Google+ 2013 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Monday, December 30, 2013

7 things you wish you got for Christmas (or didn't know you needed) - from $5 to $500 by Kim Komando

What did you get for Christmas this year? 

Maybe you were the lucky recipient of a shiny new tablet or gaming console.

Or, maybe St. Nick didn't deliver every tech goodie that was on your holiday wish list.
It's never too late to be your own personal Santa Claus. Here's what to buy during the big post-holiday sales, including some must-have accessories for your new gadgets.

1. A handy USB hub

You'll need a simple way to keep all those new gadgets charged and ready to go. Pick up a good USB hub like the Sabrent 4-Port USB hub ($5.99)

It's got four ports on one side, so you can kiss cable clutter goodbye. Plus, it's an easy solution for families looking for a central spot to plug in and charge multiple phones and tablets at once. Or if you want to get creative, poke around online and you can find alternatives, from the businesslike to the goofy.

2. A powerful surge protector 

Keep your new gadgets safe from unexpected power surges with the Seiki Kit with Surge Protector and HDMI Cable ($29.99).

Along with a six-outlet power surge protector, this essential accessory also comes with a six-foot HDMI cable.  You can easily hook up your gadget to view photos or high-def video on a TV or monitor.

Also included is a three-ounce bottle of screen cleaner with a microfiber cleaning cloth. That will help you keep those gadgets looking like new.

3. Video on demand with Google Chromecast

When it was released a few months ago, the Google Chromecast ($35) quickly became the must-have video-streaming gadget of the year.

It plugs into an HDMI port on your HDTV and connects to Wi-Fi so you can stream high-definition Web video right from your smartphone, tablet or computer. It takes a few seconds to set up, fits in your pocket and has a price tag everyone can love. Click here for my full review of the Google Chromecast.

One caveat – note that this is an HDMI connection. If you haven’t used all of the ones your TV has, great. If you don’t, you’ll have to do a little cable swapping to use it.

And be sure to read my must-read tip on how to ditch cable and save a bundle without missing your favorite shows.

4. A new smartphone
If your wish for a new smartphone didn't come true this Christmas, there's still time to snag your dream upgrade. You can find a high-end smartphone like the LG G2 for as little as $99 with a two-year contract. Click here to see prices and specs using my handy smartphone comparison chart.

You can even find a decent smartphone for free - with a two-year contract, of course. Click here to see your options in my free smartphone comparison chart.

5. An ultra-fast charger
Being caught away from home with a dead phone or tablet is never fun. It doesn't help that it can take some time to get all your gadgets back up and running.

That's why I rely on the myCharge Hub 9000 Power Bank ($139). It can charge up to three phones, tablets, ereaders or other mobile gadget at once. Plus, it has ultra-fast lightning, micro-USB and USB ports, so it's compatible with almost every mobile gadget you can name.

6. The perfect tablet 
OK, so maybe you didn't find a shiny new tablet under the Christmas tree. That doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to one! Learn how to buy the best tablet for your money in this tip.

The best-selling tablet in the world is still the Apple iPad. The new iPad Air ($499) is thinner, lighter and sleeker than its predecessors, weighing in at less than a pound. And it packs more speed thanks to the new A7 64-bit processor.

If you need a low-cost option that offers decent quality, check out the Barnes and Noble Nook HD tablets. These Android-based tablets can easily handle light Internet, social media, email and ebooks. Thanks to price cuts, you can snag one for less than $150.

7. A multimedia gaming console 
What better way to get the whole family together than with a brand-new video game console? If you're looking for a powerful multimedia hub that can handle gaming, streaming and TV integration, the new Xbox One ($499) is your best bet.

The PlayStation 4 ($399) uses a high-performance memory, so it's a good choice if your family plans on playing lots of graphics-heavy games.

Nintendo's Wii U ($300) isn't as powerful as the Xbox One or PS4. But it has a large selection of kid-friendly titles and comes with the GamePad portable controller.





Sunday, December 29, 2013

Get started with the iPhone 5c and 5s by Serenity Caldwell

Congratulations, you’ve snagged yourself a brand-new iPhone 5c or 5s. But before you get to playing with your new device, you’ll probably want to get to know it and set it up. Thanks to iOS 7’s step-by-step activation process, Apple’s made it pretty simple to get started; but just in case you need some extra help, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide for activating your new iPhone, transferring data from your old phone, and some suggestions for exploring its new features.

Transfer your data
You’ve moved to the latest and greatest in the iOS world, and to do so, you’re leaving your old device behind. But before you send it off with a fond farewell, you have to decide whether you want to transfer its data to your iPhone 5c or 5s. Here are the various ways to do so, depending on whether you’re moving from an old iPhone, a different smartphone, or a feature phone.

Upgrade from an older iPhone
If you’re upgrading from an older iPhone, you can transfer all its apps, data, and settings to your iPhone 5c or 5s. (To add your music and video, you'll still have to sync your new phone with iTunes.) But to do so, you’ll need to make a backup (via iTunes or, if you’re running iOS 5 or later, via iCloud) of your information. You can then restore that backup onto your new phone during the setup process.

Click Back Up Now to make a backup of your old iPhone to iCloud or to your computer.

Make a backup using iTunes: 
If your old device is running iOS 4 or earlier, an iTunes backup is the way to go. To update your backup (or to create a new one) connect your old device to the computer you normally sync it with via USB, open iTunes, select the device from the Devices menu, and in the Summary field, click Back Up Now.

Make a backup using iCloud: If you’re running iOS 5 or later on your old device and you have an iCloud account, you can alternatively take advantage of iCloud Backups to save your data. Your device will automatically make an iCloud backup once a day while locked, plugged in, and connected to a Wi-Fi network, but you can manually force a backup whenever you’re on Wi-Fi by opening the Settings app on your device. Navigate to iCloud > Storage & Backup, and make sure the iCloud Backup switch is toggled on. From there, you just have to tap on Back Up Now to start the process. (You should note that iCloud backups can sometimes take significantly longer than iTunes backups, so it may not be the best option if you’re in a hurry to set up your new phone.)

Upgrade from another smartphone
Moving from an Android, BlackBerry, or Windows smartphone to the iPhone 5c or 5s? Depending on how you’ve set your information up, it should be relatively painless to transfer it to your new device.
Mail, contacts, and calendars: If you’re using a Gmail account or other POP or IMAP-based account for mail on your smartphone, it’s already syncing to a central server, and you should be able to add that account to your new iPhone with few issues. Apple’s iOS has automatic setup for those using Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, or Hotmail; you’ll also be able to manually set up a POP or IMAP account for mail, LDAP or CardDAV for contacts, or CalDAV for calendars. You can alternatively use Apple’s free iCloud service to set up a new email account.

Music, videos, and photos: Your new iPhone uses iTunes to sync any local music, TV, movies, and photos from your computer to the device. If you’ve been syncing that information with your smartphone, it’s easy enough sync that data with your Apple device—you just have to know where the content is located on your smartphone and get it over to your computer. Once you’ve done that, add it to iTunes; to sync your photos, add them to iPhoto or Aperture (on a Mac) or place them in your Pictures folder (on a PC).

If you’ve purchased content through your smartphone that hasn’t been copied to your computer (say, if you’re using Amazon Cloud Drive), you should be able to download it to your desktop system, or, at the very least, install an app on the iPhone (like the Kindle app for book purchases) that lets you access the information.

