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Nifty Gadget of the Month

Amazon Echo Alexa vs Google Home Assistant vs Apple HomePod Siri

Google and Amazon use cloud data collection to learn about the user. Apple’s HomePod Siri is more private thus not as functioning as the others in some services.
Only Google Home and Amazon Echo support multiple users. With Amazon you need to switch accounts with a voice command. Google Home actually recognizes the different user’s voice. HomePod is restrictive to one smartphone and a few Setting changes for different users.
Echo and Google Home can be used with any smartphone, but HomePod is restricted to Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPad, iPod with iOS 11.2.5 or later.
Google Home wins for best sound over the other small “pods”. Google Home and Apple HomePod have slightly better sound quality then Amazon Echo. Google Home Max also has the loudest speaker than the HomePod. Apple HomePod has a 360 degree sound, but Google Home Max has front-loaded drivers so sound is carried different than the Home Mini. All have great clarity, with Home Max having better bass depth.
HomePod Siri is the least capable of the three with commands being limited. Google Home Assistant understands your commands better than Alexa and has impressive search abilities, like correctly guessing a song that’s described in the vaguest of terms. For music, Echo has Amazon Music and Google Home has Google Play Music. Echo and Home will connect to Spotify; HomePod is restrictive to requests from Apple Music.
Google Home integrates with a number of Google’s other services. Amazon has an ever growing list of compatible “skills” apps. HomePod doesn’t have any third-party skills, so it is limited to interactions based on your Apple calendar, other iOS requests.
For shopping Amazon Echo can offer daily and weekly specials to order via Alexa. Google Home offers a voice shopping catalog with products from Walmart, Kohl’s, Target, Costco, Whole Foods, and Ulta.
For a Smart Home all three “pods” can use thousands of third-party devices. The best idea is to check whether the smart home gear you own, or plan to buy, supports these systems.

Email Tips

Before opening email that you were not expecting, you can hover your cursor over any email address to check to see if you know the sender. Especially before opening any with attachments (any email with a paperclip at the end of the subject line).
The Spam Folder should be relatively empty unless your email was given out or sold. Check the email in the Spam Folder if you didn’t receive something in your InBox you were expecting, but be sure not to open the spam and then delete all Spam email routinely.
Creating folders (Gmail = Labels) to organize your emails you want to keep: Gmail-select an email, then click/tap on the file folder at the top, hover over states “Move to”, open the dropdown and near the bottom is
“Create new” label;
Google Lablel Create Yahoo-will have “Folder” in the left margin, hover over and click/tap the folder with a plus sign on it
“Create a new folder”;
Yahoo Folder Create Outlook-click/tap on “Folder” top menu tab, click/tap “New Folder”, Create New Folder enter “Name:” and click/tap “OK”.

Outlook Lablel Create

click/tap above to enlarge

Spell in the blue box below a U.S. State.



Security Tip of the Month

There is no simple solution to protecting and securing personal data.
I recently read that Touch ID and Face ID are more for convenience than security.
You probably are better off using a PIN, passcode, or password.
The US courts have said the Fifth Amendment protects you from being forced to unlock your phone when you use a PIN, passcode, or password, but not when you use a fingerprint, your face, or other biometric data.

Security Forever

I can not stress enough how important it is to protect your personal data on the internet and with the rise in phishing, scams and identity theft. Here are some tips:

- lock your mobile device with a password and or your fingerprint.
- be careful what you click on, such as email attachments and website links to other sites. - use strong passwords over twelve characters with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Do not use words that are listed in a dictionary for passwords. Change your passwords every 3 to 6 months.
- make sure your operating system, antivirus and anti-malware software is up to date.
- be careful what personal information you volunteer to sign up for a social media account.
- don’t post personal data through public Wi-Fi routers.
- don’t post or give out personal information over the internet (email or websites) or phone unless you contacted them for business first.

On-line? Use a good AntiVirus. All listed below can also be used on mobile devices.


Please consider using anti-malware software in addition to antivirus. I myself have Malwarebytes and used it for adware removal.

Hitman Pro - has a free trial, then monthly fees
Malwarebytes - free trial
fee for realtime Premium protection
Zemana - has a free trial, then fees
Emsisoft - has a free trial, then monthly fees
MSRT - Microsoft removal tool is free
NPE - Norton removal tool is free

Cloud Storage Comparison

I personally use Google Drive for its ease of use and portability across multiple operating systems: Windows, Apple and Android.

