Tag Archives: computer

#Vivaldi Browser Review (#2018)

10 Aug

Hey guys!

How are y’all doing today? Been a while since we really caught up, seriously.  

With all the chaos surrounding security with Google, Edge, and Firefox (also some problems I’ve been having with their formatting systems), I’ve been on the look out for a new go-to browser on my laptop. 

Oh, that’s right! I haven’t introduced you all to  *Lassy the Laptop* ~ a new, super-awesome Samsung 9! She turns into a tablet AND is only about 2lbs to carry around (great for traveling). Lawrence the Laptop needed a new girlfriend (he’s a little old in the tooth and needed a young, hot babe to keep him active).  She cost me a fortune (gold digger!) ~ but was a much needed update. 

See the source image

Anyway, now that I have her up and running, I decided to try out a new browser I’ve been hearing about. Edge is driving me crazy (often crashes when I try closing a download pop-up and refuses to load address searches the first 2-3 times I input it) and I know Google is super un-secure. Then there’s Firefox — I was one of the early people on Firefox because it was fast. But over time it slowed down. I’ve heard they revamped it this year, so I’ll probably check it out later this week. 

The one I tried out today is called Vivaldi and is kind of cool. 

*Disclaimer ~ I am not a computer guru. So I can’t speak to anything like security, ISPs, etc – I can fix almost all of my computer’s hardware, but I’m not a great software person. This is the initial perspective of an average person 😀  

According to my research, Vivaldi is known for giving the user complete control over the browser itself.  That’s impressively true!  Continue reading

#Facepalm #Ditz #Dingbats!

5 Mar

I am so Happy 😂 ‘Dingbats’ is an official ‘symbol’ category on #Kingsoft #WPS . . . . So from now on, Whenever I think someone’s being an idiot, I could stick random secret ‘dingbat’ symbols in my messages. 😂😄😆

Life Abroad ~ #VPN Apk

13 Jun

I’ve found in my experience that most VPNs are a pain in the neck to download in certain places.  If the websites are blocked, down, not responding (ehhm Astrill ehhm not naming names), it’s frustrating trying to figure out how to download it. Or WORSE! The new updated version crashes and you need to go backwards to an old edition but the website dropped it.  

ANNOYING!

So I’m providing links to the APKs here for the three I am familiar with Astrill, Ivacy, and Vypr.  Please note that I am NOT a computer wizard — I just let you know what worked for me.  So I cannot vouch for the security of any of these websites. I used them all on my phone to download the APKs and nothing died or crashed. That’s the best I can give you for advice on how secure these links are. 🙂   All of these websites are accessible in most locations where the VPN sites are blocked – for now

  • Astrill 1 | Astrill 2

  • Vypr 1 | Vypr 2

    • Still has that issue where you need access to the website to install the file.  For example, in China you need a vpn on in order to install Vypr. You can borrow a friends VPN wifi, but just know this is a problem. 
  • Ivacy 1 | Ivacy

    • Very nice in that I have NEVER had problems with their website, VPN on or not. 🙂  So you could try going to their website
    • Minor problem for phone downloads – If you choose “download for android” it sends you to Google Play (which may or may not be available in your region).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with APKs, here is a short explanation 🙂 

Normally when you start using a software program (like Microsoft Office, VPNs, Facebook apps), you follow a process. 

  1. You go to the APP store or the Staples store and buy the software.
  2. You click the file and say “download.” That puts the file (software) on your device (computer, phone, etc). 
  3. Once you have the file on your device, you “install it” (make it run).  You click yes to a lot of buttons, agree to follow terms and conditions, and watch it load.
  4. After installing, it asks “do you want to open this software” and off you go using your new tool. 

But what happens when the app isn’t on the app store. Or it isn’t available in Staples. Or the website is broken?  How do you get that file downloaded to your device? 