Apps and miscellany:
Unfortunately, you can’t port any Windows or Android apps from your old device to your iPhone. On the upside, you may be able to find parallel versions of those apps on Apple’s App Store (for instance, if you’re using Dropbox on your smartphone, you can download the company’s iOS app and continue to access your Dropbox data). If you have apps with valuable information you don’t want to lose (notes apps, to-do lists, etc), you can poke around to see if there’s any way of exporting that information; otherwise, you’ll be out of luck.

SMS and MMS logs, while not transferrable, are in theory rescuable, depending on what kind of smartphone you own, but it requires a lot of legwork on your end. You won’t be able to add them to your new iPhone, however; you’ll simply be saving them to your computer. There are a variety of different programs available for exporting messages from your smartphones—SMS Backup & Restore for Android appears to be one popular option. As I haven’t used it, I can’t personally recommend it, but you can always search Google to bring up more options.
If you’re upgrading from a feature phone

Yes, it’s finally time to toss that Razr aside for something a little more full-featured. But what about your contacts and your photos? If you’re on a phone with a nano-SIM card, it’s easy enough to rescue the first; for the second, you’ll need Bluetooth support or a connection cable for your device.

You can transfer your contacts one of two ways. If your old device uses a nano-SIM card, you can copy all your contacts to its SIM; once you’ve set up your iPhone 5, you can copy those contacts by swapping out your iPhone’s card with your old nano-SIM and heading to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Import SIM Contacts. Once the import has completed, eject your old SIM and put the one that came with the iPhone 5c or 5s back in its tray. (If you’re worried about doing this yourself, you can always head down to your nearest Apple Store—any employee should be able to do it for you.)

If your phone has a SIM card that doesn’t fit in your new iPhone, but it comes with a USB cable for connecting it to your computer, you may be able to transfer your contacts (and your photos) by exporting them through software. (This, obviously, depends on your phone; check its manual or do a Google search for specific transfer information.)

Designed with a minimalist aesthetic, the polycarbonate iPhone 5c and aluminum-and-glass iPhone 5s eschew a button-heavy design in favor of simple controls and a slim figure. Here’s a quick rundown of all the features on the device’s exterior. (We use an iPhone 5c in the image below, but mention any 5s-specific features in the description.)

On/Off button
Press the On/Off button to turn the device’s screen on or off. You can still take calls, play music, and receive notifications with it off, but the screen stays blank until you wake it by pressing this button or the Home button. To turn the device off, hold the On/Off button down until the screen dims and the red ‘slide to power off’ slider appears. Slide your finger across the switch, and the iPhone powers down. (To turn your device back on, press and hold this button again until the Apple logo appears.)

You can also decline or silence calls, alerts, and alarms with the On/Off button; press it once to silence an incoming alert or call; and press it twice in succession to send the caller to voicemail.

Front-facing FaceTime HD camera
This 1.2-megapixel camera can shoot 1280 by 960 pixel stills and 720p HD video (1280 by 720 pixels), and has a backside illumination sensor for clearer low-light photography. This camera is designed primarily for using FaceTime and snapping quick self-portraits.

Receiver
With no headphones plugged in, this is where you place your ear to listen to incoming calls. Depending on your region, the iPhone 5s and 5c may use wideband audio during telephone calls, which increases the vocal frequencies and provides better-sounding conversations.

Retina display
Both the iPhone 5c and the 5s sport a 4-inch–diagonal Multi-Touch display; the device’s touch sensors are integrated directly into the display, reducing sunlight glare and keeping the iPhone’s figure slim. Its 1136-by-640-pixel Retina display packs 326 pixels per inch into the space allotted. The display is made from optical-quality glass, which makes it highly scratch resistant. It also has an oil-resistant oleophobic coating that makes it easy to wipe off smudges.

Home button (Touch ID sensor on 5s)
The only physical button on the face of the iPhone, the Home button provides a variety of shortcuts for accessing apps and iOS features. On the iPhone 5s, your Home button is also the location of the Touch ID sensor, which lets you use your fingerprint to unlock your device and bypass your iCloud password for purchasing apps and media.

SINGLE-PRESS
A single-press of the Home button can have several results, depending on what you’re using the iPhone for at the time: If the phone is in sleep mode, pressing the Home button wakes the iPhone; if you’re in an app, it returns you to the home screen; if you’re on a subsequent home screen page, it returns you to the first page; and if you’re on the first home screen page, it brings you into the iPhone’s Spotlight search mode.

SINGLE-PRESS AND HOLD
If you press and hold the Home button for at least two seconds, that activates Siri.

DOUBLE-PRESS
When the phone is locked or in sleep mode, a double-press of the Home button wakes your device and brings up both the iPod controls and a shortcut for the Camera app. In active use, it brings up the multitasking bar, showcasing your active apps.

Headphone Jack and Microphone
The iPhone 5c and 5s both have a standard 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom of their casings. Apple includes a set of white EarPods that allow you to listen to audio and speak on a call, but you can also use any pair of third-party headphones instead.

One of the iPhone’s three microphones is located on the bottom left of the device. (The other two, which are designed to filter out noise, are located near the top, on the front and back.) Unless you’re using an external microphone, you’ll use this mic when making calls, recording voice memos, talking to Siri, and more.

Dock Connector
The iPhone uses Apple’s Lightning dock connector to connect to your computer and other accessories. Unlike Apple’s older 30-pin connector, it’s reversible, so you can plug it into your phone in either direction. It won’t work with older 30-pin third-party accessories without an adapter.

Speaker
On the bottom right of the new iPhone is a small speaker that’s responsible for projecting speakerphone calls, music, movies, game noises, and any other miscellaneous noise. Because your device has just one speaker, it plays all audio in mono (on a single channel).

Back Camera and LED Flash
On the back of the iPhone is the second of two cameras, as well as an LED flash.

The iPhone 5c sports an 8-megapixel CMOS backside illumination sensor, which snaps pictures at a 3264-by-2448-pixel resolution. (In real-world terms, that would translate to a high-quality 8-by-10-inch glossy print.) An attached hybrid IR filter provides better color accuracy, while the f/2.4 aperture offers improved low-light performance. The iPhone 5 camera sports a sapphire lens cover for sharper images. The iPhone’s back camera also captures 1080p high-definition video at up to 30 frames per second, with real-time video image stabilization and temporal noise reduction.

The iPhone 5s’s camera has improved internals, including an 8-megapixel sensor with larger individual pixels (for clearer low-light photographs), an f/2.2 aperture, and a TrueTone dual-LED flash for warmer pictures when using a flash. The back camera also records 1080p high-definition video at up to 30 frames per second and 720p video at up to 120 frames per second, with real-time video image stabilization and a 3x digital zoom option.

Ring/Silent Switch
The Ring/Silent switch—found on the left side of the device—does pretty much what you’d suspect: Flick it backward to silence the phone, forward to activate the ringer. When you switch to Silent mode, you reveal a small orange stripe on the switch, and your device vibrates. Silent mode silences only rings and alerts, however; you can still play music and game sounds through the speaker.

Volume Up and Volume Down Buttons
Directly below the Ring/Silent switch is a pair of volume buttons. Press the plus button (+) to increase volume and the minus button (–) to decrease volume. (In the Camera app, the plus button also functions as a physical camera shutter button.) In the Settings app, you can choose whether these buttons affect only noises from an app, or whether they control systemwide sounds as well.

