Google+ July 2014 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

A complete list of movies that are leaving Netflix tomorrow - plus new ones coming by Kim Komando

Just about every month, Netflix removes and adds any odd number of movies and TV shows from its site.

Not only does this keep content fresh, but occasionally Netflix's licenses for certain movies expire and it has to remove those titles from rotation. It then replaces with newer movies.

This time around, Netflix is ditching 23 movies including "Braveheart," "The Pianist," "The Adams Family," "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,"  "Airplane," and "Runaway Bride."

New to Netflix this month include "The Killing Season 4," "Corky Romano," "Bridget Jones' Diary," "Chaplain," "Cleopatra" and more.  See the full lists of what has been removed and added below.

New to Netflix in August:

    Best Laid Plans
    Blown Away
    Becoming Jane
    Blue Car
    Boys and Girls
    Brian's Song
    Bridget Jones' Diary
    Buffalo Soldiers
    Corky Romano
    Deep Blue
    Down to you
    The Killing Season 4

Leaving Netflix after July 30:
    American Psycho
    Runaway Bride
    Addams family
    Zach and Miri Make a Porno
    Donnie Brasco
    Easy Rider
    The Good Son
    The Ghost and the Darkness
    Somewhere in Time
    Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
    Waking Ned Devine
    Days of Thunder
    The Pianist
    Barbarian Queen
    The Rainmaker
    Unstable Fables 3 Pigs and a Baby
    Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
    Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
    Crime Zone

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to spot a shady gadget charger by Kim Komando

Q. Hi Kim. I recently read on your Breaking Tech News Page that a woman in China was

A. You're not alone. Many people are concerned about the scary details in this story, including Apple itself.

In July alone, there were two reports of serious injury and death resulting from answering an iPhone: Ma Ailun was killed by electric shock on July 18. She answered her iPhone while it was still on the charger. Meanwhile, a man in China was also shocked and is in a coma after he connected his phone to the charger.

What gives? Who is responsible?

It turns out it's not the iPhone, but the knockoff chargers the victims were using. People often buy these to avoid the cost of the real deal.

These shady chargers are cheaply made and sidestep safety regulations, making them quite dangerous. Therefore Apple has released several statements urging users to beware of knockoff chargers.

So, how can you avoid them? I understand that buying a knockoff or no-name brand of phone charger is tempting. After all, everyone wants to save money, and paying $1 for a charger is a lot more enticing than paying $20. But this is a corner I wouldn't cut.

Cheap chargers could cause your electric bill to go sky high. Also, your phone could overheat, cause a fire, or as we've seen now, can even kill you.

At first glance any charger could look like the real deal. Sure, it's only $2 and looks exactly like what you need. But if you dig a little bit deeper, you'll see that there are a lot of little differences.

For starters, if it's $2, it's probably too good to be true.

Next, take a look at the markings on the outside of the charger. Does it say "Designed by Apple" or "Designed by Abble"? Knockoffs are usually plagued with misspellings and mistranslations. Bad grammar should be a strong hint.

If you have an iPhone 5 or new iPad, it uses the Lightning connector. You won't have to try so hard to decide if it's genuine. These cables have authentication chips installed to ensure your safety. Only Apple-approved suppliers can get the chips.
electrocuted when she answered her iPhone while it was charging. How common is this problem? What can I do to make sure this doesn't happen to me?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Do you have bad RAM? How to find it and how to fix it by Topher Kessler

The RAM in your Mac is in essence the active workspace of your computer, in which your programs run and your content is created. Because of this, healthy RAM is vital for properly running any software on your Mac, be it the system software that comes with OS X or third-party programs. 

Unfortunately, if the RAM in your Mac is faulty, those faults can sometimes persist undetected for a while, only to crop up unexpectedly and result in a crash, hang, or other unwanted behavior. Therefore, it is good to not only be able to identify faulty RAM, but also be able to properly test for it and then be prepared to fix the problem, if it arises.

