29 August 2012

Facebook tagging and a new Facebook scam

Have you ever had a friend tag you in a photo on Facebook?  Maybe it wasn’t quite the best photo ever taken of you, or worse, you were doing something that you really didn’t want to be reminded of, or want anyone else to see – especially your boss, mother-in-law, or future employer?

You can stop this happening with a little tweak to your Facebook settings.  These changes will mean than if your friends try to tag in a photo you will have the final say on whether it is published to your Timeline.  It also works where a friend has tagged a photo that they think is you – it may not even be you!   

Review posts you are tagged in before they appear on your Timeline

  • Go to Privacy Settings
  • Click on Edit Settings next to Timeline and Tagging
  • Click on the arrow next to Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your Timeline
  • Change the setting from Disabled to Enabled
  • Click Back and verify that the setting now shows On

This won’t stop tagged pictures or posts appearing elsewhere on Facebook but at least it will give you a chance to approve them before they appear on your own Timeline.

Review tags friends add to your posts

You can also protect your friends too, by giving you the final say when another friend comes along and wants to tag someone in one of your photos.  Facebook allows you to review those tags before they get added to your posts.

  • Click on the arrow next to Review tags friends add to your own posts on Facebook
  • Change the setting from Disabled to Enabled
  • Click Back and verify that the setting now shows On
With these settings in place Facebook will send you an email notifying you whenever a friend wants to tag you in a photo, or add a tag to one of your photos.  There’ll be a link where you can view the photo and then you can give approval for it to be published – or not.

There’s one more setting you can change - Turn off face recognition

Facebook uses face recognition to automatically suggest adding a tag when a photo that looks like you is uploaded.  If you don’t want your name to be suggested, then you can turn auto tag suggestion off.

  • Click on the arrow next to Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?
  • Change the setting from Friends to No One
  • Click Okay

Once you’ve finished with those settings, click Done.

Scam Warning!

Now that you’ve made those changes, you need to be aware of a new scam that is trying to trap those with these tagging settings.

A new strain of malware has been identified circulating Facebook.   The scam involves you being sent an email notifying you that a friend has tagged you in a photo, and it looks like the normal Facebook email.  There’s a link to ‘view photos as an attachment’.  This link is actually a ZIP file containing malware allowing hackers to gain control over Windows computers.

There is a way to differentiate between the real and the fake emails.  Real Facebook notification emails tell you which friend has tagged you in a picture; while the scam email states “one of your friends added a new photo with you to the album.”  Here is a look at what the fake email message looks like.

If you receive one of these emails, do not click on that link – just delete the email immediately.


21 August 2012

More photo fun with Photofunia

Back in June I posted about the wonderful website Photofunia, and how you can have so much fun with your photos - adding your portraits to billboards, posters, art galleries and all kinds of other amazing backdrops.  If you didn't see that post, take a look here.  If you've had a look at Photofunia before it's worth visiting the site again as they keep adding new effects and scenes.

I've got an update for you - Photofunia is also available on your iPhone, iPad, and Android device.  You have around 200 different scenes you can play around with and add your photos to.  It's not like Instagram where you are adding filters to your photos.  Photofunia adds your photo to their scenes and backdrops - creating a completing different photo. 

You can get the Photofunia app from the iTunes app store or the Google Play store, and it's free.  Beware - it is so addictive - it's hard to leave a photo 'as is' when you can instead integrate it into a billboard, the Mona Lisa, become a Jedi knight, or a superhero, a beauty queen, or a Playboy centrefold!

16 August 2012

To Do List apps

I love lists!  I have this terrible fear that if something isn’t on a list it will be forgotten.  I’ve been reading a bit about some new apps for making lists and I thought I’d do a bit of research and see if there was something new worth trying.  So I set about researching and testing.  OMG – what was I thinking!  There are hundreds of To-Do List apps in the Android Play and iTunes App Stores.   It’s taken a while, but I’ve put together a list of what I consider are the best To-Do list apps currently available.  Just to clarify – these are To Do List apps – just for making lists.  I haven’t included the more complex productivity apps like Evernote, OneNote, Wunderkit, Cozi and all the others that do so much more than just make lists – they can wait for another post.   

