Welcome to Surveillance Capitalism

Great Websites for Cheap Products

Honoring Fred Rosenberg

The Cyrptocurrency Craze

Voice-Controlled Assistants

Dealing with a Future Without Jobs

Why You Need a Virtual Private Network

How Do You Feel About Being a Cyborg?

Why Artificial Intelligence Is Scary

Google Lens, Amazon Echo, and More Toys

Algorithms Are Us

Best Ways to Spot Fake News

More Options for Cable Cutters

Artificial Intelligence & Neural Nets

Beware of Fake News

Amazon Echo Dot

Driverless Cars Coming Soon

Governments Approve Commercial Drones

The Sharing Economy in Southeastern Iowa

Ad Blocker for Your Web Browser

Virtual Assistants: Siri, Cortana, Alexa

Google Cardboard: Cheap Virtual Reality

Periscope Addiction

Pet, Kid, Keychain Traciers

Google Tips and Tricks

Use Price Alerts to Save Money

Best Gadgets of 2015

Apple TV, Streaming Video Devices

My Favorite Email Newsletters

Peer-to-Peer Lending

3-D Printing

Chromebook, a $150 Laptop

Periscope: Live Video from Around the World

Get Your Questions Answered on Quora

Sling TV — $20 per Month

The Drone Revolution

Bitcoin Mining Flop

Smart Light Bulbs

Revolutionary Apple Watch

Smart Home Gadgets

Buying a Bitcoin Miner

Traveling with Siri

The Sharing Economy: Uber, Airbnb

Storing Your Music in the Cloud

The Internet of Things

Life in Cloud Heaven

2013 Tablet Buyers Guide

What Marketers Know About You

Google Dashboard Knows About You

Stream Video with Google Chromecast

Big Data, NSA, and You

Google's Predictive Search

Bitcoin—Mint Your Own Money

Android Smart TV via $45 Mini PC

MOOCs: Quality Free Online Courses

Beware of Dynamic Pricing

Use Crowdfunding to Raise Money

Tablet Computer Buyer's Guide

Google's Self-Driving Car

Mobile Media/App Stores Compared

Google Nexus 7 vs iPad

Email Follies

Your Million-Dollar Smartphone

Google Drive: Free Cloud Storage

Free and Low-Cost Phone Calls

Google Glasses

Loving iCloud

iPad Wins, Other Tablets Lose

Siri is Revolutionary

Essentials of Computer Backup

Homage to Steve Jobs

Are Your Files Safe in the Cloud?

