I asked a friend to be a guinea pig for the EyeQue, a $60 gadget that tests your eyesight and gives you the lens power numbers needed to correct your vision. Results were great for him, not so for me -- but that wasn't the machine's fault.
Besides giving you the diopter numbers, EyeQue will send you a pair of John Lennon-style glasses for an additional $19. They call them "try-ons." They work well and look fine, but you'll probably want another pair. For instance, the bridge width and earpiece length may be slightly off, since EyeQue doesn't ask for these measurements, which are typically found on your old pair of glasses. My friend ordered new frames from GlassesUSA, which is not affiliated with EyeQue. He now sees much better than he did with his old pair. His new ones, for $112, have anti-scratch protection, anti-glare and automatic darkening.
EyeQue set-up is easy: It prompts you to place the scope on your phone and use an elastic band to hold it in place. As you look through the scope, you'll see a pair of red and green lines. Keep tapping the buttons until the lines merge and turn yellow.
The first time I tried it, I kept coaxing the device to get the merged lines. "Out of range," it barked, over and over. I had to move my head around to see the bars line up. I thought maybe I was too near-sighted for the device, but it handles prescriptions ranging from diopter readings of plus 8 to a severely near-sighted minus 10. Turns out my cataracts are to blame for "inconsistent readings." Cataracts, glaucoma and a few other medical conditions prevent the device from working properly.
One of the founders of EyeQue is the chief executive officer of Zenni, an online eyeglasses store. Another founder has a doctorate in physics. The company also sells a $35 version of its VisionCheck device, but it's not as fast and doesn't come with frames for measuring pupil distance.
Prophytes is a free app for members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, a coalition of Greek-lettered historically Black sororities and fraternities. The group was formed in 1930 by the so-called Divine Nine --a group of nine pioneering fraternal organizations. Alumni and current members can reach out to one another through the app, using individual and group chats. Divine Nine members have included such leaders as George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr. and W.E.B. DuBois. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is a member. To check out other Divine Nine apps, see the Divine 9 Emojis and D9 Nation.
DoNotPay, a $3 a-month app, gets you refunds, cancels free trials for you and fights spam. Now there's a new feature: 10 free burner numbers.These are handy when you don't expect to do business regularly with a company. For instance, you might want to avoid giving real estate websites your personal number when they require it for more information.
After I wrote about the mole-mapping app Miiskin to help detect skincancer, a reader shared her successful battle against melanoma. Her son-in-law created a free skin cancer detection app called MoleMapper, which Apple bought for an unspecified sum. It's for iPhone and iPod Touch only, from MoleMapper.org.
BECOMING A PROGRAMMER
NuCamp.co is a new coding boot camp for aspiring programmers. The sessions cost up to $1,765 and last from 17 to 22 weeks, and the company offers career coaching, job boards and monthly hack-athons.
The classes can be a combination of in-person and online or online-only. The in-person classes on Saturdays in Little Rock are limited to 12 students.
There are a lot of coding camps out there, but they typically charge between $10,000 and $20,000. Nucamp sounds like a bargain compared with those. Every month, it reaches out to a thousand companies to find good matches for junior developer jobs. It works with all sizes of firms.
Seventy-five percent of students who join Nucamp graduate and 78% are employed within three months of graduating, the website says. The company gives students access to alumni networks and premium LinkedIn services. Scholarships are available for those who can't afford the camp. So far, Nucamp has given out scholarships to 39 of the 975 students who have taken courses.
NAME THAT TUNE
If you can only think of lyrics, not the name of a tune, Spotify has you covered.
I tried it first at Open.Spotify.com. I typed "invisible, inconsequential me" and it immediately came up with the tune "Mr. Cellophane" from the musical "Chicago."
Spotify is free if you don't mind ads, otherwise it's $10 a month. It will play any tune you can think of from a total of 50 million. It also has radio stations for the various genres, composers and artists.
Another way to go is with Google's new hum-it feature. Open the Google Assistant app on your phone or Chromebook and hum a few bars. I tried it out with "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Google nailed it.
If you're tired of clutter when you search in Google or Bing, add the "Simple Search" extension to Chrome or Firefox. After you add the extension, you'll see an overlay of 10 simple blue links, without info boxes, images or other distractions.
Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.