How did I choose what I think are the best?  I started out aiming for apps that were able to be used on computers, tablets and smartphones.  There are plenty that are just phone apps, but I wanted to be able to see and use my lists while I’m working on my computer.  I also wanted it to be able to work on both Windows and Mac, as well as Android and iOS, because no matter what hardware I use, now and in the future, I want my to do lists on everything and syncing between all of them; so I have my lists everywhere I am.   It had to be easy to use – and easy to see on my phone. I didn’t want to pay lots for it either – some To Do apps are over $50 – my limit was $10, and it had better be brilliant for that!  Lastly, I wanted it to look good – not just useful and practical – but pretty!    

I really didn’t think it was going to be so hard to find a few apps to fit my requirements!  Well I’ve had to change my mind.  There are apps that are brilliant for your iPad and iPhone, and others that are perfect for your Android phone or tablet.  There are a few for Windows and some for MACs.  Here are the To Do List apps I think are the best.


Create your to-do lists, make checklists, setup repetitive tasks, add priority levels, and have it send you emails to alert you.  You can personalise it with 34 different colours, themes, sounds, and pictures.  It’s compatible with iCal (Mac calendar).  It’s even been nominated for the best-app ever award.

iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch - $9.99
Android $7.12
Mac coming soon

Do it (tomorrow)

Really simple, and beautifully designed.  This app is perfect if all you want is a very simple To Do list.  The computer version features two columns, one for tasks to do today, and the other for tasks to do tomorrow.  Anything you don't complete today will automatically get moved to the tomorrow column.  Unfortunately, you don't have the option for anything past tomorrow.

Sign up for an account first on your computer via Chrome or Safari, then download the app for your phone.  Sign in with the account you created on your computer and you'll have your To Do list with you on your phone.

iPhone and Android - Free
iPad - $1.99
On your computer via your web browser at http://tomorrow.do
(won’t work in Internet Explorer – best in Chrome or Safari)


Here’s your best Android option.  Taskos is a great looking app which allows you to create multiple categories, set alerts, and even make calls from your list.  It integrates with your Facebook friends, Gmail contacts, and Twitter followers so you can share tasks with your friends via SMS or email.  The cleverest thing is that you can add to your list by speaking to your phone (with the Google voice search app).  

Taskos syncs to Google Tasks and has a home screen widget (so you can immediately see any tasks for the day).  It’s been announced that coming versions will also sync to Google Calendar, Outlook, Springpad and some other to do list apps.

Android - Free


Orchestra is the App Store productivity app of the year.  Orchestra allows you to organise your lists by timeframe - today, soon, someday or a specific date - or create categories for lists like work, personal, this weekend, birthday party.  You can also forward emails and note to Orchestra to merge them into your To Do list.  Your mobile account can be synced to a web account on the Orchestra site, so you can access your list from the site or on your phone.

Orchestra uses voice recognition software; you don't have to type everything in manually.  One of the most helpful features is that you an assign tasks to someone who doesn't even use the app.  So, if you want to allocate a task to your hubby, like "buy present for mother-in-law", you can send it to him via SMS or email directly from the app.

iPad, iPhone - Free
Android coming soon


Paperless looks great and is very easy to use.  Apart from the basics of creating lists and tasks; you can email lists, copy and paste lists, search for items on all your lists, even put passcode locks on lists you don't want people to see.   You can sync between your iPhone and iPad too.

iPhone, iPad - $2.99

Today to do

Very clever app – Today To Do uses a sunny sky for showing today’s to-do’s, a night sky showing yesterday’s and a purple-ish eclipse showing tomorrow’s. Every new day when you start this app your todo list will be empty.  Past tasks are hidden in the dark.  To access your old todos, tap on the sun and slide it to the right.  Just turn your phone 90 degrees to add a new task.  You can prioritise tasks, and set recurring tasks.  Very easy to use and a bit different to the rest.  

iPhone, iPad - $2.99

Errands To-Do List

Errands feature categories, checklists, schedules, alarms and a calendar view to help you manage your to do list tasks.  Errands doesn't automatically get rid of completed items, so if you have a recurring task you can check it off when it's done, then uncheck it when you're redoing your list.

iPhone, iPad - Free
Syncs via iTunes


Google Tasks

If you use Gmail then Google tasks is a simple solution for your to do lists.  It’s a small window that opens in Gmail, links to Google Calendar, and can be accessed through any browser, like all Google services.  From your inbox you can convert emails to tasks, and if you add due dates to your tasks they’ll automatically be added to Google Calendar.

