A tiny (but handy) new feature on Google maps

By | June 1, 2012
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In the Computers newsletter this time:
  • A tiny (but handy) new feature on Google maps
  • What I do when faced with this annoying problem
  • Yet another scam to hang up on

Sometimes it seems like the biggest problem for someone who writes about computers is keeping up with everything Google do.  And here’s something I stumbled across at the weekend…

A tiny (but handy) new feature on Google maps

Last weekend Julie’s Dad and Grandma were coming up to see Edward for the first time.  And once they’d set off, we wanted to check how long the journey was, so we knew when to expect them.

So I went onto www.google.co.uk, clicked on maps and then on “Get Directions”.  I typed in our postcode and Julie’s Grandma’s home town and it gave me directions, but also an estimated time for how long the journey would take.

That was something I expected, but there was one new bit – underneath the estimated duration it also gives “in current traffic” and an estimate based on the traffic, any road blockages and so on.

No use if you’re planning a route for next week, of course, but handy if you want to see how long it’ll take before visitors arrive, or to know which route has less traffic if you’re about to set off.

Or even just to help you plan when to put a little one down for his nap so he’ll be awake again when visitors arrive!

What I do when faced by this annoying problem

A reader asked me recently about “contact us” forms that some companies use instead of an email address.  If you haven’t seen them, if you go to pretty much any big company’s website, instead of an email address, they have a form you fill in on the website – and it emails the message to them.

They do it to hide their email address so it can’t get picked up by scammers who’ll deluge them with spam.

(We display a real email address on our website and just delete the spam – because I think it makes it easier for customers.)

The problem with these forms is you haven’t got a record of what you said in your “Sent Messages”, so if you need to refer to it later on or just check when you sent it, you can’t.

What I do is type up what I want to say and just before clicking on “Send” or whatever the button is labelled, I copy everything I’ve typed – selecting it with the mouse, right clicking on it and then choosing “Copy”.  Then open up Notepad from the start menu (Word, OpenOffice or Wordpad would do just as well), right click on the blank page and choose paste.  Then save that document with a name you can recognise.

Then you’ve got the message you sent – and you can even type the date at the top if you like.

Once or twice it’s proved very handy when someone’s lost the message I’ve sent them!

Yet another scam to hang up on

There’s another scam doing the rounds where someone rings you up saying they’re from the “Ministry of Justice”.  They say that the government won a huge sum of money from the banks in a legal battle last year and that 2000 people over the age of 50 will receive shares of it.

They’ll ask for bank details to transfer the money into – and as you might guess, you’ll never get the money and they’ll use your details to try to get your cash.

So if you get one of these phone calls, just hang up – don’t give them any details, even if they seem to already know what bank you use.

Well, that’s all for now

Tim Wakeling
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