The electronic license plate hits the streets of California

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California just approved a new type of license plate. It uses electronic ink to display messages, such as: “This car has been stolen”. It could be the start of a trend.

With Reviver’s “RPlate”, you control your license plate messages from an app on your phone. Compared to a personalized license plate, the RPlate can display much more information, such as your company’s website and phone number.

The new plate uses a monochrome e-ink screen protected by a cover six times stronger than glass. Its battery lasts five years, and it works with Bluetooth, allowing the plate to join the “Internet of Things”. The cost is $20 per month or about $215 for four years. A wired version for fleets adds GPS and backlighting. More info on ArsTechnica.

MAKEUP PRINTER

This takes the cake: a 3D printer called “Mink Makeup Printer”.

Users are encouraged to upload a photo of their favorite celebrity. The app analyzes the star’s makeup and sends the information to the printer to create an exact replica. The printer picks up the ink and deposits it on a powder. More info at Mashable.com.

PHONE CAMERA WORTH AN UPGRADE?

Is it worth upgrading to get a better phone camera? My magnified photo came out blurry. It’s because I don’t have an optical zoom.

Optical zoom means you have multiple cameras on your phone to mimic the effect you get with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. “Hybrid zoom” is optical zoom plus artificial intelligence. It lets your phone’s camera “imagine” the perfect resolution and then implement it. With this approach, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can magnify images up to 30 times.

A much cheaper alternative is a telephoto lens that clips onto your phone. But I found that the photos taken by my photo-enthusiast friend with his $18 clip couldn’t compare to those taken by his old Canon point-and-shoot, let alone a DSLR. Alternatively, the $99 Photoshop Elements photo-editing software did a great job of fine-tuning the enlarged image. It was no longer blurry.

If your photo is already sharp and you want to zoom in on the focal point, try the free “Zoomy Zoom Effect Pics & Video” app for iPad or iPhone. It turns a still image into a quick video that zooms in and out. The premium version, for $4, removes the watermark.

SOON AVAILABLE FOR ANDROIDS

A new “Archive” feature is coming to Android phones, to help save storage space on your phone. It could make a big difference. For example, according to TheVerge, the Google News app only uses 1.4 megabytes as archives. The complete application occupies 32 megabytes, which is about 23 times more.

You will see the “archive” option when you start uninstalling an app. After archiving, the app will appear on your phone with a little cloud around it. To reinstall, just tap. This saves having to search the App Store.

NAME THIS MUSIC

Watching a YouTube video the other day, I couldn’t name the familiar melody that went with it. So I added the “Shazam” app from the app store to my phone. Now when I play a YouTube video or any other music source, I can go back to Shazam to identify it. For example, Shazam just identified a Bach piece playing in the background of a documentary.

INFLUENCE FOR MONEY

A woman with 5,500 followers on TikTok is making money as an ‘Amazon influencer’. In other words, she earns a commission when people buy what she recommends. To sign up, search for “Amazon Influencer”.

MONSTER COOKIE

“When is it acceptable to accept cookies when visiting a site?” asked a reader.

According to a Reader’s Digest article, “Three Times You Shouldn’t Accept Cookies”, you can accept them most of the time, if you don’t mind the advertisements tailored to your interests. But there are times when you have to say no.

First, do not accept cookies if you are using free public wireless data and come across a site that has an unlock symbol next to the site address at the top of your screen. It could be a scam site. Second, if a pop-up asks you to accept third-party cookies, say no. You don’t want the site to sell your information to others. Third, do not accept cookies if you are sharing banking or medical information.

If you’ve already accepted cookies and want to remove them from your phone, here’s how: In the Chrome web browser, tap the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner. Tap on “History”, then on “Clear browsing data”. Firefox makes it even easier when you use it on your phone. It automatically clears cookies when you close tabs or exit the app.

HAPPY APP

Google Keep, a note-taking app, also lets you save reminders and add tags to organize your notes. Until recently, I hadn’t used it for years. So I was surprised to see that I had three voice notes. What memory. More information on Keep.Google.com.

INTERVIEWS

• Search “Doodle House” to see a man walking through his house while everything is covered in doodles, including the walls, ceiling, furniture, and his clothes. The doodles quickly spread to the rhythm of Aram Khachaturian’s “saber dance”.

• UnscrambledWords.com tells you how to pronounce words. In a survey, the most used search term was “acai”. It is pronounced “ah-sa-EE”. Another popular look: “charcuterie”, pronounced “shahr-koo-tuh-ree”.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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