Faulty RAM symptoms

If your system’s RAM is not working correctly, then you will likely see one of several symptoms when using your Mac:
Random Application Crashes: If programs randomly quit unexpectedly, and the generated crash report shows different potential reasons for the crash, this may indicate bad RAM.
Random Pauses: When a background task is addressing bad memory and is crashing, it may cause the system to continually re-launch it or otherwise hang up when attempting to use this task’s services.
Data corruption: If files you save or access regularly become damaged and cannot be opened, it could be corruption in your filesystem formatting—but it could also indicate faulty RAM.
Random kernel Panics and system freezes: This may happen when core OS components attempt to access bad RAM and crash, resulting in a kernel panic or the system immediately halting.
Three beeps from your Mac at startup: Before the boot chimes sound at startup, your Mac will run a rudimentary check to ensure RAM is available and accessible. If not, then you will hear a series of three beeps from your system, and no boot chime. The system will also not boot when this sound is played.
Other inabilities to boot your system: If you cannot get your system to boot, and especially if you don’t hear the boot chimes, this may suggest RAM is not accessible, and some fault is preventing the system even from issuing the three beeps warning.
While these symptoms suggest faulty memory as a possibility, keep in mind they may not necessarily occur regularly: They may instead happen only when the specific faulty areas of your installed RAM are accessed, the frequency of which may change depending on the amount of RAM installed and how much you use it, which will govern how often the faulty areas of RAM are accessed.

Testing your RAM

If you are experiencing some symptoms that suggest faulty RAM, then there are several ways to test your Mac’s RAM and ensure it is healthy and available.
Apple's classic hardware test suite requires you click the Test button, and optionally select the extended memory test.
The first of these is Apple’s built-in hardware tests suite, which can be accessed by holding the D key down while you restart your Mac. Doing this will load the diagnostics suite. Older systems, this classic utility has a blue interface with information about your Mac and a big Test button. To use it to test your RAM, check the box for the extended memory test (this will run multiple passes and different patterns to the memory), and then click the Test button.
On newer Macs, the tests run automatically when the utility is invoked; it appears with a gray background instead of blue.
Note that, if you have formatted your hard drive and reinstalled OS X, then the built-in hardware tests may have been wiped; however, you can still load them from the Internet by holding the Option-D key combination (as opposed to just D) at startup when you hear the boot chimes.
If the hardware test finds any faulty memory, it will list the faulty memory addresses. If everything is OK, you’ll see a message that states all tests passed and no problems were found.
In addition to Apple’s testing suite, there are plenty of third-party memory-testing utilities. One of the most popular is the free memtest, which is run from the Terminal command-line. You can also get a graphical wrapper for memtest, called Rember. But, as I say, there are many of them; just check the Mac App Store and search for RAM. Each will test memory differently and some may miss a problem that another can detect. Therefore, I recommend you use more than one.
Apple's new hardware test suite will run automatically and show you any results here.
For best results, you should run these RAM-testers under some special conditions:
Run in Safe Mode or Single User Mode: Since memory test programs can only test the RAM that is available, be sure to run it in as minimal of an operating system as possible. This means, if you use Rember or memtest, to do it in Safe Mode (for anything requiring a graphic interface), or better yet, in Single User mode, as these will ensure as much RAM is available for testing as possible. That’s why Apple’s Hardware Test is a great option: it loads only a rudimentary operating system, which loads just the tests, ensuring that RAM isn’t occupied with anything else.
Swap or rearrange RAM chips: If you have access to the RAM chips on your system, swap or rearrange them, especially if you have more than two available RAM slots (as you do on some iMac models and the Mac Pro), and then test again. This will help ensure that all RAM addresses are accessible to the testing program, because the system will load core OS components into different parts of RAM.
Keep in mind that, depending on the amount of RAM you have installed, these tests will take some time to complete. But this isn’t something you have to do regularly—perhaps once a year or even every few years, if you care to include it with regular system checks you perform on your Mac. (The only other regular one which I recommend is to check your hard drive for formatting errors.)

