Bitcoin, the digital currency, has been going up like crazy. But is it a better store of value than gold?
Last year, bitcoin went from a little over $7,000 to over $26,000 per digital coin. On Jan. 8, a single coin hit $40,675.80.
I've had some experience with cryptocurrency. In 2017, I bought part of a bitcoin at Coinbase.com, when it was valued at around $4,000. I bought a bit more when it rose to $15,000. What can I say, I'm a gambler. Unfortunately, I sold it after it crashed below $4,000. Disaster. I admire those who "HODL," a bitcoin acronym standing for "Hold On For Dear Life."
According to a deVere Group survey of its own clients, 67% of millennials -- those born between 1980 and 1996 -- say the future is with bitcoin, despite these ups and downs. But how much can we trust deVere's prediction? Well, it's a worldwide organization with 80,000 clients in 100 countries. The survey went out to every one of those.
Another reason for bitcoin's rise, deVere says, is inflation. When central banks around the world go overboard printing money, traders get leery of investing in currencies and look for safe havens. We'll see.
A free app called Overviewer was recently developed by the husband of a kindergarten teacher. She wanted her Zoom class to look down on her work while she draws, while also being able to see her face in a side window.
To help out, her husband used a stack of books to mount his iPhone from above, turning it into an overhead camera. Do a web search on "A new app allows teachers to use their iPhone or iPad as an overhead camera on Zoom" for details.
I love showing classic movies to a 10 year-old girl I babysit, including the 1933 version of "Little Women," with Katharine Hepburn. Such classics are free on YouTube and generate an interesting discussion about the difference between "the olden days" and now.
More classics are uploaded all the time. For example, "Little Lord Fauntleroy" was placed on YouTube in June. Other freebies include "The Inspector General" with Danny Kaye, Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella," "Jane Eyre," "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" and many others.
FREE BOOKS AND AUDIO BOOKS
Library Explorer lets you borrow books for free to read on a screen. I borrowed a 1996 Irish memoir titled "Are You Somebody?" The author, ever lonely, likes to say hello to the refrigerator when its motor starts. You can borrow as many books or audio books as you like at openlibrary.org. If your session expires, just click "borrow again."
PHONE SERVICE PRICES
A reader told me about Ultra Mobile, which uses the T-Mobile network to provide really cheap cellphone service. It gives you unlimited calling and text messages, plus a gigabyte of data for $10 a month, paid a year in advance. If you exceed a gigabyte, your internet experience slows down but never ends. "You could truthfully say it has unlimited data, if you have the patience," the reader notes. Fortunately, he didn't have to buy a device from Ultra Mobile. "I brought my own phone, a Motorola 5G+ Plus," he said.
An Ultra Mobile user on Amazon objected that its free international calls shut off after 20 or 30 minutes. Another user argued that the phone service slows down after 500 megabytes, not a gigabyte. But it all sounds OK to me. An Amazon review explains in detail how to set it up. It's a little techie.
A reader liked my suggestion of using a stylus to tap on a phone instead of smudgy fingers. But he feared losing it. So he bought the Hprime 3 Pack Stylus Pen Holder. "I stuck one on the back edge of my iPhone case," he said. That brought mixed results.
Going in and out of a pocket all day, the stylus hit a snag sometimes. It works better if you keep your phone in a bag or purse. But there's no problem sticking a stylus on an iPad or tablet. The reader uses a $10 Diodrio pencil/pen holder, which attaches with an elastic band. Besides tablets, it works with any paper journal.
NEW FROM GOOGLE
The Chrome browser now automatically blocks ads that use an excessive amount of computer resources, according to bleepingcomputer.com.
In other news, Chrome now shows you the battery level of anything connected to your computer by Bluetooth, such as headphones or speakers.
Speaking of batteries, the new Extreme Battery Saver, which works with the Pixel 3 on up, pauses most apps and slows processing to save battery life even more than the regular Battery Saver does.
Also for Pixel owners, Google's new Hold for Me feature works well. But I found it hard not to stay glued to the phone, watching the transcript roll by, as a voicemail message played silently. I got a bleep when it was time to talk to a representative. But at least I didn't have to hear endless repetitions of: "Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line."
Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at [email protected]