This is where APKs come in — APK are just the download “file” you need for step 2.  Only instead of getting it from an APP store or the website, you went to a 3rd party online and downloaded it.  

So here’s the new process. . . 

  1. Go to the APK website above or your own link
  2. Download the file they offer.
  3. Do steps 3 and 4 as usual!

Life in #China – #WeChat 

28 May

The #Tech Life ~ #VPN Pros and Cons

26 Apr

As always, I’m actually a supporter of people using VPNs to protect themselves when on the internet.  Although a VPN is never completely anonymous, it does go a long way towards protecting your identity and computer from people who want to hack and steal your data.  For those of you interested in how a VPN can help you or hurt you, I thought I’d compile a list of benefits and problems I’ve run into with my 3 years of VPN experience 🙂

Continue reading

Vypr VPN Sale!

6 Dec

Hey darlings!

Just letting you know that VyprVPN is starting their end of the year sale if you’re interested!

As some of you know, I’m a big supporter of using VPNs to protect your computers from viruses, trojans, and other attacks. Plus, living abroad has taught me the importance of “location” for computers.  By leaving the States, I immediately lost access to a lot of “location-centered” computer websites.  As most of you know, China blocks a large number of websites (Youtube, Google, Facebook), but it’s more than that.  Hulu is location based – outside the US it isn’t offered. Youku (a Chinese hulu) is location based – outside China it isn’t offered.  My Chinese universities online system is location based – outside China, I can’t access their version of Blackboard to grade my students’ work.  Kindle is also  somewhat “location-centered.”  Many of my friends in China and Korea have complained that they cannot download their Kindle books without a VPN.  

Then there’s the fact that everything wants to automatically revert to the language of your “location.”  So when I’m in Korea, everything on google, facebook, twitter, amazon, and my email turned Korean. When I’m in China, it all goes Chinese. For Amazon, it even sends me to the “Chinese Amazon” website instead of the “US Amazon.” Sure, not everything does that, but many sites that are “location-centered” will automatically change to the language or website of that country.  

To be honest, I’m also not a fan of governments who want to snoop around and steal information from perfectly innocent, non-crime committing individuals around the world (aka UK and USA).  And then you have companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google tracking your every move in an effort to “better market to you” (and other dubious matters such as tracking your political or religious beliefs).  

One of my concerns as a teacher abroad has been the issue that immediately upon leaving the States, most teachers complained that their computers slowed down substantially.  Several professors have been warned upon hiring computer fix-it companies to clean trojan or other problems that they have as many as 200-300 different tracking programs embedded in their computers at the end of one year. McAfee and other security programs were running and still missed these issues. Their computers turn on and off at night for no reason. Programs suddenly start crashing.  Emails magically don’t show up when you send them.  One of the US universities I traveled here with warned that it is entirely likely that we will have state, national, provincial and foreign governments all putting tracking info on our computers. I didn’t realize until I came how risky it was being a foreign teacher – I’ve known many teachers who were either teaching the children of important people or who were asked by different government / business institutions to translate or train their people for different projects. Or were wives of military personnel.  One of my friends taught the daughter of a family who met with one of the royal families every week for tea.

Result? – 1) I’m not exactly confident in my computer’s security with just the usual virus-removal programs.  2) I am from the tecno-age. I have NO patience for slow computers or programs bringing my system down. 3) I have a moral / ethical belief that governments should not be invading innocent civilians computers without a legal warrant, and a strong desire to limit it as much as possible. 4) I don’t really want Facebook, Twitter, etc. following my every move, tracking me, my family, my friends, and my students just by watching what I email, my travel plans, etc.  Think of it this way, what if you were an abuse victim and all your abusive husband/wife had to do was look on your Facebook/Google page to see “Abuse Shelters” and “Divorce Lawyers” show up on the ad side because that’s what you’ve been researching recently. It’s dangerous! 5) I want my websites in English! And usually I want the USA version of the site, not whatever foreign version they’ve come up with for other countries!  

