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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Simple steps to improve your TV’s picture by Kim Komando

I was in the store the other day and saw some people ooh-ing and aah-ing over a demo of those new 4K TVs. They were going on about the detail and the motion smoothness and the vivid colors.

I’ll tell you something though; if they took it home with them they’d be very disappointed. It isn’t the TV’s fault though – any new TV is doing to be a disappointment when you get it home.

Want to get the best TV for your money? Read my HDTV buying guide before heading to the store.

That’s because new TVs aren’t calibrated correctly for your home’s lighting, so the colors will look off. I regularly get questions from disappointed buyers asking if they got a defective set.

If you buy a floor-model TV, it will be even worse. Those sets have heavily tweaked saturation and hues designed to catch your eye in fluorescent lighting. Once you get it into standard lighting or a dark room, however, it looks terrible.

You could pay an expert to set your TV up the right way, but unless you’re creating up a high-end home theater, you can get fine results doing it yourself. There are two ways to go about it.

1. Use your eyes (Fast and decent)
Head over to a site called TweakTV and put in your TV model. It will have suggested settings for contrast, hue, brightness, sharpness and color temperature. Look in your TV manual to find out how to find these settings on your TV.

Did you buy your TV a while ago and don’t have the manual? You can probably find it here.

Once you have the default settings in, grab a few of your favorite movies. Jump to some scenes that are light, dark, filled with people and colorful.

Adjust the brightness so shadows are as black as they can get while still showing detail. Then adjust the contrast up so the white spaces are as white as they can be while still showing detail.

Then adjust the color temperature until skin tones and colors look natural. If your TV has saturation controls, you can fine-tune how vivid the colors look – you want the sweet spot between washed out and unreal.

Once you get a good look, test it with a few more movies at different lighting levels in the room. You also might need to turn the TV off a few times and come back after a few minutes to see it with fresh eyes.

2. Use a calibration disc (Slower and higher quality)

To start, you’ll need a calibration disc for your DVD or Blu-ray player. Calibration discs walk you

It works well in most cases, but don’t be afraid to tweak certain settings to your specific liking. It’s your HDTV, so the best picture is the one that you like the most.

There are a few ways to get a calibration disc. AVS Calibration lets you create your own disc on your computer as long as you have a DVD or Blu-ray creation program like DVD Flick.

Some movies have a calibration tool built in, as well. Check your collection for any of these THX-certified movies or order a calibration disc from Netflix. THX has a calibration app that works on some smartphones and tablets, too.

Side note: THX recommends that you use a pair of blue-filtered glasses with its calibration system, which it sells for $5. There’s another setting that lets you fix your colors without them, but pick up the glasses for the best results.

THX helps you improves your HDTV’s sound quality, too. Or you can tweak your treble and bass yourself for personalized sound.

Is all this effort worth it?

In a word, yes. The quality we have available to us in our homes is extraordinary. If you’ve spent the big bucks on the TV, take the time to make it worth every penny!
through each setting and give you carefully created visual images to help guide your tweaking.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sleep, Shut Down, and Hibernate: Do power-saving settings matter anymore? by Kim Komando

One of the big reasons people don’t turn their computer off regularly is that it’s so slow to start up again. That’s why other power-saving options exist that are faster.

I’m sure you’ve seen the Sleep and Hibernate options. But now Windows 8 also has Fast Boot and Hybrid Shutdown built in. And then there are high-speed solid-state hard drives that can make a big difference.

If your head is swimming at the possibilities, don’t worry; it isn’t as bad as you think.

Since not everyone has Windows 8 or a solid-state hard drive, let’s take a look at the more universal Sleep and Hibernate first.

Sleep is the older option, so more people are comfortable using it. Plus, on some computers – such as desktops – this is the only option.

When you put your computer into Sleep mode, it’s like pausing a DVD. Your computer stops exactly where you were. It grabs your open files, folders and programs and throws them into your computer’s RAM.

Your processor, hard drive, graphics system and everything else are turned off, or put on minimum power. When you turn the computer back on, it loads up your information from RAM and is ready to go almost instantly.

Of course, your RAM will still use power to remember your data. And if power goes out, all your work is lost. I hope you saved!

Since desktops are always plugged in, sudden power loss isn’t a huge worry. However, a laptop may not always be connected. If you use Sleep on an unplugged laptop, it could eventually spell trouble.

That’s why there’s Hibernate.

Unlike Sleep, Hibernate saves your information to the hard drive, then it shuts down everything, just like turning off the computer.

Hibernate won’t drain your laptop’s battery and it doesn’t care about power loss, so that’s good. However, conventional hard drives are much, much slower at transferring information than RAM.

That means it takes longer to start up from Hibernate mode than Sleep mode. It is still faster than a traditional start up though.

