Archive for Google

Word for Chromebook

Need help installing Word on your Chromebook? Call Skylark NetWorks at (516) 308-2759 or read on.

One of the most frequent calls I’ve received lately as a computer repair technician revolves around the new Chromebooks using the ChromeOS Operating System. The typical call sounds like this:

Caller: How do I install Microsoft Word on my Chromebook? I can’t get Word to work on my Chromebook.

Skylark NetWorks: Do you have a Windows or a Mac version of the Microsoft Word software that you are trying to install on your Chromebook?

Caller: Yes! I have the _________ version. (Fill in the blank)

Skylark NetWorks: You can’t install that on your Chromebook because your Chromebook isn’t a Mac or a Windows computer, but —

Caller: So what do I do? I need a word processor, and I prefer to use Word.

Skylark NetWorks: I would recommend you go to the Microsoft Office Apps website at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps. Then you can use and share your Word documents anywhere.

Get Started with Microsoft Office Web Apps

Since Chromebook users cannot install Microsoft Word on Chromebook because Chromebook uses ChromeOS, a Linux-based operating system which doesn’t support Microsoft Windows-based or Mac-based software.

This doesn’t mean that you’re locked out forever from working on Word documents. There are a number of ways Chromebook users work on Word documents, and their Excel and PowerPoint files, too. You already know these are important file types, and having access to them is a must.

Download Microsoft Office Web App

This Chrome app was generated by Microsoft to allow Chromebook users the chance to go online and use Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The web app also gives you access to Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Service called SkyDrive.

Alternate: Google Docs

Have you heard of Google Docs? It’s a free service from Google. Google Docs can open and edit most of the popular file types of Microsoft Office including Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Since your Chromebook was also developed by Google it is the perfect tool for working with Google Docs.

FYI: Anyone Can Use Microsoft Office Web Apps

Microsoft’s Office Web Apps aren’t just for Chromebook users. Your can use it on just about any desktop, laptop, netbook, or tablet computer.

Google’s Malware Alert


Many news media outlets have been making it sound like Google was accidentally spreading malware. Even the Wall Street Journal said “One Million Google Users Hit with Malware”.

Actually, Google was just notifying people that it had detected malware on their computer. Google’s system wasn’t actually searching your system — which would be an invasion of privacy — but it was detecting a specific malware program that is known to redirect traffic to Google’s systems.

In other words, Google was detecting software, other than the users browser, which was communicating with Google’s servers.

I have yet to learn what the purpose of this malware was, but I have some thoughts on it. It may have been trying to burden Google’s servers with additional traffic. Or it may have been targeting Google’s ad network.

I suspect if they were targeting the ad network they might be trying to make fraudulent clicks on the pay-per-click Adsense and Adwords network. If you’ve seen “Ads from Google” on a web site, such as the ones you see on this blog, then you should know that Google pays the site owner every time someone clicks on an ad. This is usually just a few cents, but they can add up. The fraudulent clicks take money from the advertiser and Google.

Any software that can compromise Google’s Ad network would affect Google’s reliability and reputation. Since ads are Google’s big earner they can’t allow that to happen.

So while the Wall Street Journal reporters in the video above think Google could be come a first line of defense against malware, Google was just watching out for themselves and their advertisers.

Software for a new computer

Several of my recent posts have been about a $450 computer system I build for a client — a homeowner in need of a computer for general gaming, web surfing, word processing, paying bills, etc. So far I shown you the parts I purchased or similar ones (Part1, Part 2, Part 3), then I provided instructions for assembling the system and installing the Windows 7 operating system.

Google PackNow comes some recommended software for this new system. The software I am listing here is software I typically install on a new computer system. Most of the software I am listing here is free, and it all comes from reputable online sources.

My first stop after booting up a new computer is the Google Pack site. This site from Google has a dozen different programs you can download and install on your computer. I download and install 3 or 4 of the following programs:

  1. Picasa: You can use this program to find, edit, and share your photos stored on your computer; download pictures from your digital camera; remove red eye from your photos; and upload your photos to be shared with your friends on the www.picasa.com web site.
  2. Firefox: This is the next most popular browser after Internet Explorer. Though there are many browsers to choose from, Internet Explorer and Firefox are the most popular, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having more than one on your computer. Think of it as having two cars in the driveway. use which ever one you want whenever you want.
  3. Adobe Reader: This program is useful for all the PDFs you’re bound to receive from friends or web site downloads, among other sources. The reader allows you to open and print Adobe Acrobat files. (PDF, by the way, stands for portable document format.)
  4. Google Apps:  This one is optional. If they have Microsoft Word and Excel on their computer I typically don’t install this. Google Apps allows you to create and share documents and spreadsheets which can be stored in an online account on the Google Docs web site. This is a free alternative to Microsoft Office. (Alternately, you could also download and install Open Office from Sun Microsystems. It, too, is a free office software package. (Personally, I haven’t tried Open Office, but it’s been around for quite a while, and Sun is a very reputable company.)