Image result for vypr

So far, my experience with VyprVpn has been really good.  It works consistently, was easy to install, and simple to use.  It often works when Astrill doesn’t, and I’ve rarely had problems with it.  They have options available for Windows, Apple, Android, TVs, and Routers so almost everything is covered. I’ve never had problems with the Windows, Apple, or Android versions.  The most basic version is either $80.04/year or $9.99/month.  Their sale right now is on the best or “Premier” Vypr.  Usually if you pay monthly, it’s $10/month ($239.88/year if paid monthly).  But if you upgrade to Premier today, it’ll only be  $120 if you pay for the whole year!  That service gets you several of their “extra security” offerings like Chameleon and the Firewall, as well as access to Vypr on 5 devices simultaneously.  It’s what I’ve been using for two years now, and I really like it! You can find out more information on http://www.goldenfrog.com.

 

 

*Disclaimer – I am a Vypr Affiliate. Every time someone buys Vypr by going through my website, I get an Affiliate fee from Vypr at no extra cost to you.  However, please note that I am devoted to honesty and transparency (thus this disclaimer). I would never recommend a product I was not happy with myself.  Note that I am also an affiliate of Astrill, but I’m not recommending them to you right now. That’s because I’ve had several problems with them recently (i.e. my location doesn’t change when I turn it on), and I cannot confidently recommend them to you as a working / safe system.  Vypr, on the other hand, I’ve really liked!

How to Install Line Step-By-Step (Updated 2016)

9 Oct

Line is a kind of messenger system, like Skype only it’s based out of South Korea.  It’s kind of a weird cross between Twitter, Tumblr, and Skype really, you’ll find pictures, chat message, phone services, and you can join in on live chats as well. Anyway, a bunch of people have been looking for directions on installation, so here you go!

GETTING “LINE” DOWNLOADED INITIALLY

You can try just searching for “Line” in your smartphone app store or by visiting their website (https://line.me/en/download). On your smartphone, it’s usually the first or second result and is a green button that says “Line.”  You can now set Line up on just a computer. You do NOT need to have a smartphone account to set it up. 

*Note that the website link has changed from my old posting. Their new address is https://line.me/en/download.

PLEASE NOTE! IF YOU DOWNLOAD LINE ON YOUR COMPUTER, THEN PUTTING IT ON YOUR PHONE WILL DELETE YOUR COMPUTER ACCOUNT AND ALL ITS MESSAGES. THIS IS NOT TRUE THE OTHER WAY. HOWEVER, TO LOG INTO YOUR COMPUTER AFTER YOU PUT IT ON YOUR PHONE, YOU MUST ENTER A VERIFICATION # ON YOUR PHONE. SO BEST TO PICK ONE MACHINE FOR LINE AND THEN STICK WITH IT. DON’T GO BACK AND FORTH!

To Download It on Your Computer:

  1. Visit the website: https://line.me/en/download

line-1

2. Choose your PC system – MAC OS, Windows or Windows 8/10. I don’t use Apple, so I tried it with both the Windows and Windows 8/10 systems.  

Windows opens up a download file. Download it, open it when it’s finished and follow the instructions for installing it. 

line-2

Windows 8/10 opens up the Windows store. You install it through there, and it’ll open up to the “Sign-In” or “Sign-Up” page.

Both systems then go through the same Sign-Up Process:

line-5

3. Add your Phone Number. Hit “Next.” They will call you or text you quickly with a  a four number confirmation code. Put it in the new box and hit “Next.”

4. Now they will ask you to add a Password. Hit “Next.”

5. Give them your email address.  Go on. They will email you with another confirmation code to that email. Go to your email and get the code. Put it in the box on the “Sign-Up” Page.