Hybrid Sleep
There is also a little-known third option. It’s called Hybrid Sleep or Safe Sleep. Like the name implies, it combines Sleep and Hibernate.

Your open programs and work are saved to RAM and the hard drive. If your computer doesn’t lose power overnight, it stays in Sleep mode. If you lose power for some reason, Hibernate kicks in.

To activate Hybrid Sleep, go to Control Panel >>Hardware and Sounds>>Power Options. Choose “Change plan settings” under your selected plan and then “Change Advanced power settings.” Turn on Hybrid Sleep.

To use Hybrid Sleep once it’s turned on, just choose “Sleep” as normal.

This feature is only available in Windows 7 and later. Not all desktops will offer Hybrid Sleep or Hibernate.

As for Macs, Safe Sleep is turned on automatically. Click the Apple logo at the top of the screen and select “Sleep” to activate it, or just shut your laptop lid.

Windows 8
With Windows 8, Microsoft decided to speed things up a little, so it enables Fast Boot and Hybrid Shutdown by default. So, when you choose the Shutdown option, you’re really choosing Hybrid Shutdown.

This works something like Hibernate, but it doesn’t save your open programs and files. It saves other parts of the Windows system to your hard drive to make booting up again faster with Fast Boot.

Sleep, Shut Down, and Hibernate: Do power-saving settings matter anymore?
If you don’t care about leaving your programs open, then shutting your computer down in Windows 8 is both the fastest and the best power-saving option.

To keep your open programs when you start up again, however, you can still use the Sleep option. You can also go into the Windows 8 power settings in Control Panel to enable good old Hibernate.

Handy trick: Because of the way Windows 8 handles shutdown now, shutting the computer down and booting it back up again won’t fix many of the problems it used to. Instead, you need to choose the Restart option to get a “cold boot.” Learn why rebooting a computer usually fixes so many problems.

Solid-state drives
Many laptops and upper range desktops have solid-state drives installed. If you want more details on the benefits and drawbacks of solid-state vs. conventional hard drives, click here.

The bottom line, however, is that SSDs are much faster than conventional drives and can make your computer boot up in half the time or less.

So, a computer with an SSD booting up is just about as fast as a computer with a conventional drive starting from Hibernate. A Windows 8 computer with an SSD it is about as fast as booting an older computer from Sleep.

Plus, SSDs draw a lot less power in general.

In other words, if you have a computer with an SSD, don’t worry about power saving features. Figure out what option you like best – shut down, hibernate, sleep, leaving the computer on – and go with that.
again. That’s why other power-saving options exist that are faster.

Eight business-class alternatives to Dropbox By Ed Bott for The Ed Bott Report

Summary: Dropbox has become one of the world's most popular cloud storage services by focusing on consumers. But businesses have different needs, and a recent controversial move by the company offers an opportunity to take a fresh look at alternative services that might be more suitable for your business.

Dropbox stirred up a hornet’s nest last week with the announcement that it had appointed Condoleezza Rice to its board of directors.

Part of the controversy is political. Rice was Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration a decade ago and was part of the team that authorized the invasion of Iraq.

But the appointment is even more surprising given the former National Security Advisor’s role in establishing and defending warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency, a program that started in 2002 and was revealed publicly in 2005.

That combination led one group to start a Drop Dropbox campaign and forced the company into damage-control mode with a "we should have been clearer" statement from Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. But as more than 1000 comments on that post made clear, the move was not well received.

After revelations in documents leaked by Edward Snowden suggested that American tech companies were cooperating with the NSA – accusations that all of those companies vigorously denied – Forrester estimated that those companies (including Dropbox) could lose $180 billion in business over the next few years as customers shun American cloud services.

Even if you can ignore the politics, the controversy provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at your cloud storage options. Dropbox has grown to be among the largest cloud storage services in the world, with more than 200 million users, by focusing on consumers. But businesses have different needs, including robust encryption, reliability, and compliance with regulatory requirements like HIPAA.

If you’re a subscriber to the Tech Pro Research service, you can read my detailed analysis of the business criteria to consider in choosing a cloud service (see Six business-class cloud storage services: Which one is right for you?).

In this post, I offer a capsule summary of eight worthy alternatives to Dropbox. Most of the services on this list, which is presented in alphabetical order, offer basic consumer storage as well as more feature-rich business-oriented offerings.


This service, which has been in business for nearly a decade under CEO wunderkind Aaron Levie, shifted its focus from consumer accounts to businesses long ago. As of early 2014, the company claimed 34,000 paying business customers. Its basic business accounts offer a total of 1000 GB of storage for $15 per user per month (with a minimum of 3 users). Box is especially attractive to Microsoft shops, with Windows Phone and native Windows 8 apps. It also offers excellent Office integration with a free add-in for Office 2007, Office 2010, and Office 2013 that lets you open, save, and share files from the cloud without having to leave the Office programs.


