Sunday, September 16, 2018

Zoolz Update

I mentioned that I was using Zoolz a while back.

It's still going well.

I have added a huge folder from my Drobo 5N to Zoolz's Cold Storage capability. I'm now sitting at just over 400GB of my 1TB capacity.

I still haven't played with the Instant Vault storage.

I occasionally exercise Zoolz's restore. My most recent test took about 4 hours to restore. That was for a single file. I don't expect that will grow linearly for a larger set of files.

My next restore test will be for a full folder.

Remember that your backups are no good if they won't restore.

If you've turned on Controlled Folder Access, you need to add Zoolz.exe and ZoolzRestore.exe from C:\Program Files\Genie9\Zoolz2\,

Sunday, September 09, 2018

GDPR Cookies

You know what GDPR is, right? Great, then we can keep going.

One of the most visible results of GDPR is all the cookie notifications you've been seeing.

Here's what's behind all that.
One of the most tangible requirements of the GDPR is in the definition of what constitutes a proper cookie consent, meaning, that the consent has to be:
  • Informed: Why, how and where is the personal data used? It must be clear for the user, what the consent is given to, and it must be possible to opt-in and opt-out of the various types of cookies.
  • Based on a true choice: This means, for example, that the user must have access to the website and its functions even though all but the strictly necessary cookies have been rejected.
  • Given by means of an affirmative, positive action that can not be misinterpreted.
  • Given prior to the initial processing of the personal data.
  • Withdrawable. It must be easy for the user to change his or her mind and withdraw the consent.
But don't just click through those pesky notices. Click on them and wade through them.

It's pretty fascinating what's in them.

Recently I logged into

I got the following notice:

I didn't just click on the bright yellow "Accept cookies" like most people would.

Rather, I clicked on "> Cookie Settings".

Here's what I got:

Look at how much control I had over what cookies would be stored!

I was impressed that the "Targeting Cookies" were turned off by default.

I flipped all the switches to "Inactive" and noticed no degradation in performance or function.

By the way, here's the site referenced in the fine print at the bottom. Somebody is making a lot of money.

Some of these dialogs have actually given me the choice of which partners the site can share my information with.

Here's what I got from the Daily Star.

Don't click on "Continue and Accept All". Rather click on the tiny "here".

On the next screen click on "Continue to partners".

Look at that! They gave me a list of all their "partners."

Click on "Select all" and then on "Reject all"

You're done.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Online Audio/Visual Tools

I like online tools so I don't have to install software. I like free tools because they're, well, cheap.

Here is a collection of online audio/visual tools that I've used.

They tend to disappear over time so if one isn't working any more, drop me a note and I'll tell you if I've found a replacement.

Video Crop

Sometimes I want to "zoom in" a video before I share it. The way I do this is to crop the video just like I would do a still. Like a still, I lose some resolution but it gets the focus where I want it.

Video-Crop is what I use.

Like their web site says "You can find here damn simple and juicy tool for video cropping."

Remove Audio from Video

Especially in my dashcam video sometimes there's audio that isn't appropriate to share. AudioRemover is what I use.

MP3 from Video

When I come across a video, usually YouTube, that I want to extract the audio from and make an mp3, convert2mp3 is what I use.

Audio Cutter

If I have an mp3 that I want to trim down, e.g. for a ringtone, I use

MP3 Volume

To increase the volume of an audio clip, e.g. for a ringtone, I use

I can choose how many decibels I want to increase the volume.

YouTube to MP4

If I want to save a YouTube video, I need to convert it to a format that I can store. I use ClipConverter to do this.

Notice that ClipConverter has a variety of output formats.

Audio to MP3

I have some old audio files (wav, amr, etc.) that I want to convert to mp3s. Online-Convert does it for me.

Anything to Anything

When all else fails, I try CloudConvert.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Pie Pill

I'm still enjoying my Essential PH-1. It's really nice to be back on Android.

Essential pushed Android 9.0 Pie on the day of release. I was traveling so I deferred the upgrade for a couple of days.

Now I've been running Pie almost a week. I haven't had any problems.

One new feature I wasn't sure about was Pie's gesture navigation.

Turns out I like it and find it useful.

The "Home" button is replaced with a "Pill." The "Back" button only appears when it is useful. The "Recent apps" button is GONE.