You already have it on your computer:  Just click the down arrow next to the word Gmail in the top left of your screen, choose Tasks, and the Tasks window appears.  Type your task and if you want to add a date or note, click the arrow at the right of that task.

On your phone, Tasks is separate to Gmail.  You need to go to http://gmail.com/tasks  to access Tasks.  On the smartphone version you can view your tasks and lists, create new tasks and lists, add notes, and mark tasks as completed.  Of course, it syncs with Tasks on your computer.


Clear is the newest to-do list app, launched in February.  It's a touch-based app, and looks gorgeous.  There are no buttons; you use the gestures you're used to on a smartphone - pinch, swipe and pull.  Pull down on a list to add an item, swipe to the right to complete and item or to the left to delete it, pinch apart two items to insert a new one in between, and pinch vertically to close the current list and see all the lists you have.  Your lists are colour-coded with a heat map to show your most urgent tasks.  Really easy to use if you're familiar with a touch screen.  Currently you can't sync between devices, but hopefully  it will be a feature in a future release.

iPhone, iPod touch, iPad $2.99

All these apps are available through either the iTunes App Store for Mac and iOS devices, or Google Play Store for Android.

So, which one am I going to use?  If you just want your list on your smartphone you have a few great apps to choose from.  However, if you want to also have it on your computer, but don’t want to have to go to a website each time you want to view your list, I have just what you need.


This one app will do everything on every device – it’s available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, and syncs between all of them - even if you have a Mac at home, a Windows PC at work, an iPad and an Android phone.  The computer version is downloaded to your Windows or Mac computer; you don’t have to go to a site to view it, although they do have it on the web too.  So, if you use a mixture of Windows and iOS devices and want your to do list accessible on all your devices, you cannot go past Wunderlist.  Yes, the wonderful app I’ve been using for the past four months is the one I'll be sticking with – I originally wrote about it here.  Some of the other apps I reviewed look prettier and some have some very clever features, but I love the simplicity of Wunderlist. 

I love that I can personalise Wunderlist by changing the colour scheme from the default wood panelling scheme (I have a gorgeous pinky/magenta).  I can create as many lists as I need, with as many tasks in each as I need; and add deadlines and notes to them.  I can tick off what’s been done so I can see what’s been accomplished that day, or delete the task completely; change the deadline date for a particular task or move it to a different list.  I have a widget on my Android phone home screen which tells me with one glance if I have any outstanding tasks for the day, and it syncs automatically with my computer.  I can share lists and tasks with friends or keep them private.  If I want a paper version of my list I can print it out too.  Oh, and it’s FREE.  You can get Wunderlist here.

Have you tried any of the apps above, or do you use a different app for managing your To-Do lists?  I'd like to do a follow-up post with reviews from my readers on their favourite apps - so please comment and let me know what you've been using - and what you like about it.

10 August 2012


Microsoft have just announced a new web-based email client – Outlook.com – which will eventually be the replacement for Hotmail.  It hasn’t been released yet, but you can start using the preview now. 

You might be using Outlook on your computer now – but this isn’t the same thing.  You’ve got a desktop application, whereas Outlook.com is web-based – just like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc.  Actually the web-based version is also called Outlook, but I'm going to call it Outlook.com in this post to save confusion with the desktop version.

One of the problems with using a desktop application for your email is that it is only available on your computer, or by accessing your ISP’s website.  With web-based email you can access your messages anywhere you have an internet connection – that means on your smartphone or tablet, as well as your computer.  It’s this accessibility that has seen an explosion in the use of web-based email. 

So, what’s so special about Outlook.com?  Firstly it’s very clean and unfussy.  There’s the usual features you expect from email – being able to set up folders, label your messages, search for messages, etc., as well as some features that Hotmail has – the ability to automatically delete, file or forward certain kinds of messages as they arrive.

There’s also some great new features:  the ability to customise actions, and set up rules for managing your emails, and menu options that change depending upon the current task.  You also get free Word, Excel, and PowerPoint web apps included, with 7 GB of free cloud storage, which means you can open attached Office files in your browser, even if you don’t have Office installed on that device.

