Force an upgrade on an Amazon Fire phone?

AskDaveTaylor - Sat, 09/20/2014 - 09:55

Boy, I start writing about the Amazon Fire phone and people start coming out of the woodwork with Fire questions!  As you probably know, the Fire phone runs Amazon’s version of Android, the same version that you can find on Kindle devices. Problem is, because it’s Amazon’s version of Android, that means that when Android upgrades to a newer version, that’s not automatically and instantly also available for Amazon devices like the Fire phone.

Instead, you need to wait until Amazon fixes everything up and integrates its Carousel, Firefly technology and other add-ons to the system before your phone will be ready for the new operating system.

When it is available, the good news is that just like a Kindle, your phone should automatically update to the latest version without any intervention.

But if you really want to make sure you’re up to date start by tapping on “Settings”.

See “Device” near the bottom? Tap on it.

Now you’ll have quite a few device settings:

The one you seek is right in the middle: “Install system update”.

Tap on that to see what version you’re running and the status of your phone:

You can see I’m running Fire OS 3.5.1 (111009920), but the last time the phone checked was 11 days ago, so maybe it’s time to check again.

Tap on “Check Now” and it’ll go out and check to see if there’s a newer version, then report back:

“No updates found”. So that’s that.

If you’re seeing the same thing, then you’re phone’s also up-to-date. Easy enough, as you can see!

The post Force an upgrade on an Amazon Fire phone? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Through the Google lens: search trends Sept 12-18

GoogleBlog - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 16:36
-Welcome to this week’s search trends. May I take your order?
-Can I have a referendum on independence, a totally inappropriate flight passenger with a Hollywood baby on the side?
-Coming right up!

Flag and country
“They may take away our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!” That was Sir William Wallace battlecry for Scottish independence in the film Braveheart. While this week’s events in Scotland weren’t quite as cinematic, the results could have been revolutionary. On Thursday the world watched and searched as an unprecedented numbers of Scots went to the polls to answer the question, "Should Scotland be independent from the United Kingdom?" Turns out the majority of people don’t think it should, and voted to stay a member of the U.K. Party leaders have now promised significant constitutional changes for the entire kingdom. What would Wallace have made of that?

The comeback kings
Everybody loves a comeback and search had its fair share this week. First up, nostalgia for the 90’s brought Surge soda back from the dead. Thanks to a Facebook campaign called "The SURGE Movement," Coca-Cola will now sell its "fully-loaded citrus” soft drink for a limited time on Amazon. And the Chicago Bears denied the 49ers a win in their brand-spanking-new stadium when they rallied to overturn a 13-point deficit in the last quarter to beat San Francisco 28-20.

Airing dirty laundry
Hard plastic-y seats, broken recliner adjusters, zero leg room—flying economy isn’t always the most pleasant experience. And depending on who you’re sitting next to, your easy two-hour flight could turn into a nightmare before you even take off. But the passengers of the world aren’t having it, not anymore. This week, “passenger shaming” went viral on social media as traumatized travelers shared photos of the most absurdly obnoxious unconscientious things some passenger do on flights—we’re talking bare feet, bare skin... well, you should just see for yourself.

But at least those offending fliers were shielded in anonymity. Singer Robin Thicke wasn’t afforded the same luxury, revealing in a court deposition this week that he had little to do with the creation of last year’s song of the summer “Blurred Lines.” As part of his defense against a copyright infringement lawsuit, Thicke admitted that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol for most of 2013—bringing a whole new meaning to the song’s title.

And the winner is ...
The hipster revolution has finally taken over the United States! Need proof? Searchers don’t. When New Yorker Kira Kazantsev won the the title of Miss America, the Internet discovered that the U.S.A’s new leading lady is a former food blogger. She’s even reported on her state’s crown foodie jewel, the cronut. Miss America wasn’t the only who got to bask in the limelight; boxing world champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. won his rematch with contender Marcos Maidana by an unanimous decision. The victory brings his undefeated tally to 47… somehow the title world champion is starting to sound like an understatement.

