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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

1541. Using LED for flash

I find that when I’m in meetings, I don’t want my phone to ring, or even buzz, when I get an email or a text. On the other hand, I’d still like my phone to indicate that someone tried to get hold of me. Is there some way to use the camera’s flash LED as an indicator?
Clearly, you’re not the first to think of this excellent idea! It’s funny, you think when you put your phone in “silent” mode that it would be silent, but the buzz that the phone makes when an alert occurs is clearly audible to everyone around you. This sound can be disruptive during meetings!
To avoid the irritating buzz, on an iPhone, select Settings, then General, and then Accessibility. Select the LED Flash for Alerts option.  You’ll also want to ensure that you turn off the vibration, so you don’t hear that noise: Select Settings, then Sounds, and make sure to switch off the Vibrate on Silent option.
On an Android phone, you can set things up similarly. Go to Settings, then Accessibility, and find the Flash Notification option. Again, you’ll want to turn off the vibration, so that you don’t hear the sound of the vibration motor.

Note that setting up the LED notification only causes the LED to flash once. Things work differently on Android phones (and you’ll need to look up for your particular phone how to do this), but for an iPhone, for each application for which you get notifications, you can indicate how many times you want the alert repeated. For example, you could go to Settings, then Notifications, then Messages, and find the Repeat Alerts option. Set that to indicate the number of times you want the phone to wait two minutes, and blink the LED (or whatever notification you have selected) again.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

1542. Uninstall Malware Installs

I was recently visiting my family, and found that my father’s computer booted extremely slowly. Upon examination of his installed programs, I found all sorts of applications that he didn’t even know he had, many of which started up as his computer booted. I laboriously uninstalled what I could figure out, but there must be a better way. How do you uninstall a bunch of programs from a Windows computer?
Ken recently had this happen, as well, on a friend’s computer. In his case, the friend’s computer took over 45 minutes to boot up! It took hours to remove all the malware (often called “crapware”) that had gotten installed on the computer. After many reboots, the computer finally worked as intended. How does all this stuff get installed? Often, people just click on anything on a Web site, and this action grants permission to install an application, even if it’s unwanted. Other Web sites exploit flaws in the operating system to simply install applications without even asking—we call these “fly-by installs”, because they happen without your knowledge.

Sometimes, it’s simply easier to reinstall Windows than to deal with the thicket of crapware, but that, too, is a big job best left to a professional. Another alternative is to make use of one of our favorite tools, CCleaner (short for “Crap Cleaner”). This free tool has a bunch of useful features, including displaying information about which applications run at startup, and the providing a means of uninstalling one or more applications relatively painlessly. And did we mention that it’s free? Check out CCleaner here: You can use the free version, and if you like the tool, you can let the vendor know by purchasing the professional version. You can download a version for Windows or Mac (the Windows version is slightly more mature than the Mac version, but they’re both helpful). CCleaner has been used by millions of Windows users for many users, and we highly recommend it!

1521. Selling an old iPhone

I’d like to get a new iPhone 6, but I can’t figure out what to do with my three-year-old iPhone 4S. I’d like to sell it and recoup a little of the cost of the new phone. I’ve had bad luck trying to sell stuff on CraigsList and eBay. Are there other options for me to sell this old phone?
We’re with you—we hate selling stuff on eBay and CraigsList. There are just too many folks out there trying to scam you from every direction, and it’s difficult to handle sales of small electronics items; you must have heard the stories about people selling things, only to have the buyers claim that they didn’t get the right item, or returning the item, replacing it with a rock or something. The only way to sell through these sorts of sites, these days, is to perform the transaction in person. And that’s just too much trouble.
Ken has had really good luck with the online sites and He’s tried each for selling used iPhones, and in each case, the transaction went smoothly, from getting a quote to receiving payment. At the time of this writing, Gazelle offers only $95 for a carrier-unlocked 64GB iPhone 4S (so you’re not going to get rich this way). Nextworth is currently offering $100 for the same phone. In both bases, you must unlock the phone, so it can be used with any carrier. Verizon phones generally come this way, T-Mobile and Sprint generally unlock phones if you ask, and AT&T requires your phone to be off-contract in order to unlock it. and offer to purchase used phones—their prices are generally less than those you’ll find at Gazelle and Nextworth. Your cellular provider may also have a “buy-back” program—Verizon was offering up to $200 for older iPhones earlier this year, for example. It’s worth doing the research!
One thing to remember: No vendor can or will accept your phone for resale unless you have turned off the “Find My iPhone” feature, so make sure you have turned this off. (You’ll generally find it easier to simply reset the phone to its factory settings, which is an option available in the phone’s settings. )

You may get more money for your phone selling it yourself on eBay or CraigsList, but it’s a lot simpler to let Gazelle, Nextworth, or Amazon do the work for you! (It’s interesting to note that Gazelle, like Amazon, recently started selling used phones at a good price. If you’re the opposite situation—you want to purchase a used smart phone—check them out!)