The biggest difference between Outlook.com and other email services is the integration with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – if you decide you want it to – and you control who gets to see what.  You’ll be able to receive Facebook messages and Twitter tweets in your inbox, and have photos, videos, status updates and instant chat accessible from the one screen.  If you receive an email from, or are emailing, a friend, Outlook will import their most recent tweets and Facebook updates, along with links to their profile pages.  You can even like, comment, retweet and reply, all from the one screen.  Also coming soon is built-in Skype.

This video gives you an idea of how the integration with Facebook works...

There’s virtually unlimited storage for your email messages, and less spam. There are some ads, but they’re very discreetly lined up on the right of the screen, and you probably won’t even notice them. If you still like your desktop Outlook, you can keep using it as well. The newly announced Outlook 2013 will integrate with Outlook.com using Microsoft’s Skydrive cloud service to sync the two. If you’re using Outlook.com over multiple devices, of course your messages and calendar will be automatically synced.

If you’re currently using Hotmail, nothing is going to change yet – unless you want it to. You can use your current Hotmail address indefinitely, but you will eventually be moved over from Hotmail to Outlook.com. However, if you’d like to switch over now you can. Existing Hotmail users can upgrade to the Outlook.com preview by clicking “Upgrade” on the options menu of Hotmail. Your e-mail address, contacts and old e-mail will remain the same and you can still use the e-mail and messaging platforms at hotmail.com, msn.com and live.com.

If you are interested in using Outlook.com or just grabbing an @outlook.com e-mail address in case of future use, then visit Outlook.com to sign-up. If you already have a Microsoft Live login you can use this to access Outlook.com, or you can sign up to get a new @outlook.com email address. You don't have to have an @outlook.com email address to use it - once you’ve logged in you’ll be asked if you want to add any other email account to Outlook.com – Gmail, Yahoo, any ISP-based accounts – Bigpond, Optus etc - you can use Outlook.com to access any email account.   If you’re adding a Gmail account you’ll need to set up forwarding in Gmail as well. You can also import all your contacts from Gmail, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Once it’s set up on your computer you can start using it on your phone or tablet, but for the moment you’ll need to access it via your browser. The separate mobile apps aren’t ready just yet, but it will be available for Windows Phone, iPhone, and Android.

I’ve used Outlook on my computer for managing all my personal and business email accounts for years and hadn’t planned on changing. However, I am really impressed with Outlook.com and, with a few things bugging me when using Outlook 2010 on my laptop, I think I might try a switch to Outlook.com for a while.  I’ll definitely be switching to it for email on my phone.

08 August 2012

The View Master reincarnated

I don’t normally post about gadgets – I usually pop them on Pinterest – but I had to make an exception for this. 

Do you remember the ViewMaster from when you were a child, how you could insert the slide disks and see the pictures in 3D?  When I first saw this I thought it was an updated version.  But it’s a bit more than that….. with the Sanwa iPhone 3D viewer you can watch YouTube videos on your iPhone in 3D!

There’s a slot on top where you pop your iPhone 4 or 4S, and a hole underneath where you can reach your iPhone’s touchscreen for controlling volume and playback.   Because you’re so much closer to the screen the 3D movie will appear much larger than when you’re normally watching something on your phone.

It’s just been released in Japan, so hopefully it will be here for Christmas (the price in Japan converts to around $25, which probably means we’ll pay closer to $50 here!).  Of course, you could try buying from the Sanwa website in Japan (if you can read Japanese), or is there anyone you know visiting Japan soon?

It just looks like the perfect Christmas present for the difficult-to-buy-for teenage techie.

07 August 2012


It’s very likely that the next generation will never buy a CD or even ‘own’ music by paying to download it to a computer, iPod, or smartphone.  Instead they’ll be using the ‘Cloud’ to stream music to multiple devices, and no longer have to worry about clogging up their hard drives with their favourite tunes.

But, why wait for the future, you can do it all now…

There are more and more music streaming services becoming available – Rdio, Deezer, JB Hi-Fi Now, Sony Music Unlimited and Microsoft’s Zune Pass.  However, there’s one new entry that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. 