There are 8 other programs you can add to your computer form the Google Pack web site, but the ones above are my favorites.

Come back later and I’ll share my antivirus and antispyware picks. If you’re a regular reader I’m sure you know which two programs I’m going to recommend.

T-Mobile G1 Battery Life Accessories

I purchased a T-Mobile G1 w/ Google Bronze phone (that’s the G1 in white shown at left) back in February of this year, and I’ve been pretty happy with it. For 2 decades I’ve had run-of-the-mill cellphones. (Have we had cellphones in the mainstream for two decades now?) I like it because the data plan is cheaper than that of the iPhone. (Economy and efficiency all the way). The only disappointment has been the battery life. Some times, when I have a not-so-great Internet connection I can actually watch the battery level decline while phone tries to access the page.

So I’ve been looking for ways to improve my battery life without erasing all my apps and shutting down features I’m not using at the moment to only have to turn them back on again less than 30 minutes later.

I searched here and there online until I turned to Buy.com to make my purchases. Here’s a list of the items I picked up and why.

SEIDIO Innocell 1400 Extended Battery for T-Mobile G1

I decided to get an extra battery: the SEIDIO Innocell 1400 Extended Battery for T-Mobile G1 (shown at left). It’s supposed to provide 15% more power than the stock 1150mAh battery. It’s not a big increase, but I figure carrying an extra battery will help out. I can just swap batteries when one dies.

SEIDIO Innocell 2600 Extended Life Battery for HTC T-Mobile G1 (with Battery Door)

Of course, there is the massive SEIDIO Innocell 2600 Extended Life Battery for HTC T-Mobile G1 (with Battery Door) (shown at right) which provides 125% more power than the stock battery. The drawback, in my opinion, is the added thickness the battery gives to the phone. Some people have said the speakers sounds a bit muffled because the larger battery casing places the speaker opening further away from the speaker. Additionally, I like carrying the phone in its stock sleeve in my pocket, and I don’t need a bulkier phone in my pocket.

T-Mobile HTC G1 by Google Desktop USB Battery Cradle

I also purchased a T-Mobile HTC G1 by Google Desktop USB Battery Cradle (shown at left) so I can charge both the phone and the spare battery in the evening. There’ s a bit of a compromise here since the cradle charges the phone via a USB connection to a computer — the purpose here is to allow you to synch your phone’s data files etc while it charges — while an AC adapter is used to charge the spare battery. I would have liked to charge both phone and spare from the AC adapter, but I guess I’ll have to get a USB power adapter for charging the phone on my night table. Or have both charge in my home office by the computer. Hmm, I’m still mulling this part over.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Android 1.5 Update (Cupcake) Delayed

Bonnie Cha at cnet news reports:

T-Mobile USA announced on Monday that it’s still finalizing the build to “ensure optimal functionality and smooth delivery” so it has delayed pushing out the over-the-air update by one week. The carrier said it expects all G1 owners to have the Cupcake update by early June.

Well, I will have to start anxiously waiting again next week.

More news stories regarding the Android 1.5 update delay can be found here.

The image above can be added to your G1 boot screen by following instructions at zenthought.org. I haven’t tried it myself, so be careful if you decide to try it yourself.




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Google Android Will Update This Week

It’s been a while since I discussed Google Android on this site, Sept. 16, 2008 to be exact, but I have been keeping an eye on it. (I bought one in February).

Currently, the only phone using the Android operating system is the T-Mobile G1 manufactured by HTC.

Last week T-Mobile announced they would start distributing the long awaited “Cupcake” or v1.5 update. (An update was previously released in February 2009). Here’s an excerpt from their announcement:

T-Mobile is delighted to announce the upcoming release of Android 1.5 with ‘Cupcake’ coming soon to the T-Mobile G1,” T-Mobile wrote in a statement late last week. “We plan to begin sending out the update starting the end of next week. As with previous software maintenance releases, the update will be randomly sent ‘over the air’ to T-Mobile G1 customers. We expect everyone will have their update by the end of May.