Replacing RAM

If any of the tests you run returns any status except for OK, then you should consider replacing it as soon as possible.
The About This Mac windows show you some memory information, but not all you need to upgrade or replace your RAM.
You can look up the type of RAM your system uses by choosing About This Mac from the Apple menu, where you should see the current RAM amount (8GB or 16GB, for example), its speed (1600MHz, say), and its type (DDR3 is one possibility). However, that’s not all information you need; it’s missing things like pin counts. You can find that specific information in Apple’s support website, where it hosts an index of instructions for replacing RAM on your Mac.
If your Mac doesn’t support user-upgradable memory (the Retina MacBook Pro, say, or the MacBook Air), then you’ll need to contact an Apple technician.
Finally, if you do replace your Mac’s RAM, be sure to keep the receipts, packaging, and other proofs of purchase for it. Most RAM manufacturers offer lifetime warranties for their products. So upon receiving your replacement, be sure to test it thoroughly, and then do so periodically to ensure it is working correctly. If not, you can then contact the manufacturer for a replacement or a market-value refund of the purchase price. 

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FCC report: DSL subscribers aren't getting their money's worth by Kim Komando

In the ongoing battle for better, faster Internet, some people are about to be disappointed. If you have DSL, chances are that your Internet speed is drastically different than advertised.

This means that a few DSL companies will soon be getting a letter from the FCC demanding why. Century Link, Frontier, Verizon and Windstream are on this list.
You can see the differences in the chart below. Click the picture for a larger image.

Despite claims to the contrary, it seems that DSL just can't compete with broadband and fiber. This trend shows that perhaps Netflix wasn't just being vindictive toward Verizon in their recent finger-pointing incident.
To their credit, the Verizon FiOS service was almost as fast as advertised, but the Verizon DSL services were woefully under par.

How to Tell Of Your Avocado is Ripe

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Sunrise for iOS and Android is the ultimate Google Calendar companion by Leah Yamshon

Until recently, we didn’t have very many solid third-party calendar apps for Android. Not that there’s anything wrong with the calendar that’s already on your phone, but it’s nice to have options, especially considering how many beautiful calendars there are for iOS. But, we’re in luck: One such iOS option recently made its Android debut. If you’re a Google Apps user who wants to try something new, look no further than Sunrise.
Sunrise is praised for its seamless integration with all things Google. It supports multiple Google Calendars, uses Google Maps data to direct you to events, and supports a handy “quick add” feature. If you don’t typically use Google Calendar, Sunrise has full support for Apple’s Calendar as well. iOS users can also sync Sunrise with a Microsoft Exchange account, but Android doesn’t have that functionality just yet.
Sunrise works across devices, and even has a read-only Web client.
Getting started with Sunrise is just a matter of connecting to your existing calendar, where you’ll see a month or weekly overview of your schedule. The top half of the screen displays a quick calendar glance, and the bottom half shows off your appointments for the current day. Just slide the overview box to expand it to monthly view, or collapse it back to weekly view. Tap on any day to see what’s on deck. For a more detailed look at your appointments, you can switch over to agenda view.
Android users can take advantage of Sunrise's homescreen widget. 
When looking at the current day’s overview, Sunrise handily provides you with a weather summary, and gives a breakdown of how the weather will change throughout the day—perfect for helping you decide what to wear. To add a new event, tap the plus sign on the main page. From there, you can invite other people, set up a reminder, and jot down an address to get directions later.
I know, I know. This sounds just like any other calendar app. But really, it’s not. Its unique layout and other features make Sunrise a step ahead of many others. You can connect Sunrise with your social media accounts to pull in other scheduled events to keep everything in one spot. Sunrise also has a set of interesting calendars you can add, to stay in the loop about national holidays and the schedules of your favorite sports teams.
I love that Sunrise has a web client as well, but I’m waiting for it to get better. Right now, the web version doesn’t have support for Exchange, which is what I use for work. Unfortunately, that means I can only view my personal Google Calendar. You also can’t add or edit an event from the web version: It’s simply for viewing. I’d eventually like to use Sunrise as my go-to calendar, but I can’t do that until the web client gets a feature boost that matches its iOS offering. The iOS app is awesome, but I like using my Mac to manage my crazy work calendar.
Still, Sunrise looks lovely, works great on mobile devices, and is much less headache-inducing than other calendars out there. It's free in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store now.

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Turn your iPad into a business assistant by PC World

The iPad offers a ton of options for fun and games, but Apple’s tablet has plenty of potential as a business tool, too. Here are five apps that can transform your iPad into a must-have work accessory.

