.

Connie asked: I have a MacBook, and something's wrong with the touchpad. Every time I touch it, it acts as if I had clicked with the mouse. It's driving me crazy. How can I fix this?

Sounds like Connie or someone using her MacBook fiddled with the settings not quite sure what they were doing.

In the settings for the Mac in the trackpad settings there’s an option labeled "point-and-click".  Once you go there, the first option is "tap to click".  And if that’s on and if you tap the trackpad it acts as if you clicked the mouse.  

I generally don’t like that feature so I turned it off on my Mac. And now Connie has too.

Just go to settings,  trackpad,  point-and-click and turn off the "tap to click" option.

1280. Use my cell phone on my house phones.

Steve asks: I only get cell coverage in a small corner of my house, and I leave my cellphone there. Then, when it rings, I have to run to catch the call. Is there some magic means of hooking the cell phone up to my home phone?

There is no magic no but there are several solutions you can look at.  I personally have one from Panasonic. It's a home phone system with multiple wireless handsets. I can have one of those handsets with me wherever I am. 

And using Bluetooth technology itcan connect to my cell phone as a second phone line. 

As a matter fact mine can connect to two cell phones so both cellphones of the house and connect to this Panasonic base unit. Then if someone calls my cell phone it rings on the house phone and I can pick it up using the handset whereever I am.  

It's not expensive and Panasonic and Uniden both very popular home phone system manufacturers make one with this technology built-in. It’s worth checking out if you want to use your cell phone with your home handsets.

If you already have phones and just need the interface try either of these products.

Cobra has a device that will with most phones. And so does XLink.

1268. Windows 8 - Login missing.

Scott asked: I installed Windows 8 and I can't figure out how to log in. I get the splash screen with a pretty picture, and then nothing. What am I missing?

Although I do like Windows 8, this is one of the very reasons I won't be installing it on my father's computer anytime soon.  Personally, I recently thought you had to actually swipe with the mouse or your finger in a touchscreen to get rid of that lock screen, but the fact is all you have to do is touch the mouse or type a key and it goes away, and then you can log in just like on any other operating system. 

So don't get fooled: Just touch the mouse, or type any key, and you're ready to log in. 

1271. Cookies - Yes or No

Nancy asks: One page I browse to told me I have to have cookies enabled. I heard that cookies allow web sites to steal information from my computer. Do I really have to enable cookies? 

If you want to visit that particular web page,  I guess you do. But the fact is that cookies are used by almost every website to track what you've done on that web site.  They can keep track of where you were when you last visited, what you last did, what you last typed, and so on.  Cookies are generally benign. You'll find options in your browser to enable them only for the local site which is probably the best bet.

Look online for instructions about how to enable cookies for your particular browser. Generally you want cookies enabled for saving the local data but you want to block third-party and advertiser cookies. There's no reason you should be storing that information locally.

Here are links for popular browsers:

Internet Explorer:

1270. Update OS X 10.8

Mary asked: I heard there's an update to Mac OS X 10.8. How do I find it?

OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) changed the way to get updates. You used to have to run the system update and then you'd see the new updates to the operating system, but now system updates and operating system upgrades come to you through the App Store.

You can still, in Mountain Lion, go to the Apple menu and choose Software Updates but you'll find them in the app store as opposed to in a separate application.

As in any other update, you should always back up your computer before any update. Time Machine makes this extraordinarily easy, but any full backup will do. (I still recommend backing up the entire computer to an external hard drive using Carbon Copy Cloner ( or Super Duper ( every now and then, and filing this copy away somewhere).

You should keep up with the most current updates your operating system, if for no other reason than the fact that security issues get found and fixed over time.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

1291. Disable error reporting

Although I am always reminded of my friends father who thought the police were going to come after him every time Windows showed him "an illegal operation" dialog box when something went wrong, Julie has bee getting a number of crashes in an application.  And when she does, and we won't ask why, she sees a dialog box asking to send information to Microsoft.  She worried that this is going to retrieve personal information Can she turn this off?  Can she NOT send information to Microsoft.

Well with all of the scams today I can understand why Julie is concerned.  However the reason for the pop up may be legitimate.

So I recommend to turn  this function off - at least temporarily.

Click the Start Button and type "problem reporting settings".  You will get a list at the top of the list that included "Choose how to report problems".  Select this option.

A window will open giving you a number of ways to address the issue.  The default is usually set to "Automatically check for solutions (recommended)"  I would not recommend automatically sending a report.  

You can select the "Never check for solutions (not recommended)".  This will stop the annoying pop up.

If you still get a message asking to send information you will know that this is not a Microsoft message and make sure to address the request with the proper concern.

BTW if it is a Microsoft message they do not send personal information.