6. Voila! You should have your Line account started on your computer 🙂 It looks like this now:

line-6

To Download It on Your Phone:

  1. Visit the website: https://line.me/en/download. Or go to your phone’s store and search for “Line.” It should be a green box with a speech bubble and line inside:

This is what the app looks like

line-1

2. Download the app and install it on your phone. 

3. The “Sign-Up” system will be the same as it was with your computer.  

4. Put in your Phone Number. They’ll call you with a confirmation code.

5. Put in a password. 

6. Put in your Email Address. They’ll email you with another confirmation code.

7.  It’s ready to go!!

 

 

Life in China: Apple I-Pad

12 Jun

Apple I-Pad

The Queen is NOT amused.  In fact, I’m pretty down-right Pi**ed (pardon the language).  After all the trouble I’ve had, I thought it pretty necessary to update all future China-Travelers to the dangers of buying/using Apple products here.

I don’t remember if I told you all this, but Lawrence the Laptop has had another revolt. He attempted going on strike via a broken LCD screen; I cut him off at the start via a nice HDMI connection to my television.  Unfortunately, he laughed in my face and promptly refused to work without the HDMI connection. No need to get into it, it was a whole thing.  

So last November, I bought an Ipad 2 during China’s version of Black Friday. I’ve had an I-Pod for several years, which lasted pretty well and I figured I’d give their tablet a try.  YES, I checked and it is a legit Apple I-Pad; had it tested by the real Apple Company in Zhengzhou (it’s on the apple website as a legit seller).

WRONG!  BAD! Stupid Olivia!  

Here’s Why. .

Price: 1800 RMB (approx. $300)

Review: The price was a little expensive for my tastes (almost all of Apple is), but I figured it was worth the bargain.  Apple products in China tend to run a bit pricier than products in America. Go figure given that they are literally produced about 10 miles away in the city I live in.  They have their own personal runway at the international airport they ship so many Apple products out of here. Yet we still get charge at least 50% again as much as American buyers.  So, I had to wait until 11/11, China’s Black Friday shopping day to pick one up from Hong Kong.  

Initial Purchase: Semi-Good; Semi-Problematic

Review: The first shipment I got was not too terrible.   It came with the charger, a cover, a screen protector, and ear plugs, pretty sweet all together.  The I-Pad itself was unmarked and undamaged, it seemed like everything would be okay.

It worked for about 2 hours, and then problems started.  The swiping part of the screen wasn’t working. It would stall up, like the screen was locked. You could go up about half an inch and down about half an inch, but otherwise nothing was happening. Buttons wouldn’t click, etc.  So we tried turning it on and off again (the answer to most issues), which revealed that the lock screen was not working either. Once again, I couldn’t swipe from the screen saver to the unlock screen. When I did finally get to the lock buttons, it froze and wouldn’t click them.  Tried a hard reset and several other options, nothing worked.  

So we called the seller and sent it back.  They kept it for about two weeks and finally sent me a new version.  This one seemed fine, so life moved on.

Use: Final Product

The final I-Pad I got worked fine soft-ware wise.  Sometimes it would randomly shut down songs or the internet would stop working, and none of the VPNs like it at all.  Otherwise, it was great and I was happy.

Hard-ware wise, the screen cracks like crazy. Literally, press to hard on the screen when punching a button and the whole screen cracked.  I put on a super duper safety case on it intended for toddlers, took it off and the whole edges were broken.  I asked the computer fix-it people and they said it sounds like I was sent a re-furbished model that had a cheap screen put on it.  The screen supposedly should not have cracked like that, but they verified the computer was really apple so they think the screen was just replaced with a cheapo version.  

I was not happy, especially knowing it takes 300 RMB to fix the screen. Furthermore, they admitted that if the top screen breaks the second lower screen there may be no fixing it at all?!?  0_0 Don’t you think that’s something they should have told me about before I bought the I-Pad?  I did a ton of research into I-Pads, I asked questions, and this never came up.  