Cloud Storage Comparison click/tap above to enlarge

Here is a little chart to help with
per GB (GigaByte) of storage

MUSIC mp3 player in rate of 128 Kbps
you have 17 hours of audio per GB

PHOTOS Lake Erie in rate of 10 Mgpx you have 385 photos per GB

VIDEO video recorder in rate of 9 Mbps
you have 15 minutes of video per GB

Here is a little chart to help understand Mb (Megabit) download for Internet Service at
                                 32, or 50 or 100 Mbps

YouTube Clip 50 MB: 12.5s, 8s,    4s

TV Show 450 MB: 1m52s, 1m12s, 26s

Film HD 1500 MB:       6m15s, 4m, 2m

m = minute and s = seconds for the download of the three data types listed above left

Windows 7 End-of-Life

Now What?

Windows 7 end-of-life January 15, 2020: Security Patches end so it will no longer be safe to use the Internet with a device running Windows 7 operating system. What are our options?
For Enterprise and Professional devices, security updates can be purchased at $25 or $50 per device the first year and then $100 or $200 per device in the third year. Not an option for home or most small businesses.
For some keeping Windows 7 and not upgrading was a decision due to several reasons: running legacy systems or software that relied on older operating systems, older hardware and equipment that can not handle the system requirements needed for an upgrade; expense and time consuming to replace software and or hardware; and train employees to use the new system.
Whether a home or business office we need to prepare for any Windows 7 operating system still being used, which is currently around 36.9% of the operating systems as of December 2018.
- Separate devices that need upgraded or replaced
- Separate and plan on replacing legacy systems and/or software with updated technology
- Develop a timeline and budget for upgrades and replacements
- Apply security controls to separate devices that can not be upgraded or removed
- Plan for new system training for anyone not familiar with the upgrades
Microsoft promises Windows 10 is it and will remain up-to-date with all the latest fixes and updates. So I will be upgrading several of my Windows 7 operating systems to Windows 10. Before proceeding with an upgrade be sure you have backups of your important files before continuing. Even if you plan on performing an upgrade install, something could go wrong. It’s always a good idea to have backups, especially when installing a new operating system. I’m thinking of making a video of my process so I’ll be back with my different options I will be using.

Tech Tip of the Month #1

Sharing Files Between Devices

I have experiencing with sharing files between devices. On the home PCs I tried HomeGroup, which worked fine until Microsoft axed it with the Spring 2018 update. But I also wanted and needed to share files with Android phone and my Apple iPad (or anything else using a browser). So I tried Google Drive without any problems, linking to an active Gmail account for access. The free storage limit is currently 15GB for Google Drive, $1.99/month for 100 GB, $9.99/month for 1TB, $99.99/month for 10TB. To further my study I’m also trying Microsoft’s OneDrive. The free storage is only for 5GB for OneDrive, $1.99/month for 50GB, and anything over you have to buy Office 365.


Apple I Series First Released July 1976
Apple Current iOS 12 Release Date:
September 17, 2018

Macintosh 128K Release Date January 1984
Current Model: MacPro (4th generation)& MacBook Air

iPhone OS 1 Released June 2007
Current Model: iPhone XS

Apple TV (1st generation) March 2010
Current Model: TV 4K (5th generation)

iPad (1st generation) April 2010
Current Model: iPad (4th generation)

iPod (1st generation) October 2001
Current Model: iPod Touch (6th generation)

Apple Watch April 2015
Current Model: Apple Watch Series 4

Microsoft Windows

Windows Microsoft with MS-DOS
Introduced: November 1983

Windows Vista
Service Pack 2
Release Date January 30, 2007
End of Extended Support
April 11, 2017

Windows 7
Service Pack 1
Release Date October 22, 2009
End of Extended Support
January 14, 2020

Windows 8
Windows 8.1
Release Date October 18, 2013
End of Extended Support
January 10, 2023

Windows 10
Version 1703
Release Date July 29, 2015
Current Version 1803 Released April 2018
End of Extended Support
October 14, 2025

1. When was Apple Inc. founded?: _____ 1, 1976?:

2. Who built the first Apple Computer, Apple 1?:

3. How many RAM was installed in the Apple 1?:

4. What was Gates and Allen's first company called?:

5. When was Microsoft founded?: April 4, ____

6. Which Microsoft’s acquisition was from 2016: Yammer, GitHub, LinkedIn or Nokia?