SIM Card Slot
The iPhone can operate on multiple cellular bands, thanks to its dynamically switching on-board radio: various bands of the LTE cellular data standard, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, GPRS, EDGE, CDMA-EvDO, and HSPA. Major U.S. partners for the iPhone 5c and 5s include AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.

When you purchase a new iPhone, you can do so in one of two ways: with a cellular carrier contract or contract-free. The first option lets you receive a significant discount on the phone, but you have to use your iPhone solely with that carrier for two to three years, depending on your carrier and region.

Contract-free phones allow you to use any carrier’s pay-as-you-go plan but are several hundred dollars more expensive up front. Either way, you’ll need a carrier to talk on your iPhone and use cellular data.

Your iPhone needs a nano-SIM card to connect to a cellular provider. Without it, you won’t be able to access call networks or cellular Internet, only Wi-Fi. If you sign up for a contract when you purchase your device, this SIM card comes preinstalled; if you don’t have a contract, however, you need to pick up a nano-SIM from a supported cellular carrier. You can see Apple’s full list of supported spectrum bands on Apple’s iPhone webpage.

If you have a contract-free phone and need to install a nano-SIM—or you need to access your current nano-SIM card—you can remove it by sticking one end of a paper clip into the hole next to the SIM card slot.

Headphones
Your device comes equipped with a set of EarPods; these are earbuds with a microphone and remote built onto the right-side cable that can control volume, change tracks, and answer and end calls. You can use these controls to perform a variety of actions with the right combination of taps.

SINGLE-CLICK 
Clicking the center button of the remote once while listening to music or watching a video pauses playback; if you’re receiving a call, a single-click answers it, and another single-click hangs up when you’re finished.

SINGLE-CLICK AND HOLD
When you’re receiving an incoming call, a single-click and hold declines the call and sends it directly to voicemail; while you’re on a call, you can do this to switch to a secondary call. Otherwise, holding down on the remote activates Siri.

DOUBLE-CLICK
Squeeze twice, and your song skips to the next track.

TRIPLE-CLICK
Squeeze three times to skip back to the previous track.

Activate your iPhone 5
If you purchased your iPhone in the Apple Store, you may have already activated it with a Specialist by your side. But if you’ve received your new gadget in the mail, or you opted not to activate immediately, here’s a guide on how to do so.

Don’t worry about making a mistake—if you find yourself tapping the wrong thing, you can press your device’s Home button at any time to launch the iPhone Not Set Up menu and reset the process.

TIME TO START OVER
If you made a mistake or have problems with your network, press the Home button to bring up the iPhone Not Set Up menu.

After a fresh install, your device greets you with a screen displaying ‘Hello’ and ‘slide to set up’ in a variety of different languages.

Drag your finger to the right, along the ‘slide to set up’ text, to access the next screen. Your device asks you to pick your language and country, along with your Wi-Fi network. The device checks for any Wi-Fi networks to which it can connect; to move forward, select a Wi-Fi network and tap the Next button. (You can also choose to set up your iPhone over a cellular connection by tapping the Next button without selecting a network, or set up using iTunes by tapping the Connect to iTunes button at the bottom of the screen.)

You’re also asked whether you’d like to enable Location Services. This allows Apple apps (and third-party apps) to access your location via Wi-Fi networks and your Global Positioning System (GPS) location.

LOCATE ME
Turn on Location Services to give your iPhone access to your GPS data for apps like Maps, Compass, and more.

You can always enable or disable these on an app-by-app basis, and you can configure this option in more detail from the Settings app.

From here, you have three choices: You can set up your iPhone from scratch, or restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup (if you had a previous iPhone you want to restore data from).

TIME TO SET UP 
Now that you’ve upgraded your device, you must decide whether to restore your earlier data and apps or start fresh.

START FROM SCRATCH
If you want to start fresh, the first thing you need to decide is whether to supply an Apple ID (or create one, if you don’t have one). You use your Apple ID to buy music, apps, and books from the iBookstore, and you can associate it with iCloud if you want to.

THE APPLE ID
Your device explains what an Apple ID is, and asks you to either sign in with yours, create one, or skip this step.

If you already have an Apple ID, tap the Sign In with Your Apple ID button and enter your username (usually your email address) and password. Apple then spends a few moments linking your device to your Apple ID. If you don’t have an Apple ID, it’s easy enough to create one by tapping the Create a Free Apple ID button. You then enter your birthday, name, and email address (or you can create a new iCloud email address), as well as a password, a security question (in case you forget your password), and whether you’d like to receive email updates from Apple.

And if you’d rather not set up an Apple ID, you can tap the Skip This Step link below the two options. You can always add or create an ID from the Settings app later, but note that you won’t be able to buy anything on the iTunes Store or set up iCloud until you do.

RESTORE FROM iTUNES 
If you have an iTunes backup of an older iPhone, select this option and connect to your computer. You’ll see a screen asking if you want to set your phone up as a new device or restore it from a local backup.

Choose Restore from this backup, and then use the pop-up menu to choose the desired backup. Click Continue, and iTunes restores that data and syncs with your device. You’re then asked to give your device a name and choose whether to automatically sync songs and videos, photos, and/or apps to your device. Make your selections and click Done, and then iTunes performs its first sync. Once it’s complete, the setup process continues.

RESTORE FROM iCLOUD
If you have an iCloud account and you’ve previously backed up an older device to iCloud, ‘Restore from iCloud Backup’ lets you restore that data directly to your new iPhone without having to connect to a computer. Choose Restore from iCloud Backup, and then enter your iCloud Apple ID and password. Agree to the iCloud terms and conditions by tapping Agree (twice), and your device displays all compatible iCloud-hosted backups. Be sure to pick the correct backup here, as the list may include backups for other devices you own.

Choose the desired backup, and then wait—the process can take anywhere from a few minutes to many hours, depending on how many apps you had installed and how much data you had stored in those apps. (Restoring from an iTunes backup is much faster than restoring from iCloud, which is why many people back up to iTunes periodically even if they normally back up to iCloud.)

When the restore is finished, your device restarts, and you see a screen explaining that you have a few more steps to follow.

Final steps
After you’ve set up a network connection, entered your Apple ID, and agreed to your terms and conditions, it’s time to decide if you want to use iCloud. The service is an umbrella term for Apple’s collection of sync offerings, which allow you to sync your photos, apps, contacts, calendars, and mail across multiple devices.

IN THE CLOUD
Use iCloud to sync your device’s data with your other devices and computers.

You can even set up different Apple IDs for iCloud and iTunes, if you have one shared Apple ID you use for family purchases and another you want to use for your iCloud data.
Choose to set up iCloud, and you’ll also be asked whether you’d like to enable iCloud backups for your device. If you do so, you can have your device back up all essential settings to your iCloud account; if you ever need to restore, you can do so over Wi-Fi without needing a computer. (Of course, if you’d rather back up to your computer, you can always elect to have iTunes back up your device.)

Additionally, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to opt in to iCloud’s Find My iPhone, iMessage, and FaceTime services.

LOCK IT UP TIGHT
Keep nosy roommates and potential thieves away from your device by locking it with a passcode.