This relatively new service is backed by Barracuda, a company best known for its enterprise security and spam-filtering appliances and services. A personal Copy account provides 15 GB of storage, with no limits on the size of individual files; paid storage upgrades to 250 or 500 GB are available. The business service, Copy for Companies offers central management tools and “as much storage as you need*”: the asterisk leads to a disclaimer that defines that storage capacity “based on typical user usage across the industry,” whatever that means. If you need five or fewer accounts, you can get a Copy for Companies account for free, with storage limited by each user’s personal account allotment.

Google Drive

Google Drive, introduced in 2012, is the new name for what used to be the file storage component of Google Docs. That’s still its main job, despite the fact that Google Drive has sync clients for every platform except Linux and offers 15 GB of storage to go with its free Gmail accounts and 30 GB for each paid Google Apps for Business account. Google recently announced dramatic price cuts to its storage upgrades for individual accounts, with a terabyte of extra storage costing $10 a month. Business storage upgrades (which are purchased in bulk and then assigned to individual users) cost considerably more: $7.50 a month for 50 GB, $89 for 1 TB, all the way up to $1,430 for 16 TB.

Intermedia SecuriSync

Intermedia is the largest third-party provider of hosted Microsoft Exchange services in the world, with an impressive range of services and world-class support. SecuriSync is the latest addition to Intermedia's suite of online services and is included as a feature in its Enterprise plan, which includes Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Data meets the core standards for enterprise-grade security, with encryption in transit and at rest. There are no limitations on file size, and the integration with Office apps and Windows networks (including Active Directory support) is excellent. You can also sign up for SecuriSync as a stand-alone service: The entry-level cost is $5 per user per month, which includes 10 GB of storage space per account. Bumping the per-user cost to $10 per month is a significantly better deal, at 50 GB per user.

Microsoft OneDrive

The Service Formerly Known as SkyDrive offers 7 GB of free storage with every account. Attaching an Office 365 Home or Personal subscription adds 20 GB to that total, and additional storage is available as a paid upgrade. The killer feature of OneDrive is integration with Office Online, which allows you to create, edit, and share Office files in a web browser from any device (including an iPad). Although the service is aimed at consumers, there are no license restrictions to prevent commercial use. Client software is available for Windows 7 and up and for OS X, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Microsoft OneDrive for Business

As of last month, Microsoft’s enterprise-grade storage is available as a standalone product. You’re more likely to use it as one of the pieces in Office 365’s business plans, however. In Small Business, Midsize Business, and Enterprise plans, each user account gets 25 GB of secure online storage as well as 50 GB for Exchange email. In addition, the organizational account gets 10 GB plus an extra 500 MB per user for sharing files via SharePoint. Extra storage for the organization account is available for $0.20 per gigabyte per month (which works out to $20 per month for an extra 100 GB). The control panel in Midsize and Enterprise allows that extra storage to be assigned to individual OneDrive for Business accounts.


You would think, based on SpiderOak’s feature set, that it was the first post-Snowden cloud service, and yet it's been in business since 2007. The company's "zero knowledge" privacy design means it never sees your password, it never has access to your encryption keys, and it receives, stores, and sends only encrypted files. SpiderOak staff can't even retrieve metadata such as the names or sizes of files; instead, they see sequentially numbered containers of encrypted data. Individual accounts start with 2 GB of free storage. Upgrades, in 100 GB increments, cost $10 a month or $100 a year. The SpiderOak Blue business service starts at $600 a month, with a terabyte of storage for up to 100 users. The company will even allow you to store data on your own servers and use its authentication and access tools. A small-business version of the Blue service is “coming soon.”


The major selling point of this service, besides the fact that it’s based in Switzerland, is that your data is encrypted from end to end. “Your password never leaves your computer. Nobody - not even we as storage provider - can access your data without your authorization.” Wuala Business accounts start at $429 a year for five users and a total of 100 GB of storage. Since 2009, the service has been owned by LaCie, which in turn was acquired by Seagate at the end of 2013. LaCie recently suffered an embarrassing security breach in its e-commerce website. There’s no indication that the storage service has suffered any similar problems, however.

iOS 7.1.1 aims for Touch ID, keyboard fixes by Dan Moren

If something about iOS 7.1 just didn’t sit right for you, no worries: Here comes iOS 7.1.1 to give it another shot.

The update came down the pipes on Tuesday for all devices compatible with iOS 7, but if you’re expecting big sweeping changes, you’re probably in for disappointment. The three issues mentioned in the release note are all fairly minor: further improvements to Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, a fix for a bug that could “impact keyboard responsiveness,” and a patch for a specific issue regarding VoiceOver when using a Bluetooth keyboard. There are also security improvements though, as of this writing, Apple hadn’t yet posted a list.