Love on the set!
For Orange is the New Black screenwriter Lauren Morelli, life imitated art a bit more than she probably expected. While writing the hit program, Morelli decided to divorce her husband and start a relationship with Samira Wiley, an actress from the show. Meanwhile, searchers learned that Mindy Kaling considers former The Office castmate and on-screen boyfriend B.J. Novak “the love that got away.” But while not all on-set relationships last, some couples not only make it work but also take their relationship to the next level. That’s the route taken by Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who met while making the movie The Place Beyond the Pines. The power couple welcomed baby girl Gosling earlier this week.

Tip of the week
The NFL season’s just getting started so it’s time to hunker down and plan your football viewing schedule. Just say, “OK Google, show me the NFL schedule” to coordinate your life for the next four months. We’ll see you back in the spring.

Posted by Jenise Araujo, Communications Associate, who searched this week for [hey girl] and [no shirt, no shoes, no service].
Categories: Technology

Can I Pin a Favorite App to My Fire Phone Home Screen?

AskDaveTaylor - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:15

The Amazon Fire phone. You are like a Marine, the few, the proud. Seriously, sales figures show that Amazon fumbled badly with this particular product in a way that’s quite unlike the company’s general approach to retail. Still, it’s a pretty neat phone and has some very interesting technology, including the exaggerated 3D effect and Firefly, the perfect camera for people who like to buy stuff.

The interface on the Android phone is definitely unlike any other Android device on the market though. On a Kindle, a device designed for people who don’t want to deal with the complexity of a standard touch interface, the interface works really well and makes it super easy to jump back into that ebook you’re reading after a quick surf to a favorite Web site or a check of the latest news in the BBC app or similar.

Take that same interface and put it on a smartphone, however, and it’s rather annoying. I know, I have an Amazon Fire phone myself and the user experience is definitely one of its weaknesses.

The center of the phone’s interface is the “carousel”, where the dozen most recently used apps are highlighted with spiffy 3D icons and additional information immediately below each app icon. swipe left to right and you can spin through them fairly quickly to find which one you seek. Or you can just be frustrated that things like a tweak to your settings has now stuck the “Settings” app in the list for the next few days.

Fortunately, you can redo the carousel by pinning specific apps to the head of the queue. And it’s really easy!

Find an app that’s on the carousel. I’ll use the Audible app for my demo (I’m listening to the audio book Command Decision, if it’s a bit confusing):

Now here’s the secret: tap and hold your finger on the app icon.

A menu pops up:

Now you can see that you can pin it to the home grid (the main app grid view if you switch to that because you just hate the Carousel view) but you can also “Pin to Front”. That’s it. Tap on it.

Solved. Now the app lives permanently at the head of the queue, as indicated by the tiny pushpin icon that’s now showing:

Oh, and “Command Decision”? Terrific. Check it out.

The post Can I Pin a Favorite App to My Fire Phone Home Screen? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How do I redeem or activate a Steam game code?

AskDaveTaylor - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 17:49

If you’re even a casual gamer, you know about Steam. It’s an amazing platform that lets you have all your games, all your saved game data, and all your buddies in one place, even across individual games. That’s how you can play The Sims 4, for example, as I’ve written about over on my dad blog.

Steam also works with Mac, Windows PC and Linux, so it’s impressively cross-platform. If you’re a computer gamer, it’ll run on your computer, and do a good job.

Like an iTunes Store redemption code, however, you can’t really redeem the Steam code without having Steam installed and running on your system, and without you then also signing up for a (free) Steam account. So let me show you how that goes…

To start, head over to Steam and click on that lovely download link (or just hit the one below):

Once it downloads, it’s a pretty typical Mac app installation process where you just drag the app into the Applications folder and it does whatever magic is needed on first launch:

You can do that!

Now double-click to launch the app and once it’s done its initial data download from the Steam server, it’ll ask you to log in to your existing Steam account or create a new one:

Since I have an account (on my PC), I’ll log in by clicking on “Login to an existing account”.

Then once I enter my account and password, it’s no surprise that, well, I don’t have much there as of yet:

Pretty sad, actually.