Find My iPhone enables location monitoring for your device, allowing you to find it using your Apple ID and the Find My iPhone app should it go missing; iMessage lets you send text, photo, and video messages to your friends and family over a data connection; and FaceTime lets you chat via video and audio with friends over Wi-Fi and cellular connections (select carriers only).

Your device also prompts you to enter a passcode to protect it from potential thieves or snoops. (If you have an iPhone 5s, you’ll also be asked to set up Touch ID using your fingerprint.) If you’d rather not set one, just tap Don’t Add Passcode to skip this step. If you’re setting up an iPhone 5s and decide to enable Touch ID, you’ll also be asked if you want to use it in lieu of your Apple ID and password when purchasing items from the App and iTunes Store.

Your iPhone will also ask if you want to enable Siri, Apple’s personal voice assistant.

MEET SIRI
Apple’s personal voice assistant is ready to serve you, if you want it to.

You can toggle Siri on or off from this initial setup screen, but you can always change your preferences from the Settings app at a later date.
Once you finish the setup process, you see a screen asking if your device can automatically send diagnostic and usage information to Apple to “help Apple improve its products and services.”

HELP US HELP YOU
Turn on diagnostics to give Apple anonymized data from your app crashes and local cell phone towers.

Choose Automatically Send or Don’t Send, and then tap Next.
Congratulations! You’ve answered all the setup questions and you’re ready to begin using your iPhone. At this point you may also be prompted to download your free copies of Apple’s mobile iLife and iWork suite.

WELCOME, WELCOME 
Once you’ve finished answering all your iPhone’s setup questions, you can head straight to the home screen.

Now that your device is up and running, here are a few quick pointers.
Tweak your settings: Most of the underlying system information for your new iPhone—network settings, Mail, sounds, messages, restrictions, wallpaper, and more—is kept in the Settings app. As such, it’s a good place to start when you’re first getting acquainted with your device.

Set up iTunes sync: If you didn’t restore from an older iOS backup, you won’t have any music, video, podcasts, photos, or books on your iPhone. You can remedy that by connecting it with your iTunes library: Just plug your device into your computer via its included USB cable. (Once you’ve completed this initial sync, you can also set up wireless local syncing; check out our guide for more information.)

Explore the App Store: Your iPhone comes with a bunch of cool built-in apps, but you may want to reach outside the sandbox for more interesting fare. The App Store, which you can access on your device or via iTunes on your computer, features more than 900,000 downloadable apps. To explore the store on your iPhone, tap the blue App Store icon on your home screen. Featured and Charts are both great places to start looking for recommended apps, and you can search the entire App Store by tapping on the Search tab.

Talk to Siri: If you chose to set up Siri on your iPhone 5c or 5s during the activation process, you’re just one Home button press away from having your first conversation. Siri can help you book appointments, find restaurants, look up the weather, talk sports, and occasionally whip out snarky quips about robotic AI. To start, press and hold your Home button; the Siri interface will appear, along with a few suggested phrases to get going.

Read more about your iPhone and iOS 7: Want to learn more about your iPhone and iOS 7? Check out Macworld's iOS 7 Upgrade Guide, an ebook available on the iBookstore for iPad (iPhone-readable version coming soon).

What to do with your old device
Now that you’ve managed to transfer your old information, set up your new iPhone 5c or 5s, and start using it, it’s time to figure out what you’d like to do with your old device. If you’re interested in selling, recycling, or passing it along to a friend or family member, Macworld contributor Joel Mathis whipped up a handy guide last year that contains the steps you’ll need. But what if you’re interested in keeping it around?

Turn your iPhone into an iPod touch: No, your old iPhone won’t make calls or hop on a cellular network without a data plan, but you can keep using it as a Wi-Fi only iOS device. To do so, you’ll just need to keep the phone’s old SIM card (or a cheap SIM card from the same service provide you originally used to activate the phone with) inside it. From there, you can restore it to factory settings, and set it up as a brand new device.

These popular movies are expiring from Netflix soon by Kim Komando

If you want to watch any of these popular movies on Netflix, you only have four days left to do it! That's because these films and TV shows are expiring soon! From Reddit:

TV Shows
 
EXPIRING JANUARY 1, 2014

Dark Shadows (original from late 1960s)

Mr. Bean
Perfect 10 Model Boxing (Volume 1)

Saturday Night Live The 2000s
The Kids In The Hall

Movies
 
EXPIRING DECEMBER 29, 2013

Transformers Dark Of The Moon

EXPIRING JANUARY 1, 2014

1492 Conquest Of Paradise

50 First Dates

As Good As It Gets

Back To School

Battle Of Britain

Being John Malkovich

Best Of Times

Biloxi Blues

Body Of Evidence

Born On the Fourth Of July

Braveheart

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

Brick

Can't Hardly Wait

Capote

Desperado

Do The Right Thing

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Flashdance

For The Love Of The Game

Foxy Brown

Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell

FX

Gallipoli

Half Baked

Hard Target

I'm Gonna Get You Sucka

In Like Flint

In The Name Of The Father

Inside Deep Throat (documentary)

Jarhead

Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Lionheart

Man On The Moon

Mystery Men

October Sky

Once Upon A Time In Mexico

Platoon

Pumpkinhead

Quigley Down Under

Remo Williams

Requiem For A Dream

Revenge OF The Ninja

Rob Roy

Roman Holiday

Romeo And Juliet (1968)

Ronin

Running Scared

Scary Movie

Seed Of Chucky

Seed Of Chucky

Serpico

Species

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

Street Fighter

Tales From The Crypt: Bordello Of Blood

Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight

Talk Radio

The Bad News Bears

The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas

The Dream Team

The Faculty

The Great Train Robbery

The Mask Of Zorro

The Odd Couple (1968)

The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes

The Rundown

The Russia House

The Secret Of Nimh

The Skulls

The Woman In Red

Titanic

TNT Jackson

Top Gun
Troll II

True Grit (1969)

Up In Smoke

War And Peace

War Games

We Were Soldiers

What Dreams May Come

Windtalkers

World Trade Center

EXPIRING JANUARY 4, 2014

Alice In Wonderland (1951 Disney)

Dynamite Warrior

Immortals

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review of Dell Venue 7

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Where Will Your New Phone Break?

Broken smartphones have cost Americans $13 billion over the past five years, says warranty company SquareTrade, which also surveyed where in the home they break. Should you receive a new iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4 this holiday season, here's where to be careful.
By Fast Company Staff

Most recent smart phone accident was in the home:

Bedroom
Android: 12% iPhone: 8%

Living Room
Android: 21% iPhone: 17%

Kitchen
Android: 15% iPhone: 21%

Bathroom
Android: 13% iPhone: 16%

Toilet
Android: 9% iPhone: 9%

Washing Machine
Android: 4% iPhone: 4%

Roof of Car
Android: 6% iPhone: 6%

Driveway
Android: 13% iPhone: 10%
A version of this article appeared in the December 2013 / January 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.

Friday, November 29, 2013

iTunes Tagging Basics and Tips

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Carl Thorne
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Microsoft Warns Windows XP Users Risk "Zero Day Forever"

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Fact or Fiction: Nine iPhone and iPad Battery-Saving Techniques Tested
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5 Essential Tools Every iTunes User Should Have by Jonathan Seff

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How to Use iCloud Keychain by Joe Kissell

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get to know iOS 7: Meet Apple's new mobile OS by MacWorld Staff

iOS 7 is here, and it’s packed full of all sorts of features you don’t want to miss knowing about.

