Chrome Removes OK Google

I wasted a couple of hours this morning trying to figure out why the OK Google feature disappeared from Google Chrome for Windows/Mac/Linux. Turns out that Google removed the feature with the latest Chrome update (Version 46.0.2490.71 m).

Why? Apparently, I was the only person who used the feature. Also gone is the Notification Center. Never heard of it? Me neither. So, I guess I won’t be missing that feature. But, I will miss being able to wake Chrome up by saying “OK Google.”. The feature still exists, however, on the Android platform for phones and tablets.

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Setting up voicemail in Skype

When my Verizon FiOS phone went out for the third time in less than two months, I decided to give Skype a try to see if it could work as a replacement. The quality of the calls is much better than FiOS phone, but the jury is out, otherwise.

My first challenge was to learn how to get Skype to send calls to voicemail if I can’t answer. Apparently, you can do this only from the desktop Skype app. But, it’s pretty easy. In the app, choose Tools – Options – Calls – Voice Messages. Tick the Received unanswered… checkbox. You can also record your own greeting by clicking the red donut icon. Additional options include setting how long to wait before sending a call to voicemail, as well as to send calls to voice mail if you’re already in a call, or if you click the Reject button on an incoming call. Click Save when you’re done. (If you use call forwarding, read the Note).

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Don’t spam me, bro!

Google Mail is rolling out a new feature. I feel about most new features the way Lou Grant felt about spunk. The new feature lets you email anyone on Google+ even if you don’t know their email address. Isn’t that wonderful? A whole new world of spam is opening up.

The feature defaults to being turned on. If you’re like me, you’ll want to turn it off, and nip it in the bud. Here’s how. Go to your Gmail window, and click the gear button, and choose Settings.

In the settings window, scroll down until you see Who can email you via your Gmail+ profile option. Click the dropdown arrow and make your choice. You can see which choice I made, since I don’t want the hundreds of Spam emails I get to become thousands.

While you’re here, stroll around the grounds and see if there are any other Gmail annoyances you can tame. Once done, scroll to the bottom and choose Save Changes.

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Syncing Your Google and Outlook Calendars: Beware of GASMO!

I have dabbled with Windows 8 and Office 2013, but delayed actually paying either serious attention until now. I have a Microsoft Surface Pro, outfitted with Windows 8.1 and Office 13, but the screen is so small that trying to use it as anything other than a toy has proven frustrating. Yesterday, I acquired a new 15″ Dell laptop with a touch screen and Windows 8.1, prompting me to go beyond dabbling, since this Dell will be my main machine when traveling, so it behooves me to find out how to make it useful.

Using an add-on called Google Calendar Sync, I’ve been able to keep Outlook 2010 (running on my Windows 7 desktop and three Windows 7 laptops), my Android phone, and my Android tablet all in sync, calendar-wise. The question was: will Google Calendar Sync work with Outlook 2013. And, the answer is: Yes!

First—don’t do what I did. Do not confuse Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook (GASMO) with Google Calendar Sync. They are not the same thing. The former requires that you be a Google Apps for Business or Education user. I am not one. I mistakenly thought that Google Apps Sync was a new version of Google Calendar Sync. It is not. And, because I’m not a Google Apps user, after installing GASMO, I ended up in a confusing cycle of being prompted to create a profile each time I flipped over to Outlook after setting up a profile. See: loop, endless. Repeat.

Unless you’re a GASMO user, you want Google Calendar Sync, instead, which I downloaded from here: Once installed on Windows computers on which you have Outlook, your calendar items will automatically (at intervals you can choose) be sync’d between Outlook and your Google calendar. If you have an Android phone or tablet, this then means you can create calendar items in Outlook, and they will automatically show up on your phone or tablet… and vice versa.

If you have a Mac that runs Outlook for Mac, and an iPhone and/or iPad… you’ll need to look elsewhere for a solution. This article purports to show how to do it using iCal as an intermediary. But, I haven’t tried it.

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Open Office Takes Control of OverDrive Files! Here’s the fix!

Do you use OverDrive Media Console to download and manage audiobooks, music, and video in Microsoft Windows? If you do, and you download and install Open Office, you might suddenly find that OverDrive no longer works with the .odm stubs used to initiate content downloads. That’s because OpenOffice takes over ownership of .odm files when you install it.

There is an easy solution. Display the .odm download in a folder. Right-click it, and choose Choose default program.

In the Open With dialog, click on OverDrive Media Console, and then click OK.

Once again, OverDrive will now open .odm files to initiate the media download. If you use Open Office more than you used OverDrive, however, you might prefer to leave the Open Office association, but use the right-click method each time to open .odm files, and choose OverDrive when that application is what you want.

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Caveat Misleading Lying Links

Notice that this email claims that the displayed link goes to If you hover over the claimed link, however, the actual URL displays at the bottom of most browser windows (Chrome, in this case). This is how spammers entice unsuspecting users to click on potentially dangerous links—displaying a familiar link while leading you elsewhere. Bait and switch.

In this instance, the email correctly ended up in my spam folder. But, this doesn’t always happen. Before clicking on a link—even if it’s one that looks okay—hover over it to verify that it leads to where you think it does.

I don’t know whether is a malicious site. However, because the spammer is trying to trick me into going to it, I’m not about to oblige. You shouldn’t either.

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TiVo not transferring recordings—problem solved (sort of)

I spent a couple of hours wrestling with TiVo, because programs had stopped automatically transferring to my computer sometime last week. Long story short, I’m not the only one—it’s affecting everyone. Some kind of time bomb in one of the Tivo desktop programs (curl.exe) caused permission for transfers to expire on February 16th. Tivo is working on the problem. A work-around is to set the computer system date to before February 16th… then set it back to current once the transfers are complete. With some luck, Tivo will solve the problem with an update of the Tivo desktop program soon.

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Brute Force fix for “Chrome Error: Failure Accessing Database” error message

I was getting this error in Facebook when using the Social Fixer add-on. I searched online and found claims that by removing Social Fixer, clearing the cache, and then reinstalling Social Fixer, the problem would go away. I did. It didn’t. Ultimately, I tired of flailing and decided to use brute force.

So, what exactly is this database they’re talking about? I don’t know exactly. But, I figured it was probably located in Chrome’s AppData setting, which are shown below (unless your user name is Herb, the location on your computer will be different):

I said “brute force,” didn’t I? I simply renamed User Data to User Data.old. The next time I started Chrome, it created a new one User Data folder. This meant that Chrome had amnesia at some sites, but refreshing its memory took very little time, and the Failure Accessing Database error has not recurred.

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Google Nexus 7 Mini-Review

Okay. I’m a nerd, and a fickle one, at that. I succumbed to the Google Nexus 7, and I succumbed basically for one reason: input. I have a regular Kindle, and it’s great for reading outdoors in bright sunlight… which I almost never do. I have a Kindle Fire, which was supposed to be good for general surfing. And, yes, it is good for that… also great for watching Netflix, Amazon videos, and so forth. But, I’m a writer. I’m an exhibitionist. I need to be able to say what I’m thinking, or—more likely—to demonstrate that I’m NOT thinking. In any case, input is the Kindle Fire’s weak link.

A couple days ago, a financial site I use refused to work correctly with Chrome or Firefox, forcing me into Internet Explorer for a short excursion. But, that’s all it took. There on the screen was an ad for something I’d not yet heard of… Google Nexus 7. And, I was hooked.

The Nexus 7 has a camera and a microphone (Skype, anyone?)–both of which the Kindle Fire lacks. And, while it does not come with Swype built in, the beta version of Swype for Android works! This now gives me two fast and reliable methods for text entry–Swype and voice. And the voice recognition is the same as the excellent, if sometimes amusing, voice recognition I have on my Droid 4 phone.

In any case… I’ve now had an hour or two to play with the Nexus 7, and I’m liking it. Mind you, I did have to install Swype Beta (free), and I also had to find and install a rotation app (free). Plus, a lot of apps that came build-into my Droid 4 are things I have to install. On the other hand, a lot of crap that came on my Droid 4 cannot be removed, so, maybe not having an NFL app I’ll never use and can’t get rid of isn’t a bad thing.

The Nexus 7 is fast. I opted for the 16 GB version because, well… bigger is better when it comes to RAM. It’s not as fast as my screaming DELL XPS desktop or laptop. But, it wouldn’t be, would it? But, it’s a lot faster than my Kindles, and even faster than my Droid 4.

Of course, when/if there’s a plausible Windows 8 tablet, my love affair with the Nexus 7 will probably be over. For now, however, I’m at least a little giddy.

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VZ Bonus Scam! Beware!!!

I just got a call on my cell phone (I almost NEVER get calls on my cell phone) from “8000004533” claiming I’d been selected or had won (forget the exact wording) $100 off my next phone bill. Just log onto to claim my $100 discount. looks exactly like Verizon’s website… inviting me to enter my user ID and password to get my discount. Yeah, right.’s IP address is, and when I look up that IP address, I don’t get ANY flavor of Verizon. Instead, I get:… which is NOT Verizon–wireless or otherwise.

For giggles, I logged in using “Harry Truman”, giving my password as “password” and my PIN as “s**t”. It then says:


You have successfully applied for your discount

If you get one of these calls, do NOT log on and provide your Verizon user ID and password. It is a phishing scam!

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