Now, finally, you can redeem the code that the company sent you. Click on “+ Add a Game…” on the lower left edge:

As you can see, choose “Activate a Product on Steam…”

Now you’ll have the chance to enter your redemption code, as I’m going to do with my review copy of the upcoming game A Golden Wake:

(I’ve blanked out most of the code I used for obvious reasons, but it was in the AAAAA-BBBBB-CCCCC format)

Enter the code carefully, then click “Next >” to submit it to the Steam servers. If it works, you’ll see “Activation Successful!”

Almost done!

Click on “Next >” again to actually download the game:

I find that the time estimates for downloading software are very off-target. This game took about 45sec to download on my Xfinity connection, no complaints about that!

Finally, it’s installed and ready to run. Click “Play” and you’re in your new game.


And when you’re done, do explore Steam a bit, especially the Steam store. Lots and lots of gaming goodness.

The post How do I redeem or activate a Steam game code? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

The Problem With Cloud Storage: Deleting Old Material

AskDaveTaylor - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:52

Everyone’s so gung-ho about cloud storage being the solution to all your data archive needs, but there’s a dark underbelly to that solution: deleting old material to make space for the new stuff. The problem? Where’s the archive of the older content?

Yeah. That’s a problem.

Here are my thoughts on the topic:

If you’d like to learn more about the Western Digital My Cloud device that I reference, please check it out here: WD My Cloud.

The post The Problem With Cloud Storage: Deleting Old Material appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How do I export all my data from Facebook?

AskDaveTaylor - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 08:23

Surprisingly perhaps, there is now a way to save all of your Facebook posts, comments, photos, etc in a data file that you can squirrel away on your computer or analyze to see how many embarrassing photos you posted when you were first on Facebook. It’s pretty complicated and they don’t make it easy to find, but let’s delve into it, shall we.

I do need to start with a disclaimer, however: I’ve never gotten this to actually work for me however many times I’ve tried it. It might just be that my particular Facebook account has so darn much data that it takes weeks for them to assemble an archive, but then again, perhaps they didn’t do such a good job of implementing this feature. I obviously hope you have better luck.

To start, go to Settings on your FB account menu:

From here, on the left side, choose “General”:

Now you’ll see lots of different information and options on the main portion of the screen but… none of them are what you seek.

In fact, you need to scroll to the very bottom and then you’ll see almost hidden below the main box of options this additional link:

Seriously, picking Fahrenheit vs. Celsius for your default temperature is more important than exporting your Facebook data, right?

Click on “Download a copy” of your Facebook data and…

That’s pretty cool looking, and it details that it’ll include posts, photos, videos, messages, chats, your profile information and more. Jeez, I’ve been on Facebook for years and years, no wonder it’s taking a long time to build my own export.

Click on “Start My Archive” and you’ll need to confirm that it’s you, the account owner, requesting this backup:

You’re you? What luck! Click “Submit” and you’ll see the first warning.

Click on “Start My Archive” and you’ll be told that you’ll get an email notification when they’re done building the archive:

For me, this is the last communication I have with Facebook about this. I never seem to get the email in question so perhaps my backup is never ready to download?

I’m hoping yours will work fine. What would be great would be if people can try this and chime in whether it worked for you or not in the comments!

In any case, yes, there’s a way to get all your Facebook data. All zillion megabytes. Good luck.

The post How do I export all my data from Facebook? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How do I add a LinkedIn search box to my Web page?

AskDaveTaylor - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 09:01

Well, there’s the easy part and the hard part. The easy part is to have a search box on your page that lets you enter a pattern and take you to LinkedIn to have the results displayed. The really hard part would be to duplicate all the suggestions that naturally show up as you’re typing in a search on an actual LinkedIn page. That involves some fancy programming, both on the display side and behind the scenes.

If you really wanted to demonstrate your programming skills I suppose you could indeed duplicate that functionality too, but it’s beyond what I can do in a few minutes, so let’s just reverse engineer this baby instead.

To start, here’s the search box:

Now you could click on “Advanced” if you really want to see a complicated set of search criteria, but let’s keep things simple.

To reverse engineer, search for someone. I’ll search for Sarah Palin:

Interesting, but the really interesting stuff is happening in the address bar, where this is the resultant URL:


Lots of stuff going on, for sure.