As always, iOS 7.1.1 is available both by plugging your iOS device into your computer and downloading the update through iTunes or over the air, by visiting Settings > General > Software Update.

With just six weeks to go until Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference—and the presumptive announcement of iOS 8—the likelihood of another major release for iOS 7 seems pretty low. iOS 6 topped out at version 6.1.6 and iOS 5 at version 5.1.1. The last second major release we saw on iOS was version 4.2, which arrived in November 2010. So, at this point, all steam ahead for iOS 8!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The one browser trick you should use, but probably don’t by Kim Komando

If you’re like many people, most of your time on your computer, tablet or smartphone is spent in your
browser. It makes sense; your browser is your portal to the entire Internet.

But today I’m going to talk about a more basic browser function that surprisingly not a lot of people use to its full potential. I’m talking about bookmarks.

These make it simple to load sites you visit often, or a quick way to save pages to read later. But too often I see people manually typing in their favorite sites over and over, or leaving browser tabs open indefinitely.

So, without further ado, I’m going to walk you through creating them, organizing them and some cool tricks you can do with them.

Special reminder: Don’t forget to bookmark the most essential sites around, i.e. my homepage, blog and viral videos.

Creating bookmarks
When you want to bookmark a site you’re viewing, simply press Ctrl + D on your keyboard. The page you’re on will be added to your browser’s bookmark folder automatically. This works in every major browser except Safari. The shortcut in Safari is Command + D.

Not a keyboard shortcut person? Every major browser uses a star to represent bookmarks. It might show up in the address bar, or somewhere to the left or right of the address bar.

In Firefox, Chrome and Safari, clicking the star automatically adds the bookmark to your bookmarks folder. Clicking the star again lets you edit the bookmark name and choose its location in your bookmarks, or delete it.

For Internet Explorer, click the star icon opens the bookmarks menu. Then you click the “Add to favorites” button.

To bookmark in your default Android browser, simply press the menu button on your phone and tap “Save to bookmarks.” For iPhones and iPads, tap the + icon and then tap “Add bookmark.” You’ll have to give to the page a name before you can save it.

Organizing bookmarks
Seeing your bookmarks is a little different in every browser. In IE, click on the star icon near the upper right corner and go to the Favorites tab.
For Firefox, click the Firefox button and go to Bookmarks>>Show All Bookmarks. In the next version of Firefox, you’ll click a clipboard next to the star icon and select Show All Bookmarks.

In Chrome, click the icon with the 3 horizontal lines in the upper right and select Bookmarks>>Bookmark Manager. For Safari, the Bookmark folder is visible on the main screen.
Once you’re in the browser’s bookmarks area, you can delete your bookmarks or organize them into folders.

Bookmarks toolbar
One folder you should pay special attention to when organizing is the bookmarks bar (sometimes called the “bookmarks toolbar” or “favorites bar”).

Any bookmarks in this folder will appear in a toolbar below the address bar in your browser. That makes it a good place to put bookmarks you check multiple times during the day.

If your bookmark toolbar isn’t visible, you’ll need to turn it on. In IE and Firefox, right-click in a blank spot next to the browser tabs. For IE, select Favorites bar, and for Firefox select Bookmarks Toolbar.

In Chrome, click the horizontal line icon and select Bookmarks>>Show Bookmarks Bar.

Using the bookmark toolbar lets you do some other fun tricks. For example, in Firefox, you can drag a tab to the bookmark toolbar to create an instant bookmark of that page. In IE and Chrome click the page or butterfly icon next to the address and drag it to the bookmark toolbar to do the same thing.

You can also create folders on your bookmark toolbar. Not only does this keep similar bookmarks together, if you middle-click on the folder, or right-click and select Open all, you can open all the bookmarks in that folder at once.

So, for example, you could create a Komando folder and load my homepage, blog and viral videos pages at the same time with a click.

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What Documents Should I Shred and What Should I Keep? by LifeHacker

Dear Lifehacker,
I have a giant pile of important looking documents sitting in front of me, and I have no idea what to do with them. Some of them look pointless, but could be important. Which ones should I hold on to, and which ones should I shred?

What's this Garbage

Blast from the past is a weekly feature at Lifehacker in which we revive old, but still relevant, posts for your reading and hacking pleasure. Now that tax day has come and gone, we figured it was time for a good refresher on what to shred and what to keep.