Microsoft Office for iPad

Microsoft Word on the iPad retains the look and feel of using Word on a PC.

Microsoft’s Office suite is actually available as three separate apps for the iPad: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint. All three are free if used to view documents, but if you want to create or edit files, you’ll need a subscription to Office 365 ($10 per month). While that may seem expensive, the experience of using Office on the iPad is impressive; Microsoft strikes a nice balance of including familiar Office tools, while also taking advantage of the iPad’s touch screen. It’s a great way to take your iPad one step closer to becoming a laptop replacement.


Like Microsoft Office, Apple’s iWork is sold as three separate iPad apps: Keynote, Numbers, and Pages. Each sells for $10, though these apps are included for free with newer iPad models. Either way, that’s a lower price than Microsoft’s offerings, which require a subscription to truly be useful. Numbers and Pages are not quite as robust as Excel and Word, but they are worthy apps and will be familiar to any Mac diehards who’ve used them on a desktop or laptop. And, with its slick feature set, Keynote is a true PowerPoint competitor.

Apple's iWork is sold as three separate iPad apps: Keynote, Numbers, and Pages.

GotoMyPC for iPad

GotoMyPC has long been one of my favorite programs because of all the time I spend working on different computers. This remote access program was one of the best ways to access information stored on one PC when you’re miles and miles away, sitting in front of another computer. Still, I was hesitant about trying it out an iPad (it also works on Android devices and Amazon’s Kindle Fire).

GoToMyPC lets you see and use a PC remotely, but viewing all of its contents on the relatively small iPad screen can strain your eyes.

I needn’t have worried: GotoMyPC’s iPad app seamlessly connected me to my home computer, allowing me to slide, tap, and touch the screen to access the files and applications I needed. The iPad’s smaller screen limits how much you can do with the contents of your PC, but GotoMyPC for iPad is incredibly useful nonetheless.


LogMeIn is another excellent remote access tool, but with its Cubby service, I might never need to use it. That’s because Cubby stores files and folders in the cloud and allows you to access them from various devices—like an iPad, if you install the free Cubby app. (Cubby itself is free for limited personal use; plans with additional features, including more storage and security, start at $4 per month.) The app is easy to use and lets you access files and folders and save them for offline viewing. The iPad does limit what you can do with all of the files in your Cubby, as you might expect. Still, it’s a handy way to access important files when you’re on the go.

Cubby lets you view and share files stored in the cloud from your iPad.

Note Taker HD

Note Taker HD lets you write notes by hand, but your handwriting may benefit from using a stylus.

I spend a lot of time jotting notes on a notepad. Then, when I need to find what I’ve written, I’m left digging through piles of paper, often left with what I need written on a crumpled piece of paper, if I can find it at all. Enter Note Taker HD: this $5 iPad app lets me create handwritten notes in digital form, right on the iPad screen. You can write notes with your finger, but you’ll have more control if you invest in an iPad stylus. Note Taker HD also lets you enter text by typing, insert images and shapes, and annotate PDFs.  I like how you can organize multiples pages into one document and then store documents in folders. I may never have to dig around my bag for a crumpled notepad again.

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Apple launches Back to School promo, offers gift cards with purchase by Dan Moren

Seems like the school year just ended, but it’s already time to start planning ahead for next fall. Apple on Tuesday kicked off its annual Back to School promotion, offering incentives for picking up its devices for the upcoming school year.
As in the past, Apple is offering gift cards for the Apple Store along with the purchase of Macs, iPads, and iPhones. Qualifying products include the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac Pro; the iPad Air, iPad with Retina display, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display; and the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 4s. (You’ll also be able to snag some modest education discounts on the Macs and iPads—no such luck with the iPhone.)

Buying a Mac will get you a $100 Apple Store gift card, while an iPad or iPhone will net you a $50 card—so you can pick up that Thunderbolt cable you’ve wanted and even have $10 left over.

In order to be eligible, you’ll have to make your purchase through the U.S. Apple Online Store for Education Individuals, or from one of the U.S.’s brick-and-mortar Apple Stores. You’ll also need to be qualified to actually buy from the education store, and picking up a iPhone for $0 on a carrier contract or installment plan won’t net you a gift card.