But as all reverse engineers know, the magic is in trying to remove things and seeing what happens. Turns out that you can ignore just about all of the parameters as the first two are the only ones that are important:



There’s nothing else you need. So you can turn that knowledge — and the URL portion prior to the “?” — into a simple HTML form:

<form method=”get” action=””>
<input type=”hidden” name=”type” value=”all” />
Search LinkedIn: <input type=”text” name=”keywords”>
<input type=”submit” value=”Go!”

This looks like the following when it’s actually working code:

Search LinkedIn:

That’s it. Try it, actually.

Cool, eh? Now of course you can use a bit of CSS to make it more snazzy too:

Search LinkedIn:

All I did was add some styles, as you can see in this code listing:

<form style=”border: 2px solid black; margin: 8px; padding: 5px;background:#eee;” action=”” method=”get” target=”_blank”><input name=”type” type=”hidden” value=”all” />
Search LinkedIn:
<input style=”border: 1px solid black;” name=”keywords” type=”text” /><input type=”submit” value=”Go!” />

So there ya go. Have fun with it!

The post How do I add a LinkedIn search box to my Web page? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

For the next five billion: Android One

GoogleBlog - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 04:12
Knowledge is a game changer. I’ve long been inspired by the Internet and how it opens the doors to opportunity. It provides access to knowledge, no matter who you are or where you are. For instance, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Nobel Laureate at a world-class research center or a young student at a rural school in Indonesia, with Google Search, you have the same information at your fingertips as anyone else.

If we look at how people are getting online and accessing information today, increasingly it’s through a smartphone. While 1.75 billion people around the world already have a smartphone, the vast majority of the world’s population—over five billion more—do not. That means most people are only able to make simple voice calls, rather than connect with family through a live video chat, use mapping apps to find the closest hospital, or simply search the web. We want to bring these experiences to more people.

That’s where Android One comes in. At I/O, we first talked about this initiative to make high-quality smartphones accessible to as many people as possible. And today we’re introducing the first family of Android One phones in India.
Addressing key barriers—hardware, software and connectivity
There are three big reasons why it’s hard for people in countries such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines to get their hands on a high-quality smartphone. First, is the hardware itself. Even entry-level smartphones still remain out of reach for many (bear in mind that in some of these countries the average monthly income is around $250). Second, many people in these markets do not have access to the latest Android software and popular applications. Finally, even where 3G and 4G networks are available, not enough people have phones that can support data and the plans can be expensive.

Android One aims to help tackle these challenges. By working closely with phone and silicon chip makers to share reference designs and select components, we’re making it easier for our partners to build phones that are not just great to use, but also affordable. They have lots of processing power, so you can get information quickly. They have high-quality front- and rear-facing cameras. And for all those pictures, along with your apps and videos, Android One phones will have expandable storage. We also added features that people in India will find particularly useful, like dual SIM cards, a replaceable battery and built-in FM radio.
To help ensure a consistent experience, Android One devices will receive the latest versions of Android directly from Google. So you’ll get all the latest features, up-to-date security patches, and peace of mind knowing your stuff is always backed up. It also means Android One devices will be some of the first to be updated to the Android L release later this year. For our hardware partners, they’ll be able to create customized experiences and differentiate their devices without having to change the core software.

In an effort to reduce data costs, if you have an Airtel SIM card, you’ll get these software updates for free for the first six months. As part of this same Airtel offer, you’ll also be able to download up to 200MB per month worth of your favorite apps (that’s about 50 apps overall) from Google Play—all without counting toward your mobile data usage.

More to come
This is just the beginning of the Android One journey. The first phones, from our hardware partners Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and chipmaker MediaTek, are available starting today in India from leading retailers starting at Rs 6,399. We’re also excited to welcome more partners to the program, including phone manufacturers Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and chipmaker Qualcomm. We expect to see even more high-quality, affordable devices with different screen sizes, colors, hardware configurations and customized software experiences. Finally, we plan to expand the Android One program to Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) by the end of the year, with more countries to follow in 2015.

Access for access’s sake is not enough. With Android One, we not only want to help people get online, we want to make sure that when they get there, they can tap into the wealth of information and knowledge the web holds for everyone.

Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps
Categories: Technology

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 19:00

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