Dear WG,
We all get a ton of junk in the mail—whether it's credit card applications, insurance packets, or a 60-page retirement fund report from a job you had 10 years ago. Thankfully, deciding what to keep is simple, and once you do you can shred pretty much everything else.
The Important Documents You Need to Keep

What Documents Should I Shred and What Should I Keep?
Depending what type of documents you're dealing with, you need to store some of them for certain periods of time, others you can digitize, and others you can throw away. Let's start with the documents you need to keep physical copies of forever:

  •     Birth and death certificates
  •     Social security cards
  •     Pension plan documents
  •     ID cards and passports
  •     Marriage license
  •     Business license
  •     Any insurance policy (good to keep even if they have a digital copy in case problems come up)
  •     Wills, living wills, and powers of attorney
  •     Vehicle titles and loan documents
  •     House deeds and mortgage documents

In general, you want to keep physical copies of anything related to state or federal matters, including certifications, licenses, or deeds. The reason is twofold: you want to have easy access to these in case you need them, and they're also a pain to replace because you typically need to make a direct request to the government agency, which takes a lot of time.

If you're unsure what to do with these important documents, we recommend keeping an "in case of emergency kit" so you always know where they are. You can also use a webapp like Get Your Sh*t Together to gather everything you need to keep for the long term.

The second subset of documents to hold onto relates to documents you need to keep for a little while. With these, you can follow our guide to going paperless and scan them in if you like, or just store these documents in a safe place:

  •     Tax records and receipts (keep for seven years)
  •     Pay stubs and bank statements (keep for a year)
  •     Home purchase, sale, or improvement documents (keep for at least six years after you sell)
  •     Medical records and bills (keep at least a year after payment in case of disputes)
  •     Warranty documents and receipts (keep as long as you own them)

Finally, the last subset is the documents you need to keep the most recent version of:

  •     Social security statements
  •     Annual insurance policy statements
  •     Retirement plan statements (401(k), 529, IRA, etc)
That's pretty much it. Once you know what to keep, organize them in a filing cabinet and you're all set. A good rule of thumb to think about when you're deciding what to keep is to think about how hard that document is to replace. If you need to venture down to a government office, wait in line at a hospital, or sit on the phone for an hour, then it's likely best to hold onto it. If you can easily pop online and see a document, then you likely don't need to keep a physical copy.

Shred Everything Else

Everything else you have you can safely shred or throw away. You should shred anything that has personal information like your name, address, phone number, social security number, or bank account information.

This might include a few documents you don't initially think about, including ATM receipts, credit card receipts, bills, and even used airline tickets. You should also immediately shred expired credit cards, visas, passports, and IDs. The best way to shred documents is with a good cross cut shredder like this one.

Happy shredding,

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Buying a gadget for streaming video to your TV by Kim Komando

Have you been hearing about the growing number of people who are ditching cable and satellite in
favor of streaming online video?

That’s what has fueled the growth of sites like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video.
Streaming video gives you more options than traditional cable or over-the-air broadcasts.

You can watch movies and shows whenever you want. There are both free and paid options, depending on the service you get. You can access Internet-only videos and news, music and other digital information. It’s just better all around.

Many new TVs, so-called “smart” TVs, can connect to the Internet and have built-in apps for streaming from most online videos services – iTunes being a big exception. However, not everyone has one yet, and many don’t want to pay a bundle to upgrade.

That’s why there are third-party streaming gadgets you can buy that will plug into your TV. Roku, Apple TV and Google TV are popular examples. Amazon has gotten into the act, too, with FireTV.
Caution: Not every streaming gadget supports every service. Before purchasing any gadget, you’ll want to make sure it has the content you want.

Amazon’s Fire TV
The latest streaming gadget comes to us from Amazon and it’s called FireTV. It’s a little black box that plugs into your TV via HDMI cable and sends high definition 1080p video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.

FireTV has the most powerful hardware of any streaming gadget yet. It includes a quad-core processor, dedicated graphics system, 2 gigabytes of memory, and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi. Early testing shows it’s very slick and responsive.

As you’d expect, it’s built to connect to an Amazon Prime or Instant Video account, as well as Amazon Music. It also supports the other streaming services you would expect it to have like Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora, Crackle and many more. However, it seems to lack HBO Go support right now.

The FireTV runs a modified version of Android so it can handle the same apps as the Kindle Fire and other Android tablets, including popular video games.

In addition, Amazon included some other cool features like an easy-to-use voice search through its remote’s built-in microphone. It offers a new feature called FreeTime that lets you create a profile customized for kids and will let you limit their screen time.

Not sure what you want to watch? It has a feature called ASAP that predicts what you’d like and starts buffering it even before you choose it. That way streaming is immediate and you don’t have to wait.

Best of all, the FireTV is only $100, the same as a Roku 3 or Apple TV.

Buy if: You want high-end hardware and software with all the bells and whistles
Pass if: You want to spend less; You want iTunes support; You don’t want another box cluttering up your entertainment center.

Roku is a long-time contender in the streaming market and for good reason. It combines solid hardware and software at affordable prices.