Spotify is the world’s biggest music streaming service.  It’s been available in Europe for the last four years, and just recently the USA, now it has reached Australia.  Spotify has one advantage over the others – it’s free on your desktop computer. 

Spotify allows you to stream 10 hours of music for free each month from a library of over 16 million tracks.  You have to put up with about 3-4 minutes of ads each hour, but if they are too annoying you can pay $6.99 a month for an ad-free unlimited membership. 

How do you get Spotify?

Go to www.spotify.com and sign up.  You need to enter your country, and then click ‘Log in to Facebook’.    Add your Facebook email address and password, and register.  Spotify is then downloaded to your computer.  Once downloaded, login, and you can click on ‘I’m new to Spotify’ for a guided tour.  You’ll be given the option to link your account to Facebook, which you’ll need to do if you want to use Spotify’s social features (more about that below).

Once you’ve set up your Spotify account you can download it to as many computers as you like and because your music is stored in the ‘cloud’ you’ll have access to it as soon as you log-in.

How do you get music?


The first screen you’ll see is the ‘What’s New’ page.  Here you’ll see recommended albums, top playlists, and new releases.   123 Top Lists will show you the top 100 tracks and albums in Australia (or whichever country you prefer by clicking on the arrow next to Australia). 

Spotify uses playlists to organise your music, so the first step is to create a new playlist – just click New Playlist and give it a name.  If you know what you want to listen to you can type the tune’s title in the search bar at the top of the Spotify window.  When you find the track you’re after just click and drag it to your playlist (or right-click the track and select the action you want from the pop-up menu).  You can create as many playlists as you like, add tracks to existing playlists, and easily rearrange your playlists. 
To start listening to your music just click on one of your playlists and it will appear in Spotify’s main window.  Double click on the first track and it will start playing. 
Spotify will also display any music from your computer as well – from CDs you’ve added and those you’ve purchased through iTunes or other music sites.

Special features

If you secretly see yourself as a DJ you’ll love some of Spotify’s special features.  Gapless playback means that one track merges seamlessly into the next with no gaps.  Crossfading means that similar sounding tracks are layered over each other so you barely notice the transition from one to the next.  You’ll need to make sure you choose the right tracks with a similar sound and tempo.  You can activate these features by clicking Edit, then Preferences and selecting the appropriate box.  
What if you feel like some new music?  Spotify’s Radio feature creates a list of tracks that are similar to one you select.  If you like a track that’s playing right-click its name and select ‘Start Radio’ and Spotify will create a ‘radio station’ based on that song.  Spotify keeps a list of previous radio stations you’ve created so you can go back and play them again if you like.   Radio is only available if you have a premium membership.
Spotify also has apps you can install, like Triple J (for their hottest 100 lists), and TuneWiki (if you want to view synchronised lyrics for a song you’re playing).

Social Spotify

If you choose to link Facebook to your Spotify account you’ll be able to see the playlists of your Facebook friends who also have Spotify, and you’ll see an option to subscribe, which means that playlist is added to your list of playlists on Spotify.

You can recommend songs to your Facebook and Twitter friends by choosing to send a link by email; or if they are also on Spotify you can ‘share’ a track with them, which publishes the link on your profile. 

Premium membership

When you first sign-up to Spotify you’ll get 30 days free access to the premium membership, which gives you added features like ad-free unlimited playbacks, offline access to your playlists, better sound quality and access to Spotify on your iPhone, iPad, Android or Windows phone or tablet.  If you love the premium account, once the 30 days is over you pay $11.99 per month. 

Have you tried Spotify yet - I'd love to know what you think of it.

06 August 2012

Happy 21st - to the World Wide Web

Today is the 21st Birthday of the first website.  On 6 August 1991 the first website info.cern.ch - went live.   It was created by Tim Berners-Lee, a physicist at CERN (the European organisation for nuclear research) to demonstrate the potential of the World Wide Web.  It contained information about hypertext, technical details for creating a webpage, and an explanation of how to search the Web for information. 

With those at CERN being the only people who actually had web browser software, the rest of the world remained mostly ignorant to what had just happened.  It wasn’t until 1993 that more websites started appearing.  Even then most of the general public still had no idea that the Internet even existed.   

Have a laugh at this segment from the US Today show from 1994 – there’s a bit of confusion about the internet and the @ symbol.