If you need some time to think it over, don’t fret: The discounts run from July 1 through September 9.

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Apple releases important security updates for Mac, Safari, iOS and Apple TV by Kim Komando

Calling all Apple users! There have been important security updates you need to install right away!

The fixes are for the mobile operating system, iOS 7.1.2, which will improve connectivity with iBeacons and fixes an issue associated with data transfers from third-party apps like barcode scanners.

Not sure how to update to iOS 7.1.2? Click here to learn how or go to Settings>>General>>Software Update. Be sure you have everything important backed up, just in case something like this happens.

OS X users will want to update to Mavericks 10.9.4, which fixes problems that prevented some Macs from automatically connecting to known Wi-FI networks, along with updates to Safari.

Apple TV users want to update to version 6.2. Here are the directions on how to update Apple TV from Apple:

        Select Settings > General > Update Software. Apple TV checks for an available update; if one is available, a download message should appear.
        Click Download and Install to start the download process.
        Do not disconnect your Apple TV during the update process. The Apple TV status light may flash slowly during the update and restart process. This is expected behavior.

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10 basic Tips & Tricks every Android user needs to know by Kim Komando

Did you just get a new Android smartphone or tablet? Want to get the most out of a gadget you've had for a while?

Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks that every Android owner needs to know. From security to wallpaper to little things you'd never think of, I'll cover it.

Just note that every Android gadget has a slightly different version of Android, so you might have to hunt around a bit to follow the directions. Just know the options are there.

Let's start with some security.
1. Install antivirus apps
With just a few clicks here and there, hackers can easily get into your computer and steal your personal information. The same is true of your smartphone. One of the first things you want to do with your new Android is to make sure it is secure.

2. Set up a passcode

A passcode is critical to have. Think about it: Your phone stores a treasure trove of personal information that thieves would LOVE to steal from you. You don’t want to make things easy for them.

That's why you don't want just any passcode, you want a strong one. Users who create 4-digit passcodes such as 0000 and 1234 might as well turn the security feature off.

To set up a passcode go to Settings>>Lock Screen and tap "Screen lock." In other versions of Android, it's under Security>>Location and Security>>Screen Lock.

Here you can choose to set a pin number, password or even a connect-the-dots pattern. On newer versions of Android, you also have the option for "Face" or "Face and voice" unlock.

I'd give those a pass. They're are cool, but not really all that secure.

You'll want to make sure in your settings that your phone is set to lock automatically after just a few minutes. Letting it sit for hours before it locks kind of defeats the purpose.

3. Save battery life

Android gadgets aren't exactly known for their stellar battery life, but there are things you can do to make it last.

First, your screen hogs a lot of juice, but it doesn't have to.

By default your screen is set to automatically change the brightness depending how long it's been active and the surrounding lighting level. On some gadgets this works well and on some it doesn't.

You can manually set the brightness by going to Settings>>Display>>Brightness. Adjust the slider so your screen is visible, but not overly bright.

In the same area, Settings>>Display, you'll see the "Screen timeout" option. This shuts off your screen after you don't use your gadget for a certain amount of time. Set it to a minute or two and watch your battery life improve.

You can look at other settings in the Display area as well. For example, "Smart screen" keeps the screen on as long as you're looking at it. This is cool, but it does use a bit more battery life to detect your face.

Other things aside from the display can drain your battery - such as apps. Android's built-in battery monitor, which you can find at Settings>>Battery, is OK, but it could be better.

The Battery Saver app has dozens of power-saving tips and tricks, like shutting off power-hogging programs. It will also display the amount of time that your battery has left and tell you which apps take up the most power. This way, you can delete the power-hungry apps you don’t need or use.

4. Take a screenshot

It's one of the simplest things to do on a computer: Just tap the Print Screen button to take a screenshot. It's just that easy on your smartphone, too!

But you'd be surprised how many people don't know how to do this simple trick. It's as easy as pressing the power button and volume down button at the same time.

Try it! The screenshot will appear in your photo album.