With Roku you have four model options: The Roku 1 ($50), Roku 2 ($80), Roku 3 ($100) and the Streaming Stick ($50). All of them connect via HDMI, but the Roku 1 and 2 also include a composite output, meaning those yellow-white-red connecting cables.

If you are short on HDMI ports, or want to stream to an older TV without HDMI, the Roku 1 or 2 are your best options.

The Roku 1, 2 and 3 are little stand-alone boxes while the Streaming Stick is about the size of a USB drive and plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI. If you’re after a clean look or trying to save space, the Streaming Stick is worth a look.

All four models output a 1080p high-definition signal and all the models support Wi-Fi for easy placement and simple connection to the Internet. The Roku 3 also includes a wired connection. That is great for streaming for those who can easily get an Ethernet cable to their TV set.

The hardware is excellent for the price, but just as good is the software. Roku offers one of the widest varieties of compatible streaming services.

More than 700 “channels” are supported, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Vimeo, HBO Go and more. It also supports Plex for streaming movies, music, photos and more from your computer.

Roku didn’t originally support YouTube, but a recent update added it. So now you can watch all the user-created videos you want.

Roku doesn’t just offer TV shows and movies. You can play games like Angry Birds, watch sports and check in on your social media. The Roku 2 and 3 come with a remote that has a built-in headphone jack so you can watch movies without disturbing anyone else.

For price and performance, Roku is one of the best choices. You’ll definitely want to put it near the top of your list of contenders.

Buy if: You want a large number of supported channels; You want a solid performer in the $50 to $80 range; You need something for an older TV

Pass if: You want iTunes support; You want to pay less than $50

Apple TV
The Apple TV has been around since 2007 and it has a well-deserved reputation for power and simplicity. Plus, at $100 it isn’t outrageously priced like some Apple gadgets.

On the hardware front it isn’t as powerful as some other gadgets I’ve listed, and the software doesn’t have as many bells and whistles. What sets the Apple TV apart, however, is its connection to iTunes. If that’s where you buy your movies, shows and music, then Apple TV is your only choice.

Apple TV can also handle popular sites such as Netflix, YouTube and Flickr. Plus, using AirPlay you can send content from other Apple gadgets to your TV with little hassle.

Buy if: You need access to iTunes; You have a lot of other Apple hardware
Pass if: You want more software features; You don’t use iTunes; You want to spend less money

Google Chromecast
As usual, Google was a bit late to the party but made a big entrance; its $35 Chromecast turned the streaming world on its head. This little USB drive-sized stick was the first to plug right into your TV’s HDMI so it stays out of the way.

Unlike the other gadgets that connect to the Internet and stream videos directly, Chromecast get its content from your computer, smartphone or tablet.

For example, you fire up a Netflix app on your smartphone or load up a YouTube video in the Chrome browser and then push a special button. The content is immediately sent to your TV. Your computer or gadget then acts like a remote control.

The best part is that you can still use your phone, tablet or laptop while it’s streaming. You can surf the Web or use another app while you’re watching your show. You can even start watching on one gadget and let another gadget take full control.

The Chrome browser compatibility is nice because you can play just about any Web video and stream it to your TV. On the other hand, it won’t work with any other browser.

Buy if: You want a low-cost streaming option; You need something for a second TV
Pass if: You don’t want to keep a smartphone, tablet or computer handy to stream videos; You want more streaming options

Google also has GoogleTV, which makes the Google Play marketplace and Chrome browser available on your TV. You’ll find it built into some streaming gadgets and even some TVs. The only real benefit is the Chrome browser for surfing the Internet. In the areas of price and other features, you’d be better off with another option.

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Ultimate Guide to Solving iOS Battery Drain

Click on this link for a troubleshooting guide to solving iPhone Battery Drain Problems:

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Carl Thorne
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Windows 8.1 users: It's time to move to Windows 8.1 Update By Mary Jo Foley

Summary: As of April 8, Microsoft will make available to all Windows 8.1 users an update for the
operating system. In order to continue to get patches, 8.1 users need to move to it soon.

As of tomorrow, April 8, all Windows 8.1 users will be able to move to Windows 8.1 Update.

Microsoft will be making the Update -- formerly known by those of us who've been tracking it for a while now as "Update 1" and/or "Spring Update" -- available via Windows Update. This just in: It will be available starting around 10 a.m. PDT/1 p.m. EDT Tuesday via the Control Panel, meaning users can manually obtain and install it. Automatic delivery of the Update will be throttled, so users may not see it show up until some time later.

The Update, designed primarily to make Windows 8 more palatable for mouse/keyboard users, will be designated as an "Important" security update when it's rolled out tomorrow. It's actually very important, as Microsoft is going to require all Windows 8.1 users to have Windows 8.1 Update installed if they plan to continue to download any security or feature updates to the operating system.