The earlier update many fixed some problems, but added few new features. The new “Cupcake” update will have several new features — some of which, like a virtual keyboard, are highly anticipated by owners of the device. Here is a list of new features to be found in the update:

  • On-screen soft keyboard
    • Works in both portrait and landscape orientation
    • Support for user installation of 3rd party keyboards
    • User dictionary for custom words
  • Home screen
    • Widgets: Bundled home screen widgets include: analog clock, calendar, music player, picture frame, and search
    • Live folders: Allows viewing of SD card contents without opening an application.
  • Camera & Gallery
    • Video recording
    • Video playback (MPEG-4 & 3GP formats): Previously only possible via a free Android Market download
  • Bluetooth
    • Stereo Bluetooth support (A2DP and AVCRP profiles)
    • Auto-pairing
    • Improved hands free experience
  • Browser
    • Updated with latest Webkit browser & Squirrelfish Javascript engines
    • Copy ‘n paste in browser
    • Search within a page
    • User-selectable text-encoding
    • UI changes include:
      • Unified Go and Search box
      • Tabbed bookmarks/history/most-visited screen
  • Contacts
    • Shows user picture for Favorites
    • Specific date/time stamp for events in call log
    • One-touch access to a contact card from call log event
  • System
    • New Linux kernel (version 2.6.27)
    • SD card filesystem auto-checking and repair
    • SIM Application Toolkit 1.0
  • Google applications
    • View Google Talk friends’ status in Contacts, SMS, MMS, GMail, and Email applications
    • Batch actions such as archive, delete, and label on Gmail messages
    • Upload videos to Youtube
    • Upload photos on Picasa

Additional features include a more refined user interface, animated window transitions, keyboard clicks or vibrates if desired, and an accelerometer for rotating applications onscreen. The camera will have a faster startup time, and faster shutter speed (image capture), while the GPS features are supposed to have faster response times. (GPS navigation wasn’t suitable for driving, and the route didn’t recalculate if you changed your course. Improved GPS functionality was available from third parties such as Telenav.)

Google has released a video highlighting the improvements and enhancements (shown at top) found in the Cupcake update. T-Mobile has released an Android 1.5 with Cupcake video as well. Many G1 user videos can be found on YouTube.

And in case you were wondering, Cupcake is a codename for the update, and the codenames are alphabetical. The next update will start with the letter “D” and some, like Rob Jackson at Phandroid, are speculating it will be called “Donut” to be followed by “Eclair” in keeping with the dessert theme.

Gmail Crashes Again

googlemail_1349839cIf you’re an up-early-in-the-morning-to-check-my-email kind of person, and if your email is Gmail (Google Mail) then you may have woke up to disappoint today. Gmail crashed …. again.

Gmail users in the US and the UK experienced a 2.5 to 4 hour outage of service this morning, and Google is still scrambling to explain how it happened.

ComScore analysts estimate as many as 113 million people use Gmail worldwide. Not bad for a program that’s still in Beta. It may be the longest running test program on the planet for that matter. “Google has the world’s third most popular web mail service behind Hotmail with 283 million users and Yahoo with 274 million e-mail users”, comScore said.

Today’s outage isn’t the first. Another outage occured just 6 months ago in August 2008, when again, service was out for several hours after a glitch in the Gmail contacts system locked users out of their email.

Got any questions? Contact me at skylarkingblog at gmail.com. Ciao!




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Is Google sending you to foreign countries?

Update (12/3/08): The “let us know” link in this article has been repaired.

In my earlier post, “Why is Google sending me to France?”, I discussed a problem many people are experiencing at Google: Being redirected to another country domain. In my case, France or www.google.fr. Skylarking reader, Lulu, has also been experiencing this problem, as well as a few readers over at Martin Brinkman’s Google Hacks blog.

Though many people have suspected spyware or viral activity, I had suggested a misread or misdirected IP address. Yes, spyware could cause such a problem, but Google’s computers read your IP (Internet Protocol) address, and attempt to detect your geographic location based upon that numeric address.

Today, I found to some people over at Google Groups who were commenting on this same problem. The “Google Guide” responded by directing them to the Google Web Search Help article “Connecting to Google: Redirecting to another country domain”.  Here’s what the article had to say:

General information

We normally redirect users in countries other than the United States from http://www.google.com to one of our country-specific sites (e.g. http://www.google.co.uk for Google UK) to provide easy access to country-specific search features. We use your computer’s IP address, which is frequently the Internet address of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), to determine your location and the corresponding Google domain.

If you’d prefer to visit Google.com instead, click the Google.com link on the bottom right-hand side of the Google homepage.

If you have cookies enabled, your browser will connect directly to Google.com on all subsequent visits. For more information on cookies, please visit http://www.google.com/cookies.html and http://www.google.com/privacy.html

Tips to prevent the redirect

If cookies are disabled, you’ll experience the same redirect each time you visit Google. Try these methods to prevent the redirect:

Report incorrect IP detection

Finally, if you feel that we’re detecting your IP address incorrectly, please let us know and we’ll investigate.