5. Monitor your data

With most cellular providers, data plans are mandatory with the purchase of any smartphone. Unfortunately, data plans cost quite a bit and don’t get you much data.

That makes it easy to accidentally go ove

Go to Settings>>Data Usage. You can set your billing cycle, data limits and when you get alerts. You can also see how much data you typically use and which apps use the most. That can help you track down data hogs to remove.

If you hit the Settings button in Data Usage you can turn on the "Restrict Background Services" option. This forces the gadget to do updates over Wi-Fi instead of cellular.

6. Enable or disable landscape view
It can be annoying when you're in the middle of typing a message or browsing online and your screen rotates on you. The option to switch between portrait and landscape views is nice, but sometimes your gadget is a little too touchy.

Luckily, you can disable this setting and lock your phone into portrait mode if you want.

Go to Settings>>Display and uncheck "Auto rotate screen." In some versions if might be under Settings>>Display>>Orientation.
r, which means huge overage fees. Android helps you track your data use and set limits before you go over.

7. Add and change your wallpaper

You don't have to stick with the default wallpaper on your gadget. There are plenty of other options, and nothing makes a phone feel more personalized than choosing your own background.

Just tap and hold any empty area on the Android home screen. You will see a pop-up menu that says "Set Wallpaper." In later versions, you can choose to set the wallpaper for your home screen, lock screen or both.

Then you'll get a choice of where to get the wallpaper. You can pull it from your photos, live wallpapers or the wallpaper folder.

Be cautious before using a Live Wallpaper though. Those have moving images and can dramatically drain your battery and even slow down your scrolling.

8. Download essential apps
There are millions of apps in the Google Play Store. How do you know where to start? Luckily, I'm here to help.

Start with my Top 10 essential apps for Android. Then specialize with 5 best weather-checking apps, the best calendar and reminder apps, and top apps for travel. For more games, entertainment, shopping, security and utility apps, visit the app section of my site.

9. Uninstall accidental apps

Whoops! You didn't want that app, you wanted this one. That doesn't mean you are stuck with the wrong app forever.

To remove an unwanted app, go to Settings>>Application manager. Tap on an app and then tap the Uninstall button.

The apps that the gadget manufacturer put on the phone at the factory won't have this option. For those, all you can do is remove them from the home screen.

To do this, tap and hold an app icon on the home screen until a trash can appears at the top of the screen. Drag the icon to the trash can and it will go away.

10.  Find your phone if it’s lost or stolen
Misplacing your phone can be frustrating; Android Device Manager is an invaluable app to have in this situation. It tracks down your gadget with GPS so you can go find it. If your phone is just lost, you can cause it to ring at full volume or display a message on the lock screen.

If you don’t lock your phone, you can lock it remotely with a new password. Of course, a savvy thief would have used that time to take over already. In the absolute worst case, you can wipe the personal information from your gadget. That way no thief can get it.

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Netflix pro tip: How to find movies that don’t suck by BGR

Netflix is a fantastic service that has and will continue to change the home entertainment landscape. But despite how disruptive the service have been — and this is one of those rare cases where “disruptive” is being used to describe a company that actually disrupted something — it can still be infuriatingly difficult to find good content amid all of the stale movies and TV shows in Netflix’s library.

A new website called “A Better Queue” is dedicated to helping Netflix subscribers create exactly what its name describes: A better Netflix queue full of the best movies the company has to offer.

The free service allows users to set a minimum Rotten Tomatoes rating, a minimum number of reviews and a timeframe, and then one or more genres can be chosen. A subsequent search will cut through the fluff and pull up only the best Netflix has to offer.

The service is currently a bit slow because it is getting hammered by Reddit traffic, but the site’s developer says he’s working on addressing the issue.

Guess which browser has the most security flaws? by Kim Komando

Surprise! The latest version of Internet Explorer is still the number one target for hackers, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Bromium. The report also reveals other trends in cybersecurity.

For the first half of 2014, the report found that Google Chrome has actually had no publicly known security flaws, making it safe from malware attacks.

