Not every new thing is worth following. For example, we've been reading for weeks about Periscope, a hot new app for watching live video from anyone who cares to post it. As you might guess, the village videot strikes, and strikes again.
The best post we saw was a close-up of someone practicing the piano (with lots of mistakes) and an inaudible routine at a New York City comedy club. (Hey, those were the highlights.) The other stuff was along the order of: "I'm brushing my teeth now."
Periscope is owned by Twitter, and it had much better stuff initially, but unfortunately it was illegal. Users started posting TV broadcasts such as Game of Thrones. The company took down 66 illegal shows, including the Mayweather-Pacquiao championship boxing match that people paid thousands of dollars to see in person. (Top price we came across was $350,000 for a ringside seat.)
If you want to try it for yourself, go to the Internet on your iPhone or iPad (no Android as of yet) and Google the words "Periscope app." Or go straight to Periscope.tv and tap "download." The alternative is to tap on the App Store. But when we tried that on our iPad Mini, the only Periscope listed was the $3 version, not the free one. We've often noticed that a popular app isn't always at the App Store. But magically, when you Google its name, it's suddenly there. Who knows?
A Decent Keyboard for your Phone
If you're like us, you make lots of mistakes typing on your phone. The new Jorno may be the best Bluetooth keyboard yet. It connects wirelessly to your phone and comes in a handy carrying case with a microfiber lining to grab onto any dust. The case folds up to become a stand. Rest your phone on it, unfold the keyboard and you're ready to type.
The keyboard isn't full-sized, but it's roomy compared to any iPhone or Android keyboard. When folded up and inside its case, it's only 6 inches by 4 inches. Before needing a recharge, the battery will last through 82 hours of continuous typing or 220 days on standby. This might make a good gift for a student going off to college, or for people who answer all their email on their phones. It's $99 at JornoStore.com.
• Turboscan was suggested by a doctor who reads our column. He said it's good for scanning a document with your camera phone, and it worked well in our tests. It's $3 for Android or iPhone.
It lets you take multipage scans. Crop the results and you can combine three similar shots to get better resolution. When satisfied, tap the app to email the document as a PDF.
• Morningstar is a free app for iPhone and Android, and it is now available on the Apple Watch as well. Morningstar is mainly a rating service for mutual funds, but the app also provides info on current market action.
• iDevices is another free app for the Apple Watch from iDevicesInc.com. It lets you control your grill and kitchen thermometer if you happen to have bought iDevices' iGrill or Kitchen Thermometer. It tells you how hot your food is and lets you reset temperatures.
Drone in a Backpack
We're starting to see drones in the park. Why are they looking at us? (We're not paranoid yet, but we're willing to start.)
If you're shopping for a new drone, the $99 PlexiDrone set for September comes in a hard shell case you carry like a backpack. When you're ready for takeoff, the pieces snap together. You can snap on cameras from GoPro, Sony or Lumix. The drone has retractable landing gear.
Tap "follow me" on your phone or tablet and the drone will follow you. If you have several drones in the air, you'll get the same shot from multiple vantage points.
• BrickStreetView.com makes Google Street Views look like everything was made from Lego blocks. Type in any street address and you can see it in Lego bricks. Most of the places look alike, and it's really hard to make out what you're looking at -- but it was amusing.
• Einar Oberg, the same Swedish programmer who created BrickStreetView, adds jungle growth to street views in San Francisco, New York, Stockholm and other places at Inear.se/urbanjungle. (You know: "It's a jungle out there." Well, he decided to take it literally.)
Shutterfly.com is the king of photo gifts, but when SnapBoxPrints asked us to try out its new photo pillows, we let them go head to head with Shutterfly, ordering one pillow from each as a surprise present for Joy's niece who has a 1-year-old daughter.
SnapBoxPrints gives you an 18-by-18-inch photo pillow for $35. At Shutterfly, we spent $40, and the pillow is smaller, at 16-by-12. But we've never been there when they weren't having a sale.
Both sites have pillow templates, although Shutterfly had a few more to choose from. At Shutterfly, we chose a pillow with slots for four photos of our niece's baby, and the word "Love" scrawled in the corner. At SnapBoxPrints, the one we liked best was a single photo with some scribbled hearts in one corner. SnapBoxPrints also has peel-and-stick fabric posters starting at 75 cents.
SnapBoxPrints warned us that the photo we downloaded from Facebook was too low quality, so we asked our niece to send a higher-resolution version. We got no such warning from Shutterfly, but both services produced great results. It comes down to which templates you like best, although the fabric used by SnapBoxPrints was nice and velvety. For photo books, we like Mixbook.com. It gives you 50 percent off on your first order, and it is easy to use.
We recently switched from Google's Chrome Web browser to Opera because Chrome started giving us problems. Now there's a solution from Google called Software Removal Tool. Get it at google.com/chrome/srt.
What it does is scan your browser for anything that slows it down. This includes extensions; these are small programs like AdBlock or Gmail Offline. Extensions slow your browsing. If there's one you have to have, you can always put it back on. Chrome seemed to work slightly faster after we tried this. (We get so impatient sometimes.)
Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at [email protected] and [email protected]
SundayMonday Business on 05/25/2015