Using the “let us know” link will take you to a form where you can report a misdirected IP address to Google. The form asks for your Name, email address, your geographic location (City, State, Country), your IP address, and the Google domain you are being redirected to. I filled in the form this afternoon. I’ll see what happens. It will take time, of course.

If you don’t know your IP address, you can find it by going to http://whatsmyip.org/.

Now I just have to find a way to keep my PC here in New York now that it’s seen France. Oh, Google?


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Question for Verizon Internet Users

Update (2/25/09): Some potential solutions for the Google redirect problem can be found here in a post from 12/02/08.

Dear Skylarking Readers: If you use Verizon for your Internet access, I’d like you to go to www.google.com and search for anything, and see if your search results are redirected to www.google.fr.

Here’s why:

In my earlier post, “Why is Google sending me to France?”, I discussed how my Google searches were being redirected to www.google.fr, Google’s French subsidiary. I, not as clearly as I had hoped, suggested that the problem appears to be related to Google’s computers misreading my IP (Internet Protocol) address as originating in France.

To clarify, my ISP (Internet Service Provider) is Verizon FIOS. So Verizon assigns my computers an IP address whenever I connect to the Internet.

Prior to my Google.fr woes, I had received a phone call from my bank stating they believed someone in France had tried to access my bank account. As I worked with their security expert, he looked further and saw it was a Verizon IP address, and further investigation revealed that the IP address originated in New York, and not in France. The bank computers had misread my New York USA IP address as being a French IP address.

It is my opinion that Google is also misreading the IP addresses. It is my opinion that this problem is specific to Verizon users. Perhaps just FIOS users. Perhaps just users in the metro NY area.

So go to google.com and conduct a search. Let me know if the address bar shows you’ve been redirected to google.fr.

If you have a Google account, make sure you aren’t logged in. If your Google account includes your zip code. That information may be used by Google to track you correctly. Those of you who are being redirected from google.com to google.fr might try signing up for a Google account (www.google.com/accounts). You can edit your personal information to include your zip code.

I’d like to point out that I have checked my computer thoroughly for spyware and viruses. I used both Lavasoft’s Ad-aware and PC Spyware Doctor to scan my system.

Update (2/25/09): Some potential solutions for the Google redirect problem can be found here in a post from 12/02/08.




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Google Tracks the Flu

Nov. 11 — Google has a new “tool” called Google Flu Trends (www.google.org/flutrends).

By tracking the popularity of certain Google search queries, our engineers have discovered that we can accurately estimate the level of flu in each state, in near real time. Today Google.org launched a tool, Flu Trends, that makes this information accessible to all.

While traditional flu tracking systems take 1-2 weeks to collect and release data, Google search queries can be automatically counted immediately. During the last flu season, we shared our preliminary results with the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of the Influenza Division at CDC, and together we saw that our search-based flu estimates had a consistently strong correlation with real CDC flu data.

Flu affects millions, and kills hundreds of thousands every year. Early detection is critical to helping health officials respond more quickly and save lives. Flu Trends can help serve as an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza.

Google Flu Trends is an effort put forth by Google’s philanthropic division, google.org. Google.org was announced by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2004. Other projects being run by Google.org and their partners include:

  • Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE<C): An R&D group with Google engineering seeking ways to generate electricity from renewable energy sources. It started by focusing on solar, wind, and geothermal systems. They also explore other potential breakthrough technologies.
  • RechargeIT: A program to accelerate the adoption of plug-in electrical vehicles.
  • Predict and Prevent: This initiative will use information and technology to empower communities to predict and prevent emerging threats before they become local, regional, or global crises. The initial focus is on emerging infectious diseases, climate change, and deforestation. On Nov. 4, 2008, they reported on a deadly arenavirus in South Africa which had been contracted by a safari booking agent, Cecelia van Deventer, in Zambia. Cecelia and three other people who had come in contact with her died within two weeks time. The disease is currently described as contained by several disease prevention organizations. Read more here.
  • Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services: Google.org is working with public, private, and civil society partners initially to address education, health, and water and sanitation services in East Africa and India.
  • Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs): Google.org is supporting the development of small and medium sized business enterprises in developing countries such as India and East Africa by focusing on lowering transaction costs, deepening capital markets to increase liquidity, and catalyzing capital for investment. While many large businesses have access to capital and loans, micro-loans have been hard to come by for smaller businesses. In countries such as the US, most jobs are provided by small business.



Video: Intro to Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Video: Predict and Prevent

Video: Inform and Empower

Video: Fuel the Growth of SMEs





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