Microsoft's Premier Field Engineering blog, in an April 7 post outlining the update, makes this plain:
"Failure to install this (Windows 8.1) Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)"

A Microsoft Springboard Series blog post from April 2 also emphasizes that Windows 8.1 users need to move to Update to continue getting patches.

This requirement does not apply to Windows 8 users who have not upgraded already to Windows 8.1, confirmed Mark Morowczynski, a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer. Windows 8 will remain supported by Microsoft until January 12, 2016, according to its lifecycle page. Users have until that time to move to Windows 8.1 and/or future Windows releases to remain supported by the company. (I have a question into Microsoft's Windows team to triple check that this is the case.)

The Windows 8.1 Update is cumulative and includes all previously released security and non-security updates. It also requires users be running Windows 8.1 as a prerequisite, so those still running plain-old Windows 8 need to do a two-step upgrade, the Premier Field Engineering folks note.  Update: Those running Windows 8 will be able to move to 8.1 Update without updating to 8.1 first, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft made Windows 8.1 Update available on April 2 to its MSDN/TechNet subscribers. I installed those bits, courtesy of Microsoft, and am a lot happier with Windows 8.1 as a result. I use the mouse a lot, even with touch devices. I found the Update makes moving between the Metro-Style/"Modern" and Desktop environments somewhat less jarring.

As the Ask Premier Field Engineering blog notes, Windows 8.1 Update "will likely change your system's current behavior." Those using devices other than pure touch tablets will see their systems boot to Desktop by default, though users can change this setting and still boot straight to the Metro-Style/Start Menu if they prefer.

The Start Menu and windowed Metro-Style apps that Microsoft officials acknowledged were coming are NOT part of this Update.

Other tidbits worth knowing:
    •    The Windows 8.1 Update actually consists of several individual updates. The prerequisite for all of these is KB2919442, which Microsoft distributed in March.
    •    Windows 8.1 media/WIMs/TechNet ISOs/Store bits will be slipstreamed with this Update "in the near term," according to the blog post. That date looks like April 14 for volume licensees, based on last week's Springboard blog post.
    •    The Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) has been updated to accommodate the changes to Windows with this Update

By the way, it's not just Windows client getting this update; server is getting it, as well. Windows Server 2012 R2 Update. Microsoft began rolling this server-side update out to TechNet/MSDN subscribers on April 2.

The Windows Server version of the update includes all the previously-released monthly roll-ups, updates and security fixes since RTM; various bug fixes; Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer (also included in Windows 8.1 Update) and more.

Windows Server 2012 R2 users also need to apply this Update if they want continued patches and fixes delivered to them.

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How to print Office for iPad documents by Joe Kissell

Microsoft’s recently released Office for iPad apps (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) have some great features.  Unfortunately, printing isn’t yet one of them. Microsoft says that printing will be included in a future update, but it wasn’t available at the suite’s initial launch.

But never fear: You can in fact print Office documents from your iPad right now. (Assuming, of course, you've already set up your iPad and printer appropriately.) All it takes is a few extra steps plus an extra app or two.

Microsoft's own OneDrive cloud-storage service, where Office for iPad apps store their files, provides the essential workaround. The trick is to get the file you want to print from OneDrive into an app that supports printing. Those apps fall into two categories: Those that connect directly to OneDrive; and those that print documents sent from OneDrive via the Open In command.

Here are some examples of each.
Print from a OneDrive-capable app

Numerous apps connect to cloud storage from multiple providers and also support AirPrint. A quick survey of the apps on my iPad at the moment turned up several in this category:

Documents 2 (Savy Soda, $4; free version available; supports only .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx formats);
Documents 5 (Readdle, free);
FileManager (TapMedia, free);
GoodReader for iPad (Good.iWare, $5); and
PrintCentral (EuroSmartz, $7).

You may already have one of these or other apps that support both OneDrive and printing. Although their details of operation vary, the basic instructions are: set up the app to connect to your OneDrive account (if you haven’t done so already); locate and download the document you want to print; and tap the Print icon (sometimes hidden in the Share popover).
features. Unfortunately, printing isn’t yet one of them. Microsoft says that printing will be included in a future update, but it wasn’t available at the suite’s initial launch.

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One thing you must do right now in response to the ‘Heartbleed’ bug by Kim Komando

In case you missed it, the big news of the week is the “Heartbleed” bug that’s been exposing sensitive

However, I’ve gotten lots of questions asking for more detail on a specific suggestion I made for staying safe. So, here it is, in more detail.

And this advice isn’t just for Heartbleed; every computer user needs to know how to do this one thing.

I am, of course, talking about the right way to change your online passwords. Even if you think you know how, read on to make sure you aren’t missing an important step.