ERROR: Blue Screen of Death

Anyways, along I go using  my ipad for about 5 months, when suddenly the screen goes blue and the whole thing just shuts off.  Black. Off, no charging, no connecting to the computer, no nothing.  Reset doesn’t work. Plugging it in to the computer doesn’t work. It is dead as a doornail for no apparent good reason.  No warning, that would be too nice. Just stops in the middle of a show.  Takes with it my calendar, contacts, messages, photos, videos, notes, everything. So off I go to the computer store to have it fixed.
Continue reading

Life abroad: Vypr VPN

21 May

**I fixed the prices – I was doing it monthly, but I went back and re-calculated the price based on an annual purchase 🙂 Much cheaper that way!

Vypr VPN

A while back, I did a review of Astrill’s VPN service and quite a few of you were interested in learning more about other VPN services!  

The internet is a wonderful, beautiful place full of friends, libraries, travelers, and fellow photographers. It is also a dark and scary place full of perverts, hackers, and identity thieves. Personally, I want to be able to access the first group while putting myself at less of a risk of the second group! Wouldn’t you agree? 🙂

 

I’ve now tried a few VPN programs here and there, and I wanted to keep you updated on my findings.  

VYPR

I had heard about VyprVPN before, since quite a few people at my institution like to use the program instead of Astrill.  If any of you have been following my updates and the news, you would know that Astrill has been off and on recently.  I’ve had a lot of problems where it doesn’t work on my IPad, and it is frequently stopped working on my computer as well. I have days where it is not operating and right now, about once a day I have to turn it off and re-boot the program. Plus, they recently had to put out a warning that a government in Asia had seized their servers in an investigation. While that doesn’t affect me, a lot of users weren’t happy that they were that vulnerable.

So when I recently was given the opportunity to test out VyprVPN, I thought I’d give it a try.  The people I know who use it gave it pretty good references through last year, and now here I’ll give you info on my experiences with it. 🙂

In interest of comparing this with Astrill, I’ve used the same 2+ people on several devices as my basis for both.

Price: $100/year (billed annually).

Review:  There is a basic plan ($80/yr)  that has almost all the features (minus: the Firewall, some cloud storage, other protocols), but it only allows for 1 simultaneous connection. Given that my family has two people online most of the time, 1 connection wouldn’t be enough.  So I need to get the VyprVpnPro system at $100/yr.  It comes with everything I need, and includes 2 simultaneous connections.  You would definitely want to buy it annually, the price almost doubles if you do it monthly.

You can start with a 3-day free trial, and cancel it if you don’t like it. I like this process, because it lets me see if it will really work before I hand over that much money.

If you do decide Vypr is for you, go through this link for an extra 50% off your first month 🙂

Installation: Easy (very)

Review: There were no problems with Installation, it downloaded smoothly and started right up. One small confusing thing is that the website for Vypr is called GoldenFrog, so go to http://www.goldenfrog.com to set up an account.  You’ll start by setting up the account and getting your username and password.  Then you need to download the program.

Download process is easy, just double click to open the installation program and walk through the steps. Unlike with Astrill, there were no problems with the Proxy Settings on my computer, the instant I downloaded it, it went to work!

Use: Easy (pretty much)

Thankfully, the interface of the program is pretty easy to use. If you have a techno-dummy on your hands, they can use this without too much trouble.  

When I turn on my computer, I open the program from my desktop.  You can set it up to start automatically if you want.  The box will look like this:

Untitled picture

If you want to just connect right away, just click the blue connect button. If you want to change locations, click the exclamation mark looking blue button.  

The little gear in the top right corner is where you can change the protocols.

That’s all there is to it! Just click connect and then close the program when you’re done.

Access: Scattered 

First, let me say that this part may be unfair to Vypr.  Many people in my school swear by Vypr; they claim that it is tons better than Astrill and works great for them.  At least 2 other people though have had the same problem I have – none of the servers connect on our computers.