Update simplification
As with iOS 6, you’ll be able to update your device over the air using Settings > General > Software Update.

Update your device to iOS 7 for free starting September 18.

Once you do, you’ll have to answer some questions about your privacy, security, and iCloud settings. And if you just purchased a new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you may also be prompted to download your free copies of the iLife and iWork suite. iPhone 5s users will also be asked to map their fingerprint for Touch ID access.

iOS 7 and the iPhone 5s
If you’re planning on picking up an iPhone 5s in the near future, there are a few iOS improvements present on just your device.

Your iPhone 5s uses its Touch ID fingerprint scanner to let you purchase items on your Apple ID without a password.

Your built-in apps work more intelligently with your iPhone’s M7 processor: For example, Maps will be able to know when you’re driving or walking. The iPhone 5s also gets new Camera app features, and the Touch ID sensor allows you instant access to your device at all times with just your fingerprint.

New interface, new gestures
If you’ve seen anything at all about iOS 7, you’ll have noticed that it’s very different in appearance than any previous version of Apple’s mobile operating system. It has new fonts, icons and interfaces sport a flatter look, the OS plays with layers, and there’s not a scrap of rich Corinthian leather to be found.

If you like this look, we’re sorry to break it to you—Game Center’s green felt is gone.

Every stock iOS app receives a redesign, with some of the most significant changes coming to Safari, Calendar, Camera, Mail, and Messages. System features get major overhauls, too; even the lock screen has been vastly simplified, with edge-to-edge wallpaper and a design that forgoes widgets and buttons for straight-up text labels.

A few new gestures are present in iOS 7, as well. You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen for Control Center, pull down on the home screen for Spotlight, and swipe upward on an app while in the multitasking interface to force-quit an app.

System improvements
The interface isn’t the only thing changing in iOS 7—a bevy of new features also await users. We’ll go into them in greater depth in upcoming articles, but for now here’s a rundown of the major changes.

Multitasking
Apple has revamped multitasking completely. Not only can apps now take advantage of full background multitasking, but the multitasking bar of icons where you managed your currently running apps has said sayonara; a new multitasking carousel replaces it.

WHEEEEE! iOS 7’s multitasking interface presents a carousel with live-updating screens of your currently-running apps.

Double-press the Home button in iOS 7, and your current screen zooms out into a series of screens—each representing an app you were using—with the respective app icon below. You’ll be able to scroll through them, tap on one to enter that app, or swipe upward on a screen to force-quit the application.

Control Center
Through this iOS 7 feature, you can access many commonly used settings with the flick of a finger.

GROUND CONTROL Use Control Center to change often-used preferences and settings.

You can enable or disable Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Do Not Disturb; adjust the volume and brightness; pause or play music; enable AirDrop and AirPlay; and quickly access your camera’s LED light (for use as a flashlight), timer, calculator, and camera.

AirDrop
Speaking of AirDrop, Apple’s wireless file-sharing protocol is coming to the iPhone.

You can share files and images with nearby friends using AirDrop.

When you want to share images and files with friends nearby, just make sure they have AirDrop enabled (for contacts or for everyone, depending on your level of friendship); their contact image will then pop up in the share sheet.

Notification Center
iOS 6’s notifications clearinghouse gets an upgrade in iOS 7 with a new Today view that collects information about your current day.

Notification Center’s Today view tells you what you’re up to today.

There’s also a new Missed pane that provides a list of any notifications you haven’t yet reviewed.

Find My iPhone and Activation Lock
If you lose your iOS device running iOS 7, there’s some good news coming to you in the form of an update to Find My iPhone. Activation Lock is a new iOS 7 feature that forces would-be thieves to enter your iCloud name and password if they wish to erase and reactivate the lost iOS device.

Prevent a lost iPhone from falling into the wrong hands with Activation Lock.

And even after you’ve erased your device, your custom Find My iPhone lost message still displays on the screen.

Speech, speech
While Siri’s interface has changed, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant also gets a little smarter and gains a bit more personality.

Siri has a new voice and new tricks in iOS 7.

U.S. English, French, and German users now have two voices to pick from—male or female—and those voices have dramatically improved speech processing.
Siri also now uses Bing search instead of Google; those results display in-line, though, and you can also search Wikipedia and Twitter. Tasks that Siri already handled to some extent have been improved, as well: Apple notes that the assistant can now return calls, play your voicemail, and control iTunes Radio, with more abilities rumored to await you when you finally get your hands on iOS 7.

Snapshots and sharing
The Camera app looks to have been both redesigned and beefed up in iOS 7: Not only has the gray interface of old gone the way of the dodo, but certain iOS devices will now have access to live camera filters, a square shooting mode, and faster shooting.

The new Camera app offers new filters for your images and a new Square mode.

On the Photos app side, you have a whole new way of displaying images. The app now sorts your pictures into Years, Collections, and Moments, with collections of images appearing as a mosaic of thumbnails. iCloud Shared Streams (née Shared Photo Streams) will let multiple people contribute items to the collection, and those people can add both images and video to the stream. You’ll also be able to see what your friends have posted recently in Shared Streams’ new Activity view.

Safari
The Safari browser on your iOS device scores some serious changes in iOS 7, too. Besides its new icon, the biggest changes in Safari are its new unified smart search field, a minimized interface, new swipe gestures to go back and forward, a new tabs view, shared links, and quicker access to private browsing.


Safari’s new tabs view offers a quick carousel of all your open webpages.

Also hidden inside Safari is a new place to store your saved passwords and credit card numbers, and also generate (and save) random passwords for new accounts. (This ties in with iOS 7‘s iCloud Keychain feature, which is not available at launch but coming soon.)

Music and iTunes Radio
Looking for a Pandora-like way to stream your music? iTunes Radio—built into the new Music app in iOS 7—lets you stream songs from featured stations and from those you create.

Apple’s iTunes Radio lets you listen to streaming music from all genres.

As with Pandora, you can tune your stations by giving iTunes Radio feedback on individual songs and on your stations themselves, and you can purchase any song currently playing for your library, if you don’t already own it. Unfortunately for international users, the service will be available only in the United States at launch.

App Store improvements
So long, update badge: The App Store of iOS 7 will offer automatic updates for your applications on Wi-Fi or cellular, so you never have to download an update manually again (unless you want to).

Updates now install automatically, with a ticking indicator on the app icon.

The App Store also replaces the Genius button with the Apps Near Me feature, allowing you to see what’s popular in your area, and adds a new Kids category (based on age) for parents to peruse.

Even more app changes
There are plenty of other app tidbits and features packed in iOS 7, including new Mail features, a redesigned Compass app, a revised Weather app, and more. We’ll have in-depth articles on every iOS 7 feature and updated app in the coming days; stay tuned!

2 great new Surface tablets unveiled: Why I won't be buying either one By James Kendrick for Mobile News

Summary: As expected, Microsoft recently unveiled the second generation Surface tablets with much improved hardware. Unfortunately, that's not enough to get me to buy one.



Microsoft is getting the hang of throwing device launch events. The debut of the new Surface tablets was an exciting affair that showcased the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, complete with great refreshed hardware. Both new tablets will have state-of-the-art hardware components when they become available October 22. As good as both Surface tablets look, they each lack something which will keep my wallet firmly in my pocket.