Controversy: There is still some debate about when you should change your online passwords in response to Heartbleed. If you change a password before Heartbleed is fixed on a site, hackers can get your new password and you’ll have to change it again.

On the other hand, hackers might already have your information and could use it at any moment if you don’t change your password. So, it’s really up to you how you want to proceed. I think changing your password immediately is better, but I understand it makes things more difficult. Let’s be honest; Heartbleed is a very difficult problem, for all of us.

Fortunately, most of the major sites have updated their servers at this point, so it should be fine to change your passwords. Click here to see which major sites were affected. For smaller sites, you can check to see if they’re still a threat with these sites.

Before I talk about changing passwords, I should point out a password danger you might not know. Did you know that your browser is saving every password you type? And, even worse, did you know anyone can see them if they know where to look?

It’s true. I’ve talked before about this problem and even wrote up the instructions for where to look. Click here to find out what they are for your browser. Of course, these instructions are for you to check out your passwords; don’t use them to snoop on anyone else’s passwords.

This is also a good way to find accounts you’ve created online in the past that you forgot about. Given the scope of Heartbleed – up to two thirds of all websites, remember – you want to be as thorough as possible.

1. Create a list of sites

Start with a list of the websites where you have accounts. This is probably going to be a long list, but it can’t be helped.

2. Prioritize

Find out which sites Heartbleed affected from this list. That list sticks mostly to major sites, so for smaller sites use these tools to see if Heartbleed is still a problem.

Move the most sensitive sites, like email and social media, to the top of the list and work your way down to the least important.

Note: Major bank sites didn’t have a problem with Heartbleed. However, if you used the same password for other accounts as you did for your banking account, you need to change that as well.

3. Make new passwords

If you’re changing your passwords, obviously you need to make new ones. Be sure they’re strong and unique for every site. Click here for my steps to creating strong, unique passwords that are easy to remember.

Bonus tip: Don’t forget to beef up your security questions while you’re at it.

If you’re worried about remembering your passwords, you can use a password manager like KeePass. This will store your passwords in an encrypted file, and you only need to remember one password to open it. It can even make super-secure passwords for you.

4. Change your passwords

Visit the first site on your list and log in to your account like you normally would. The option to change your password is usually under the Profile or Settings section.

If you don’t remember your password or are having trouble finding where to change it, click the “Forgot password” link. This is usually near the sign-in area and will eventually land you on the page to set a new password.

Bonus tip: If the site is one you haven’t used in a while, think about if you actually need an account. If you don’t, close out your account or replace your information with junk information. A site like AccountKiller will tell you how to close your account on most major websites.

Once you’ve changing a password, cross that account off your list and move on to the next one. Once you’re done, keep the list handy for reference in case a site you might have forgotten pops into your head later. You can check to see if you already hit it.

5. Avoid scams

Scammers are going to use this Heartbleed situation to try and trick you. Lots of real sites are sending out email asking you to change your password. Scammers are going to try slipping some fake email into your inbox as well.

The ironclad rule is to never click on an email link to change your password (or for any other in an unsolicited email). Always go to the site yourself and follow the directions I gave above.

Links in fake email will take you to malicious sites, or a page that looks like the legitimate site’s login page. If you put in your password, hackers will have full access to your real account. So, be careful.
information on two-thirds of the websites on the Internet for the last two years. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.

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Question even the smallest charges by Clark Howard

Have you seen a suspicious charge for $9.84, $10.37 or $12.96 on your credit or debit card recently?

In the past, I’ve told you about a criminal ring based in suburban Los Angeles that went to a bank and bought the credit card numbers of 2 million customers. The crooks put small charges of less than $10 on all the cards month after month. Eventually, they stole hundred of millions of dollars.

Only 7 percent of people ever noticed the bogus charges. We talk about balancing our checkbooks and carefully vetting our credit card statements, but apparently it’s just lip service.

And now in what’s shaping up to be a similar scenario, people around the country are reporting mysterious charges from an entity called BLS WebLearn, according to Consumerist.

No one quite knows what is behind the latest most common charges of $10.37, or $12.96, but Consumerist thinks they may be linked to a previous flurry of scams.

The most-likely theory is that these nominal amounts are being run to see if a credit card is active. If the charge goes through, the criminals know they can later hit those cards for larger charges.

Years ago this happened to me with my Diner’s Club card, which I used in Budapest during a staff dinner. Within hours a duplicate card was made and being used in Italy! The fraud division at Diner’s Club noticed I couldn’t possibly have been in Budapest and then Rome just a few hours later and they promptly shut the card number down.

The takeaway for you is that you’ve got to go through your credit card statement line item by line item. You must dispute any unrecognized charges — even if it is for only $9 or $10 and change.
If so, you’re not alone.

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Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting