Monday, July 17, 2017

Google really IS listening! Here's how to control what is collected and saved.

Ok - I'm pretty tech savvy as you know.  However, I got a genuine shock today when I was looking at my privacy settings for my google account.

I stumbled upon the Google My Activity Page which conveniently listed ALL of my speech to text dictations that I had done on my phone.  Yes, that's right. Every time I tapped on that little microphone to dictate a text message, or I said OK Google, it was recorded and transcribed and conveniently listed on this page.

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!  I knew that this information was stored somewhere of course, but I didn't realize how easy it was to get to!

This also means that if anyone hacks my account, or if I give my google login information to anyone, they can easily listen to all of my voice dictation and see any of the following (unless I've deactivated these settings).
  • Web & App Activity
  • Location History
  • Device Information
  • Voice & Audio Activity
  • YouTube Search History
  • YouTube Watch History 
Luckily there is a mechanism to control what information is saved, and to delete old recordings and other collected data.  Please read the disclaimers, though, about the fact that turning off many of these options may limit the effectiveness of certain Google apps and features.  Personally I've turned them all off, and haven't noticed any adverse effects on my Google experience, but your experience may vary.

1. View the activity that's being recorded on your account by going to

2. You can control what is being collected on the Activity Controls page.

3. Here are some more helpful articles from Google on controlling your content.

Now I'm sure Google isn't trying to do anything sinister. I'm sure we all opted in to this service when we signed up, and they consider it a benefit. However, it's important to make sure we all take control of our information in the cloud.

Google safely my friends!

Here's a link to a ZD Net article that explains more:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Task Management in Gmail...

Did I mention I am a website designer?  I have a small business serving other small businesses and non-profits across the country.  I'm a one-woman "shop" which means I need to keep hyper organized.

One of the most important ways I keep organized is by using the Task List that's available in Gmail.  When I'm reading through my emails, I can easily add any of them to my task list through the More menu.

Just click on the email, then choose More, Add To Tasks...

 A small window will open in the lower right hand corner of your Gmail program to display your list of tasks.  

You can check off completed tasks, and you can also add customized lists. Whenever you want to go back to the email, simply click on the Related Email link under the task.  You can drag to rearrange the tasks and you can create embedded lists simply by clicking on the sub task and hitting the tab key.

You can also view completed tasks through the action menu.  This is very cathartic to see all that you've accomplished!

 Hope I've helped make you more productive too!  Have a great day!

Friday, December 2, 2016

A great gift for book lovers...

I'm not only a computer geek...  I'm completely geeky about books too!  I used to work in bookstores and I just love a good read.  I found this fun online store last year when I was looking for unique Christmas gifts.  Litographs are designs made from words from a book.

For instance, this poster is made from the words of Moby Dick: 

They have not only posters but clothing and bags and even tattoos.  It's a great gift idea for a book lover.  I got my daughter a poster of Pride and Prejudice last year.  

Just thought I'd pass it along.  Check it out at

Here's a cool video about how they make their art.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cool Gift for the Cotton- headed ninny muggins in your life!

Ok - so I hope you are a fan of ELF and get the reference to the Cotton- headed ninny muggins!  Basically these sorts of folks (like me) tend to lose stuff easily (among other things)!

I think I've the perfect solution for my dilemma and I really hope someone buys me one this year for Christmas!

Find Your Keys, Wallet and Phone with Tile's Bluetooth Tracker.

The Tile app works with Android and iPhone devices. ... Tile is a tiny Bluetooth tracker and easy-to-use app that helps you find everyday items in seconds.

Looks like they're having a 40% off sale today, so check it out at  Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday package snatching... Beat the criminals at their own game!

I just got an email from our neighborhood email list warning us that packages are being stolen off doorsteps.  This seems to happen every year during the holidays.

One great way to beat these criminals is by installing a wireless security camera at your front door.

Costco sells reasonably priced individual Samsung cameras for around $120.  We bought one a few years back and it works great - even at night. We simply plugged it in and have it positioned inside one of the windows next to our door.  We can monitor the activity over our computer, tablet or smartphone.  It will even send text alerts when it senses motion, if you so desire.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 25, 2016

College Parent's Pages on Facebook

Our daughter is currently attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. When we sent her off to school I was a nervous wreck.  My husband and I found comfort (and lots of helpful information) in an unlikely place - facebook!

Some kind, veteran Cal Poly parents had put together an amazing community on their Cal Poly SLO Mustang Parents page.  They use this group to share advice on everything from what to pack for their incoming freshman, to requests for favorite restaurants to visit while up in San Luis Obispo.  There are also some parents who tearfully share their feelings about being empty nesters and other kind veterans who offer encouragement.

So, if you have a college age kid, you might want to look to see if your school has a parents page.   If they don't have one, you might consider starting one up!  

Have a great day :)

Monday, November 21, 2016

A must have app! Make sure to download to your phone before visiting family this Thanksgiving!

My wonderful husband shared this cool app with me.  The Google PhotoScan App allows you to easily scan old photos without having to take them out of the frame or album.  It's a great way to capture all of those old pictures hanging on Aunt Sally's wall! 

It has a terrific way of making sure you don't get the glare you would normally get taking a picture over class. After you snap the first picture it will guide you to move the phone over a series of dots.  This is essentially allowing the app to take 4 different photos and stitch them together without the glare.

It's really cool - you can download it for either android or iphone.


Here's how one of my own family pictures turned out. This picture is actually so old it's sticking to the glass of the frame.  It would have ruined it to take it out. 

Financial Peace in the New Year

If you are thinking of making a New Year's resolution to get control of your money, I know of a great program that can help.  I really recommend Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University Online program.  My husband and I went through this online course a few years ago and it was wonderful.  We dedicated one evening a week to watch the videos and go through the exercises together.  Online learning is a terrific way to go.  Just thought I'd share :)
Click here to go to Financial Peace website.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Selecting Ranges of "things" in most software applications.

This is my first in a series of Universal Computer Commands that I'll be posting about.  This is something that came up quite often when I was teaching computer software applications.

The question is this... How can I select a range of "things" (cells in excel, items in a list in Evernote, etc.) quickly and easily.

There are two ways to select lists, and these commands work in most software applications on both pc's and macs:

Non-Consecutive Ranges: Generally speaking, to select things that are not next to each other, simply click on the first item in the range, then hold down the Ctrl (Mac:Command) key and click to select the other items in the range.

Consecutive Ranges: Generally speaking, to select things that are next to each other, simply click on the first item in the range, then hold down the Shift key and select the last item in the range.

This ability comes in VERY handy when dealing with multiple page documents in Word or huge ranges in Excel.  Many times when you are trying to select a lot of text or cells your mouse will scroll away from you!  To avoid this runaway mouse, simply click once at the beginning of the range, scroll to the last part of the range, and Shift click at the end.  Yay!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Oops - how to restore your last browser window...

You know how it is.  You're running late, and you've finally found the perfect gift online after hours of searching.  You are desperate to jump in and buy the darn gift, when all of a sudden your coffee cup falls over.  In your frantic reach to grab the mug and prevent imminent disaster, you somehow hit the perfect configuration of keys with your elbow to close out the exact browser window you need.

Never fear!  The Geeky Mom is here!

In order to re-open the last closed window in most browsers (I know for sure this works on Firefox and Chrome) simply type Control + Shift + T (like in Tab) and voila!  Your page is back.  (Mac:  Command + Shift + T).