Surface 2
The Surface 2 tablet is the refreshed version of the original Surface RT. Of the two Surface models, the Surface 2 can be viewed as the true tablet. It will have the latest ARM chipset from Nvidia that will make the Surface 2 a real powerhouse.

The Tegra 4 used in the Surface 2 is especially good at running intensive games, so Microsoft has the opportunity to make the tablet a good gaming platform. It will easily handle non-game tablet apps so it's got the whole package.

Microsoft says the Surface 2 is less than 1.5 pounds so it's a decent size and weight for a tablet. Unfortunately, it seems to have the same casing as the Surface RT which I found to be uncomfortable to use in portrait orientation. That's my preferred method to use a tablet so I'd have to try the Surface 2 to see if it would work for me.

The hardware of the Surface 2 looks good but it's the software that kills the deal for me. The Windows RT software to be exact. Being an ARM device, Windows RT 8.1 is what will come with the Surface 2 and that's no good. I must have the ability to install desktop apps on my Windows tablets, specifically Chrome, and that's not possible with Windows RT. That kills the Surface 2 as a possibility for me, the same as it did for the Surface RT.

Surface Pro 2
The Surface Pro 2 is the most exciting of the two new tablets from Microsoft due to the updated hardware. It packs the latest Core technology from Intel, aka Haswell, and that should make the Surface Pro 2 more powerful while yielding almost double the battery life of the original Surface Pro.
The inclusion of the Haswell technology is significant as I've experienced with my MacBook Air. The Surface Pro 2 uses a faster 1.6 GHz processor compared to the 1.3 GHz in the MacBook Air and should get better performance. I get over 9 hours of battery life which should be slightly better than what the Surface Pro 2 will get due to the slower processor in the Air.

Everything inside the Surface Pro 2 indicates it should be a vast improvement over the original Surface Pro, so it should be a fantastic PC. And make no mistake, it is a full PC running Windows 8.1 so it has no limitations like the Windows RT packing Surface 2.

If the hardware of the Surface Pro 2 is so good why won't I buy one? It's the form factor that breaks the deal for me. Having used heavy Tablet PCs for years due to a lack of choice, I am no longer willing to sacrifice form for function.

The "about 2lbs" Microsoft is listing for the Surface Pro 2, which is the same as the Surface Pro, is too heavy for tablet use as far as I'm concerned. The times I've played with the Surface Pro clearly demonstrated that the tablet is too heavy and bulky for typical tablet use.

To be fair, Microsoft is clearly pitching the Surface Pro 2 as a laptop with tablet benefits. It is certainly that, but I'm not willing to compromise tablet use with any device.

My ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a fantastic tablet at 10 inches and 1.3lbs. Its form is vastly superior to the Surface Pro 2 for tablet use, and I won't buy the Surface for that reason.

Great tablets, just not for me
To be clear, I find both new Surface tablets to be made of great hardware and they are vast improvements over the first generation models. I am sure that many will find them to be good purchases, and snap one of them up. They will probably serve buyers well and will be highly competitive in the Windows laptop and tablet space. They're just not for me.

Roundup of Early iPhone 5S Reviews by Jim Karpen


 



Wow, the headlines in my RSS reader suggest the new iPhone 5Ss is being very well received, with lots of superlatives. Here's the respected John Gruber on the Daring Fireball website: "This is what innovation, real innovation, looks like." He rebuts arguments that Apple has lost the ability to innovate and argues that the refinements in the iPhone 5S show real innovation. He offers a very detailed review of the camera, Touch ID, and the 64-bit architecture, including benchmarks showing how much faster the iPhone 5S is than the iPhone 5.


And here's TechCrunch: "With the iPhone 5S, Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available." The review covers the phone's basics, design, features (Touch ID, M7 motion coprocessor), display, software, camera, performance, and battery.
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal also raves about the new phone, calling it the "best smartphone on the market," praising both the hardware and the software. He finds the Touch ID fingerprint sensor reliable, and says this version of Siri is much improved.

USA Today takes a look at the new features and new software and concludes, "The iPhone 5S makes the best smartphone even better." The review says the biggest change with the new phone, though, is iOS 7.

And if you want an encyclopedic review of the iPhone 5S, check out the one by AnandTech—all 13 pages of it. You get an analysis of every last detail, but especially the processor. A number of benchmark tests show that the iPhone 5S is indeed the speediest phone on the market, with the review referring to the A7 processor as "seriously impressive." The review refers to the phone as "future proof," meaning that the processor is so powerful that it will be a long while before the phone becomes obsolete.

David Pogue of the New York Times is equally bullish: "Apple still believes in superb design and tremendous polish. The iPhone is no longer the only smartphone that will keep you delighted for the length of your two-year contract—but it’s still among the few that will." He reports that in his experience so far, the Touch ID works flawlessly and is superior to other fingerprint sensors he's tried.

Engadget says that the 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5S isn't large enough for some people. But for those who like a phone with a screen smaller than 4.5 inches, the 5S is "the best small phone you can get." The review particularly praises the camera and the 64-bit processor.

Apple has done well. It's great to see the appreciation these reviewers have for Apple's focus on refining the phone and making it the best. And it's fun to see the benchmark tests showing that it is indeed the fastest phone out there.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Video Tour of Apple's New iPhones courtesy MacWorld magazine

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The worst deals in tech: Are you being fleeced by these 7 overpriced products? by Christopher Null

The coolest running shoes at the Nike store this year are the Nike Air Max+ 2013. They retail for $180, but when you break down the costs for the materials and the manufacturing and labor at the Chinese factory where the shoes are made, you’re looking at a product that costs less than $10 a pop. The remaining $170 covers marketing (to make you believe the shoes are worth the premium price) and a handsome profit for Nike. The company reports revenues of about $25 billion a year.

It works the same way for many products in the tech world. As gadget enthusiasts, we accept the idea that products are worth what we’re willing to pay for them, and not what they cost in terms of product development, manufacturing, and materials. Nonetheless, it’s time to name names. Here are some of most egregiously high profit margins in the world of consumer tech.

Text Messages
Average cost: $0.20 per text
Average cost to provide: virtually nothing

The cost of text messages often gets a bad rap, and for good reason. Our tiny missives—160 bytes in size, at most—typically cost us 20 cents each to send and receive (assuming you don’t have a text messaging plan or haven’t gone over your limit). They cost essentially nothing to deliver, however, making the markup for an SMS message essentially infinite.

Here’s the deal: Wireless carriers must send packets of signaling data within the wireless network to set up calls and to signal the locations of devices in relation to cell towers. Back in the mid-1980s, a very clever engineer figured out that we could use the same signaling channel to send short messages during times when real signaling information wasn’t being sent. Thus text messaging was born. Because the carrier has to maintain the signaling channel anyway, the text messages cost the carrier essentially nothing to convey. So the money the carrier charges for them is pure profit. Ka-ching.

Nonetheless, the price the customer pays for each text message has been rising, from 10 cents in 2005 to the standard 20 cents today. And despite price-fixing allegations and lawsuits aplenty, there doesn’t seem to be any chance that prices will drop in the near future. (TechCrunch calculated the cost for the user of texting on a per-megabyte basis at a whopping $1310 per megabyte.) Alternatives, thankfully, are widely available through services like iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook, and many other systems that use your data service, not the signaling packets, to send messages.