I haven't tacked all the functions but I have found a couple that are very useful.

To get the recent applications, just swipe the "Pill" about halfway up the screen. The recent apps show up in an almost full screen presentation. Swipe left or right to pick one. Tap to go there. Swipe up to close the app. Shades of webOS!

I used to use the double tap on the "Recent apps" button to directly go to the most recent app. This would let you swap between 2 apps easily. In Pie, just swipe the "Pill" to the right. There's the most recent app. Keep on swiping to the right and you can go back further!

There's lots more function there.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

How I Do E-mail

I was helping a friend setup their e-mail recently and thought it would be worthwhile to share how I do e-mail.

I use Google's Gmail to manage all my e-mail. But it's not quite that simple.

I use Google's Gmail web client and Google's Gmail smartphone app (Android and iOS).

I've changed the domain names in a feeble attempt at privacy.

My primary e-mail account is which is a Google G Suite. So that is the identity that I use to log into Gmail. And I recently added Google 2-Step Verification. arrives in the Gmail app. I have labels/folders that I sort correspondence into.

This is what I use for throwaway e-mails, e.g. when I sign up for a newsletter or something. is more complicated. has a free offering that I use. With the free offering you can't forward the e-mail to another address. So I have configured the Gmail app to pull my e-mail with a POP3 interface.

To do this, I went to Settings / Accounts and find "Check mail from other accounts:"  I specified the credentials for I made sure to check "Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server". This took a little playing around to get this correct. The Gmail app will retrieve new e-mail from this server every 60 minutes. That's good enough to me.

When e-mail arrives to I have a filter that assigns a label of "Throwaway". Then to separate this e-mail I went to Settings / Accounts / Multiple Inboxes and setup a pane for the label of "Throwaway". This results in a separation of e-mail and e-mail.

I use the SMTP servers to send so the headers look right. You specify this in Settings / Accounts / Send mail as:. This also takes a little playing around to get this correct.

This is my work e-mail. I just have it forwarded to Like I use's SMTP servers to send so the headers look right.

I use this when I'm suspicious of how someone might use my e-mail address. This e-mail domain is set so that any name you put in front of comes to But I use the same technique as to segregate the incoming e-mails into a separate area in my inbox.

The way I use this is to use a name that identifies to whom I gave that e-mail. For example I created an identity at Computerworld as Let's just say that Computerworld must make a lot of money from selling their mailing list.


With all these e-mail identities I get to choose which one to use when I compose a new e-mail. In the Compose dialog there is a drop-down box next to the "From" field where I can choose.

Under Settings / General I specify:

  • Ask before displaying external images
  • Send cancellation period: 30 seconds
  • Keyboard shortcuts on
  • Button labels: Text
  • I'll add contacts myself

The Android and iOS apps honor all these settings so your experience is consistent across all platforms.

I'm sure I haven't covered everything. Leave me a comment if you have a question.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Google Voice Call Screening

I've been living with my Google Voice/Obihai system (see 12345678, 9),  for a couple of years and it continues to work great and for free!

Obihai sunset the OBi100 a while back and I upgraded to an OBi200. It took at least 2 minutes to make the transition.

Then in early 2018 Obihai was acquired by Polycom. Remember the old Polycom "Star" speaker phone?

There was one feature of Google Voice that wasn't supported by Obihai.

Google Voice has a call screening feature that will let you challenge a caller to identify themselves then ring your phone and announce the caller. At that point you can accept the call or send it to voice mail. While the caller is leaving a message, you can listen and pick up if you want to.

The Obihai system would challenge a caller to identify themselves but then immediately ring your phone without announcing the caller.

In practice that challenge caused most telemarketers to just hang up.

Then Google made a seemingly unrelated change to Google Voice. The result of that change is that now the screening works!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Reducing Spam Calls

If you're not interested in reducing spam calls to your mobile number, just go back to Facebook. If you're using an iPhone, just go back to Facebook.

Now that we've got the crowd thinned out, go to the Google Play Store and download the latest Phone app.

Open the Phone app and tap the hamburger menu in the top right corner.

Tap on "Caller ID and spam".

Then slide "Filter spam calls" to the right.

Lifehacker has an article here.