Here are their top five observations that you might find useful:
  1. Microsoft Internet Explorer set a record high for reported vulnerabilities in the first half of 2014.
  2. Internet Explorer also leads in publicly reported exploits.
  3. Web browser release cycles are becoming more frequent - as are initial security patches.
  4. Adobe Flash is the primary browser plugin being targeted by zero day attacks this year.
  5. New "Action Script Spray" techniques targeting Flash have been uncovered in the wild exploiting zero day vulnerabilities.
The report was impressed by the quick update schedule that Internet Explorer used to patch its holes. It's still one of the most commonly-attacked browsers by far. Keeping your Flash player up to date is also very important, primarily because of the fact that it's on almost everyone's computer. Always update your Flash player if at all possible to avoid security flaws like this.

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HDMI, DVI and VGA - What's the difference? by Kim Komando

The tech world is full of TLAs, or three-letter acronyms. Sometimes they're even four or five letters.
If you aren't sure what these acronyms stand for, you can easily get lost in a conversation with a salesperson or get a headache looking through product specs. You might end up buying something you don't need, or even the wrong thing.

Today, I'm going to clear the air around video connectors. It can mean the difference between a glorious high definition picture and crummy low-resolution video.

I'm also going to talk about the cables. Do you really need cables that cost almost as much as your TV or monitor? I'll put the debate to rest.


VGA or Video Graphics Array is the oldest of the video connectors. It's been around since 1987, if you can believe it, but it just won't go away. It's on many TVs, monitors and computers.

Unlike the other video connectors, VGA is analog. That means not only does it not support high definition, it doesn't have as clear of a picture.

If VGA is your only option, then go ahead and use it. Otherwise, you'll want something a bit better.

You've most likely linked your home PC's monitor to a digital video interface port at some point. The signal is basically the same as an HDMI port, but DVI cables generally don't support audio. Most modern TVs will probably have a DVI port, but DVI cables aren't going to plug all of your gadgets into your TV.

DVI cables come in single and dual links. Single links can support resolutions up to 1900 x 1200. Dual links can support higher resolutions and multiple screens at the same time.

The biggest reason that DVI ports didn't exactly catch on was the lack of a standard feature-set. Different DVI cables can do different things, and that's confusing for most people.

High definition multimedia interfaces are the standard for any gadget that plugs into your TV. HDMI cables play both audio and video through your TV, though you might have to do a little fiddling with your audio settings if you're running a media center PC to your TV.

As with most gadgets, even HDMI cables have generational differences. HDMI 2.0, released in 2013, boasts support for 4k video formats and stronger signal strength. This basically means that you'll be seeing more frames on the biggest TV you can get your hands on.

If you bought an HDMI cable before 2013, you're using version 1.3 or 1.4. HDMI 1.4 supports 3-D TVs and streams data to and from your TV more quickly.

You can pick up the latest generation of HDMI cable is available for about $10 on Amazon, but only the most detail-oriented of living room cinephiles will notice the difference.

DisplayPort is slowly taking over the market by the power of simplicity. There's only one DisplayPort plug. Oh, and it runs your gadgets through your TV at 60 frames a second.

It handles audio, too. The only real limitation of the DisplayPort tech is that its ability to ferry information to and from a TV dips as the cable lengthens.

For most everyone's purposes, though, it's a single dongle that will connect all of your gadgets straight into your TV at the highest possible quality. If your computer doesn't have a slot for DisplayPort connections, you can find adapters online for relatively cheap (at the cost of some quality).

The other limitation of DisplayPort is market penetration. It's a relatively new format, and it will take most tech manufacturers a hot minute to warm up to it. Like I said, though, adapters are cheap and easy to find.

How much to pay for cables

Don't let yourself be upsold on overpriced cables. Any electronics store is going to have run-of-the-mill cables, but many of them also have "gold-plated" cables at an insane mark-up.

Speaking of gold, here are my tips on how to protect your valuables from burglars by getting in their heads.

The concept that lets the retailers justify the insane price is that specific (and expensive) materials transmit video faster than others. The packaging of these expensive cables doesn't really explain this, and usually boasts about massive quality increases.

The truth is that any cable will probably work. Compare prices online and look for a cheap, well-reviewed cable to suit your needs.

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Carl Thorne
Expert Computer Consulting