Asked to justify the cost of text messaging, the CTIA, the wireless carriers’ trade group, told TechHive, “Due to antitrust reasons, we cannot comment on prices. However, U.S. consumers have a variety of options to choose from, including unlimited text message plans.”

Computer and audio-video cables
Average cost: $45 (for a name-brand 8-foot HDMI cable)
Average cost to produce: about $3 (TechHive estimate based on market analysis and review of financial statements)

There’s no love lost between consumers and the cabling industry. Just look at Monster Cable, which has long been criticized for charging extreme prices—often over $100—for what amounts to some twisted wire with some rubber wrapped around it.

Monster Cable’s cables are preternaturally pricey.
Sure, generic cables from Monster’s competitors may not bear the THX logo, or boast “hyper speed” certification, or come with gold connectors crafted on the thighs of virgins, but it turns out that the vast majority of people won’t need all that stuff. Repeated studies and tests have found no differences between brand-name and generic digital cables. Other studies have found that the performance increase you get with high-end cables is hardly worth the extra cost.

In the digital realm, a cable either works or it doesn’t. There’s no faster or slower, and consumers have long been advised to buy the cheapest cable that works for their particular need. This means buying based on type (for example, HDMI version compatibility), connector size, and length, rather than brand name. It’s important to point out that there are different HDMI standards, and while cable “quality” may be a debatable point, not all HDMI cables work with every application.

As for the whipping boy Monster, its strategy seems to be having its share of difficulties: Consumers may have caught on to its more-than-50-percent gross profit margins on premium cables, and are buying fewer of them, according to the company’s financial statements. Those statements also show that the company spends almost as much on marketing and administration costs as it does on, you know, making cables.

Smartphones
Average cost: $549 (for a 16GB iPhone 5, unlocked)
Average cost to produce: $200

Deep carrier discounts often blind consumers to the true prices of smartphones. Really, what’s a couple hundred dollars for what amounts to a powerhouse computer that you keep in your pocket and use all the time? Subsidies that the carriers pay directly to all phone manufacturers muddy the picture, but you can get a clearer view of the real cost of a phone if you buy an unlocked model that isn’t tied to a contract.

5 tricks every email user needs to know by Kim Komando

Q. I'm spending more time than I'd like to admit reading and responding to email. It's seriously

A. You're not alone! Research firms estimate that more than a quarter of a person's work week is spent dealing with email. Who knows what that translates to in terms of the time it takes to refocus on the task at hand?
cutting into my work and stopping me from doing the things I need and want to do. Do you have any tips to help me handle my email a little better?

As someone who receives more email than I can count, I've had to cook up special strategies. I've boiled down all of my favorite tips into five ideas that just about anyone can use. Each one can shave serious time off of your inbox management.

Even better, put all five into place and I bet you'll feel like an email pro. You'll have more fun putting up with your inbox every day. You'll definitely notice how much time you're saving, too!

1. Send less (and better) email:
Email follows one law you've probably heard before: You get what you give. If you're sending out dozens of messages, you're going to receive that many more. If the email you send isn't clear, you'll end up sending more messages to clarify.

First, look for other ways to communicate. If a quick text, call or IM can get your message across faster, use that instead. If you're dealing with a co-worker, taking a trip to their office might be easier and more productive.

With the email you can't avoid sending out, make it clear and concise. Anticipate questions and answer them before they're asked. Try to keep it as short as possible, as well. If a list or short sentence will do, don't stretch things out into paragraphs.

If you're frequently sending the same message to multiple people, you can save time with a template. These can be customized as you go so they don't look as much like form letters.

2. Filter & Automate: 
Nearly every email program or service lets you set up some form of automated message filtering. This can be as simple as setting up folders to separate important mail from the clutter. Advanced systems can color code email, label it and more.

Start by routing messages from important contacts to a folder labeled "Urgent" or something similar. Create a "Read later" folder for routine or subscription messages. You can create as many subfolders and folders as you need, so set up a system that works best for you.

Act on the email you receive, and then either archive or delete the messages. The quicker it is out of your inbox, the better. Remember, your inbox is a delivery system, not a storage system!
If you want even more advanced filtering options, use programs like Outlook or the free Thunderbird. These are a must for anyone with multiple email accounts. They add all sorts of features that simple Web mail can't touch.

3. Use temporary email:
One way to pick up a lot of email you don't need is to give out your real address online. In most cases, you just need to give it to a site so you can receive a confirmation email proving you are who you say you are. After that, it lets in a flood of email you don't really care about.

In those situations, it's better to use a temporary email account. Mailinator is a good site for this. Email addresses only last for an hour or so and then all the email is erased.

Some people create a second email address. That's the one they give out to new sites. Their main email is reserved for friends, family and reputable sites.

4. When to use BCC:
There are many ways to send email to multiple people. Usually, people simply use "To:" or "CC:" to hit multiple inboxes at once. However, "BCC:" can be a much better option. It makes sure the recipient can't see any extra addresses but their own.

This is polite and better for privacy. It stops the conversation from trailing off in different directions, too. That means you won't see a surge of conversations that don't involve you if someone accidentally hits "reply all."

BCC can backfire, though. In an office setting, using BCC on an email makes you the only target for replies. If the email is about a project with multiple people, include someone else's name to help you carry the weight of replies.

Whenever you include multiple people in an email - office or personal - make sure each knows why they're included. Don't be afraid to explain that in the body of the email.

5. Turn off notifications:
One of the biggest email annoyances is notifications. These come from Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. You get an annoying email every time someone interacts with your profile.

Usually, these notifications can wait until you're actually ready to log into the site. When you're getting dozens a day, it saps time away from things you actually need or want to do. You can turn off notifications in the settings on each site to make your inbox less stressful.

Go into your settings on each site to turn off notifications. I've got tips to do it for Facebook here. Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the rest aren't much different. You can even keep a few types of notifications active if you think they're important.

Your perilous future on Windows XP By Larry Seltzer for Zero Day

Summary: You've been getting warned for ages about the impending end of support for XP. Things are even worse than you've heard (especially if you run Internet Explorer). Expect a flood of new vulnerabilities and no help for them.

An older relative (a really frugal but sharp guy in his 80's) once bemoaned to me about the scam in the computer industry pushing people to upgrade all the time. "Why" (I'm paraphrasing here) "should I upgrade a computer which does what I want it to do?"
We're coming up on one really good answer to his question. As Mary Jo Foley reported the other day, Microsoft is stepping up their warning campaign about users still running Windows XP, which will reach end of life on Patch Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Microsoft warns Windows XP users risk 'zero day forever'

Security is the reason my relative doesn't appreciate for why running old software is often an inherently bad idea. Security technology in Windows XP was never really that great, even if it got a lot better with SP2, but the product was a runaway smash hit to such an extent that we may never be rid of it. Next April will be 12 years since Windows XP was made generally available; this is an astonishingly long time to keep supporting a software product. Nobody else keeps support life spans like Microsoft; with Windows XP they actually extended the normal 10 year life by 2 years, a move I consider a grave error. In fact, they should seriously think about cutting the 10 year standard down.

Partly as a result of their policies and partly because of people like my relative, Windows XP is still a massive presence in the market, and it's a massive target of attack. So are later versions of Windows, but those versions are far better able to defend themselves against attack. See the stats in this blog entry by Microsoft's Tim Rains which explains just how much more vulnerable to breach XP is than Vista, Windows 7 and especially Windows 8. Imagine how vulnerable it will be when you can't even get patches for critical vulnerabilities anymore. Only a fool would rely on it.

One point Rains didn't make that I think is worth emphasizing: If you're using Internet Explorer on it, and I bet many XP users are, you are stuck with a version that will soon be 3 generations old and without critical updates anymore. Don't keep using XP but, if you do, use Chrome or Firefox. (This reminds me of the old line "Don't stick your hand in the garbage disposal but, if you do, use your left hand.")

Windows XP: The end is near
Some other points: If you're on XP and you care about updates you're probably using Windows Update, and therefore automatically running the Malicious Software Removal Tool every month. Not any more after April 2014.

And it's not exactly a wave yet, but more and more software is not supporting XP, or at least not well. You can make a good case that this is irrelevant, since the users sticking with XP are likely sticking with the software they already have, but it's another thing to consider.

One thing you don't have to worry about is antivirus support. I asked Kaspersky about their plans for XP. Elliot Zatsky, Senior Director of Consumer Partner Services at Kaspersky Lab said that about 20% of their user base is still on Windows XP (!). It's slowly trending down and they expect, as a result of the end of XP support and the release of Windows 8.1, their XP decline will "increase slightly and continue on this steady downward trend for a few years." Zatsky says the company plans to include support for Windows XP in their 2015 product line and, therefore, for at least 2 more years.
I also asked whether the inevitable increase in unpatched vulnerabilities on systems makes it harder for antivirus to do its job. Obviously this increases the chance that a system will be infected in some way, but Zatsky says that their multiple layers of protection should catch any malware in real time even if it is trying to exploit a vulnerability.

I think they may be a bit optimistic with that last point. Things will certainly get worse for Windows XP. Once there are no more patches, demand for vulnerabilities may increase considerably. It wouldn't surprise me if some are being stockpiled for next year; it's a risk since someone else may discover it, but if you release an exploit for which there will be no patch, users will be helpless.
You out there, the one running XP! That's you I'm talking about when I say "helpless." When the new models show up for the holidays it's time to go computer shopping.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Do you still need these 5 tech relics? by Kim Komando

Q: Do I really need a mouse pad? I've had the same one for years and it's pretty scratched up and
gross. I'm going to chuck it soon, but do I even need to replace it?


A. Mouse pads used to be an essential tool. However, unless you still have a very old mouse with a ball, you don't need one.

Most computer mice use laser or optical sensors these days. They don't need a rubber surface to provide grip for the ball. So they'll work on most surfaces without trouble. Newer laser mice can even work on glass.

That doesn't mean you have to ditch yours if it's still good, though. In fact, mouse pads can be a great way to express your individuality. They can show how big of a fan you are of something - like a certain blonde tech expert.

Mouse pads aren't the only thing that the tech world has rendered obsolete. But don't take it to the digital dump just yet!

You might still need some of those things that many think are past their prime. Here are four other tech "relics" that I still see people using to this day. Let's see if you still need them.

A screensaver

Here's another great expression of your hobbies and interests. Screensavers protected your monitor from burning one image into your screen. They've probably saved millions in replacements and repairs over the years.

The once-mandatory screensaver isn't necessary now. You don't have to worry about screen burnout with modern monitors. You can leave them on for hours, if not days, without having to worry about anything but your power bill!

That doesn't mean you have to ditch your screensaver altogether. In fact, I still use a screensaver on my HDTV today! They're a great way to show off pictures, your favorite team and more.

Your Home Phone

Did you ever think landlines would be irrelevant in your lifetime? If someone told you that 20 years ago, would you have laughed?

With most people owning smartphones and even more having some kind of cellphone, it's totally possible!

However, there are still plenty of reasons to keep your landline. In fact, many home-security systems and some medical implants require it. Until those services update to wireless, your home phone isn't going anywhere.

That's not a bad thing, either. Landlines don't rely on power or cellular towers like cellphones, so they won't go down in an emergency.

CD/DVD Drive
People originally thumbed their noses at the MacBook Air's lack of a DVD drive. Fast forward a few years and this is becoming the rule, not the exception, with laptops. Many premium laptops have ditched the drive in favor of portability.

It makes sense. Cord cutters are streaming most of their movies online and digital downloads are cheap. Heck, even some software is moving to the cloud and spurning discs. Still, most people still need at least one computer with a physical drive.

If you've got a big CD library, you want a way to rip it so you can listen on the go. You might have software you need to install that's only on CDs.

Fortunately, as with floppy drives, companies make external versions. You can plug them into any computer using USB.

VCR

Though Blu-ray and DVD dominate the sales, I still see VCRs in just about everyone's closet. People cling to these for their old VHS home movies. But there's no need to do that.

There are plenty of affordable gadgets that can digitize your home movies. In fact, I sell a very popular converter in my store.  You just plug it in and it does the work for you.

This does a lot more than let you ditch your VCR, too. It makes your movies live forever and can even let you upgrade the quality. It'll be like watching them for the first time all over again!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ala. Student Sues Best Buy's Geek Squad After Circulation of Nude Photos By ALANA ABRAMSON

Aug. 14, 2013

An art student at the University of Alabama is suing Best Buy, claiming staff members on their Geek Squad Technical Support circulated nude photos of her from her computer after she took it in for repairs, court documents show.

Nicole March filed a lawsuit on Aug. 9 in the U.S. District Court in Alabama, claiming an invasion of privacy, outrageous conduct, breach of contract, and negligent supervision, training and entrustment, according to court documents.

Since the photos were circulated by staffers at the Alabama franchise, March "has been caused to suffer severe mental anguish, embarrassment, and humiliation," the complaint alleges.

According to the complaint, March was having difficulty with her computer's hard drive in August of 2011, and brought it to Best Buy's Geek Squad Technical Support in the Tuscaloosa, Ala., store to retrieve its data. The complaint says Geek Squad Technical Support is a subsidiary owned and operated by Best Buy.

March had been employed at that Best Buy, according to the complaint, identified as store 1540.

The complaint alleges that almost two years later, in May of 2013, an employee of the Geek Squad, Nathaniel Smith, called March and told her another Best Buy employee, Edwin Kinloch, had sent him a link with nude photographs of her and that they were "circulating" on sites including Piratesbay.sx, which enable large file transfers. The file name explicitly identified March, according to the complaint.

The complaint says that, as an art student "with an interest in the human body" March has "from time to time, had professional and privately made nude photographs of herself which she stored on her personal computer for private, personal and professional reference and use."

March notified the manager of the Best Buy in Tuscaloosa as soon as she found out about the photos, according to the complaint, and four days later an agent from the Geek Squad told her he had found the culprit and that the photographs would be deleted. However, the agent "requested that she do him the 'favor of not asking who the culprit was,'" according to the complaint, and she subsequently filed a police report.

March referred all questions to her attorneys.

One of March's attorneys, Gayle Douglas, said March is suing for monetary compensation, but the amount is being left up to the attorney.

The actions of the Geek Squad employees "cannot be tolerated in a civil society where a customer entrusts her computer to a service for repair and rescue only to have sensitive and private data, images and information uploaded to public links for use by strangers and the public at large," the complaint states.

Best Buy declined to comment on pending litigation. A spokesperson wrote in an e-mail that "Best Buy is committed to responsible customer information management practices, and our employees are trained to follow very specific procedures that govern how they manage this important information."