The technology is easy to use but works sporadically and is highly unreliable for me – remember others say it works fine in the same building.  Their website says that if Vypr is not working with a US connection, try hooking in to Netherlands or Hong Kong.  I’ve had a lot of problems with Vypr’s connections in the US, so I tend to rely on the Netherlands or Hong Kong system.  However, that is still very sketchy in regards to successful connections. Plus, there are several websites that require that you be connected to the US for them to work, such as Hulu.  

So far, on my Apple Products, Vypr is more reliable than Astrill.  However, Astrill is more reliable on my Windows Laptop.  It’s kind of a toss-up there. I have not attempted either on a Mac, but I would presume that Astrill is less reliable on a Mac as well. 

Customer Service: Good

Actually, I haven’t really had a reason to talk to their technical support. I have asked questions of my account manager though, and he was incredibly personable and friendly.  Vypr has been very gracious when I speak with them, and I haven’t had any problems on that front!

Conclusion: This service isn’t great on my Windows laptop, I have a hard time getting a connection, even through Hong Kong or Netherlands.  On the other hand, it’s been pretty stable on my Ipad, so there’s that.  Other users have conflicting experiences. Some swear by it and others say it’s not working much.

The program is expensive, more than some competitors, but if it works on your Mac when other programs don’t that might be worth the cost.  I don’t have any problems with turning it on and off, it’s incredibly easy to use. I like that I can change servers as often as I want!  I also like that there is a program no matter what device I use.  There aren’t any add-ons you have to pay for or consider which is pretty sweet; they just come with the program.

All in all, if I could figure out how to make the connection work more often, I would really like this system.  Maybe y’all have some tips?

This is my experience with Vyprvpn, anyone want to throw in their opinion of ExpressVPN to give a comparison?  How have you done with Apple Products here? Windows? Android?

China Tools: Kingsoft v. Microsoft Word

12 Mar

The first time you get a WPS document, it throws you off a bit. For three weeks, the other professor kept telling me the students were sending in their homework on bad files and the students insisted otherwise. It took us that long to figure out it was a problem of software.

In America, we pretty consistently use Microsoft Office for our office needs. Maybe Apple users pick up a few other programs, but Microsoft Powerpoint, Word, and Excel have been staples in our systems for decades. But a new program is catching up, and it has Microsoft at a disadvantage.

The new system is called “Kingsoft” and it offers alternatives to Word (Writer), Powerpoint (Presentation), and Excel (Spreadsheet).  And the programs are highly competitive!

Right now, you can get the Office 2014 version for FREE! Yes, that’s right, FREE! Compare that to the current going rate for Microsoft Office, and clearly the price is totally right.

Then there’s the fact that it actually works faster than Microsoft. I was recently running Excel and Spreadsheet at the same time with the same program. Excel kept glitching and trying to “process” that much data. It moved slowly and clunkily.  Spreadsheet has a smooth feel, never stumbled no matter how many rows or columns I added, and just processed everything faster. The difference in the save time is mind-blowing.

I also like that the Kingsoft programs open files in Tabs, like browsers now do. So I don’t have 18 different boxes open on the taskbar, instead I just move easily back and forth between tabs to compare notes.  

Kingsoft has a boatload of templates, many of which has really sleek designs and feel. It offers everything I ever used on Microsoft, and has extra perks that I really appreciate. So I haven’t exactly done a complete comparison, and I can’t say that they are basically identical. But I’ve used this system for about 7 months now and I’ve never been missing a function or tool that I needed.  

So I’m definitely making the switch to Kingsoft from Microsoft. I just like it better. But sadly, a lot of Americans still don’t know about this option. Come on guys, it’s free!

 

**PS, I get no $$$ or support or anything from Kingsoft for this; they’ve never heard of me and never will. It’s an honest-to-heaven review of a program I love. I’m tired of paying big bucks for Microsoft only to loose the download cd or the “product code” or to have it crash. Kingsoft is a free download. I love it!

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