Amazing Uses of iPhone Camera

Use Carbonite Online Backup

Cloud Services Roundup

Tablet Computer Roundup

Project Watson Wins at Jeopardy

Stream Video by Connecting a Computer to Your TV

The Appeal of Apple TV

Roundup of Streaming TV Devices

Options for Streaming Video to a TV

Dealing with Cell Phone Radiation

Ebook Readers & Tablet Computers

Dreaming of 4G

Google TV

The iPad in Your Future

The Magic of Google Translate

iPhone: There's an App for That

3-D TV and Robots in Your Future

More Goodies from Google

Google Wave — Better than E-mail

Growing Up with the Internet

Bing: Better than Google

Google Voice — Great free service

The Twitter Revolution

Virtualization and You

Death of Newspapers

Netbook Computers

Great New Search Engines

Boxee — Free Online TV

Mozy — Free Offsite Backup

Amazon's Video-on-Demand

Wanting a Kindle

iPhone Love

Better than Google

Cloud Computing and MobileMe

Digg and Other Social Media Sites

Hulu.com: Free TV & Movies

Pandora: Best Source for Streaming Music

Cell Phones Changing

Intro to HDTV

Best Free Phone Resources

Free Online TV: Joost

Movies, TV Go Online

Scary Internet Stories


The YouTube Election

Google Street View

Twitter, Twittervsion, and Flickervision fun

E-mail Tricks for Addicts

Cool PDA Phones

Webtop: Free Online Software

Useful Google Tidbits

My Yahoo, RSS, and Blogs

Google Earth

Online Videos

Web 2.0


Virtual Worlds: Second Life

InTrade Predicts the Future

The MySpace Revolution

Wikipedia — A Free Encyclopedia

Wikipedia as Emergent Phenomenon

Wikipedia Lies

Free Calling with Skype

Intro to Podcasts

Intro to File Sharing: BitTorrent

Dangers of Wireless Hotspots

Google Maps

Free Online Credit Reports

Making Money with Your Web Site

Beware of Spoofing and Phishing

Free Virus and Spyware Protection

Virus, Spyware Protection -- Part 2

A Brief History of the Internet

The Gadget Goddess

Free Open Source Software

Keeping Your Mac Tuned Up

Starting a Weblog

Getting Started with RSS

Latest Google Features

Selling on eBay & Half.com

Safe Online Shopping

Health-Related Web Sites

Free Virus Protection

Google Culture

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Intro to GPS

Intro to Weblogs

Avoiding Spyware

Loving Google News

Testing your Internet Literacy

Urban Legends and Hoaxes

Buying and Selling on Half.com

Personalizing Yahoo

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Useful New Search Engines

Conspiracy Theories

Online Nature Guides

Intro to Wireless

Yahoo Groups Are Fun and Useful

The Joys of Broadband

Free Expert Help

Asking questions online

Finding the lowest price

Movie information

Online Reference


The Internet bazaar

MP3 music

Noah's Ark and the Internet

Link Rot

The Geek Report

About this site

Today's News and weather

Hot tips


Some of My Favorite Online Conveniences

June 2018

As I write this, it's the 25th anniversary of the release of Mosaic – the very first graphical web browser. It should be a cause for celebration, but frankly I'm feeling a bit depressed.

The web began with such promise of democratization of information and knowledge. But lately it's become depressing to see how the two dominant players have created, as journalist Matt Taibbi describes, "a world in which the informational landscape for billions of people is controlled more or less entirely by a pair of advanced private spying operations, Google and Facebook."

Surveys show that about 70% of Americans get their news from these two sources. And that news is highly filtered, based on all the information that these companies have collected about you. They only show news that suits your interests – and affirms your biases. This, of course, further contributes to the polarization that is debilitating our democracy.

It had seemed that the Web would be enriching to democracy, but instead it's fostering increasing tribalization worldwide. The New York Times has documented instances of fatal consequences in a number of countries due to fake news on Facebook.

Nevertheless, I do still get excited by what the internet has to offer, most recently some simple conveniences I thought I'd share.

It's probably dumb, but I really enjoying paying for things with my smartphone. When I go to Walmart now, I always do the self-checkout, just because I like gadgets and computer interfaces. And I like the sensation of scanning the bar codes.

When it comes time to pay, I tap the Walmart app on my Android phone and select "Walmart Pay" from the menu. I enter my four-digit security code and point my phone's camera at a QR code on the display on the Walmart terminal. In an instant, my bill is paid, and the receipt appears on my phone.

It's the "cool factor," I guess, since it's probably not any faster than swiping a credit card. But also, it's the convenience of having all my Walmart receipts on my phone in case I ever need to look up a purchase or return an item.

Setting up the Walmart app with my credit card number was quite simple. And mobile payment systems are claimed to be much more secure than regular credit card transactions. My credit card number isn't stored on my phone and isn't exchanged during transactions.

My next step will be to download and set up the Google Pay app so I can use my phone in stores other than Walmart. Plus, the process with Google Pay is simpler: no pointing the camera at a QR code.

Another convenience I've been enjoying is using a mobile banking app to deposit checks. About a year ago I helped a client for a couple hours with a writing project, after which she wrote me a check.

She said, "I hope you can deposit that soon." But I didn't want to promise I'd do that because I wasn't planning to go into town anytime soon and didn't want to make a half-hour special trip just to deposit a small check.

She chided me, saying, "Don't you have a mobile banking app on your phone? It makes it so easy. You just take a photo of the check and deposit it that way."

This was embarrassing. After all, I'm the computer guy. And I was behind the times. So I went to the App Store on my iPad mini, and sure enough, MidWestOne Bank had a free mobile app. And sure enough, it did have a feature for depositing checks.

This time it's a lot more than the cool factor. When I get paid via a check (rare these days), it takes just a minute to sign it, then boot up the app and select Deposits. The app walks me through the steps of entering the amount, taking a photo of the front, taking a photo of the back, and then tapping "Deposit Now." If you aren't already using your bank's mobile app, I highly recommend it.

Another great discovery in recent months is MailChimp. If you send out email messages to groups, or have an email newsletter, MailChimp is a top choice. It's amazingly simple to use and lets you quickly create very attractive emails. It's free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. I have a list of 950 subscribers that I send announcements to several times a week, and MailChimp has been a real boon.

If you already have a list, you can easily import it. Plus, MailChimp automatically handles the inherent bane of all email lists: bounces. It's smart enough to know if the bounce is due to a permanent issue and automatically unsubscribes the email address.

I'm grateful for the internet. But wary, too, in this era of fake news and tribalization.

© 2018 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

E-mail Jim Karpen

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